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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm going Solo

Yesterday morning I woke up with an overflowing number of text messages from a CS friend telling me about another Piso fare from Cebu Pacific. Of course, I didn't think twice and got myself up in no time. I logged on to my laptop and hurriedly entered all sorts of destinations and dates that should have a piso promo! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to grab the one that my friend was hoping to get. *Sad* We were actually looking forward to going to flying to Virac!

I wasn't quite happy and so I thought of checking more destinations. As I was actually planning to also finish up the Rizal stamps, I tried and see if I can find one that could get me to either Iloilo or better, Zamboanga or Dipolog. Luckily there were still piso fares available on the dates I selected. Without much thinking, I booked the Manila to Dipolog roundtrip flight for 27th to 29th of January.

Did I say it was only a ticket for myself? Haha! Yes, I might be travelling solo this time! I'm not too sure if there will still be chances I could be travelling with a group but as of this moment, this looks like my first ever trip on my own. And a back packing trip first time on the southern part of the Philippines. I'm not sure if my family will be surprised or what but, hey, will see!

I'm not yet that much excited although I guess I'm really looking forward to it! Woohoo!

Dipolog Cathedral
Source: http://www.dipologcity.com/At_the_Gate.jpg

Map showing Dipolog
Source: http://www.zamboanga.com/z/images/0/0d/Zamboanga_del_norte_dipolog.png

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rant or Rave: Dumaluan Beach Resort (Panglao, Bohol)

One last post for today! Is my experience at Dumaluan Beach Resort.

This is a trip with my sister last September. The whole travel package is pre-arranged and we chose Dumaluan Beach because it has good reviews and the cheapest we can find during that time.

Me and my sister decided to make this trip because we had a feeling she will be flying to UK soon and thus, this will be my despedida getaway treat for her.

I have no qualms about this resort. And the beach is definitely stunning. It can't quite compare it to the liveliness of Boracay because for one, I didn't find the time to walk around because me and sis were really tired on our first day.

The resort has it's own pool which we only tried on our last day. We also liked the food served during breakfast - we actually had a buffet styled breakfast and I think their prices are reasonable.

They have very accommodating staffs as well who made sure our stay in the island was memorable. We even had a chat with one of the waiters who also used to work in Manila but had to go back to Bohol due to the harder life in the city.

Lovely beach during lunch time

DBR's Welcome at the beach

The restaurant

Myself at the restaurant entrance

Nipa huts along the beach

Nice and quiet...relaxing

We got ref and tv

Nice and clean toilet and bath tub

Outside our room is a small coffee table

My and my sister waiting for our breakfast

Clean and refreshing pool

At the resorts lobby, waiting for our transfer


More information about Dumaluan Beach Resort:
http://www.dumaluanbeach.com/

DUMALUAN BEACH RESORT, PANGLAO, BOHOL, PHILIPPINES
E-MAIL: RESORT@DUMALUANBEACH.COM
LANDLINE: 038 502-9092
FAX: 038-502-9081
MOBILE: +639178834888(GLOBE)

Rant or Rave: Tans Guesthouse Boracay

Okay, so I'm getting really pumped up to reviewing other accommodations in Boracay. I've been missing the beach so much!

On my third trip to the island, I traveled with my parents and a few family members on my mother's side. This time we only spent one night because we wanted to explore the rest of the Panay island.

I actually got the idea of this guesthouse from the post of Ms.Nina of Justwandering.org . The guesthouse is not beach front but is just a 1-2 minute walk and whola, you will find the relaxing white beach!

I chose this because of the nice review I have read from Ms.Nina's blog. Also, it was very close to D'Mall so we have the very quick access to the restaurants and shops!

Because we are almost seven people, I had to book 2 rooms. One at the first floor and one at the second floor. Both rooms have A/C, toilet and bath and free Wifi! They of course have the usual toiletries handy and towels to use.

I loved this place mainly because it has nice rooms and really very close to the beach and the mall.

