Breathtaking Batanes

September 12, 2017

IMG_0757I can’t believe it took me this long to visit this wonderful place. Batanes, an archipelago province located in the northernmost part of the Philippines, is one of the most picturesque places I have been to here in my country. It’s actually closer to Taiwan than in Manila. We were quite lucky with the weather because September is a bit tricky when traveling in the Philippines as you will most likely get daily rain showers. We had 4 days of blue skies and sunshine, thus our unexpected tan lines.

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There’s a lot of sightseeing in Batanes and it is broken down into municipalities. Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Sabtang and Itbayat. We were able to visit everything but Itbayat because you will need to stay there overnight as they only have 1 boat that ferries daily.

Batanes is a bit pricey compared to other provinces in the Philippines. I guess because of its location, it is quite far from the mainland. It is still very much rural and fortunately well preserved, thanks to the Presidential Proclamation making Batanes the only province declared in its entirety as a protected landscape and seascape area.

Just a few things to expect when in Batanes:

  1. If you’re a Globe subscriber, expect to have no or little signal and no 3G or LTE. They say Smart subscribers have better signal in Batanes. Wifi is also not free, you will need to pay the hotel or restaurant for internet (P 150 for a few mbps only, quite expensive).
  2. Most hotels offer packaged tours with an air-conditioned van, lunch and a guide. But if you want to save more, you can hire a tricycle that can take you around (which is what we did) or you can rent bicycles from the town center.
  3. If you are a coffee lover (like us), there are probably only 2 cafes you can visit for a decent cup of coffee or latte. Harbour Cafe or Fundacion Pacita. They also serve yummy pasta if you get tired of eating local food.

On the third day, we visited  Sabtang which is in a different island. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit because you can swim in some areas. We rented a small boat that took us to Vuhus Island, a 20 minute boat ride from Sabtang. We brought along some beers and snacks and just chilled in that island for an hour or so. On our last day, we hung out and took a quick dip at the Blue Lagoon (back in Basco).

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Best time to visit is during summer or the dry ber months, however, they say it can get really packed. We were lucky that the weather was so nice and that there weren’t many tourists around. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

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The Philippines is soooo beautiful and I’m so happy I was able to see this great gem of an island called Batanes!

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en route to Summer Sonic

August 28, 2017

When we found out that Foo Fighters was gonna play in Japan (one of my most favorite countries in Asia!), we instantly said YES. As we have been to Tokyo already, we decided to visit the other cities in Japan as well. So from Osaka, we took a bus to Kyoto, then a bullet train to Yokohama, which is just a train ride away from Tokyo. Definitely a fun week in the land of efficient transportation, delicious food and beautiful gardens and temples 🇯🇵

A few tips for some easy traveling around Japan:

✔️ Rent a Pocket Wifi or in our case, since we have our own pocket wifi, we just purchased an internet SIM card in the airport. Yes you can find free wifi in Japan but having sure connection wherever you go makes it so much easier especially if you need to check google maps for example.

✔️ Get a PASMO card which you can use for the train, bus and even to buy stuff. Before leaving Japan, you can dump all your coins and top up your PASMO card (which you can use on your next Japan trip).

✔️ The iced latte in convenient stores are so good and cheap. Better than the lattes in most Japanese cafes, in my opinion.

Siama

August 7, 2017

Been busy lately but now that I have a bit of time on my hands, here’s a short post about our trip to Sorsogon last May, Summer of 2017.

My friends and I stayed in a nice hotel called Siama. The aesthetic is quite nice, well thought of with a modern and sophisticated touch. However, the service was shit (just to put it plain and simple). Would have been nice if they had trained their staff well, better yet hire a hotel management consultancy. Though their breakfast spread was good so we were thankful and happy for that.

Sorsogon is a few hours away from Legaspi so it’s really quiet and serene. Nothing much to do here so a 1 to 2 nights stay will suffice. We checked out the islands and that was really nice — do rent a boat and bring your own food and bev (better if you can borrow a cooler from someone). We also visited the Fish Sanctuary and did the Fire Fly River Tour.

It was a good break from the city and I enjoyed spending quality time with my friends from Grade School. We have grown and somehow outgrown each other but when we got together, I realized that true friendships never end. These girls will always be special for me 💜

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The Philippines is soooo beautiful and Sorsogon is just one of the lovely places you could see and visit in this great country.

So cheers and ’til my next island vacay! 👋🏼

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Watched Coldplay in Taiwan, and it was really awesome! ✨

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Great experience… Thank you Coldplay for the music 🎹🎤🎸🥁🎼

Bali Birfday 🎂

April 21, 2017

Always nice to visit Bali! Had a wonderful time celebrating my birthday with my sister and her friend.

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Went to the same old reliable places (Sea Circus, Potato HeadBebek JoniIbu OkaMade’s WarungWarung OchaSingle Fin) & visited new cafes and bars (La FavelaLa Plancha, BikuMotel Mexicola), danced every night and capped it off with a traditional Balinese massage.

