Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Truly Asia --- Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oct. 31 - Nov 3, 2006

sights of Kuala Lumpur
Day 1 (Oct. 31)  - Left Singapore at 8am for KL by bus. 6 hours travel time but it was the most relaxing bus ride we have ever experienced (

How can one not? Lazyboy-like chairs with massage, individual 7.2" LCD TV, free food served by a stewardess, roomy leg room (we were seated at the 1st row of the top deck--just 3  seats per row), and very smooth ride. Enjoyed the country scene for a few hours before going to snooze land. We stopped at the Immigration area upon entering Malaysia for a short stop to register, then off we went for a non-stop trip.

Arrived KL late afternoon. After check-in, proceeded to tour KL Tower for a 360-degree view of Kuala Lumpur, Petronas Tower for photo ops, window shopping and dinner at Suria KLCC.

Sunway Lagoon
Day 2 (Nov 1) - City Tour before proceeding to Sunway Lagoon to spend the rest of the day there.

Petronas Tower
* Petronas Tower - went up to the bridge and enjoyed the view; watched a short film about its history.

Short stops at  Merdeka Square (Independence Square), Railway Station, Tugu Negara and Istana Negara.

Spent the rest of the day at Sunway Lagoon where Gia had a grand time trying out the water slides. Bonding with Gia swimming  around its different lagoons and trying out its many rides and attractions.

This is where I rode a ship that swings 360degrees (sorry forgot the ride's name), I shouted for Mother Mary! Goodness! I was literally upside down when it intentionally stopped at 90 degrees---the ship's bottom was at the top. So go figure how I looked like!

@Sunway Lagoon
After Sunway, we requested to be dropped off at Suria KLCC to go to Aquaria KLCC-- which in my opinion is far better than Singapore's Underwater world. Why? I really don't know (I am sure they have almost the same species)  but it impressed me more than Singapore's.

Missed Petrosains twice to Gia's disappointment. It closes at 6pm! 

Aquaria KLCC

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Uniquely Singapore

Oct 27-30, 2006
(Part of the Singapore/Malaysia swing)

With budget airlines flying in to Clark that year, we decided to try this route. Expected to encounter a lot of hassles but fortunately met just a few.

*Booking through the web was a breeze. No long queues here. Got our Manila-Singapore ( and Kuala Lumpur-Manila ( tickets in less than an hour and very cheap at that.  
*We took the Philtranco bus from Pasay to Clark and it took us a little more  than an hour to reach DMIA. Going back, was even better. As soon as we landed, there was a bus to Manila waiting for us. That was good coordination there.
*This is where we encountered a bit of hassle. The queue to the check-in counter was long and  very slow. Apparently not all passengers were aware of the luggage allowance. Most of them were charged extra for excess weight.
* Being a newly opened airport operation back then, it was obvious there were still a lot of things to improve on. It felt like an airport undergoing maintenance.
*If you happen to take these budget flights, be prepared to not be issued a seat number. Yes, dear, when they open the doors and announce boarding, be ready to sprint ahead of everyone if you want to get the best seats. I was lucky because I was with a child, so we were asked to board first.
*Lastly, no free food onboard. If you are hungry, they have a list of food items for sale.


street of Singapore
Day 1 (Oct 27) -  Arrived Singapore late afternoon. Stayed at Summerview Hotel Singapore (  a 3-star hotel along Bencoolen Rd. A perfect location for us because it was just a few minutes walk to everywhere we wanted to go (i.e. Sim Lim -- the electronic mecca of Singapore is almost just beside it; MRT Bugis station  and bus stations are a few meters away; Bugis Area) 

After checking in, we explored Orchard Road decked in festive decor because it was around an Indian holiday when we were there. Explored Tang's and Paragon. Dinner was at Asian Food Mall at Lucky Plaza (thank you to my Lonely Planet guide) for our very first Chicken Rice (Hainanese Chicken).

Clarke Quay
Day 2  (Oct 28)- Half-day city tour in the morning. Esplanade, Merlion, Raffles Hotel, Orchard Road, a walk along Little India, Singapore Botanic Garden, financial district and Chinatown.
@ Esplanade
After the tour, we proceeded to explore Clarke Quay on our way to Sentosa Island. A busy area at night, it was oh so quiet at around noontime.

