Archive for the ‘ Asia ’ Category


July 2, 2011

Boracay, one of my favorite destinations in the country! :D

Boracay Island is approximately 7kms long , dog bone-shaped with the narrowest point being less than a kilometer wide. The island is located just off the north western corner of Panay Island.

A dog bone-shaped island

Boracay Island is a popular destination for beach lovers. It was voted again and again as having one of the best beaches in the world. Its white sand is its most popular draw in. But I guess what draws visitors (like me) over and over there again is the fact that its white sand is just so powdery soft! Also, the sand never gets “too hot” to thread upon barefooted. The island also has beautiful sunsets. These days, aside from its beaches, it’s the lively atmosphere that makes it a must-visit vacation place. Its party reputation however has kept others who are seeking for a quiet vacation away. I say that Boracay island can offer solitude too. One just has to keep one’s distance away from its main attraction, White Beach.

Boracay's White Beach

Getting there is easy. Catch a flight bound for Caticlan or Kalibo, or ride a RoRo for Caticlan then get on a boat that will take you to the island. Lastly, ride a tricycle or a multicab to take you to wherever your destination is.

Enroute to Caticlan from Kalibo airport

In Boracay's Jetty Port

Whenever I go there with the family, we’d stay at Boracay’s Regency Hotel. ;) However, when I’m with friends, we’d try to find the cheapest room we can stay at (that has a good location) or couchsurf if possible. :)

Residencia Boracay's comfy swing :)

There are a lot of stuff you can do at the island: for sea loving people… island hop, helmet dive, snorkel, dive and swim; parasail, skimboard, kitesurf and cliff dive if you want a more adrenaline rush kind of activity. Others ride the zorb or go around parts of the island on an ATV. While there are those who enjoy lazing most of their day away by the beach.

Kite surfers going at it :D

My first trip there was because my cousin, vacationing from the US, wanted a trip to somewhere we’ve never been to. I kept coming back ever since! :D The craziest of which was when a friend celebrated her birthday and decided to host all of her guests there. There were probably around 40 of us coming in from different flights  in a span of 2-3 days! We were there for 4 fun days. The most chill was my last trip. I stayed for a week and having done most of the activities I mentioned before, I spent most of my time by the beach or explored parts of the island I have never been to. I thought I’d be bored by the end of it but days flew me by and the next thing I knew, I had to leave. :(

Staying out late with friends

Happy faces after a day of ciff diving :D

Lazy day at the beach

Think happy thoughts: I’ll be going back there next week! :D

Related Posts:

Getting to Boracay

Boracay: Where To Stay At

Boracay: Where To Eat

Boracay: Where To Go

Sohoton Cove and Non Sting Jellyfish!

June 26, 2011

Due to insistent public demand (well, more like from friends haha) I’ll skip the first day of my trip to Surigao in favor of this entry. Friends want to know the details as soon as possible so here it is! Read away guys ;)

Destination: Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte

We got up early because our next stop wasn’t exactly near. My friend Sam wanted to come along for this trip for the sole purpose of being able to swim alongside stingless jellyfish. I’ve heard of them but don’t really know much. It turns out that they’re found only in few places in this world, the most famous of which is in Palau. I only know of one person who has been there and i know a lot of people who travel!

Bucas Grande Island is part of the much larger Sohoton National Park. To get there, we rode a tricycle and told the driver to drop us off at the city’s integrated terminal. There, buses, shuttle vans and jeepneys plying to different destinations can be found. We got on a shuttle bound for Claver, Surigao del Norte (100php) and waited for few more passengers. We left after 20minutes eventhough it was yet to be filled with passengers (14pax maximum). We bought some water and snacks first. After an hour and a half of land travel, we reached the small town of Claver. I told them that from what I’ve read, there would be no eateries in our destination so I was quite adamant that we have something heavy for breakfast coz we don’t know when our next meal would be. There were some eateries in Claver’s terminal so we had our breakfast there. Next, we got on a tricycle (25php) and told the driver to bring us to Baranggay Hayangabon where we’ll hire a pumpboat (lantsa) to take us to Bucas Grande Island.

Buying some snacks

Van bound for Hayangabon

It’s the first time that I saw a mining town and a sad sight it was indeed. Everywhere in Mindanao, lush forests abound. I was enjoying the view of the sea on my left whenI first noticed the red dust on the road.  On some parts, they had to put water so that it wouldn’t be as dusty but i became a bit muddy. As I looked at the mountains on my right, it’s bare and red. And there were huge machines digging up the mountain. :(

The mined mountains seen from afar

Our driver dropped us off at the port (pantalan). The men offered their boat for 2000php roundtrip. I saw a tourism center building by the main road so I told my companions that I want to check it out. They might have some useful infos for us. Inside though, it was more like a small store and the information they gave me, I already know. They did let us change our clothes and use the toilet for free. ;) I asked them why they let a mining company mine their land (the town has huge deposit of nickel, one of the largest in the world), the elderly man answered me by simply saying, we have nothing else to live by. I wanted to contradict, tell him of the harmful effects of it but would it change the way things are? This is why I think tourism is vital to our country. *sigh*

Our ride at Claver's Brgy. Hayangabon port

The water polluted by the mining operation

Fishing :)

We went back to port and agreed with the said amount. but we weren’t too keen on going back to Claver nor Surigao City. We’d rather spend it in Bucas Grande or Siargao Island, surf’s up! :D It took less than an hour (probably 40minutes) for us to reach Bucas Grande. Along the way, we even saw a huge yellowfin tuna jump out of the water. Totally woke me up! Then, it was the islands in front of me that got my attention. More like islets clumped together. El Nido’s lagoons came to mind. And then we saw one orange jellyfish! Got us all going again! :D Before we went there, there’s a wooden structure built, the reception area, wherein guests would have to register and pay the necessary fees before being allowed to explore the area. I told the lady manning it if it’s possible to swim with the jellies first, she said yes but gently reminded me that Sohoton Cove is accessible only during low tide so we have to check it out first before the other.

