Category Archives: Travel

Exploring BALI, Indonesia

If you’re a beach lover, if you frequently go to Boracay or Palawan to hit the white sands, then probably one other destination you’ve thought of going to, would be BALI. I had the same plan in mind.

BALI = BEACH.

So again, when Cebu Pacific included this destination on sale, I found myself booking another impromptu trip. When I was researching for it I wanted to stay somewhere quiet, because my main goal was to relieve some stress from work. I read a lot of blogs, Trip Advisor, and other sites with testimonials.

Bali has so many beaches north, east, west and south. It depends on what environment you’re after. So after several days of contemplating, we ended up booking a hotel at Nusa Dua, the name of the hotel being Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

The Nusa Dua area is considered to be a quiet beach of Bali as it is private. You’ll need to enter the Nusa Dua Beach Complex where a number of mid-high end hotels are located, and they all share a strip of private white beach. It’s perfect in the morning but tide gets REALLY low in the afternoon.

Here’s our hotel, very Balinese looking right? Service was great and it was so big there was so much to do. They have 2 huge swimming pools, 1 lap pool, a gym, Squash court, game room, tennis courts, sauna, Jacuzzi, name it.

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By observation, we noticed Bali’s doors/gates all look similar, but in different sizes. They look similar to the gigantic one we have at our hotel.
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Another thing that I was very excited with going to Bali, aside from the beach and hotel, was the food. Prior to the trip we’ve already researched some food options to try, and I believe we pretty much succeeded in tasting their most famous local food!

Bebek Bengil – LOOOOVE. This is like Duck Crispy Pata.
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Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3 – Their suckling pig was yummy! Not to mention the balat.
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Photo from CuisineQuest

Naughty Nuri’s – Exceptional, juicy and tender BBQ Pork RIbs.
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Photo from TripAdvisor

We also recommend doing a sunset dinner at Jimbaran Beach. We tried the Blue Marlin Restaurant as recommended by our tour driver, but since it’s Dampa style like here in Manila, I think you are safe to choose pretty much any resto, just choose the ambiance. Price ranges are quite pricey, but you’ll love the view of the sunset. Perfect for romantic dates! 🙂

Aside from the hotel and food, I was also interested to know about Bali’s culture, the locals’ life away from the beach, so we went on a day tour to the town of Ubud, and neighboring places.

Batuan Temple – very nice Balinese Structures and picture perfect if you’ll ask me!
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The Monkey Forest – cute little monkeys you can hang out with, feed, but can’t touch!
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Luwak Coffee Tasting – Coffee that’s processed out of the Civet Cat’s Poop. We also tasted other sorts of coffee (that tasting coffee strip in the photo below is free!), I just had to pay for the cup of Luwak Coffee (on the lef) for 50,000 IDR. It tasted stronger than usual coffee, and I was already contented with just tasting it. It was quite pricey too! Since I am a coffee lover, I brought home 1KG of ground Arabica Bali Kopi! Yay! 🙂

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Ubud’s Rice Terraces – it was a nice sight to see even if we have our own up Northern Philippines.
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Last but not the least, the BEACH. I’m quite surprised myself how I haven’t sun-bathed after my 3 days of stay in a place where I had the BEACH in mind all along – but yet I was having so much fun!

Nusa Dua Beach
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Kuta Beach
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As you will notice, the beach was okay. Nusa Dua’s beach was quiet, the sand was semi-fine, but the water wasn’t very clear. We saw leaves floating around near the shoreline. As for Kuta, I will have to agree with most blogs that it’s not ideal for swimming as it’s a public beach so you would expect that other beaches in Bali would be nicer. In my honest opinion, I prefer the white sands of Palawan, Boracay, or even Davao’s Samal Island. Our sands and beaches are way better here in the Philippines.

To my pleasant surprise, I loved Bali for it’s culture, structures, and I loved trying out their food. For a picky eater like me it was quite surprising I tried some of their authentic spices – which they really LOVE.

Bali is one of the places where you can go and enjoy their culture, taste and feel something new. But if you’re in search for the finest beach/sand in the world then you don’t have to go down the map too far! We still have the best ones here in our country! 🙂

South Korea – Third Time’s a Charm

So I’m back to the beautiful country of South Korea this year, but the first time that I’m visiting during spring. The weather was awesome, it wasn’t too cold, and it was perfect for sight seeing.

This year I went with the boyfriend’s family…haha okay this is the first time that I’m mentioning this guy beside me (in photo below), so I’m officially introducting Jasper a.k.a. “the boyfriend”! I’d say this trip was totally different from the Winter Seoul that I’ve seen in previous years, and because it’s not too cold, going around outdoors made it much easier for me!

We went to the Namsanggol Village, which looked like Bukchon Village in my previous post. It also features traditional Korean houses, flowers, and nice views for visitors to take photos from.

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One of the beautiful village doors

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View from inside the village

 

We also went to the Myeongdong District, of course for shopping and for street food. We all surely enjoyed all the different variety from the long stretch. The price were not so high and they were really good! I captured this priceless photo of how this guy admired the potato stick hehe

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Healthy? or not? :p

We also watched the Cooking Show at the Nanta Theater. It’s a must see. Actually this is the second time I’ve been in this theater and they always feature good shows. This cooking show is nothing for moms only or women, it’s a show everyone can really enjoy.

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Playing with the knives

We also did research for some good eats and this resto particularly captured our attention. Try it when you’re in Myeong Dong. The name is Bong Chu Chicken. They only serve this dish, but trust me it’s super nice! See the smile on Jordan’s face (who is the boyfriend’s brother).

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Jordan and his spicy Bong Chu Chicken

We also went to the NamSan (North) Tower, which is probably one of the destinations you shouldn’t miss when going to Korea. This is my third time going to the tower, but this year, it’s more special (naks!). Okay get ready for the cheesy-ness. We placed a padlock in the Love Locks section, they say if you leave one then you’ll never be apart. Hopefully one day if we go back, we can still remember where we put it though!

