Friday, December 14

My Love Affair With Melaka and Petronas Towers

If you are a constant reader of my blog, by now you know that in every place I travel to I would definitely check out old structures may it be an old house, an old church or simply just ruins.  The moment I stepped foot at the UNESCO-hailed World Heritage City of Melaka, I knew that I can grow old living in this place.

Malacca or Melaka in Malay is located in the southern part of Malaysia.  From Johor Bahru via bus, the trip would take about three hours excluding transfers.  In early times, Melaka is a fishing village inhabited by local Malays.  However,  history said that European colonizers - Portuguese ruled the area, then later on was taken over by the Dutch.  European influence is visible through out the quaint town which is evident in the  church ruins and old fortresses. 


There are many things to do while in Melaka.  One of these is riding in a traditional tuktuk or rickshaw. The tuktuk we rode in was not motorized and was beautifully adorned with artificial flowers, Hibiscus, which we call Gumamela here in the Philippines. It is the national flower of Malaysia.  





Friday, December 7

Gardens By The Bay, Little India, Chinatown and Cross-border Trip to Malaysia

We wanted to visit Gardens by the Bay at night specially on the night of our second day.  However, we were pretty tired and decided to drop by here first thing in the morning. Chie and I agreed that we will strictly follow our schedule since it is our last day here and we wanted to make the most of our stay. At promptly six am, the alarm I set using my mobile phone buzzed.  Not minding the other sleeping guests (the others were actually snoring), we started preparing for the big day ahead.

On my way to the shower room, I saw Koji charging his gadgets in the corner sofa.  We chatted a bit and he expressed his desire to tag along with us since he wanted to visit China town too.  Grateful for his company, we discussed 7 AM as our agreed departure time.


We took the Bugis-Bayfront route and arrived at the gardens before 8 am, a time when the place was almost deserted.  We could hear the birds softly singing and we quietly observed the plants lazily basking under the morning sun.



Thursday, November 29

Meeting Mt. Pinatubo


Seeing the magnificent crater lake which was born from a catastrophic event was just beyond awesome.  The 1 hour 4 x 4 ride and 2-hour trek was worth it upon seeing the breath-taking view of Mt. Pinatubo.  For those too young to remember, Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 killing many lives and destroying many properties.  However, it seems that one unlikely event would lead to another opportunity for locals to earn a living.


Friday, November 23

New Friends On The Road, Universal Studios And A Little Bit Of Sentosa

What I found nice in our stay in Singapore were the new friends we met during our first morning.  Guests come from different nations but the friendliest are from neighboring Malaysia and Japan.


Koji, me, Chie and Azian
Koji is also a traveler from Japan.  He arrived midnight just hours after us.  Like us, he was also bound for Malaysia after visiting Singapore but unfortunately due to personal commitments in Kuala Lumpur, we were unable to invite him to come along with us.  Nevertheless, we exchanged contact information and we kept in touch even after the trip.

Chie and I was supposed to cover at least four areas on our second day but staying up late the previous night pushed us to just visit two: Universal Studios and Sentosa.


From Bugis MRT Station we hopped off at Harbourfront Station.  Following the signs, we reached the Sentosa boardwalk.  I can see the buidlings from afar and I said to Chie, oh my, we're gonna walk a bit!  Turns out 'walkalators' were installed in the covered pathway.   We took some shots of ourselves and started our tour to Universal Studios.



photo session at Sentosa boardwalk :-)

Universal Studios is situated within Sentosa itself. A theme park within one!  The revolving planet greeted us!  It was kind of hard taking a good shot since tourists constantly walk here and there.  Not mentioning the fact that you have to wait for the word 'Universal' to appear just right before your camera so as not to have a laughing fit later on when you check your shots.  I was sure we didn't want looking at our photos with just the 'Sal' in the left or 'Un' in the right of the screen! #haha.



UNIVERSAL STUDIOS





pathway from the park entrance
We arrived around lunch time at Universal Studios.  Guided with our map, we checked out which attractions we will visit first.  When I saw the turrets of the castle (I love castles!) I immediately asked Chie to put this on top of our list.  A 4d movie ride for about 15 minutes is shown with Shrek film cast as the starrers.  This park attraction is fun, relaxing and enjoyable for adults and more so for the young.  It reminded me of the PhilHarMagic presentation of Disneyland.

Far Far Away Castle (Shrek)

Lunch at Universal Studios.  This set meal is at 13 SGD








Universal Studios is visually pleasing.  Though the weather was hot and humid during our stay, this was compensated by the non-stop sights and sounds which awakened all our senses.  While walking, we watched the Sesame Street cast perform a song and dance number at the steps of the National Library.  A thick crowd gathered so I squeezed in until I was right at the front.  They were so adorable that I noticed some were actually dancing and singing with them.  After their theater-like presentation, we experienced more of the rides and attractions: The Mummy Returns, Universal Studios Special Effects  Presentation and our most favorite, the Transformers Ride.

