By Ces Noble

Pinoys are known to be value-oriented. We actually have a double meaning for the word ‘value,’ and both are considered important. There is the ‘economic value’ or ‘dapat sulit’ and the socio-cultural side where ‘value’ or pagpapahalaga for what is considered essential or valuable in life. How is it applied to travel or trips? Here’s the buzz:

Fil-Ams are known to regularly visit the Philippines to reunite or reconnect with family, relatives and friends. They go home for Lola’s 80th birthday, the parents 25th wedding anniversary, and even reunions of not just college but even elementary schools. Uniquely Pinoy cultural values.

During this vacation, you wanted to take your relatives somewhere exciting, but have actually gone through the usual Boracay, Cebu and Palawan escapades. Where can you go that is affordable, not too far-away, and sulit.

How about Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam? It is an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country, so no need for visa, ‘passport lang go-ra na!’ Checkout our recent trip.

Why go to Hanoi, Vietnam for a side trip? What is the main value and the added value?

Together with my mother and my son, I visited Hanoi for the first time. For the roundtrip fare and the hotel stay (5D/4N), I paid $339.00. Two queen beds, a whirlpool bath and free buffet breakfast. Not bad. Our hotel is 200 meters away from Hang Da wholesale market.

Yay!

But wait – is it safe to walk at night? Based on reviews and our experience – it is relatively safe. When you get lost, people will try hard to speak English and help you.

We planned for a day of walking tour and shopping and two days to see popular attractions. So we set for a Halong Bay Cruise and the Trang-An eco-tourism tour.

We have gone to the Bai Dinh pagoda, which also the site of their biggest Buddha Sanctuary in Vietnam. More than 600 statues of buddhas and monks lined the temple. But the real highlight was the trek to the Kong – Skull Island.

During the Skull Island tour, we shared the boat with Caroline, a Swedish consular officer based in Bangkok. We asked her, why Vietnam? (Alluding to – why not the Philippines.) She said, she has not heard anything bad about Vietnam (perhaps compared to Philippines which I did not dare to ask). Move on!

Veitnam cuisine is one of their tourist charms. The simplicity of the meal and the quality of its ingredients make the dishes exceptional. Vietnamese food relies on a delicate balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavors. Don’t miss the Goi Cuon, a spring roll packed with greens.

So is it a value trip? Definitely yes, but we can’t help but compare Halong to Coron. We proudly told our new Japanese friends and our Swedish acquaintance that we have the same eco-tourism site, but the difference is we can jump to swim and snorkel in the water.

(So, actually the Philippine version has more value.)

But the real value in the trip was really FAMILY TIME. It was my mom’s birthday and we celebrated it there. She shopped for bags, footwear, accessories and paid millions in VND.

She got a bag worth 1.2M VND (about $50). My son enjoyed comparing Vietnam and the Philippines, mostly the people and the culture. As for me, I would say that we searched for value and we found it. I also realized that –we can also create value. We carry it with us – and that is so Pinoy!

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