The Charm of Coron

20170827_171307-01

A 45-minute plane ride from Manila can take you to the world’s best island, according to Travel + Leisure’s website . After garnering a score of 93.15 from its survey, Palawan, Philippines landed in the no. 1 spot of The World’s Best Island category published last July 2017. It feels so proud to be living in a beautiful country, envied by many. Although issues may arise like safety, I would still consider myself lucky being a local. I can freely move from islands to islands, without the fear that someone would just abduct me. If I could only purchase an island, I would have done it, and spend most of my free time there. The town of Coron in Palawan is so blessed to have such natural beauty, therefore it doesn’t need any theme park to “promote” or “beautify” the place.

20170824_071931-0120170824_072159-01

Coron, Palawan in a glimpse of 5 days and 4 nights (08.24.17-08.28.17)

I took the earliest flight possible from Manila via Cebgo. Knowing that most flights going to Coron are always full, I did not take the risk and took the first flight. Flying stand-by, can be heart-pounding so I kept my fingers crossed, and I was able to smoothly checked-in. When I asked the ground crew about the flights back to Manila on the 28th, he told me that all flights are over-booked.

20170824_073101-01-01

Francisco B. Reyes- Busuanga Airport

We arrived 15 minutes ahead of our scheduled time of arrival in Busuanga Airport. After getting my checked-in luggage, I took the van that will drop me off at our hotel. It was  a 30 minute ride with a picturesque view. I was wide awake at past 7 in the morning and trying to capture the beautiful scenery.

20170824_075251-01

Lush of green in Busuanga town

Our hostel was in downtown of Coron, and a few minutes away from the port. I was planning to sleep before all my colleagues arrive, but I was too early to check-in and all rooms are still occupied, so I waited for another 4 hours in the lobby and trying to get some sleep.

08.24.17- Mt. Tapyas

After several hours of waiting, we strolled around the town to look for a place to eat. First, we passed by Tea and Shake place to satisfy our cravings for shake. I got myself a mango shake while others got avocado. It costs PHP 119, and it was worth it. A few blocks away, we found a place to have our lunch. We ate at Island Boy Grill. They serve different seafoods, adobo, sisig, and a whole lot more that is budget-friendly.

20170824_122158-01

Tea and Shake place

20170824_131217-0120170824_131311-0120170824_131143-01

In the mid-afternoon, we went to hike Mt. Tapyas. It’s about 700 steps going to the peak, and it’s the second highest mountain in the town of Coron. You don’t need a tour guide to go here. Just navigate through your phone to get into the jump-off point. Once you have reached the summit, you get a nice view of the town. However, when we went there, it was a bit gloomy, and the sun was hiding behind the clouds.

20170824_163347-01

The giant cross at the summit

20170824_163241-0120170824_163532-01

We were supposed to take a dip into the Maquinit Hotspring after going up, but we all got hungry. We walked around the streets to search for a food place. We ended up eating at Altrove, where they serve pizza and pasta. The restaurant looks like an old house converted to a food place wherein you have to remove your shoes or slippers before entering.

20170824_175236-0120170824_181803-01

 

08.25.17- Hidden Lagoon, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Smith Beach, CYC Beach 

Our wake-up call is at 7:00 am. We had our complimentary breakfast with a choice of pork tocino, chicken hotdog, longganisa and danggit with rice and coffee before leaving for our day’s activities. We were transferred by the van going to the port to meet our tour guides and boat men. We availed the ultimate tour (3-day tour) for only PHP 3400 per head, which includes boat and van round trip transfers, lunch buffet and snack, entrance fees, tour guide, and lifevests.  We pay extra to rent snorkeling gears and kayak boat.

20170825_095055-01

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2713.

Hidden Lagoon

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2775.

I could have just imagined how it looks like on a sunny day

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2739.

Kayangan Lake

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2742.

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2766.

Our first destination is at the Hidden Lagoon. It’s so beautiful and quiet. Then we moved to Kayangan Lake. There are about 300 steps to reach the viewing deck and lake. The line to the viewing deck was so long, so we went first to the lake. We dipped into the lake with our vests on. It was not crowded when we were there. I could just imagine how it looks like during peak season. When we started leaving the lake, the clouds are getting dark too. The rain poured when we were about to go to the viewing deck. We were not able to enjoy the view because it was too foggy. We got into our boat and moved to Smith Island to have lunch. Our lunch includes pork liempo, seaweeds, shrimp, pineapple, banana and rice. The rain has stopped while having lunch, so we were able to enjoy the moment and we have spent some time in the beach.

20170825_122718-0120170825_130118-01

After lunch, we moved to CYC Beach (Coron Youth Club). The weather cooperated well, and we got to paddle a kayak along the shore and near the mangroves. It was the first time that our friend was able to fly his drone, since drones aren’t allowed in the lagoons.

20170825_141412-01

For our final stop, we went to the Twin Lagoon. As we were approaching, the rain is getting heavier. We still continued and swam in the lake. The water here is a mixture of hot and cold. You have 2 choices to go to the other side of the lagoon. First, you take the stairs, or you swim under the rocks. I opted to take the stairs instead, because I could see the sharp edges of the rocks, and you have limited movements.

20170825_133622-0120170825_145139-0120170825_144918-01

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2802.DCIM109GOPROGOPR2810.

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2829.

Swim must go on at Twin Lagoon

Before going back to the port, we had banana cue for snacks.

For dinner, we went to Carl’s BBQ and ordered ribs and barbecue. They serve good food, and ambiance is nice too.

20170825_193913-01

Carl’s BBQ

08.26.17- Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Bulog Dos Island

It was a 2-hour boat ride from the port of Coron, and waves were a bit strong. We were soaked in water for half the trip because of the waves. Our first stop was at Malcapuya Island. The beach is nice as well as the sand. The sand is comparable to the sand of Boracay. We got to enjoy it before the rain has fallen. A store is available in the island, and we got ourselves a fresh buko juice, turon and banana cue. There was also a free taste of squid. If you like it, you can buy a pack for PHP 200.

20170826_112515-01

Malcapuya Beach

We needed to hurry up for Banana Island, because it’s almost lunch time. Luckily, the rain has stopped when we reached Banana Island. Banana Island is quite developed. There were nice nipa huts, hammocks, swing and a volleyball court. Perfect for your selfie needs. For lunch, we had pork liempo, tulingan fish, squash and stringbeans, banana, watermelon and rice, and for snacks, we had the Kababayan bread.

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2837.20170826_123725-0120170826_133257-01DCIM109GOPROGOPR2839.DCIM109GOPROGOPR2840.20170826_122744-01

For our last stop, we went to Bulog Dos Island. It’s a small island that has a sandbar, visible during low tide that connects to Bulalacao Island, where the Two Seasons Hotel is located. It has really a nice view, and quite plenty of underwater creatures. We hung out by the sandbar, and we saw a starfish. There was also a jellyfish, as big as a fist, that stung my boyfie. I told him to pee on his legs and ask the boatman to pour vinegar on his legs. It worked well, and the day after it was gone.

20170826_143851-01

Just a few meters away from Two Seasons Coron

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2859.

Glad to have seen a starfish during our trip

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2865.DCIM109GOPROGOPR2853.DCIM109GOPROGOPR2870.

For dinner, we went to Winnie’s. They serve exotic seafood dishes. Since I’m allergic to seafoods, I had porkchop instead and it was delicious.

08.27.18- East Tangat Gunboat, Lusong Gunboat, Pass Island

Our activity for this day is mostly underwater. We got to see the Japanese shipwrecks from World War 2. They are shallow and is easily visible once you go underwater. We went to the East Tangat Gunboat and Lusong Gunboat. Both can be viewed while snorkeling. There were also beautiful sea creatures living within the area.

