AirAsia ASEAN Pass Review

This is my review entry of my recent ASEAN trip using the AirAsia ASEAN Pass. It has been launched way back 2014. Before I left for the United States, I was eyeing to do an ASEAN tour and has been very interested to use the pass. I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and most of them were negatives so, I am making my own review based on the experiences I had.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass has two different kind of passes, the 10- and 20-credit passes. I bought the AirASEAN Pass for 10 credits costing USD160. Once I purchased the pass, it is valid for 1 year from the date I bought it or 30 days from the day I made my first redemption and 60 days for the 20-credit pass. Since I’ve been to Thailand, VietNam and Cambodia, the choices of countries to visit are cut in half. Thus, making it easier for me to decide since I also have a list of nation that I would love to see. I chose to visit Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore for these reasons;

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Closer image of Petronas Twin Towers

Malaysia – due to the fact that it is the centerpoint of every flight and also the main hub for AirAsia. So, I can get really good flights spending only 1 credit.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Indonesia – for the main reason that my cousin wants to visit the famous tourist attraction, Bali, and;

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Merlion Park

Singapore – because I’ve been wanting to visit this place when I was still working back in the Philippines as a customer service representative.

This is how I allotted my credits to travel those countries.klI flew from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via different airlines since I got a really good deal with Cebu Pacific Air. Once I got to Kuala Lumpur, I spent my 3 credits to get to Bali then 3 credits to Singapore and the last 3 credits back to Cebu, making a total of 9 credits. I just made sure to check my flights early so I can have more choices to choose from. Seats are really limited so the earlier the booking, the better. After I chose my flights, I just pinned my bought credits to the chosen time and date of my flight and it’s automatically booked. The sad thing about it is the credits only pays the airfare so, other fees like travel tax, airline tax and airport fees are not included and it’ll be out of pocket expenses. But those fees are not that expensive.

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I still have 1 credit for AirAsia ASEAN Pass.

As as summary, the pass is really great if you plan your trip ahead of time like 2-3 months. If you’re flexible with changing itineraries, your budget, your accommodation or places to stay then, you can save and have fun traveling the ASEAN countries. It is all about planning. So for my AirAsia ASEAN pass review, it was worth it and I got to save some money while having the trip of my life. Instead of spending those hard earned cash to airline fares and transportation, I got to spend it to tours, souvenirs, foods and etc. and of course, I got to take a photo of these picturesque places.

For full details, check AirAsia website at https://www.airasia.com/en/home.page?cid=1

Migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/16/my-airasia-asean-pass-review/

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My Days in Your Singapore

This blog article has been migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/09/my-days-in-your-singapore/

The last leg of my ASEAN trip was in Singapore. Singapore is one of the well developed countries in Southeast Asia. I only have limited time staying in the Merlion country but my trip was great. It sure was a memorable time during my days in Your Singapore. The nation is also on the sixth spot on my list of counties that I would love to visit.

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Updated List of Countries That I Would Love to Visit

My tour in Singapore started after leaving the plane and took the SkyTrain from Singapore Changi Airport to city centre. Since I had a little spare time before check-in hour in the hotel, I went to Raffles City Mall for lunch. It was an embarrasing moment for me that day for being a clumsy person. I dropped my food tray before even trying to eat it. The good food attendant and server just looked at me and fixed another plate of the same food I ordered and he didn’t charge me for that. The cleaners went to help clean the mess I’ve made and they were pleasant and courteous. After I had my lunch, I went directly to my hotel which was just a few blocks away from Raffles City Mall. I checked in at Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel and was amazed with the view. It sure got the nicest sight in the city.

