Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Of Travel and Life Experiences: How I Survived 2013

2013 has been a hard year for me. And it truly felt like I was being challenged in more ways than one (physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially). The number of trips that I made this year may have been less compared to 2012. But I still thank God for blessing me with plenty of life-changing experiences.

HOW I GOT THROUGH THE BAD JUJU

My right foot's 5th metatarsal broke in March, which kept me from having to work and to travel (was already bound for Tacloban the next month when this happened). Plus, a nasty skin ailment progressed all over my body during my immobility. I couldn't get myself checked at the time since I could barely walk with my foot cast. So things worsened through those months. And by the time I consulted a dermatologist, a new set of expenses came pouring like rain. 



Sunday, December 29, 2013

An eye-opening afternoon at the Silahis Arts & Artifacts, Manila

My friends and I spent some time in Intramuros right after our food exploration in Chinatown last September --- as we waited for another pal to join us that afternoon. We actually dropped by the Silahis Art & Artifacts to help pass up on time. And from there did we see firsthand some of the most interesting Philippine artifacts, books, cultural handicrafts, sculptures, paintings and more.

The Silahas Center is the building on the left (the one with the brown exterior).

Throwback Travels: My #VivaManila Walking Tour Experience

I had the privilege of experiencing Carlos Celdran's (Manila's Tourism Consultant) FREE #VivaManila Walking Tour with several Pinoy Travel Bloggers last September. It happened right after our stopover at the Silahis Art & Artifacts in Intramuros.

THE BEST THING'S IN LIFE ARE FREE!

Carlos Celdran's Free #VivaManila Walking Tour definitely made this statement stand out. Why? Because other than giving out a free, no-frills tour around the City of Manila, he also graced us with his very boisterous yet down-to-earth character. Of course, the project itself is one to commend since Carlos' team (Mayor Joseph Estrada the guys at the Manila City Hall) aims to restore what the Filipinos once loved about the Philippine capital. Moreover, the tour was created to inform everyone that the bustling city is  very much a walkable destination. You can certainly go from one interesting place to another just by using your feet and your wandering soul.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

BAGGU: Carry your baggage in style when traveling

Ever since the "no plastic" rule was implemented in several parts of Metro Manila, I've already made it a point to bring an eco bag whenever I leave the house. But even before the rule was put into effect, I would already place a foldable mesh bag inside my purse. And it would always come in handy whenever I'd buy stuff from the mall or from the grocery store. But I enjoyed carrying all sorts of stuff even more when I received my very own Baggu Shopping Bag. 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Have a safe trip this Christmas via GrabTaxi

It has been a yearly thing for me and Rubel to do our Christmas shopping ahead of time (as early as November), so we could avoid the rush of people scurrying to buy their last minute gifts. I particularly dislike the long lines at the cashier, and the body-bumping moments with the thick crowd. But what I've never really liked during the holiday rush is the commute whenever we visit the mall. We don't have our own car, so we'd usually ride a Jeep or Cab when going home. Then again, it also becomes a tiring thing to do when you have to wait in line just to get a taxi, when you so desperately want to go home and rest. Yes, cab's also have long queues during the holidays. And it's always the same scenario, so don't be surprised when you go around the Philippines in this time of year. But when we heard about this certain Taxi app, we knew we had to try it. So we did come Christmas morning.


Friday, December 20, 2013

To Years Of Love And Travels: How I Met The Love Of My Life

When I decided to end an almost 3-year relationship, starting over felt like the most difficult thing to do. It took me almost a year to finally start dating again. I mean, it was the hardest thing for me to go through, knowing that I got used to being with just one person all those years. But God was kind enough to find me someone who easily took away the “dating inhibitions” out of me. 


As I was reading through a book that my Kuya gave me (The Secret by Rhonda Byrne), a lot of meaningful concepts were discussed about seeing everything on a positive note. Skeptic as I was at life at that time, I read and eventually followed each principle. And quoting from the book, “the essence of The Secret is the Law of Attraction." 