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2887.

Getting ready for the day’s activity

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2890.

A Japanese shipwreck from World War 2

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2903.

Our next destination is at Pass Island. For me this is the most beautiful. Crystal clear water, fine sand, mangroves on the other end, coconut trees and plenty of sea creatures. Even in the shallow part, school of fishes are swimming with us. Some of our friends even saw a stingray when they went a bit far. Just don’t forget to wear your aqua shoes to avoid stepping on sea urchins and stone fish that can be poisonous. When we were half way eating our lunch, the rain poured. We have the same set of meal, but this time we have mangoes and chopsuey.

20170827_122748-01

Approaching Pass Island

20170827_142425-0120170827_143334-01IMG_20170828_075719_925-0120170827_142447-0120170827_123650-01

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2913.

Plenty of fishes in the shallow water

DCIM109GOPROGOPR2916.

We spent the whole time in Pass Island, so we weren’t able to see the Lusong Coral. It houses beautiful corals according to our guide.

After a long day, we had dinner again at Carl’s Bbq. This time we ordered barbecue, chicken cordon bleu, chopsuey, and sizzling gambas.

20170827_195109-01

Barbecue for dinner

After dinner, we went around town to buy souvenirs like shirt, ref magnet and dream catcher. Of course, we will not forget the famous cashew nuts of Palawan.

08.28.17- Busuanga Airport

We have to leave our hostel after eating breakfast to catch our flights. I tried my luck to get into the first flight, but it was overbooked and I was bumped off. I waited for the next flight and I was told that it is full again. I already considered flying to Clark just to get home, but luckily, I got a slot for the midday flight. We were ahead of scheduled time of arrival again.

For our itinerary and total damage to our wallet, feel free to click Itinerary- Coron, Palawan 2017

Holiday in Hong Kong

All I ever wished for this year’s birthday is to spend it in Disneyland. Okay, how shallow for a 20-something year old woman. Isn’t it that Disneyland is fairly for kids of all ages? I just wanted to be a kid again on that special day, so I decided that we will be flying to Hong Kong and a side trip to Macau. Hong Kong is pretty much a city vibe where you can suffice your shopping addiction. Hong Kong has a touch of both Oriental and Western style (being a colony of UK for a long time, and was only returned to China and became a special administrative region of China in 1997). Hong Kong is a 2-hour flight from Manila, which makes it easily accessible among Filipinos, and most of the time it’s the destination of the first timers leaving the Philippines.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hong Kong-Macau in a glimpse of 4 days and 4 nights (06.10.17-06.14.17)

We took an afternoon flight to Hong Kong via Cebu Pacific 5J 118 because I came from Narita, Japan the day before, and lost all my energy to pack. Instead, I packed in the morning. We are meeting my sister half-way, and she’s coming from a 20-hour plus flight starting from Washington DC- Los Angeles- Hong Kong via Virgin America (US domestic) and Cathay Pacific (international). She arrived in Hong Kong at 6am, while we’re arriving in Hong Kong at 6pm. My sister needed to rest first to avoid getting jet-lagged.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hong Kong from above

My sister went back to the airport to fetch us, and ride altogether going to our hostel before heading to dinner. Before leaving the airport, i claimed at the A13 arrival hall all my purchases from Klook.com which includes an Octopus card and iVenture card. Octopus card is used for trains, buses and even purchases from 7Eleven. On the other hand, iVenture card has plenty of attractions both for Hong Kong and Macau, so you don’t have to pay anymore for the entrance fee of each attraction. It also includes a discounted Disneyland pass, local sim with 4G wifi, discounted ferry transfer to Macau.

We took a 30-minute bus ride from the airport, and dropped off at Nathan Road in Mongkok. We walked a few blocks before we found the building where our hostel is at. It could be a little confusing so it’s best to have a landmark. Our hostel was booked through Airbnb and all that was written in there was pretty accurate.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Kung Hing Guesthouse, where we stayed

For dinner, we went to a nearby mall, just a few blocks at the back of the building of our hostel. We found ourselves eating at a Chinese restaurant in Langham Mall. We got a sumptuous dinner for an affordable price.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Chee Kai Set Meal

It was still early, so we visited the Sneaker Street of Mongkok, I got myself a pair of Pink Stan Smith, which used to be only available in Paris. It was the lone store that sells the color pink, so I grabbed the opportunity to buy myself a new pair.

IMG_20170611_071339_570

Classic tennis shoes

06.11.17- Macau

I will be having a separate post on our Macau trip. Click the link to read about our Macau trip.

After Macau, we visited the Ladies Market, and Beauty area of Mongkok. Near the gadgets area, we grabbed some street food like calamares.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Munching on street foods

For dinner, there is another Chinese restaurant near our hostel. We got ourselves a Haianese chicken and milk tea.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Haianese Chicken and Milk Tea for dinner

06.12.17– Disneyland

The weather in Hong Kong was pretty bad that it reached Signal No. 8 in the afternoon, which means that everything will be closed including the MTR. Our original activity for this day is to take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, and visit the Giant Buddha and Ngong Ping Village. Due to strong winds, the cable car was suspended, and I felt bad. We have the option to take the bus so we can still visit the other attractions, but I decided that this will include in my itinerary the next time I’m back in Hong Kong. The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is part of the attractions included in the iVenture card, so it had been paid already. We had our brunch at McDonalds at a nearby mall, before we took the train that will take us to Disneyland.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Mickey Mouse designed train going to Disneyland

Mr. sunshine was showing up when we got into Disneyland. Before we finally went in, I claimed the vouchers for our meal, which was also paid online. It includes lunch and free ice cream or popcorn. It was worth it.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Welcome to Disneyland

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with  preset

IMG_20170612_173300_123

The first and only area we visited was the Tomorrowland. We had the Iron Man Experience, and Hyperspace Mountain. I thought it was all for kids, but I was wrong! I enjoyed it because it wasn’t something that I expected. Afterwards, we felt hungry and decided to eat. We had a mix of Japanese and American food which were all heavy and worth every penny. After eating, we were thinking of the next rides that we will take, but unfortunately, Disneyland has to be closed because of Signal No. 8, and we were left by no choice but to leave. We hurriedly went back to our hostel as the MTRs will close soon too. It was raining hard in Mongkok, and we all opted to sleep instead.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

First and only area we explored

a390e9a65cd901d3ebe9e338d5c468a3b24d168d40f4ce51981b0df636bd140a2f4e89bdb9a90c43b860b7fa6ce8c874d97a7d330d7fb8eba8f1925edbb50fb50f2234cda811b03c92cf01bd9d1ba02e

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

House of Animation

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Main Street USA

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My Amerindian ancestor

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Ramen & tempura

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Bacon, beef and sausage with rice

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I thought my birthday will end soon in bed, but I wake them up to eat dinner. Just at the 2nd floor of our building, there’s a traditional Chinese restaurant, that serves exotic food as well. We had Yang Chow rice, chicken, and beef with beans and veggies along with beer.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Asahi beer instead of cake on my birthday

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A traditional Chinese restaurant

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Yang Chow rice, fried chicken & beef with beans & veggie for dinner

06.13.17- Ocean Park, Peak Tram, Madame Tussauds

It was raining hard, yet there was no storm signal. We left our hostel to join our transfer ride going to Ocean Park. Our meeting place was at Holiday Inn Golden Mile. It was just few stations away from ours, but going to the hotel was risky. Some alleys that we passed by had waters already. We had no choice but to buy umbrellas and ponchos. Our pants and shoes got soaked in the water. Our meet-up is at 8am, but it was already past 8am, and our guide is not showing up yet. Perhaps, it was cancelled due to bad weather, but there was no storm signal, so it must push thru. After waiting for several minutes, our guide arrived.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Raining, yet still plenty of tourists

