Archive for the ‘ Asia ’ Category

Kaiseki at Nishiki

Michael and I love Japanese food! Our first date was in a Japanese restaurant where he treated me out for my birthday dinner. From sushi to ramen to everything in between, what’s not to love about it? I kinda planned the Kyoto leg of our trip around food – I didn’t tell Mike but I’m certain he had an inkling of what was coming.  :D

Inside Tenryū-ji's garden in Arashiyama

Inside Tenryū-ji’s garden in Arashiyama

A must for me for our trip is to have a traditional Japanese meal. Having kaiseki is a great way of going about it! Kaiseki is a multicourse traditional Japanese meal. The menu changes with the season as the meal is a reflection of nature’s bounty. For the Japanese, presentation is very important. Each course that was served to us was beautifully arranged and garnished. It is quite pricey though but since we flew more than 18hrs to get there, we might as well splurge a bit – though not that much (still budget conscious hehe). We had one for lunch and one for dinner.

We had a kaiseki lunch in Nishiki on a daytrip to Arashiyama. The feedback from them were all very positive. Plus, it’s relatively more affordable. We paid 4,800yen per person for an 8-course meal which took almost 2 hours.They have a website but I can’t find any English translation. I wrote a letter to the ryokan we were going to stay at to make a reservation for us which they easily did after I answered their questions: when and what time, how many course, for how many people.

Nishiki restaurant is located very close to Arashiyama Station (Hankyu line). Upon arriving there, we were warmly welcomed and ushered into our own private room. The lady who served us was really, really nice which we happily realised is the norm in the country but she hardly spoke English. It was all good since all we had to do was seat and wait for our food to arrive one by one. We could hardly wait!

That magical tray that will hold beautiful food for the next hour and a half.

That magical tray that will hold beautiful food for the next hour and a half.

First course is a small appetizer. We were served deep-fried tofu with Japanese mustard inside. Accompanied by Japanese wild ginger and soy sauce. This dish is simple but we love it! The mustard gave us a kick. I had to stop everything and hold my nose from the heat. It was gone as soon as it came. The sensation was pretty cool and unexpected! haha

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Second course was sashimi, porgy sashimi and cooked burdock. They were adorned with (from left to right) spirally-cut angelica (celery-like stalk), cucumber made into an image of water drop, seaweed, wasabi and pickled garlic. I’m really not a fan of sashimi and though I was able to finish this plate, it wasn’t in my favourites. Mike thinks otherwise. :)

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Third course, is herring soup with tea-Soba (tea-taste buckwheat noodles) in mild shoyu (soy sauce) soup. It’s garnished with leek and grated radish. Since the radish was made into a round shape, at first glance we thought it was egg yolk.  I really enjoyed the fish! The dish has a rich flavour that try as I might not to, I finished it so fast – Mike wasn’t even halfway with his!

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Fourth course is oshukuzen – assorted dishes in a tiered food box. This has got to be the prettiest course we’ve had for this meal. I just had to ask her to take our pic with this beauty! <3

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Upper tier: trevally sushi inside the Japanese ark, dried halfbeak inside the gabion box. Side dishes (from left to right) include special boiled small fish, pickled carrot in ume-blossom vinegar, eel roll with burdock, leaf bud of Japanese pepper, boiled beans and kashiwamochi (rice cake wrapped with an oak leaf).

Bottom tier included taros boiled in soy sauce and sugar, fried free-range chicken and vegetable.

Somehow, it felt like a crime to tuck into this and “destroy” such a wonderfully prepared dish. But we were hungry and can’t wait to taste it as everything had been really good so far!

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Sixth course, a medium plate. A fried eggplant that served as a pot for miso soup and ginger. We weren’t sure how to go about eating this. Mike’s solution? Just dive into it!

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Seventh course, cereals. Porridge of rice with green beans and pickled vegetables as well as Enoki mushroom. The Japanese serve rice towards the end of the meal. With this in mind, I was a bit sad to be given this dish because it meant that our meal was coming to an end. At the same time, we were already quite stuffed so I was able to accept it more readily. hehe Mike doesn’t understand Asian soup(s). He remarked that they just seem to be water boiled with something in it unlike the Western counterpart were everything is pureed together. This dish wasn’t in his top three. I really like it though – it reminds me of a dish my mom would cook for me. I’m not certain if one can describe a taste as simple and fresh -that’s how I’ll describe this dish. He gave me his soup and I would have finished it if I can but I just can’t – I was close to bursting!