Location: It’s at the second floor, near the 10th pillar from the left edge. Find it if you go there? 🙂

Side comment: The lock was provided by the boyfriend’s mom by the way. We weren’t really prepared 🙂

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Forgive my ugliness in this photo. It was dark and it was the most the iPhone flash could do

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Closer look at the lock, it says “Jasper ❤ Kathy”

Next stop, the Mt. Seorak. I have never been here before. It was a few hours of travel from the city, but worth it. There are actually a lot of things you can do aside from sight seeing. You can ride the cable car, or do different kinds of hiking, at different difficulty levels. Spend a whole day to make it worth it.

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The Mt. Seorak fortress is at the top of the rock behind us.

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Taking advantage of couple shots hehe

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View from the reception

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Family Selfie! Thanks to Tor’s monopod

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More cheesiness…

 

The following day we went to the Nami Island, the home of the Winter Sonata. Again, another first time destination for me. One thing I bring home from being in this island is that it’s the all-time cheesy place. It is perfect for couples as you can take photos with nice views everywhere.

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Entrance palang, may photo na 🙂

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The mini house

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Loving these pink trees, good thing the bf’s a sport, or wala syang choice but to take a pic with me! 🙂

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The “first kiss bridge”, popularized by the Winter Sonata

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Cute haystack houses. With Tor and Dina, the girlfriends of bf’s brothers

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The bf’s brothers

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Probably my favorite couple shot – The Ginko Tree Lane (Straight Line Trees)

Last but not the least, we went to Everland. I’m not a huge fan of theme parks, but we had to go for the reason that the boyfriend likes animals. Yes he does and we couldn’t miss it haha! To be fair with them though, you will be amazed by their zoo, the safari ride was great (truck turning into a boat), and there were so many animals we’ve seen that you won’t find in the Manila Zoo, not even in Singapore’s Night Safari. I have one happy kid after that visit. 🙂

What struck me though are the lovely flowers. As it was spring, it was the perfect timing for tulips to bloom. These are just some of the photos I took but there’s more in my Camera Roll.

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Tulips of different colors

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Life size comparison, they were big ones!

Last but not the least, I’d just like to showcase where we had our dinner on our last night. We really had to go beyond efforts to look for this hole-in-the-wall but very nice restaurant that cooks Beef Sirloin — and it was SO WORTH IT. The name of the restaurant is Daedo Siktang.

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Yummy and very tender beef sirloin

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Best in Korea since 1964!

Piece of advise when travelling to South Korea, it is really good to be prepared with your print outs having all the addresses of the places you want to visit, restaurants and basic Korean phrases with you. You’re lucky if you get to speak to people who can speak in English, but just be prepared. Perhaps I am a bit lucky as my previous employer graciously sent me to Korean Language school, but otherwise, just be prepared. In our trip alone, 5 out of the 9 of us got lost at some point in the trip, but they’re all fine now. So print print print!

Anyhoo, it was fun recollecting this trip, it’s been a month but all the weight gained is still in my belly! 🙂

Until our next trip!

 

Exploring El Nido

After half a year post this trip, I finally had the time to publish my review!

My college friends and I go to trips yearly, and in 2013 we chose to go to El Nido Palawan, after hearing so many good things about the place. They always say that you need to save up some money for a trip to this haven, but I beg to disagree and wanted to prove them wrong. It will definitely depend on how you’ll go about your trip, and what you want to see or do. I think I’ve already earned a degree with tipid trips for a while now haha!

Out of the 3 places popular in the Islands of Palawan (with Coron & Puerto Princesa), El Nido was my last stop. The entry point to this beautiful island was through Puerto Princesa, followed by a van ride that takes about 5-6 hours. You may opt to fly via a chartered plane of course, at premium costs. 🙂

For me, there are 2 ways on how to enjoy your El Nido trip. 1. Book an expensive hotel (there are really good ones at the Lagen and Miniloc Islands) and experience a high-end type of pampering, or 2. Walk around town for a cheap but clean hotel with easy access to local restaurants and local livelihood. Our group chose the 2nd, as we were in some sort of a “budget” too hehe!

We arrived at the town of El Nido and went to the beach front hotels to look for a place to stay. We all agreed to book Hotel Garnet, which was right across the road from the beach. It only costs 2400 php per night for 4 people. Such a steal right? It comes with unlimited supply of coffee, 24×7. Not bad for a coffee drinker like me.

You won't miss this bright orange colored hotel at any time of the day

You won’t miss this bright orange colored hotel at any time of the day (Photo from Trip Advisor)

The town proper is relatively small. When I say small, you can walk your way around it, as it’s only in one street. There you’ll see all the hotels, bars and restos. Try Squidos, Sea Slugs, and the Hilltop resto for a live band. They all serve good seafood. While we were having lunch at Squidos, an in house lady named “Jessica” (who turned out to be the sister-in-law of the owner), came up to us and offered tour packages. There were several to choose from. Either you want to see lagoons and beaches; caves and coves; or hidden islands and secret beaches. Our group chose the combination tour which was a little expensive, but had a good mix of all, and would only highlight the best ones. Tour packages ranged from 800-900 php per head but the combo tour cost 1,500 php.

All tours start early, and usually take the whole day. Here’s a photo of us early in the morning, habang mapuputi pa kami hehe!

All aboard our boat!

All aboard our boat with our kuya bangkero

First stop, the Helicopter Island . It was called “Helicopter” because it was shaped liked one at a distance. It was also where we stopped by and took time to snorkel. Wish I could take photos but I don’t have an underwater camera. It was lovely, but I think Coron’s underwater view was much nicer.

Photo from VirTourist.com

Photo from VirTourist.com

View from the beach

View from the beach

Against the light

Against the light

Second destination, the Secret Beach. As the word “secret” implies, it means that the beach is hidden in between rock formations. We had to walk our way inside where you’ll be surprised to see a beach surrounded with deep waters.

