Thursday, May 30, 2019

Australia 2019: Bondi Beach & Sydney CBD


And we've finally come to the last day of our Australian vacation. We woke up early in the morning to go to the world famous Bondi Beach. Three trains, and one bus ride after, my sister and I found ourselves at the southern end of Bondi Beach. We enjoyed the light breeze and listened to the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks. What a wonderful way to spend our morning! We then realized that we hadn't eaten breakfast, so we hurriedly looked for a nice cafe. The Pokecado at Preach Cafe was amazing-- clearly the best dish I had in Australia! It had cured salmon, edamame, smashed avocado, rocket, cucumber, mango, and black sesame seeds with soy sauce on sourdough. The combination of the flavors, and the presentation was just marvelous!

We absolutely adored the walking tour in Melbourne, so at 2pm, we joined another walking tour in Sydney. And after that, we joined an evening tour of The Rocks. For dinner, we had ramen from Gumshara in Chinatown. There were a lot of walking so I wasn't surprised that we were all so tired! I checked the health app on my phone and it said we walked 14 kilometers that day! Whew!

During our time in Australia, our tour guides would say that Sydney and Melbourne have this long-standing rivalry. Personally, though Sydney has more iconic sites, I prefer the city of Melbourne. I think Melbourne has a lot in common with San Francisco. Both have hilly terrain, and have trams as public transportation. They also have the same young, hipster vibe. I feel very lucky that we got to visit a lot of different sights with the limited time we had. In Melbourne, I think we only skipped Great Ocean Road, and in Sydney, Manly Beach. The next time I'm in Australia though, I plan to go the Outback! Until then!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Australia 2019: Sydney CBD


My aunt offered to take us around the city on our second day. She taught us how the transportation system works, and which trains or buses to take to get around the city. We visited the Sydney Opera House, and the Harbor Bridge, and strolled along the streets of The Rocks. Thankfully, there weren't a lot of tourists walking around, probably because it had been raining on and off. After walking for some time, we stopped to eat lunch at this pub called The Glenmore, and also to rest our feet. We then took a train to Parramatta and spent the rest of the day souvenir and grocery shopping.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Australia 2019: Blue Mountains


Hello Sydney! Upon arrival at the airport, we were greeted by my aunt (my dad's sister) and her family. They've been living in Sydney for as long as I can remember and because of the distance, we don't get to see each other often. We were really happy that we got to spend time with them.

We wanted to take advantage of the sunny weather on our first day in Sydney, so instead of taking a city tour, which is usually the first thing we do when we arrive in a new city, we decided to spend the day at the Blue Mountains. We went to Scenic World first to try the rides. There were three different rides-- the Cableway, the Skyway, and the Railway. The Cableway and the Skyway just felt like riding a big cable car. The Railway was the most exciting among the three because it's the steepest railway in the world! We then headed to the Blue Mountains Heritage Center for another scenic view of the mountains. This was also where we started trekking to the Three Sisters. The trek was very easy, so we didn't have any problem at all. The next time I'm in Sydney, I'd probably skip Scenic World, and do more nature hikes at the Blue Mountains instead.

After our short trek, we drove to Leura, a small, charming town just twenty minutes away from the the Blue Mountains Heritage Center. We walked around, and decided to grab lunch at a restaurant called Leura Garage. After eating, we started our drive home.

My aunt just celebrated her birthday the day before we arrived in Sydney, so she invited us for a post-birthday dinner at her family's favorite Japanese restauarant called Hukuya Sushi Bar. Definitely a day well-spent!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Australia 2019: St Kilda & Brighton Beach



Aww I couldn't believe this was our last full day in Melbourne! To start the day, we grabbed a cup of coffee from Patricia Coffee Roasters, the best coffee in Melbourne according to some random website. Lol. Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia, and they say you've never really experienced Melbourne until you've tried their coffee. True enough, their coffee was good! 