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Deluxe Twin Room in Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel with amazing view of Singapore Skyline
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Singapore Skyline

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Your Singapore skyline

I went to lie on the bed, took a nap for an hour or two and then, started to do sightseeing the streets of Singapore. Since the hotel is situated in the center of the city. Buses and other modes of transportation are everywhere. I walked just the opposite of the street and I was already at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

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St. Andrew’s Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is one of the hop-on, hop-off bus stops. I rode the bus red line. The red line has stops at Sri Mariamman Temple, Chinatown, and Speaker’s Corner but main agenda was Singapore Marina so, I skipped most of the stops. I stepped out of the bus in Marina Boulevard. Then started walking on Marina. It was picture perfect location where I can see most of the popular sights in Singapore. I was able to see Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay, Singapore Flyer, and the Singapore skyline.

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Singapore Flyer, the ArtScience Museum, and Marina Bay Sands

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The ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore Marina

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Singapore Bay and skyline

The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay is also known as the Esplanade Theater which is a performing arts center located in the bay near the Singapore River. It has a concert hall that can accommodate 1,600 viewers and 2,000 audiences in the performing arts.

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The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. The resort includes a lot of hotel rooms, a huge convention-exhibition center, The Shoppes mall, a museum, two large theaters, ‘celebrity chef’ restaurants, a skating rink, floating Crystal Pavilions, and the largest casino atrium.

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Marina Bay Sands

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ArtScience Museum is within the integrated resort of the Marina Bay Sands in the downtown core of the Central Area in Singapore. It has permanent exhibition, ArtScience Gallery, the ArtScience Museum mainly hosts touring exhibitions by other museums.

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ArtScience Museum

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Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel which is also an observation wheel. It used to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel before the High Roller in Las Vegas Strip on 2014.

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Singapore Flyer

It was surreal for me since I have dreamt of going to Singapore like 5 years ago and now, I’m here. I headed to the Merlion Park since Singapore is famous for the Merlion statue. It was short walk and when I got there, the park was jam-packed with tourists taking decent pictures.

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Merlion statue

Merlion Park is a landmark and a major tourist attraction located at One Fullerton near the Central Business District. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish that is widely used as a national personification of Singapore. It also spouts water out of its mouth. It was a majestic view.

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Merlion Park packed with tourists

After touring around the Marina Bay area, I tried to snap some more random shots of the Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade, Singapore Flyer and the ArtScience Museum. Then I hopped back on to the bus to go back to the hotel. Little did I know that the bus tours have parking spot and that is in the Suntec City Mall. Good thing I was able to take pictures of the Fountain of Wealth. It took about an hour to get back to the hotel. The bus passed through Little India, Malay Heritage Center and back to City Hall.

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Fountain of Wealth

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Duck and Hippo Sightseeing Bus Parking Area in Suntec City

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Little India

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Little India Welcome Sign

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Little India Arcade

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Little India street

It was a humid and warm day in Singapore that I have to take like 3 showers. I was soaked with sweat that I have to change my clothes and freshen up more often. Late that noon, my close friend from High School who is working in Singapore for years has invited me to meet her. She told me to meet her in the Gardens by the Bay. Since the park is widely popular with night and light shows. I just rode a taxi from the hotel and it took about half an hour to get there.

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Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is right next to Marina reservoir and consists of three waterfront gardens. The aim of the country is to raise quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. Gardens by the Bay was intended to be Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, and also a national icon.sin48sin49sin46sin51sin47

It was magical when the sun set. The lights of the supertrees were lit. The music and lights show begun. The show ran about an hour. Songs mostly from famous soundtrack of movies were used while the lights flickered and lit in unison. It was memorable. There was a view deck accentuated to have a good view of the area.sin45

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Singapore Marina at night

The following day, we went to Burgis which is a famous place for souvenirs as well as inexpensive products. The items they’re selling are good and durable. The location was used to be a nightly gathering are for trans women in 1950s which made it one of Singapore’s top tourist destinations during that period.

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Burgis Street Market cr. alamy.com

After I got my souvenirs, I headed back to the hotel for it was almost time to check-out. It was just a quick trip and when I got to the hotel, I packed my bag, walked to Raffles City Mall for the nearest train station to the airport.

