Friday, September 6, 2013

El Nido, Palawan

Palawan holiday is not complete without basking under the summer sun and snorkeling in turquoise waters of El Nido. So much for expecting “summer sun”—it almost never happened due to nasty typhoon last August. Nevertheless, we still had tons of fun during our 3 nights stay. Lucky for us, we got a good break from rain on the third day.
El Nido is a small fishing village north of Palawan, Philippines. To get to El Nido, you will need to take an hour plane ride from Manila or take a six hour van/bus ride from Puerto Princesa City. Since we were already in Puerto Princesa, our only option is to take a bus or a van. Six hour bus ride is a bit much especially if you are riding a bus through muddy rough roads. We decided to hire a van instead. It costs 8,000 pesos (USD 181) one way but after haggling with the driver, he agreed to 6,000 pesos (USD 140) but wait there’s a catch—we will have to hire him again on our way back to Puerto Princesa city for the same price and he asked for 50% advanced payment for the return trip.

We stayed at El Nido Beach Hotel for USD 55/night with free breakfast. It has a great view of the ocean and the massive limestone cliffs. I can’t imagine a much grander view than this.
View from my hotel room


On our third day, we got a good break from heavy rains and thunderstorm. We met Hawaiian boat tours owner Mr. Stafford Montgomery early morning and he helped us set our tour for the day. His boats are one of the best in El Nido. They are fairly new and safe. For only 4,000 pesos (USD 91) for 1-3 persons, we get to go island hopping with free lunch.  
Mr. Montgomery owner of Hawaiian Boat Tours

Friendly staff of Hawaiian Boat Tours


Our First stop is Big lagoon. It is where a scene in the movie 'Bourne Legacy" was filmed.


First thing I want to do when I saw this beauty is to jump off the boat and swim but the tour guide told me to stay on the boat and wait till we reach a shallow part. The water is amazingly vivid and inviting and oh so full of marine life!

Boat stuck on a reef in Big Lagoon
Next stop is Secret Lagoon:


It reminds me of the movie "The Beach". It is surrounded by massive limestone cliffs. 

We then proceeded to Shimizu Island to have lunch. So while we are having fun snorkeling, the whole staff were cooking lunch. 

Shimizu Island
After a sumptuous meal of steamed crabs, tropical fruits, steamed rice, chicken adobo, grilled unicorn fish, and Chopsuey, we boarded the boat again and headed to Small Lagoon. You will have to get off your boat and swim through the hole or you can bring a kayak with you.

I imagine mermaids living here

On the way to Small Lagoon
Hole in Small lagoon
Beware of territorial fishes on the way in as they can get real nasty. I was bitten twice and it hurt so much I let out a loud embarrassing scream thinking it was a baby shark lol.
You will be rewarded by this awesome view inside the lagoon. Have fun swimming in this crystal clear water of Small Lagoon!

Inside Small Lagoon
Our last stop is Seven Commando Beach. The final destination after a long day of island hopping. 
Seven Commando Beach
After 10 mins of swimming, it started raining again. The boat captain decided that we head out of there asap to avoid beating huge waves on the way back to the hotel. The other boats full of tourists packed their things and headed back to mainland as well. 
It was such a fun day and I wish I can do it all over again soon!
We want to thank Hawaiian Boat Tours for a day of fun! If you guys decide to go to El Nido, you can check them out. Their contact number is: (63)926 716-2792



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sunset in Kalibo

Summer is here! With beaches jam-packed during this summer season, you will probably feel the same as when you are in the city. Being a loner, I hate crowded beaches! Boracay has great beaches and all that but the crowd doesn't appeal to me. Ditch the bandwagon and jet-set on a place where only few people really explore--Kalibo. I know, I know...Kalibo is also frequented by tourists--but only to get to Boracay or attend the famous Ati-Atihan festival. Very few tourists really explore the place and it has lots to offer aside from the festival.
I stayed in Kalibo Hotel since its location is near the town center. The room is quite decent and very affordable for Php 1,400 ($35). They also have free wifi in the room. They don't have a restaurant inside the hotel but there's a Mcdonald's nearby and several local restaurants a few blocks away.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I proceeded to explore the area and looked for a restaurant. The locals recommended Ramboy's and I loved their pork liempo! The meat is tender and very tasty and the skin is crispy. I have never had anything like it here in Manila.
Lechon Liempo

After dinner, I headed down to Lambingan beach to check it out. Ok it's not what I expected and honestly I was so disappointed. The beach is dirty, the sand is gray, and the area is a bit scary. I would not recommend it to anyone.
Lambingan Beach

But the next morning, I rented a van to take me to Jawili Beach and I was not disappointed. It is very pretty and serene. The beach is deserted and very clean!
Jawili Beach
A short hike from the beach is Jawili falls. You can rent a nipa hut there for Php 150 ($3.75) so you have a place to put your stuff as you explore the area.
Jawili Falls
I really had a blast at Jawili Falls. There were no other tourist when I was there, so I basically had the falls to myself. You can hike further to explore the 6 other basins which is really cool. 