  • Mandatory Fees
  1. Entrance Fee – 25php/pax
  2. Environmental Fee – 25php/pax
  3. Docking Fee – 100php
  • Boat – 500php
  • Tourguide /s- 330php

You can also rent out a life jacket (30php) and snorkel gear (100php).

Welcome to Enchanted Sohoton! :D

Once that was done, we transferred on another, definitely smaller, boat. The one we arrived in won’t get through the cove’s only entrance, a cave which is accessible only on low tides.  I liked the place! Islets abound! And we wove through them. It wasn’t lacking in beauty though. Colorful corals and its waters were crystal clear you can see almost all the way down! Our guide pointed out some ironwood trees, the hardest tree you can find. Cool! hehe We went to some caves filled with stalactites (Snoring Cave) and then we made another stop at Diving Cave. Diving coz inside the cave is an upward path that leads you outside the islet to a man made platform wherein you can dive. Cliff diving anyone? ;) I was so excited to have another go at it that I actually volunteered to go first! Did I say that the place was beautiful? :D Green mountains all around and the water was so clear I can see all the way down, down, down. Uh oh! I couldn’t make myself do it!  I have no problem submerging myself there but to initiate the jump! *gulps* Safety wise, our three guides were waiting for me and I even told them I want one life jacket in the water! haha But still… I told Abby if she could please jump first. hehehe No, she said. After what seemed like ages, but was technically just 5minutes from the time our guide jumped to when we decided who should go first to me volunteering, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and (with great trepidation and shaking knees, they told me I was turning white and I’m so tanned lately at that! haha) I jumped off! It was several seconds before I was in the water (or so it felt) and I was on my way up when I felt our guide’s strong grip trying to help me out of the water. I needed more help convincing myself to jump. ;) It felt sooo good afterwards! Yay! I heard Abby shout from above. “Cathy, are you alright?” I told her I was good and I’m alright. It was her first time to cliff dive and I wanted to reassure her. And she was in the water in a snap. Great job! When it was Sam’s turn (she did some cliff dive before too), she also hesitated. Whew! It wasn’t just me then! :D We would have stayed longer but our guide reminded us of the jellyfish and that we have to get back before the tide gets high or we’ll be stuck there. The only problem we encountered was the lack of snorkel gear being rented out. There were only 2 groups ahead of us and they ran out of snorkels for rent for us. We made do with only 2. I should have brought mine. We went back to the reception area to wait for  our turn with the jellies. :D

On our way to the cove :D

Ironwood trees, hardest trees!

In the cove. :)

Who's gonna jump first???

To get to the jellies, we had to ride a paddle boat. Manned by one paddler and can sit up to two visitors. BUT as I’ve said, they’re not used to visitors so when it was our turn, no paddle boat was available. They solved this by making us  use the boat we were on in the cove. Headed towards the cove’s opposite direction it was less than 10minutes and we’re there, Tojomon Lagoon, home of the Philippine’s own non sting jellyfish! It is easy to imagine why there was no need for their sting. The place looked so calm and as we were told, there were no predators out to get the jellies so there was no need for them to develop sting/venom unlike their counterparts out in the open. From further readings, it can be gathered that these jellies have a life span of about four months and as such, their population peaks during summer months (March-June). They’re descibed as having brown color but looked more like orange to me. hehe Aside from the “orange” jellies that can be smaller than your closed fist or as big as a plate, there are also bigger white jellies in the area (blue according to our guide but to be more accurate, it’s transparent with some blue markings on them). They are fewer though and are more likely to be found deeper in the waters.  The sight above water was eye catching but our eyes were glued to the water, on the look out for them, orange and white jellies. Upon the lagoon’s entrance, we saw a few and then there were more and more of them until suddenly, you’re in the middle of a lagoon surrounded by orange jellies! It’s understandable how we were hesitant to touch them. So many past encounters of swimming by the beach/sea and getting stung taught us as much. To give us courage, our guide scooped one out of the water for us to touch. Waaah! haha I was sitting on the boat’s floor just staring at the view below me. Enthralled. I decided to put my hand in the water. I wanted to touch their head. Just a very light touch at first. It was sooo soft! It didn’t hurt. Non sting, yes! I had to check it out first before jumping in the water. ;) Unfortunately, I have no underwater cam but a friend of mine brought hers so I hope she took lots of shots underwater. I think I’d be too busy enjoying myself to take one even if I have one. hehe Above water, we were surrounded but it didn’t look THAT much but looking below the surface, I was blown away! Imagine crystal clear waters filled with these gentle, lovely creatures everywhere you turn! I had to remind myself to not move too suddenly as they seemed fragile, I saw tentacles floating around. Did I cause it??? Oh no!!! Or was it from the boat’s propellers? I got a lot of teasing from my companions when I told them about it. That’s probably the reason why they paddle to get to the lagoon.  The only other experience that gave the same feeling was when I swam alongside whalesharks (butandings). But with the whalesharks, it was very quick & fast with the jellies, it was chill. I was in the water until my fingertips were getting wrinkly. I didn’t want to get out of there. hehe

Non sting jellyfish abound in Tojomon Lagoon!

So gentle!

A white non sting jellyfish! Cool!