Excuse my shawl, it was too sunny I tried to protect burning my face

Excuse my shawl hehe

Better view of the waters getting deep from green to blue

Water getting deep from green to blue

Third stop, the Matinloc Shrine. Our tour guides said that it’s owner built it just to show gratitude to the people of Matinloc Island. There lies an abandoned mansion, and a shrine with limestone walls. But what’s most breath-taking for this stop was the 180 degrees view of the islands from the top. You have to climb steep rock formations to reach it, be careful as the rocks were really sharp — to think we were in our bikinis! haha!

Group photo from the top

Group photo from the top

The shrine at the center

The shrine at the center

My friend Schubert and the superb view behind him

My friend Schubert and the superb view behind him

At half way through we then headed to the Talisayen Beach for lunch! This was already inclusive in the tour package. You just had to tell your guides a day before on what your food preferences are, and they will cook for you. They allowed us to rest and relax at the beach while they cooked our food on the spot.

View of the beach

View of the beach

FOOD! We had all sorts of seafood with liempo and fruits. Look at the garnish! How nice right?

FOOD! We had all sorts of seafood with liempo and fruits. Look at the garnish! How nice right?

Ready to attack!

Ready to attack!

After a little siesta, we headed to the second half of our tour, the lagoons. This part is where I got my cuts from the corals. I’m not scaring you, but it’s quite inevitable. Wear aqua shoes if you have them. They’re worth it though. Six months after and I still have the scars in my legs, but it’s fine. They’re my battle scars!

Lagoon – a stretch of salt water separated from the sea by a low sandbank or coral reef. -definition from Google.com

First lagoon in the list, the “Secret Lagoon” as you had to go into a hole to see what’s inside.

The lagoon entrance

The lagoon entrance

Human to nature size comparison hehe

Human to hole size comparison hehe

View from inside the lagoon

View from inside the lagoon

We never miss a group shot

We never miss a group shot

Next stop, and probably the nicest lagoon for me, was the Big Lagoon. It had this view where it seemed like 2 huge rock formations separated as you enter/exit the deep sea.

Carmie and I were just in awe of the view

Kaye and I were just in awe of the view

In a different angle

In a different angle

Third and final lagoon for the tour, is the Small Lagoon. Why? No one knows, my guess was that if there’s a Big Lagoon, there also had to me a small version of it. LOL.

Lagoon entrance

Lagoon entrance (Photo from Footloose)

After going in the lagoon entrance

After going in the lagoon entrance

View from inside

View from inside

Last but not the least, the highlight of the whole tour for me, the Seven Commandos Beach. Why? I just loved how fine the sand was, very much comparable to the white sands of Boracay’s Boat Station 1. We didn’t bother to ask why it was named that way, but Google tells us that in the old times there were seven soldiers who lived in the island and carved their names in stones. We never saw those stones. 🙂 Anyhoo, the guide allowed us to rest at the beautiful beach after all the walking and hopping that we did from the lagoons. I actually fell asleep while the gang took a dip. It was the perfect way to end the tour.

View before sunset

View before sunset

My lovely friends relaxing after their swim

My lovely friends relaxing after their swim, look at the sand, my golly!

Near sunset shot

Near sunset shot

We headed back to the town before dark, all tired and most of us bruised, but I’m sure that we all had a great time. What we saw were priceless. It was different than what you expect in Puerto Princesa’s islands or Coron, where it’s so beautiful underneath. El Nido has it’s own set of natural wonders that you won’t find elsewhere. I enjoyed all the secret places that I discovered on that tour.

And this is how we were at the end of the day – sunog! haha!

I really had a bad sunburn hehe

I really had a bad sunburn hehe

Be sure to bring your sunblock for both the body and face as you’ll have to reapply every so often. If you have rash guards and aqua shoes, they will be your best buds. But if you want tan lines (like us! haha) then you can also pull it off by just wearing your swimwear all day.

Our group had dinner at the Hilltop Restaurant  (in photo above) where we listened to a local band, and had some drinks before we headed back to Puerto Princesa and Manila the next day.

Trip costs (in PH pesos):

Round Trip Airfare – 1,874.40
4D/3N Hotel Accommodation – 1,800
Round Trip Van & Tricycle fares – 1,200
Whole Day Tour with Food – 1,500

Total – PHP 6,374.00

Not bad right?

I didn’t include my pocket money for food and drinks as this will vary depending on your appetite. The food is cheap anyway so meals would only range from 150-200 php, busog meals.

So who says you need to spend a lot for El Nido? 🙂

The Michelin Star Hunt @ HK, 2014

This post is short and sweet, but I wanted to highlight some of the best food finds from my latest trip.

I just got back from Hong Kong last night, and it wasn’t necessarily my first time, but it was the first that I’ve intentionally travelled for food hunting rather than visiting Mickey Mouse or go seeing the whales and the sharks (of course shopping is a given).

So I booked 4 days and 3 nights to eat Chinese food, look for restos awarded with Michelin Stars, and try to discover places where its affordable but would still please my tummy!

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The photo above shows 9 of the best things I’ve eaten or drunk during the trip. I’ll go by row.

1. Yung Kee (Central) – awarded 1 Michelin Star; try their roast goose, it’s their best seller!

2. Sweet Dynasty (Tsim Sha Tsui) – try their assorted fruits tofu pudding, 3. mango pancake (they are crepes actually, but that’s what the locals call it); and 4. pan fried turnip cake (favorite). Their food was overall really yummy!

5. Tim Ho Wan (Central) – awarded with 1 Michelin Star at their original branch in Kowloon; we had to queue up for 1 hour for this. Try their baked pork buns and you’ll forget your name. We also ordered 6. pork siomai, shrimp hakaw, veggie & seamoss hakaw, deep fried pork dumplings, and bbq pork hofan.

7. Happy Valley Bar & Grill (Happy Valley) – take a break from all the Chinese cuisine and enjoy exciting brews (rare beer finds); We loved the Erdinger Wheat Beer and the Lindemans Framboise Cranberry Alcoholic Drink;

8. CaliBurger (Wanchai) – I know we have this in Manila but it was their only branch in HK (for now) so just had to try it there 🙂

9. Wing Wah (Wanchai) – once awarded 1 Michelin Star; This over 60-year old place is still visited by locals and visitors in the area. Try their shrimp wonton noodles!