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Eight and last course, fresh strawberries to end a beautiful meal and a warm cup of oolong tea to wash it all down with.

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So happily full!

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How to Apply for an OEC?

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What is an OEC?
OEC stands for Overseas employment Certificate.  These are exit permits issued to OFWs which are to be presented to the Immigration counter at the airport prior to departure from the Philippines.

Who needs an OEC?
If you’re an overseas Filipino worker going on a vacation to the Philippines, you’ll need to get one. On the plus side, once you’re on your way back to the country where you’re working, you won’t have to pay for the terminal fee as well as the travel tax that’s usually imposed on other Filipinos.

What to bring?
You  need to bring your passport as well as the green OWWA form since written there are all the information that the consulate would need to know. The form that you have to fill up, you could either download here or just ask for it at the consulate.

When to apply?
The OEC that’d be issued is valid for 60days so do it near your departure date.

How much does it cost?
The actual OEC is really cheap at £2. However, I was informed that we’d be needing to renew our OWWA membership every two years and that’s going to cost you £18.

Where to apply?
Just head to the consulate nearest you. The Philippine Embassy in the United Kingdom is closest to Charring Cross tube station.

 

http://philembassy-uk.org/labor-welfare/overseas-employment-certificate-balik-manggagawa

Bucketlist 101

We all have a travel bucketlist – a list of places we’d love to go to and visit at one point in our lifetime.

I realized that the more I go out there to see more of the world, the longer my list becomes instead!

This travelbug, once you get it… it’s hard to get it out of your system!

Where to next??? :D

Where to next??? :D

I’ve tried making a list of dream destinations. It’s actually hard as I didn’t want to be biased on any one continent.

One almost always has a map in their room if they're crazy about travels - almost! ;)

One almost always has a map in their room if they’re crazy about travels – almost! ;)

 

Do I write the name of the city or of a specific building or monument in there? Rome vs. Trevi Fountain, Colosseo, Pantheon, etc.

Do I specify any activity or just the name of the place? Ride a gondola in Venice vs. (just) Venice

Anyways, I sort of made it! Yay! Haha Have a look and tell how many you’ve places you’ve visited in this list! Just click on any of the pictures in this post. ;)

Going crazy over tomatoes in Spain!

Going crazy over tomatoes in Spain!

 

Sunset over Portugal :)

Sunset over Portugal :)

 

Where is your next destination?
Related posts:
Where Have You Been in 2013?
Travel Wish List for 2013!
2012: Exploring Europe
Must See Travel Movies
Songs and Travels: My Travel Playlist!

Where Have You Been in 2013?

It’s that time of the year where people are making lists (again) of the year that was and which will be followed closely with what they want for the coming year. Kinda mandatory for bloggers I guess. haha Before the year started, I listed 12 places I wanted to visit and in the end, I had been to 10 of those. Not bad if I may say so. Add the fact that I ended up travelling  instead to some countries I didn’t consider. :D And since part of the fun in travelling includes planning for them and reminiscing about the trips themselves… I’m happily sharing my 2013 in travels! ;)

Morocco

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It’s my first time to set foot in Africa and was I excited! Morocco was a different kind of beauty from what I’m used to (South East Asia’s lush green forests and crystal blue waters). It’s a rugged, harsh and stark kind of beauty. Differest, yes, but still beautiful!

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From Marrakech’s UNESCO-World-heritage-site-old-medina, to the snow-topped covered mountains of High Atlas to the sandy coastline of Essaouira, Morroco seems to have it all. Too bad the Sahara dessert is a 5hours drive away from Marrakech according to our guide that’s why we weren’t able to go. A good excuse to come back for sure!

