Monday, December 17, 2018

Christmas 2018 Wish List

It's my favorite time of the year again! There's just something about Christmas that makes me so happy and full of joy. Hearing Christmas songs at random times of the day makes me all giddy and excited. Lol.

Anyway, (almost) every year, I post a list of random things I like. One of the reasons I want to keep this tradition going is because it's interesting to see how my preferences change as I get older. I'm so surprised that most of the things on my list now are wellness-, or home-related. I never thought this would happen-- shopping for home stuff used to be my worst nightmare. Oh well, I guess I really am getting older! Lol.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Mt. Pinatubo Trekking Adventure

A couple of months ago, I had invited my family to go on a hiking trip with me, and early this year, the plan finally came through! I've climbed Mt Pulag with friends several years back but my family doesn't have any hiking experience at all. Mt. Pinatubo was our first choice-- it's close to Manila and it's highly recommended for first-timers. I started my research online and based on the reviews, the best strategy was to stay in Tarlac for the night and start the hike early in the morning. There were limited options on where to stay and among the accommodations, Allan Bognot's guesthouse has the best reviews. It doesn't have a lot of amenities but the cozy, relaxing vibe of the place pretty much made up for it.

For the trekking, we asked our host Allan to arrange it for us. If I remember correctly, we paid Php1200 per person for the trekking, including a sumptuous lunch! Seriously, I would never forget our meal of sinigang and chicken adobo.

The view of the lake crater was amazing! Too bad the lake isn't safe for swimming-- it would've been awesome to take a dip there after a long trek under the sun. After taking a few photos by the lake, we headed back, rode the 4x4, and made it back to the house at around 1pm. The trekking in general was quite easy, great for families!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Coron: Island Hopping Experience

This was my second time in Coron but Ryan's first so I arranged some island hopping but only chose the best ones. 

First stop was Siete Picados, the best place for snorkeling according to the guides. However, it was raining the past few days which resulted in the water being very murky. We didn't see anything and quickly just moved on to Kayangan Lake. Here, the water was much much clearer but I was surprised to see that it looked very different compared to the last time I was here. The wooden platform was totally submerged. Plus side was there weren't a lot of people. Since we hired a private boat, we took our time here. Eventually, everybody else left and it was just us in the entire lake. It was an amazing experience!

For our last stop, we headed to Twin Lagoons. I'm a horrible swimmer but an adventurous one so I suggested we swim all the way to the other end to see the hidden second lagoon (with a life jacket, of course!). It was quite scary because again, we were the only ones there! The boat was probably a hundred meters away and was no longer visible because it docked behind the limestone cliffs. It was loads of fun though! 

The next day, my friends went diving. I don't have any diving certification so I didn't get to dive with them. They had such good stories of what they saw underwater that I got inspired to finally get my certification!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Coron: Huma Island

My body was craving to go somewhere to relax and de-stress, and Huma Island was just the place! We were picked up from the airport, rode a small boat, and before we knew it, we had arrived at Huma Island. It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived so we didn't really get to appreciate the view. Thankfully, the rain trickled down and eventually stopped the next day.

We walked around and explored the island and later concluded that this place is amazing! There weren't a lot of people so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Highlight of our stay-- a jacuzzi outside our villa! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Singapore 2018

Just got back from my Singapore trip and I can't believe I'm already done writing this post! This is probably the first (and only) time I posted on time. Lol. 

Short but sweet-- this is how I would describe my Singapore trip. We only had three days (airport days excluded) to explore the busy streets of Singapore. Considering this was my fifth time in Singapore, I was completely okay with it and just focused on maximizing my stay there. 

On our first day, after having a light breakfast at Plain Vanilla Bakery in Tiong Bahru, we headed straight to Sentosa for Universal Studios Singapore (my third time there! lol). I got to ride Revenge of the Mummy twice, the Battlestar Galactica Human twice, the Battlestar Galactica Cylon once, and a lot of other rides as well. Seriously, I'll never get tired of visiting theme parks! No matter how old I get. Lol. 

