Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saigon Zoo And Botanical Garden : Hoh Chi Minh City Vietnam

I've been in Vietnam numerous times but my family's first visit to the country was so far the most memorable for me.  It's nicer to travel when you are in the company of your kids.  Our last trip to Hoh Chi Min City Vietnam took place April of last year and our one week of staying in the beautiful city of Saigon had enabled us to see a lot of interesting places and one of which is the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden located right in the heart of District 1, which is considered the city's tourist area.

Inside the botanical garden, you can see a lot of interesting spots like well landscaped gardens, plant arts and a number of breath taking views that is not only ideal for relaxation but for soul searching, as well. :)

Actually the place is a big compound which houses both the zoo and the botanical garden.  During our visit, we tried to check on the botanical garden first before we explore the zoo which is just on the other side of the area.  My daughter Mika was very happy to see the white tiger.  She told me that she hadn't seen one from the zoo's that she had visited in the Philippines yet.

Entrance fee to the zoo and botanical garden is quite cheap at VN20,000 or equivalent to USD1.  Not bad, huh? A lot of nice garden views really warms my heart being a plant lover myself.

And what more? Inside the botanical garden, feel delighted with a free acrobat show by Vietnamese performers.

VND20,000 for the entrance fee is really worth it! If you have the chance to visit Saigon Vietnam in one of your future trips, consider to have a quick tour at Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden and you'll never go wrong with your visit. :) A must see at Hoh Chi Min City.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Notre Dame Cathedral : Hoh Chi Minh City Vietnam

Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is really special to me.  This is the first catholic church that I have visited outside of the Philippines.  It's French colonial architecture had really caught my attention.  It's a very big church and had a nice and well designed interiors.  Notre Dame cathedral is located just opposite the Central Post Office which is another "must see" in Saigon.    

The church though is not always open daily.  You have to check on the schedule if you really want to go and visit the church to attend mass or offer some prayers.  I heard mass is scheduled every 9Am on Sundays. Me and the kids were just fortunate enough to get inside the church during our visit as there was a scheduled wedding that day.  I was really happy that I was able to offer some prayers while we were there. 

But don't lose heart.  If in case the church is closed at the day of your visit, just content yourselves on some photo shoots outside the church and avail of some souvenir religious items being sold near the gate of the church.

Ocean Adventure : Subic Bay

Summer is my favorite time of the year, except for Christmas season of course!  It is normally during summer when we get to visit more fun and exciting places within and outside the country.  Since we are very close to SBMA (former US Naval Base), I make it a point that we are able to visit most if not all of the favorite attractions inside the freeport zone.  During one of my vacations, I've decided to bring my kids to Ocean Adventure, Subic Bay.

Ocean Adventure is located at Camayan Wharf, West Alanin Forest Area, Subic Bay freeport Zone which used to be a US Naval Base.  It is roughly 100 kilometers from Manila, about 3 hours drive depending on the traffic but would not exceed 4 hours. 

We were very delighted to see the Dolphin show where we were truly entertained by the tricks of these very well trained Dolphins. 

There was also this Sea Lion show and just like the Dolphin show, it is truly fun and enjoyable.  But what I like most about all the shows presented inside the Ocean Adventure is the underlying message of how to take care of the environment and how could we take a part in providing a safe and clean habitat to all animals.  Since most of the visitors are families, this is a good way of entertaining and providing values to children.

Apart from the Dophin Show and Sea Lion Show, there is also an animal show featuring a variety of well trained animals including dogs, birds, monkey and .... snake???

Another show which will bring a great delight to kids will be the "Olongapo Jones" show featuring some mascots with some acrobatic moves from the main stars of the show.

There is also the Discovery Aquarium, a walk through building with numerous aquariums built into the walls.  Each aquarium houses different diversities of marine and fresh water creatures.

We were exploring the whole compound of the Ocean Adventure at the height of the heat, around 2 PM so please pardon my "sour face" in the pics. (lol)  It was a terribly hot afternoon. :)

Ocean Adventure remains to be a popular attraction in Subic and judging from what we saw inside and the four shows that we've watched, I think it's worth spending to drop by at the Ocean Adventure the next time you visit Subic.

Entrance Fee : Adult: 450 pesos; Kids (12 yrs under): 370 pesos
Inclusive of entrance to Ocean Adventure, Sea Lion Show and the Whale presentation.
Close encounter with the animals requires additional fees.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Anne Raquel's Resort : Olongapo City

Olongapo City and Subic Bay is known for it's many resorts and beaches.  Lots of local and foreign tourists are coming to to the town of Olongapo and Subic, Zambales during summer to beat the summer heat by spending a day or two on it's well known resorts.  I remembered during my childhood days when my father would always organize a beach outing for the entire family where all my siblings, nieces and nephews will come all together to share a scrumptious sea foods lunch.  Ahh...those were the days. :)

When I finally have my own family, swimming and visiting beaches and resorts has also been our favorite activity.  It was on a summer of 2010 when we've decided to visit one resort located in Olongapo City,  Anne Raquel's Resort is located on the main road of New Cabalan and is just more than 2 hrs ride from Manila.

This was our first visit to the resort and we don't have any idea what they have there inside a very huge lot which actually covers part of Olongapo and Bataan area.  We arrived at the resort 30 minutes past 8 AM and we were all eager to see the entire place.  We were so delighted to discover that inside the resort you can find not just one but two swimming pools.  One for adults and the other one is a kiddie pool.

There are also lots of things to see and to explore like the beautifully landscaped gardens, a small play ground, hanging bridge and up there on the hill, you can find a chapel which during the time of our visit was still under construction.  They also have a basketball court, a badminton court and facilities for table tennis and other activities.

They also have some rooms which you can rent for an overnight stay.  What I like about this place is the affordable price.  Entrance fee per person is Php200 and this includes the use of cottages and other facilities inside the resort.  Each cottage is equipped with a washing area should you wish to wash your hands and plates and a BBQ pit.  Really very convenient as everything is within your reach.

In fact everything from entrance, transportation including the foods and drinks that we brought to the resort, I only spent about Php2,300 for 5 people on that whole day outing.  Not bad, huh?

The best thing of all is that it is very near to our place.  Less than 30 minutes drive.

If I would have a chance to take another home leave next summer, I wouldn't mind visiting again this resort. 

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