It took 30 minutes to reach Ocean Park, and it was still early so most of the establishments were still closed. We’ve been walking around to find a place to eat, until we stumbled upon a fastfood place. This time, we had fries, soda, chicken rice, burger and ice cream. Yes, ice cream on a cold weather! Finally, after eating, we’re about to watch the dolphin show, but to our dismay it has been cancelled. Due to bad weather, all animals can’t leave their shelter. I’m starting to get disappointed, since my main reason why I went to Ocean Park is to see a panda. We just walked around and entered the shark aquarium, Amazon rainforest zoo, Australian conservation center (where we saw a kangaroo and a koala), and panda house. We got to meet the 31-year old panda. It was an item to tick-off in my bucket list. As for the rides, we only got to ride the express train going up and the cable car going down. At least, I was still able to ride a cable car even if the Ngong Ping 360 cable car wasn’t available the time we went there.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Dolphin show has been cancelled

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Dare to try!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Kangaroo feeding

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Didn’t know that white kangaroos exist, or perhaps the albino type

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Meet An-An the 31-year old panda

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hibernating koala

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Cable car at Ocean Park

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Old Chinatown be-like

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After our Ocean Park adventure, we took a train ride going to Peak Tram station. We were in fact lost, so we took another bus ride and alighted a few meters away. When I saw the Peak Tram station, there was really a long line, but thanks to our pass, we need not to line up. We arrived at the Peak Tower where we had our yummy snacks at Kala Snackbar. We had strawberry soda & banana walnut crepe. We went around after eating, and we ended up in this place that I thought it was the Trick Eye Museum. It is something similar to that but it is for free. Then we headed to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where the wax figures looks real.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Peak tram ride

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My afternoon snack

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I really don’t know who she is, but my sister said that she’s an artist with autism & famous in Washington DC

It’s time to eat once again, so we had dinner at Bubba Gump. We had a 10% discount, thanks to our iVenture cards. We got ourselves a heavy meal since it’s been a long and tiring day.  I wasn’t feeling well that time. It feels like that anytime, my head will just burst. I’m not sure if it was a migraine attack or I was just hungry. After eating, we found a Korean store, and once again it has been proven that retail therapy can cure any ailment.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Dinner in big servings

We’re suppose to go to the viewing deck to see the nice view of Hong Kong, but unfortunately, it was so foggy and it will not be worth going up.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Foggy view of Hong Kong

Now, we left the Hong Kong Island and returned to our hostel to rest.

06.14.17- Mongkok

It was our last day in Hong Kong and we didn’t have a pretty decent shopping activity, except that I got myself a pair of pink Stan Smith. We woke up early, and had brunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant before we headed for shopping. We loaded ourselves with Korean products and sneakers that are either too expensive in Manila or we don’t have it here. We got ourselves a polo shirt in a super sale at Giordano, and of course, something to munch on! I can actually dedicate a whole day to shopping, but my card will be at risk.

For our itinerary and total damage to our wallet, feel free to click Itinerary- Hong Kong Macau 2017

Staycation at Pico de Loro

My last hurrah for Summer 2017 came in June. It has been raining for almost everyday, and I was already losing hope to get myself a tan. However, on that weekend of June 17 & 18, the weather was with us. It was a pretty good day to get ourselves soaked in the water.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Passing by this beautiful scenery on our way to Pico de Loro

Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club in a glance of 2 days, and 1 night. (06.17-18.17)

We are expected to check-in at our room at 2 in the afternoon. Instead of leaving early, which we normally do when we go out of town, we left our house at almost 12 noon, and reached Nasugbu, Batangas at 2pm. It was a pretty decent ride, and I didn’t expect that it will only take about 2 hours going there from our place. We usually take the Tagaytay-Nasugbu route, which takes about 3 hours or more, depending on the traffic in Tagaytay. Based from our navigator, Waze, we’re suppose to take NAIAx and Cavitex, and take Noveleta Exit, and you will pass by the towns of Tanza, Naic, Maragondon, and Ternate, until you reach the Kaybiang Tunnel, and just a few minutes away from Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Kaybiang Tunnel

Pico de Loro is actually a members-only leisure club, but thanks to Airbnb, we found a way to get in there. After weeks of searching for an affordable, yet worthy escapade, I ended up in the page of our host who owns a unit at Pico de Loro. Our host’s unit is the cheapest among all those who have their units rented at Pico de Loro. For only PHP 3658 per night (all in) her space is fully furnished, and you’re allowed to cook and use her appliances as well. Although, you need to pay PHP 1200 per head as guest fee for the use of  facilities for non-members (as per management of Pico de Loro)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Registration area

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Our room is at Carola B

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Mt. Pico de Loro in the background

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We arrived just in time for check-in, and we’re all hungry. As expected, we ended up eating at the restaurant. We had bulalo, pancit luglug, and beef salpicao, good for 4 pax. Afterwards, we headed to the pool and stayed there until sunset. My sister and her friend left the pool earlier, because they are tasked to prepare dinner.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with  presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The night before we left, I went to the grocery to buy the essentials for our trip, and to actually save more money on food. We had Buttered Chicken with Salted Egg for dinner, and it was a good one. We’re suppose to drink beer for the rest of the night, but my sister fell asleep and we ended up watching k-drama instead.

06.18.18- Day 2

I woke up earlier than the rest so I prepared the breakfast. I cooked corned beef, hotdogs and fried rice. It was quite plenty for a group of 4. At 0900am, we headed to the beach. I wasn’t impressed with the waters (compared to those I’ve been to). It was so hot that day so I stayed under the umbrella for a long time, while my sister and her friend enjoyed riding the jet-ski. After a few more hours, we left and prepared for checking-out. I’m glad that in our whole stay, it didn’t rain and ruin the fun.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Jellyfish warning to swimmers (but luckily I didn’t see any)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Lifeguard on duty

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

IMG_20170618_095448_889[1]

Maxi dress from Forever 21

IMG_20170618_124541_545[1]

For itinerary and budget, feel free to click the link Itinerary- Pico de Loro 2017

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

PS. They do not accept cash instead they prefer debit/credit card and cash card which you can reload with your cash.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Ice-cold beer on a hot day

 

A Dose of Doha

Qatar is a Muslim country located in the Middle East, and it is an open city. However, there are restrictions, like alcohol consumption. Doha, the capital, is a great and multi-cultural city and home to a lot of expats in this bustling country of Qatar. A taste of traditional and modern is what Doha offers to its visitor. In my 3-day layover in Doha, I get to see some of the things that they are famous for.

Doha, Qatar in a glimpse of 3 days and 2 nights (05.02.17-05.04.17)

We arrived on 2nd of May at 4 in the morning. Doha, is 5 hours behind Manila time. After checking-in at our hotel, I immediately went to sleep. I woke up at 10am, and the breakfast buffet is about to close. After our breakfast, I stayed in our room for a few hours, because it is still too hot to go out.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Free chocolates in our hotel

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

  • Shawarma

At 5pm, our group went out, and our first stop was to eat shawarma. We found this shawarma place on our way to the Casio store. For QAR 7, you can choose between chicken or beef shawarma, and QAR 2 for your soda. It’s so authentic and good. I can’t even finish a single serving.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

  • Casio Store

The famous store where my fellow crew hoard watches and sell it in Manila at a better price compared to shopping malls. I got to buy a couple watch for only QAR 150, and yes, you can ask for discount.

  • Gold Souk

I was overwhelmed when I went inside the jewelry store of Shine Gallery. There are so many to choose from, and at a very affordable price. You can even ask for discounts that could go as high as 30%. I got myself an 18k bracelet for QAR 290, originally at QAR 365.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Alley way to Gold Souk

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

20170504_161041

This was inside an elevator

  • Souq Waqif

It is a traditional flea market that sells variety of goods such as spices, paintings, souvenirs, traditional costumes, carpets, incense, and even pets. There are restaurants in different cuisines, and of course, shisha places. I bought a ref magnet for QAR 10.

