Monday, May 23, 2016

INDONESIA’S GILI AIR VS. GILI TRAWANGAN: WHICH ISLAND IS BETTER?

INDONESIA’S GILI AIR VS. GILI TRAWANGAN: WHICH ISLAND IS BETTER?

The powdery white sand and the turquoise waters are a given for the Gili Islands of Indonesia.  For time constraints, we were able to explore only two of the three famed Gili Islands, leaving Gili Meno in the list.

Gili Air and Gili Trawangan have certain characteristics solely attributed to each.  Our main gateway was Bali and off we went to Serangan port upon arrival and for convenience of transport we opted for the Marina Srikandi ferry on our way to Gili Air and from Lombok back to Bali.  The ferry schedule from Serangan Port to the Gili Islands is daily at 8AM and 1PM. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

OMAH GILI RESORT: THE PERFECT HAVEN IN GILI AIR, INDONESIA

OMAH GILI RESORT: THE PERFECT HAVEN IN GILI AIR, INDONESIA

Gili Air Indonesia is quite new to my geographically challenged self.  I knew for a fact that Indonesia is an archipelago and that it has almost three times more than the number of islands in the Philippines.  But the Gili’s have never been introduced to my vocabulary not until my travel buddies mentioned it as a possible destination for the long weekend.

On one long weekend, we are set to discover the Gili’s of Indonesia and first off is the Gili Air, the more relaxed and peaceful island as opposed to Gili Trawangan.

And we found the perfect representation of the island in the form of our accommodations – the Omah Gili Resort.

Relaxed.  Rejuvenating. Retreat.  These words particularly summed up our stay at Omah Gili Resort.

Monday, May 16, 2016

FROZEN AT THE GARDEN OF MORNING CALM



FROZEN AT THE GARDEN OF MORNING CALM

I had no idea South Korea is dubbed as the Land of the Morning Calm until the billboards and tourism campaign materials distributed at downtown Seoul say so.

Standing at one corner of the Cheongpyeong Subway Station (Gyeonchon Line-Exit 1), specifically adjacent to the Tourism Office, we noticed an image of a vast garden illuminated.  We asked the tourism officer of where the photo was taken and in a matter of minutes we spontaneously decided to hop on the Gapyeong City Tour Bus.  An hour later, we are now at the Garden of the Morning Clam.

Friday, May 13, 2016

GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE: THE CHANGING OF ROYAL GUARDS CEREMONY


GYEONGBUKGUNG PALACE: THE CHANGING OF ROYAL GUARDS CEREMONY

I never knew changing of guards can be festive.

There is one part of our South Korea trip that is certain to happen.  That is, to witness the changing of the royal guards ceremony at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

A walking distance from where we live, the winter breeze was such a comfort that it becomes a walk in the park.  With concrete stone walls that surround and spectators gathered at the central gate, we knew we were at the right place. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA FOR FIRST TIMERS

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA FOR FIRST TIMERS

Palaces with the finest architectural details, hot and spicy cuisine matched with kimchi, cinematographic settings of Korean dramas, streams, traditional villages and drinking sprees at sidewalk tents set up at night are but some of the interesting features of South Korea.

Seoul is indeed a vibrant city.  But for time and budget constraints, it is impossible to discover almost everything that one envisions it to be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

WINTER SONATA AT NAMI ISLAND



WINTER SONATA AT NAMI ISLAND
 
I do watch Korean dramas but unfortunately, the famed Winter Sonata was not on my list.  The cinematographic location of the said series is said to have been filmed in an island known as Nami.

I know the names of the lead characters but I don’t know the storyline.  But whatever it is, the island sounds a must-go for hopeless romantics and curious travelers including myself.  And so we heeded the call.

The experience of a snow fall sounds remote and close to impossible as of the moment.  But to the last minute, I knew there must be something else in store at the island.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE SUWON HWASEONG FORTRESS AND THE PALACE

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE SUWON HWASEONG FORTRESS AND THE PALACE

In almost all my travels, I partially depended on the research of my travel buddy on the what’s and where-to when in a given destination.  The bits and pieces of information is a puzzle until we arrive and estimate the time to be spent for each landmark inclusive of transits.

While in South Korea, the plans of skiing and going to a national park in the mountains were ditched.  Fortunately, we had back-up plans and off we go to quite a distant area yet a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

RED PLANET HOTEL TIMOG QUEZON CITY: AN EXTENSION OF HOME

RED PLANET HOTEL TIMOG QUEZON CITY: AN EXTENSION OF HOME

One weekend caught me by surprise.  A few blocks from where I live, a walking distance as a matter of fact, my mom who will be in the metro for less than 24 hours, sister and I decided to stay in a boutique hotel.

We searched online and finally decided to book at Red Planet Timog.  It was an impromptu booking originally intended for an overnight stay but my sister and I extended for 3 more days and 2 nights.