Philippines

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To say I’m excited to go on a trip back home since relocating to London is an understatement! My bags were packed and ready to go a month before my trip! haha
Sea. Sand. Sun. Sky. Family. Friends. Amazing food. = Home = ♥

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Travelled all over the islands coz I’ve got friends with me who were in the country for the first time. Went to my usual faves: Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan. Did tons of stuff like swam with whalesharks, island hopped, trekked, went on a firefly tour and much more! It is definitely more fun in the Philippines!

Hong Kong

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It’s my nth time in this small but very dynamic city! I LOVE the foods here! There’s this really affordable Michelin rated dimsum place in Kowloon (and they now have a branch in HK island) that you gotta try! The place is called Tim Ho Wan. ♥

 Macau

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From old temples to humongous casinos.. this is Asia’s own version of Vegas and what a city of contradiction and mix of Portuguese and Chinese heritage it is!

 Singapore

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Singapore is South East Asia’s melting pot of culture. They have Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street. This mix also manifests itself in their food and it’s really good! They say the country is a foodie’s paradise and I couldn’t help but agree! Aside from that, they’ve got some pretty cool buildings like the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Gardens by the Bay (pictured above).

So many friends to see and visit in such a relatively small country! See you guys in March!♥

So many friends to see and visit in such a relatively small country! See you guys again in March!♥

Malaysia

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First time to visit Malaysia. Had so much fun that I’ll visit again in a few months! :D

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Must do: picture in front of the iconic Petronas Towers (with high school mates, JC and James)

Slovakia

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After my 5weeks trip in Asia, I was knackered! I had to have a vacation to get over my vacation. haha First stop was Slovakia’s Bratislava. Admittedly, the only thing I’ve heard from others is that 1. You’ll see all that there’s to see in a day and that 2. It’s a cheap (financially speaking) city.

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Well, we saw a lot but we did kinda finished quickly and yes, lodgings were indeed much cheaper there! Food was cheaper too. My cousin and I would get tempted whenever they’d write “traditional dishes” on the menu (goulash, etc) hehe

Hungary

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Friends have been saying that Hungary’s Budapest is one of their favourite cities. Well, if awesome parties, numerous thermal baths, colourful history and beautiful architecture won’t do it for you, I dunno what would (maybe uhmm… good looking guys with amazing abs there? It was summer when I visited and they’d somehow walk around with their shirts off or with open buttons -_- haha)

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I ♥ Budapest!

Switzerland

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Chocolates. Watches. (Very expensive) train rides. Gorgeous scenery. It could only mean I’m in Switzerland!

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I kept telling friends that I found Italy’s Amalfi Coast to be the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen so far in Europe. I can’t say it with such conviction after seeing Lauterbrunnen (aka as Valley of the 72 waterfalls). The Swiss Alps is just something else!

Portugal

Quick stop in Portugal's Lisboa and Sintra with my travel buddy, Jess, enroute to Spain. Food here was the cheapest I've had so far in Europe and is very good! We did quite a lot of walking and the city had many hills so do wear comfy shoes. ;)

Quick stop in Portugal’s Lisboa and Sintra with my travel buddy, Jess, enroute to Spain. Food here was the cheapest I’ve had so far in Europe and is very good! We did quite a lot of walking and the city had many hills so do wear comfy shoes. ;)

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Daytrip to Sintra, a UNESCO world heritage site, then a jaunt to Cabo da Roca – westernmost point of mainland Europe. :)

Spain

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La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain is the world’s largest food fight celebrated every last Wednesday of August. Around 40 metric tons of tomatoes are thrown against each other! I got hit in the eye by an unsquished tomato (against the rules!). It hurts! T_T Wallowed in pain for a minute or ten – til I got everything out of my eye, then back to the food fight! haha

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With my very own Spanish guide, Jessica!♥

Italy

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View of the Pantheon from the inside looking out into the piazza.

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Posing in front of Fontana di Trevi with my workmates. It’s difficult when you have people who are so easy to invite and convince to go along with my silly ideas (ie: an overnight trip to Rome!) because it’s really gonna happen! :D

France

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Le Mont St Michel.♥

My fave group of people after CS Manila, CS Paris. Such a fun loving group!

My fave group of people after CS Manila, CS Paris. Such a fun loving group!