Went around Ubud once again for the Rice Terraces and Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and also checked out the Kecak Dance Ceremony in Uluwatu Temple (a must for tourists, i’d say!).

Fun times… I will see you again Bali! x

  • Our last hurrah for 2016.

Whitewater Rafting in CDO was amaaazing! We had tons of fun and finally I got to tick off one item on my to do list – ✔️Whitewater Rafting. We did it with The Red Rafts CDO and we were quite happy we chose this company. Banjo, our guide, was very fluent in english. Him and the other guide were also quite funny, always cracking up jokes and even telling us stories about the river and their adventures & misadventures. The course we got was the Advanced course which includes 21 rapids. I highly recommend this for the adventurous ones because the Basic course only has 14 rapids I think. They even have a photo and video coverage add on, which we got so we didn’t have to bring a camera with us.

After the whitewater rafting, we had dinner in Kagay-Anon Restaurant (which was actually near our hotel – Red Planet). Really bad service but man, the food was good! You just have to be patient and nice to the waiters so they will tend to you.

We only stayed in CDO for 1 day because we wanted to spend more time in Camiguin. So after late breakfast at Circa Eatery 1850 (which was also good btw!), we started our journey towards the beautiful island of Camiguin.

From Agora Terminal, we took a van to Balingoan Port for about P 100 each. That was a 2 hour ride with 4 people squished in 1 row. Then we took a Ferry ride to Benoni Port. In Benoni Port, we hired a multi-cab for P 250 (I haggled) going to our resort (Contact Kuya Roy at +63926 826 4166). Our resort, Nypa Style Resort Camiguin, was so nice. Ilenia and Stefano, the owners of the resort, are Italian and they were very nice and helpful. The resort was very well designed, they have a large garden in the middle and the restaurant was so homey and inviting. Ilenia even cooked for us on our first night. They offer home made pasta and other authentic italian dishes. Really yum! I highly recommend this place when you visit Camiguin. They even have scooters for rent for only P 450 a day.

Unfortunately, the weather in Camiguin was slightly shitty. We were not able to go to White Island and Mantigue Island because the boats were not allowed to travel and then we missed the waterfall because we arrived late, the gate to the waterfalls closes at 5 pm. On the other hand, we were able to snorkel and see the giant clams in Cabila Beach and we also climbed Mt. Hibok-Hibok, an active stratovolcano with 1,332+ masl.

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After climbing Mt. Hibok-Hibok (which took us 7 hours in total, up and down), we had dinner at Guerrera, a fil-am owned asian restaurant. And OMG it was sooo good! Their spicy pad thai is the bomb and the chicken rendang was amazing. We had a really good meal, well except for the vietnamese coffee which was quite disappointing.

Our New Year’s Eve in Camiguin was very simple and quiet but it was refreshing to be in a different place, away from the crowded clubs of Fort or Makati. We didn’t see any fireworks and we were asleep by 12:30 am. Haha!

I would definitely want to come back and visit Camiguin again. The locals are nice, the island is so beautiful and there are so many other places to see and visit in the island. I guess ’til next time then, Camiguin! See you again soon.

 

 

KL-Yangon-Bagan

December 14, 2016

This was my third time to visit Kuala Lumpur. My sister has never been so I didn’t mind stopping by KL before heading out to Myanmar. It was a quick 2 night trip as there was nothing much to show my sister except of course the usual Petronas Towers, a little shopping at Bukit Bintang and dinner at Jalan Alor. We also decided to check out the Batu Caves (which was disappointing to say the least) and had a few drinks at Changkat (my first time to visit!)

We took an Air Asia flight from KL to Yangon. As mentioned in Trip Advisor and other travel sites, we decided to exchange our USD to Myanmar Kyat at the airport. The rates were pretty good and you can choose from 2-3 Money Exchange companies.

A Taxi from the airport going to our hotel in downtown area was 8,000 Kyat. The taxis in Yangon are old, they don’t use air-conditioning (well, sometimes they will turn it on, but most of the time, it’s just windows down), and the driving is insane. We almost witnessed an intersection collision the next day! Yangon well reminded me of the dingy part of Manila with dirty streets and chaotic traffic. Familiar yet foreign.

A trip to the Shwedagon Pagoda is a must.

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So is dinner at 19th Street and then some cocktails at The Blind Tiger.

On our last leg, we chose an overnight bus ride to Bagan. It was by far the coolest bus I have ever ridden. It  was very spacious (better than a budget airline), they had movies, blankets and pillows and free snacks. How I wish we have something like it in the Philippines. For USD 19, JJ Express was really worth it.

We arrived in Bagan at 5 am, just in time for sunrise.

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The sunrise was so beautiful. At 6 am, you will see the Hot Air Balloons rise from the east. This, personally, was my favourite moment in Bagan.

There are a number of things you can do in Bagan. You can rent an E-bike, drive around and visit the numerous temples scattered all over (just ask for a map from your hotel). You can also attend a cooking class, visit the lacquerware shops and get a massage.