Monday, December 16, 2013

GUEST POST: Travel Guide --- 6 Places to Visit in Baguio

Planning for a trip to the Summer Capital of the Philippines? Make sure to pack your bags with some warm clothing to combat the low temperatures. Don’t forget to make a list of the places to visit in Baguio for you to be guided as to where you should go. It really is easy to tour the city without joining a tour group. You’ll have nothing to worry about.


BenCab Museum

Among the city’s newest attractions, the BenCab Museum has only opened its doors to the public in recent years. Home to national artist Ben Cabrera, the museum features a number of his masterpieces, including some quirky erotic art pieces. The museum is also set in a lush park which makes it ideal for relaxation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Towelite: A Must-Have Towel For Your Next Trip

I own two kinds of absorbent towels. One is an Aquazorb, and one that has no brand (got it as a wedding souvenir). But in all of the times that I've used both, I would usually feel uncomfortable with the fact that neither doesn't dry my body as fast. Sure, both towels are absorbent. But I've been on a constant look out for that one absorptive cloth that will help soak up the moisture from my face and body in a jiffy. I'm also looking for that 'quick-dry feel' from a towel, but with an extra softness to it. Get it? Well, I just found one recently --- and it's all in a TOWELITE! No doubt that it's one of my favorite travel must-haves now.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Save the Sand, Save the Beach with a LAGU beach-friendly blanket!

I'm probably one of those people who doesn't fancy swimming in the beach, but just love hanging out by the shoreline. I tend to just lounge by the seashore, get that much needed tan, and have my feet burrowed underneath the sand.

Back then I would bring a malong or a printed sarong, and would use either as a blanket. I would place my travel essentials on top, and would lay on it throughout my time at the beach. But soon after unwinding and packing up, I would catch myself dealing with all the sand that didn't come off of the fabric right after shaking it. It's always the same scenario, and always the same dilemma whenever I leave any pebbly shore. That's why I always end up bringing some sand into my stuff. But all that's changed when I started using LAGU.  


"Lagu is the first beach-friendly beach blanket. Unlike ordinary towels, Lagu repels sand allowing you to lay with ease while also conserving the beach. It's unique linen blend is allergen-free and has quick-dry properties, keeping it fresh for repeated use."

Monday, November 25, 2013

GO HOTELS Tacloban: A Smart Lodging Choice For Travelers

I'm very particular when it comes to certain accommodations. And if you've read some of my previous lodging reviews, you'll know what usually puts me off. So I definitely felt a renewed feeling upon entering the GO HOTELS lobby in Tacloban City.


My friend and I arrived in Tacloban after a 2-hour trip from Ormoc City. We left Ormoc around 3, and was able to reach Leyte's capital by 5 PM. The trip was tiring considering that I was seated on the shuttle's side by the door. So I had the small reclining seat, without the full back rest. I had several head banging moments as I tried to catch some sleep during our travel. That's why it was so refreshing to finally arrive in Tacloban, and have such friendly faces welcome us into our new abode. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The calm before the storm --- My Eastern Visayas Journey

I feel mixed emotions just thinking about what to say. I am neither a Yolanda victim nor a survivor. But I've already cried over the fact that I almost got caught in the storm. I came back to Manila from Tacloban on November 6 --- a day before the super typhoon entered the Philippines. Some of my family and friends say that God was on my side since my life was spared. I really didn't want to think of it that way, especially when I have friends and their families who unfortunately got battered by the massive tempest. Of course, I still thank God for bringing me home safely.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Guest Post: Holidaying on a Budget in Boracay Island

You’ve probably already heard a lot about the island of Boracay and Boracay beach. After all, it has been consistently named as the top tourist beach destination of 2013 and among the top beach party destinations of 2012, it is no wonder why a lot of people consider visiting the island and staying at one of its many Boracay resorts.