We wanted to buy some souvenirs at the Queen Victoria Market so we walked all the way there, but it turned out that they are close on Mondays. Boo. We dropped by the State Library of Victoria next. It looks wonderful from outside, but looks even better inside! If I were studying in Melbourne, I would definitely come here everyday. We then took an Uber to St. Kilda where we had our lunch at a local cafe called Cafe Banff. They serve some amazing pizza and pasta, and the dishes are not so pricey too! 

From Cafe Banff, we walked to Luna Park and Palais Theatre. It was a long walk, but we didn't mind because we passed by a lot of nice sceneries. We took a few photos at Luna Park, and then took another Uber to Brighton Beach to see the colorful bathing boxes!

And that's it for Melbourne! Going to Sydney next!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Australia 2019: Yarra Valley



We started our day with some bread and tea at this cafe at Sherbrooke Forest called Grants on Sherbrooke. We had some spare time before the bus leaves so we went on a short walking trail. There were a lot of birds in this area, such as cuckaboroughs and lyrebirds, and you could actually hear them chirping! Next activity was the Puffing Billy train ride. The Puffing Billy is a century-old steam train and runs on its original track through the Dandenong Ranges. After getting off at Menzies Creek station, we rode the bus and headed to Yarra Valley for our lunch and some wine tasting. We visited three different wineries in total: Rochford Wines (where we had our lunch), Dominique Portet, and Yering Farms.

It was a Sunday, and we arrived in Melbourne pretty early so we were just in time for the 6pm mass at St. Paul's Cathedral. Our family's Roman Catholic, but since there wasn't any Catholic church in the area, we went to St. Paul's instead.

After the mass, we rested for a bit at our Airbnb, then walked to Supernormal for our dinner. (Seriously, everything is so near our Airbnb! I am so going to stay there again the next time I'm in Melbourne!). I first came across Supernormal while browsing The Monocle Guide to Drinking and Dining, and after reading lots of positive reviews online, I decided to book a table. We got a banquet menu for 69AUD per person (quite pricey but so worth it!). All the dishes served were fantastic, and we were so full afterwards! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Australia 2019: Philip Island


One of the top sights to see near Melbourne was the Penguin Parade at Philip Island. Getting there through public transportation was difficult so I booked a tour for the family. The tour started at Moonlit Sanctuary where we saw wombats being fed, and kangaroos, and wallabies walking around. We had a simple lunch of sausages, potatoes, bread, and some greens. I loved it! But the rest of my family didn't lol. We then went to Churchill Heritage Center where we watched a sheepdog herding sheep, and a guy shearing wool from a sheep. I even got to touch the wool afterwards! Lol.

Next was the Koala Conservation Center. There were only very few koalas in the centre, and it made me quite sad. According to the guides, koalas are dying because of the destruction of forests. They eat large amounts of leaves from the eucalyptus tree, and even in the conservation center itself, the koalas eat more leaves than the trees can regenerate. To make sure that the koalas have enough food in the centre, they have to continuously plant and grow eucalyptus trees.

We had a light snack which I really appreciated because the tour agency made no mention that there was going to be an afternoon snack. It was very simple-- tea and coffee in plastic cups, and a few pieces of crackers, but very much appreciated, nonetheless.

Next stop was the Boardwalk at the Nobbies Centre. It was terribly cold but very much worth it! We saw some rock formations called seal rocks, home to the largest Australian fur seal colony. Our stop here was quick because we still had to travel by bus to the Penguin Parade. 

After dinner, we headed outside the boardwalk to watch the penguins emerge from the sea and walk on the shore towards their burrows where they would be staying for the night. They were so incredibly cute! There were so many penguins and you could see them up close, like a meter away. This truly was the highlight of the day! Too bad it wasn't allowed to take photos of the penguins. This day could've been perfect if it wasn't raining on and off. Oh well, I guess you can't have everything! :)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Australia 2019: Melbourne CBD



So this year's family trip was in Australia! I've been planning this trip since last year because I was just so excited. It was my first time in Australia and I wanted to see so many places! Unfortunately, we couldn't leave work for a long time. With the time we have, we could only go to two cities, and I chose Melbourne and Sydney obviously.