My favorite beach

Cozy bed for my parents

Outside the room there is a towel hanger

Tans Guest House entrance

The way that leads to the beach


If I ever go back to Boracay next year, I might as well stay here again! :)

More information on Tans Guesthouse:
http://www.tghboracay.com/

MS NET SACAPAƑO  
Telephone: 036 288 6878
Mobile: 09285000040 / 09209202481 (FROM 9 AM - 6 PM)
EMail    tgh_bora@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rant or Rave: La Bella Casa de Boracay

Hey everyone! I'm launching something new in my blog. Starting today, I plan to write and share some information of the accommodations that I have stayed at. Will call this section Rant or Rave! So check out my first post.

For my debut , I will be writing about our stay at La Bella Casa de Boracay.

We stayed in La Bella last year around July when I went I went to Boracay with my cousin. It was actually a spur of the moment decision to head there as I got an immediate invitation from a CouchSurfing friend who is to celebrate her birthday in the beautiful island. Luckily, there was a promo from Philippine Airlines and I was able to grab two promo tickets!

I then immediately scoured for cheaper accommodation in Boracay. That would have to be my second time in Boracay. The first time I went there, we stayed at Club Ten somewhere in Station 2. This time I thought we'd like to try Station 1.

La Bella caught my attention since it's cheap and found it had good reviews. I usually check on Tripadvisor for hotel reviews and start comparing every hotel I plan to stay at. It looked promising and since we will be out of the hotel most of the day, it was a good fit to what we just need.

I have sent our booking requirements via email indicated on the site and I got a quick response. In a day or two I paid our reservation fee and they sent a confirmation email. It was really straight-forward, so points for that.

Our fee has included the round trip transfer from Kalibo so we won't have to bother too much!

La Bella is found on Station 1 but it's not beach front. It's actually located somewhere behind Willy's and had to walk 5 minutes. It's close proximity to the chapel.

We got to the hotel at night. I liked that it has this homey feel. Nice and accommodating staff. At night, we would arrive so late and we still find kuya waiting for us!

We stayed on the second floor. Room has this Asian motif with wooden floors and artful ornaments.

There was even an attic room on top of our room for bigger groups. They serve nice breakfast too and you can even ask it to be sent to the room!

They have nice toilet and bath. Although the water flow can't be that good (maybe because we are on the 2nd floor?).

The staff has also helped and assisted us with our activities, they managed to give us information on our helmet diving and ATV to go up to the mountain.

Overall it was a good experience. Perhaps the only thing I may not be happy about is that it's far from D'mall because we love shopping but it's not a big deal because we can easily walk along the beach or hire a tricycle anytime we want to!

Nice wide mirror

Homey feel

Cute little ornaments

Toilet and shower

Toilet and sink

Living room


I have actually made a review of this hotel in La Bella Casa de Boracay Review on Tripadvisor

Oh my, I'm missing our relaxing time at the beach...

More info about La Bella Casa de Boracay:
http://labellaboaracay.snappages.com/
Station 1, Balabag, Aklan5608Philippines

labellaboracay@yahoo.com
Ph Phone: 036-288-1363
Mobile: 0919-8853042-smart
Mobile: 0917-9641456-globe
Mobile: 0932-6298864- sun

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Backtracking: Hong Kong Trip 2009

I was feeling kind of tired today. Although I'm actually heading again to UP in a short while for another food trip with friends from CS. While browsing stuff online, I bumped into my multiply account once more and I relive the not so recent memories of my previous travels.

HongKong here we come


I remember that first trip overseas with my cousin. February of 2009, the two of us head to HK to finally get our taste of Disneyland!

It was actually the first trip overseas that is not thru or for work. This was a very exciting trip for me and I was the one who prepared and booked everything.

The main reason we chose Hongkong as mentioned above is to step into Disneyland. Most of us would probably have grown up with the most lovable Disney characters and of course it's a little girls dream to get that sense of magic and fun in Disneyland.

In the course of my research, I was also able to find out other interesting sights around Hongkong, so myself and my cousin decided to make the most of our 3-4 days in the island.