Sentosa Island has become Singapore's mega theme-park on an island. The island once a tropical forest and rugged coast, has been redeveloped into a sprawling amusement park. Went to Sentosa on our own. Took the MRT and alighted at World Trade Center Station. Took the cable car to the island where we had a bird's eye view of the Singapore Harbour and  Mount Faber. Free buses are available around the island, so you can hop on, hop off  to the various attractions.

Sentosa Island

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

PALAWAN - My Paradise!

Snake Island @ Honda Bay

April 22-27, 2006
Palawan Province

The first time I went to Palawan, exploring Puerto Princesa after my Tubbataha trip in 2005, I swore that I will go back the next year to explore it more. Palawan's unspoilt beauty just tagged at my heart. Can't get enough of it...

So, w/ my good friend Jet, we planned the trip a year ahead. With the help of another dear friend of ours, Bong, who is based in Puerto Princesa and working for Club Noah Isabelle, the itinerary went into several revisions until just a day before we were about to leave for Puerto.

Day 1 (Apr 22 '06) - Upon arrival at the airport, we were met by the van that will take us all the way to Taytay (north of Palawan). We picked up Bong and family, bought a few things at the market before finally pushing for Taytay. Good thing we had the van to ourselves so we were able to stop over wherever we want. Lunch was at a Vietnamese resto in Roxas. We even had the time to observe how those Vietnamese noodles are made.

Fort Isabel from Casa Rosa

The drive to Taytay took about 6 hours of half paved and half rough roads (this may be a shorter trip since I am sure, by now, a good part of the main road is paved already). We arrived Taytay around 3pm and passed by Bong's "kubo" and immediately checked in at Casa Rosa (the only decent place to stay in Taytay, overlooking Fort Isabel). The rest of the day, we spent at the local market buying some stuff for our day trip to El Nido the next day, exploring the small town and hanging around Casa Rosa. 

Day 2 (Apr 23) - This is where the group split. Bong & family proceeded to Club Noah, while Jet , Gia and I proceeded to El Nido town for a day exploring a handful of its more than 15 islands.

The trip to El Nido was about an hour of purely rough roads. But don't despair, the roads were being paved then so maybe by now, the roads are better.

Upon arrival, we proceeded to meet Bong's friend who will assist us in renting the banca. The Banca Association is responsible in dispatching the bancas. So you are assured that they are all safe. There were 3 trips to choose from. Each w/ about 5 islands to explore. We settled for Trip A and vowed to come back soon and stay at least for 2 nights the next time to explore the rest of the islands. 

We then proceeded to buy food for lunch. Wow! food is cheap here. Imagine, more than a kilo of fish is just P40 pesos!!! 

Trip A consists of :

* Small Lagoon -- where you have to wade through a small hole to get to the Lagoon--that in itself was an adventure!

Small Lagoon
Big Lagoon

Big Lagoon
Entrance to Big Lagoon

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Amazing Bangkok!

Nov. 26-30, 2004
Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, capital of Thailand. One of Asia's main hubs and major travel destinations. A totally different culture from most countries in SE Asia. Being a buddhist country, its temples are just majestic!

Where walking along the side streets in your hote'ls neighborhood, one might just be lucky enough to see a "fully-dressed" baby elephant being "walked" by its owner.

Day 1 was our 1/2 day City Tour. Running tour of the City: Sukhumvit, Siam Square, Pratunam, Yaowarat (Chinatown), Khao San Road (backpackers area), Silom and Rattanakosin area (temples area).

Then visited these "wats" (temples):

 * Wat Pho - home to the word's largest reclining Buddha
 * Wat Arun - the temple of Dawn; where its main attraction are the prangs decorated with
   pieces of broken Chinese porcelains and seashells
 * Wat Traimit - temple of the Golden Budhha --- made of solid gold weighing 5.5 tons

Wat Pho

Wat Arun

one of the prangs of Wat Arun

Wat Traimit

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A Diving Mecca --- Tubbataha!

Note: This is before the advent of my underwater photography hobby and before I owned a digital camera with an u/w case. Topside photos were taken from my digital camera and videocam. Underwater photos taken from Neil's camera.

Off Palawan...a diver's the Philippines...

May 2005 

Since I became a scuba diver, I have dreamt of diving in places that are known to have rich underwater life...Great Barrier Reef, Maldives, Palau...Apo Island, Apo Reef, Malapascua...and especially our very own, Tubbataha Reef in Palawan. Known to be one of the World Heritage Sites, your being a diver is never complete without Tubbataha. It is every diver's dream...every diver's mecca( well, at least to us Filipinos).