…and last but not the least

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10. Turo turo / Street food (Lockhart Road / Times Square) – I wouldn’t discount this place for sure! Who can resist eating fried food on sticks after a few bottles of beer?? We tried the octopus, siomai, hungarian sausages, fish ball/radish curry and egg waffles.

Hungry now??

I hope we have the same taste in food, or at least for some. There are a lot more places to eat at in HK but I sure did enjoy pigging out at these places. I placed the location of the restos but some have other branches, so all you need is to be resourceful with your map.

Happy food tripping!

Missing Tokyo (Part 2 of Japan Trip)

Another long overdue post! But something that shouldn’t be missed. I haven’t blogged in a while again, but today I just felt like finishing what I have started last year – my summary of our Japan trip last April 2013!

Tokyo has probably been one of the places that I always had in my travel list – why? Perhaps because of the culture, the technological advancement, high standard living, and more. I’ve always wondered how a country so near the Philippines can be considered first world??

True enough I’ve enjoyed every bit of that trip. Here are some of the highlights, and places that made a mark for me and I highly recommend to visit when you go to Tokyo. The fastest and I can say easiest way to get around the city is through their subway. Despite it being Japanese, it was very easy to read and navigate, not to mention they now have letter/number codes to make it easier for tourists!

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Probably the biggest Uniqlo store with 12 floors (8 for shopping), at Ginza, Tokyo.

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Ginza, Tokyo – they close the roads oon Sundays for shoppers, look how nice this street is. There are huge buildings but the roads are narrow.

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The famous dog Hachiko in Shibuya! My sister was so gigil she wanted to bring it home hehe

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Visit the Izakayas (or inuman places) in Shibuya. We enjoyed their cocktails and unlimited supply of edamame!

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Shibuya Crossing – MUST SEE! Probably the busiest multi-road crossing that I’ve seen. Best at night with all the lights and when people are off work.

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Tsukiji Market – enjoy free tastes just by going around the market and mabubusog ka na! hehe lots of ramen places, don buri, sushi and pasalubongs etc.

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Find this chasyu ramen place in Tsukiji because it is really the BEST! Just remember this logo.

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Tsukiji – then we went into this sushi place, it was a bit pricey but they really make fresh ones. Again i’m not a huge fan but I really loved what he made for us!

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Tamago and Kani sushi were my favorites! 🙂

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You’ll see Yakult street vendors in the streets too! My cousin Terri bought one just for the heck of it.

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Akasaka – the CBD. I had to take a side trip to visit my previous employer’s headquarters, Thomson Reuters. For a few hours I experienced how it felt like going to work there haha…

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Harajuku Street – visit this place on Sundays as the young ones/teenagers dress up like cosplayers or anime. They call it the shopping and entertainment place.

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Harajuku – one of the shops. It is the place where you can see the trendiest clothings and accessories for teenagers!

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Pablo Cheese Tart Shibuya – a new discovery! We found ours in Shibuya but it may have already new branches now. It was super delicious. I’ve seen nothing like that here in Manila

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Pablo Cheese Tart – the real thing!

And there you have it, my recollection of my Tokyo trip in photos. Of course a trip won’t be complete without vanity shots! Sorry, babae lang! 🙂

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PURIKURA (also known as neoprint) – they say you’ve never been to Japan if you don’t have this!

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…and a Tokyo Selfie at a Shiseido Boutique hehe!

til my next trip! 🙂

I Left My Stomach in Japan (Part 1: Osaka & Kyoto)

Such a long overdue post! Been so busy at work lately that I nearly forgot I had a blog *teehee*.

This is probably one post that I can’t skip, as this is one of the destinations that I probably dreamed of going ever since. The visa application I thought was tideous, perhaps because I had to prepare for myself and my shobe, who’s still a student (ang daming financial support ek ek that required documents from my mom!). Thank God we all got approved.

We chose to land at Osaka for one reason – the ticket was on sale LOL! We booked it for 2000 pesos one way – such a steal. Bahala na how to get to Tokyo and how to get back. We eventually got a ticket from Narita to Manila for only 9000 pesos. I always brag about this 11000 pesos (total) airfare for a roundtrip ticket to Japan hehe!

Osaka was a nice laid back place, not a busy city, more provincial looking. We stayed at the Hotel Nikko which is located at the Shinsaibashi shopping district. The weather was freezing. It was somewhere at 8-12 degrees Celsius. We arrived at night so we just had to walk the streets and find a place that’s still open. Guess where we ended up — haha! of course – an Izakaya (or an inuman place)!

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With Ers, Dazz and Shobe

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Octopus with Wasabi

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Hot Sa-ke

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With Tersh and Tim

And so as expected, we were not yet busog, so we walked some more and stumbled upon a carinderia looking place that sells Gyoza (dumplings). To our lovely surprise they also had ramen, so we had to try them and it was super good!

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Authentic Cha-syu Ramen (this was really to die for!)

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Gyoza – super yum!

First stop the next day was the Osaka Aquarium. It is known for it’s size and uniqueness. Basically you climb up the escalator of 8 floors to walk your way (circular) down as you see the water creatures, or mammals or animals or however you like 🙂

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With my shobs

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Those are actually wind chimes. Nice no?

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How it is inside…

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May ume-emo lang haha

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Crab-let. Life size comparison. It was huge!

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You can touch the mantarey. Slimy daw shobe said. I couldn’t dare 🙂

Next stop, the search for the last of the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). Okay, I shall explain. We planned on going to Japan earlier in April to catch the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom, but too bad my sister still had school and we wanted her to come, so we waited until the second week before we could go. Unfortunately Sakuras only bloom quickly, and that is the main reason why it is not the main attraction of our trip hehe! We heard from very reliable Japanese sources that different more kinds could be found in higher mountain ranges, so we’re all up for it. Literal na naghahanap kami ng pink na puno haha!

