Travel

A load of Hong Kong!

I’ve read somewhere in the internet that once a year, you should go somewhere you haven’t been to. Well, it sure does sound like a plan, and with all the stress from work and our daily lives, why not indeed go somewhere you haven’t been and unwind or just simply wander. September this year, my boyfriend and I went on a quick holiday trip to one of the most populated countries, (one of the liveliest too!) in the world – Hong Kong!

We only had 4 days total including our flights to and from Singapore to explore Hong Kong. That was actually the challenge here! Ha! Our flight from SG is at 10 in the morning on a Saturday, arriving around 2pm at HKG. Upon arrival, we had a quick late lunch and head on to Hong Kong Disneyland for some photo op with the famous Disneyland arch (?). Whatever, the welcome arch thingy you see on their parks, that’s it!

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We didn’t go inside the park because 1.) it’s expensive (not practical!) 2.) we didn’t have much time 3.) we’ve been on a Disneyland Park and we weren’t THAT impressed seeing it’s generally for kids! And so, after Disneyland, we went to find our Airbnb place located at Mong Kok.

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On our second day, we went to Won Tai Sin Temple, Chi Lin Nunnery, Hing Fat Flower Market and Yuen Po Street Bird Market. Our place is located near an MTR station so transportation was not a problem on our part.

This was in Won Tai Sin Temple, it’s quite crowded the day we went there. Mostly Chinese tourists (maybe even locals) are everywhere praying, taking photos and just about doing any tourist-y things they do for fun.

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This was in Chi Lin Nunnery, a very quiet Buddhist temple complex in Kowloon. Selfie sticks are not allowed in this place, and being the “basic tourist” in me, it definitely bummed me out. But hey, what did your Mother ever tell you about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, right?! So, it’s all good!

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After Chi Lin Nunnery we went to have our lunch in a more urban area in Kowloon. Hong Kong is famous for its Beef Brisket dishes -you can choose between Beef Brisket Noodles or Rice meal. It’s actually one of the many things I will never forget about HK, its tender, tasty beef brisket.

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After we had our lunch, we went to Hing Fat Flower Market which is just a walking distance from the place where we had our lunch. I personally liked this area because every way you turn, you will see flowers everywhere! They sell different kinds of flowers and potted plants too.

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These are my favorites (photo below) but I didn’t know what they’re called. :/ Can someone please tell me what they’re called?

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We only have two days (in essence) to go around Hong Kong and savor what the country has to offer. We felt we had to hit as many birds as possible in one stone (I mean day!) and yes, it’s my segue to the next place we went to on our 2nd day – Yuen Po Street Bird Market! Tweet!

I didn’t know that people in Hong Kong likes birds this much! In this place, they sell quite a few variety of breeds of birds, bird cages (photo below), bird foods and all sorts of stuffs essential to birds.

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At night, we went to one of the famous night markets in Mong Kok and found out what the hype is all about!

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There were a lot of colorful neon signs of all shapes and sizes and that makes the area more lively! Also, there were street performers on various areas that ranges from singers (mostly), to dancers and acrobats like the one shown in the below photo.

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Food is mainly the thing that I will always remember of Hong Kong. In night markets, you will always find a food stall selling street foods that are mainly pork intestines, pork liver as well as the usual meatballs, siew mai on sticks and the likes.

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On our 3rd and considered last day of exploring, we went to the Peak and sailed on the famed Aqua Luna at night.

As I’ve emphasized earlier on, I love anything food-related in Hong Kong. Also, I love breakfasts and breakfast food! One thing I’ve read online that we should not miss when in HK is their traditional breakfast meal that consists of a hot coffee or milk tea (MY PERSONAL FAVE IN THE WORLD!), macaroni noodles with strips of ham, a slice of pork or sausage and a toast. The combination could vary, but for me, the hot milk tea is always a must!

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So, moving on. After breakfast, we went to the Lower Peak Tram Terminus to ride the famous Peak Tram that would take us to the Victoria Peak. The tram looked like this and the ride took us about 10 minutes (I guess?!) before we reached the Peak.

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This is the Victoria Peak. From this vantage point, you will see the famed skyscrapers of Hong Kong as well as the Victoria Harbor. It will also give you the opportunity to see the mountainous side of Hong Kong .

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To end our quick yet sweet escape to Hong Kong, we took an hour ride on this vintage-looking junk boat that sails from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and back.

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The package we bought online included a complimentary drinks per person. Nothing beats the view of Victoria Harbor and the sun setting behind. Plus, you’re holding a cold beer in one hand and your beau’s in the other. What more can you ask for?

