Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Five nights in Tokyo is not enough but I'm very happy with what I experienced. People are so friendly, things here are amazingly clean and people love to queue for hours just for popcorn which surprised me.

I stayed at a very convenient hotel located right next to the Hanzomon subway near the Imperial Palace grounds. From there, we travelled around Tokyo with three day passes for the entire metro , which is a phenomenal system. With loads of recommendations from friends and clients, I think I discovered Tokyo almost like a local.

We arrived on a Friday evening so the Japanese people were dressed up a bit different compared to week days. Over the weekend, it was amazing to see how many different styles being worn, especially in the Harajuku area. One of the best places to people watch that I've ever experienced. It was like sitting beside a fashion runway. It doesn't matter which direction that I looked there was always a surprise. 

I love Japanese food even more here as Japanese people are very careful with their food and also the way they decorate the food. Sometimes, it didn't feel right to eat it because it looked way to good to be eaten. There are way too many places around but I'd love to list some of my top favorites: Maisen, Jomon, Harayuku Gyoza Lou, Watamin-chi and Luke's lobster (bread roll)

I wouldn't have thought coffee is a big deal in Japan or that I would've able to get good coffee here at all. But I rolled my eyes many times because they do have so many great places serving amazing coffee from old-world Japanese style to modern style. I highly recommended: The Roastery, Omotesando Cafe, Chatei Hatou. 

Because of the incredible public transportation system, traveling around Tokyo is easy. We never got in a single taxi. Most of the signs around Tokyo are both in Japanese and English and people don't mind to walk with you for a couple hundred meters to show you where you should be. We experienced very generous hospitality from the locals during my stay. 

I went to several tourist spots after my stomach filled up with food just trying to see something amazing and burn some calories and make room for more. I would love to come back here to Tokyo for another week just to eat, drink and walk around. Arigatogozaimashita どうもありがとうございました and See you again: Mata o ai またお会い

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chiang Mai


With lots of recommendations from our friends for food and what do to in Chiang Mai, we arrived with quite a list to achieve in five short days.


We hired a motorbike to drive around the city, which is easy to navigate because of the river that forms a square around the old town. The traffic is nowhere near as crazy as Vietnam because the Chiangmai people seem to follow the rules and there is less vehicles than what we're used to in Hanoi. We drove most of the time to different markets to eat breakfasts lunches and dinners. The fresh produce in the markets in Chiang Mai is displayed beautifully and there were enough different vegetables and other things to make it interesting for us. I love the coffee served by an old lady in front of the Chiang Mai Gate Market and also the simple breakfast of toast with a poached egg from the man next door. It was a fantastic spot to watch the local people go in and out of the market. Also a nice spot to take photos.


I can't forget a small noodle soup run by two pretty elderly sisters close by to the place we were staying. Strongly recommended by EatingAsia, we went there very early and seemed to be the first customers of the day as we were worried that they would run out before we got there. We ordered a sticky rice dish and two types of noodles: one with pork and blood which is similar to Bún Bò Hue and the second noodles with fish. These three dishes were fantastic!!!


There are so many beautiful wats around Chiang Mai, almost on every corner. Even though they are similar in design, they each have little details in the architecture or statues that made it interesting for us. They are also a good place to have a rest from the heat.


As I'm from Hanoi, the heat didn't bother me so much even though it was 41degrees on our first few days there. Fortunately, the humidity is lower, which helps. Luckily we stayed at our friend's apartment on a very high floor with a breeze blowing though. On the last two nights it was cooler after a storm passed through during the night which made the city cooler and clearer in the next days.


The great thing about the food markets in Chiang Mai is the variety of choices that local sellers offer. I loved noodles that I can add lots of different fresh herbs and vegetables such as mint, basil, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, pickles and chili. I also can choose different refreshing drinks from fresh coconut juice to flavored syrups topped with crushed ice.


We always talk about whether we would go back to a place on the way to airport and we decided that Chiang Mai is definitely worth a return visit.