Day two was quite busy because this was the day we went around the city. We had a quick visit at Henderson Waves (a super artsy pedestrian walkway), took a few photos, then took a cab to National Museum to have lunch at this fine dine restaurant called Flutes. We spent around an hour exploring the museum, then headed to Gardens by the Bay. I've been to Marina Bay Sands a couple of times, but this was my first time to visit Gardens by the Bay. We entered the Cloud Forest and I was amazed by what I saw-- a 35-meter man-made mountain and some waterfalls inside a climate-controlled dome. Really, it was magical! From the gardens, we walked to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, and looked around a little. We later learned that my cousin who's based in Singapore was in Ikea, so we met up with her there. It was my first time in Ikea-- and it was heaven!! Everything was so pretty and the stuff were cheap. If only I had unlimited baggage allowance, I would've bought loads of stuff! We had dinner there as well and I finally got to try the famous Ikea meatballs (which was just a meatier version of Jollibee's burger steak lol)! Across the street was this huge supermarket which closes past midnight, so we did some grocery shopping and bonded over Haagen Dazs ice cream lol (cause it's no longer available in the Philippines).

Adventure Cove Waterpark was the highlight of our third day. But before entering the waterpark, we enjoyed three rounds of Luge in Sentosa. It was definitely so much fun but I recommend doing it on a cloudy day. All of us didn't wear sunscreen and I probably got a few shades darker because of the sun lol. For our last meal in Singapore, we made sure it was somewhere memorable. And I couldn't think of anywhere else to have it except for my favorite-- Lau Pa Sat! We ordered 80 pcs. Satay at Best Satay (7&8) and they were delicious! Just thinking of the satay makes me hungry. Lol.

We planned to be back in our rooms by 8pm to have enough sleep because we had to leave for the airport at 3 am. We ended up getting back at midnight! After checking out and just before taking a cab, we found out our flight was delayed... by five hours! Anyway, we stayed at Plaza Premium Lounge to get some zzzzzs and to have a quick snack before boarding the plane. Upon arriving in Manila, I had to rush to Terminal 3 to catch my flight to Legazpi. I had less than an hour! Luckily traffic wasn't bad and I was at the boarding gate twenty minutes before boarding.

I had to stop myself here before I go on and on and on. Lol. I still have so many stories to tell but this post has already gone too long! Til next time!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

SSV Day 5: High Seas

Last full day aboard the cruise ship!! Obviously we wanted to maximize our stay in the ship by trying out as many activities as we can. However, the only thing we got to do was to join the zumba class in the morning. Lol. Turned out our schedule was pretty packed. We met up with a couple of people for lunch at Silk Road (which was so much better than the Japanese restaurant Samurai), played Cluedo with my brother at the Activity Center, then started preparing for the Gala Night.

Tired of the usual cocktail dress, I opted for something different. I wore a wool jumpsuit from Zara with a black and white scarf as accent. As early as 4pm we were already at the lobby, all set and ready for the cocktails which would begin at 5. On the dot, the captain took the stage and introduced the ship's top management. We then headed to Star Dining and were served a nice meal of salmon, squash soup, and seafood thermidor. The food were definitely grander than the usual since it was Gala Night.

We watched a show then headed back to our room. Since this was our last night in the ship, we hurriedly packed our luggage and left them outside the door of our cabin to be collected by ship personnel for easier disembarkation on the next day. 

I was quite sad that the trip was about to end but excited at the same time at the thought of coming home. It was definitely relaxing to travel on a cruise ship because doing nothing was perfectly acceptable. Lol. Majority of the time, I was just deciding where to eat and what to do. Would I travel again on a cruise ship? Definitely, eyeing the ones in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SSV Day 4: Keelung, Taiwan

Next stop was Keelung, Taiwan! After going through the documentary necessities at the port, we took a thirty minute bus ride to Taipei. We dropped by Taipei 101 to take photos, roamed around Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, and shopped and had lunch at Ximending. While looking for a place to eat, we noticed a small area in the food court where a lot of locals were eating. Without any hesitation, we went inside and tried to order from their Chinese menu (it didn't have English translations!!) by just pointing at the photos of the dishes we wanted to order. Unfortunately, only around eight dishes had photos printed in the menu so we didn't have a lot of options. Lol. The dishes we ordered turned out to be fine. In fact, they were better than fine, they were great!! I especially loved the pork dumpling soup! Haven't tasted anything like it!

