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I am very fortunate to have my sweet Ngan tour and bring me to the finest coffee shops within Ho Chi Minh City. Most of these COOL cafes are inside streets or alleys and quite hidden from tourists. No wonder the vietnamese love their own and are not much into foreign brands like Starbucks, Coffee Bean etc.. It would be a shame not to try the local shops when you visit this rich cultured city of Ho Chi Minh.

These are the shops that I have been to..and these are just a small portion of those cozy coffee shops to hang out within Ho Chi Minh City.


1. GAC HOA CAFE, FLOWER AND PAINTING SHOP

53/94, Tran Khanh du, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ga Choa Cafe,flower and painting shop

Ga Choa Cafe,flower and painting shop

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2. LOFT CAFE / SCHILLER 

2nd Floor, 95 Pasteur, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Just across the Vincom tower with a painting gallery along the entrance of the building. The Building is very antique with a rounded stairway circling a very antique elevator.

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Vincom Tower

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3. CUC GACH CAFE

10 Dang Tat | Ward Tan Dinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This was my favorite so far. Cafe and Restaurant with a very very awesome ambiance!. Food here is great that we even let the waiter decide what to serve us. The Food was great and we were not disappointed. The tables here are divided into several rooms and you can choose which room or section you are comfortable with. A great place for studying and for finding inspiration.

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3. ALICE MAID COFFEE 

57F, Tu Xuong Street, District 3
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

For people who love cosplays like me  🙂  A cafe with Live Music to go with your coffee or smoothy..

Alice Maid Coffee

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Alice Maid Coffee

Alice Maid Coffee

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Alice Maid Coffee

Alice Maid Coffee

4. Coffee Shop made of windows in Station 3A near Saigon Square

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5. Mockingbird Coffee 

Tầng 4, 14, Đường Tôn Thất Đạm, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Within the building Mockingbird is in has several establishments to choose from. Again It is an unlikely place that you will find cool cafes, clothes shop since you will be passing by a seem to be unsafe place. The scenery have an eery feel in it. Looks like a place for a good horror movie.😁

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Ice Cream with Peach in Wine

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Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9


 
 

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9

 

 After nightly reviews before going to sleep on which camera should I buy for my daily usage, I was decided to get a Sony DSC-WX9 over the TX10 and Canon’s S95. 

What primarily drove me to get the WX9 was its Exmor R CMOS sensor which performs REALLY well on low light scenarios! The iSweep Panorama, Background Blur, and HDR are great features as well for a point and shoot camera this cheap.  

Image Quality are very sharp and vivid on regular shooting modes. Noise Reduction also works well specially on Intelligent Auto. Panoramic images are sharp on daylight and a bit noisy on low light conditions.    

The first thing I tried was its low light performance (of course) as it was my primary motivator to purchase this camera and I was contented with the results. 

Then I tried the iSweep Panorama just outside our house ( looked like a jerk swinging his camera from Left to Right)
 
 

iSweep Panorama

 
 

The I decided to take it for a walk going to a nearby mall to buy a screen protector and made some shots along the way..

HDR

 
 
 
I look forward to tomorrow and play with this baby in the streets of Hidalgo and Divisoria. 😛

MY SINGAPORE EXPERIENCE


June 1, 2010… We had an opportunity to embark another journey to another asian country, SINGAPORE!! wee!! This time, it was a company outing and we were about 30-35 persons who took the trip.

our first day was spent in Sentosa Island and so far so good..but I was really itching to go to Universal Studios which was scheduled next day..

Sentosa

Songs of the Sea

 
The Songs of the Sea was SPECTACULAR!! It was my first time seeing an attraction like this! It was brilliant using a mist spray and smoke as projector background, its like watching a real apparition!
 
 
 
2nd day
 
 
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!!!!! 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ancient egypt

 
The Steven Spielberg’s set was AWESOME! here, they showed us a special effects set up and we were just Awed!
 

steven spielberg's set

marilyn monroe

metro

 
Darkness Falls…
 
 

Marina Bay Sands

 

Merlion

Day 3

SIM LIM

 
Our 3rd and last day was spent buying souvenirs and stuff. Headed firt to an electronic store, Sim Lim where you get all your hearts desire at very very cheap prices. You have got to be carefull though, as there are a lot of shrewed merchants waiting to prey on tourists. I was close to being being swindled by a merchant who was offering an EOS 550D and an EOS 7D at an Unbelievable Price!Luckily, I got a tip from a neighboring shop, SONG BROS, that such offer was a scam, as these merchants would take your downpayment or reservation fee and make you wait and then tell you that they are out of stock and then will try anything to get your money. The scary part was, I found out that there are fake EOS Cameras as well. So I bought my EOS 550D at SONG BROS which was the smartest option to buy electronics at.       
 

SimLim

 

 
Bugis Street however, is our Divisoria version, where you can buy all sorts of stuff. Tshirts, bags, Souvenirs..you name it!
 