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To sum up our Hong Kong adventure I’d say that four days is not enough as there are more other things and places we could’ve visited. Also, it’s important that you consider the season you are going to in Hong Kong as it could get too hot and humid on some months (September included!). It’s better to go in mid-December to February as those are considered winter season. In terms of food, you could never go wrong as they offer a wide variety of choices from street foods to fine dining. Transportation is workable and easy to navigate, so it’s an easy peasy on that aspect.

In general, I loved Hong Kong for its noise and lively ambiance found in its modern city and street life. If given a chance, I’d definitely come back to this captivating place!

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Philippines · Travel

It’s Bora Beach!

When people hear that I am from the Philippines, one of the many things they’d usually ask me is if it’s really nice in Boracay. Is the sand really white in there and is it really a paradise on Earth? I’d feel bad every time I had to tell them “no, I haven’t been to Bora, sorry I really can’t tell.”

Well now, that’s about to change! Summer this year, I and my family went on a 3-day tour to this paradise-like island that is Boracay.

Our flight to the island is via Caticlan Aiport, we booked via PAL since they offer flights from Clark (we’re from Pampanga) and that’s convenient enough for us.

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From the two airports near Boracay Island, Caticlan is much more advisable since the jetty port (that is the gateway to the island) is just minutes away from the airport. If you book flights to Kalibo on the other hand, an advantage is that it’s much cheaper compared to Caticlan but a bit “hassle” since the travel from Kalibo airport to the jetty port might takes hours. So in that matter, you just have to figure whatever floats your boat.

Upon arrival at Caticlan, you will have to get to the port terminal where you will purchase tickets for the ferry that will take you to Boracay Island.

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After you get your ticket, you will go straight to the jetty port where you will be guided on the boat you were to take. This is how it looks at the jetty port.

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This here is the “bangka” that’s operated by, maybe three to four men, runs on gasoline (I guess?!) and can accommodate 10-15 persons.

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Here’s how it looks inside. And yes, you have to wear the life jacket, because S-A-F-E-T-Y! Life is short, wear the damn jacket! HAHAHA! Fifteen minutes lang naman, what is fifteen minutes of your life, diba?

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This is the Cagban Jetty Port, once you reached this point, you can already feel the “island vibe”. W E L C O M E !!

Most of the tourists at Boracay travel by tricycle. There are e-tricycles (TWO THUMBS UP!) and of course, the traditional ones. They have all sorts, shapes, sizes and colors of tricycle in the island and are everywhere, so in terms of moving around, it’s really not a worry.

With our case, since we were touring with our parents, we decided to arrange for an “airport transfer” option from the resort we booked in. We didn’t want our parents going through all the trouble of getting in the “tryk”, sitting/cramped in it, all the while being cooked by the hot, hot sun. We, youngsters wouldn’t mind, I wouldn’t mind it but given their old age, I guess they deserve some comfort.

So here we are, sitting pretty at our service van on the way to the resort.

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We stayed at Alta Vista de Boracay which is located on the “mountainous” side of the island. It’s quite far from the main beach but their service, facilities and amenities are commendable enough, so that’s how they make up for it.

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Boracay Island is mainly divided in to Stations 1, 2 and 3. Our resort was located after Station 1 and it’s a 20 minute-ride to D’Mall which is located in Station 2. From the Cagban Jetty Port, you will reach Stations 3, 2 and 1 respectively so like, our resort is already considered “far” from the main beach. :/

Alta Vista provides shuttle service to and from D’Mall. OK, I took a photo of the shuttle schedule because WHY THE HELL NOT?!

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For our first day, after we had settled everything at our villa, we decided to discover the island right away! We only have four days to appreciate Boracay and off we go to Station 2 to see the famed beach.

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I’ve heard a lot of people telling me that Boracay had already lost its “glory” over the years. What with all the number of tourists flocking to the island, it’s only a matter of time (add in the negligence of some of these tourists) before destruction meets this island. ¬†In spite of all these negative remarks, I still appreciated Bora. I guess I can say the same with the parents, if you can see their faces here. Well, my Tatay’s face is always awkward in photos, but really, he’s having a good time here! Cheers!

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Station 2 is the most crowded area in the island because D’Mall is located here and bars after bars are lined by the beachfront. Youngsters mostly enjoy this ambiance and they make up the most number/groups among Bora’s visitors, hence, the crowding issue.

We ended the day by having a light dinner around the area, mainly lounging at our villa and calling it a day afterwards. Again, since we were with the parentals (and we’re not party animals!), we did not explore Boracay’s famed night life.