20170502_19314120170502_19331020170502_19331820170502_21081820170502_210826

20170502_194734

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Souvenir items

20170502_21181120170502_212115

20170502_21435020170502_214731

05.03.17- Day 2

Right after our breakfast, we left our hotel and went to Casio. While we were inside, it was about 1pm and the store has to close. I’ve learned that stores close from 1pm to 4pm to give way for their afternoon prayer. We had no choice, but to leave and all stores were closed. We just went to Souq Waqif to see the birds that are being fed. While walking along the alley, we went inside a sweet shop. We got ourselves a bag of chocolates for QAR 20 per kg.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

IMG_20170506_085020_950

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Tourists in Souq Waqif

  • Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel

There is a little restaurant open right beside the boutique hotel. We spent our lunch here and until the stores have opened. I got myself a Qatari Breakfast for lunch.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

View outside the restaurant

IMG_20170503_140012_464

Qatari breakfast

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

My fellow MNL-DOH crew

  • Shine Gallery

We went back to the jewelry store, and I bought again. This time, a pair of 18k earrings for QAR 200, originally at QAR 350. While waiting for my fellow crew, I was browsing through the beautiful rings on display, and I saw the ring of my dreams, but I didn’t bother to ask. As a result, I can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t sleep.

05.04.17- Day 3

After our breakfast, I spent a few hours in our hotel room because it was too hot to go out. At 3pm, I decided to go out alone and I was supposed to visit the Museum of Islamic Art. Unfortunately, I cannot figure out my GPS, and it was too hot to continue. I just went to the shawarma place, and bought a chicken shawarma, which I took home in Manila.

I returned to the jewelry store, and asked about the ring because I kept on thinking about it. I even tried it on.lol However, I won’t get into details about that. I want to keep that a secret. Next thing, I was walking inside Souq Waqif, and strolled around, before I could find myself in a coffee shop. While having coffee, I saw 2 men in traditional white outfit riding a horse. I asked the barista who they are, and apparently they are the Qatari police roaming around.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

IMG_20170503_134751_655

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

IMG_20170504_165555_712

IMG_20170504_170831_210

Qatari police on duty

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Felt like I was transported back in Jesus’s time and passed by the 3 kings

In the coming months, for sure i’ll have another flight in Doha. I have more to see in Doha, and i’ll keep you posted.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

When Disaster Aftermath Lead to Nature’s Beauty- Mt. Pinatubo

Almost 26 years ago, it was the most devastating natural disaster that occurred, not only in the Philippines, but in the world. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales has gotten so many lives, and buried them underground alive. Many people were forced to leave their houses without any idea when they can comeback. The ashes from the volcanic eruption went as far as Hong Kong, and the world temperature for 10 years was decreased by 1 degree Celsius. I remember in the late 90s, whenever we spend our summer in Pundaquit, Zambales, we always pass by the province of Pampanga, and the remnants of the lahar look so fresh, and the surroundings were very much like a zombie land.

The calamity of yesterday turned out to be a beautiful disaster. As we trekked for 2 hours going to the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo, we passed by several smiling Aetas, the locals of the area. Afterwards, we’ve seen the most rewarding view of the lake.

Mt. Pinatubo in a glance of a few hours (02.20.17)

My very good friend invited me to join their group, who will trek the Capas, Tarlac trail of Mt. Pinatubo. Without any hesitations, I said yes. I don’t normally do hiking, due to my very demanding work that requires me to sleep during my days off. I tried several before like trekking in Mt. Buntot Palos, and Mt. Isarog, and I have loved the rewarding view of the falls in those mountains. I strongly felt that I can do Pinatubo, since I got to experience spelunking at Biak na Bato, but heck that was in my freshman year in high school, almost 12 years ago. For someone like me who considers walking as a form of exercise, I got to reach the peak of Mt. Pinatubo without giving up.

In the Monday morning of Feb. 20, the group met in Ortigas. The trip was organized by my friend’s friend who happens to be working for Nat Geo, and they create new trails for mountains. Such a cool job, you get to discover a lot of new adventures. We were a group of 10, 3 of them were my batch mates in high school, and the rest were from the same circle of flying.

Our van left Ortigas, at 3:30am, and before the sun rises, we were already at the jump-off point in Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. We were required to register at the tourism office and once our 4×4 rides were available, we started our adventure.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset20170220_07182720170220_064435

The ride was around an hour and a half, and we were the first ones to make a trip, so we created the path that will be followed by the other trekkers later.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Toblerone-shaped lahar mountain

20170220_064427

We had a short stop-over at the Toblerone-like mountain. The mountains were created out of lahar.

After our 4×4 ride, this is when we started to trek. It was probably 3-4 kms in distance. They say that it used to be a very long trek, almost 7kms if I remember it right. However, according to what I’ve heard, some areas have been bulldozed to give way for “VIPs” who will be visiting/inspecting the area. Such a shame, it’s nature who will adjust for those people, and that’s the ugly truth.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Another area for registration

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After several mins., i found a bathroom with water. Yehey!! I’ve been wanting to pee for the longest time, but I have to hold it or else, I’ll do it somewhere in the bush.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Where do you belong?

After several walks again, we found a banner stating that it’s 20 mins. more to the crater. I saw some locals doing their laundry by the stream, and didn’t mind the scorching heat. There were families of Aetas living in that part, so please if you happen to go here, bring some snacks or anything for the kids. I’m sure they will appreciate it.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Finally!

At last, we reach the peak. It was 9am and the view was rewarding. My trekking was worth every penny.

20170220_085513

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Happy, my hs batchmate & volleyball teammate during our varsity days

20170220_090628

Cat, beautiful friend since 2nd grade. 18 years of solid friendship.

20170220_090612

Kev, my good friend since 1st year high school

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Thank you to these beautiful people for the wonderful time

 

We stayed for an hour and camp by the lake. I suggest that you bring your own food and drinks and load up on carbs. There’s a lone store there, but the prices of his goods are way too high.

20170220_090448

20170220_085713

High school never ends

Before we went back, we made sure that we didn’t leave any trash.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Leave nothing but footprints

20170220_100717

20170220_10092920170220_101236

The expenses for this trip was PHP 3100 per head for a group of 10. It includes transfer rides from Manila to jump-off point and vice-versa, registration fee, environmental fee and 4×4 ride. Pack light and wear something comfy that can cover you from heat.

After our trek, we took a shower in one of the houses near the jump-off point, and paid 50 bucks.

20170220_100437

Since it was still early to go home, we had a side trip in Angeles, Pampanga, and ate at Funnside Ningnangan.

For itinerary and budget, click Itinerary- Mt. Pinatubo 2017

1/3 Edited using phone app while stuck in traffic. 🙊 Trail to Mt. Pinatubo | 02.20.17

A post shared by Issa (@mel_i_ssaa) on

2/3 Edited using phone app while stuck in traffic. 🙊 Trail to Mt. Pinatubo | 02.20.17

A post shared by Issa (@mel_i_ssaa) on

3/3 Edited using phone app while stuck in traffic. 🙊 Trail to Mt. Pinatubo | 02.20.17

A post shared by Issa (@mel_i_ssaa) on

The Blissful Paradise of Bantayan Island

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The island of Bantayan is at the northern most part of Cebu. It takes about 6 hours to reach this paradise from Cebu City. The locals from the island speak different dialects, because they are very near to the islands of Masbate, Leyte and Panay. There are two beaches in the island, namely, Alice and Sugar. I tried walking on both shores, and they’re just almost the same. There were tons of resorts to choose from, depending on your budget of course. I chose a resort located in the town of Bantayan, a bit of traveling before reaching the beach proper in the town of Santa Fe.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

Bantayan Island, Cebu in a glimpse of 1 day and 1 night. (07.30-31.16)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Shore of Santa Fe, Bantayan Island

Land, air and sea.