 
 
 
While walking along Orchard Road, I spotted these couple making out and I was quick to change my lens from 17-55 to 55-250 to get a CLOSER shot..
 
 
 
 
 
I miss these Ice Cream wafers! I wonder if we have something such as these at home..    
 
 
 
 
 

7-11

not our typical 7-11 set up.  😛    
 
 

me while waiting boarding time..


on the eve of December 25 ( almost end of Christmas day ), Gwen and I decided to try Ayala Triangle since we are hearing a lot from that place.
I remembered my boss was referring a Chef Laudico’s restaurant on one of our meetings and he got to know the place through email advertisements.
Anyway, BFAST is a fast food establishment with a very much cozy ambiance. Interiors are made of wood and promotes ECO friendly environment as they say in their poster where they use 100% recyclable or compostable materials.

BFAST COUNTER

 

 We even got our lucky number.



Our Lucky Number

 tried Breakfast Roast Beef for P360+

Roast Beef

The Roast Beef was great and the serving is acceptable. Gwen took the potato hash instead of rice.
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MAC aftersales support


bought this wonderful piece of technology last October 27, 2010 at LITEWARE COMPUTERS.

After a month’s use, the camera shutter wouldnt open and I couldnt take any pictures.

Good thing about MAC products is that you can go to any store with a service center and have your Touch examined and claim your warranty regardless of store/dealer from which you bought it.

Given 1 week time, more or less, they replaced my unit with a brand new one.

And I couldnt be more happy. 😛


 

Having two QWERTY handheld phones can be annoying at times, specially when you are driving.  So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been on a celphone hunt, with features so techie with a touch of simplicity and affordability.

I wanted to have a phone with a traditional keypad from which all of us started, but not the cheap ones nor the more expensive ones. I wanted to have something in the middle range with a good camera quality.

I was able to own a Sony Ericsson K770 before which I bought right after watching CASINO ROYALE  😛 I was actually eyeing for the actual phone used in that Bond Film, the C902, but that phone is too expensive for me. Nevertheless, I found my K770 very reliable and its ability to be used as an internet modem and the ability to take quality photos were two reasons why I fell in love with it until I decided to let got when I got a PALM Centro Smartphone.

Having a good experience with Sony Ericsson, I made them my first choice.

When I got hold of their ELM, I said to myself, “This is it”. This is the phone that I’ve been looking for! Elegant look, good camera ( according to you tube reviews ) and threaded text messaging! But then, just when I was ready to purchase and all.. every dealer, every store only had a Pearly Pink ELM. They couldnt give me a BLACK ELM which I desperately wanted!

My enthusiasm with the SE’s ELM dwindled and I even considered getting an LG BL20 New Chocolate and a Samsung S7220 as worthy replacements. Then I met SE HAZEL, an ericsson phone with identical features with the ELM, but better in terms of screen size and comes with a slider feature for a more elegant feel.

Here are some screen shots of SE HAZEL: 

THREADED TEXT MESSAGING

 

WALK MATE ECO APP

 

CHECKBOOK APP

CALENDAR

HONG KONG Revisited


Three  years after my last visit, I had the opportunity to once again visit Hong Kong. 

Me,Gwen and my family scheduled a three day vacation trip from March 12-14 and we were lucky to catch Hong Kong on a winter season.

It feels so great to once again walk the glamorous streets of Hong Kong, by day and by night. The winter chill made us enjoy this tour more and its interesting to see people flash their winter clothes in the streets as if you are watching fashion tv.

We checked in at Kowloon Hotel and its definitely where we needed it to be. Its along Tsim Tsa Tsui road which Im very familiar with, its like evrything was running on deja vu, and I wouldnt go far from it.

Sculpture on Tsim Tsa Tsui

After checking in our baggages, we started our first day on a subway train ride to the Peak Tram station.

train destination fares

inside the subway train

peak tram station

We had to walk a few kilometers to the peak tram station and we were sort of lost but nevertheless, we never felt exhausted and enjoyed the winter chill very much.

waiting for the peak tram

It was foggy everywhere and it was at its most at the peak! It was hard taking pictures. Whats the use of taking photos at the peak when you couldnt say you’re at the peak but just a place with a foggy background?. The ticket was on single use and we were fortunate that the ticket lady was very considerate enough to re allow us to enter the peak platform and view the lighted city below us.

a view from the peak

the cast of Meet Joe Black

We were also able to enter Madam Tussaud’s wax museum and it was my first time as well. The models were fascinating! its as if you are looking and poking the real person itself! Its just frustrating not to see my idol Bruce Lee on display but it turned ok since I was able to pose with Pierce Brosnan and Anthony Hopkins as worthy substitutes. 🙂

That same night before going to sleep, I decided to walk the streets with my Kiss X Digital and my buddy tripod and took some long exposure shots.