The next day (considered last day for exploring), we went to Puka Beach in the morning since Alta Vista also have shuttle service to the said beach and boy, was it breathtaking!

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After Puka Beach, we went to D’Mall for lunch then went to Station 1 afterwards to while the time away. D’Mall is at Station 2, it’s a 10 minute-walk to Station 1 but you wouldn’t notice the distance you have walked on because there are scenery, stores and other commotions happening left and right -that’s Boracay for you! ūüėČ

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From the photos (below) you will see some green-colored moss being washed in to the beach. Nonetheless, I still loved the view with or without the moss. I just wished people would take more care when visiting this island to preserve its beauty and wonder.

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This here is Station 1 where you will find the fine, white sand. Some stores from the D’Mall sells small jars of this sand as souvenir. Can’t blame them though, but if you want to bring some of it home, you can take some for yourself (no need to spend pa).

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After spending the afternoon at Station 1 (White Beach), we went back to D’Mall to buy souvenirs then went back to the resort.

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Of course, your trip to Boracay won’t be complete without the obligatory pose with one of these sand sculptures.

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The next day was our flight back to Clark and that summed up our short but sweet escape to the beautiful island of Boracay.

To sum up our three day-tour, it’s simply “bitin” (not enough time) to put it. We could’ve easily spent three to four more days in the island but because we were only given limited time to visit the Philippines, our time at Boracay was also that short.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed it. I love how laid-back the general vibe of the whole place is. Though yup, it’s crowded (and I don’t like crowds!), the beautiful, beautiful beaches make it all worth it. If given the chance to come back, maybe I’d choose to go during “lean” season to avoid the crowd.

Also, the choice of resort/hotel is a big advantage especially if you wanna make the most out of the trip. With our case, though the resort was a 20 minute-ride from the main attractions, it was fitting in a way because we also want peace and quiet when the day was over.

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If you are visiting the island, you have to prepare yourself to the scorching heat of the sun especially if you are not from the Philippines or any tropical countries where the weathers are 1.) hot and 2.) super hot! ¬†Also, food is quite expensive as well as some products that are sold from various stores. Souvenir prices are reasonable enough on the other hand, but you can always haggle. ūüôā

Boracay may have lost its original beauty over the years and have faced (still facing) competition against all the other (newly discovered) summer destinations in the country, but its glory is not lost. Foreigners and locals alike are still drawn to it, I can see. Maybe, by doing our part in keeping it clean and orderly, it might bring back the beauty it has lost. Boracay has given us wonderful memories/experience (and to us, Filipinos -something to be proud of) let’s all do the same and take good care of her. Not only to Bora but all the other beaches and natural resources in and out of our country.

Travel

Japan-tastic! (Tokyo Edition 2.0)

For the rest of our stay at Tokyo, we went to a few more tourist destinations.

Day 03. Akihabara Electric Town. Tokyo Imperial Palace. Asakusa Area

Akihabara would have to be one of those places I enjoyed touring while in Tokyo ’cause it’s filled with geeky toys and lively stores around the area.

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While scanning the area, we found a kiosk of Pablo Tarts on one side of the street and I heard their tarts are a must-try when in Japan. We tried their (mini) Matcha Cheese Tart and it was beyond delicious! Best tasting tart I’ve ever tried! Ahhh! I wanna try all the flavors! Why haven’t they opened an outlet in SG?!

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On the same day, we dropped by the Imperial Palace as well and then headed to Asakusa Area after.

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These are photos taken outside the Imperial Palace. We were not allowed to go in so we settled on taking selfies outside.

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At night we went to Asakusa for the famous Sensoji Temple but it was already closed when we reached the place! We had our dinner around the area -twice! Hahahaha!

The first place mainly serves Okonomiyaki and another dish with a name that also ends with “-miyaki” .. I can’t remember it though, ugh! They had us sat on a traditional Japanese dining table with cushion you can¬†sit on.

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The scene outside is like this, chairs & tables set/lined on almost every side of the street, Japanese lanterns and signage lighting the night and these jolly Japanese people drinking their way to the night! So lively, like the place is charged with energy from the whole day’s worth of stress from work or home or wherever they came from!

Before we end our 3rd day in Tokyo, we had RAMEN! Yes people, Ramen -again! Ha! I think my sister got to a point where she grew tired of eating it, but not me. Oh no sir, not me!

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Day 04. Tsukiji Fish Market. Jimbocho Book Town. Roponggi Midtown.

The next day, we went to Tsukiji Fish Market in the morning. It’s popular for that early morning tuna-bidding and where you can get the freshest sushi in all of Japan. We didn’t arrived there THAT early (5am!) but we’re still lucky to witness tuna-cutting -at least something with tuna! Haha!