The crowd in Bantayan Island are mostly tourists (foreigners and locals from Manila), and it could be time-consuming before you reach the island. 3 domestic airlines travel from Manila to Cebu daily, and flights are almost hourly. There are also available flights going to Cebu from our neighboring countries, Middle East, and USA. Domestic flights from the different provinces also fly to Cebu daily or weekly. Seat sale is offered by airlines months before your scheduled vacation, and sometimes even weeks before.

Manila flights are usually an hour and 30 minutes flying time.

Take a regular(white) taxi from the right side of the arrival hall of Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and tell the driver to take you to the North Bus Terminal.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Scheduled trips from Cebu City to Bantayan Island and vice-versa via Ceres Bus Liner

There are scheduled trips going to Hagnaya Port, and it takes about 3-4 hours from the bus terminal to the port. It’s better to take the air-conditioned bus.

At Hagnaya Port, pay the terminal fee, and avail the next available trip to Santa Fe Port, Bantayan Island.

Where to Stay?

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The resort where we stayed

There are many resorts to choose from, depending on your preference and budget. I booked at Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort (09189408066). I called up the contact number I found online, and reservations were arranged after I made a 30% down payment. The resort is located in the town of Bantayan, and it takes about 20 mins. to reach the shore of Santa Fe. They picked us up from the port of Santa Fe.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

View from our hut

 

07.30.16 Food trip in Santa Fe

After 6 hours  of traveling from Cebu City, we finally reached this paradise on a gloomy day. The currents going to Bantayan were quite big, and I kept my fingers crossed that our trip won’t be cancelled. We were picked up by the resort’s “gardener”, and later on I found out that she is the wife of the owner, and we belong to the same circle of flying. She was a very gracious host, and full of energy. We were greeted by a resort that looks very natural: forest themed. It has a beautiful infinity pool, pool cave, mini zoo, library, etc. Our villa is surrounded by trees and has a nice view in the morning. A complimentary breakfast was also included in our accommodation. We planned to rent a motorbike, so we could go around the island, but it wasn’t available at that time. Instead, we availed the drop-off/pick-up to Santa Fe.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Complimentary breakfast

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

I enjoyed eating at the famous MJ Square, where various restaurants and food stalls are located. A variety of food that you can choose from, yet at an affordable price.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Sumptuous meal for two

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Variety of meals to choose from

 

07.31.16 Land Tour in the towns of Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Aside from swimming, we had a tour around the island of Bantayan. A package is offered in our resort. It took 2 hours to complete the tour. We visited the towns of Madridejos- where the ruins of Kota is found, Bantayan- where the oldest church (2nd in Cebu) of Sts. Peter & Paul is located, and Santa Fe. We passed by Ogtong Resort, where we had our picture taken at the Ogtong Cave. The rest of the time, we just eat, swim and sleep.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

If you’re a seafood lover, this is the place to be. They offer it fresh and in a variety of seafood viands. Different cuisines can be found here too- from local to international. For people who have a sweet tooth, like me, your dessert cravings can be satisfied. I highly recommend the leche flan sold at Dessert Zone. You can never go hungry in this island, and they’re all affordable.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Bantayan is far from the developed beaches in our country, and I appreciate it that way. It is comparable to the famous Boracay Island, however, it is its quiet and affordable version. It has so much to offer, that you can really enjoy your stay in the island.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

For itinerary and budget, feel free to click the link Itinerary- Bantayan Island 2016

I would love to visit this paradise again someday, and try out the water activities, that we failed to do due to weather.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Overnight in Thailand

Bangkok may be known for spicy Thai food, temples, lady boys, and shopping. The latter, for me, is the most attractive, and that made me flew to Bangkok on a short notice.

Bangkok, Thailand in a glimpse of 1 day and 1 night. (04.29.16-04.30.16)

Everything was planned and booked last minute, but surprisingly it was not that expensive. It was my first time to try the Airbnb app. It’s an app that could let you choose your accommodation depending on your budget and preference. After browsing through different accommodations, I found a hostel fit for my preference. It is not in downtown Bangkok. However, it’s just a few minutes away from Chatuchak, the shopping destination. Our hostel is at PHP 793 per night plus a surcharge of PHP 94. It includes twin beds with toiletries and complimentary water and noodles. The front desk officer was very accommodating, and can speak good English.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Room @ VIPA Hotel

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Our hostel from outside

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hostel’s lobby

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Twin beds in a fairly nice room for only PHP 793 per night

I have searched online for the different tour packages available, and I found my most preferred through Royal Exclusive Travel. The package includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel (hotels must be in downtown Bangkok or if you’re hotel is not within the area, like in our case, we had Asia Bangkok Hotel as our meeting place), elephant ride and floating market tour in Damnoen Saduak, English-speaking tour guide and a complimentary drinking water. You can book this tour at http://www.asia-discovery.com

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Waiting four group tour at Asia Bangkok Hotel

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

Day 1- 04.29.16

We took the red eye flight MNL-BKK, and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at midnight. Since our hostel is 20 minutes away from BKK airport, we had no choice, but to take a cab. We rested for a few hours before we prepared for our tour.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Another check on my bucket list: to ride an elephant

  • Elephant Village

It took an hour and a half before we have reached the elephant village at Damnoen Saduak. After a short briefing, we had our turns to ride the elephant and tour the forest. The “elephant driver” offered some souvenirs after our ride. Each souvenir costs around THB 150-300. It was my first time to ride an elephant, and it was an item to mark-off on my bucket list.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

While waiting for our turn to ride the elephant

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Forest bound

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Not your typical ride

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A view of the forest and wild monkeys from the elephant’s perspective

  • Floating Market

A few minutes away from the Elephant Village is the famous Venice of the East, the Floating Market. You take a canoe around the area and you can shop from a variety of Thai products. You can even ask for a discount especially if you’re buying bulk items.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Bathroom break before we continue our journey

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A Thai local in their daily work

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Different items for sale

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Feel free to haggle when buying

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Souvenir items for sale

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Blending in with the tourists

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Plenty of tourists around

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

After our tour, we were dropped off in downtown Bangkok. We were figuring out how to take the train, but there was no English translation and nobody speaks English. We were left with just one option, and that is to take the cab going to our hostel. Before we left, we walk along the streets and we found some local delicacies, and we gave it a try. We also passed by a stall that sells an authentic Thai milk tea.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Authentic Thai milk tea & the ivory bracelet bought from the elephant driver

When we got into our hotel, we rest again for a bit, then went out to look for a temple. There is a Buddhist temple a few streets away from our hostel, and we paid a visit, because we could no longer visit the famous temples due to time constraint.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A Buddhist temple we found near our hostel

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Light a candle, say a prayer and let it flow

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Or you may write down your prayers and hang it on the tree

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After a tiring and productive day, we got very hungry. There is a restaurant at the lobby of our hostel, and they serve authentic Thai food. I know that most of the Thai food are spicy, so I ordered for a mild spicy food. To my surprise, it is still very spicy, and to my friend who happens to love spicy food gave up too.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Spicy bacon and rice

My friend needed to leave early, because she booked the wrong date of her flight, and I was left alone to do all the shopping. As a token of appreciation for my friend who came along even if unprepared, I bought her a passport holder.

