Friday, February 28, 2014

Under the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate bridge from a different angle. Taken in 2007.

King Sejong the Great

People taking pictures of the golden statue of King Sejong. Taken at Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul, South Korea. January 2014. Click here for more information about visiting Seoul.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Discover Palawan

I visited Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the first time in 2012. It was such a beautiful island, that I vowed, right after setting foot on it, that I would one day explore the other parts of Palawan. It will require a little bit of saving on my part, as I heard some of the resorts could set one back quite a bit. I will definitely go to El Nido and Coron sometime in the future. For now, let me relive the memories I have of Puerto Princesa. 

Three girls and a boat basking in the oriental sun.
The serenity of island living.
Perfect temperature for a swim.
Just you and your thoughts.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A bicycle in Frankfurt

I took this picture in Frankfurt in May 2012. Love the bicycle and the mural in the background.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guam Photos

The Women of the Island - Three Generations"

This was my husband's idea ;-)

My husband kissing the mural.


Beautiful mural

Hope you come back. I will post more pictures soon!

Airport 101: A step-by-step guide to breezing through the Manila International Airport

Picture taken from

Exploring places I've never been to is one of my passions in life. Nothing beats the sights, sounds, and smells of a destination never previously explored. The enchanting laughter of the locals, and their heartwarming smiles. These are the things I live for, and for this reason, I am always preparing for the next trip, whether it be domestic or international.

Like other travelers, I look forward to the exploration part of the trip - the riverboat rides, and the shopping expeditions, the walking tours, and the trying out of native specialties. The getting there, however, is not something I look forward to. 

I have what I call airport-induced acid reflux. I get anxious when I travel. Not because I'm afraid to fly, far from it. I just don't care for airports that much. And I realized, some time ago, that I was not alone in this. There are people whose stomachs churn at the sight of immigration officers. They sweat at the thought of being interrogated, and they see the Nothing to Declare sign as the finish line. 
I dedicate this blog post to everyone who experiences some form of "airport anxiety".
Manila Airport 101: Departure
1. Before you enter the airport, make sure you've got your passport and ticket ready. There will be a guard or two by the door to check them. (Remember, only passengers are allowed inside the airport.)
2. As soon as you enter the airport, your bags are scanned, and you walk through a metal detector and are frisked by airport security officers.
3. Proceed to the counter. You can check the monitors to find out the number of your counter. 
4. Queue up and wait for your turn. Give the ticket and your passport to the airline ground staff who will check you in. You leave your check-in luggage here. This is where you will get your boarding pass and the baggage claim stub. The ground staff will tell you your boarding time and gate number. But you can always check the boarding pass for this information.
5. Get an immigration form at the same counter and fill it out while waiting for the ground staff to finish checking you in. Make sure you fill in all the necessary information. Sign the card.
6. If you're a Filipino citizen, you might need to pay travel tax if you haven't already paid for it together with your ticket. If you still need to pay, the ground staff will tell you to do so, and then claim your boarding pass after you've paid the travel tax which costs Php 1600+.
7. Prepare Php550 to pay the terminal fee. This is for everyone.
8. Proceed to immigration. This shouldn't take that long. If you're a foreigner or a balikbayan, you might get asked when you entered the country. Your passport will be stamped.
9. Security checkpoint. Your bags will be scanned again.
9. After this you can relax, especially if you have time to kill. Go have coffee, or a sandwich. Check in on Foursquare or Facebook. Enjoy the free WiFi. 
10. Go to your gate. You have to be at the gate at least 45 minutes before  your flight just to make sure you're at the right gate. Remember, the gate number could change at any time. So always listen to those PA announcements. 
11. If you're traveling to the US, your bags will be scanned again before entering the gate. 
1. Fill out the customs and immigration forms on the plane. Your flight attendant will give these to you.
2. Upon arrival, your flight attendant will announce the number of the carousel where you can claim your baggage. 
3. Proceed to immigration. If you're a tourist, the immigration officer might ask more information regarding your trip.
4. Go to the baggage claim area.
5. Get your bag.
6. Proceed to Customs and give the customs officer the customs declaration form. If you have nothing to declare, go to the Nothing to Declare line.
7. After the Customs, a guard might ask to see the baggage claim stub before you exit the building. 
8. There will be people right outside to help you get a cab if no one's picking you up. 
I hope this post helps first-time travelers when at the Manila Airport. Remember, if you don't know where to go, you can always ask. :-)

