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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Road trip to the North

It was the Independence Day weekend when we decided to head up north and plan the road trip with my two friends. The target was to drive by midnight and have stop overs along the way if required. But the final destination would be Pagudpud since both of my friends haven't been there.

This is not the first time I'm travelling to the North. Given that, I know how long the drive would be!

Paoay Church
Anyway, we went ahead and all excited to get on to the road for this perfect weekend road trip.

We went on a quick stop in San Simon to have dinner at my friend's place and then on went for the long drive.

Driving at night could be a bit boring though as there's nothing to see but the pitch black surroundings. We sufficed ourselves with listening to music and chatting about whatever comes to mind.

Welcome to Ilocos Sur
In the morning, we reached La Union and feeling a bit hungry we decided to make a stop over in one of the resorts and grabbed our own packed food - hotdog, ham and white bread! We were tempted to book in the resort unfortunately they were all fully booked as it was a long weekend...fine.

We continued to Ilocos Sur and passed by the welcome arc. We were feeling tired and sleepy having been awake for more than 10 hours on the road. We tried to find a place to make a quick stop and spend a few hours to sleep. We found one at along the road and spent 3 hours to rest.

After recharging we are back again on the road and excited for our next stop. We should be in Ilocos Norte in less than 3 hours.

Our first destination in the North is the Kapurpurawan Rock formation. Going there we had a glimpse of the windmills which got us more excited.

So white! Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
There were a lot of travelers during that day. We had to walk a few minutes going to the rock formation. And after a few photo ops, went to our next destination which is the Bangui Windmills.

Bangui Widnmills
The windmills are sooo big! We didn't imagine they were that humongous...haha. We settled near one windmill with it's shade and had our picnic blanket to sit on and have our very late lunch. It was a good lunch as we were tired and hungry at the same time. The sea breeze was very nice and added enjoyment while we were eating.

We were tired then so we decided to head to Pagudpud to finally check it and rest. We didn't do much that night and we just went to sleep so we will be ready for the next day's trip.

We woke up feeling refreshed and hungry. We had our breakfast at Saud Beach Resort. The beach looks inviting but we didn't have enough time and it was too hot still.

Saud Beach
After breakfast and have freshened up, we went back on the road to stop by Paoay Church.

The church is very beautiful. My second time there actually.

After that, we went back on the road to Vigan. A quick stop at Calle Crisologo for photo op, buying souvenirs and of course, Vigan longganisa. I have to admit the Vigan longganisa wasn't the one we were used to as it was frozen. We usually have our Vigan longganisa freshly made every time my relatives bring them home!

Calle Crisologo in Vigan

Morning dip at the Pool!
After Vigan, we then had a quick stop over at Chowking in Candon before heading to La Union, where we spent the night.

The next morning we had a quick dip after breakfast in the pool. Fit to end our road trip.

By lunch time, we went on the road again to travel back to Manila and hopefully avoid the heavy traffic.

It was a fun and tiring weekend. But mostly an enjoyable experience to have with my two friends. We learned that next time we'll have the road trip down south and should only be less than 4 hours drive! Haha

Can't wait for our next road trip!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Last Minute Summer Getaway @ Aquaria, Calatagan, Batangas

It was an early morning travel for our yearly company outing. Heading to Aquaria, Calatagan, Batangas, is a 3.5 hours land travel in our comfy bus. We left around 6.30 am and arrived before 10am just in time to get ourselves prepped for a whole day of rest and relaxation.

Summer day is not yet over!

Playa Calatagan Entrance. We're finally here!
The travel was smooth, though you might require one toilet stop. haha!

It was just a day tour and since I didn't fancy going tanned again, I just settled myself relaxing by the beach and enjoying the breeze and food (of course!). It would have been nice though if I brought something to read as it was a nice day to just sit around and rest.

Beach front lined with trees
Aquaria is fairly new by the looks of it. Our group was settled at the far end of the beach. Although the beach looks nice, there were some water lilies or plants, I'm not sure, along the side of the beach which could look unpleasant, at least for me.

All smiles while enjoying the nice summer breeze

Anyway, just thought I'd share for now what I think of the place.

The pools and slides look nice but there are so many people there as well. It could be too crowded too as there are other companies having their outing that day.

There's only a few shower room and toilets along the beach that is accessible to us. So I'm glad I didn't have to swim as it could be very inconvenient when changing up and getting shower as you need to line up. The shower rooms are too warm, and yes because it's summer and too crowded, it is hotter than expected.

