Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 2: The best things in life are free! Experiencing the beauty of Jeonju..

August 09, 2011 39
[TRIP last May 3, 2011As I've mentioned from my previous entry, the JIFF team definitely made our stay in Jeonju a relaxing one. Every morning, there will be print-outs of reminders and event invitations for Kuya that were slipped into our hotel door. They were always very organized and cheery. Apart from that, the JIFF team also ensured that we always had our very own JIFF Ziggy (representative) to show us around the festival.

Anyway, we started our first official morning in Jeonju by availing of our complimentary buffet breakfast at Core Hotel's Restaurant (I forgot the name though) -- while topped with a nice view of the city. It was a few floors up from our 7th floor room, so we were able to get there in time. The buffet typically ends around 8am, so we made sure to arrive before then.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 1 Jeonju Highlights: Dasarang Chicken & Pizza, Samgyeopsal, and Hite!

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[May 2, 2011]

Choy and I left the Philippines around 1 in the morning, while Kuya had his scheduled around lunch time. We had a different flight itinerary with kuya but it was still on the same day (May 2). We also arrived in Incheon before 7 am (Korea time), and then left almost immediately for Jeonju.


The Jeonju province is about 4-5 hours by road from the ICN airport. Sometimes it takes longer when there's traffic along the way. Anyway, we rode the limousine bus right after leaving the airport. Now to be honest, I actually didn't expect the trip to take that long. But I was so thankful that my bus chair could be reclined into a comfortable sleeping position. So when you're bound for Jeonju, you'll also have to expect at least 2-4 stop-overs before reaching the province. If I may recall, there was a stop-over at the Gumbo airport. Then the last stop was at our hotel, CORE HOTEL.

Jeonju was actually tourist-friendly. The bus even had a prompter that translated the instructions in several different languages for every stop-over made (there was English and Japanese). And since I was travelling with Choy (who was a first-timer), I was made to be more alert and more attentive to instructions. But on our last stop, a JIFF Ziggy approached us upon exiting the bus. He took our luggages and escorted us into the hotel. Upon entering the hotel, a few more JIFF volunteers greeted us with a smile, and an 'ANNYEONGHASEYO' greeting resonated in the hall. =) I actually asked Justin back at the airport to teach me a few basic korean phrases, and he taught me how to say hello, thank you and goodbye.

Hello = Annyeonghaseyo
Thank You = Gamsahabnida
Goodbye = Jagbyeol Insa

After the Ziggys' handed our press kits, ID's, and room key, Choy and I immediately went up to our 7th floor room. We decided to fix our things and immediately left for the festival. But before leaving, I made a quick email to my niece Rachel, for a possible meet-up that night. She's actually an English teacher in Jeonju. So getting a chance to see her there after 16 or so years was also a nice coincidence. Good thing the WiFi on our floor had a strong signal as I was able to send my message right away.

We were also very hungry by then, so we made sure to ask the volunteers if there were any affordable food places at the festival. There were actually plenty, and they readily gave us maps to the cinema street vicinity. Good thing JIFF also offered free shuttle rides from the hotel to the festival, as I no longer had to ask how to get there by foot. Much to my surprise, a walk from CORE Hotel to the Jiff venue would only take more or less 10 minutes. The weather was super cold but was actually good for walking.

Choy and I also took a few photos before heading to the festival. And after checking some of the restaurants along the cinema street, we finally decided to try this Chicken and Pizza place. Everything was mostly written in korean, and we found a familiar comfort in this particular food place. The place was called Dasarang Chicken and Pizza.

Bound for Jeonju, South Korea – One of BB's many first’s for 2011!

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My trip to Jeonju, South Korea wasn't that smooth sailing during it's pre-planning stages. It probably took the JIFF coordinator more or less a month before my brother and I could have the 'go' signal to apply for a visa. If I may recall, Choy and I only only got scheduled to go to the Korean Embassy at Mckinley Road, weeks prior to leaving the Philippines. We went there with all our paperwork on April 15 2011, and were asked to submit our Passport and supporting documents. I was also given a claiming stub/slip for our passports after a brief interview, should we get approved of a visa. We were then scheduled to pick-up ours two weeks later. 

Choy (my brother) and I submitted our company's SEC Business registration permit (For Brass Knuckles Inc.), Brass' Company ITR, Mayor's Permit, our Bank Certificates, and the Visa Application Form, along with our 2x2 photo/s. These requirements were actually required for Business entities. Anyway, other than being Filipino citizens, we also didn't pay for any application fees since we were only getting a single entry visa. The foreigners on the other hand, and those who will be applying for multiple entires will get charged for different amounts.

Ok, so why were we applying for Korean Visa's? Well, my Kuya's full-length film entitled THIRD WORLD HAPPY was invited by the Jeonju International Film Festival for an international premiere. His film was 1 of 7 entries that were entered for Cinema One's Original Films last November 2010. His main actors were Sam Milby and Jodi Sta. Maria. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finding Serenity at Hannah Hotel, Boracay

July 31, 2011 8
The best way to recommend something in particular is when you've already tried it. In my case, I've only tried staying in three different accommodations from three separate Boracay trips. The first place was at Ocean Breeze Inn by Station 3 (2008), which I happen to have an old entry for. The second would be at Hannah Hotel by Station 1 (March 2011), and then Boradise Beach House by Station 1 (May 2011).

First off, let me tell you something about our stay at Hannah Hotel. We were always welcomed with a warm smile or greeting upon entering the vicinity, and was always prepared a warm breakfast every morning. Our booking actually included a daily complimentary breakfast; and the remarkable thing about it was that the owners of the hotel were serving our meals themselves. It was a world-class experience, and it was very personal. Other than that, they always had something good to say about the world around us, especially the Mom. The hotel was definitely brimming with positivity.