My days in Your Singapore was remarkable. The country is small that I got to see some of the major sights but not everything. It is indeed a must-visit place and it is not that expensive. Singapore was the last country of my ASEAN tour. It was short but it was worth the time.

Check my YouTube vlog at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5wGfBerXA&t=110s

IATA Code: KUL – Kuala Lumpur International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located in Kuala Lumpur in the state of Selangor. It is located about 30 mins train ride from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur International Airport or so coded as KUL for its IATA. The airport is the main hub of the country of Malaysia and is one of the major airports in Southeast Asia. KUL is the biggest and busiest airport in Malaysia. The airport is operated by Malaysia Airports (MAHB) and serves flights for Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air, UPS Airlines and Gading Sari.

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Airport Tower

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Welcome to Malaysia

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Tourism Malaysia

KUL has 2 terminals but easily accessible by KL Express and KL Transit. Since I took advantage of the ASEAN Pass, I’m flying thru AirAsia. AirAsia usually utilised terminal 2 of the said airport. We landed at KLIA2 in the morning. It was a smooth ride and after deplaning, went out and follow signs to immigration and passport control.

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Direction to Immigration and Transfer Gates

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Good thing about the airport coz it has terminal maps just right after you get out of the plane. Along with directions, travelers won’t get lost when in KUL.

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KLIA2 Terminal Map

Few minutes of walking, I was able to locate the immigration counter and passport control. The immigration counter has been categorised to 3; resident passport, ASEAN passport and foreign passport. The whole immigration experience took about almost half an hour. There were a lot of passengers on queue to get to their Malaysian destination.

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Immigration Counter and Passport Control

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Passport Control

Once I got my passport stamped, I went out to the arrival area. I was amazed with a bountiful of stores, local and foreign. The airport was ginormous. It looks like it has its own mall, airport train station, airport lounges, restaurants and food courts. It was clean and well lit with unique artistic and architectural design. The only disadvantage of the airport is because of its large land area, it’ll take you time to locate your boarding gates if you are not familiar with it and you need to walk all the time just to get to the area you wanted to be. But it is disabled and handicapped friendly facility, though.

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Shopping Stores

The departure area is accessible thru KL Express and KL Transit from train stations located in Kuala Lumpur and other train stop locations via KL Sentral. The departure area has a lot of airline counters to better serve the tourists.

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KL Express and KL Sentral Platform in KLIA2 bound to KL Sentral

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KL Sentral station

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KL Train

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Departure Counters

Upon getting your boarding pass, you can directly proceed to immigration and passport control. This time it took me about an hour to get to the Immigration Officer, it was the worst time since my trip was during the SEA Games or Southeast Asian Games, thus, having more guests and travelers in one spot.

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Immigration and Passport Control, Departure Side during SEA Games 2017

Passing thru immigration and passport control, more stores will surprise you. Again, more walking, checking the flight board, airport maps, list of restaurants so, you’ll have a wide selection of cafes and food stores if you find yourself starving. The departure area also has Wellness Spa that provides rest, spa and shower services.

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Restaurants

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Wellness Spa and Shower

My whole stay while I was in KUL was exhausting. It was my first time to ever walk that much and that far while in the airport. My energy was drained that fast that I have to re-energise by eating, replenish the lost water by drinking, and doing all those stuff means that I have to spend more. But not to take it against the airport, KUL is indeed one of the best airports in Southeast Asia.

A New Beginning Has Come Forth

Lately, I’ve been troubled on what I’ll do with my life. I’ve got a lot of plans in my head but somehow also feared for what consequences I’ll get in taking those decisions. But as a freewill individual, I have the idea that those decisions that I’ll be making are uncertain but on the other note of it, I will learn.