  • JJ Market

Have you heard of shopaholics flocking Thailand to hoard items for business or personal use? Yes, it’s true that they sell quality stuff for a very low price. In fact, I tried to compare them with our very own Greenhills Shopping Center. They sell almost the same things but there is a big difference in the price.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

JJ Night Market

The front desk officer told me about this place beside Chatuchak. According to her, there is a night market every weekend that are preferred to be visited by the younger people. I checked it out, and it was indeed catered for the younger people. I started shopping at 7pm, and I ended at midnight, and got home with shopping bags on both hands.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Passport holders

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

How they customize it

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Shoes

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Find your stuff

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

Day 2- 04.30.16

I was supposed to have the whole day for shopping, and taking the red eye flight going back to Manila. However, I realized that I have an early morning duty the next day, and I need to rest. As a result, I took the midday flight going home. Before my trip ends, there’s another side story I have to share. The night before I left for JJ Market, I told the front desk officer on duty that I’ll be checking out the next day at 7pm. I changed my mind and took the earlier flight instead, so I needed to leave the hostel at 7am. Unfortunately, there was no one in the lobby to inform that I’ll be leaving. Make things more impossible, the hostel’s location is in one of the alleys, so taxis don’t often go to that area. Good thing, the wifi was turned on, so I tried to use my Grabtaxi app. I made 3 attempts, 2 failed because they cannot contact me because I have no local number. Luckily, the 3rd one arrived, but he can’t speak English at all. I told him to take me to the airport. I remember I kept a copy of my itinerary translated in Thai, and I showed it to him. When we were near the airport, I know that he was asking whether we are going to the departure or arrival area. He cannot understand when I said departure, but I was in good fate, and I saw a translated sign of departure and I pointed it to him. I was really thankful for his willingness to understand, and to show my appreciation, I told him to keep the change.

For itinerary and budget, feel free to click the link, Bangkok 2016- itinerary

Hopefully when I have a chance to visit Thailand again, I get to see the famous temples, Patpong district, Phuket, Phi Phi Islands, and many more.

The Mystery and Beauty of Masasa Beach

Masasa Beach is approximately 3 hours away from Manila. Located in Maricaban Island, town of Tingloy in Batangas. It is neighboring to Mindoro Island, Isla Verde, and Anilao Batangas. It is near the famous Sumbrero Island, which they say that it’s part of Anilao (please correct me if I’m wrong). Among all the beaches that I have been to, this is the most quiet and cleanest. When I was walking in their downtown, it felt like I was transported in the old times. When you want some peace and quiet time, you can go here. It is under-developed and it has not been commercialized.

I’ll take you back in 2015, 2 years ago

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Masasa Beach with the over-looking Mindoro island

 

This DIY trip is the most buwis-buhay getaway in my entire existence.

It happened to be a long weekend, 17th of January 2015, because of the pope’s arrival in the country. Long weekend means time to pack our bags and go somewhere. Fortunately, it’s also the birthday weekend of my other half. I planned the whole trip and gave it as my birthday present to him.

A glimpse of Masasa Beach, Tingloy, Batangas in 3 days and 2 nights (01.17.15-01.19.15)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Crystal clear water of Masasa Beach

We left our house at 5am, so that we could catch the JAM Bus Liner going to Batangas City Grand Terminal at 7am. The bus ride took almost 2 hours coming from Buendia, Makati.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Bus ride to Batangas

Upon reaching our destination, we took a jeepney ride to Mabini Port, which took 45 mins to an hour from the city. The boats at the port are scheduled to leave every hour starting at 10am. Unfortunately, a storm happened to enter the country on that day, as a result the provincial government declared Signal no. 1, which means that no boats could sail. We were not informed that there was a storm signal, because the sun was out there, and not even a single drop of rain has fallen. But rules are rules- storm signal warning, strictly no sailing. We were stuck in the port for 4 hours, and I have thought of just going to a resort in Anilao. However, we saw some locals of Tingloy heading home. (so there must be a way to go to that island). He, first tried talking to the Tingloy locals, in his Batangueno accent, (so that they won’t assume that we are Manila kids & might take advantage) and asked if we could hitch a boat ride with them, and we’re willing to pay some extra bucks just to go to Tingloy. The very nice man agreed, and accommodated the 2 of us in their small boat with a capacity of 10 people. We sailed away. It was very smooth and we’re just passing through the shores of Anilao. The waves were very peaceful and there was no slight evidence of a storm approaching. We called the caretaker of the place that we’re staying, and told her that we will be arriving in about an hour.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Waiting at Mabini Port in Anilao, Batangas

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The waves are very calm

When we’re about to cross the middle of the sea, I’ve started seeing giant waves. Waves that could make our boat sink. I could not make a single move from where I am seated, and it feels like, one wrong, all wrong and we die. I tried my best to hide my emotions so I wouldn’t scare the birthday boy. Mind you, we were not even wearing life vests, and if the boat will sink, I wondered if there are sharks out there to eat us. It’s impossible to be saved by another boat because we’re the only boat in that part of the sea. Prayers are already shouted in my head, and I thought of my family (feels like the end of the world). It was the longest 1 hour boat ride of my life, and thank you that we made it alive to Tingloy.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Trike ride going to the shore

We took a trike from the shore going to our inn, and we were welcomed by the caretaker. After changing into our swimwear, we headed to the beach. It’s indeed a virgin beach! Crystal clear water, white powdery sand with a few pebbles, calm waves, and even if you go far, it’s still safe to swim. When we were walking along the shore, we saw a camp site of 2 pax, and they look very much chill.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Passing by the green fields before you reach the shore

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

It’s actually a 10-min. walk

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Met a carabao on our way

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

And a goat too

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We returned to the inn when it was 6pm, and cooked our baon for dinner. The caretaker was so nice that she even allowed us to use their stove, and other kitchen utensils. We were even lucky that we get the house all to ourselves, which means that we don’t have to share the bathroom with anyone!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

All to ourselves

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The famous staircase, I’m not sure of the name

 

Day 2- 01.18.15

We got up so early, but it was raining hard. The caretaker informed us that there is still a storm signal, and we cannot go back to mainland Batangas yet, so we went back to sleep. We went to the beach at 3pm, and the whole beach was ours. Nobody wanted to enjoy the beach except us. Mr. Sunshine showed up in the afternoon, and it was just perfect to get my tan.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Our campsite

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Getting a tan

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Mr. sunshine is about to set

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

Day 3- 01.19.15

Storm signal has been lifted, and we could leave.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Time to go home

On our last night in the island, we felt something strange. I mentioned above that we got all the house to ourselves. The house is relatively new. All the floors are made of cement including those in the 2nd floor. There are 3 rooms upstairs, and I noticed that there is also no ceiling. You can already see the roof, if you look up. There is also a rotating brown-out in the island, starting 11pm until 6am. We were already in bed at 10pm, then the lights are out. We only have the rechargeable fan and light. We turned it off because it was so cold. We were so silent because we both felt sleepy and tired, not until, I heard something. I went like, “Naririnig mo ba yun? (Do you hear that)”, and he goes like, “Oo, wag mong pakinggan (Yes, don’t listen)”. Then he covered my ears. Well, we just heard footsteps going towards our room. I’m sure it was not a cat, because the floor is made of cement. It was heavy footsteps. The wall in our room, doesn’t extend up until the roof, because there was no ceiling, so there is a space, and you can just peak outside our room. We knew what we heard, so I said, “Ang lapit na niya, papunta ata sa’tin (It’s near, I think it’s going towards us)” So we were under the sheets the whole wee hours and hugging each other tightly, and very scared. I never told the caretaker about it, because she was so nice to us, and I don’t wanna say anything negative because she’s very accommodating. Probably, it was just a welcome from the other side, but we got scared.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I was planning to take my sister to Masasa Beach, not until I came across a very recent blog post about it. I suddenly felt sad, coz it was no longer the Masasa Beach that I was imagining. It was so packed with campers, and it felt like there was no space to pitch in my tent. The locals have made curfews for campers, unlike before that we can camp overnight. I hope I’m wrong, and it only looks like that during peak season, but you can barely see people before even if it’s a peak season.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

How to visit Masasa Beach?

