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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Batangas: Club Balai Isabel

Okay, let's be honest here - I only know about Club Balai Isabel because this was the place where Juday and Ryan Agoncillo got married (baduy na kung baduy!). Since these two famous celebrities decided to tie the knot at Balai Isabel, I figured that this resort must be something special.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tagaytay: Amorama Restuarant

We've been passing by Amoroma restaurant during our weekend trips to Tagaytay and haven't gotten the chance to drop by this restaurant because of its plain facade. But through the persistent suggestions of my aunt to try this authentic Italian restaurant in Tagaytay where in her words - the food made one feel as if they were truly in Italy, we finally ate lunch here. My comment on this restaurant? "Delicioso!" 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kota Kinabalu: Mt. Kinabalu Botanical Garden

Kinabalu Park is Malaysia's first UNESCO heritage site because of its sprawling mountains and diverse biological species. Part of Kinabalu park is the Mt. Kinabalu Botanical Gardens which is home to some fairly interesting plant types.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Palawan: Malcapuya Island, Pass Island and Banul Beach

While Coron, Palawan may not be as popular as Boracay or Cebu as a summer destination, it is quickly becoming famous and with good reason. Its white sandy beaches and clear blue seas are probably one of the most beautiful in the world. The fact that it isn't as commercialized or crowded with tourists, only adds to the serene experience of being in a place relatively untouched by modernization.

                                                                   Malcapuya Beach.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Palawan: Mount Tapyas and Maquinit Hot Springs

While Coron Island might be best known for its beautiful white beaches and breathtaking lagoons, there are other places that can be enjoyed in Coron Town itself. Two of these things are climbing up the steps of Mount Tapyas to enjoy a panoramic view of the island and relaxing at the Maquinit Hot Springs. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Palawan: Coron Village Lodge

Coron Village Lodge is a quaint and rustic place to stay in Coron Town. This specialty lodging is definitely not a luxury resort,  but the homey feel and native decor lends a charm to Coron Village Lodge that makes it special all on its own. 

 *Picture from Coron Village website 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LTC Pick of the Month: Toilet Resto (The Battle of the Toilets)

Modern Toilet was pretty hard to find , or maybe we were just Mandarin-impaired. As per instructions, we walked around Ximending until we saw a giant toilet hanging out of a building.

On the outside, it looks like a hole-in-the wall restaurant. The place is pretty small compared to some restaurants I’ve been but that’s probably due to the space issue in the Ximending Area.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Singapore: ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands

When I first heard about the ArtScience Museum at the MBS, I was intrigued. 
"Wow, a musem that merges art and science! Cool!!!" Two fields that were as far from each other as plaid and stripes, mixed together to form the slightly pretentious but intellectually fascinating term that is "Art Science". But a second thought quickly ensued and it was - "But wait, how can they make a museum for art AND science??" Could these two be merged harmoniously into one place or will it mean a clash as glaring as plaids and stripes mixed together?

Museum Exterior

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Northern Luzon Lighthouse Tour

Here are some trivia on lighthouses...

What is the tallest lighthouse in the U.S.A.? Cape Hatteras (191 feet)
What is the oldest U.S. lighthouse in service? Sandy Hook in New Jersey
What is the most expensive lighthouse? St. George Reef in California

Enough of the trivia... Let us now focus on the lighthouses that can be found in our homeland - the Philippines!

The Philippines has its own collection of lighthouses that were built since the 19th century. You too may discover them and see them for yourselves.

Faro de Cabo Engaño, Palaui Island, Cagayan

Sunday, August 07, 2011

LTC Pick of the Month: Sometimes you just fall in love (the taste, sound and life of Phuket)

There’s always a first time for everything. My first trip, all by my lonesome self, is to Phuket, Thailand were my cousin was working before. Being a lover of crime shows, I’m always paranoid about talking to strangers and being in shady situations but when my cousin failed to pick me up at the airport, I had to ride a cab...alone. It was a scary ride as it was already 11 in the evening and Patong Beach is quite far from the airport. Luckily, the 700 baht-ride safely delivered me to my cousin who was waiting at the Jungceylon Mall.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Singapore: Universal Studios

It's every kid's dream to go to Universal Studios and feel what it's like to have their favorite cartoon characters come to life.  But nowadays, even adults would want to reminisce their childhood days, which leads us to our visit in Singapore Universal Studios.

The opening time of Universal Studios is 10:00am, but we arrived there at 9:30am to have time to take some pictures in the area.  We didn't buy tickets anymore because our friend already got us tickets from the Cebu Pacific office in Singapore at a cheaper price.  The normal rate is SGD 66.00, but our friend got it for only SGD 63.00.