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After trying on Tsukiji’s finest tuna and street (sea)foods of different variations, we went to this one place that’s topping my itinerary in Japan –Jimbocho Book Town. I learned about this place thru Pinterest when I saw a photo of a street lined with stalls of books & books & books! And so the bookworm in me googled it and told myself I should not miss this place!

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I wanted to buy a Murakami (Haruki) book in Japanese but I had a hard time looking for it. Almost all the sellers I asked do not have his books! And then, those who claimed that they do have, asked me to check for myself! Gaaah, they’re all in Japanese, how do I¬†check?! Though there were nice enough store owners who¬†checked their books (one by one!) for me, I still didn’t get a copy ’cause they don’t have his books.

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After the book town, we went to Roponggi Midtown and there is a funny yet heart-breaking (for me) story as to why we went there. I like Godzilla. Not super, fangirl-type of like but I’m fascinated by it. I found online (but didn’t read entirely!) that Roponggi Midtown has this giant replica of Godzilla that looks as if it’s coming out of the ground and yep, it’s selfie-worthy. Sooo, I dragged *le boyfriend (again!) only to find out that Godzilla was there in mid JUL-AUG in 2014!!!! OMG, how could I have been so guileless?! It broke my heart and so I leave you here with me in Roponggi Station feeling bummed-out because GODZILLA, where are you?!

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Day 05. Tokyo Disneyland.

The day before we went to Tokyo Disneyland, my boyfriend is kind of having second thoughts if it’s really worth it to go or just stay at home to get enough rest before our flight back to SG the next day. Also, he was contemplating if we can skip Disneyland and go to Disney Sea instead? I think he felt I wanted to go to Disneyland and so the next morning, up we go and head on the happiest place on Earth! Haha!

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The rides were all SAFE for kids and I kind of got bored with most of them! Haha! But if you have kids with ages 1-13 years old (or even teen-age ones!), they’ll surely enjoy this place.

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Err, the last photo is the Queen of All Grainy Photos but I had to post because DISNEY!!! Haha, doesn’t make sense, I know! But yeah, that about wraps our Japan trip and it breaks our hearts to¬†bid our Sayonara but we gotta do what we gotta do, ‘ya know..

To sum up our Japan trip, I’d say it’s quite expensive but it sure is worth it. I even thought of coming back (once my finances are stabled again!) ’cause there still are a lot of places I haven’t seen in Japan. The experience is commendable because the place is simply wonderful, a fusion of modern¬†and ancient cultures -something you don’t find in many places nowadays.

So, until next time, Japan! ’til we meet again! Arigatou gozaimasu!

Travel

Japan-tastic! (Tokyo Edition 1.0)

For the last leg of our Japan trip, we stayed in its capital city: TOKYO.

From Kyoto, we took a bullet train that will take¬†us to Tokyo in¬†about an hour. The train ticket cost us 14,000 yen and that’s about S$176.00 – quite¬†on the pricey¬†side, but what the hell, right?!

Day 01. Gundam Front Tokyo. Odaiba. 

For our first day in Tokyo, we didn’t have much on our itinerary as we arrived at our¬†Airbnb place at around 2pm, head on out to find a sushi bar and find a nearby tourist spot to while away the time.

These are sushi, believe me! Haha! I didn’t took a lot of photos of the sushi ’cause I was too hungry to care!

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Itadakimasu!

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We spent the rest of the day at Gundam Front Tokyo in Odaiba and in this replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Day 02. Meiji Shrine. Shibuya Crossing.

For our 2nd day in Tokyo, we went to Meiji Shrine in the morning and spent the rest of the day in Shibuya.

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Meiji Shrine is accessible through the Harajuku Station and is just a few miles away from the train station. It’s quite wonderful how you come to realize that with all the hustle and the bustle of the (Harajuku) area, you still find these Shrines and Temples¬†that are all as solemn despite of it being located in one of the world’s largest and probably busiest Cities.

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To get to the main Shrine, you had to walk through this forest-y area with trees with roots as large as on the above photo.

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Minutes after reaching the Shrine, we saw this procession for a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, I guess. It (quite)¬†stirred a commotion among the tourists (ehem!) and security had to shoo every tourist (that mostly held camera) away from the bride’s way.

DISCLAIMER: I am not too sure if this is indeed a traditional Japanese wedding, I didn’t do my research, sorry. :/

In the afternoon, we went to the famous Shibuya area where we found the statue of the loyal dog, Hachiko and of course, the Shibuya Crossing.