I did a ton of research, especially on Melbourne's transportation network. It took me hours to understand how they work lol. I got them eventually. I was surprised to find that the trams travelling within the city center were free. Yay! We stayed in a gorgeous three-bedroom Airbnb apartment along Flinders St. and just across it, was the tram station. Talk about convenience!

On our first day in Melbourne, we joined a walking tour by I'm Free Walking Tours. Meetup place was outside the State Library of Victoria. We got to see the highlights of the city and learned some interesting history in just three hours! The tour ended at the South Bank, and we just walked all the way back to our Airbnb. 

My family decided to stay in the Airbnb the whole afternoon to rest, while my sister and I dropped by Federation Square to check out the exhibits at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. For dinner, we went to Degraves St., which again, was just a short walk from where we were staying. We ate some pizza and pasta at The Quarter, then our parents headed home. Us, kids ordered ice cream from Pidapipo, and brought them home so that we can share them with everybody. We thought that our sister walked back home with our parents, but when we arrived home, she was nowhere to be found! Lol. Apparently, she was waiting for us outside Pidapipo! I took a photo of the ice cream shop before we left, and when I checked the photo after we realized she was missing, she was there! My dad hurriedly went back to the ice cream shop to pick her up. What an eventful first day! Lol.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Cebu 2019


I had an amazing weekend in Cebu last March that I couldn't wait to write all about it! I attended two weddings, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. It was such a big coincidence that the two out-of-town weddings I had to attend happened to be on the same weekend!

Upon arriving at the airport, I met up with my sister, who was currently studying in Cebu that time. We had a yummy dinner consisting of roti, curry, and char kway teow at OSG, and I stayed at her place for the night. The next day, I took a Grab to Shangri-la Mactan, where I would be staying for the next three days. This was also where the dinner reception of the first wedding was held. I had an enjoyable time at the resort, the staff were super nice, and they even gave us a bottle of wine, and fruits upon check in!

A day after the wedding, I had to rush to Cebu City for the second wedding. This time, it was at the Grand Convention Center. Right below the venue, on the ground floor, was Seafood City, the restaurant I've been dying to try in Cebu. You had to get a cart, "shop" for the seafoods, and choose how you'd like them to be cooked. We had our lunch there the next day, right before going to the airport to catch our flight back to Legazpi.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

US 2019: Orange County


On my last day in the States, I took my time packing my things, and getting ready. I even got to squeeze in some episodes of The Blacklist. My uncle had to go to work so he couldn't show me around the city during the day. To pass the time, I walked to Target and grabbed some stuff for my family back home. After work, my uncle picked me up and we had dinner at the newly opened branch of Porto's at Buena Park, then drove to Anaheim for a quick stroll at Downtown Disney. While walking around, I saw this place called The Void, and they currently offer Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire (according to their website, they also have a Ghostbusters themed one). I read about it when I was in LA. Basically, It's a fully immersive VR experience-- you can see, feel, and smell things. We were given a mission, and we had to complete it by disguising as Storm Troopers. It felt so real, like I was in the Star Wars universe! Seriously, after the experience, I could not stop talking about it. It was truly the perfect way to end my US trip!

I feel like I was able to do so many things and visit so many places in just two weeks. To sum it up, my trip started in Las Vegas, then we went to Page, Arizona, then LA, then I flew to San Francisco, then flew back to LA, then drove to San Diego, and last stop was Orange County.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

US 2019: San Diego



LA used to be one of my favorite places in the world because of its laid back vibe and very open culture, but I think I'm now leaning towards San Diego. San Diego has the same feel as that of LA, but it looks better aesthetically and is far less crowded. I'm not into surfing but I heard that San Diego also has better surfing spots. 