Before that search, our hungry tummies stumbled upon kalye restaurants (oh yes we love streetfood because everything fancy is just so expensive!), that cook Takoyaki! It was so good, forgive me if I forgot the price, but it wasn’t so bad na for its quantity! I realized Takoyaki in pinas doesn’t have octopus in it, that’s why it made the experience so much different!

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Takoyaki – fried veggie ballls with this sort of breading with octopus!

The not yet so full me and shobe still went inside McDonalds to try their EBI Filet-O which is actually a Shrimp burger! Something we can’t find here in Pinas.

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Sorry no open shot haha walang sense!

And then they were found. We went up to this place called Sakuranomiya Park where you will still see Cherry Blossoms in bloom but not at it’s peak anymore. Well, it had to do. Noticeably the photo is not too “pink” anymore, but nevertheless it was still kikay to begin with. haha!

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Happy shobe found her Sakura!

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…and so did I hehe

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She loves Cherry Blossoms because it’s pink. She even has it as her scent!

After overflowing our eyes with pink, we then headed back to Osaka to see the Osaka Castle. Not that there was anything extravagant to see, but I think Osaka is known for it’s temples and castles, so might as well visit one or 2.

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Feeling photographer while walking to the castle… It’s like a river separating the CBD from the country side. How’s that perspective?

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The Osaka temple from outside the walls

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Pose muna as we get closer to the castle, it was a LOOOOONG walk going inside.

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Finally the temple – right in front of me!

After that long walk, we headed to Dotonbori, which is another tourist destination that used to be a pleasure district (but all gone now), and now turned out to be a shopping alley with restaurants and food stalls. Forever 21, H&M have opened up their stores there as well (haha additional knowledge lang for the women!).

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Dotonbori at night

Again, we did not go to Japan to shop, but rather to EAT. We found this very in demand cha-syu ramen restaurant that serves nothing else but still sobrang haba ng pila. So we had to give it a try.

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This chain of resto is easy to remember, a green dragon in orange walls.

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The very busy chef. Hindi pwede kausapin :-p

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Heaven at our finger tips… or chopsticks. Another super good cha-syu ramen. Obviously my favorite. I’ve been eating it haha!

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Are you hungry?

And still… the unsatisfied tummies of the Uy’s and the Sy’s was still in search of food. So we went into this revolving sushi buffet to cap of our dinner for that night. I probably had 6 or 7 plates haha!

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Sushi buffet

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Kani Maki

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The sushi cooks

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Ebi Maki

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Milk pudding that I bought on the streets again…while walking 🙂

Next stop… KYOTO, Japan. Yet another provincial destination that highlights one of the most loved views when in Japan, and you must have heard of it. We went to Kyoto to see the Temple of the Golden Pavillion. I can say Kyoto has a very nice train station, much better than Osaka, it looks very modern.

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Kyoto Train Station

It was also the same place where I saw this very cute strawberry bun. I love how Japanese make every thing so cute!

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Strawberry flavored bun – but it was a bit expensive.

We still had to take a bus to finally see the temple. It was really nice, though apart from taking photos, there weren’t really that much to do inside the temple.

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The Temple of the Golden Pavillion

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Whoelse, my shobe dear

I wouldn’t leave Kyoto without pigging out of course, so before we headed back to the train station we stopped for lunch. I was craving for some Tonkatsu. Fried fried fried. We just found this restaurant down the street of the Golden Pavillion entrance, and it was delicious. A little pricey, but worth it. So I had Tonkatsu with udon on the side.

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Bento box

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Nabitin pa, one more tempura hehe

Last stop, the Fushimi Inari Temple, still in Kyoto, known for its uniqueness, you’ll see multiple orange arcs that seem to never end.

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Entrance just beside a train stop

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Orange arcs

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With Tersh

Now Tokyo bound! We decided to take the overnight Cocoon Bus instead of the Shinkansen – that’s now a reason for me to go back to Japan!!

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Cocoon shaped chairs – bus

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My seat

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Reclining seat with a facial mirror, foot rest, table, tv with movies and video games

I’ll park for now, this is way too long! Part 2 – the rest of the trip in TOKYO. The city life in Japan. 🙂

Amazing Batanes: Home of the Winds

This post is a little long overdue but I can’t skip putting it up in my BLOG – No!

Anyway – this trip was a little last minute as I literally decided to go along with the Travel Magazine Crew, Travel Ambassadors and Unilever folks, just a week before the said trip. Now what I loved about it was that its “winter” season in Batanes in February and wanted to know how cold it could get at the northern most part of the country.

Just a little trivia, Batanes is the smallest province in the country in terms of population and land area. It is composed of 10 main islands of which 3 are inhabited. These are the islands of Batan, Itbayat and Sabtang. The people of Batanes are called the Ivatans. 

I’ve always wanted to visit this island out of curiosity  as anyone who landed and got back had nothing but praises. I honestly only searched and googled Batanes photos a week before the trip, only to realize that it was a photographer’s heaven, a nature lover’s sanctuary, and the perfect place to relax. Note when I say a photographer’s heaven, I really mean it! In fact there are no ugly photos in this place because you can’t take any bad shot. Majority of the scenic photos I’ll put in my blog are all taken by me (forgive the strobist), and just with an iPhone, otherwise with my Canon G12, or grabbed from our group, so I’ll place photo sources!

Enough of my ramblings, we landed at Basco at the Batan Island where the airport is located, and the weather was beautiful. It was chilly but not too cold. As we were traveling with Media and Travel Ambassadors, our trip was fully planned and we had travel agents with us all throughout.

SkyJet by Magnum Air

SkyJet by Magnum Air

We stayed at the Amboy Hometel which we solely occupied for that weekend  (how cool is that?). It looked like the Pinoy Big Brother house, very homey and relaxed.