However, some people would not consider it as they think they would need a lot of money in order to afford and enjoy the beach and all the activities there. The truth is that it is actually possible to holiday in Boracay even when you have a low budget.


Getting to Boracay

Since Boracay can be reached by air or sea, the trick is to know how to get the cheapest mode of transportation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baguio Accommodations: A thorough review of Upstair's Bed & Bath

I'm very particular with the lodgings that I book during my trips. So I log in the necessary research so that I wouldn't have to deal with some of the mishaps that might happen along the way. So when I was looking for a place to stay in Baguio for this month, I started emailing my inquiries to several accommodations. And to me, the best option was UPSTAIRS BED & BATH. 


I was in constant communication with Sir Engelbert, who I later on found out was the owner of the inn. He was always prompt when it came to answering all of my questions, and was very accommodating. Despite sending him so many inquiries, he still gave me his time. Plus, his tone was always pleasant. And that to me was pretty commendable. He even adjusted my initial booked dates when a big storm hit the city two weekends ago.

I also have high praises for his staff (Benedict and Ronald in particular), who were both working during our stay. They greeted us with a smile upon entering the inn. They even allowed us to check into our rooms early in the morning, which was a plus (check-in time is supposed to be 2 PM). They also offered my brother one of their Family Room's since another guest had to extend his/her stay. He was supposed to have the Semi-Private, but was given the Family Room for that first night.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Healthy Back Bag: A bag that's designed around you

My beau and I went on an afternoon date at Harbor Square last Sunday, to celebrate our 70th month together. And since I had plans on taking lots of sunset photos by Manila bay, I made sure that I brought my Point & Shoot with me. I didn't want to have to carry so much in my bag, so I just packed a few essentials. 

I was actually thinking of carrying my small leather sling bag or my red LC shopping bag to go with my outfit. But I decided to wear something that would just snug perfectly on my body. Yes, I wanted something laid-back. And I didn't want to have to worry about a bag strap slipping off from my shoulder. That's why my Healthy Back Bag was the perfect travel accessory. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Right Way To Fly: My AirAsia Zest Destination Wish List

So what would my destination wish list include should I get the chance to fly via Air Asia?

Well, if I were given the opportunity to Travel in the Philippines with Air Asia, my Top 5 Local destinations would have to be Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, Kalibo (Boracay), Cagayan De Oro and Davao. But why these 5? Well...

PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN

I immediately fell in love with Puerto Princesa the moment I landed on the city. I just loved so many things about it! I loved the courteous people, the clean surroundings, the noteworthy sites (from the famous Crocodile Farm to the panoramic view of the city from Mitra’s Farm), the 2-3 hour road trip and boat transfers to the nearby islands, and the seafood trips that I matched with my anti-histamines! I also love the fact that Puerto Princesa is the gateway to El Nido --- another paradise that I’ve been dreaming of seeing up-close.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Join Budget Biyahera and TravelBookPH's Cash Voucher Giveaway!

Hey Biyaheras and Biyaheros!

I'm happy to announce Budget Biyahera's newest tie-up! :)

The guys from TravelBook.ph are giving away several THE Travel Club cash vouchers worth Php500 each! 12 vouchers are up for grabs, and I'll be handing out 4 of these to 3 lucky winners! You can win these certificates by joining our little contest.


Monday, October 7, 2013

A Do-It-Yourself Food trip in the streets of Manila

A food trip around Manila was my first, all out adventure after my foot injury. I almost didn't make the DIY Walking Tour since both my feet hurt days before. I could barely walk. But I really wanted to join so I got myself some gel insoles and a pair of comfy socks that same week. I just told myself that I would brave the streets of Manila, and just go with the pain. I guess, that's what travelers go through when they really want to journey off real bad. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Top Turkish Delights

When it comes to holiday diversity, few places can rival the beauty and versatility of Turkey. Offering a distinctive east-meets-west culture, where modern hotels and beach resorts rub shoulders with ancient ruins and long-held local customs, Turkey holidays really are a treat for the senses. If you're looking for a sun-soaked escape this summer which is a bit different to your average bucket-and-space beach break, check out these tempting Turkish delights...