DAY 2

The second day started with our breakfast at McDonalds and I had a delicious Grilled Chicken burger which isnt available in the Philippines yet. 

grilled chicken burger

 Then we had a quick stop over at Heritage Park for some souvenir photos. According to one of the guards, the said park used to be an embassy of some sort that belonged to the british government. ( that explains the heavy machine guns located on the terraces ). It was nice observing all sorts people from on top of the palace, from peers strolling to couples having their post nuptial shoot was indeed a sight to capture.

Heritage Park

chinese couple

 After a few quick shots of the place, we hurried to the Buddha temple located at the far end of the city. We tried to take the fastest route going in thru a cable car and bus ride back to the city. As much as we wanted to go near the temple, time dictates us not to since we need to be at Hong Kong disneyland by 4PM. Though we had a short stay at disneyland and Ma was a bit dismayed not to have witnessed the parade show. Nevertheless, we tried to make the best of it and enjoyed at least the main attractions of the park.

 

disney train

 

3D Theater

Disney Fireworks

DAY 3:

We spent our last day at the wonderfull Ocean Park which was so vast that you can hardly complete to scour and enjoy the whole park without crying from sheer exhaustion from going back and forth the steep walkways. Nevertheless, It was really fun coming to this place for the second time and its very comforting to see my folks enjoying every single part of the park.

We made it back to our hotel and just had enough time to buy souvenirs on the streets and was fortunate enough to meet a vendor who happened to be a filipina and gave us substantial discounts on her items.

On the way to the airport, I once again felt that my stay was too short and there are still so much in it that I wasnt able to explore. I love Hong Kong and I am looking forward to another trip next year.

Intramuros


 

Last March 27, 2010, I suddenly had this last minute decision to use my permit to participate in PIPHO’s Intramuros’ photo contest. I have been wanting to join the moment they had posted it but confronted with weeks of procrastination, flu and then the hongkong vacation with my relatives. I got to finally shoot the location on its last day since you can never shoot places in Intramuros with a fucking permit which I doubt they prohibit tourists from taking photos with SLR’s.

anyway, I went there on solo this time. away from my group since they already get to shoot 3 weeks ago and that time i was having a flu and just met them for lunch at Harbor View instead. So I got there with a fully equipt camera bag and a heavy tripod, parked alongside Mapua and walked along every possible streets inside the Intramuros. I wore my ID so that guards wouldnt be pestering me if I have my permit.

It was a hot day but nevertheless,  I had fun shooting churches,  different kinds of people and the busy streets of Intramuros.

These are my share of photos of Intramuros..

rooster resting on antique window

street children

The Streets of Intramuros under long Exposure


Last Friday, January 22,2010, I was driving  for a meeting with our company’s president and my manager.

 Traffic wasnt going smoothly.

 It was sunny and my airconditioning isnt at the best of conditions that time. I was running on “fan mode”. Imagine how hot and perspiring could that experience be!

While wiping my sweat with my handkerchief, and with the traffic, I was able to spot a nearby construction site positioned on my left. I smirked and quickly grabbed my Powershot G9, rolled down my window and took this shot..

I parked my car at the Manila Doctors parking lot and since it was near lunch time, We decided to have it over Robinsons Place.

While walking to Robinsons place, I came across another post that grabbed my easily distracted attention.

The sign reads..

Who would have thought that there would be an organization for the oppressed! I reflected for a moment to think of almost anyone I have oppressed since childhood. I got scared that most of them might see this specially some officemates of mine who I have picked on almost everyday. 😛

________________________________________________________________________

November 26, 2010

went to greenhills night bazaar after work with gwen and saw this sign.. How do you say this one?

My EFS 55-250 IS LENS REVIEW


Yesterday, I was able to make another ( I wouldn’t say unnecessary ) expense and finally got my own Canon EF S 55-250 IS at JT photoworld after looking at its reviews on the web for almost a month. I was actually eyeing on the canon 18-200 or the tamron’s 18-270 but the reviews that I got were just average and considering the price tags of each compared to the El Cheapo 55-250, there are no alternatives for this lens. I just wanted to have a zoom lens that is very light to carry since I always use the EFS-17-55 f 2.8 since I do portraits and landscapes most of the time.

I tried the 55-250 this afternoon at Gamboa St. Park near greenbelt and I was happy with the optical results of this lens. The IS works as expected and I had no problems on taking shots at 250mm unlike  shots that I got from a 70-200 f4 w/o IS @ 200mm handheld. There is one catch though with the 55-250, it can only work at its optimum performance with plenty of light. A cloudy day or a park full of trees will force you to shift to higher ISO’s.

Nevertheless, with its price tag, optical performance, Its a perfect travel lens and  a perfect companion to my mighty EFS 17-55 IS f2.8.

Here’s a sample shot that Ive taken..a Sand Lizard ( bubuli ) devouring an insect @ 250mm

more EFS 55-250 sample shots at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronald_urbina/4258304235/