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Eat when you can't travel

No matter how much we want to drop everything and travel, it is not really how it works. Travel costs time and money, and for us ordinary folks, both are extremely precious commodities. 

Lucky are the ones who have an endless supply of both, for they can just go anywhere, anytime. 

If you really want to be transported to a different place without actually leaving your city, my advice is go out and eat. 

We, Filipinos love to eat. If you go out on a Monday night, you'll see people going out to eat. It doesn't matter that it's not a payday weekend, or that it's not even a weekend. We just love to go out and eat with family, friends, and colleagues. 

I posted some of the food pics that I have taken with my trusty phone camera. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A bike in Copenhagen

Denmark, the city of bicycles 

I don't know what it is about bicycles, but I find them so fascinating. Especially the ones with baskets. Whenever I spot one, set against a beautiful background, I just have to take a picture.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Gorgeous sunset at Casas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan 
Gorgeous sunset at Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan

One of the old houses reconstructed  
One of the old houses reconstructed[/caption]
Children playing 
Children playing

Children and their secrets 
Children and their secrets

Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar,  a hotel located in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines, is a hotel like no other. What sets it apart is its main attraction: a collection of old, restored ancestral houses, strategically placed within the compound. It is like no other place I've ever been. And as you can see, the sunset is breathtaking!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Birthday celebration at Ypao Beach

  My brother and his son Yeshua

Ypao Beach

Lone traffic cone

KZ, Jericho, and Yeshua

I wonder if he caught anything.

Yeshua's birthday cookie cake

Yesterday, we flew from Manila to Guam to celebrate my Nephew's 9th birthday. Earlier today, we picked him up from school and went to Ypao Beach to have a simple picnic. It was a nice day, not too hot, but hot enough. The water was a bit too cold for me, though, but we weren't there to swim. My nephew spent time playing with his cousins and the other kids at the playground. He had the time of his life. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Hong Kong Skyline

Beautiful Hong Kong Skyline 
Beautiful Hong Kong Skyline

Hong is definitely the shopping mecca of Asia. But for budget travelers like me, it is also a good city to find cheap eats and bargain finds. The bustling Hong Kong city life also gives photo enthusiasts plenty of reasons to snap away.

Funny Ad in Guam

I saw this picture yesterday as my husband and I were on our way to Agana Shopping Center. Gave me a chuckle. :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Midnight Sun

I took this picture during my last trip to Norway. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful countries I've been too.  
I took this picture during my last trip to Norway. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful countries I've been to.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seoul Tower

The N Seoul Tower has many names. Officially it is called the YTN Seoul Tower. Some people call it the Namsan Tower or simply Seoul Tower. It was built in 1969 and was open to the public in 1980. It is a great place to take pictures of the city. The hop on hop off bus stops here, so make sure you don't miss this great tourist spot if you ever find yourself in Seoul.

For more information about Seoul, click here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Namsangol Hanok Village

Namsangol Hanok Village

This photo was taken at Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul. January 2014.

Thinking About Paris

I fell in love with the beautiful garden at the Rodin Museum where Rodin's famous work, The Thinker, sits undisturbed in his perturbation.  
I fell in love with the beautiful garden at the Rodin Museum where Rodin's famous work, The Thinker, sits undisturbed in his perturbation.

Beautiful View of Seoul

This picture was taken in January 2014. My friend and I went to Korea to attend our friend's wedding. We took the hop on hop off bus and stopped at the Seoul Tower where I took this photo. Seoul during the winter is a must-visit!