BODRUM

Boasting an ancient castle that dates back to the days of the Crusades, a fascinating marine museum featuring centuries-old treasures discovered on the seabed, and a vibrant town with glorious harbour views, Bodrum is hot stuff. Bring the kids for a dose of culture, or wander among the markets haggling for souvenirs before kicking back in a traditional Turkish restaurant, reliving another perfect day and sampling tastebud-tingling local cuisine. Heaven!

SIDE

Based in the region of Antalya, Side is a cracking little place that's famous for its spectacular Roman ruins. Step back in time and experience its 5th century baths, wander around the fascinating museum, gaze up at the remains of pillared temples, or discover its ancient theatre. The town itself is a former fishing village that oozes charm with plenty of great hotels and apartments.

Monday, September 23, 2013

5 Fundamental Health Tips When Traveling By Air

There are plenty of ways to lessen your stress, especially when it comes to preparing for a trip and traveling from here on. You can minimize your worries by letting these 5 essential health tips in guiding you on your air travel.

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Ipanema Sandals --- My constant travel companion since 2010

I used to buy several pairs of Havaianas slippers back in the day. But I stopped purchasing when my umpteenth pair's strap broke after just three months. The 'life expectancy' for this specific brand was really short-lived. I mean, I never even used it for running or jogging. So it was a constant battle having to endure those unexpected breaks whenever I wore those sandals on the road. That's when I decided to try a different brand, and got myself Ipanema's New Temas AD flat sandals in black and silver.

White Island, Camiguin --- November 2010 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

8 Effective Smartphone Apps for the Budget Biyahera

Most smartphones and tablets today are already equipped with apps that you can use whenever and wherever you may be. And for the last two years, I've heavily relied on my phone whenever I travel around the Philippines or Asia. It has been a great device when it comes to checking the weather, consulting interactive maps and nearby landmarks, scouting for cheap flight options, taking and editing photos, and making free calls and SMS. Here's a few of the apps that actually help enhance my travels.

1) VIBER - Viber works as long as you have an Internet connection. Most of the accommodations that I've stayed in would usually offer Free Wi-Fi, so my Viber app stays open and connected. It has proven very cheaply on my end, especially when I travel abroad. I get to use it for either voice or video calls whenever I call my loved ones in the Philippines. It saves me from having to spend on international calls or SMS. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

OPLAN PALIGO: Help bathe the less fortunate by donating take-home hotel bath essentials

Have you been the kind of person that takes home hotel bath essentials right after a stay? Well, I have. But I'm sure that I'm not the only one who does this. I've actually developed this habit of pocketing unused bath products after staying at an inn. I mean, I've already paid for those. I usually just keep those for a future travel. Then again, I never really get to use any as I always bring my own soap, shampoo, toothpaste and so on. So what happens later on is that I keep all these clutter inside my CR cabinet. But all of that has changed when I learned about my cousin's project. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

How your smartphone photos can pose a threat on your privacy

Hey Biyaheras and Biyaheros! I just wanted to share this video from YouTube. The findings were pretty alarming for someone like me who likes to take pictures from my smartphone, which I upload online soon after (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). It has been a routine for me, especially when sharing photos of certain family moments and of my travels. I'm sure you've all heard or used the services of Foursquare, where you log in your exact location when visiting a certain area. Well, there's an even bigger threat to posting or emailing your pictures without even accessing the mentioned app. 

There will be an instruction on why you need to turn off the locations services of your phone at the end of the video. So please, please.. watch it until the end.