Some of the cabanas along the beach are not available for us to use, only for the members. That's fine, but I hope there were other cabanas available for guests too or picnic tables. I'm glad we still got one picnic table available to be used, but I would assume that was for members use only.

On the good side, I enjoyed the lunch served - rice (of course!), beef caldereta, chicken fingers, steamed shrimps, sauteed baquio beans with bits of ham and fried tilapia. I was full and wish I could have more shrimps to eat haha!

But merienda wasn't that good. The pansit palabok tastes bland so I didn't finish it. I also had a ham sandwich.

Overall, I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't too hot that day and we are settled in a nice cabana by the beach so to enjoy the fresh air. But that's me.

Too hot to stay at the picnic table!
Aquaria is found in Playa Calatagan. Passing through Sta.Rosa exit all the way through to Tagaytay.

Beach lined with some plants along the shoreline.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Guess I'm back at writing again

It has been a while since I posted anything on my blog. And then a few weeks ago I realised my karenvaldez domain is no longer working so I'm back at my original blogspot website. I will try to recover my domain soon but for now, I guess it's me back again at trying as much as I can to document my travels. I missed writing and traveling of course. And what other way to spark the travel bug but to write again about my past travel experiences. And I hope it is good way to tell the universe that I want to travel again...haha :D

The Grounds of Alexandria and The Potting Shed
I've just been back 2 weeks ago from another trip to Aussie. It was a quick 2 week trip which is mostly related to work but I'm lucky we still got the chance to find time to visit some new places I haven't been to before. I'll blog that with a separate story and will post pictures as well.

My last post was about my 30th birthday, lots of other travels happened after that which I hope to document here too. Some were family trips to Tagaytay and Baguio. Ahh, now I miss Tagaytay and the cool weather. It is summer and I'm sure we are all craving for that ice cream or halo halo to beat the summer heat.

Baguio is a different story, I didn't find it really appealing when we went there as there's too much traffic and too many tourists. 

Some travel plans coming up with my good travel buddies on November...and so much looking forward to that as I haven't travelled with them for quite a long time.

Anyway, this is just another quick post...here's a picture of one of the happy place I got a chance to visit while I was in Sydney last March.

Easter bunny setup at The Grounds


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Birthday Post: 'Cos I'm turning a year older soon

I can't believe the last post I had was almost a year ago. My blog about a weekend getaway to Pico De Loro was published way back 27th October last year, which was my birthday weekend with my close friends. I felt guilty again since I've neglected writing in my humble blog. But to be honest, I actually missed the times I'd post my travel stories for everyone to read and enjoy. And the comments and views I'd get afterwards. Can you believe even my AdSense account has jumped up a bit even if I haven't published a single article in the last 12 months? I can imagine how much I'd earn if I religiously wrote something in here. *wink*

For those who know me, for sure are aware that I was still traveling in between the past few months although not as often as I've been doing in the past years. My latest travels include another visit to Australia in the early part of the year and also in mid June to early July. And the holy week long weekend getaway with my family to Laiya, Batangas and recently, a team getaway to Puerto Prinsesa. I guess these vacations highlight that I yearn to have more longer vacations rather than the usual short but frequent trips on weekend and long holidays.

I may have mentioned sometime before that it was a great experience to have been travelling for straight 1 or up to 2 weeks. Not worrying about work and just enjoying the sights that abound while you are in a strange but friendly place. I enjoyed it and I suppose that's why my next trips would be more of that. Long and worthwhile. Relaxing and learning at the same time.

I've been seeing discount fares here and there, mostly from Cebu Pacific, AirAsia and PAL. For some reasons, I don't think they appeal to me as much anymore. Gone through most of the tourist destinations in the Philippines. And probably the few ones I'd like to go to are places I can schedule for later anyway. 

So what's been up and I've been on the sort of hiatus...well a lot going on at work plus I find the internet hasn't been too stable when I want to write. It frustrates me really. Right about now, just typing this, I get an error once in a while because the auto save doesn't work due to the slow internet! I know, excuses excuses. Oh well, now I'm back and I felt like I want to start this again...if workload permits of course!

I'm turning 30 next week. Yes, the big 3-0. I've been having thoughts about what is it now for me now that I'm out the 20's. To me some things are still blurry. Blurry in a sense that although there are things I know I want, there are those that I think I'm not sure of...yet. But I'm definitely sure I love to travel...hahaha :D I'd still continue to list places to fulfill my bucket list. Yes, I still want to go to all 7 continents!


Being 30 may just be a number. What is important I guess is to keep enjoying everyday. Exploring and learning new things. And making the best memories. Cos at the end of the day, it's what really
makes the heart happy that matters, right?