How To Travel Cheap

Everyone wants to travel. Everyone wants to see the world. To ride an elephant in Thailand, or be one with nature in South Africa, or scour the countless shops and outlets in America. Some travel to eat, some travel to shop, some travel to relax, while others travel just to bombard their Facebook friends’ news feeds with pictures taken in exotic and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
While the concept of travel is very appealing, we oftentimes find it at the bottom of our to-do list. Sure, we daydream about seeing the Eiffel Tower at least once in our lifetime, or sipping wine at a vineyard in Napa Valley, or participating in the annual Running of the Bulls fiesta (Los Sanfermines) in beautiful Pamplona. But before we could do any of these, there are many, many other things that warrant our attention so much more than travel. We have an assortment of bills to pay, children to feed, clothe, and send to school. We have extended family to support and a coffee addiction to satisfy. We also have to consider the depth of our savings. If I went on this trip, would I come back broke? Well not if you plan ahead, and plan carefully.
Just a few minutes ago, as I was checking my Facebook news feed, I saw a post from Skyscanner Philippines announcing the cheapest roundtrip airfare from Manila to Paris for the month of February. It’s Php 31,245 or USD 689.46. I immediately went to their website and checked the rates, and found out it’s even cheaper if you fly via Saudia Airlines in July. You just have to check the calendar to see the lowest rates.
A couple of days ago, I booked a flight for my husband and me on I already mentioned this in a previous blog, but I think it’s worth mentioning it again here. I saw (again on my Facebook news feed) a post from Cebu Pacific announcing their Chinese New Year sale – All domestic destinations for Php8 (plus taxes and surcharges), and Php88 (plus taxes and surcharges) for international destinations.
I have always wanted to go to Japan but have steered clear of one of the most expensive countries in the world, thinking “Okay, if I actually get there, then what? Starve to death?”. Everyone who hasn’t been to Japan (like me) has this idea that Japan is not within reach of ordinary people; that you would have to pay Php500 for corn on the cob, and maybe more for diet soda. But when the opportunity to actually go there presented itself, I grabbed it, thinking I could just save some more later so I would have spending money, without touching my savings.
While on the website, it didn’t take me long to find the promo fare. I chose the dates May 19 to 23, and voila! The promo fare is still available on those dates. I immediately booked two tickets with one eye closed, already wondering what my husband would say once he woke up. I had been super “makulit” about going to Japan – (makulit means a lot of things but I guess in this case it means annoyingly persistent). Thank God my husband is a very patient man.
The total fare for the two of us (and this includes all the taxes and surcharges) is Php14,480.26. That’s only USD320. But securing the tickets was only the first step. I still had to find a cheap hotel for our four-day stay. So, I went onto, a very trusted website, and looked for a room in a decent hotel, near a metro stop, a supermarket, and restaurants. Shopping is not really a priority.
I immediately found hotels that fit our needs and budget. It was a bit tricky, though, since Japanese hotels have all sorts of rooms for two adults. There’s the small double, Western and Japanese styles, and the regular double, also Western and Japanese styles. I wanted to get a twin room (meaning with two beds, as opposed to the double room which has one big bed for two), with a private bathroom. (Always check if the hotel room has a private bathroom. I know for some people shared bathrooms are okay, and I am fine with that. But if you prefer your own private bathroom, then be sure to check the room description on the booking website.)
I clicked on a Hotel named Hotel Claiton Shin-Osaka and read the reviews. It is near a metro station, a train station, a supermarket, a convenience store, and restaurants. (I will definitely write a review of the hotel once I get back.) I checked the availability and thanked my heavenly stars that a few twin rooms had not been booked. The price definitely was within our budget. The total amount for our four-night stay is Y24,000 or Php10,627.82 or USD234.55. That would be hard to beat.

PTAA Travel Tour Expo 2014

Yesterday, my mom, her friend, and I went to the PTAA Travel Tour Expo at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia Complex. There was a long queue of  people waiting to get in when we got there. Good thing someone told us that there was a special entrance for senior citizens, so we didn't have to wait in line.