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This is too cute not to post! This girl beside my boyfriend is one of the pedestrians waiting for the green light. While she waited, I took the chance to photograph her and she didn’t mind one bit. I think this is what they call the “Lolita” trend in Tokyo street fashion. It’s like, girls wear¬†flamboyant “era” dresses paired with knee-high socks or stockings, sometimes with¬†ribbons and A LOT of laces in their clothing. Cute! Just cute!

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Every person who knows me well, knows that I love Hello Kitty. At Shibuya, we found this arcade with¬†claw machines with stuffed animals in it. This one here is not the usual¬†claw machine, it’s like a “hook machine” (or whatever they called it) and so instead of claws clawing your target, it’s a hook, hooking it.

We weren’t really supposed to linger inside, just passing by. But *le boyfriend was curious and went in, and in we saw Hello Kitty. I actually fell in love the moment I saw this model. I don’t really collect HK stuffs, not into those things but when I see a model that I like, then I’d most probably get it.

My boyfriend played until¬†4-5 tries and nothing happened. He then go around the arcade and watched this certain guy playing the same “hook machine” thing and so I watched as well. At first it was just like he’s being stupid at all, not even hooking the hook at the right place, just tugging at the side of the target. After a couple of minutes, we realized what he was trying to do! Alamak, he is such a genius! And so my boyfriend went back to Hello Kitty and mimic the guy’s strategy until¬†he got me this!

I think I squealed in joy when Hello Kitty dropped from where she was hanging and in to that hole that read “PRIZE OUT”. Hashtag Happiness. ūüôā

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After that fun time at the arcade we went back to the crossing and did some more selfies and groupies.

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After mingling with the pedestrian in the busiest crossing in the World, we went to have our dinner then to Tokyo Tower (if only from a distance) then went home.

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For the rest of our trip in Tokyo (Days 03-06), will have to post soon on a separate entry. Hang on!

Travel

Japan-tastic! (Osaka-Kyoto Edition)

A week ago I handed my boss a gift from Japan I bought for him and after saying thanks, he joked and added I must have saved quite a lot of money to have been there for  eleven days. Ha! Honestly, it took a lot of effort to make this trip possible! Thanks to (almost!) a year of planning and cheap flight-scouring!

For our flights, we first booked the trip from Singapore (we’re all based in SG) to Osaka. Then our return to¬†SG¬†was from Tokyo so that’s booked separately¬†but both flights are via Scoot (promotion!). In total, our flight cost us SGD 400.00/pax.

For our accommodation, Airbnb was ever so efficient and we got our places (one in Kyoto and one in Tokyo)  for a total of SGD 575/pax for eleven days.

Day 01. Arrival at Kansai and Airbnb Home in Kyoto.

On arrival at Kansai International Airport, we didn’t expect it’s gonna be THAT cold! Yes, we were wearing long sleeves but no, we weren’t wearing any layers on. Here we are on our 1st day in Japan! Yay!

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Once we arrived in Osaka, we had to  buy train tickets going to Kyoto, where our Airbnb place is for the next days. One thing you must remember when travelling Japan is that transportation is quite costly so you must be very wise on spending on it.

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This is the express train we took from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station. TIP: Take note of the car number on your train tickets when boarding ’cause there are certain cars that are allotted for passengers with reserved seats. This car¬†is for passengers with reserved seats, our tickets were ordinary ones! Haha! Minutes after taking this photo, we realized our mistake and hurriedly got out of the car! Hashtag Tourist. Forgive us.

We were famished when we arrived Kyoto and we’re lucky enough to find¬†this Ramen shop still open, nearby. For our first meal in Japan, we had a bowl of Ramen and a mug of draft beer. Hashtag Perfection!

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The shop was manned by this uncle and he was very accommodating¬†(as other Japs are!) the whole time we were there. We ate at his shop twice ’cause his Ramen is to die for, and I’m not exaggerating.

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Day 02. Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Kyoto Tower. 

On our second day, we head on to the famed Fushimi-Inari Shrine with its orange-colored Torii gates –¬†hundreds of them, actually!

Here I am, looking all bummed-out ’cause we can’t take a proper photo because people are swarming everywhere! Well, Hashtag Tourist once more.

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To cap our day off, we went to Kyoto take a few snaps of the Kyoto Tower.

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Day 03. Universal Studios, Japan. 

You can’t say we’ve had enough of Universal Studios stuffs here in SG ’cause our whole ¬†day 03 was spent in USJ! Haha! To get there, we had to board the same express train we took when we arrived in Osaka and it’s like an hour’s worth of travel from Kyoto.