First, I used to plan to have a life on the go. At that time, I have decided to do some backpacking trips in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. But due to some restricting rules in one of the countries I have mentioned, I made revisions and that route is to go to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei instead. Later, it has changed again. It was then when I was just staring blankly on the four walls of my living room and I concluded to going more farther, thus, I got an Armenian visa. Few months before my tentative date of my trip, an emergency suddenly came that needed my utmost attention thereby delaying all of my plans. It was a situation that could shape my future. I’ve waited for years for this opportunity to come. So, I went out to new places to think and then lingered more days at home, waiting patiently for it to be finalised. As I was devoured in complete darkness of uncertainties and no back up plans, a light sparkled amidst and then I saw the great path. A new beginning has come forth to my door.

The backpacking trip to ASEAN countries was already out of the plan and thus, I did a backpacking trip in the Philippines instead. Before I used to have this Armenian visa but now, I’ll just have to keep it unused then. It was really a big deal for this new beginning of my life. If you haven’t known, I’ve waited for this to come for almost 7 years. The genesis of my new life will start once I board in to the plane with the luggage fit for years to come. It will be a new country to explore but this country will offer way better than the nation I used to work with.

My application started last 2008 when I passed all the licensure examinations needed. On 2009, I got an agent and an employer who will help me process all the paperwork. On 2010, I was getting all the documents ready to be submitted. On 2011, I got my application submitted. Since it was a long wait, my agent told me to apply for a job while waiting for the long process of my application. For about 3 years I’ve waited and just this 2014, I got a reply from the agent and the country that I applied that they were accepting and processing my application. This year 2015, I made appearance and have been interviewed by a consul officer regarding my application. It was a bit in a hurry because there were big changes that they were trying to implement, so, for me not to be affected by the changes, I had to expedite my interview schedule a month early. Even though I re-scheduled the interview, the consul officer told me a very bad news. He gave me a ‘NOT NOW’ verdict due to limited availability of visa. I was saddened and depressed since I’ve waited for this for too long, I’ve resigned from my previous job, and got no other plans to follow. I was just staying at home feeling low and no direction in life. Then one day, a package was delivered.

A miracle happened. As I opened the package, I saw my passport stamped with the visa that I was praying to get. It happened during the days I least expected. I leapt out of joy and called my mum. I told my agent and my employer that I got the visa and they were happy for me, too. Few days, I got my flight details and I had to set my mind that I’m leaving my family again.

My Flight Details and Passport

My Flight Details and Passport

The day came for my flight to enter the new journey that I have to overcome. I bid farewell to my family, relatives and closest friends. Then, I boarded the plane that’ll take me to this new land of opportunities. It took about 28 hours of layovers, changing planes, waiting in boarding gates but all those were keeping my hands and feet sweaty. I don’t know what I was feeling. I felt a little bit excited yet missing home. I felt I am about to throw up, well, I can’t understand it at all. After the grueling almost 2 days of travel, finally, I got to my destination.

I passed 4 different airports just to get here. It was exhausting but when I got off the plane and took my first step on the US soil, everything I’ve been through paid off. I was all smile even though I am uncertain what my life will be here in this new land. I just kept myself optimist and I have thought that God will guide me all the way.

Boarding Pass

Boarding Pass

Customs and Border Protection form

Customs and Border Protection form

As I was on my way to my new home, everything flashed back from the days I’ve cried, burnt candles to pass my exams, paid dollars to get eligibility, worked my ass out to get experience to waiting for almost a decade. Now, I’m in the Land of the Free or the Land of Milk and Honey and a new beginning has come forth to my door.1

Staying at N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel

It was my first out of the country trip and I made sure that I will not miss any fun, thus, I always picked a hotel closest to a lot of tourist attractions. I was searching the entire web as well as the application I installed in my electronic device which is Booking.com. Then, I found N.Y. Kim Phuong Hotel.IMG_1100

I flew from Manila, Philippines to Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam and arrived there at 0020H. I was kinda nervous that the taxi cab drivers don’t know the place. Yet, I was proven wrong. I just told them the address and the taxi driver knew it at the back of his hand. It only took about 30-45 mins drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to the city centre which is near the hotel. I paid around 150,000VND (Vietnamese Dong) to get there.