Explore & Be Free!
Mai

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ORION HOTEL --- A safe haven in the heart of Divisoria

I've always loved Divisoria for being Manila's all-around market. You can haggle and buy almost anything there without breaking the bank. Although Divisoria is quite far from where I live (I'm a QC gal), it's still a marketplace worth visiting every now and then. But thanks to all the LRT lines, I can easily take a trip to Divisoria without worrying about getting stuck in traffic, and inhaling all the vehicle fumes. But what I loved even more about exploring the grounds of this bustling shopping center was the opportunity to seek refuge nearby. That's when Rubel and I found the comforts of home in Orion Hotel.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why I love my Debbie Passport Holder from Chelsi Leathershop

I don't remember being this excited about traveling again, until I received my Yellow CHELSI LEATHERSHOP Debbie Passport Holder. Although my next international travel is still on November, I can't help but fit my brown passport right away. And guess what? It fits perfectly!


THE CHELSI LEATHERSHOP BRAND

Chelsi Leathershop is a wholesale producer of high-quality leather articles that are 100% Made in the Philippines. The core of their business is to re-sell their products to wholesalers and retailers of top brands. They also manufacture from leather material to final product from their in-house tannery, Chelsi Leather & Services. Their products are 100% Made in the Philippines.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Memento Of Travels And Memories

The only things that I collected when I started traveling with my family were photos and shells. I always thought that these were enough when it came to documenting the places that we visited. But when I started traveling on my own, I was eventually drawn to the little yet valuable things that I encountered along the way. From then on, I knew that I had to take home a piece from every destination that I've been to.

My Travel Shrine! =P

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our summer retreat at Blue Pavilion Beach Resort Infanta, Quezon

There are certain things in life that you plan along the way but won't always push through. My spirit was dampened when I had to cancel a few trips during the summer due to my fractured foot. Not only was I on house arrest for the whole season, I also couldn't leave my room that easily because of my cast. It felt like I was in prison. Yet I still I had some hope that I would get that last summer getaway. True enough, my family was invited to stay for a few days at Blue Pavilion Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon.


Blue Pavilion was a 5-hour drive from Quezon City. My family and I didn't have a hard time finding the resort, as the directions that were posted on their site was easy to follow. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

2 Essential Health Tips On How To Overcome Jet Lag

An individual’s body clock may get disrupted when encountering different kinds of time zones. This may also result to feeling fatigue -- physically and mentally. Frequent travelers can certainly attest to experiencing getting jet lag after traveling from one destination to the other. So to be able to overcome such distress, take these health tips below to help your body to adapt on both time variances and surroundings.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

3 Health tips on how to stay fit while traveling

It’s good to be in a healthier state, especially when traveling from one destination to another. That’s why it’s best to heed some of the most basic yet important health tips. These 3 pointers will help give you the best defense while you’re on the move. 

The importance of getting vaccinated

Taking your immunization shots prior to a trip would have to be one of the most effective ways in keeping you resistant from all kinds of illnesses. There are plenty of diseases that any traveler can acquire, especially if your immune system is weak. So if you lack some vaccination shots, find the time to consult your physician about it. Moreover, having and bringing your medical insurance and vaccination records when you travel will also be beneficial on your end. This can help cover all your medical expenses, should an unlikely event happen during your trip.

Create you own Travel Medical Kit

One of the best health tips when packing for a trip is by remembering to bring copies of your medical records. Also, bring a good enough supply of medicine. Your medicine should suffice for the whole duration of your vacation. Moreover, prepare your own travel medical kit. Try to pack some of the most common remedies like ibuprofen (painkiller), antihistamines, antibiotic, antacids and alcohol (should be sealed tightly and contained in a 3-ounce size bottle) and bandages. You’ll never know when you’ll run out of these remedies and when the nearest drugstore will be in sight.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to rebook a PAL Express flight after a sustained injury

I fractured my right 5th metatarsal last March after attending my niece's graduation. But I only got my foot placed in a cast after Holy week, since I sought a bone specialist for it. My blue, rough, half-calf cast was molded on me last April 1. Given that, I asked my Orthopedic doctor if I could still travel to Tacloban. But he advised that I put it off for now. I was disheartened after I heard his advice, especially when I was already booked to leave on April 22. Then again, I had to divert my disappointment since my health was my first priority. I didn't want to have to travel with a cast anyway, even if I brought my crutches with me. 