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And so, this is Hogwarts huh?! Hmmmm.. Fun fact about me: I love books, worship them. BUT…I haven’t read a Harry Potter book. So you can see why I’m not so hyped up about visiting this place! Haha!¬†Just look at my (?_?) face in this photo.

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Obligatory couple selfie! Is there a proper term for it? Couplie? Coupfie? Whatever it’s called, we had A LOT of those during this trip! Haha!

Day 04. Sagano Scenic Train Ride. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

Our main itinerary for day 04 is the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama but before we head on to that place, we took a scenic train ride that mainly covered the nearby (forest-y) areas.

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This was the train that took us on that scenic ride.

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The train took us to the country side of Sagano and Arashiyama areas. It took us through tunnels, mountain sides and bridges all the while showcasing picturesque sceneries left and right.

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I bet it’s even more breath-taking during mid-Autumn when these leaves change colors.

After the scenic train ride, we head on to one of Kyoto’s¬†popular iconic, tourist spots¬†-Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama District. It’s quite calming how you’re surrounded with tall bamboos & you feel like you’ve found your “zen” – whatever that means! HAHA!

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Day 05. Nishiki Market. Osaka Castle. Dotonbori. 

For our 5th day in Kyoto, we decided to do some food tripping to have a taste of this ancient city of Japan. Months before this trip, I came across a blog online about Nishiki Market -the oldest marketplace in Kyoto and so that’s how we come to know this place.

Nishiki Market is a five block-long marketplace with various stalls/shops that offers quite a number of gastronomic treats that ranges from fish cakes to takoyaki & rice cracker to grilled fish, sundaes, pickled veggies and so much more.

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Two¬†of my favorite finds in Nishiki Market¬†would have to be the baby octopus and pumpkin-flavored sundae or “Soft Cream” as they would put it in Japan.

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After having our fill at the market, we went to Osaka to see Osaka Castle and Dotonbori at Namba.

Here we are outside Osaka Castle. _DSC0123.JPG

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We didn’t go inside ’cause¬†we were rushing to go to Dotonbori afterwards then go straight home to Kyoto. We were rushing ’cause we are to pack our bags that night and leave early in the morning the next day as we are moving to Tokyo for the last part of our Japan getaway.

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Dotonbori reminded me of Myeong-Dong in Seoul as it also got A LOT of stores everywhere you turn!

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This here, is the reason why I dragged *le boyfriend in Dotonbori -The Glico Man! Hahaha! This is the iconic sign of the area and tourists swarm this area especially at night to take snaps of the famed running, Glico Man.

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It’s a real struggle to have a decent photo at night when you’re¬†“against the light”.. We are having a disagreement (on the photo above) as to how should I hold my phone to take a better photo with the Glico Man. The result is unsatisfying, oh well.. *le BF was smiling, and that’s what’s all that matters in this life.. (smiley)

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Before we head on home to Kyoto, we dined in a Ramen shop around the area. With the chilly weather during our stay in Japan, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired eating Ramen! This Ramen was OK too, but the one we had in Kyoto on our first night is still the best.

This ends our stay in Kyoto/Osaka area. The next day, we head on to Tokyo which I will post on a separate entry.

Travel

Annyeong! (Korea trip & everything on the side)

Let me begin by saying, this post is WAY too late a post, but here goes.

Last year, we had the lovely opportunity to escape reality and tour South Korea for ten wonderful days, mainly in Seoul, Jeonju and Daejeon area. Below is our ten-day itinerary.

Day 1. Arrival at Incheon International Airport. 

We took a Scoot (promotional!!) flight from SIN to ICN with a connecting via TPE on September 18, 2015. Our departure from SIN was around 12 noon with an arrival of around 6pm at Taipei and from there we had an hour to get some refreshments and arrive ICN at around 11pm.

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From ICN International Airport, we took a cab going to the hotel which took us about an hour. Usually, you can take buses & trains from the airport, but due to our late arrival, we had no choice but to take a cab.

Day 2. Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Buchon Village & a dinner at a traditional Seoul Market.

Our hotel in Seoul (Staz Hotel) is located at Myeong-dong Area that is pretty accessible by MRT via the Seoul Metro which made it convenient for us while at Seoul. We went to this Palace (Changdeokgung Palace) in the morning where we joined a tour at a Secret Garden (mainly about the ancient times in Korea in that place) and went to Hanok Bukchon Village in the afternoon.

Here is the facade of the palace. Yes, it’s quite hot in September during daytime so be sure to wear comfy clothes when touring the palace!