It was a weekend of comfort and destressing.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

HOW TO APPLY SOUTH KOREAN VISA FOR FILIPINO EMPLOYEES


For once in our lives, we were involuntarily hooked on Korean dramas and lifestyles mainly by the influence of mainstream media.  I was reviewing for the Boards back then when the Korean series Lovers in Paris was such a hit and the list goes on.  I honestly wasn’t able to watch the whole series.  Most of my friends dreamt of going to South Korea to personally experience how it is to live in those cinematographic settings.  And they did go. 

I have never been to South Korea and there are no concrete or definite plans of going there anytime soon.  A seat sale came and so I joined the bandwagon.

But it is never that easy to go there.  A seat sale is not enough as we still need to secure a visa.  There are different types of visas and as a corporate slave, I have to secure a tourist visa with specific requirements set for Filipino employees.

Fortunate that I have been granted visas on OECD member countries such as Japan, that processing of my application was shortened to 3 days and I finally got hold of the Single-Entry Korean Visa as first timer. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TACLOBAN CITY’S SURVIVING PLACES OF HISTORICAL INTEREST

TACLOBAN CITY’S SURVIVING PLACES OF HISTORICAL INTEREST

We are all familiar with the man who uttered “I shall return.”  With his role in the Philippine history making the Province of Leyte in the forefront, specifically the municipality of Palo, surely, its neighboring city of Tacloban provides a fair share of the historical era that was.

There are structures in Tacloban City that withstood and spanned centuries for existence while others were newly built to mark recent happenings.

Monday, February 29, 2016

TAMBAYAN CAPSULE HOSTEL AND BAR

TAMBAYAN CAPSULE HOSTEL AND BAR

In a wooden grand staircase passing through a prominent stained glass; a spacious lobby of a high ceiling adorned by a large swarovski crystal chandelier, who would have thought that we have entered a capsule hostel in Metro Manila. 

I have my own perception of how it feels to stay in a capsule hostel.  And actually, though I have been wanting to try out for mere curiosity, it wouldn’t happen.  It doesn’t interest me.

I find it weird to be sleeping in such a long, narrow space that resembles a coffin and prone to anxiety attack for the claustrophobics.  Perceptions change and I have come to the conclusion that it all depends on who you are with, and that interests may adjust.  I am no solo traveler after all. 

Across the Robinsons Malate mall, the dangling electrical lines fronting this façade nevertheless did not obstruct the classy interiors of the building as peeked through the ­almost-all-glass-walls of the Tambayan Capsule Hostel and the al fresco bar at the second floor.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

TACLOBAN CITY | REUNITED WITH MY ONE CHEW LOVE

TACLOBAN CITY | REUNITED WITH MY ONE CHEW LOVE

If there is one establishment in Tacloban City that represents resiliency, bliss, zest, dedication and hard work, it is Chew Love.  The façade speaks of its character and so as with its owner, a good friend, Coke Young-Go.

With bright colored graffiti and murals that makes you feel transported to an-almost-cartoon world, this one establishment along the P. Gomez Street of Tacloban City is definitely a head turner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TACLOBAN CITY | JO’S MILAGRINA

TACLOBAN CITY | JO’S MILAGRINA

Just before the door closes to the public, the images of chicken, whether live, subject of paintings and installations greeted us at the main dining area.  There were a number of diners on a mood for a feast.  And there we were about to partake a mini-banquet after hours of being in the road enroute to Tacloban City.

Finally I am at Jo’s Milagrina, after a number of failed attempts of dining due to conflicts of schedule whenever I go home to Tacloban City.

Monday, February 22, 2016

HAS THE GRANDEUR OF THE ROMUALDEZ MUSEUM VANISHED?

HAS THE GRANDEUR OF THE ROMUALDEZ MUSEUM VANISHED?

The world knows of the historic lavish lifestyle of the Marcoses five or more decades ago during President Ferdinand Marcos’ regime.  In Tacloban City, the same has been well-preserved and housed in a white painted building of a simple exterior.

More popularly known as the Sto. Nino Shrine, the Romualdez Museum fortunately survived the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan and of course, the greedy souls of the looters and robbers.

Even with the dilapidation and tragic traces of the super typhoon on its ceilings, floors and even windows, the grandeur of what the edifice harbors remain.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

PALOMPON, LEYTE | CAFÉ UMBERTO

PALOMPON, LEYTE | CAFÉ UMBERTO

For two hours of travel time from Tacloban City via a private vehicle to Palompon, the dirt road presented no signs of fancy commercial establishments.  It’s not that we’re expecting some but the imposing rural landscape of vast rice fields, plowing farmers, water buffaloes (carabaos) in aid and aligned coconut trees on the side streets became a constant reminder that we are in the rural area.

Nearly ten in the evening, we passed by a plaza that sits in the middle of the town and where locals and visitors alike dine on monobloc chairs and tables; smoke from grillers hovers the vicinity.  It was a scene that we expected - hawker stalls of barbeque in a rural setting.  But we moved for indoors.

Surprisingly, there is an Italian restaurant at Palompon, Leyte and it comes by the name of Café Umberto.  There we settled for our first dinner on this part of the province.