We had to be back at the ship by 3pm so after Ximending, we headed back to the port. It wasn't my first time in Taipei and I've been to those places before but it was nice to be back. I had plenty of time before dinner so I visited the ship's library and watched an episode of Scorpion (with earphones, of course!). We had dinner at Star Dining (again lol) and chose the Western menu. I particularly loved the Sea Bass!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

SSV Day 3: Ishigaki, Japan

Welcome to Ishigaki, Japan! Ishigaki is a part of Okinawa, and is a super laid back city, very different from Japan's more popular cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. We didn't avail of any tour packages and just did a DIY and went to Ishigaki's biggest supermarket Maxvalu! Lol. Everything was already there-- a restaurant, a clothes store, a bookstore, a cosmetics store, a clothes shop, a souvenir store, and a Daiso (where items are even cheaper than the ones in the Philippines)! We had a really nice lunch of katsu, udon, and mackerel, and prices were quite reasonable too!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SSV Day 2: High Seas

It was a perfectly sunny day with clear, blue skies so I spent part of the day in the pool area on the upper deck. But if I had known it would be cold and gloomy the next few days, I would've stayed out in the sun much longer. We had lunch at an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant called Samurai but we weren't satisfied with the food and the service.

In the afternoon, we watched Despicable Me 3 in the ship's theatre, and afterwards, joined the mahjong lesson at the Activity Center. We had dinner at Star Dining and chose the Chinese menu. To be honest, meals at inclusive restaurants in general were not that good, but the Chinese dinner menu on this particular day was delicious!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

SSV Day 1: All Aboard

A month hadn't passed since I arrived from my trip to Dubai and I was going away on another trip! This time, it was a 6D/5N cruise aboard Superstar Virgo with excursions at Ishigaki, Japan, and Keelung, Taiwan. This was my first time to be on a cruise ship so I was really really excited! 

We arrived at Pier 15 at around 2 pm, and immediately checked in our bags. The lines were okay except for the immigration which was quite long. Upon boarding, we went straight to our cabins and freshened up. Our room was not bad at all-- we had enough space to open our luggage, and had a nice balcony where we could stay and chill.

The first day was mostly spent on looking around so not much happened. There were three inclusive restaurants (where there were no extra charges for meals), an adult pool, a kids pool, four hot tubs, two indoor training pools, a gym, an activity center (where you could borrow board games), a spa, a library, a theatre, and some Duty Free shops. After dinner, we watched a show at the Zodiac Theatre called 'Love Around the World'.

I had a late night snack at Ludo Restaurant and watched the film Geostorm at the theatre. My first day was a blast but I had a feeling that the following days would be even better!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Kalanggaman Island

Last year, I went to Ormoc for the christening and birthday celebration of my godson. The event would start in late afternoon so to make the most of our time there, we visited  Kalanggaman island in the morning. Pristine white sand beach, clear blue waters-- the view was amazing. The almost two-hour drive and one-hour boat ride was totally worth it! The island was surprisingly very peaceful probably due to the fact that not a lot of people know of its existence. In fact, I found out about it only the night before, when a friend mentioned it. Lol. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Bali Day 3: Waterbom + Uluwatu

On the third and last day of our trip to Bali, our itinerary was pretty simple-- visit Waterbom Bali (Waterpark) and Uluwatu Temple. It rained so hard that morning, it took us almost an hour to get to Waterbom! We were so near and yet the cars in front of us were hardly moving. That was when we decided to wade in knee-deep floodwater-- our adventure already started even when we haven't arrived yet in our first destination!

I loved Waterbom! The place was super chill, the slides were fun (and didn't make you dizzy unlike slides in other waterparks). I tried all the slides, including the Smashdown 2.0, where you enter a capsule 26 meters up, wait for the countdown, then have the floor drop from underneath you! I felt so scared while waiting for my turn, and even considered backing out! But I saw kids around 10 years old waiting in line without any trace of fear and that instantly became my source of motivation. Lol. If they could do it, why couldn't I? I put on my brave face until it was my turn and was already inside the capsule and could no longer back out. A great sense of accomplishment washed over me when I got off the slide. I felt invincible!  Hahaha. Too bad I didn't have pictures. Would I do it again? Definitely! 