The 1 week bonding trip with my sister was really fun and I enjoyed our little adventure (with a few misadventures in between). Too bad we didn’t have enough time to visit Inle Lake.

For those who want to know where we stayed, below are the cheap but cheerful hotels we chose.

KL : Ceria Hotel * Ask for a higher floor, not facing the road… it can get pretty noisy because of the Karaoke Bar beside it.

Yangon: Hotel Bond * They don’t have a lift, but the breakfast was really nice and the bed was really comfy. The bathroom was modern and they give out free bottled water.

Bagan: Bagan Nova * Cute room with balcony, nice simple breakfast, friendly staff, quiet neighbourhood.

It may appear as if I wrote this post in a rush, but for more details about Myanmar, please watch our video Backpacking Burma to see the beauty of KL, Yangon and Bagan Myanmar 🙂

ကျေးဇူးတင်ပါတယ် (Thank you!)

Backpacking Burma

December 9, 2016

1 week, 1 backpack, 1 companion

Fun times with the sissy xx

Puerto Princesa

October 20, 2016

Puerto Princesa, located in the middle part of Palawan, is actually more of a city. It’s not like when you visit El Nido where you are closer to the different islands. Puerto Princesa has huge malls, loads of mini hotels and even traffic lights – although still provincial looking.

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On our first night, we went on a Firefly Watching Tour. It was 1 hour away by van from the city but the whole river tour was probably just 20 minutes. It was interesting though I must say, I enjoyed the Firefly Watching Tour in Bicol more than this one.

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The next day, we went to Sabang Beach. Sand was really nice and white but the water was quite strong.

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Beside Sabang beach, you can do a Paddle boat tour by the mangroves or try their Zipline. After Sabang beach, we rode a boat to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which is a protected area. The river is called Puerto Princesa Underground River. The tour was also very quick, about 20 minutes. It was nice, but I think I expected a lot.

I’d say if you are a tourist and you don’t have much time, better to skip Puerto Princesa and focus on El Nido or Coron. Nevertheless, it was a fun quick weekend trip with the boyfriend. 💝

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Cheers! (This is a pretty good local craft beer btw!)

Islas de Gigantes

September 16, 2016

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A total of about 4-5 hours from Manila and you will get to this island. Very bad signal, no internet. Just some white sand, clear waters and if you’re lucky like us, some awesome weather. Very different from the usual Boracay or Cebu as the province is not yet commercialised. But it was refreshing to see the simple life in the islands of Visayas.

Islas de Gigantes is a group of islands in Carles, Ilo-Ilo. Most of the islands we visited had little coves by the Visayan Sea. To get here, we flew from Manila to Roxas city via PAL and took a tricycle from the airport to the Ceres Bus Terminal. (Side note: The tricycle drivers in Roxas take advantage of tourists. We stayed in Roxas City on our last night and all these tricycle drivers were charging us P 50 – P 100 for a ride that would normally cost P 8 – P 16. Don’t be fooled.) We went to Balasan Terminal via the Ceres Bus and took a tricycle to Bancal Port. You can also choose to ride a van if you want. From Bancal Port, we hired a boat for 2 days (through the tourism rep in that port) for P 4,500 only. And that includes the island hopping and the return transfers from Bancal Port to our hotel (Arjan Hotel). We were 6 in our group. Our boat man, Kuya Nonoy, was really really nice and surprisingly, a very good photographer haha!

Island hopping is basically the only thing you can do in this area. Everything can be done in 1 day. So what we did, we ordered food from Arjan Hotel (our budget was P 150/ head) and they packed it together with plates and utensils since we wanted to have lunch in one of the islands (Bantigui Sand Bar). In Bantigui, they were selling steamed scallops for P 1 each!!! It was so good we ordered 100 pieces! I highly recommend this. Eat it together with spicy vinegar and rice. Yum! We also ordered a case of beer (Arjan Hotel gave us some ice and a cooler) and that was the best decision ever.

* Just a tip, though we really enjoyed the service of Arjan Hotel, don’t be bullied into hiring a “tour guide” from them which they will tell you is “mandatory”.

1. It’s not mandatory to have a tour guide (again, do not be fooled) and 2. After we did the island hopping, we were very happy we didn’t get a tour guide because there was no need for one whatsoever. The owner of the hotel hated our guts. It led to a looong argument but anyway, that’s another story to tell. hahaha!

The next day, we went to Roxas City and stayed at Islands Hotel as our flight back to Manila was quite early. There is nothing to do in Roxas City but eat and well, go to the mall. So that was exactly what we did. We went to the bay and ordered loads of seafood. The seafood in Ilo-Ilo and Roxas are very cheap and they’re all fresh. So make sure you take advantage of this. In this trip, we had grilled fish, grilled squid, crabs, scallops, oysters and some seaweed. For probably less than P 300 per head.

Our Islas de Gigantes trip was a fun experience. I’d say 3 days 2 nights was enough for us to see Carles Ilo-Ilo and Roxas City. Another beautiful Philippine island off my list ✔️😊

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