From Mission Viejo in Orange County, we drove to San Diego for a change of scenery. We first visited the USS Midway Museum. The USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the US Navy, but is now decommissioned and was turned into a museum. Then, we went to Mostra Coffee, a coffee shop owned by some of my relatives. I ordered creme brulee latte, which was amazing! Then, we had dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill. It always feels nice to reconnect with family!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

US 2019: Laguna Beach


After flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I took a Lyft to Mission Viejo where I'll be staying the next few days. On my first night here, we ate at The Cliff in Laguna Beach. Aside from offering a great view of the ocean, they serve the best calamari! I would love to come back here during daytimeI'm sure the view would be just as great, or even better.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

US 2019: San Francisco Day 3


It's my last day in San Francisco and the only free day I have to visit tourist attractions. In my previous trip to the US almost four years ago, I visited Lombard St., Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, Sausalito, Monterey Bay, and Napa Valley. So this time, I wanted to see Alcatraz, Palace of Fine Arts, and Mission District. We had an authentic Italian lunch at Little Italy and had drinks at a rooftop bar called El Techo. The guacamole cheese dip that came with the nachos at El Techo were unbelievably good! And so is their Paloma cocktail. My cousin also brought me to The View, a bar at the top floor of the Mariott Marquis building, which offers a panoramic view of the city.

Since we were already spending so much (food in San Francisco is crazy expensive!), we decided to have a simple kebab dinner. I was obsessed with strawberry crepe I had yesterday, so I ordered another one during my last night here. Lol.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

US 2019: San Francisco Day 2


I was looking forward to this day because I signed up for an information session and a class visit at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I took the Caltrain to Palo Alto station and a Margueritte Shuttle and got off right in front of Stanford GSB. I haven't had breakfast yet because I didn't want to be late. Since the train and the shuttle ride was on time and efficient, I had an hour to enjoy my breakfast. I ordered an egg burrito with bacon and cheese at Arbuckle Dining Pavilion. 

After the info session, there was a short campus tour where current MBA students showed us around the GSB campus. Then, I attended a class about Pricing to have a glimpse on how the classes are like. When all these were done, I met up with my friend Lance who showed me around the entire university. Time flew by so quickly! When it was time to go, I took the Caltrain back to Downtown San Francisco. We ate at a sushi bar called Nara for dinner, and had crepes for dessert.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

US 2019: San Francisco Day 1


Ryan flew to Manila, I flew to San Francisco, while his brother and his sister-in-law stayed in LA. My flight got delayed so I rebooked my flight to an earlier flight, which also got delayed as well. Lol. I had a lot of time to kill at the airport so I walked around and spotted an Urth Caffe branch where I ordered a Prosciutto and Cheese Panini. The last time I checked, my new departure time was not for another two hours, but when I checked again after half an hour, passengers were already boarding the plane! I almost got left behind. 

Upon arriving in San Francisco, I took a Lyft going to my cousin's apartment because I'll be staying with them. Their apartment is adorableI'd love my place to someday look like that too. Haha. It's just a few blocks away from Union Square, and a few minutes walk to Chinatown and Little Italy. And there are tons of good restaurants near their place too! They brought me to Liholiho Yacht Club where I really enjoyed their Spam Musubi. Because of its food options, this place reminded me of Your Local in Makati. Normally, it's hard to get a reservation here because the place is always full. We were just rally lucky that day! After dinner, we passed by this park to see the beautiful San Francisco skyline. Then we walked to Little Italy for some lovely dessert!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

US 2019: Los Angeles


At Page, we hit the rode again and drove for eight hours to LA (can you believe it? eight!!). We were still on the road during dinner time, so we stopped at a roadside diner called Peggy Sue's. We spent a total of three days in LA. Sadly, the weather for these days wasn't great. It was raining every day so we had to cancel most of our plans. We did a lot of shopping instead! Haha.