Sesame Street ensemble








I know this guy's name! :-)




One of those stomach-churning rides





Transformers Ride. One of the more exhilirating 4d presentations. A must try!

A whole day spent here is worth the 74 SGD fee per person.  It was nearing six in the evening when we were having second thoughts of proceeding to other parts of Sentosa.  Our feet were already complaining for a longer rest but since the day is still young, we decided to head on to Palawan Beach to witness what the sunset there was like.

SENTOSA




Palawan Beach
I was unable to get a better shot of Palawan Beach.  Maybe because I was already tired and was no longer in the mood for a photo session.  The above photo was taken at almost seven PM.  From Harbourfront MRT station, you may proceed to level 3 of Vivo City mall and take the monorail.  You can also reach Sentosa park through the boardwalk which is accessible through the first level.  Entrance fee is at 1 SGD per person.  Do not forget to secure the park map to guide you in your tour.







Covered pathway




This reminds me of a camera toy

After our second day, we realized that spending one day for Universal Studios and another one for Sentosa is a must. Sentosa is a big park and dividing your time with Universal Studios will hinder you from visiting the other interesting parts of Sentosa.


Day 2 Itinerary and Expenses


Free        - Breakfast at hostel
SGD 1.60 - Bugis MRT Station to Harbourfront Station

Sentosa | Universal Studios
SGD 1     - Sentosa entrance fee
SGD 74  - Universal Studios entrance fee
SGD 13   - Lunch
SGD 1.60 - Harbourfront Station to Bugis MRT Station
SGD 4.60 - Dinner


Grand Total: SGD 95.80 or Php 3,239.21



conversions done via oanda.com




Other parts in this series
Part 1 - At The Airport
Part 2 - Singapore Skyline, Merlion, Marina Sands and the Cute Couple
Part 3 - You are on it
Part 4 - Gardens By The Bay, Little India, Chinatown and Cross-border Trip to Malaysia
Part 5 - My Love Affair With Melaka and Petronas Towers
Part 6 - Batu Caves, Merdaka Square and the Sleepy Train Ride to Padang Besar
Part 7 - Padang Besar to Bangkok, New Joe Guesthouse and Khao San Road
Part 8 - Floating Market and the Almost First-time Elephant Ride
Part 9 - Ayutthaya
Part 10 - Going Home

Wednesday, November 14

Singapore Skyline, Merlion, Marina Sands and the Cute Couple

After going through several mishaps on our way to Singapore, finally we arrived safe and sound at exactly 1.35 PM as promised by our confirmation e-mail.  We were actually bracing ourselves for a set of strict interviews once we come face to face with SG's immigration officers.  However, no questions were asked at all.  Just a few flip of our papers, several clicks on the computer and we were now smiling as we breezed through the process.




Saturday, November 10

Hello Stranger No More

I have started travelling for several years now, but it's only been a year that I have started officially documenting my experiences through this travel blog.  A year of many firsts I'd say.  And looking back I have come to know better the stranger residing with me for several decades now.

She was with me when my fascination in riding in a big white ship came to reality. That was back in 2007 when my first travel down to the city of smiles was etched permanently in my mind and more so in my heart.  I remember wearing my goofiest smile upon stepping on the ladder towards my window-seat assignment.  Forgetting the number one thing on my bucket list back then: pee in the plane rest room!



Before boarding Superferry 19

Monday, November 5

At The Airport

The day has finally arrived.  Me and my friend Chie met at exactly 6 AM at our agreed meeting place.  We still could not believe it was actually happening! All was going well until we approached Pasay City area.  Our taxi driver thought we asked to be dropped off to NAIA 2 instead of NAIA 3.  I was so worried that we might miss our flight since there were only two hours left before our departure time when we arrived. I glanced at Chie and we strongly agreed we both clearly said NAIA 3. 

After a few minutes, we hopped off the cab and did not mind not getting the change.  Taking a few deep breaths, the officer-in-charge at the departure area told us to relax since there was still ample time before boarding.  We did as we were told and we patiently waited for our turn at the check-in counter. Surprisingly, my friend Chie's ticket which she purchased online but was paid through LBC (cash - with receipt, e-mail confirmation and all) was said to be 'on-hold' and not confirmed.  She was instructed to proceed to the express counter and was offered to settle a whopping 350 USD at first!  Thankfully, she asked the breakdown of those charges.  Turns out they would automatically include meals, insurance, checked-in baggage fee etc in this rate. 

After some negotiations, she was able to just pay 150 USD for a ticket with checked-in luggage.  My friend does not want our initial plans not to go as is so even if her pocket would be crying later on, she went ahead and purchased the ticket (#ouch!)