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I wish it stays like this for a lifetime

From Makati or Cubao, take a bus ride going to Batangas City Grand Terminal, then transfer to a jeepney bound to Mabini. You may drop-off at Mabini Port. Ferry rides going to Tingloy and vice-versa are scheduled and available daily. Once you reach Tingloy, you may walk or take a trike going to your accommodation or to the beach site.

FYI:

The beach is a public beach so it is free. I suggest that you buy your food and toiletries from the mainland as these items are expensive in Tingloy. Prepare your budget on transpo and accommodation. The people are very nice, so please be nice to them too. Don’t forget to dispose your garbage properly. Keep the island clean and enjoy.

Processed with VSCO

Itinerary & budget for this trip

Summer in Singapore

4 years ago, I went on a trip with my best friend in Singapore that lasted for 12 days. We were freshly out from college then so we were bums. It was one of my most spontaneous trips ever, for we did not have any itineraries. We just knew that we will be there for a couple of days, and we will just go with the flow.

Singapore in a glimpse of 12 days and 11 nights (08.08.13-08.19.13)

Processed with VSCO

5J 805 MNL-SIN

It was a smooth 3-hour flight from Manila to Singapore on a fine-sunny Thursday morning of August 8, 2013. Upon arrival at Changi Airport in Singapore, we were fetched by the friend of my friend’s mom, and headed to Yew Tee to drop-off our luggage at her flat. We took a bus around the area, and alight at Choa Chu Kang before taking a cab going to Orchard Rd. We went to Takashimaya, and stroll around before having our dinner at Crystal Jade. After dinner, we headed to the grocery, and fill our carts that can suffice our cravings for about a week. We didn’t go to the Marina area on that day because it was Singapore’s National Day, and the area must be really crowded.

Processed with VSCO

Search for xiao long bao

Processed with VSCO

grocery supplies for one week

Processed with VSCO

view from our room

Day 2- 08.09.13

Processed with VSCO

It was a day to to meet up old friends. First, we went to Buona Vista, then to Holland Village. It was a day of catching-up, walking around, and eating at Hawkers.

Processed with VSCO

waiting for bus ride

Processed with VSCO

a mall in Buona Vista

Processed with VSCO

Day 3- 08.10.13

Processed with VSCO

A view of Marina Bay Sands Hotel

We explored the Marina Bay area on our 3rd day. We took the train, and walk towards the city coming from Raffles. We had dinner with friends at the Newton Food Place,  where I had a chicken satay dipped in peanut butter sauce and a Vietnamese-type of rice for dinner.

Processed with VSCO

Fullerton Hotel

Processed with VSCO

Singapore Flyer

Processed with VSCO

After eating and walking around, we went to the infamous bridge at Clarke Quay. When we were there, booze were still allowed to be consumed while police officers are roaming around. I had a free Singapore sling in exchange of a picture. They were promoting the drink at that time, and who wouldn’t want a free drink ( especially that booze are pretty expensive in Singapore). It was also my first time to see a convenience store with a very long line outside. I think they are the richest 7-eleven store in the world. Packed with long lines outside, people were there to buy beers, liquors and other beverages.

Processed with VSCO

Newton Food Place

Processed with VSCO

Chicken satay with peanut butter sauce

Processed with VSCO

Singapore sling for free!

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

Day 4- 08.11.13

Processed with VSCO

Shoes at Little India

We went a little out of way that day, and headed to Little India. I am not really sure what to see in there, but we gave it a try. We ended up getting henna tattoos, designed by an Indian woman. Aside from us, there were also other foreigners, then I started bargaining the price. The Indian woman hushed me and said she’ll give us discount.

Processed with VSCO

Getting a henna tattoo

After our adventure in Little India, we went back to Orchard to watch movie with our friends. Who would love to see Conjuring in Singapore? Well, that’s us.

Day 5- 08.12.13

We woke up very late on our 5th day. So our day started in the late afternoon already. We explored the Gardens at the Bay at night, and I don’t think I could walk on those very high bridges in the morning. Thankfully, we did it at night. After being tourist-y, we had dinner at TCC in the Marina mall, and moved to Clarke Quay bridge for another night of booze.

Processed with VSCO

Gardens at the Bay

Processed with VSCO

Tourist-y vibe with the BFF

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Day 6- 08.13.13

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

China town

Processed with VSCO

For today’s adventure, we visited the China Town, and ate at Toast Box. Wandered around the Raffles Place going to the Merlion Park and we saw the ice cream sandwich guy. Never leave Singapore without trying the ice cream sandwich, and it only costs SGD 1.20 At night, we passed by the Singapore flyer, but opted not to take it, and save it for another time.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Goofing around the Merlion Park

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

The famous Singapore landmark

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Ice cream sandwich for SGD 1.20

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Day 7- 08.14.13

Finally, we had a chance to go clubbing at Avalon. It was packed by foreign exchange students, and I was looking for my fellow Filipinos, but I guess they were busy studying. After-all it was a Tuesday night. We capped off the night by eating at one of the hawkers.

Processed with VSCO

Day 8- 08.15.13

Processed with VSCO

Resort’s World Sentosa

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After one week, we finally stepped into Sentosa Island, and chilled by the Siloso Beach. We met the lifeguard, who’s in the same age as ours. By night time, no one is allowed to camp out by the shore, but of course, we have the access. We did camp at night by the beach.

Processed with VSCO

Siloso Beach

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO

Sunset in Sentosa

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

with the local lifeguards

Processed with VSCO

zipline from one end to another

Day 9- 08.16.13

Processed with VSCO

People waiting for the Songs of the Sea to start

We went back to Sentosa, and watched the Songs of the Sea for only SGD 12 per head. It was very entertaining and kids will love it, just as much as I did.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

We had to go back to our flat early to prepare for our dinner night with our host and her tenants. We had dinner at an Australian cuisine, Salt Grill and Sky Bar, located at the 56th floor in ION Orchard with a good view of Singapore’s skyline. I enjoyed the meal, and I was also surprised of our total bill, which cost around PHP 11000.

Day 10- 08.17.13

Processed with VSCO

Universal Studios Singapore

This day was dedicated for Universal Studios Singapore. I felt like being a kid again. I enjoyed it, but sadly not all rides were open that time or some have super long lines that I cannot afford to wait. Definitely, will come back for this.

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Exploring USS

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After our USS adventure, we passed by Bugis Junction to shop for souvenirs. I found a lot of affordable items and quirky gifts. You will love the place especially if you are a shopaholic. Towards early evening, we had dinner at Fandango in Chijmes district. I love this part of Singapore because of the ambiance.

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Day 11- 08.18.13

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

This was our last night in Singapore, and we cannot miss a night at Marina Bay Sands hotel. Our host was very generous and sweet, and she gave it as a gift- overnight stay at MBS hotel. Who wouldn’t want to stay in this luxurious hotel, and plunge into the roof deck infinity pool.

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Day 12- 08.19.13

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We took a dip into the pool in the early morning of our last day before we checked out at lunch. We ate somewhere in Marina mall, but I cannot really recall where exactly it was. In the afternoon, we went to Changi Airport to catch our 5:00pm flight to Manila, and hola, back to reality.

Processed with VSCOProcessed with VSCO

If given time, I will come back to Singapore, and try out things I haven’t visited, and will try to make a Singapore-Malaysia trip this time.