Swimming with the non sting jellies! :D

As I’m writing this, I can’t help but feel excited again! It was such a wonderful find! I only hope that to those who read this and is planning on going there themselves too, guys, please please practice responsible tourism. Do not throw your trash just anywhere especially in the sea. Some marine creatures mistake them for food, eat them and choke on it. No to vandalism. Avoid stepping on corals as it takes a year for it to grow just 1mm! Basically, just remember this:


That being said, hope you can all visit this wonderful place. :D

PS: If you’ll read from other sites, the other visitors usually took the Siargao route. That would be feasible but as we only have three days, I do not want to backtrack on any of our route to maximize our time. If you’re already in Dapa, Siargao, it’s best to start there but if you’re coming from Surigao City, just like us, it would be wiser to take the route we took. Siargao is 3hours by RoRo from Surigao and it’s another 3hours of travel to get to Bucas Grande’s Sohoton Cove.  While you can travel by 2hours to Claver and 40minutes by boat to get to Sohoton. :)

Some high resolution pictures from my travel companion, Chockie. :)

Up ahead, Bucas Grande Island!

They don't sting. They even attract small fishes! :D

In the water with hundreds and hundreds of them!


Related Post:

Rushing Surigao

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

February 20, 2011

It’s our last day in Bangkok and we were yet to visit any temples, palace etc. Our hosts don’t have to work on a Sunday so they’re sure to accompany us along with the other travelers we met in this city, our Bangkok buddies. We’re looking forward to our hosts joining us ‘coz we missed them so the day before. Aside from the fact that they know their way around the city (less hassle for us), we really just enjoy their company. :)

New adventures lie just ahead. :)

We got up early so we can cover more places. Proper attire, check! The guys told us that they don’t allow shorts and sleeveless tops for women at the Grand Palace. From experience, if you’re going to wear pants, don’t go with capri, it’s also not allowed. Better stick to the usual length. But knee length skirts were fine with them. Camera and fully charged batteries, check!  Sunblock, check! Do take care of your skin especially when you’re frequently under the sun to prevent skin cancer. ;) Wallet, check! Oh shoot! I forgot my shades back at the apartment and that day’s a sunny one! Ate Lea lent me hers since she had an extra in her bag, whew!

With locals aboard a barge

We haven’t had our breakfast yet, just some coffee. We’ll first meet up with Diana from across the Wat Arun before we eat. Coming from our flat in Klong San district, we took the bus to Din Daeng Pier (6.50THB). From here, we crossed the Chao Phraya river aboard a barge (3THB) towards Ratchawong Pier on the opposite side. We then  took the river ferry and got off at Tha Thien pier – N8 (14THB).Immediately outside the pier were food stalls were food weren’t just cheap but tasted very good as well! She found us quickly and we had our breakfast here. I got a plate of pad see ew (others spell it as phat si io) and a glass of cold Thai iced tea. My fave Thai dish combo!♥

Deliciously sated, we again crossed the river (3THB). We’re now at Wat Arun! :)

Fave meal in Bangkok :)

First stop: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Entrance fee – 30THB

Open from 8:30am ’til 5:30pm

Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna. It is said that the central prang symbolizes Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. The temple’s construction was started by King Rama II (1800s) whose ashes were buried beneath the image of Buddha there.

Wat Arun's central prang topped by a seven-pronged trident called "Trident of Shiva"

In keeping with our wanting to cut on costs, we were told that since locals need not pay any entrance fee unlike foreigners (and because we look Thai) that we should just go straight in and they won’t call us out to pay for an entrance fee. I jokingly told Diana that I’ll distance myself from her when entering so they won’t mistook me for a tourist. She took it in stride good-naturedly. We tried it and true enough, we got in for free. Woot! haha ;) Ali met up with us here and Rahel will join us in a while.

Second Stop – Wat Po (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Entrance fee – 50THB

As the name implies, it’s the temple of the reclining Buddha.  It’s Bangkok’s largest and oldest temple and is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage.♥

The reclining Buddha measures about 46meters long. Do notice the details on the Buddha’s feet. It was inlaid with mother-of-pearl to illustrate the 108 auspicious characteristics (laksanas) that distinguish a true Buddha.

Some temple etiquette: The head is considered sacred while the feet are unclean. With this in mind, upon entering buildings within a temple, shoes are removed and placed outside (they have shelves for the footwear). Pointing in general is considered impolite. Do not point to a Buddha image using your foot. Women can talk to monks but we shouldn’t touch them as to prevent from tempting them. Ask permission first before taking their picture as some don’t like having their pictures taken.

Third stop: The Grand Palace

Entrance Fee – 350THB

A short tuktuk ride (finally got to ride one!) away from the Wat Po is the Grand Palace. It really is grand! Better make it your last stop when visiting temples etc as the others would pale in comparison. ;)

Next destination: Grand Palace (via tuktuk) :D

Built in 1782, the complex consists of not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred site. Aside from the fact that it’s huge, the attention given to the most minute details were very intricate and makes one think highly of Thai craftsmanship. And since it’s where the most sacred site is located, visitors should dress modestly. If they weren’t, they’d be made to wear sarong to cover themselves up.

Diana was made to wear a sarong :)

Admittedly, I wasn’t so sure if the fuss all around was worth it. The entrance was alright. When we got in, there was this huge stone statue, it was okay. But when I turned left, wow!  I was amazed! hehehe There stood huge golden chedis! Buildings ornately designed were all around. It definitely look like it took a lot of planning, skill and effort (everything) in building this complex. It really is grand!

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Tour

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

Getting to Camiguin

June 1, 2011
This is my second trip to this small volcanic island. This time, I wanted a laid back pace and to just get lazy. I had just been on a crazy camping weekend. ;)

NAIA Terminal 3

I met Farah, first time to travel with her, at the airport where she was waiting for almost an hour. It wasn’t really my fault as she was just too early. hehe Our goal for this trip was to travel cheap (or at least attempt to) but still have fun.

