Of sun,sea,sand and finding a hero.

Under the Tuscan Sun

Enjoy Tuscany with a glass of wine

Finding Felicity in El Nido

Pink painted skies in El Nido,Philippines

Quaint Girona

Off the beaten path in Girona

Good Morning,Vietnam

Cruise the emerald water of Hanoi

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vacation Guide: El Nido,Palawan

El Nido is situated at the northern part of Palawan, about 238 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa which is Palawan's capital.It is well known for it's diverse marine life, fine sand beaches, snorkelling spots, lagoons and limestone cliffs. It is usually perceived that a vacation to El Nido is a costly one but with several mid and budget accommodations sprouting in El Nido town it is actually a priceless experience with an affordable price tag.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

El Nido: Seeking Felicity

I was armed with knowledge gathered from several blogposts about this place in El Nido, it is almost claimed to be the hidden gem of the island.I was intrigued of the possibility that this particular piece of paradise actually exists, finally a decision was made - I am dropping the second island tour for a daytrip to visit Nacpan & Calitang beach.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

El Nido:Uniquely El Nido!

Flashback to few years back - it was an Amazing Race episode where I saw the contestants rapelling down a limestone cliff, riding a speedboat in the bluest of blue ocean and finally checking in to this resort resembling a beach paradise where a grinning Phil Keoghan welcomed them to El Nido,Palawan. Then it was a frenzy of 'googling', I finally discovered about El Nido and how it finally found a place in the bucket list of places to visit.

[TRAVEL TIP] If you don't have thousands of pesos (which I don't have) to spend for an overnight in the upscale resorts, the best option for a budget friendly trip to El Nido is to stay in El Nido town. The beach in El Nido town is not something spectacular because it is what lies beyond those limestone cliffs and the great blue sea that people came to see and experience - this is the famous El Nido Island hopping activity. Island hopping tours are grouped into Tour A, B and C.There are several tour companies that arranges the island hopping tour, there will be no problem if you are not a big group because they would usually join you with other groups as well. Rates for the island hopping tours is the same among the tour companies. [We took the tour from KrisKlein, it is the burger stand near the street entrance of Marina Garden - look for Ate Lanie]

We were supposed to go for two island hopping tour but due to a last minute discovery (a teaser for my next post), we have opted to just get one island hopping tour. Per recommendation of the receptionist at the resort where we stayed, we choose Tour A which is comprised of the following: Small & Big lagoon, Secret lagoon, Simisu Island and 7 Commandos beach. The tour priceis 900 Php inclusive of lunch. We also rented the snorkel and mask for 100 Php.

Our second morning in El Nido is bright and sunny, a perfect weather for beach hopping. At around 9am, we were called to join a group for the tour which were composed of a balikbayan family from the Windy City and a petite Pinay with her Dutch boyfriend. We exchanged a few shy smiles with the group as we settled into our place in the ferry boat.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

El Nido: Taking the long road to El Nido

:: 05:00 ::   
BBrriinng...BBrriinng..the phone's alarm went off and I dragged myself out of the bed having slept only for about 3 hours. I showered, dressed and took a very light breakfast and did a final check of my measly baggage and I was off  to NAIA3

::06:30 ::  
Since most of the domestic flights have early morning flights it was totally packed inside the airport. Bleary eyed passengers (in need of a shocking jolt of caffeine), whiny & irritable childrens, excited beachbums in colorful boardshorts and havaianas and Koreans in couple shirts (kelangan terno-terno talaga) lined up in the check-in counters. I quickly scanned the information board to check what counter is for Puerto Princesa,when on of the guard approached me to inform me that  if I don't have any check in baggage there is a separate counter for no check in baggage which has a shorter queue. 15 minutes later, I was clutching my boarding pass and I was on my way to get myself a proper breakfast.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ho Chi Minh: Everything I Knew About Saigon I Learned from Manila