The next concern was rebooking my flight with PAL Express, since I could no longer make the trip. So after getting my diagnosis, I immediately contacted the airline. I was then advised to email my concerns.

My disappointment over Tiger Airways - SEAIR's flight cancellation

When the Piso fare was offered by Tiger Airways (in partnership with SEAIR) last February 2013, I didn't think twice about booking a trip with them. And since I wanted to visit Davao this year in time for Kadayawan, I was lucky to find seats that offered P1 for each route (MNL-DVO-MNL). My total was PHP675.04 (fare price + fare fees & taxes + service fee +  special services a.k.a. extra baggage allowance). So when I got my booking details, I paid for my ticket at Cebuana Lhuiller that same day. Come 10:22 AM, I was already paid in full. So when I got home, I immediately called SEAIR's hotline to confirm my payment. 2 days later (after following up my trip details a few times), they finally emailed my itinerary. I also asked the CSR if there were hidden charges, which she answered 'no' to. I mean, the rate was unbelievably cheap so I had to ask. It was just too good to be true. Then again, it was.



And on May 2, I received this unfortunate email from Tiger Airways...



Monday, May 27, 2013

Budget Biyahera's latest Starbucks City Mug Collection

I'm very fortunate to know travel enthusiasts (family and friends) who never fails to think of me when they see Starbucks Mugs in sight. And since my last update, I now have 9 additions to my collection. =) 

Boracay, Makati, Baguio, Bacolod, Davao (all from the Philippines), Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Los Angeles and Bali (Tumbler).


13 reasons why it was a distressing stay at Great Eastern Hotel, QC

The first time that I stayed at Great Eastern Hotel, QC (also known as Aberdeen) was in 2007. My Kuya wanted my 2 sisters and I to have a relaxing weekend, so he booked us a room at Great Eastern's new wing. I wasn't particular with hotels at the time, so I was pretty much satisfied with how our staycation went.



So when Rubel and I wanted to relax, we opted to stay somewhere nearby (since I couldn't walk long distances yet). Thus choosing Great Eastern. Then again, we didn't expect to get disappointed later on. Anyway, here's our review below.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Live life and explore -- 37 Quotes that will encourage you to travel!

I've been feeling under the weather for a month now because of the foot cast that constantly reminds me of a very bad fall. Not only is my left calf muscle rapidly wasting away, being immobile for the longest time also takes an emotional toll on me. The month of April was supposedly an exciting time for me since travel plans were already in place (a quick beach escape, a weekend festival, a trip to Tacloban City). 

Being on house arrest and not being able to work is pretty sad on my end. But I still try to keep things productive by stuffing myself with all the positive things that one can get from online resources (Pinterest and Craftgawker are awesome boredom-busters!)

Just wanted to share one of my current pick-me-uppers --- a super cool travel layout from Travel + Escape, which has certainly helped lift my spirit! :)


Explore & Be Free!
Mai

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food + Travel: Gastronomic flavors at NAPA Restaurant and Bar

I had the opportunity of dining in Napa Restaurant & Bar one January evening with blogger friends --- those who I had the honor of working with at last year's FBW 1st Grand Eyeball. The admins and I wanted to treat the volunteers from that event to a thanksgiving dinner of sorts. Thus our post-Christmas gathering at NAPA.

COZY AMBIANCE 

NAPA is actually a casual dining restaurant in Quezon City (by Scout Borromeo). A nice place where warm greetings will immediately welcome you. The food establishment that serves both American and Italian dishes looked a lot like a cozy and stylish home. But other than that, the beautiful interiors of NAPA was also inspired by the rustic vineyards of Napa Valley in San Francisco, and was lovingly designed by Cynthia Gaerlan.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Turista Magazine's Pagudpud Edition: Of Waterfalls and Windmills

I therefore conclude that my right foot is totally injured! Yes, I tripped somewhere down the road -- and this was just yesterday after attending my niece's graduation. But this latest issue of TURISTA Magazine has certainly made my crippled day WORTH SMILING about! 