Wish me luck as I embark the next phase and hope the road is just as (or more) enjoyable as the 20's!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weekend at Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro

The plan to spend a weekend somewhere out of town was brewed around August or September. Me and my friends decided that we spend it in Tagaytay. We wanted to relax, get some fresh air and basically spend some time together since it has been a while when we all went for a trip.

The planning started and we had met once or twice to discuss the details. Until we made a new choice that is Pico de Loro. After all the talking and excitement, we all agreed to scratch Tagaytay and choose Pico de Loro. In fact, the photos and blogs we've read were very effective in attracting us to head out there and take the more than 3 hour drive to Nasugbu, Batangas.

From the blogs that we checked online, we were able to find the option to rent a condo unit in Pico. This fits our budget perfectly although there is also the option to stay at their hotel. The advantage of renting a condo unit is that you can bring food that can be cooked. The condo unit we stayed in has a fully furnished kitchen so it was very convenient for us.

It was very easy to arrange the accommodation. I only had to email Ms. Cresil (full details at the end of this post) about our intended dates, deposit to the bank and advise and email her the scanned copy of the deposit slip.

Yes, even though Pico is a private resort, non members can still get in if they know a member. Ms. Cresil provided the authorisation and needed docus so the check in was very easy and seamless when we arrived in Pico.

Our rented condo for 6 pax costs 4,950. The price depends on the season, peak or non-peak, long weekend or holidays. Better check with the contact person. Aside from the rent, you also need to pay an entrance fee in Pico which costs 500 per person (non-peak rate), 1000 for a peak rate. The entrance fee gives you access to the Pico beach and country club but not on the Beach club unless the member accompanies you.

Anyhow, too much of this talking here are some photos that will really get you to see the place with your own eyes!

Entrance to Hamilo Coast. It was drizzling on the way.

Lagoa Restaurant in Pico Country Club

Play room for kids also in Pico Country Club

That's me at the Pico Beach, next to the Beach Club

Other condo buildings opposite ours. We stayed at Myna B.

Seeing so much greenery is so relaxing. I just want to take all the fresh air in.

The country club on the far end opposite the Pico beach.

Pools! They are clean and well maintained. They have lovely colours at night too.

Pool side view. This is also in the country club.
Super fun weekend at the beach. Love it!
That's me. Lounging near the pool. What a weekend! 
Ahh! This is the well known Taal volcano viewed from Tagaytay. We made quick stop in Army Navy for some snacks.

Our contact for the Pico condo:
Cresil Tagle 
cres18@yahoo.co
Pico De Loro Condo Rental - Studio & 1 Bedroom
+6326229651
+639175242737
+639175028488 (viber only)
Website: http://hamilocoastcondoforrent.com/

How to go there:
1. Via Cavitex.1hr & 45mins drive only from Mall of Asia.
After Cavitex, you will pass by Naic, Ternate & Maragondon. Please look for the sign of Hamilo Coast along the way. Same route as going to Puerto Azul but you will pass by Puerto Azul. Look for the way to Kabiang Tunnel (Ternate-Nasugbu Tunnel)
After you pass by the tunnel it will take you around 20 mins to reach Hamilo Coast.

2. Via SLEX Sta. Rosa exit
  • Make a right on Tagaytay National Road. You will pass by the Tagaytay Rotonda (Ninoy Aquino Monument).
  • Go all the way.... On your Left side, you will pass:
    • Taal Vista
    • Splendido
  • On your Right side, you will pass:
    • Robinson's
    • SM's Save More
    • Bag of Beans
  • When you reach the Junction of Lemery (Petron Station at the Left), bear right and take the road that will lead you to Batulao. Consequently you will
  • pass the “Welcome to Nasugbu” arch. You will pass by Ever crest on your Left and Chateau Royale on your Right.
  • When you reach the Junction of Balayan (Caltex Station at the Right), bear right again to go to Nasugbu. (You will pass Central Azucarera de Don Pedro on your left side)
  • When you reach the Shell Gas Station (Left side), bear right to go to the Nasugbu Town Proper.
  • Go straight until you reach the road that will take you uphill. You will pass by the “Brgy Wawa” arch:
    • Canyon Cove
    • Kawayan Cove
    • Terrazas de Punta Fuego
    • Maya-Maya
    • Tali Beach
    • Peninsula de Punta Fuego
    • Pico de Loro/Hamilo Coast
  • Go further uphill until you reach Pico de Loro. Follow the signage of “Hamilo Coast”
Approximate expenses

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I'm 29, now what?