Cagayan de Oro touchdown :)

Anyways, when we got to Cagayan de Oro Aiport, we rode a jeepney for the city (17php).  We dropped by Limketkai Mall for some snacks and other stuff. Then got on a cab for Agora terminal (54php). Once at the terminal, we rode an airconditioned bus bound for Butuan (143php). It was a comfortable trip that took an hour and a half.

Balingoan Port

At Balingoan terminal, tricycle was our next mode of transportation (10php) to get to the port. Turns out that the port was just across the road. We could have walked! But our bag was heavy! Well, that’s what I  told myself to not feel bad about that ride. haha The next leg of the trip was to cross the sea via ships. The next one was in leaving in 10 minutes so I got tickets (170php) for us via RoRo. There’s a fast craft from Balingoan to Camiguin’s Benoni Port that will take only 20minutes but it will leave in 2hours that was why we took the “regular ” trip that will take an hour but left in a few.

Enroute to Camiguin

And finally we docked at Camiguin! :D From there we rode a multicab for Mambajao town (25php), one of the island’s municipality where we’d look for a place to stay at. :)

Benoni Port

Exploring Mindoro Oriental

February 21, 2011

Well, parts of Mindoro Oriental.  ;)

I wanted to go to Tamaraw Falls. We’ll hang out in White Beach afterwards plus there would be some events later in the day there. Tricycle and motorbikes from Sabang were quoted to us for 600-800php to get to Tamaraw falls and back. Too pricey! To get to the falls without it being too heavy on the pocket, we’d get on a jeep for Puerto Galera town. Still, they really tried to persuade us to get on a motorbike instead. Told you they’re pushy. Anyways, we asked other locals about how to get there. A jeep bound for town leaves every 30minutes whether or not it’s full (20php), it’s mandated. From there, we have to catch a jeep for Calapan. It will pass by the falls (35php) which is just by the main road.

Our half-filled jeepney

In town, our first agenda was to look for an ATM so that my friend can withdraw some cash. There’s an Allied bank as well as Western Union but she had some problem with her (international) card. It’s alright, we’ll survive for the day. Next up, lunch or in our case, brunch. Walking around, we came upon another port. I was told that this is the actual Puerto Galera port. There were a number of pubs lining the area. We went to this one place with free wifi. hehe We ordered nilagang baka but it was too sour (sinagang?) and the meat was hard to chew.  :( The servers there confirmed that we can just take a jeepney for Calapan, no problem with that but that we might have some troubles getting  back coz according to them, the jeepneys depart only when full. It was fine with us, we have no problem with doing top load. This they found hard to believe. hehe

Downtown Puerto Galera

From Puerto Galera town, 14kms to go!

The ride took us through the mountains. Also, there was an ongoing road construction that was why traffic had to be controlled. After around a 30minute ride, we got to our destination.

Ongoing road construction

I first saw a number of vehicles parked by the roadside then I had my first glimpse of the falls. The fact that it’s a series of small falls merging into one pool was a sight I liked looking at. Of course we wanted to get closer to it. At the other side of the road is the entrance to falls. There is an entrance fee of 20php for adults and 10php for kids. There are two pools you can bathe in with the water coming from the falls. There’s no direct path to get nearer to the falls so you’ll have to climb the rocks to make your way towards it. The water’s refreshingly cool too. While we were there, turns out that almost everyone knew each other since it was a company outing. Their guide wouldn’t believe that it was just us 2 girls. Come on people! hehe

Tamaraw Falls

Beautiful cascade :)

Refreshingly cool waters :)

We’re lucky we didn’t have to wait long for a ride back to town. An almost empty jeepney bound for town passed by so we got in it. He didn’t drop us off town though, some distance after it (heading towards White Beach) since he was on his way home. We had to pay a bit more though (40php). Then we got on a tricycle that took us to our next destination (20php/pax)

En route to White Beach

It felt too hot to be in White Beach. We were going to lounge by the shore but decided against it. We had snacks first. Then waited for it to cool down a bit. When it felt that we can bear the heat, we took a spot and settled in then we fell asleep. :) We decided to hang around because there were live bands that night. Not long into the other bands’ performances, unfortunately, it started to rain. It was light at first but quickly became a downpour. We wanted to go back to Sabang (home) but the tricycle drivers were exploiting our situation and wouldn’t agree to anything less than 400php. There was this one tricycle driver who wanted to help us out but then, the first we talked to came up to him and told him that there’s a queue they have to observe. They wouldn’t let him drive us to Sabang but then they wouldn’t agree to our price (150-200php). Since the rain’s pouring really hard now, we got in the kind driver’s tricycle. We’ll try to wait it out since the other sheds were filled with people. Kuya Jaime (0908 2045252) just got settled in the island less than 4months back. He used to live in Fairview. He wanted to help us out but there were rules to observe. He came up with a plan though. He’d get a few passengers by the White Beach (they won’t object to drivers fetching their contact passengers) then he’d pick us up along the way. To which we readily agreed since there was even a black out! We got out of the tricycle. Went to a sort of shed. Waited for his go signal. Then started walking. It was fine with me until Len had to bring to my attention that it was very scary to walk in complete darkness (while it’s also raining). She said we should walk slowly so we won’t get too far away from the other people. Len! I scare so easily! Don’t say stuff like that! haha Luckily, we didnt have to wait long. We had to squeeze ourselves (4 pax) into the backride though, . hehe There was just one glitch in this, the passengers he picked up was headed towards the direction of Calapan when we had to make a turn to Sabang. So back in town, he  talked to a friend of his and asked him to get us to Sabang. He told the other guy that we’re his cousins and to please take care of us. Aww, thank you Kuya! He asked for only half of the agreed upon amount (200php) and gave the other half to the other guy. :)

White Beach


Free wifi ;)

Once in Sabang, the rain had stopped falling and there’s electricity. Woot! We decided to check out the local scene. There were a number of discos in the area but it’s more of a PG-rated stuff if you know what I mean. There was this one club, The Venue, that had live bands with a dance floor (50php entrance fee) so we chose to go there. We went in totally wet. Went to the toilet and came out looking fresh in dry clothes! :D We brought a change of clothes for White Beach but we weren’t able to change into them. Had a fun and relaxed night of watching, listening, dancing and singing along with the band. We even got free drinks!