Greece

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A bucket list destination for me and many of my friends. Had such a wonderful time in Santorini. It’s best to come around late September-early October: not as many tourists and prices would have gone down by then. Pictured above: Oia sunset

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Amidst the ruins in Athens

Iceland

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Iceland is a country full of natural beauty. Winter meant aurora borealis while summer would be time for the midnight sun. Would love to go back and see more in the summer! Must do in Iceland: visit and swim in the Blue Lagoon. You won’t regret it!

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A short trip in this beautiful country with girl friends to celebrate my birthday. :D

2 013, you have been more than kind to me. To those who I’ve travelled with, to friends who took the time to meet me while I was on the road, to new friends and to those who’ve made a positive impact, and to those who were just always there for me no matter what… thank you so much guys for making the year that had just passed by a colourful and memorable one indeed!♥

See you all in 2014! Where do you plan to travel this year? People do say dream big since sky’s the limit! :D

Related posts:
Travel Wish List for 2013!
2012: Exploring Europe
Must See Travel Movies
Songs and Travels: My Travel Playlist!

Asia. 5 Weeks. 4 Countries.

5 weeks. 4 countries. 10 cities.

I wasn’t really being crazy. I just got so excited with the idea of going back to Asia. I missed the beaches -the ones in Europe are IMO not as good as those back home -so for almost 3 weeks, I was beach hopping! I wanted to see so many things – visit old faves and try something new so that’s what happened! I figured, I’ll be dead tired by the end of 5 weeks but I’ll have so much time to recuperate once I get back. hehe
Here’s a sneak preview in pictures of what went on for this trip. I hope I could go into more details soon.

Boracay

With friends who flew to the island to meet up with me! <3

Back for the nth time in this beautiful beach island. This time around, with friends who flew there to meet up with me as their excuse! haha <3

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Swimming with whalesharks!

Swimming with whalesharks is always a pretty cool experience!

Dalaguete

Scaling high peaks!

From swimming with whalesharks, we then went on to scale the highest peaks of Cebu!

Bohol

Chocolate Hills

Behind us is the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Browsing through our pictures for this trip, I told one of the guys who travelled with me that it looked like we had one big photoshoot in the Philippines! The country is just so picturesque, every shot is looking so awesome!

Puerto Princesa

Getting stranded

Getting stranded then hitching a ride enroute to an almost secluded, pristine beach!

Sabang

Visiting a natural wonder of the world

Visiting a natural wonder of the world is on our must-do list while in the island of Palawan.

El Nido

El Nido!!!

El Nido!!! Nothing more to add. :D

Hong Kong

Hong Kong island mural

Back again in my fave Asian city, Hong Kong. The length of time I’ve spent here would total more than a month already! Wow! Posing in front one of the island’s mural.

Macau

First family overseas trip!

First family overseas trip! I’ve always travelled with my mom but it’s the first time for the boys to go out of the country. :D

Singapore

With the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at the background

With the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at the background.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

The iconic Petronas Tower of Malaysia, once the highest building in the world!

Melaka

Quick stop over in Melaka

Quick stop over in the UNESCO World Heritage city that is Melaka! :D

 

Related posts:
Travel Wish List for 2013!
Bohol: A 3D2N Adventure!
Boracay
El Nido Escapade (day1)
Swimming with Whalesharks in Donsol

Bohol: A 3D2N Adventure!

Welcome to Bohol!

Whenever friends would ask me where in the Philippines they should go if they don’t have the time, I’d often say, visit Bohol! Why? That’s because this lovely island is sort of like a sampler of what can be had all over the country! Delicious foods, rich history, endemic animals, scenic sights, eco adventures, beautiful beaches and an amazing  marine life just to name some!

Located in the Central Visayas region, Bohol has two main islands namely Bohol and Panglao. Bohol island, the tenth largest island in the country is famous for its limestone formations more popularly known as the Chocolate Hills. While Panglao is where you have to head to if you want to beach bum or dive.