Day 1
We met up with the cousin-in-law of Ryan's sister-in-law (lol that's complicated) for lunch at Fat Sal's Deli. Then, we spent hours and hours looking around and browsing products at Costco. Seriously, there were so many things I wanted to buy there. If only, they would all fit in my luggage... lol. I also got to try Costco's $1.50 hotdogyum! We then had a filling dinner at Cheesecake Factory (which I initially thought is the same as Cheesecake Etc.,the cheesecake place in Manila which closed down). Day well spent but hoping that it stops raining tomorrow.

Day 2
This time, Ryan and I spent the day with my uncle, who's based in Mission Viejo. He brought us to Urth Caffe along Melrose Ave. for brunch, and the food was excellent! The rain stopped for a moment so we had time to visit and take photos at LACMA and at the Hollywood Sign. We then drove to Camarillo Premium Outlets for some shopping. I was so exhausted from all the walking so I was excited to know what's for dinner. My uncle brought us to Quarters, a Korean barbecue grill at Koreatown. Everything was according to plan and our restaurant choices were great, so I was pretty happy about this day!

Day 3
Last day in LA! Huhu. First went to Best Buy then had a quick lunch at Panda Express a few meters away. We were in a hurry because we got tickets to watch The Late Late Show with James Corden live at CBS. Entrance is on a first come first served basis depending on how many seats are available in the studio so we had to come early! After two hours of queuing, we were told that they couldn't accommodate us that day. What a huge waste of time and effort! Oh well. We just had to make the most out of our remaining hours in LA. We ate at In-N-Out (yay!) and did some more shopping at Glendale Fashion Center.

That's it for LA! I'll be flying to San Francisco next!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

US 2019: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend



So after two days in Las Vegas, we drove to Page, Arizona to see the Antelope Canyon, but not before dropping by the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. Talk about priorities, lol. We spent more time in the outlet stores than what was originally planned, so we arrived at Page at 11pm. Also, it was freakishly cold!!!! I didn't bring thermal wear, and even decided to leave my thick coats at home. I was so unprepared for the cold weather. I was like, 'how cold can the West Coast be? Definitely not that cold'. Boy, was I wrong.

Fortunately, the cold didn't stop me from enjoying the view. Antelope Canyon is truly one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life. Just look at these photos! Best time to go is early in the morning because it's not yet too crowded. We availed the tour services of Navajo tours and paid $60 per person, but we could get them for as low as $47 if we booked online and ahead of time.  Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy with the experience. 

There was a cute couple with us on the tour. Turns out, they're popular Youtube vloggers! You could even see us in the background on their Antelope Canyon video. Lol. They're called Eamon and Bec, and they're the ones who suggested for us to visit Horseshoe Bend. We're glad we met them because Horseshoe Bend was amazing (and entrance is free)!

P.S. Not seen in the photos but there was snow covering the mountains in Page! And I even got to experience a very light snowfall (emphasis on very). Lol.

Next stop: Los Angeles!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

US 2019: Las Vegas


My trip to the States was completely unexpected. Two weeks before the trip, Ryan's brother asked me if I wanted to go to the States with them, and of course, I said yes! We took a flight going to LAX, then drove to Las Vegas. The flight was okay but the thing is, I had a hard time sleeping in the plane, I'm not sure why. Can you imagine I was awake for more than 36 hours? Woah. That's no mean feat!

While in Las Vegas, we attended a show called Opium. It was weird and different, but entertaining. I however don't think it's worth $$40++. We then had dinner at Tacos El Gordo and stayed until 2am. As a self-confessed sleepyhead, I had no idea how I managed this. Lol.

The next day, we went to CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was the last day so I really had to come if I wanted to see it. The show closed at 5pm, then we went to Wynn to look around and to grab a quick snack at their cafe. We also tried Luke's Lobsters, and had dinner at Grimaldi's Pizzeria.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thailand 2018: Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa


It was our last day in Thailand and we spent it at Anantara Resort and Spa in Hua Hin. The resort was nice and relaxing, the rooms were great, and the food was excellent! The only thing I didn't like was the beach. It didn't look inviting at all. The sand wasn't visible because it was high tide, and it wasn't very white. I didn't see a single person swim in the beach on the day we arrived. 