Still feeling the adrenaline from the water slides, I couldn't believe it was time to go. We needed to hurry because we still had to catch the sunset at Uluwatu Temple. We arrived just in time, if we had arrived 10 minutes later, we would miss it. Aside from the wonderful views, another thing to love about Uluwatu was the abundance of monkeys! I love monkeys and I even had a personal encounter with one of them! On our way back to the car, I felt a weight on my slipper, when I turned to look, a huge monkey was trying to get my slipper off my feet! I refused to let go (because those slippers were new lol), so I got really scared that it would try to attack me! I asked help from Ryan and his aunt and they shooed it away. Whew, slipper saved! 

After sunset, we visited some outlet stores in Uluwatu area, mostly selling swimwear brands like Roxy, Quicksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl, and dropped by a popular souvenir shop called Krisna for some last minute shopping.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Bali Day 2: Ubud + Seminyak

The Balinese cooking class started with a tour at their local market. The cook showed us different vegetables and spices regularly being used in cooking. We were then grouped in pairs and were instructed step by step on how to prepare local Balinese dishes.

After the cooking class, we headed back to Seminyak for a Balinese massage. Prior to the trip, I searched for the best spas online and found that Bodyworks Spa had one of the highest ratings. It definitely didn't disappoint! In fact, the massage I had there was the best I've ever gotten! Before we knew it, it was almost sunset, so we headed to the beach to enjoy the view.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bali Day 1: Ubud

I went on a trip to Bali last June with Ryan and his aunt. In fact, this was the second time I traveled to a different country with Ryan's aunt! The first time was when we visited Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam (day 1, day 2, and day 3), and it was just the two of us then because Ryan had an important commitment at work. She's game for anything so trips with her are always fun!

We arrived in Bali around 9am, dropped off our bags at an Airbnb in Seminyak then travelled to Ubud. We stopped by Ubud Royal Palace to take a few photos and walked towards Ubud Art Market which was just across the street. The art market is a nice place to buy paintings and cute trinkets. You can get the items in really affordable prices if you know how to haggle. 

A coffee plantation called Bali Pulina was our next stop. They offer coffee and tea tasting for free, but they charge a small fee for Kopi Luwak (civet coffee). It's a nice place to chill and hang out, plus,  it has a wonderful view of the rice terraces. 

The day was almost over but there was one last thing remaining in our itinerary-- take a cooking class! And so we decided to come back to Ubud the next day but more on that on my next post!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spartan Race 2018 Alviera

In my previous post, I mentioned that I would be joining the Spartan Race this February 24 at Alviera, Pampanga. In fact, I joined the Sprint which covered 6km distance and included around 23 obstacles. And yup, you guessed it, I emerged VICTORIOUS!! 

To tell you the truth though, I was hell bent on backing out when I was there. Five minutes before the start time, I haven't applied sunblock, haven't worn any of the race bands, and haven't gone to the restroom to pee (btw, didn't get a chance to pee until after I finished the race lol)! It was 1pm, everybody already started running while I was still at the starting line, hastily applying sunblock all over my body! It was such a hilarious moment come to think of it.

Thanks to my friend who convinced me to push through with the race even if it was extremely dusty and scorchingly hot that day. Spartan Race + Alviera = not a good combination. Case in point: we had to keep our noses and mouths covered for the entire duration of the race because it was really dusty. 

Obstacles I conquered (!!!):
Wall jumps
Barbed wire crawl (2x)
Slippery wall
Atlas carry
Sandbag carry
Bucket carry
Plate drag
Inverted wall
Cargo net
Over under through
Rolling mud
Dunk wall
Fire jump

Obstacles I skipped OR completed but needed help:
Rope climb
Clif-multi rig
Monkey bars
Spear throw
Hercules hoist

I'm missing a few more obstacles but I can't remember which ones. Lol. I didn't exactly do a lot of training for this so I wasn't aiming to complete all the obstacles. I'm just glad that I finished the race (and got a really cool medal for it)! Woot!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Highlights of 2017

And just like that, the first month of 2018 is officially over! Before I lag too far behind with my yearly tradition, here's a list of significant and memorable moments that happened last year.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I'm joining the Spartan Race!