The first time I was there was when I went on a trip with a German friend I met in Singapore. From Manila, we flew for an hour to Cebu then took a 2hour fast craft from there. Buying tickets for the fast craft ahead of time would really save you money. Say if you buy it on the day itself, you’ll have to pay for the full amount but if you’ll purchase one (online), you would pay only half of it! Alternatively, just book a flight directly to Bohol’s Tagbilaran airport. ;)

To maximize your 3 days there (although you can definitely stay there for an extended period of time), I’d suggest you have an agenda for each day. Something like:

Day1: EAT Danao

Day2: Bohol countryside tour

Day3: Panglao sea tour

Or just remove one from the list so as not to tire yourself out too much. We only did the countryside as well as the sea tour. I have to go back to experience Danao! ;)

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN BOHOL + COUNTRYSIDE TOUR

I’d booked with Bohol Bee Farm because I’ve heard wonderful feedback from friends about the foods they have there. And since I sometimes travel for a locale’s food, it was a no brainer for me. Once we’re at Tagbilaran’s port, there was a guy outside waiting for us. This is a free service that they have for their guests. It was just us and another pair of visitors. It was only a few minutes away but the Farm is out-of-the-way from the main road. The road leading up to it was kinda bumpy and wasn’t paved. While I was checking us in, they told us that since they have vacant rooms, they’ll upgrade us to one of their ocean view rooms, free of charge! Sweet!

BBF's lounge area

I’m not so sure if BBF would appeal to everyone though since it’s quiet there. I love that everything there was very native and they try to be as fresh as possible. Their lounge area (sunbathing platform as they call it), is a nice place to chill in. And not to forget, a perfect spot for taking pictures. To get there though, you’ll have to walk down the stairway they made on the side of a cliff. They don’t have a beachfront (coz it’s on a cliff) but during low tide, you can wade through their waters if you want.

Not normally part of any itinerary, my friend and I wanted to check out Mag-Aso Falls because it was just so beautiful in pictures! We weren’t disappointed, it really is beautiful and more so! My companion was crazy enough to actually trek to the top of the falls so I can take his picture while he jumps. BUT since I wasn’t able to get a decent shot, he did it 4 more times! He didn’t really needed any prompting as he was just so excited to do it. hehe

Happy to be in the water! ;)

Next stop is the Baclayon Church. Then it’s a buffet lunch in Loboc while on a river cruise. On our way to see the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, we stopped by a roadside to see how small the world’s smallest primate, tarsier,  really is! While I loved how green it was at the man-made forest of Pilar! THe Chocolate Hills didn’t look like chocolates coz they were covered in grass hehe We went to a butterfly garden afterwards. That was the best butterfly garden I’ve been to in the country since the very well-informed guides told it in such a way that you’re laughing while learning at the same time. I bought some souvenirs near the hanging bridge. We also went inside Hinagdanan Cave despite the fact that it’s supposed to be closed. The guides still let us in. Oh, and they’re amazing with all types of cameras! They know how to set it to actually get some good shots in the dark! ;) I can very well say that I learned useful infos from them. hehe Cheap souvenirs can be bought when you stop by Prony the Python’s. He is said to be the biggest in captivity but I couldn’t vouch for this coz he was coiled unto himself when we saw him.  :)

Loboc's river cruise

At Baclayon Church with the image of Padre Pio

Spot the tarsier ;)

Man-made forest

The famed Chocolate Hills!

Walking along the hanging bridge after buying souvenirs :D

It was already dark when Kuya Tatsky dropped us off in Panglao Island’s Paragayo Resort. It’s in Alona Beach. We stayed there coz there were more options for us with regards to where to stay and eat at (and it’s cheaper here too). The other beach is Dumaluan. On a different trip, I stayed here with my family. The beach here, Dumaluan, is really nice. They have a wide beach front and thw sands are powdery fine here as well! The only drawback is that there were fewer choices to eat and it’s more expensive (Eskaya, Bohol Beach Club, Amarela, Dumaluan Beach Resort to name a few). On the plus side though, it’s a more relaxed  and chill out place. :)

*An option for day 1 is to have your tour guide pick you up from the airport then head straight to the countryside tour. Instead of staying at Bohol Bee Farm, it’s actually included in the daytour itself. Would save more money but it could be tiring. ;)