While spending the time outside, we wanted to have a picture with the famous Universal Studios Globe, but unfortunately at that time, it was being repaired, so we just had it on the tarpoline version of it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

South Korea: Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower

While asking the locals where's a nice place to go in Seoul, Namsan Park would inevitably be one of the places which would be brought up.

So one fine Saturday morning, a couple of friends and I decided to see what Namsan was all about. Looking at the map from our hotel in Insadong, Namsan seemed to be walk-able (meaning maybe a 30-minute walk from the hotel), turns out we were dead wrong.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

South Korea: Cheonggyecheon Stream

The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a sight to behold in between the tall commercial buildings in downtown Seoul. An 8.4 km stream that was renovated to be public recreational park, it is a not only an amazing example of good design, but also a nice place to unwind after a stressful day at the office. 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Singapore: Marina Bay Sands

It was year 2008 when I last visited Singapore before this 2011. During that time Marina Bay Sands was just in the mid of cimpletion, but I already saw 3 buildings being constructed. I never got close to it, and only saw it from a far on my way to the airport.

Two years later, there it is. Marina Bay Sands was completed.

In our latest trip, we visited Marina Bay twice. The first was during the night and the second one was in the afternoon. The pictures taken during the night didn't look so clear, so we wanted to get another shot at it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Singapore: Double Helix Bridge

While walking in the paths outside the Marina Bay Sands, you will see a wonderful view of the Esplanade on the other side of the waters.  But as we walked further to the Marina Bay Art & Science Museum, we glazed upon the famous and first-ever "Double Helix Bridge" in the world. 
When we were still in the Philippines planning for the places we will visit, I did see this in the internet.  I wanted to include this in our itinerary but thought that we won't have time anymore considering already a full schedule.  I didn't gave time to research on the double helix bridge anymore.  Good thing that I was able to read about this.  If not, we might not know it was already the famous bridge even if it was in front of us.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kota Kinabalu: Poring Hot Spring

After having already spent 2 days in Kota Kinabalu, we wanted to spend sometime to relax and just enjoy the day.  We wanted to take a dip in the hot springs in Poring, like our prize after getting ourselves tired walking in the heat of the sun.  We took a van going there which was part of the tour that we got.

Monday, June 06, 2011

South Korea: Cherry Blossoms at the Hangang River

Cherry blossoms appear only for a few weeks during the cusp of spring and summer in Korea. They may blossom only for a short while, but when they do appear, these tiny baby pink flowers are spectacular (especially for first time viewers like me.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kota Kinabalu: Post Office

During the last day of our trip to Kota Kinabalu, our friends wanted to go to the Post Office to drop their post cards.  They believed that it was lucky to send yourself a post card from the country you visited to your home address.  They wrote themselves a letter or short message, which can also be kept as souvenir for the future.

The post office in Kota Kinabalu was in the ground floor of the building.  Comparing it to the post office here in the Philippines, this is way better.  The inside is air-conditioned and clean, unlike in the Philippines, or at least to the Makati Post Office, since that is the only post office in Philippines that I have gone to.  There were also seats provided for the customers while waiting.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport

It was our first time ever to ride our way down to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) for our flight out, which was located in Clark Pampanga.  It was indeed very far than the NAIA Manila Airport, because we were from the Ortigas Area.  We decided to book our flight going to Kota Kinabalu with AirAsia, which didn't have flights offered in NAIA, because of the promo price of the airfare. 

The travel time from Ortigas to Trinoma was around 30 minutes at that time because the traffic was moderately fast.  We met our friends in Trinoma where we rode to DMIA together.  The travel time from Trinoma to the airport was around 1 hour and 30 minutes.  The traffic was also good, then when you get to NLEX, it will be smooth sailing until you reach DMIA.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Conquer the Sandari Forest Reserve this Summer

Quench your thirst for the outdoors at the Sandari Forest Trekking Adventure, an educational family fun-trek on at Sandari Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas ongoing on all Saturdays of this summer starting March 5.

The fun-trek is open to all outdoor enthusiasts aged 12 and up and features a two-hour trail that showcases the rich biodiversity of the Sandari Forest Reserve as well as the unique variety of flora & fauna endemic to Batulao. A forest guide will be on hand to facilitate the trek, provide information about the plant life within the habitat and help maintain the safety of the participants.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

8065 Bagnet

I don't know when it actually started, but it seems to me that more and more are serving the ilocos bagnet. I was brought by my friends to one bagnet place called "8065". What an unusual name for a restaurant, that's what I thought.  But the taste of their bagnet was terrific.  Although place is quite hard to look for because it's located in the inner streets of Makati, it is worth the find.