Amboy Hometel

Amboy Hometel

We didn’t have to waste any time so right after we lodged our bags at the hometel, we immediately left and started our official “tour”. First stop was the Chawa View Deck where you will go hundreds of steps down a cliff and take a look at the view sitting on top of rock formations as the water hits them.

View from the top

View from the top

Going down the steps

Going down the steps

View from the bottom

View from the bottom

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Another view from the bottom

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DJ TonyToni of Boys Night Out — pumopose lang! hehe

Rovilson Fernandez -- parang naghahanap ng fish haha!

Rovilson Fernandez — parang naghahanap ng fish haha!

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We made it going back up! Medyo tiring sa taas.

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Picture muna with our travel sponsor – Rexona! #domore (Photo credit: Aidz Dy)

After that we went to Naidi Hills heading towards the Naidi Hill Lighthouse. It goes up to a mountain edge where it previews the Valugan Boulder Beach. It was another breathtaking view where you’d feel like you’re Julie Andrews singing “The hills are alive…”.

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Narrow roads with no barricades – steep mountain cliffs at the side!

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Where green and blue can really go together!

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Rovilson, Tony and Marie goofing around trying to be a “No Other Man” poster.

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Another lovely view

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Green green grass…

After some initial sight seeing we headed straight to the Naidi Hill Lighthouse, where we took so many photos, and jumpshots haha!

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Such a nice subject

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Group photo! From L-R Erwin, Daz, Tony, Terri, Rovilson, Me, Mo, Marie, Choey, She, Bill, Aidz and Antz. (Photo credit: Terri Sy)

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Jump shot! Attention to the kalbos, and forgive my big belly! LOL (Photo credit: Aidz Dy)

Next stop: Valugan Bay Boulder Beach! Probably one of the highlights for me. I really LOVED the view here. Imagine a beach, but instead of sands you’ll see huge rocks? It was amazing. Not to mention the waves were really large — not for surfing though as you won’t make it alive.

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Rocks don’t look as huge – but they are!

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I was trying to catch the huge waves

Before I head to our last two destinations that day, let me feature our very neat tourist shuttle!

Bataan Cultural Travel Agency

Bataan Cultural Travel Agency

Before we closed for dinner we went underneath the Japanese Tunnel, where the Japanese of course hid during the war. There were rooms underneath, which were typically just open spaces (photo below), and with holes reaching the top that served as their ventilation (see the hole on top of my head?).

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A room under the Japanese Tunnel (Photo from Canon G12)

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Low headroom underneath (Photo from my Canon G12)

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At the top of the bunker (Photo from Canon G12)

On our way home we passed by the Fundacion Pacita – probably the nicest hotel that you can stay at in Batanes. We were told that during this season it ranges from around 7,000 to 18,000php per night depending on room/villa type. Highly recommended! And because it was that expensive, our group just chose to schedule dinner so we can “experience” the place hehe!

Fundacion Pacita

Fundacion Pacita (Photo from my Canon G12)

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Interior – our dinner table

Our last stop, the Tukon Church and Tukon Radar Station, where you’ll get an awesome sunset shot of Batanes. Although it was cloudy, the view was still Instagram worthy!

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Tukon Church. Sunset lighting reflects on church rocks – ang ganda!

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Another group shot — we’re all here! (Photo credit: Aidz Dy)

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Batanes Sunset

We also came across this very interesting machine called “Sunlight Recorder” that notes how hot it got in one particular day. It was measured due to how burnt the piece of white paper underneath the glass would be. You must not move or touch it though as it will ruin the timing. Unfortunately, someone from our group (whom I chose not to name, but clue is that he’s kalbo) played with it and moved the whole thing! LOL! Laughtrip moment.

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Sunlight Recorder – not so accurate that day anymore haha!

On the second day we were scheduled to go to the second island of Batanes, which is Sabtang, and your exit point is by going via the Port of Ivana. This is also where you’ll find the Honesty store.

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Honesty Store Facade

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Hats off to the owner! Nice concept.

Before we go to Sabtang, I do have more trivia (yes, inuwi ko yung Batanes Info sheet that was in the airplane haha! and it is for the purpose of this blog post!) – In 1994, Sabtang was declared by the Department of Tourism as one of the 12 Best Destinations in the Philippines. Why? It’s because of its white sand beaches, the very famous rock arch formation and natural coral condition found in the Duvek Bay of this island. You’ll also see traditional houses at the Chavayan Village, trust me something you probably haven’t seen before!

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Port of Sabtang

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Sabtang Church

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View from the Port of Sabtang – with me! hehe

We headed to another set of hills in Sabtang, and you can’t say that you’ve had enough bundok, because each view was just different! The hills in Sabtang were going downhill then uphill before you reach this view of the sea in between mountains!

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Peak-a-boo view of the beach while at the top of a hill

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Hills…

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Hills pa rin…

Mahangin talaga sa labas! Photo credit: Aidz Dy

Mahangin talaga sa labas! Photo credit: Aidz Dy

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The uphill view after going downhill. The wind was blowing really hard that time.

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Honeymooners Rovi and Tony enjoying their view

After that we headed to the Chavayan Village where you’ll see the traditional Ivatan houses. It was facing the see hence all the doors are placed perpendicular to the blow of the wind (smart diba?) and relatively with low headroom so the wind doesn’t blow away their stuff! That was how hard it could be.

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Village roads

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Some of the houses

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Their traditional weaver’s hat I’m wearing is called “vakul” while the vest that Tonytoni is wearing is called a “tadidi”. Naka-shades pa talaga kami LOL

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More stone houses

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Chavayan Village Church — they have so many churches in Batanes!

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Pose lang — super nice ng views! Should’ve stayed away from grey clothing though, I know!

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Their nipa tambayan — I was really showcasing the low headroom more than anything like my pata and calf muscles! LOL

After touring the whole morning, we all headed for lunch at the most awaited, most iconic spot of Batanes (I think), the Nakabuang Beach where the arch rock formation can be found. I guess if you search for Batanes, you won’t miss this view, agree? The beach sand is not as fine as Boracay, it’s quite rocky, but we did notice some tourists swimming, so if you really want to, you can.