If you haven't been to HK, here are the nice places you will probably want to visit and explore!

1. Hongkong International Airport - The HKIA is such a massive airport for me. I first stepped into this airport during my first trip to Australia because I had a connecting flight in HK. There was a train inside the airport which takes you to other Departure gates!

Just arrived in HK, February 2009


2. Pacific Place Mall and Queensway Plaza - This is the first of the few malls that we explored. Well, only because we got in HK in time for lunch and we are definitely hungry. There's not much to see in these malls I think. I did enjoy our first meal in HK though!

HK Tram - 2 HKD per stop

My first HK meal - Hash Brown


3. The Peak and tram - In February, beware that the temperature is really cold (if you are me)! Being myself that isn't so used to the cold, I'm definitely freezing going up the Peak! I liked the tram as well and the view of the HK island is breath taking. My cousin and myself had dinner at Bubba Gump. Fortunately (or unfortunately), some of the employees in the resto are Filipinos, and we find that they are a little snobbish :(

Feeling cold at the Peak Tram Entrance
I'm enjoying the tram ride!
Cool wall art inside the Peak mall

4. Star Ferry - Since we are in the HK island we had to gather up ourselves to take a ferry across to reach the other side of HK where we could actually explore item 5, 6 and 7 below. The ferry ride was nice on a calm night! Lot's of travelers and tourist.

Blurry image of me and my cousin aboard the Ferry

5. Tsim Sha Tsui - We reached the other side and went around to see the shopping areas and stuff.

Not sure what I'm trying to do here


6. Victoria Harbour - Here we get to walk at the Avenue of Star and watch the wonderful Lights and Sound display

Very nice view of Victoria Harbour

7. Mongkok - More shopping. We ended up getting dinner at Modern Toilet which isn't not too good actually. I guess I just got a head ache attack after I smelled some unfamiliar street food. :(


Mongkok Train Station

Modern Toilet for our dinner - sorry for the blurriness
 8. Repulse Bay - It was so cold I know but we are feeling like exploring unusual places so we headed to a beach! Repulse Bay is nice and we got to see the building with the hole in it.

Nice quiet beach

9. Disneyland - What more can I say! My magical place! :) Hopefully I'd get to see other Disneyland locations around the world.

Photo op with Alice

Disneyland woohoo!

10. Ngong Pin - Lovely cable car ride! Huge Buddha on top of the mountain and the massive stairs to get up to the Buddha is such an exercise!

Cable car to Nong Pin

Tian Tan Buddha

The Buddha within the sea of clouds
When I look back at the pictures, I just can't help but miss the cool weather when we visited HK! :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cheers to My 100th!

This is my 100th blog post. It's been more than a year since I started reviving my blog and actually concentrating on writing about my travels. Yay!

Great Wall of China
Photo credit: http://www.destination360.com

I was browsing through my old posts this morning and realised that the first ever blog post here was written the night before Christmas of 2009. Check out my first ever post entitled Travel Writing. Such a nice thing to remember, I was probably so happy that I have had nice travel experience during that year and sparked my great interest to start blogging again.

After 99 posts and 20 months of sharing my experiences, I'm finally here and still enjoying the time. A lot of things have happened, a lot of places have been discovered and a lot of new friends I have met along the way.

So here in my 100th post, I simply plan to share some goals I have for the future and what could be in store for me and Tips 'n Travels the blog.

Here are some of the definite plans:

1. Bicol Trip on the long weekend of August 2011
2. South Korea Trip on November 2011
3. Cebu and Dumaguete Trip on March 2012

And here are the tentative ones because I have not made any flight bookings or arrangements yet but I'm definitely going to tick them off my list in 2012:

1. Beijing and/or China backpacking Trip or
2. London Summer Olympics Trip and visit my sister (depends if my visa gets approved, if not then going for Option #1)
3. Finish up the Rizal stamp sites - still sorting out when I'd travel to Iloilo and Zamboanga
4. Tick off some Beaches I haven't been to - Top 10 Philippines beaches
5. Improve my Lakbayan Grade - Perhaps more of Visayas and Mindanao Trips
6. Finally embark on a solo domestic trip

Wow so there you go. I hope the next 100 posts will be more exciting, fun and unpredictable ;)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

10 Things I Miss about Sydney

I'm just so sorry I still can't keep myself thinking about how I miss Sydney. One of my favourite travel bloggers, Gaye of Pinay Travel Junkie, has been updating us of her Sydney side trips that I can't help but reminisce the times and places I've encountered myself when I was there.