We went there via taxi and didn't know where the exact location was.  Thanks to GPS technology, we somehow arrived at the area.  Given that 8065 is in the inner streets, expect less taxi or other modes of transportation passing by.  If you will get a ride after you eat, you will either need to wait a little longer than usual, or you can walk until the end of the intersection of the other street.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Calaguas Islands - jump in!

Escape the stressful city life by just spending a weekend in paradise.  This paradise can be found at the northernmost part of Bicol.  It’s still virgin, unspoiled, serene, white sand – Calaguas Islands.
The 9 hours land travel + 2 hours boat ride will all be worth it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

May 2011 Sagada Getaway Tour - Book Now!

Here is your chance to experience all of these in the upcoming Sagada Getaway Tour!

Schedule dates are on May 7-9, 2011. This is open to all everyone.

For reservations, contact Zaide Uy > / +63 919 895 0016
For your questions about the tour, you can post your questions in the comments area.

Be one with nature:
- explore Sumaguing Cave
- trek to the Bomod-ok “Big Falls” and have the option to swim in its ice-cold water
- tour around to see the Hanging Coffins, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Sagada Weaving and Echo Valley, Lumiang Burial Cave
- see the rice terraces upclose and even walk on it
- experience the cool climate of Mountain Province
- trees all over

Day 0 - Friday:
07:00 PM Meet up at Pick-up Point
08:00 PM ETD to Sagada

Day 1 - Saturday:
06:00 AM ETA Banaue / Breakfast
07:30 AM ETD Banaue - Sagada / Sidetrip at Banaue Rice Terraces
10:30 AM ETA Sagada. Free Time/Rest/Prepare
12:00 NN Lunch
01:00 PM Banga-an Rice Terraces, Trekking and Swimming Bomod-ok Big Falls
05:00 PM Pasalubong Shopping
07:00 PM Dinner / Free Time

Day 2 - Sunday:
04:00 AM Wake Up
05:30 AM Sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint
08:00 AM Breakfast
10:00 AM Lumiang Cave Entrance Only / Spelunking Sumaguing Cave
01:00 PM Late Lunch
07:00 PM Dinner / Free Time

Day 3 - Monday:
07:00 AM  Breakfast
08:00 AM  Walking Tour: St. Mary's Episcopal church, Calvary Hills, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins, Sagada Weaving
10:30 AM Early Lunch
11:30 AM ETD Sagada
05:00 PM ETA Baguio / Dinner
07:00 PM ETD Baguio
12:00 MN ETA Manila

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tagaytay: Bag of Beans

We have been going to Tagaytay a lot of times and have been eating in different restaurants. With the number of restaurants to choose from, there were some that we overlooked. But during this visit in Tagaytay, we decided to try dining in Bag of Beans.

The name of the restaurant sounds like it's a coffee place, but it is more than what it seems. The place inside is big - separated into 2 parts. They have an area that is covered and air-conditioned, then another is out in the open with a fresh feeling having trees on the side.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kota Kinabalu + Singapore Itinerary : Next Destination

It has been a habit for us and our friends to have a vacation outside the country every year, to leave the work behind to de-stress and enjoy what the world has to offer.  This 2011, we are very excited to spend our days in Kota Kinabalu and Singapore.

The whole itineray was created by ourselves, based on the places we wanted to explore.  We arranged a local tour for Kota Kinabalu, particularly for teh Kiulu Rafting Tour and Poring Hot Spring, since we thought that it would be better than to arrange transportations of our own.  But for the Tunku Abdul Raman Marine Park, we decided to do it on our own.

For Singapore, we will be travelling the whole trip on our own.

Estimated budget for the whole trip is 40,000 pesos for 8 days.  This amount includes all airfares, accomodations, tours and entrance fees, transportation fees, and basic food.