Beautiful Bohol

Another beauty of Mother Earth has been showcased in the province of Bohol. The island is blessed with natural beauty; from the chocolate hills and lush green forests to the crystal clear river and white powdery shores of Panglao Island. Let’s not forget that it is also the home of the world’s smallest primate, the tarsier. It does not only boast its natural beauty, but also its historical value. Bohol houses century-old churches, ancestral homes, etc. The first blood compact between a Filipino and a foreigner took place in Bohol too. If you will recall from our history class, Rajah Sikatuna made a blood compact with Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first Spanish governor-general of the Philippines to symbolize their alliance.

20161127_122641-011

Panglao Beach

Bohol in a glimpse of 2 days and 1 night. (11.26.16-11.27.16)

Bohol is an island located in Central Visayas. Should you wish to visit this beautiful paradise, you may have Manila or Cebu as your entry point. Bohol is 2 hours away from Cebu City via fast craft and an hour away from Manila via domestic flight to Tagbilaran. Scheduled trips are available daily from Manila and Cebu. Be sure to book in advance your ticket because most of the time the trips are full. From Cebu City’s pier 2, we took a 2 hour ride via Oceanjet fast craft. We availed the earliest at 6:00am and costs 920PHP roundtrip economy per person. Add 25PHP terminal fee per person. We reached Tagbilaran at 8:00am, and we were picked-up by our tour guide.

11.26.16 Countryside Tour

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0044.

Our driver and guide at the port.

Our tour began after our driver, Lito, picked us up from the port. I have availed a Countryside Tour from Incredible Bohol by Sir Tatsky Cubero because, first, I don’t want the hassle of commuting. We will be visiting different sites, and if we choose the road less traveled, we have to take different rides too. Second, I am not familiar with the schedule of public transpo, and if we ended our tour at night, rides may not be available too. I highly recommend Sir Tatsky if you wish to get a tour. The tour includes pick-up from port, countryside tour (except entrance fee for each), and drop off at resort in Panglao for only Php 2100. I think the rate is good for 4 persons already since you really pay the car rental and service.

  •  Blood Compact Site
DCIM107GOPROGOPR0045.

Rajah Sikatuna & Miguel Lopez de Legaspi blood compact site.

Again, if you listen to your history teacher you will know that the blood compact between Rajah Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi took place in Bohol. In honor of that event, a monument has been created by a fellow Boholano, and can be visited for free.

Entrance Fee: Free

  •  Baclayon Church

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0050.

This is one of Bohol’s century-old church. It was badly devastated when an earthquake hit the province in 2013. Right now, it’s under construction. A museum is open for tour at the side of the church for a minimal fee.

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Butterfly Haven

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0052.

20161126_090802-01

20161126_090830-01

20161126_091419-01

It’s just a bonsai garden filled with butterflies. A souvenir shop is also conveniently located there.

Entrance Fee: 45PHP per person

  • Loboc River Cruise and Floating Restaurant
20161126_100700-01

River cruise & lunch for two

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0056.

20161126_100602-01

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0064.

Loboc River

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0060.

A view of lush green forests and crystal clear water while you’re on board and eating your Filipino lunch buffet. To make it more lovely, some good old songs are played by a live band. The trip lasts for about an hour. Our guide told us that we should have the river cruise first to avoid waiting for so long and it will consume so much time for our trip.

Entrance Fee: 450PHP per person

  • Chocolate Hills

20161126_123004-01

20161126_124400-01

This is the most famous landmark of Bohol. It takes about some 200 steps to reach the viewing deck, and you get a spectacular 360 degree view. It’s worth all the steps because the view is breathtaking. I’m not so sure how many hills are really in there, but it’s quite plenty.

Entrance Fee: 50PHP per person

  • Tarsier Conservation Center

20161126_135249-01

20161126_133007-01

20161126_133734-01

Hello there tiny one!

20161126_134006-01

Yes, they are out in the forest in this protected conservation center. When we visited, most of them are asleep, and you just see their back. They are so tiny, that the center’s staff has to point where the tarsier is exactly at. A friendly reminder to our fellow guests, please turn off the flash of your cameras for this may stress the tarsier and please do not touch them. Tarsiers can be suicidal if they are stressed out.

Entrance Fee: 60PHP per person

  • Bamboo Hanging Bridge

20161126_143019-01

It’s the oldest of its kind in the province. A twin bamboo hanging bridge to cross the river. After crossing the bridge, you may opt to buy souvenirs and refreshments. In order to go back, you have to take another bamboo bridge.

img_8325-02

Entrance Fee: 20PHP per person

  • Man-made Mahogany Forest

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0118.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0123.

According to our guide, back in the Marcos era, students from public schools were required to plant trees. The mahogany forest along the highway was the result of this tree planting project. It’s more than a kilometer stretch of mahogany trees making the surrounding beautiful.

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Shiphauz

20161126_130323

There is a famous house in Bohol that was patterned from a ship and it instantly became a landmark. It is said to be owned by a sailor. Tours stop by the house for photo op.

Entrance Fee: Free

  • Hinagdanan Cave

20161126_160654

After our tour in Tagbilaran, we moved to Panglao Island, and visited the Hinagdanan Cave. In the center of it is a mini lake, which is about 10 feet deep or more with fishes in it.

20161126_160307

Entrance Fee: 115PHP for 2 pax including parking fee

  • Bohol Bee Farm

20161126_171437

Aside from offering organic choices, Bohol Bee Farm is a resort as well. However, it is not located along the shores of Alona. You get to tour around the farm, and see how they process their products. We bought home the pesto spread, which I really give a thumbs up. Don’t forget to try their organic ice cream. It’s so good and it comes in different flavors.

20161126_163102

20161126_163224

20161126_170438

Famous organic ice cream

Entrance Fee: 30PHP per person

Now our tour has ended, and we were dropped off at our hotel, Scent of Green Papaya Resort, near the Alona beach side. Our hotel is not in the beach front, but they have tricycle rides that can drop and pick you up from the shore and it’s free. I have availed a room for 1 night good for 2 persons and it exceeded my expectations. Our room is so big for us with a good view of the pool plus free breakfast and a strong wifi connection. I have booked our hotel through Booking.com and just pay the remaining balance upon arrival.

20161126_194413

20161126_175825

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0173.

After we have left our things at the resort, we strolled along the shores of Alona and looked for a place to eat dinner. We found a Thai restaurant named Isis. Food was great, although I am not a fan of spicy food. Budget-wise, decent enough for a sumptuous meal of two. Of course we cannot skip dessert- it’s a must every after meal. There was a stall of Bohol Bee Farm’s ice cream. We got to taste the rare finds like malunggay, guyabano, etc.

20161126_202539

Thai food for dinner

20161126_202502

11.27.16 Alona Beach

When the sun is finally out, we had our breakfast by the terrace before we jumped into the pool then head to the beach. It was a good day to get a tan. In fact, I think I was extra tanned that day. We were asked if we would like to avail the island hopping and snorkeling package. I declined bec. most of the online articles I’ve read stated that it was a tourist trap and second, i’m not into snorkeling.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0148.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0150.

We spent midday in Panglao beach. We were enjoying the sun and the waters, and ignored getting dark. There were many foreigners around, and soaking themselves in the sun to get the perfect tan as well. It was a little bit past lunch when we left the beach and returned to our hotel and prepare to leave.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0226.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0225.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0269.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0273.

When we were all set to leave, we hired the resort’s transfer service going to the port, and cost us Php 600. It wasn’t bad at all because some could even be pricier.

DCIM107GOPROGOPR0277.

For itinerary, directions, food places and budget, feel free to click the Itinerary-_Bohol_2016[1] link.

Bohol is indeed a beautiful place, and I’m planning to come back after a few years.

Explore Bohol. https://chasingworlds.net/2017/03/30/beautiful-bohol/

A post shared by Issa (@mel_i_ssaa) on