On my way home - 1 week before Xmas of 2005

I love Philippines but there's just something about my stay in Sydney of almost a total of nine months, that has really captured my heart. Apart from the nice places I've been to there have been very notable differences in how they do things and stuff. When I travelled to Sydney some of the things may have been culture-shocking for me but some also got me into understanding why Philippines is like this and Australia is like that.

High Street, North Sydney

The view at Blue Mountains. It is blue.

I have travelled around Sydney and nearby areas such as North Sydney, Artarmon, Chatswood, Manly, Bondi and also as far as Blue Mountains. So my list would probably be limited to what I have discovered in those places. Thus, I can't be sure it's the same experience to other states such as Victoria and Queensland.

So anyway, here it goes.

1. Transportation

This has been one of the things I would probably miss.

Bus stop at Tamarama Beach


The New South Wales, the state where Sydney is included, has their scheduled buses and trains. Every bus stop carries a list of times about when the bus arrives. Sometimes these buses also carry the brochures. Additionally, their online transportation and planning site 131500 also carries the updated bus times. It's just nice that they have these very organised. One time, I got on a bus with a Sydney colleague who was actually being assigned to verify the correct timings of the bus. So they definitely work on ensuring they got the precise timings. Trains are also the same, although I would say they also get delayed, their monitoring of the train times are also precise. Their trains have intercity and inter state routes so there's another good option of travelling around.

Circular Quay ( Quay pronounced as 'Key')

View from the Circular Quay train station


They also have a good option to get around through ferries. I definitely love Circular Quay and riding the ferries. Hopping onto the eastern side by crossing the Sydney Harbour and enjoying the sights has definitely captured my heart.

They have good deals with regards to bus and train passes. During my stay, I normally take the weekly pass. It's an unlimited pass on bus, train and ferries to a specific zone and really a great deal especially if you move around the area often or on weekends.

I also liked the fact that during times that their train has maintenance schedules. Buses always take charge of the routes affected. And take note, these alternate buses run for free. That means, you can actually travel for free! There was also a time when free bus service goes around the city. I suppose that was when they are doing great efforts to boost tourism which is really quite a nice idea.

Well, I can go on about these, but so far those were the notable things.

2. Pedestrian lane and strict traffic rules

I would definitely commend how their people give high regard to pedestrians. One time I was crossing the pedestrian lane going to work. I wasn't even about to cross when a passing car already stopped and waited for me to cross the street. This hit me a bit because I know how in the Philippines, pedestrians would have to risk their lives crossing even on a 'Pedestrian Lane'. Cars would even honk at you!

I remember when one of my bosses visited and told us of how he had quite a hard time crossing the street. He know all too well that he should cross on the right lane but probably surprised that cars do not really stop.

They also do follow rules because they have cameras on the road. While travelling one time, a colleague drove me home and he almost thought something flashed after we crossed the street. I think we tried to beat the red light and the camera just flashed to take its photo! They are cautious because a number of traffic violation and their license will be suspended.

3. Parks, parks and lots of them

Though Sydney is quite a progressive city, I had figured out it's not just about tall buildings and stuff. There's a great number of parks in and around the city. They love sports like football and rugby so they definitely enjoy these outdoors and parks.

Picnic at Manly

Chilling at Bondi

Robertson Park

Waston Bay Park

The overflow at Sydney Olympic Park

Botanical Garden/Park

Nice fountain at Hyde Park


My favourite parks include Hyde Park. It has a nice fountain and a row of trees. It's next to St. Mary's Cathedral and the malls in the city so when I get tired of my shopping day, I would get something to eat and just sit in one of the benches and enjoy people watching.