The energy was high inside the halls, as people went from booth to booth, looking for the cheapest airfares and package tours.

We didn't book anything because we're not really into package tours. My mom and I prefer to do everything ourselves. Nothing beats searching the net for promo fares and cheap hotel rooms.

It was with a heavy heart, though, that I didn't walk away with a couple of Philippine Arline tickets to London. They were only just over USD500 per pax. I've always wanted to go to England, first, to visit my husband's family, and second, just to see the country. But we're going to Guam on Monday and to Osaka in May. England will just have to wait. Maybe next year.

I will leave you with some pictures from day 1 of the travel expo.

A cute luggage mascot

People who can't wait for the next long weekend or the summer break

Cosplayers posing and handing out flyers

More cosplayers

Tapsilog - what I had for lunch. Yummy!

Fontana del Tritone

I took this picture in June 2012 when my friend and I visited Rome together. Built in the 17th century by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fontana del Tritone is located in the Piazza Barberini, near the entrance to the Palazzo Barberini.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

So you wanna talk about love?

Is that romance I smell in the air, stirring strong romantical emotions in lovers, and inciting rage in the perpetually single? Ahhh February 14, I thought it was you!   Like it or not, capitalists have declared February as the love month in honor of the feast of St. Valentine. And however different Valentine's Day celebrations have evolved into from what St. Valentine had originally done for the Roman soldiers and their loved ones,  the core sentiment is the same. Love. Everyone has the right to love and be loved.

As I was thinking more about the subject matter of love and romance, the idea of beautiful people came to mind. As if love, romance, and beauty always went together. Perhaps it's because romance seems more romantic when beautiful people are involved.

I just love looking at good-looking couples. You know, the ones who were blessed by God at birth with good looks - dimples, red lips, and big round eyes. I just can't keep my eyes off them. There is just something so magnetic about them - their perfectly symmetrical faces, their silky smooth skin, their blindingly white teeth, and all the other physical traits society has deemed ideal.

As I peruse my Facebook news feed, you know that thing we always check a hundred times a day, I see pictures of friends and semi-friends with their equally aesthetically-blessed partners. Birds of the same feather... People tend to stick with other people who are in the same beauty zone. Go ahead. Check your friends on Facebook, see who they hang out with. You know I'm right. But of course there's always that odd one out, that person that simply stands out because somehow he or she doesn't belong.

A few years ago, I attended a friend's wedding. She glowed as she walked down the aisle, wearing a beautifully crafted lace gown. She was radiant wearing just the appropriate amount of makeup. Her groom looked ever so dapper in his black suit and striped gray bow tie. I, and the rest of the guests must have had one thing in mind - they truly belong together. They were the picture perfect couple, and for a second I actually believed in happily ever afters.

But after the wedding, we went home and real life suddenly caught up with us, and then I began to re-realize that life is no fairy tale. Even for beautiful people. After a few years (or a few months) the romance starts to fade. This is the rule, not the exception. Novelty is what excites us, and when that "something new" becomes "something old", the excitement disappears.

No amount of beauty can hold a man's attention for more than, say, two years. With some men, even less than that. It is now up to us to sustain that excitement, that Blue Lagoon type of feeling. And if we ever survive that post-romance period, then we know that what we have is more than romance. It's love.

Love. Curious that it means zero in tennis. But love is a beautiful thing. Two people in love don't care about the world and how the world sees them. I am beautiful to my husband's eyes, and he is perfect in mine. When we love we see past the physical. This, I truly believe. We may be drawn to people because of how they look, but can they hold our attention?

True beauty lies within. This is no BS. A smart, confident woman is far more attractive than a gorgeous woman with no substance. There's just no contest. And if by chance a smart woman falls for a superficial prick, then she wasn't that smart to begin with.

Golden Sunset

Sunset on Alona Beach

Alona Beach, Bohol is breathtaking at sunset. I took this picture when my husband and I went there in 2010. I believe it is time to plan another trip there.