After swimming at the falls, we headed back to the hotel. Since it's already late in the afternoon, I decided to just head back out and look for a new place to have dinner. I ran into this restaurant called Latte Coffee Cafe. The ambiance is nice but the food isn't so great. They serve Asian and Western Cuisines. Their Penne Pasta is dull and the meat is not good. 
Latte Coffee Cafe's Penne Pasta

I also ordered Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and the meat is tough. But hey I love the potato chips.
Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich
Their milk shake is okay, nothing special about it. All in all, Latte Coffe Cafe is a semi-decent restaurant and the price is very affordable.

Milk Shake
What I like most in Kalibo is the people--they are always polite and always ready to help tourists. Not just the people--even their dogs! :)
This dog served as my tour guide in Jawili Falls!
Kids smiling while catching crabs at a mangrove park
Kalibo has many other attractions but sadly I didn't have time for it all. My last stop is La Herminia. Kalibo is known for Pineapple Fabrics. Here you can buy souvenirs like bags made from pineapple or Abaca.





Thursday, December 6, 2012


Macau is a culture bonanza open to all. Thanks to the Portuguese, Macau represents an exotic blend of Oriental and Western influences. Having been a Portuguese territory for almost 500 years, it developed a rather unique culture. 
You will never run out of hotel choices--from cheap to expensive accommodations, Macau has it all and most of them are renowned for exceptional services and luxurious comfort. We stayed at Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Their superior room is about $170/night during low season.
Hotel Lisboa
Their superior room has a rich and regal interior and offers free in-house movies, free local calls, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary use of mini bar. But be warned: you can only consume the items in the mini bar inside the room. If you decide to take the food outside while you stroll, they will charge you for it.

Superior room
The bathroom features a massage shower and Jacuzzi bathtub. I love it!

The hotel is only a few minutes away from Senado Square and other attractions. In fact, you can walk all the way from your hotel to several Macau attractions. Ladies, wear light and comfortable walking shoes! It is a bit hard to get a cab at night from Senado Square, so if your hotel is nearby, prepare to just walk! I ended up with blisters on my feet one night coz I wore high heels and there were no cabs available (been waiting for about 30 mins or more) so we proceeded to walk back to the hotel. 

Senado Square at night
For foodies out there, you will never run out of restaurant choices in Macau. But prepare to spend more than you usually do if you want real good food. The high-end restaurants in hotels are less likely to be crowded. McDonald's and other western fast food restaurants in Macau are crowded all the time. We always have breakfast at Starbucks's in Senado Square since they have a second level which isn't too crowded. One time we tried this restaurant called Macau Recipes but never again!! I repeat..NEVER AGAIN will we go to Macau Recipes. I find the restaurant unsanitary and the food is not so appealing. And you need to pay for your own paper towel! Yeah you heard it right--you will have to pay for paper towels! Never did I encounter a restaurant that doesn't offer free paper towels until I went to Macau Recipes. But anyway it isn't the main issue here--the staff were grumpy, the kitchen is dirty (wish I can tell you exact details of what I've seen in their kitchen!), and the food is not good (That's what I get for being a cheapskate!). Their meals are priced around USD $10 and above which is considered real cheap there. We ended up leaving after having one bite. The utensils smell fishy too as if they were never washed properly.

Macau Recipes menu
The sweet and sour pork I ordered is 90% bones with bell pepper, onion and some lousy sauce served with rice.

Since other restaurants are full, we crossed the road adjacent to Senado Square and found Pizza Hut! Pizza Hut saved our night! Though it is not the usual Pizza Hut that I'm used to, it's at least decent and somewhat familiar and clean! I ordered their Lasagne which is a bit different but still yummy. It is smothered in a tangy minced meat sauce and together with melted cheese and creamy mashed potato. Prepare about USD $20 for a full meal in Pizza Hut Macau.