Related Post:

Sunny Puerto Galera

Bacolod Food Feast (day 1)

January 14, 2011

Whilst everyone was flying to Cebu for the Sinulog Festival, I along with 2 of my closest girl buds flew to stay overnight in the city of Bacolod for some food tripping. Mmmm!

I was able to book really cheap tickets a few months before. Our roundtrip airfare costs 550php and that’s for the 3 of us! To maximize our stay there, I booked the first flight out and the last one in. We were tempted to travel to Cebu for the Sinulog but the thought of spending 6hours to travel from Bacolod to Cebu made us decide against it. And since we were flying into Bacolod, might as well enjoy what the province has to offer. ;)

We got to the airport at quarter to 4am and our breakfast was at the 7-11 store inside the airport. When we got to our gate, the other passengers had already started boarding the plane that was why when we got inside, there was almost no space for our bags in the overhead compartment, well, almost ;)

Negros Occidental’s Silay Airport is new and looked nice. To get to our hotel by not spending much, we first rode a tricycle parked just outside the airport’s premises. If we’d opt to wait for other passengers to reach 6pax, that means we’d only have to shell out 10php each. However, we got a special trip so that’s 60php for us 3. We were dropped off at the main road  wherein we rode a minibus bound for Bacolod, bus fare costs 13php each.

New Bacolod Silay Airport

Getting out of the airport

Tricycles waiting in line

First in our agenda was to check in to our hotel. We stayed at Luxur Place. I wanted to stay at The Suites at Calle Nueva but the former’s pool swayed the majority into its favor. Wifi’s provided for; rooms were quite spacious and their housekeeping’s efficient. Turns out that Luxur Place used to be the convention center in the area but almost half of the place is being rented out to a call center. That was why there were people almost always hanging out by the pool, smoking. And there’s no direct jeepney route to get to the area. :( If you’re heading down to Bacolod,  the most convenient place to be is at Lacson Street. It’s being developed for tourists because this is where their famous restaurants are located as well as where you’ll find  landmarks like their Capitol. After settling in and getting refreshed, it was time to head out. :D

I love sweets! Since Calea is famous for their sweets, this is the perfect place for me to visit! The place is located along the corner of Lacson and 14th St. If  you can’t choose since they all look so good, just ask for their best seller. ;)

Ice cream chocolate cake!


After satisfying my sweet tooth, the next in the agenda was where to eat proper lunch. hehehe We want some chicken inasal and the place to have it is at Manokan Country which is near SM. But since we’re still full, we decided to walk to get there. Not a bad choice really since we did pass by several landmarks like the city’s Capitol, Cathedral and a museum. Gave us enough time to digest our food. :)

Children running around by the Capitol

With travel buddy, Irene...

...and Abby :)

The Cathedral

It was too hot to walk all the way since we weren’t using any umbrella. We decided to ride a multicab for the last stretch to get to Manokan Country. Probably a hundred meters ride. hehe Manokan Country reminds me of Dampa though you wouldn’t be buying your chicken live. It’s just that there were many eateries selling the same kind of good food side by side and at an affordable price at that (it can cost anywhere from 20-65php). Also, they serve oysters for 30-40php per plate! Nice!

Since it was already late in the afternoon, we went back to our hotel. But passed by SM to buy some drinks and snacks (fruits) to munch on. When we got back to our room, we took a nap. But our nap turned into a sleep for several hours. I was woken up by the sound of the rain pounding our window. I figured, we wouldn’t go out at such a weather and went back to bed. We were planning on going to Mambukal for some spa. They woke up at different hours too. We did get out of room though but only because we were hungry. We bought some foods and ate it by the pool. It would have been a very good place to hang out save for the other people loitering there with cigarettes on hand. Well, we’d just wake up early to compensate for tonight. ;)

Sunny Puerto Galera (day 1)

May 20, 2011

Destination: Puerto Galera

When people say Puerto Galera, they also meant to include Sabang and White Beach, both of which are different albeit smaller towns.

La Laguna Beach

Me and a good friend, Len, went there for a weekend.This is my first trip to this popular municipality in Oriental Mindoro Island. This fact usually surprises my friends who know how much I love to travel since Puerto Galera is pretty accessible from Metro Manila. It took 4 hours to get there from my home. We didn’t make any plans. And we sent only 1 sms to each other the night before, meet up in Batangas pier at 10am. Got that. I’m good to go. ;)

I had 10pm-6am shift at the hospital so as soon as i got home, I had to finish packing, grab a bite or two then head out. Instead of joining my friend in Buendia, I headed to Alabang because I do not want to backtrack. In Alabang, there’s one big terminal for buses and jeepneys. Just ask around for a bus heading to Batangas Pier, don’t forget to ask for the (one-stop) express bus, fare is 137php. Travel time is about an hour and a half.  I’ve been to other ports and piers in the country and it was either small, unorganized or looked old that was why I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a big, well maintained, organized place. I got to the pier first so to while away the time (and since I was hungry too), I went to a small store and got some chips. When Len got there, we proceeded inside to get our tickets.