Leaving Tan Son Nhat airport, I was transported back to Manila and would have thought I am really in Manila if not for the signages written in Vietnamese and the moving multitudes of motorbikes.For quite a short stay in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), the place certainly reminded me so much of Manila with the exception of the motorbikes

1. Stop, Look and Just Cross the Streets
 One of the most dreaded thing that I knew I have to face in this Vietnam trip is crossing the very busy streets of Ho Chi Minh where motorbikes almost numbered the same as the city's population.I have heard all the horror stories of playing stop and go with these motorbikes and but I'm quite confident with my lifetime experience of navigating the streets of Metro Manila. I thought I can definitely handle the puny motorbikes, and boy was I wrong. From the time the taxi left the confines of the airport, I got my first look at the notorious motorbikes that snakes it way among cars and with no intention of slowing down even if there are people crossing the streets  as they just maneuver around these people. Gasp! Jaw drops! (buwis buhay tumawid sa Vietnam)
The first episodes of crossing the streets are like playing the Filipino game of patintero, of stepping one at a time and making sure no motorbikes will sped past you and making you wish that you have purchased a travel insurance.

2. Traffic rules and regulations don't exist
Just like Manila, those whites stripes on the streets are just that - white stripes and not considered as pedestrian lanes in Ho Chi Minh. Even as we try and we knew that it is a futile thing to do, we feel that it will make a difference if we take the pedestrian lanes when crossing.Maybe just maybe these motorbikes will slow down. And did I just wrote futile - there is no difference, the motorbikes just keeps on going ang going much like that Energizer bunny

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Seoul: Of side dishes and side streets

There is a charming place this side of Seoul called Insadong which is the traditional street of Korea.The whole street is lined with shophouses that sells souvenirs and antiques, quaint tea houses and restaurants and posh and modern art galleries. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Seoul: Before The Enemy Line

Contrary to the title of this post is the term "Beyond the enemy line" which means that you are in the enemy's territory, there is a particular experience that you have to include when you visit Seoul which is basically (in my own words) - is 'Before the enemy line'. No need to be alarmed and think that this is a highly specialized tour because it is actually one of the "must do" when paying a visit in South Korea. This is more popularly known as the DMZ tour. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seoul: Changing of the Guards - Asian Style

When you hear the phrase “Changing of the Guards”, what comes to mind are guards in red military shirts marching in front of the Buckingham Palace. Now let’s change that picture and go nearer into a country in Northeast of Asia where you can find chinky-eyed men in traditional garb doing the “Changing of the Guards” ceremony in the land of Samsung appliances – South Korea!

Be transported into the Korea of the Joseon Dynasty as you watch a re-enactment of the ceremony of the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony in front of the ground of Seoul’s famous palace which is the Gyeongbokgung Palace. There are two ceremony that lasts for 20 minutes and additional four more ceremony that lasts for 7 minutes. Men wearing colorful traditional Korean clothing will come marching into the front of the palace grounds accompanied with the beat of the drum. The men will parade and conduct the ceremony of changing the sentry duty.  As a tourist most of the time one can get preoccupied snapping the souvenir photos here and there, my advice snap some few shots of the actual ceremony and just observe and soak in the experience since after the ceremony you will have a lot of time to get up close with the “guards” for you take your souvenir photos.Once the ceremony is finished the new sentries will stay for quite some time and they can be approached (but I think you cannot touch them – I’m not sure though because I never dared to touch them) and photographed.

If you are pressed for time or you just want to explore one palace in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung will be your best bet.

Leave Details:
Place: Gyeongbokgung Palace
How to get There: Take the Metro to Gyeongbokgung Station – take Exit 5
Special note: Gyeongbokgung station is like a metro station/mini museum as there are small exhibits displayed within the station.
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm : Wed to Mon,   9am – 7pm: Sat to Sun
Schedule of Changing of the Guards: 10 am and 3 pm (20 mins. ceremony), 11am,12nn,1pm,2pm (7 mins.ceremony)
Fees: Watching of the Changing of the Guards – none
Palace entrance – 3000 KRW

Disclaimer: Fees and schedule as of March 2010