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Rock Arch Formation

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Nakabuang Beach

As it was nearing afternoon we were called to go back to the port to catch the second and last boat ride back to Ivana, Batan. I failed to mention, that the waves going from Batan to Sabtang were really huge, hence you’ll see unusual boats than what you see in Boracay, Palawan, and so on. The boats look like soap floaters, as they just float and go with the wave – it moves a lot hence it wouldn’t be the best ride for sea-sick people. It could really be a “hell” ride (see photo below). I personally am fine with boats, but admittedly I got so dizzy this time! In transit you’ll see lots of flying fish – which was super awesome, I’ve never seen one, and they fly in batches! Parang ibon lang talaga. In the middle of the 45 minute boat ride if they catch a fish, they will stop for it (most nakakahilo moment when the engine is off!). We caught one so I was able to witness real life big fish catching! Loved it!

Photo from Johnmadrigal.net

Photo from Johnmadrigal.net

Do you know how they transfer huge cargo or even vehicles from island to island? Dazz and Erwin just told me this when we were in Sabtang but I didn’t get to see it first hand so I just googled it for you. Tada!

Pinoy resourcefulness

Pinoy resourcefulness – photo from National Geographic

Anyway, to cut my boat story short, we weren’t able to board the second boat ride since there were too many tourists and the boat could only load about 65 people. Good thing they decided to make another trip to accommodate us – hence we’ll be stuck in Sabtang for a night. It actually worked for our advantage as the Sabtang Parish Priest held an anticipated mass for us (it was a Saturday then), to bless us in our late afternoon boat ride where the waves can be more dangerous, LOL! I wish I could post photos but I was too scared my phone will get wet, as the sea water was literally splashing through us on the way. Tony had a video of everyone screaming as our soap boat bounced and splashed (like Anchors Away!) but I don’t know how to show you!

On our last day, we started out our tour in visiting the town of Mahatao, just a few minutes away from Basco. I will make a quick special mention here – the town of Mahatao is actually my good friend Daves Espia’s (a.k.a. Barefoot Daves) home! I have asked around if my tour guides know their family (the Espia’s), only to know na yung middle name pala dapat yung tinanong ko! haha nice one Daves! But seriously its such a peaceful town, and we made history there by doing the Harlem Shake at your plaza! YES we danced in public, gathered random people and local kids around to go loco with us. I think everyone thought we were crazy tourists! Click the photo below to watch the video haha!

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Harlem Shake Batanes Philippines Biko Sauce Dance

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Mo (Travel Magazine Editor in Chief) & my cousin Terri

Another thing I loved about Mahatao was their Blank Text Book Archive. So basically they are just books arranged in shelves numbered accordingly. You can select any number and write anything you want. I chose my birthdate (as many have done so, ewan ko nga ba!) and wrote a letter to Batanes hehe! Tony joked to have chosen book number 69 and wrote his name and e-mail address — I never checked the book to confirm that though haha!

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Book # 724

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What I wrote or drew hehe

After that we headed to the Mahatao Lighthouse, where we took more photos, and videos.

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My chinky friends – yes lahat sila Chinese!

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Mahatao Lighthouse

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Aidz enjoying her view

We also went to see the Sumhao Windmills, but they were not operational, they seem to be “resting” hehe.

Sleeping windmill

Sleeping windmill

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Around the windmills is this goat named “Pampu” (short for pampulutan lol!)

Next stop – Marlboro Country! or locally called Racuh-A-Payaman. I asked why it was called Marlboro and they told me it was because there used to be lots of horses. Apparently when we went there weren’t a lot.

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360 Degrees Marlboro Country View in Photos 1

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360 Degrees Marlboro Country View in Photos 2

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360 Degrees Marlboro Country View in Photos 3

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360 Degrees Marlboro Country View in Photos 4

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360 Degrees Marlboro Country View in Photos 5

After that we went to the hill where the famous “i-Dawn Zulueta” moment originally happened. Google it if you don’t know what it means, or ask Vice Ganda hehe! It was at the Alapad Hills. It was ironic because there were too little flat areas where you could do it, but I guess they did. What I loved about this place though is not about Richard and Dawn, but the view that you’ll have as you sit at the edge of the hill. Photo below – perhaps I didn’t do much justice to it because it looks so much nicer in person (everything does I guess), not to mention the sound of the waves hitting the rocks. To die for!

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I literally sat for about 15 minutes or more just staring.

Last few stops for that day before we called it a night was the House of Dakkay, which was built in 1887 by the Estrella’s. The only living descendant now is Lola Ida, who still lives in this house, and noted to be the most photographed oldest woman, our tour guide said, but nothing verified of course!

The house that braved calamities

The house that braved calamities

And last before we headed back to the hotel for our last night, we passed by another historical spot.

Nothing special here you'll just pass by it along the way

Nothing special here you’ll just pass by it along the way

Finally, also wanted to place the different kinds of food that they served us during this trip. Most of them were new to my taste, which is good! Our bellies sure were happy all 3 days, it really made me gain so much weight! haha!

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Their traditional plate – a leaf from the bread??? tree – i forgot!

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Pa-ko salad

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Yellow rice – super good!

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We named it banana balls – but this is uvod with fish and banana’s core

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They served so many fishes, they also served flying fish!

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Their cuttle fish is so yummy there!

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I forgot the name, I know it’s also from the Banana tree, tastes like gising-gising

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We asked how this was called in Batanes as they usually have something complicated to call it, and the locals said — “uhm…lobster lang po” Laughtrip moment!

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Bukayo!

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Purple rice – didn’t like much because it was like kakanin for me and didn’t match the viands.

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The Batanes Wine! I took a shot as the ingredients didn’t say it had any alcohol content! haha! (I’m sacrificing alcohol drinking for Lent!)

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Ihaw ihaw! Yummy! Fish, pork, beef, chicken!