Inside Batangas Pier

There are 3 main destination for Puerto Galera: White Beach, the most popular choice; Calapan, the capital city of Oriental Mindoro; and Sabang, a diving destination. She asked me where I wanted to go, I said, anywhere. To help me choose, she quoted room prices. A typical room in White beach would cost anywhere between 1000-1500php while it’s around 600-800php in Sabang. Sabang won. hehehe Tickets for Sabang is 230php/pax and then you have to pay for terminal fee (30php), conservation fee (30php) and environmental fee (50php). Once inside, there weren’t that many passengers (it’s a Friday and it was almost lunchtime). We were told outside that our boat’s about to leave so finding the doors closed wasn’t gonna deter us since we saw our shipping line’s boat was already filled with passengers. We got the attention of one of the guys working there and he let us out then they escorted us to our boat. We could have been left behind if we just sat there (since they weren’t giving last call or whatever)! The boat set sail after we settled in. Travel time was about an hour.

Sailing for Sabang

Even if it was my first trip there, that wasn’t the case for Len so she was sort of my guide. We stayed at Red Coast. Owned and managed by an expat and his wife, George and Helen, we got a beachfront fan room with kitchen for 650php/night. If we’d opt to use the aircon, then it will cost us 800php/night. It’s not perfect but it will do and come on, it’s cheap. And we have yet to haggle at that.  ;)

Red Coast

Our 650php/night room

View from our place

After some unpacking, we walked around the area. We went to La Laguna Beach, some 15-20minutes walk from our place. On the way there, the view brought to mind Santorini since the hostels/ hotels built on the mountainside were whitewashed too. It was a bit crowded in Sabang so La Laguna was a welcome sight. We had our late lunch at Kaye ‘n’ Em’s. We had chicken curry with rice and mango shake (360php). Mmmm! We stayed here for an hour or two. We went back “home” to get some rest, I have yet to sleep on a bed for two days now (tsk tsk tsk). After Manila’s sweltering heat, Puerto Galera’s sunny but not hot weather felt so good! :D

Sabang :)

There were many colorful flowers in the island :)

Lunch with a view :)

Your ride to get to the floating bars

Many boats for the divers

Finally getting some sleep (even if it was only for a couple of hours), I’m ready to go out now. That is after I wake my friend up too. ;) I wanted to check out the scene at White Beach. To get there one has to either ride a tricycle, a motorbike or a jeep (last option available only during daytime). When we got to the main rode, we were swarmed by guys offering their services for us. It would have been alright but there was this one very pushy guy. We told him to back off coz we’ll think about their offer. But he followed us around even when we left the main road. That was why we took another’s offer even if it were for the same price (150php for 2pax, one way). Then he got upset about it and wanted to quarrel with us as to why we chose another over him since he offered first and they’re the same price. We told him our reason and left.  Many locals doing business there were too pushy. Didn’t want it to ruin our night. It took around 20 minutes for us to get to White Beach. Our driver, Kuya Oliver, gave us his number (0928 5963113) so we can send him an sms if we want to go back home.

After dinner where we drowned ourselves off a gallon of iced tea (we were thirsty haha), we tried to walk off the calories. White Beach was very different from Sabang. First off, there’s an actual beach (a long shore line anyways) hehe There were more people too (local tourists mostly) and the craziness that goes with it. I enjoyed watching the fire dancers. There were live bands too and a comedy show. If you want some dancing, you’ll be hard pressed to find one though. It felt like White Beach is for hanging out with a number of your buddies, the people that were there were almost always in at least a group of 4. We planned to go swimming that night but didn’t have the heart to actually do it. Didn’t want to get wet then get cold. I laid my sarong down on the sand and we lay there for a while until Kuya Oliver got there to fetch us. :)

Related Post:

Exploring Mindoro Oriental

Bangkok and Shopping!

February 19, 2011

If you’re a shopaholic, weekends in Bangkok could only mean one thing, Chatuchak weekend market! Since we only had three days there, we had to prioritize. Shopping is definitely in the list of things to do in this city! :D

Our hosts, JJ & Richard were working that day. The girls (Diana, Rahel, Ate Lea and I) along with Ali agreed to meet up in the morning to check Chatuchak’s weekend market out as well as two other malls. We first had breakfast somewhere in KSR. The others ordered a yoghurt meal and it looked so tasty. I got a banana pancake and it’s the worst order I’ve made yet! They gave me a pancake with a banana on the side. Seriously??? huhuhu

Tasty breakfast! Mine was too lousy, I didn't even take a shot hehe

We headed to Chatuchak after. We had to meet Ali at the station there first. Many minutes of waiting later, he finally found our meeting place. hehe The things is, there are about 3 stops that will get you to the weekend market: MRT station’s Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park), BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line’s Mo Chit Station and MRT Bangkok Metro Blue Line’ s Kamphaengphet Station. We didn’t know that so us, girls, were waiting at Kamphaengphet Station while Ali went to Chatuchak Park Station. He must have walked for 15minutes (or more) to get to us. :)

Chatuchak Park Station :)

Touted as one of the world’s biggest weekend market, it has around 15,000 stalls that sells anything (from local souvenirs to fake shirts to delicious foods to endangered animals, we didn’t check this out but we did see live animals, and everything in between) over an area of 35 acres. The market operates between 9am and 6pm. It was overwhelming to see so many stalls. Where do you start? Well, try the first thing that catches your attention then take it from there. My hosts recommended for us to try their local version of ice cream. We started with that. It was already getting hot even if it was only around 10 in the morning. It was sooo good. I wanted to buy another serving! hehe After that refreshing start, we walked around stopping now and then at stalls that catches our fancy or at foods that look and smell so good as well as at performers playing on the busy street. We have a map of the market with us but it’s just hard to follow. ;)

Pictures taken at Chatuchak’s weekend market:

Thai ice cream :)

Rahel, you're not getting any? Are you sure??? :D

So pink! hehe

I love chopsticks!