So I turned 29, last 2nd of October. I thought, well, I've never felt my age for a long time. I still feel I'm in my 20's trying to figure out how I could conquer the world...I mean, to travel around the world!



Nothing too special happened on the day except for the landslide of FB greets and a surprise cake from my youngest sister, who recently just got a stint at Dulcinea! Those little things are special but I guess the thing that I was looking forward to on my 29th is the start of my 30 to 30 bucket list.

Because I love listing stuff and things I want to do.

So for the next 365 days, my goal is to try to tick as many items in the list before I turn 30 next year!

I love challenging myself especially when that challenge is to travel to as many destinations that I could with the budget and time that I can afford. To juggle both work, personal, family and social responsibilities is quite a tiring task. I have to be patient but still keep my enthusiasm to keep and achieve what I want!

But yes, sometimes, I do get tired of chasing everything and everyone. Like, why can't I just stay home and wait for payday...joke!

Well, I'm just thankful that at the age of 29, I have achieved things I never thought I would achieve at my age. When I look back I felt it could probably be a mix of hard work, patience, stroke of luck and support of the best people around me!

So what's in store for me in the next 365 days...here's a preview...

Dubai - The Palm

Petra Jordan

New Year's at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Vang Vieng, Laos

London, UK

Photo Credits: All photos are not mine and belong to their rightful owners. Click on the pic for the direct resource.

Sorry, the travel bug is active again!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Two Week Aussie Getaway

I'm supposed to continue writing about the details of the Batanes trips early this year. Yes, a more accounted write up of what happened in the 5 days that I stayed up north, but I decided to skip that and write an overview of the sort of "unplanned" Aussie trip last July.

While it is true that I didn't foresee another trip to Australia this year, I still had the nerve to prepare an itinerary. Besides, making the itinerary is one of my favourite past times! I was supposed to travel with my cousin, and that was the big ticket entry why I really had planned the trip.

Due to some delays, I had to go ahead and do the trip on my own. It was a shame that my cousin wasn't able to travel with me, but well, things happen and there is still another chance for us to travel, so don't worry!

I have planned this trip to cover other areas and states outside of New South Wales. I have been to Sydney a number of times and although I admit I won't get tired of it, I think it's my chance to try other places outside Sydney.

My itinerary includes a quick stop in Brisbane, then a week in Sydney, a day in Canberra, a weekend in Central Coast, two days in Melbourne and then back to Sydney. It was so exciting. I want to do something like this again. There were only a few days I thought about work, but most of the time as I was on the road, I didn't have chance to check emails and worry about stress from work. It was a nice breather for me.

Story Bridge at night

Australian War Memorial

Parliament House

The 12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road

Friends I met during the Great Ocean Road Tour

Hyatt Hotel and Louis Vuitton in Melbourne

Flinders St. Station

Snowboarding at Mt Buller

Art and graffiti in Newcastle

Pelicans and The Entrance

La Perouse

Fish and salad lunch near La Perouse
Anyhow, I will start listing the basic expenses for this trip. The thing that took up bulk of my expenses is the airline tickets Manila to Sydney and back. I stayed with relatives and friends for the most part of the trip so it was such a big help on my pocket.

The tours and transpo also took a bit of my budget. The bus to Canberra, the flights between Brisbane and Melbourne. I'll let you know about it. It does help that I also got to avail of the cheaper tour in the Great Ocean Road and Mt.Buller tour from the Metro Deal voucher! Got this tip from a CS friend - Kcia!

The trips wasn't just about going around places, I've been so happy to meet all my relative, friends, acquaintances, new friends and even my work mates. It was such a memorable time that it wasn't easy for me to move on from the hang over of this trip! The travel bug keeps on bugging me...




First Camping Trip of 2013: Pagbilao, Quezon

You know what I miss when it's weekend like this?  It's the camping trips I've done with a group of CS friends. I've been on a camping at Anawangin and Nagsasa. Both are really unforgettable and fun.

Last camping with CS is at Pagbilao, Quezon's Puting Buhangin which was another fun weekend.

Unfortunately, I think I already lost track of the expenses for this trip. But I remember since it was organised by CS, we just had to pay for our share in the transportation and food. I think it must be around 2000 pesos.

My friend Abby has her tent, which we shared for the night.

The boat on the way to the beach

We flew lanterns in the evening...lovely sight

The beach in the morning

Camping buddies - Abby and Drei

Photo before we put down the tent
Going to Puting Buhangin we took a bus, a tricycle and then a boat. Sorry I will try to include the cost next time! haha

So if you fancy a quick trip outside the busy city, head to this beach and camp with your friends!!!