Please get a FREE copy at any of the NAIA Terminals and check-out my Pagudpud Feature. Ü Rubel and I are on print again.. Hooray for BUDGET BIYAHERA! Woohoo!! 


UPDATED: As much as I would like for you to read the online version, Turista Magazine's link no longer exists.

Explore & Be Free!
Mai

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

4 Things that I graduated from since I started traveling

I have to admit. I've never really bought anything expensive for myself. So if you were to ask me, most of my pricey stuff were given as gifts by my family and friends. So if it's not food, all of my savings goes directly to my travel fund. Believe it or not, I've graduated from obtaining and/or keeping 'material things' as investing on trips and journeying off to different places has given me more fulfillment in life than the former.

So what have I graduated from since I started traveling extensively? I've marked off...

My Inhibitions

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.” 
― Roman Payne

I am an introvert. Well, I still am. But I've managed to control it through the years. I mostly travel with my family and close friends. So meeting new people on the road wasn't an option to me from the very beginning (due to personal reasons). But all that's changed when I finally broke free from my shell. That's when I gradually pushed myself to meet and talk to new individuals, which lead me to experience bigger opportunities and new found friendships. I enjoyed being in the company of like-minded people when I started to leave behind my inhibitions. Since then, my network has expanded.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Hotel H2O: A marine-themed urban resort in Manila

My beau really ain't the romantic kind. But he's thoughtful and quite generous. And when I do ask him to plan certain events, he would usually go above and beyond with the preps and all. So when I asked him to plan our 5th anniversary last December, I was already looking forward to spending a memorable time with him. And guess what? He made it happen!

I commend Rubel for not peeping a word about his surprise, despite my constant questioning. But he did however mention an overnight stay at a hotel somewhere in Manila. So when that day came, he asked me to meet him for lunch at Mall of Asia after his duty. He was coming from a graveyard shift, so he looked very tired. Nonetheless, his excitement to surprise me gave him that extra boost of energy. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food + Travel: A Gold-Struck deal at Midas Hotel

I've become the queen of coupon purchases!

My love affair with all the good deals online made me buy some of the most essential and not-so important goods and services. But these hard to pass up offers also lead me into experiencing one of the best dishes in the metro. Other than my Prestige Cruises encounter, I've also managed to buy an All-You-Can-Eat-Sausage promo from eBay Kuponan. I also got the opportunity to buy a few Midas Buffet vouchers from Metrodeal.com on two separate occasions. 

For now, let me start by sharing to you my food affair with Midas Hotel's buffet dinner.

I've been to Midas Hotel twice now. One was in December 2011, and another last February 2012. And compared to what Prestige Cruises offered from their deal, Midas completely came through with their own advertisement. They truly promoted how good a catch their offer was. They were the real deal indeed. 

Anyway, here's a peek at what they offered through Metrodeal in 2012:


Food + Travel: Al Fresco Dining at Emohruo Beach Restobar, Pagudpud

The first thing that we asked from our host in Saud (Ms. Cathy) was where to eat for dinner, and she immediately suggested to dine at Evangeline Beach Resort's -- Emohruo Beach Restobar. Although she warned us about the price, she still recommended that we try their food just for the experience of it. Good thing that we listened to her!

And as posted from their website: the excellent chefs of Emohruo Beach Restobar serve a unique blend of innovative Asian cuisine that they themselves have created. The menu boasts of a variety of offerings ranging from creative seafood fares to spicy Thai curry sauces, all made from the freshest ingredients and herbs freshly-picked from the resort’s very own organic garden. Apart from the magnificent food choices, we also have a selection of wines for our guests and their discriminating palates.