Up until now, I still can't seem to wrap around my head the fact that I'm joining the Spartan race this February! Thing is, I haven't been training the way I'm supposed to and now I'm scared. And nervous. I don't know how I will get through it on race day! 

I asked around, read some blogs, and watched videos to give me an idea what happened at the Spartan race last year. I can't climb a rope nor do monkey bars so that's already a total of 60 burpees I have to do. Every obstacle you can't finish, you have to do 30 burpees. There are more than 20 obstacles in the race and I'm positive that I won't be able to do at least five. So that means.... I have to do AT LEAST 150 burpees.   

Been going to the gym on a regular basis now so I hope everything will work out well in the end. Wish me luck on race day!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Harbin Day 5

Now back in Beijing for a day of shopping! We went to The Plaza and the Silk Market to do some shopping and had wonderful Chinese food for lunch where they serve the best dumplings. We stayed at Marco Polo Parkside Hotel and our rooms were spacious and super cozy. We would have wanted to stay longer in Beijing but since we availed the services of a travel agency, we couldn't change the itinerary and flight details. Before we knew it, it was time to go. The trip was super enjoyable, and the memories I made were one-of-a-kind. Plus, it was my first time to see snow!

Definitely looking forward to my next trip in March!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Harbin Day 4

Up early today to ride the snowmobile to Yangcaoshan mountain. The ride was exhilarating and scary because of the unexpected twists and turns! It was so much fun! The view up the mountain was amazing, definitely worth suffering the cold for. Lol.

We rode the snowmobile again going down the mountain and had to walk the entire stretch of China Snow Town to get to our hotel taking photos along the way. We then checked out from the hotel, had a quick lunch, and rode a bus going to Mudanjiang Airport for our flight to Beijing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Harbin Day 3

After breakfast, we checked out from Sheraton Hotel in Harbin and went on a 6.5-hour bus ride to China Snow Town stopping by a ski resort along the way for lunch. We were informed by our tour guide that we would be walking the entire stretch of China Snow Town for 20 to 30 minutes in the freezing cold with our luggage in tow to get to our hotel. Surprisingly, the walk wasn't as bad as expected. Although the cold was sometimes difficult to bear, it was quite fun actually! The houses and shops looked adorable with snow covering their roofs. It was interesting to see street vendors selling frozen fruits and ice cream no longer needing a freezer-- the goods were just placed on tables! 

We arrived at the hotel late afternoon and had little time to go around the village before dinner starts. We still did anyway. Lol. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Harbin Day 2

Now this is when the fun begins! This day was pretty exciting because our itinerary was packed with lots of places to visit. But before going anywhere, we had to have our winter gear ready. Apparently, everything we brought from Manila weren't enough for Harbin's subzero temperatures. We had to make a quick stop at a local store selling winter clothes to buy thicker ones. 

We then headed to St. Sophia Cathedral (this used to be an Orthodox church and was now turned into a museum), had lunch at an Irish restaurant, visited Sun Island, dropped by the Harbin Opera House, enjoyed a hotpot dinner at an ice room at Shangri-la Hotel Ice Palace, and went to the Grand Ice and Snow World.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Harbin Day 1

I noticed I haven't posted photos for most of my travels last year (Bali, Cebu, etc) so I want to make sure I post about my Harbin trip this time. Sorting photos take forever and editing them one by one is sooo time consuming that I'd rather lie in bed and watch Supergirl or HTGAWM. Eventually I decided to post photos here without editing them cause I'm just too lazy. Lol.

Okay, so on to my trip: we spent the first day of our trip in airports. There is no direct flight to Harbin so we had to take a connecting flight via Beijing. We had a lot of time to kill at Beijing airport so I took the liberty of walking around the huge airport. Saw some interesting things here and there (indoor garden anyone?). The day was exhausting but hey, at least we arrived safe and sound!