When I arrived there, the receptionist welcomed me and took my passport. No need to fill out any form for personal information, she just told me to head to my room to take some good sleep since it was dawn already. In the morning, I checked the room and it was ok. There is a cable TV, a free wi-fi connection, toiletries, towels and a fridge full with different kind of sodas and water.

Queen Size Bed

Queen Size Bed

Flat Screen Cable TV

Flat Screen Cable TV

The Toilet

The Toilet

My room was in the 10th floor. Good thing there was a lift. It has also free breakfast in their own restaurant downstairs and that made the hotel the best since it served the most delicious pho noodle soup. I also tried chao trung or a rice gruel with eggs. It made me feel really good after sipping those soup from the days I didn’t eat well.

The Menu

The Menu

Chao trung or rice gruel with egg

Chao trung or rice gruel with egg

The hotel's restaurant

The hotel’s restaurant

Pho Bo Soup

Pho Bo Soup

Additional points for the hotel is the superb services of the receptionist. He assisted me on booking my next trip to another country. He even offered a tour by bike within the city but I refused. Instead, he gave me a map and pointed out what directions to take so I won’t end up exhausted.ny2ny3

The star of the hotel may not be the facilities they have but the people working there. They are the ones making your stay memorable. I would definitely recommend this hotel to my friends who are going to Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.

Decorations in the Receiving Area

Decorations in the Receiving Area

Receiving Area and the Lift

Receiving Area and the Lift

The Best Staff of N.Y Kim Phuong Hotel

The Best Staff of N.Y Kim Phuong Hotel

Receiving Area

Receiving Area

Just outside the hotel

Just outside the hotel

Here is their contact card if you want to get with them and a map.nyny1

Start the Year in the Land of the Ascending Dragon

Previously, I’ve been inactive in my blog. Well, it was due to a busy schedule that I never got the chance to sit down and write blog entries. Now, I have the time and I will tell you what I’ve been doing these past few weeks.

I have traveled to one of the countries in Southeast Asia and that was in Viet Nam. Viet Nam or officially called as Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is one of the countries that I considered I would love to visit and it’s been written here in my blog for almost 5 years. It’s number 7 on my list.

List of Countries that I Would Love to Visit

List of Countries that I Would Love to Visit

So, let’s start the year in the land of the ascending dragon. After all, I did write a post with regard to Viet Nam’s airport hub, Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport. When I sat foot on this great land, it was a dream come true. It was a very extraordinary feeling upon getting off the plane and leaving the airport. I arrived in Saigon or so-called Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh at 0020H. I’ve stayed in a hotel near to almost all tourist attractions in the city. It was surreal and I still can’t believe that I’ve been able to explore the country that I’ve been wanting to see with my two eyes.

After I caught some sleep, I headed out to the city and explore. There are too many things to see. These are the photos I got.

Plaza near Saigon Opera House

Random Building in Dong Khoi Street

Random Building in Dong Khoi Street

Random Building in Dong Khoi Street

The AO Show in Saigon Opera House

The AO Show in Saigon Opera House

BiTexCo Financial Tower

Shopping at Dong Khoi Street

Saigon Opera House

UBND Thanh Pho Building

Bao Tang Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh or Ho Chi Minh City Museum

Saigon Notre Dame

Buildings near Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

Buildings near Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

Photoshoot in Central Post Office

Central Post Office

Central Post Office

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market

Undeniably, Viet Nam is the land of the ascending dragon.  They called it ‘ascending dragon’ because when you look at the map, it appears like the dragon standing up. The culture and the history also are so rich that you will love to check up on. Not to mention, I have shown only the second city and I haven’t gone yet to Hanoi which is the capital of the country. For sure, Hanoi offers a lot more also to travelers like me.

So, be a traveler. It is time for you to get on your feet and experience Viet Nam first-handedly.