Food + Travel: Vigan cuisine at its finest, only at Kusina Felicitas!

Rubel and I visited Vigan a few weeks ago. And it was a trip that consisted using different modes of transportation. We flew to Laoag for almost an hour. Road the bus from the airport to Laoag city proper. Took the tricycle towards the Partas Station. Then rode a bus that was bound for Vigan, which took 2 hours. We were only able to step foot on the Heritage City of the Philippines at exactly 2 pm -- which was the exact and allowed time for checking-in at our accommodations: Grandpa's Inn. Great timing, right? :)

Since we were really running on empty, Rubel and I no longer wandered off the streets to explore the best restaurants nearby. We just went straight to Grandpa's Inn's signature restaurant, which was Kusina Felicitas.

Now, a brief background on Kusina Felicitas (taken from Grandpa's Inn's website)

Food + Travel: Dining at Cafe Leona, Vigan City

I've heard about Cafe Leona from several blogs that I follow. And most of them have had great reviews of the restaurant. I, on the other hand, would have to be on the neutral side of things. The famed restaurant by Calle Crisologo was a tourist site on its own. But I wouldn't really rave so much about their food -- or at least, with the ones that we ordered that night. 

With our good friend, and co-travel/food blogger friend Edmar. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 Reasons why Nguyen Khang Hotel is a godsend to backpackers

I love staying in hotels and classy inns that have affordable rates to them. Who doesn't, right? So, speaking of --- Rubel and I found a gem for our 5-night stay in Ho Chi Minh City, and the hotel was called Nguyen Khang Hotel. After reading so many good online reviews of the lodging, I was immediately smitten by the idea of booking with them right away. But what made me decide to finally book them? Here's 7 good reasons.

1) LOCATION - Nguyen Khang is situated at a small alley in Phạm Ngũ Lão, a street that was made famous for being a backpackers haven. The location was quite perfect since we were near some of Saigon's famous spots: 10 minutes away from Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Square, a street away from Bùi Viện (famous for its night life and cheap beers), and a few walks away from several mini-marts and food establishments.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I got burnt at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!

You're probably thinking that I got burnt from the flames fuming out of a hot air balloon. You thought wrong! My skin got burnt not because of the balloon blaze. But because of my exposure to the sun. I brought an umbrella. But the sun was just everywhere! The Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ), where the festival was held was an open space. So the only shelter that one could stay in were the Airplane Hangar and the food tents nearby. Both places were a bit distant from all the action. So Rubel and I just braved the lot with just an umbrella over our heads. But even that didn't protect us. It was actually raining a few days earlier. So I was really surprised when the sun showed up last Saturday (February 23), all mighty and proud.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to convert Vietnam Dong (VND) to Philippine Peso (PHP)

When I was preparing for my trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Rubel and I discussed the simple conversion of Vietnam Dong (VND) to Philippine Peso (PHP). A friend of his actually taught him how to do the math.

Let's say that you're eyeing a Class A "The North Face" Rucksack for 800,000 VND. It may look very expensive with all the zero's to it. But it's actually quite affordable. You'll just need to take the last three zero's, and then multiply the remaining three digits to 2. This will then be your estimate. So 800 x 2 is PHP1,600! That's your estimated value in pesos. Simple, right?

Photo credit here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 3 of Backpacking Saigon: DIY Night City Tour

Since Rubel and I weren't able to see the rest of the sites from the previous City tour, we opted to do a DIY trip the following day. So after a good recharge, we started our evening walk towards the Bitexco Financial Tower (the 124th tallest building in the world according to Wikipedia). We didn't get to see it up close. But we managed to take a few photos of it while traversing the street of Hàm Nghi. 


After a quick photo op, we continued on with our evening stroll. We were supposed to take a cab from Pham Ngu Lao all the way to Tôn Đức Thắng. But we decided to just walk all the way. And with our efforts, we were able to reach the Saigon river after 30 minutes.

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