One more thing that I've also appreciated was their consideration to lift our reservation when we couldn't get to Boracay on time. We got stuck at the Manila Domestic Airport, waiting for our turn to fly to Kalibo. They were willing to change our booking, and to be rescheduled for the following day, in case we couldn't make it that day. The weather was pretty bad in Kalibo, but when the rain simmered down, we flew right back again. Good enough, our second try at landing in Kalibo was successful. To top it all off, the rain stopped. As soon as we rode the van that was bound for the Caticlan Sea Port, I immediately texted Hannah and Paolo that we were finally on our way. 

If you must know, Hannah Hotel has become very close to my heart. Not only were they hospitable in every aspect, they treated me, their guest, just like a close friend. I will never forget the long talks I had with Hannah and Paolo's Mom. I must say, our conversation was very intellectual. 

Besides that, the hotel itself also shows off a vintage vibe to it. There are hanged paintings everywhere, and also some lamps and shells that add up to the beach ambiance. Hannah hotel also has its own balcony on the 2nd floor. Our room was arranged with bamboo-framed beds, with a sarong hanging by the ceiling, a private T&B, TV, electrical outlets. There was also a veranda upstairs that all the guests can use. They also had free WIFI , but you'll have to go downstairs by the lobby to get a full connection.


Hannah Hotel is not beachfront. FYI. But you will only need to cross the main road to get to the beach; and it will only take you less than five minutes to get there. Their landmark is by the basketball court and church. Other than that, the hotel, which happens to be by Station 1, also offers very affordable and budget-friendly rates. For a group of four, I only had to shell out about P2200 worth for a 4D/3N stay (including free breakfast). That's P550 per day! 


Anyway, should you be planning a beach getaway, and you happen to be Boracay bound, make sure to check-out Hannah Hotel. You can contact them through these numbers: 

Hannah - 09208502264 / 09222378960 / 09154373473 
Paulo - 09279110483

Explore & Be Free!
Mai

Rain or Shine in Boracay!

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My boyfriend and I went with a group of couples just this month of March (March 14-17, 2011 to be exact). The highlights of our stay there were the ATV tour, the cold margarita-like shots at Pat’s Creek Bar, the fire-dancers at Beach Bum Bar, the surprising dance sessions at Epic Bar with the European hotties, the fruit shakes at Jonah’s, chilled drinks at Loco Frio, the amazing food at SMOKE Restaurant, dinner by the beach at Calypso with my love, and of course, our lovely stay at Hannah Hotel Station 1. 

Yes, there were so many that I had to highlight, and it was a great 4-day vacation. And despite of the consistent morning rain, we were still able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with our little beach escapades. Now, let some of our photos express the excitement for us.


We arrived really late in Boracay since Zestair had to delay our flight due to the bad weather in the Visayas region. Our supposedly 12pm flight only turned up 8 hours later. We were actually on the plane already, about to land on the Kalibo Airport, up until the plane maneuvered back to MNL. Crazy, right? Nonetheless, it was for everyone's safety.

We got to the island about 10pm. Good thing the owners of Hannah Hotel were really understanding of our situation. I was on the brink of rescheduling our booking for the next day. That's if we still missed getting on the last boat trip to Caticlan. But God was really good to us, as we immediately got a van that would take us straight to the port. The trip on the road took us about a good 1 1/2 hours. Our boat trip only took 10 minutes.

Since we got on the island really late, we were left with the options of getting some late dinner and drinks at the beach. And we ended up partying at Epic Bar right after dinner, whilst meeting the three nice caucasians who danced with our group the entire night.. We had so much fun that night, that we ended up getting back at our hotel past 3 am already.

Ok, so on to the other details of our trip! Since we were 8 in a group, we opted to avail of the ATV package that consisted of the Aviary and Tanawin stop-overs. The ATV ride was a bit slow-moving for us, since there were other tourists that were also driving on our trail. Plus the Aviary stop-over wasn't really that interesting. There were just these different bird species confined in make-shift cages, and a sex-hungry monkey that felt so threatened from one of the guys we were with. But the 'Tanawin' though was a refreshing sight as we were able to see a big portion of the island.


Basically, our trip consisted of drinking and dancing sessions until the wee hours of the morning, binge-eating during lunch and merienda, and sun-basking during the afternoon. Our last day was more laid-back; and a lot of beach strolling and picture-taking were alotted during the morning. Nothing fancy really.


Rubel and I opted to have dinner, just the two of us on our last night in the island. We walked the shores of Boracay, and ended up eating at Calypso by Station 3. The food there was a bit pricey as they were offering international cuisines. The one I ordered was a German dish, I guess. It was bland so I really didn't enjoy what I ate. But what I enjoyed though was the cool breeze and the very sight of my boyfriend, munching on some seafood delight. *wink* =) Anyway, we ended the night at the Beach Bum Bar Station 1, where we watched the Fire-Dancers do their famous dance routine. 


Now, time to wrap up my first Boracay trip for this summer. Here’s to another TRAVEL EXPENSE SHEET to help you off with your future trip/s to the island of Boracay. 


Explore & Be Free!
Mai

P.S. Stay at Hannah Hotel, as they're affordable and worth your every penny! You'll surely enjoy their homey-rooms, and most especially enjoy the very company of the owners. I'd like to thank Hannah, Paolo, and their parents for being so hospitable, kind, and generous to us during our stay in their beautiful hotel. I will definitely come back!