That dream of mine came true last month. I joined a 5-day live-aboard to Tubbataha. Since it is in the middle of the Sulu Sea (between Mindanao and Palawan), the only way to explore Tubbataha is via a live-aboard boat. The boat practically becomes your "home" for the next 5 days.

We were blessed with good weather and calm seas as we left the port of Puerto Princesa. When we reached North Tubbataha, we were greeted with an almost "lake like" calm, birds chirping, and one lone islet they call "Bird Island". The you turn 360 degrees, is the far as your eyes can see. What struck us most is the unbelievable clearness of the can see 100 feet below! That stirred my excitement for the days ahead not doing anything except eating...diving...eating...diving...eating...napping...diving..eating...diving...night diving...dinner..sleeping (repeat 5X). Wow! What a life!

Why we LOVE Hong Kong!

view from Victoria Peak
Hong Kong...

...a city that exudes multiple personalities. A former British Colony, it has now become a major tourist destination in Asia including the affluent Mainland Chinese...

Hong Kong became Gia's 1st destination abroad...including Shenzhen and Macau...back then when she was just 4 years old...the time when Hong Kong Disneyland was still under construction and the only place to see for kids like her was the Ocean Park. Never thought that it will become one of our favorite "go to" place abroad.

view from Ocean Park

Shenzhen 2003

Macau 2003
...2 years after, we went back when Disneyland just opened..and then, another trip with my 78-yr old father and stayed at Hollywood Hotel..and then, the most recent trip with my officemate about 2 years ago in time for the Halloween season (separate post)...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Gone East!

Inside the Museum
This is the first thing I did after I got my 1st DSLR back in Dec., pardon the quality of my photos. This is before I took lessons from the masters....

December 2008
Laguna Loop

Antipolo Church

vendors outside Antipolo Church

Inside Antipolo Church

@Antipolo Church grounds
A road trip to Laguna via Rizal area. Tracing the towns around the Laguna de Bay.

Time to hit the road again. Time to explore our beautiful country. Thanks to this long long holiday.

With my Kumare Jet and my daughter, Gia, we explored a part of Laguna we haven't discovered via Rizal. So the east we went.

Armed with a map, my new Canon 50D dslr and a spirit of adventure, off we went exploring the rustic beauty of Laguna---with Laguna de Bay as our guide.

1st stop: Antipolo

We were at the church a little past 7am. Explored the area, went up to kiss the mantle of Our Lady of Peace & Good Voyage, took photos, and quick breakfast at Mcdonalds.

Zambales Sojourn - Potipot Island

Apr 5, 2009
Potipot Island
After the Capones visit, we went back to Pundaquit to join Tita Cyndy and Kath before proceeding to Potipot Island.

Left Pundaquit around 11am already. The drive to Candelaria took about 2hrs and 1/2 at 80kph since one of the cars is being broken in and a slight delay because of the "accident".

Here I noticed how good the roads are in Zambales. No potholes at all!

We reached Dawal at half past 1pm so we decided to eat lunch first. We proceeded to Potipot Island around 3pm already. 

Zambales Sojourn - Anawangin (Day 1 & 2)

April 4-5, 2009
Anawangin Cove

After a roller coaster ride to Anawangin from Capones (where we all got wet!), we arrived Anawangin cove around lunchtime.

It is a long stretch of white sand with nothing but pine trees, 2 water pumps, 2 kubos of the caretakers and a few shower areas and "comfort" rooms.

After finding a place to pitch our tents, we proceeded in preparing our lunch. 
Then, a quick nap before photo ops time.

Anawangin Beach

Zambales Sojourn - Capones Island (Day 1 & day 2)

After Camara, we proceeded to Capones Island. But because of the rough seas, we were not able to dock at the cove near the Lighthouse.

Day 1 (April 4, 2009)

We docked at the wide beach area with creamy fine sand. From that place to the lighthouse, it will be about 1 1/2 -hour trek as per Sheldon...that means about 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours trek for our group. hahahaha.

So we spent about an hour picture taking, before we proceeded to our campsite. The beach area is so wide and the sand is finer---for me, a great place to spend a day of swimming. But, as expected from the islets in this area, there are no structures nor resorts here.