DAY 2: SEA TOUR

We woke up early so that we could be at sea by 7am. I was sooo excited to see the dolphins! The boat was arranged by Kuya Tatsky as well. There were only 2 of us in the boat aside from our guides. After several minutes, we were out in the open. We saw other bancas (boat) making their way there as well for the same reason. It was so thrilling when I saw a dolphin making a flip and diving right back into the water. There was a whole pod of them! They were fast! It was amazing! I didn’t want to ruin the experience by taking a video so I only took  a few shots and just enjoyed the moment. After a while though, we told the boatman that we had enough and would rather leave. We realized that every other bancas were chasing the pod. I, well… we, didn’t enjoy that cat and mouse game (or so it seemed to us) so we opted to leave. We saw them which was good enough for us. :D

Dolphins!!! :D

Next stop, Balicasag Island for some snorkeling fun! It’s a small island in the middle of a marine sanctuary. I don’t think I’m a good swimmer. I can swim, yes. But if I get scared, I can’t. Totally sucks. Anyways, I told my friend this and was expecting him to not leave me on my own as I’ll go snorkelling by the deep (there was a drop there) without any lifevest on. I was totally enjoying myself and I knew I was swimming away from our boat but I didn’t realize I was completely on my own. When I did, I started to panic (my heart started beating faster)! I tried to keep calm. It’s a great thing our guide was keeping close watch on me and the boat was beside me instantly when I called out to him. I got back ito the boat safely but I was dizzy coz of the panic attack! lol We didn’t bring any lunch  so we had some foods cooked for us there. Yum! I had to wait for a while before I could enjoy it though as my world wasn’t stable yet. hehe Next stop was Virgin Island. To my disappointment. it was high tide so you can’t really see it. Not good for pics! ;) We still enjoyed it there though but the water was up to our knees already.

Chilling by Balicasag Island

DAY 3: CHILL TIME

We had no other agenda here because we have an early flight back home. So we spent the day enjoying the beautiful beach of Bohol. :)

Totally clueless as to how these sand formations came about! haha

Waking up early to enjoy the beach :)

Still sleepy hehe

I had a wonderful time when I went there the first time that I came back with my family the second time around :D

*pics used were from both trips

*more details coming up! ;)

This is my entry for Pinoy Travel Blogger’s blog carnival for the month of January 2012 hosted by Eileen of Possibly Pinay with the theme “The 3Days/2Nights Challenge.”

Enchanted by Davao’s Kadayawan

August 22 (&23), 2011

The Philippines with its 7,107 islands is second only to Indonesia in terms of the most islands. Being a former colony of Spain, they say we are more Latinos than Asians in the sense that we’re very passionate and emotional.  We have many festivals for various reasons (religion, good harvest, just because. hehe) because of that influence.

I wasn’t really into it coz I don’t like crowds. But a friend, Ed, invited me to join him on a trip. He booked a flight for us along with other travel buddies with the intention of attending the local fest, Kadayawan.

Kadayawan Festival is held annually, every 3rd week of August, in Davao to celebrate the good and bountiful harvest of the people. The different ethnic tribes (there’s about 10 of them) around the foot of Mt. Apo, highest peak in the country, would converge to give thanks to  the gods, particularly to the “Manama” also known as the Supreme Being. The term Kadayawan came from the Mandaya word “madayaw” which is a warm and friendly greeting that means good, valuable, superior or beautiful.

I liked that it was very colorful since the various tribes were all fitted in brightly coloured and intricately designed traditional costumes. Though amongst the people I was with were apt to compare it to Cebu’s Sinulog, the hand’s down biggest festival in the country. I told them to not compare the two (if possible) and to just enjoy this festival. By the way, they got me excited to go to Cebu so I already booked a flight for that one! :D

I had a wonderful time in Davao’s Kadayawan Festival!

Here are some pictures I took. :)

At the starting area

Group #2 is from South Cotabato

Dancing their hearts out!

Photo op with a cheerful dancer :)

Everyone's smiling!

Rice porridge for everyone. It's free!

Some last minute instructions from the choreographer

Little kids, dressed as bats, getting bored hehe

The balloon vendor

A traditional costume

Travel buddies

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