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Hanok Bukchon Village is a cluster of old, traditional Korean houses that have become a tourist attraction over the years. On every alley, you will find signs that asks tourists to refrain from causing too much noises to the residents, because R-E-S-P-E-C-T. ūüôā

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For dinner, my sister’s Korean friend treat us to a traditional Korean market where they serve the famed Korean Ginseng Chicken soup. Here we are, looking all filled but tired from the day’s touring. Sorry for the grainy photos. :/

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Day 3. Myeong-dong Shopping Street & Namsan Tower. 

One of my most favorite places from our visit in South Korea would have to be Myeong-dong Shopping Street! I’m not the ” make-up-wearing” kind of girl but I totally enjoyed scouring this place! You will find great deals that range from their famous Korean face masks to latest fashion trends to sumptuous street foods.

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Prices for popular brands like Etude House, The Face Shop and Skin Food are a lot CHEAPER than prices in Singapore. You can do bulk buying at Myeong-dong! It’s heaven for girls that loves make-up and dressing up!

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At night, we visited Namsan Tower where you can actually climb up the said tower and see the view of the whole city of Seoul from the top.

Unfortunate for us, ticketing was CLOSED for about 20 mins. (due to over-crowding at the top) just when I’m about to take my turn in the ticket booth. We decided to not take the ride up there ‘coz of the number of people queuing just to get up is quite massive. And hey, we can see the tower from below, so that’s A-OK for us.

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Day 4. Nami Island.

If you’ve seen the famous Korean drama Winter Sonata you’ll know exactly where we spend our 4th day in South Korea.

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Your Korea trip won’t be complete if you won’t visit Nami Island! Although travel time is quite lengthy compared to other places, the scenery along the way will surely take your breath away.¬†¬†From Seoul, travel time via train will take about an hour plus 15 minutes ferry ride to get to the island itself.

Okay, for you who have been living under a rock and have no idea about this photo, this is the exact spot where the first kiss from the Korean drama Winter Sonata took place, hence my pout-y pose below.

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You can spend a whole day at Nami Island as it offers a lot of activities for both kids and adults.

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Day 5. Everland! 

Our whole day 5 was spent in one of Korea’s largest theme¬†parks; EVERLAND.

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It’s mainly for kids but it’s got rides and attractions that are suitable for adults too. From Seoul, we took an hour’s ride via bus until the park’s location in Yongin area.

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Day 6. Free & Easy: SEOUL

Our last day at Seoul was spent exploring places on our own. I decided to just go to the World Cup Stadium where a huge stadium for soccer games are held and did some¬†shopping at Myeong-dong afterwards. At night, we watched a live performance at Myeong-dong NANTA¬†Theater called “Cookin’ Nanta Show”. It’s really just a short performance¬†of 5-6 persons that involves singing & dancing with a little bit of chopping (real ingredients) on the side.

During the time I was¬†scanning the streets of Myeong-dong, I came upon this small resto and braved my way in and ordered this dish which consisted of kimbap, spicy squid and kimchi raddish. Upon looking around, they are serving ONLY this dish (served with hot tea) but the place is quite packed. If you don’t love spicy food, I wouldn’t recommend it to you. But then again, most dishes in SoKor are SPICY.

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Day 7. Travel to Daejeon via KTX & Traditional Korean Market! 

The remaining days of our Korean adventure was spent at Daejeon area where our Korean friend “Oppa” stays. We met him back in the Philippines 5 years ago and decided to meet him while in Korea. We took the bullet train from Seoul to Daejeon via KTX and it took us around 45 ¬†mins to reach our destination.

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Upon reaching Daejoen, Oppa took us on a very nature-y trip on the more country side of SoKor. He even tour us in a traditional market where you get to see the hustle & the bustle of Korean trading.

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Here is one of the many parks and nature-kind of trip we had while in Daejeon.

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Day 8. Jeonju Hanok Village & Hanbok-wearing. 

The next day, we went to this popular tourist spot in Jeonju where you can wear traditional Korean dress commonly known as HANBOK. In this area, you can find shops that rents Hanbok which you can wear for 30 minutes up to an hour. You can wear it  while touring the area which is just what we did.

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Here I am, trying to figure out this traditional Korean game that was played in the old times, as told by Oppa.

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Jeonju Hanok Village is larger than the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul. It covers Palaces and small museums, restos and shops and temples as well.

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Here is one of the temples tourist can go to and stay for as long as they want. People can go here to sleep, lie down and basically chill out.

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Day 9. Drive around Daejeon countryside. Nature Tour. 

On our 3rd day at Daejeon, Oppa decided to drive us around the places he loves to visit. He loves hiking and trekking so we took a road trip to some forest-y places in the area.