I've been wishing we would have a nice park closer to our home here in the Philippines.

4. Trash and garbage collection

I don't know why but I just find it amusing that they have a nice way of collecting the garbage. Theirs is somewhat automatic. I'm not sure if I'd be able to describe it properly but when they collect the garbage there is only one man looking after it and it's also the driver of the garbage truck.

How does this happen? Well, the garbage bins are built in a way that the rear of the garbage truck has some mechanism to pick it up and turn it over to put in all the trash and after that, put it back down. The one manning the truck just have to push the bins to where it's originally placed. Can you imagine that?

5. Encouraging active volunteer-ism

I do find it really nice that most of them and even companies try to help out their communities or some worthwhile cause. During my stay I have encountered and heard of the Lights Off Australia, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea and Mo-vember being introduced and brought up in our AU office. This goes to show that companies are not only for keeping their financials healthy but also try and share that to their community.

I know this also happens here but I don't think it is given that much attention or support. Just my opinion.

6. Tissue in every rest room and hand driers that works too

Yes, even those public toilets have tissues, working driers (though I did encounter some defective ones) and hand wash. I just can't remember if there was any toilet I've been that didn't have tissue! It's so not Philippines...

7. Some groceries avoiding the use of plastic bags

Aldi is one. They do offer plastic bags but you have to pay for it. So whenever I go there I usually bring my own shopping bag. Most of the groceries also advise the use of the green bags...there's actually all sorts of colours that I got from Coles and Woolworths that I have collected during my stay. Red, blue, violet and pink if I remember. I think it's just nice and cool that they give high regard into doing steps to help out the environment and reducing the use of plastics.

8. Regards for commuting students, seniors, children and disabled

Commuting students, seniors and disabled are definitely given discounts. Sometimes, even the bus driver is the one telling you about the discount. I had this funny encounter one time when I got on the bus with another Filipino colleague as we are supposed to go to the mall. When we got on, we went to the driver to pay our fare. The driver smiled and confirmed if we are students! Haha Myself and my colleagues exchanged glances and returned the glance to the driver to say -- No! Imagine we could have passed as students on that day. And that wasn't even a school day. We aren't even wearing uniforms, duh!

I also liked that their buses are built to conform to disabled passengers and children strollers. There's some mechanism on their buses such that the other side can be lowered down and the wheel chair can actually get in! Plus there is always a reserved seat for them or for elderly.

9. Long walks

Because I love parks, I also enjoy the long walks. One time, I was so bored in my apartment I just went for a walk around my area in North Sydney. Even though I didn't know where I was heading, I just walked on and didn't mind. I discovered there was a nice little park across the street where people go on picnic and is next to  a small harbour great for sight seeing. I found nice row of houses on a certain street. And there was an art house somewhere as well. I wasn't that worried even if I walked alone. I don't know why but I just felt safe in that area. But of course I don't do it at night...

10. Laid back lifestyle

I loved their idea of working hard and playing hard and trying to make time for family, rest and relaxation. Not that we don't do it here. It's just that in Sydney, they do work as expected but they also set aside time to enjoy their hobbies, play sports, get into some activities and indulge into some relaxation. In some cases, I find that their life is also simpler. Imagine their malls actually close off the 5pm normally. Also, most of them engage in sports and active lifestyle.

Care to join a game of chess

IMAX Theatre at Darling Harbour

Mardi Gras Parade

Rugby Game at Aussie Stadium


Wooh! So that's it. Don't worry I may go on with this for a while, but I still love Philippines :)

Just some thoughts to think about and analyse some things between ours and theirs. It's not about belittling my humble country but actually thinking about what could be done on our part, on my part and being open to these ideas and possibilities that would somehow help our country and it's people; perhaps to inspire as well. If they can do it, why can't we?

Seriously, I'd be happy to have tissue papers in all our toilets especially public toilets! :)