That night, our business club organized a talk with Douglas Yeo, a Singaporean diver who took part in the Thailand cave rescue last year. Mr. Yeo showed a documentary detailing what happened in the weeks-long rescue. Seeing people from all over the world coming together to help the group of boys stuck in the cave was extremely heartwarming and everybody couldn't help but get teary-eyed. 

After the talk, we played some board games and called it a night (at 3 am lol). 

The next day, my flight was several hours later than the rest of the group so I had time to go around Chatuchak Market. There were so many things to buy! And a different set of shops opens only at night! I definitely recommend spending at least one whole day here. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thailand 2018: Other Touristy Stuff


It's our last day in Bangkok before we go to Hua Hin so we packed the day with a lot of activities. In the morning, we headed to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is 100km away from Bangkok. We arrived almost noon when the sun was at its highest so it was incredibly hot. Since the place was frequented by tourists, good were extremely overpriced. There were snacks, fruits, drinks, ice cream, and souvenirs.

Next, we went to the Elephant and Crocodile Farm. We watched the crocodile show first and I was so scared for the performers! These two guys seemed to be provoking the crocodiles, and to impress the audience even further, they put their heads in the crocodiles' open mouths! After that, we watched an elephant show where the elephants did some tricks. I didn't particularly enjoy it because it seemed like the elephants were being hurt by the caretakers for them to perform tricks for the audience.

We drove back to Bangkok and had dinner at the Chao Phraya River Cruise. I very much enjoyed the spectacular view of Bangkok's landmarks in the two-hour ride. The photo above is the Wat Arun taken during the cruise. 

Before calling it a night, we took a cab to Asiatique for some shopping!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thailand 2018: Siam Niramit


Ryan and I are part of a Filipino-Chinese business group called Anvil Business Club. Last September, the group organized a six-day trip to Bangkok. We attended the Food & Hotel Thailand Expo at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center, and after that, we had some free time to go around the city before we all meet again for dinner to watch the Siam Niramit show.

Ryan and I chose to check out EmQuartier, where we had our lunch, and MBK center, a place known for good shopping deals. I was extremely disappointed with MBKthe stalls mostly sell counterfeit goods, a stark contrast to Platinum Mall, which offers affordable but uniquely designed goods under local brands. I didn't buy anything from MBK and felt that going there was a complete waste of time. We just decided to have a foot massage to enjoy the remaining time.

We rode the train and a shuttle to get to Siam Niramit. There was a huge buffet dinner spread with so many options so I really enjoyed the food. They set up a traditional Thai village where you can go around, trying rice crackers and taking photos, while catching a glimpse of Thai culture. By the time the show started, I was so tired from all the activities that in the middle of the show, I fell asleep! I only woke up when the show was finished. Lol.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Thailand 2018: Grand Palace & Reclining Buddha


It was my first time in Bangkok last September (woot!), so being the planning-obsessed person that I am, I did a ton of research. Based on travel reviews I read online, among all the tourist destinations in the city, The Grand Palace is the one you shouldn't missand they were right! I was completely in awe of the place! The place is huge and almost every corner is photo-worthy. Seriously, you wouldn't have a hard time looking for places to take your Instagram photos lol. 

Even if everything looked great, I couldn't ignore the fact that it was also excruciatingly hot! I don't know what I was thinking wearing this top that covered most of my arms! :P

Since the Temple of the Reclining Buddha was just ten minutes away, we made sure that we visited that as well. The buddha is 46 meters long and is made of gold. I tried to take a photo of the entire thing but since it's huge and it's surrounded by pillars, I just managed to take a photo of its face *insert laughing emoji here* lol. 

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