See itinerary inside...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

LTC Pick for March: Surviving Taraw

Food for thought.
Taraw cliff is situated on the left side of the El Nido town shore. It is a limestone rock formation that from previous centuries, maybe a home for thousands of sea creatures but today it holds nests for swiftlets also known locally as balinsasayaw. These are birds that can only be found in El Nido, Palawan and they only build their nests in mountain cliffs such as Taraw. As many would know, these birds probably have the most expensive saliva in the whole world, for each kilogram costs around 120,000 Pesos (3,000 USD). Their saliva is the main ingredient in the famous Nido Soup. After reading this blog, you would probably know why they have the most expensive saliva in the world.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bataan: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

There are only a handful of places which show an appreciation for the richness of Filipino history and culture. In Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (or Filipino House of Acuzar), Filipino culture is not only showcased, but celebrated in every way possible from the grand and meticulously decorated Filipino houses of the olden times to its vast cobble stone streets.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taiwan: Martyr's Shrine

Part of our trip to Taipei was the Martyr's Shrine.  When we went there, I honestly didn't have an idea what we are to see there.  Since it's called Martyr's Shrine, it came to my mind that there will be statues of the martyr's considered by Taiwan.  I imagined the statues to made of either stone or steel with layer of gold color.

But nothing like that was in the place.  Totally different from what I was expecting.  We went in the gates and saw a lot of people standing around.  So, why were they standing around???  They were waiting for the guards.  Then I realized that's what we came to see.  We woke up early to see the changing of the guards in the Martyr's Shrine.  It might be silly to believe that people wake up early and wait just to see the changing of guards, but seldom do you see something like that.  They had a very disciplined formation!

New guards coming as replacements

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Peking Garden: A Chinese New Year Celebration

It's a Chinese belief during CNY to eat a lot your favorite food so that good luck and abundance will follow throughout the year. Keeping with this tradition, our family decided to eat at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in Manila  - Peking Garden.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Palawan: Ka Lui Restaurant

Upon reaching Palawan, the first thing that we asked our receptionist was if she could recommend a good seafood restaurant, without hesitation the place she mentioned was "Ka Lui". Just few kilometers away from the Puerto Princesa airport, Ka Lui is a native house which has been transformed into a homey, artsy restaurant that is uniquely Filipino.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Taiwan: YehLiu Geopark

In the past, there was only water.  Today, we have the YehLiu Geopark in Taipei.

This geopark surfaced after the water went down.  This was formed due to geological forces that moved the Datum Mountain out of the sea.  Rock formations appeared and people saw different shapes in them.  This is now being preserved by the GuanyinshanNational Scenic Area Administration, and was already turned into a tourist spot.

When we went there it was raining hard and the wind was breezing strongly.  But it didn't stop us from walking past the ground full of soil.  Who would let the bad weather stop them from seeing these wonderful formations.  The most famous rock formation there is the Queen's Head.

Queen's Head

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Palawan: The Subterranean Underground River

The Subterranean Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is now best-known as a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. Because of its placement as a finalist in the competition, the Subterranean Underground River has been gaining an increase in popularity and visitors. After a visit to this World Heritage Site,  I can proudly say that its placement as a finalist is well-deserved.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Café 1771: A Touch of Whimsy

A few years back Chateau 1771 in El Pueblo Ortigas closed shop. News of this left me bewildered and saddened at the same time as my family has celebrated a number of special occassions at Chateau and we've always been satisfied with the food they served. 

Little did I know that a younger, less stuffy reincarnation of Chateau was in the works and that is Café 1771. Café has a different look and a somewhat different menu (some of our favorites from Chateau are still available), but the experience was less like meeting someone for the first time and more like seeing a close balikbayan friend who has lived abroad for some time and has finally come home.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tagaytay: Mr. Moo's Fresh Milk and Kesong Puti

Driving from Batangas to Tagaytay, we would often pass by Mr Moo's large bright pink and black sign selling fresh milk and kesong puti (white cheese). It was only after aunt's recommendation that we finally decided to stop and give it a try. After a sip of Mr. Moo's fresh milk, I was mighty glad that we got out of the car.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

LTC Pick for January: Trip to Japan - check!

One item crossed from my bucket list. One of my dream destination and it was worth all the preparation and money.

Japan is a combination of something new and familiar. The people were nice and helpful (even if we usually had to resort to sign languages) and the weather was a bit friendly. It only rained a few times during our stay and the weather had allowed us to enjoy out trips before drenching us during late afternoons.

First stop: Osaka - commercial and industrial center of Japan.

The Cebu Pacific half fare promo was the catalyst for our trip. It was a big saving for us and gave me an excuse to justify to myself the cost of our trip. Our flight landed on Kansai airport, about an hour away from Osaka's cicty center. There's a tourist friendly Kansai Pass that was budget friendly for our 3 days stay at Osaka. We checked in at Chisun Hotel near the Shin-Osaka subway station.

Some of the popular tourist spots in Osaka are the Osaka Castle, Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Tempozan Market, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

On to Kyoto, famous cultural center that was once the capital of Japan.

Although entrance to castle grounds is free, there's a fee to enter the castle

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