Perfect as souvenirs

Street performers, they're good ;)

Looking for a dress

We had our lunch here before heading over to other malls. There were as many eateries to choose from. My cousin and the others had noodles. They said it was plain delicious! I had phat kraphao moo (stir-fried ground pork with Thai holy basil, chillies and garlic). It was definitely the spiciest I’ve ever eaten! I’m sure that underneath all that spice, the food was good too. Maybe. My tongue was numb from the chilies and I can feel it’s spiciness all the way down to my stomach. Ack!!! Milk and soda had no effect at all! Haha

The spiciest food I've tasted! Ever!

I wasn’t able to shop for much, just enough souvenir items to give to friends and workmates back home. Then it was time to move on to the other shopping areas. ;) We wanted to ride a tuktuk to go there but the drivers wouldn’t agree to our price. They’re quoting large numbers to us that we won’t agree to also. With that, we got on and squeezed ourselves into a cab. Our cab driver informed us that he can’t drop us off in front of our destination, Platinum Mall, because the Red Shirts were holding a rally near the area. The others became concerned for our safety. While me and another were convincing them that it was safe since Thailand is earning lots from tourism, the last thing they’d want to do is to scare the visitors away (I hope). Anyways, those who were rallying seemed to be a friendly lot. They were singing songs and inviting the others to join them.

Walking towards Platinum Mall

Red Shirt supporters

Located in Pratunam, Platinum Mall is a popular wholesale market that sells clothes and accessories. It was nice being inside it after hours under the heat in Chatuchak. But the heat had already taken its toll on my companions, they weren’t in the mood to shop. :( We were there for an hour and I only got to buy 3 shirts, a pair of shoes and earmuffs. I have an entire luggage waiting to be filled and I bought so few! When my hosts saw me later that night, they were asking me as to why I only bought few when they knew that I was so eager to shop. hehe

2nd stop, Plantinum Mall

Seeing my companions drooping, I suggested that we just skip the last mall (a welcome news haha) and to just head back to Khao San. Downtown Bangkok was just too hot and chaotic that day for us. To boost our energy, we’ll have a foot massage! We got ours for 150THB for 30minutes. Not that cheap (almost the same price as the others) but I think it’s well worth it ‘coz we had a wonderful time. It was a promotional rate of one of the nicer looking spas in the area.

All smiles. :)

Having tea after a wonderful foot massage :D

Happy faces ;)

Fully charged, we walked more, mostly beside the Chao Phraya River. We came upon Santichaiprakarn Park where many people were just chilling and where Phra Sumen Fort is located. The fort was constructed to protect the people from foreign naval invasions. Now, it’s one of two remaining towers of the historic city wall. It was also here where we heard the national anthem being played when the clock struck the hour of 6 in the evening. Everyone stopped what they were doing to stand in attention to show respect for the nation.

Bangkok sunset

Ali setting up his cam... have our pictures taken :)

At the park


Showing respect by standing up

Hungry, we headed to the first place we saw that served good food. Jessie met us here. We were just hanging out well into the night then went home. We were so tired my cousin and I fell asleep in the cab. :)

Dinner time! :D

With JJ :)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

A Night in Khao San

February 18, 2011

Coming back from Kanchanaburi, our original plan was to have dinner and check out the infamous backpackers’ haven, Khao San. It’s so different from when we left it that morning. The place is just bursting with activities. So very busy. Pulsing with life. :)

A popular rice market some twenty years back, Khao San literally translates to milled rice. It has since then became a hub for backpackers wherein guesthouse to travel agencies as well as restaurants and shops abound.

Sawasdee ka!

I thought it would be nice to meet up with locals and other travelers while in Bangkok so I sort of organized a dinner-meet up that night. Our hosts suggested May Kai Dee, a vegetarian restaurant located behind the only Burger King in the area. We figured, it’s easy to find and going vegan is a safe bet. hehe The thing was that we have to let them know where to meet us up by posting it on the thread. Problem was, we have no internet access. Solution? Look for wifi hotspots! :D There were tons in the area but it’s either too slow it’s almost non existent or I’d be needing a password. We found a cafe with free wifi so I was able to post the details.

Getting comfy

Six people joined us for dinner: A Filipino on a backpacking tour; an Indonesian lady with a Russian guy she traveled with; a Swiss lass who had been traveling for weeks; a Kiwi guy who had just arrived from India;  and an Iranian guy with an American accent who’s currently living in Kuala Lumpur. ;)  Overall, a laid back bunch of very nice people. :)

*Many pictures hereon are courtesy of Ali. Thanks!

Hmmm... What are we gonna eat? :)

Pinoys, Richard & Dominic

Cousins. Travel buds. ♥

Bangkok buddies! :)

We were there for more than a couple of hours but it was still too early to call it a night. That was why it was time we went out into the streets. Rahel wasn’t feeling well so she went back to her hostel to get some rest.  Others were wanting beers but it was a Buddhist holiday so shops weren’t selling alcohol. Out in the open that is. They’re still willing to sell though it’d be in a bucket.  We found a nice spot to hang out. But I was still a little bit hungry so Dominic accompanied me while I happily munched on “normal” Thai foods. We got some for the others too. ;)

Spring rolls

Preparing my order

Delicious banana pancake! 20THB

Just like how we make visitors in the Philippines eat balut, our hosts thought making us eat fried bugs would complete our Thailand experience. Ugh! hehehe The thought of eating insects was a (little bit…. okay, maybe not that little) upsetting but you don’t really get to taste it because it had been deep fried so you’re just chewing on something crispy yet juicy. Eew! haha Others took it in stride but the fun was in watching others squirm while sampling a local delicacy. ;)


There was a signage that said you should pay 10THB for taking pictures. No one did.

First bite! :D

It's fun looking at everyone's reaction :D

More? Bring it on!