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Another veggie I forgot the name of – but it tasted like laing!

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Mini bucos! hehe

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This ginger soup really cured my itchy throat on our last night!

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Super yummy kamote cheesecake

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Banana ball (banana + fish + uvod) – steamed and wrapped!

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Doesn’t look so enticing but it was good! Tasted like dumpling!

Not in photo but their BIKO – was super awesome, especially the sauce that apparently was evaporated milk and margarine. We named it the BIKO SAUCE hence the title of our Harlem Shake version – everyone in the trip just loves it and I guess it will always be something for our group to laugh about!

I know this post is too long but I wanted to make sure I wrote everything worth featuring. My friends have been asking me when I came back if it was beautiful, and all I had to say was “see for yourself!”. I’m not really a nature trekker/adventure seeker hence this trip is just laid back, chill lang, no stress. If you have fear of heights maybe it’s a little of a challenge, but as long as you have company you’ll be perfectly fine.

For my friends who love architecture and buildings, expect there are none (haha!). So maybe you should just pick another destination (honest!). Highly recommended for couples and groups, and go during February when it’s cold! 🙂

AND NOW FINALLY I’m publishing this! Took me so long to complete it, YAY!

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Batanes post coming soon!

My friends have asked when photos will come out, but right now I’m just too busy at work! *SAD* It deserves a special post – and packed with photos! I shall find time to finish it VERY VERY SOON!

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Photo taken with my iphone5

I miss blogging when I can’t find time to do so. *Sigh*

Back to my kind of Paradise (Boracay)

Missed going to Boracay last year for some previous issues, but I’m glad to be finally able to go back to this island again. It always brings me lots of memories, and definitely always has been a place for me to relax and spend some time forgetting everything back here in the city.

I LOVE the beach despite my incapacity to swim, and my voluntary rejection to too much sunlight. Surprisingly this time I wasn’t too conscious about the heat hence HELLO sunburn!

This year is special though, because I get to spend it with my childhood bestie, Jaq! We also went with some of her Orange County (OC) friends who were visiting the Philippines after so many years of being abroad.

Departing Manila via Zest Air

Departing Manila via Zest Air

Arrival at Residencia Hotel, Station 1

Arrival at Residencia Hotel, Station 1

This was the first time I was meeting the whole crew, and upon arrival we all ended up having our first round of drinks at Nigi Nigi Nu Noos. This was where I met (From L-R) Daisy, Karen and Lori. We were also accompanied by Lori’s husband Ben and friend Bryan.

Nigi Nigi Nu Noos

Nigi Nigi Nu Noos

What happened during that first night was history haha! I don’t even have much photos to share – read between the lines on what happened.

View from Boracay Gardens, Station 2

View from Boracay Gardens, Station 2 (Lori and Ben’s hotel)

Banananana boat

Banananana boat

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Who fell off ? LOL

Charlh's Bar, Station 2

Second party night; Charlh’s Bar, Station 2

Shots!

Finally a photo with Ben and Bry. Shots!!!

After pub crawling we went to watch the ladyboys do their thing with fire. It was amazing. I didn’t mind at all that they were gay guys. I noticed that the men audience were actually enjoying themselves as well. This particular ladyboy caught my attention. He’s too cute to be gay!

Eye candy, right? haha

Eye candy, right? haha

Our third day was the busiest, as the crew went island hopping!

All aboard the boat!

All aboard the boat!

Island hopping!

Jaq and I

Breathtaking view! Crystal Cove, Boracay

Breathtaking view! Crystal Cove, Boracay

Outside the caves, Crystal Cove, Boracay

Outside the caves, Crystal Cove, Boracay

Ben, Daisy and I lazy to enter the cave holes :)

Ben, Daisy and I lazy to enter the cave holes 🙂

That's momma Karen with me at the boat

That’s momma Karen with me at the boat

Ladies underneath the cave, Crystal Cove Boracay

Ladies underneath the cave, Crystal Cove Boracay

Third night partying! Deja Vu Bar, Boracay

Third night partying! Deja Vu Bar, Boracay

My last mojito for the trip! Can't imagine how many glasses of this cocktail I drank hehe

My last mojito for the trip! Can’t imagine how many glasses of this cocktail I drank hehe

On our last day, Jaq and I just spent some alone time together buying her pasalubong to kids and yayas, had a calamansi muffin at Real Coffee, sipped some refreshing fruitshakes from Jonah’s, and went sunbathing for our last hour.

Failed jump-shot attempt.

Failed jump-shot attempt.

Bye for now Boracay, til we meet again!

Bye for now Boracay, til we meet again!

Borrowed Title: Seoul Mates! (8 years of friendship celebrated in South Korea)

Incheon Airport with Kot

Incheon Airport with Kot

Bas and Kot at ICN Airport

Bas and Kot at ICN Airport

Our ICN Guesthouse

Our ICN Guesthouse

Headed to Seoul!

Headed to Seoul!

Snowing outside!

Snowing outside!

Subway to Seoul

Subway to Seoul

Outside TR Office, Myeongdong

Outside TR Office, Myeongdong

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Tourist pose

Tourist pose

Nagiging tourist attraction na talaga ito

Nagiging tourist attraction na talaga ito

Kyeongbok palace

Kyeongbok palace

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What a pose?!

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Purple guards!

Palace guards -- and nakikipose talaga sila

Palace guards — and nakikipose talaga sila

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Bas and the sleeping guard

Very slippery!

Namsan Tower – Very slippery!

Weird food!

Weird food at the Myeongdong District!

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Bukchon Village with Hyojeong, our officemate in Korea

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Love the colors of our bubble jackets

Bukchon Traditional Korean Village

Tea Time at a traditional house

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the exterior – snowy!

Our Seoul home!

Our Seoul home! Mama’s Guesthouse in Myeongdong

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MyeongDong Cathedral – stolen shot by Bas hehe

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Bonnet on

Myeongdong Cathedral

Bonnet off

Eating street food!

Eating street food – last shopping hirit before heading home!