In here, I am standing on a high place and below, you can see a lake that connects various parts of SoKor. My bad I didn’t remember the name of the lake, boo-hoo me!

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We ended the day by filling our tummy with the ever-so popular samgyeopsal of Korea with soju for drinks. We had samgyeopsal in Seoul but the one we had at Daejeon is to die for! This is our last day at Daejeon as the next day will be our flight back to Singapore, hence the toast. Geonbae!

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Day 10. Quick souvenir-shopping at Dongdaemun Market & flight back. 

On our last day in SoKor, we just made some quick souvenir-shopping at Dongdaemun Market and head on straight to Incheon International Airport for our flight back to Singapore which departs at 11pm.

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To sum up our tour in South Korea, I’d say it definitely was worthwhile. Prices are cheaper as compared to Singapore and citizens are very pleasant and accommodating too.

Food was great! On every places that we visit, signs and posters of “PORK” dishes are always visible. One of the many gastronomic treats that have captured my tastebuds would have to be Gopchang! It’s pig’s¬†intestines that is¬†usually grilled on a hotplate with onions and garlic on the side. Here is how it looks.

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Also, if you’re a coffee-lover, SoKor is the place for you! On every alley, every street, on malls and train stations, you will find coffee shop and the aroma of coffee is always in the air. Here is one of the whole-in-the-wall coffee shops we dined in at¬†Changdeokgung area.

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Transportation is manageable too as it doesn’t differ much from the transportation system of that of Singapore. Maps are everywhere and with the help of modern technology, navigating comes in handy.

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If you are planning on taking a trip to South Korea, ten days is enough already if you are eyeing for Seoul and nearby cities. Just take note that September is not THAT cold yet so don’t wear thick clothing and long-sleeved tops. Don’t make the same mistakes that we did, LOL! Also, most people are not fluent in English (but are REALLY nice!!) so you need to be a little patient when communicating with them.

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If I’m given the chance to go back in SoKor, I’d definitely take that chance. It’s not everyday that you get to be in a place so diverse and evolving like South Korea that¬†you just wanna be¬†part of it¬†as much as possible.

Malaysia · Travel

What It Feels to be at Philea – Melaka.

People in Singapore take the opportunity to travel when Chinese New Year comes. And since it is located around the area of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, touring on these countries comes in handy since you can travel by land to Malaysia, by sea to Indonesia and by air to Thailand in just a few hours.

My sister and I, together with a couple of friends (that are more like family to us) decided to go and check this Groupon Deal at Philea Resort and Spa located in Melaka, Malaysia. We take the coach service from Singapore and it took us about 6 hours before we reach the resort.

Here we are during Customs Inspection outside Malaysia Customs.

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And here we are (photo above) trying on some Malaysian street foods we got from one of our stops.

Philea Resort is one of the leading log resorts in Malaysia. It’s a perfect getaway for people looking for peace and comfort. Their villas are all inspired of American Log Houses you see on movies with Summer Camps in it. Reminded me of Parent Trap for a while.

Our rooms are at the second floor of this villa that comes with a veranda view of the resort.

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Each room looks kinda, sorta like this.

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Cozy enough you would want to spend the day in bed! The feel of the interior of the room is so relaxing and so nature-y. Not like the other rooms from most resorts where they’re all made of concrete materials.

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Upon arriving, we immediately bask in the resort’s simple yet refreshing pool with a man-made falls that added more natural feel to the experience.

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It’s a Steam Boat kind of night when we had our dinner! It’s my first time to ever try this and I so enjoyed it. I loved eating food straight out of the the Hot Pot and it just fill my stomach with so much seafood goodness.

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There was a Bar in the resort so we also went in there but only spent a few minutes inside as we are not those type of person to go in Bar and stay until the wee of hours. Instead, we went and play billiards and darts outside the cramped Bar.

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The deal that we bought is for 2 days and 1 night only, and even if we want to extend, rooms are all fully booked due to the Chinese New Year Holidays and a lot of people are taking this chance to spend time to unwind. With the budget-friendly and nature-y amenities of Philea, it’s no wonder it was fully booked during that time.

We went back to Singapore the next day feeling refreshed and relaxed.

In general, I would recommend Philea to families with small children and elderly people as it has this calming ambiance you won’t get from most resorts. The location too is very commendable as it is so peaceful you wouldn’t hear much noise from around the area.

Their staffs are friendly and they have around five restaurants you could choose from when dining. Also, they have Spa (which we weren’t able to check due to time constraint), Karaoke Rooms, a Chill Out Bar, Phili Kidz , where you can let your kids play in a room full of toys and a Gym.

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To check out Philea’s amenities and offerings, you may visit their website here.