Noite e Dia Café in Hotel Lisboa is awesome! They offer a wide selection of Japanese, Cantonese dim sum, Chinese barbecue, and Western dishes. They are open 24/7 and is located at the lobby level of Hotel Lisboa. A meal per person will cost about USD $30-40 or more. But I'm telling you, it is so worth it!
Noite e Dia Café
For those seeking adventure, head over to Macau Tower and try their bungy jumping at 233m (764ft). It is the second highest commercial skyjump in the world. Are you an adrenaline junkie? This can be the perfect Macau adventure for you!
Macau Tower
Here's a video I took (the quality isn't great since I just used my phone). Anyway it will give you an idea how it was like bungee jumping there.

People on a budget will also enjoy Macau, take a stroll at night and soak in the amazing view of the casinos and hotels. Walk around St. Paul Ruins and learn more about Macau's history.
Grand Lisboa at night
You can also ride a bus to Taipa and visit Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and ride a gondola for USD $16.

If you have more time, drop by A-ma temple to get a glimpse of Buddhist tradition in Macau.


Macau is truly an interesting place. You can even make the most out of your trip here in just one day. It is only about 250 hectares so don't you dare blink and miss something! :D

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Bohol is a tropical island paradise in the Southern part of Philippines.  From Manila, you can reach Bohol in just an hour by plane. It wasn’t a well-planned vacation on my part, but since I never got to swim with the whale sharks in Bicol (thanks to the typhoon!), I was itching to go diving somewhere and I thought of Bohol.

Dive Thru Resort, Panglao Island, Bohol
After a few hours of searching for resorts in Agoda.com, we stumbled into this charming resort called Dive Thru. It is located in Panglao Island, Bohol. For $80/night with free breakfast, I thought it was a steal so we booked it for four nights. It is a refuge for beach bums like me—a private paradise with rustic appeal and a front yard with azure waters teeming with marine life. 

You will never run out of things to do in Bohol; from snorkelling to island hopping, to scuba diving, to visiting chocolate hills, seeing the endangered Tarsiers etc.—you will wish you have stayed longer.  First thing I opted to do is island hopping! 

Boatman (he looks like a 14-yr old kid...and I have a feeling he is!)
For 3,000 pesos (US $73), you can hire a boat for yourself all day to take you to nearby islets for snorkeling/diving.  Actually 3,000 pesos is a bit too much since I have asked the Hotel to arrange a boat for me. I have found out that tourists can haggle and usually you can pay as low as 1,800 pesos (US $43) for a boat. Prepare 500 pesos (US $12) for entrance fee to Balicasag island's Marine Sanctuary where a guide will accompany you when you go free diving/snorkeling. 

Balicasag Island Marine Sanctuary, Bohol,  Philippines
Balicasag Island is really awesome! It's as if the Gods are still in charge here--otherworldly fantasy where it's just you and nature and the wind is your air-conditioning. It is one of the most pristine dive sites in the world and is waiting to be explored. 
Is this Nemo? :)

The underwater camera we purchased didn't work so I was forced to buy a plastic case for my Nokia N8 and I used it to take underwater pics. Too bad I couldn't take it with me deeper. 


yellow coral
Balicasag Marine Sanctuary has one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world! I took a quick video using my phone so you will have an idea what I am talking about (but too bad coz the video didn't do it any justice).

video

Next stop is Virgin Island...it is about 15 mins away from Balicasag Island. 

Virgin Island, Bohol Philippines

Its pristine white sands, clear blue waters, and a relaxing island vibe sounds more like a cliche for beach bums who have had their fair share of awesome beaches, but this tiny island (more like a sandbar), took my breath away. 

Tourists in Virgin Island
Even the scorching heat of the sun didn't prevent me from staying here longer than I am supposed to. The price I paid for staying longer is a massive sunburn all over me, but I think it is worth it. :)

I don't think these people minded getting burnt too! :)
Oh Panglao, I shall return!!! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012



We are all too familiar with one man in Barcelona that is celebrated worldwide for his incredible work of art—Antoni Gaudi. But Barcelona has more than Gaudi’s work to offer. Discover its medieval wonderland and explore Picasso Museum where you will see the five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera. Stroll through Passeig de Gràcia and see two of Gaudi's houses. 

Unleash your inner goth and head over to Gothic Drassanes. It is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. 
Gothic Drassanes
Barcelona has lots to offer but your trip will not be complete without eating Tapas and seeing Sagrada Familia!
Tapas in Barcelona


Sagrada Familia by Gaudi
Barcelona’s timeless charm will never fail to amaze you. Pinays and other travel junkies out there who are on a tight budget will definitely love Homestay family accommodation in Barcelona. Enjoy everything Barcelona has to offer with the help of Barcelona Host Families. Indulge in the comforts of their affordable accommodation and get to know Barcelona through your host. In such a charming and magical city, it is worth staying at a place where you will feel welcomed and is up to the task of completing this unique travel experience.
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