It's a grasshopper! ;)

Ali, our photographer, turned white at the idea of eating an insect. ;)

Drinking beer to wash away the bug taste. ;)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

February 18, 2011

It was already late, past 1am, and we’re to go on a day trip to Kanchanaburi around 7am. Even though we knew that, we were still chatting nonstop. Then someone turned off the lights, we went to sleep. :)

Luckily for me and my cousin, that day was a holiday. Thailand being a Buddhist country observed Makha Bucha wherein they were celebrating Buddha’s first sermon to his disciples. For us, it meant that our hosts can join us for a day trip since they won’t be working. For other tourists, it meant that entrance to all temples are for free and that selling alcohol is prohibited (it was a full moon that night to boot!). hehe

The guys arranged the Kanchanaburi day trip for us. They booked at one of the many agencies you can find in Khao San. We’re paying 550 Thai Baht (1THB= 1.45PHP) each. It included van transportation to and from Khao San, trips to JEATH musuem, Sai Nok Noi water falls and bridge over River Kwai, an elephant and train ride as well as bamboo rafting, and a buffet Thai lunch. Sulit! :D

Khao San early in the day :)

Pad thai for breakfast

We got to Khao San at quarter to 7 and I had my first Thai dish there. Drinks and snacks were bought then we waited… and waited… and waited more! Our guide met us when it was already nearing 8! We could have slept more. Oh well. When we got in the van, there were 4 other tourists inside, all Filipinas. They were on the same flight as me coming here (and turns out, same flight back too).

Bundles of laughter with these trio around :D

First stop: Don-Rak War Cemetery a.k.a. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

My first reaction, “why are we in a cemetery?”

All the while, I can hear the others talk excitedly to each other. “We’re here at the cemetery! It’s……” They definitely did their homework. hehe

The place was the burial ground for many prisoners of war who died building the Burma railway during the 2nd World War (WWII). Most of which were Australians, British and  Dutch.

First stop: War Cemetery

A marker for an Australian soldier

There are 6.892 graves in this cemetery

Second stop: “JEATH War Museum” and “Art Gallery & War Museum”

Entrance fee: 40THB each

“The JEATH War Museum is one of two war museums in Thailand about the Death Railway built from 1942 to 1943 by Allied POWs under the direction of the Japanese. The museum was founded in 1977 by the chief abbot of Wat Chaichumpol Venerable Phra Theppanyasuthee. It is located on the grounds of a temple at the junction of the Khwae Yai and Khwae Noi rivers in Kanchanaburi. The acronym JEATH stands for the primary nationalities involved in the construction of the railway: Japanese, English, Australian, American, Thai and Holland.” -wikipedia

Third Stop: The Bridge over the River Kwai a.k.a. Burma Railway a.k.a. Death Railway

Built by the Empire of Japan during WWII using forced labour to support its forces in Burma. More than 100,000 people died during the construction of the said railway earning for it the monicker Death Railway.

Fourth Stop: Train Ride from Tha Kilen to Nam Tok

150THB will get you a “first-class” seat that comes with some snacks (water, soda and bread) and a certification that you rode the Death Railway train ride. Otherwise, just shell out 50THB.

Thakilen Train Station

Passing beside a cliff

Handing out certificates

Pretty nice ride! :D

Fifth Stop: Lunch!

Our van was waiting for us at the end of our train ride. We were then brought to a floating restaurant where we had our lunch. Food was served buffet style. Though there wasn’t that much of choice, the foods served were good. Spicy too,  a common among Thai foods which is what I prefer. hehe About an hour later, we then rode a bamboo raft that brought us over to our sixth stop.

Heading towards our lunch ;)


The river's current IS strong

Aboard the bamboo raft for a quick ride :)

Sixth Stop: Bamboo Camp

An elephant camp. :)

Also included in the fee we paid for was a trip to an elephant camp. We all got to ride (yes!) an elephant. However, should you want to feed them, 20THB will get you a small basket of fruits for feeding the elephants. They would also take a souvenir picture of you  that you can later buy for 100THB if you want.

Food for the elephants. 20THB.

Seventh Stop: Sai Yok Noi Falls

This was our last destination for this trip. When we got to the falls though, there was hardly any “falls” to look at. Maybe because it was dry season? Anyways, we didn’t spend much time there but we did walk around to look at some stuff and to get some snacks. I was hungry! ;)

We came upon this stall that was selling chips made of taro, potatoes, etc (in plain, salty, sweet flavors). When suddenly, the lady manning it was offering me and my companions fistful of their products to try. Of course, I ate some (I WAS hungry. haha). They were actually pretty good. We got 3 bags for 100THB. Then, she did her sales talk.

Vendor: “Khun suway. Khun suway mak mak!” (while pointing at me)

Me: “Ah… What? English? Please?” (looks toward hosts)

Hosts: “She’s saying that you’re very beautiful” (do they have to laugh while explaining this? Tsk! Tsk!)

Me: (turns to cousin since she’s got our money) “Ate, let’s buy more!” :D (I’m sooo easy to deal with! haha)

Too bad I wasn’t able to take a pic of her nor of her stall. :(

Having satiated my hunger from all that free taste, next on my list of concern was to look for something refreshing to drink. Kcia, a friend of mine, kept on telling me to try Thai iced tea once I’m in Thailand. With that in mind, I made a beeline to the first stall I saw selling it. A few minutes later, I was a very happy person! It was sweet (I have sweet tooth) and cool (it was a hot day), perfect! The rest of the other tourists were already inside the van, waiting for us. It was time to head back to Bangkok. :)

Crossing the highway

Thai English

Sai Yok Noi Falls

New job for our hosts :D

Making Thai iced tea

Love at first sip! :D

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)