Wednesday, October 31

Wander Photo: May 2012

Seeing the perfect-coned shaped Mayon Volcano in Legaspi, Albay has been one of my childhood dreams.

I remember staring wide-eyed, jaw-dropping a bit, upon seeing her as if pasted picture-perfect on the bus glass window. 





Simply breath-taking! Discover more of my adventures in the beautiful Bicol Region.





Saturday, October 27

My First Top-Loading Experience

When I was younger I get to watch documentaries set in the Cordillera provinces.  Aside from jaw-dropping sceneries, what captured my attention was the often too-full big jeepney loaded from top to bottom.  Adding to the weight of the cargo are numerous people sitting, or I may call it 'hanging' from the vehicle itself.

Top-loading is sure one way to enjoy and feel the exhilaration of the ride in your travels.


Thursday, October 25

Friendly With Friendly.ph

In the advent of modern technology comes the growth of numerous networking sites just within reach either through a computer or your glitzy mobile device.  Sometimes I wish for that traditional slum book back in my school days where  I would eagerly fill-out all those personal questions including those about my first crush.  My desire to look for something new lead me to the Pinoy networking site friendly.ph.

One will be instantly attracted to its fresh and simple over-all design.  Navigation is fairly easy.  I am seeing more improvement in the coming days which will eventually lead to its ever-growing popularity.  Since I have a deep love for my country, I definitely adored the site logo. Below is a screen capture of their log-in page.




Innovative and eye-catching.  Browsing through the 'friendly' world is helping me build a new set of friends and relationships outside the traditional social circles.  Friendly.ph is at its early best.  I would say being a part of this team in these days is great.

Aside from the normal post-comment-like activity, friendly.ph would help bring out the concerned citizen in you. Here you can keep yourselves updated in current events and you can also think out loud by engaging a friendly conversation in one of their forums.


All in all, friendly.ph is a breath of fresh air.  Invigorating and intellectual, that what is friendly.ph is for me.


Now, it is your turn to get friendly with Friendly.ph!




Tuesday, October 23

Relaxing at Club Balai Isabel

Two long weekends last August were perfect opportunities to plan and execute holidays spent only with our families.  A short vacation at the beautiful and charming resort right at the heart of Talisay City, Batangas: Club Balai Isabel, was the perfect idea to relax with them.

Friday, October 19

Dinner For Two At The Legendary Manila Hotel

Sometimes it is great to have luxury and leisurely experiences once in a while.  As I am in love with anything antique, a brief visit to the legendary Manila Hotel was a brilliant idea. 


Monday, October 15

Me and the Now-Famous Bo

I find it a bit comical that I would share this with another 'person' through my first published article (I won a weekly travel-writing promo hosted by a local broadsheet).

Not that I am craving for fame or popularity, but sometimes it feels good that your first attempt in honing your skills was immediately recognized and appreciated. I am really glad that I am sharing this win, (too bad I won't be able to 'share' my prize of two movie tickets with him :-D) with the handsome Bo of Bohol.

Thursday, October 11

Those Lovely Old Houses

I am an old soul.  I love anything that gives a hint of a past when buildings were as magnanimous as their built.  I am at awe when an old house lurks at every old town's corner.  My eyes are wide as they can be when ruins of the past stand tall before me.



Wednesday, October 10

The Hustle and Bustle of Travel-Planning

Sometimes I can sit glued on our dining table chair for several hours just staring in front of our laptop, looking at Google maps, airline websites, LGU portals and other travel havens.  

I find myself at times compelled to send an inquisitory e-mail to the Tourism Office. At the few events that I actually did, I bid goodbye to my e-mail, waiting for it to get lost in the wired world, consciously admitting that I will never receive a reply (Oh well, at least I did not die not trying).  Surely planning a much-awaited event can be a headache and time-consuming at the same time. 

Friday, October 5

5 Places To Go Even If It’s Raining


A guest post by Ms Ann Joy Perez

Kind of stuck in your home when raining? You don’t need to stress yourself out and just sit beside your window pane to feel the pain of not having any idea where to go. It’s just rain and believe me,  you won’t multiply when you try to go outside. Read through this article to have some ideas where to go while the god of thunder enjoys his work.

Here are some of the places where you can spend your rainy days with a smile on your face.

1. MOVIE HOUSE
One, two, three or more movies could help you forget about the weather outside. You can also do a movie marathon inside your home, but it would be better if you sometimes treat yourself into a movie house after all those work or with all those boredom. As a suggestion, enjoy thev different genres of movies in a day: action, romance, sci-fi, horror or comedy.  You may also want to call some of your friends or someone vary special to watch the movie with you.

2. SCIENCE MUSEUMS
Going to a science museum is not that expensive. It’s like you’re only buying a peer-size pizza or one branded shirt. Good thing about it, you’ll get to see some things you don’t usually encounter in your daily routine, and as an addition, you will get to learn new things.  Go to a science museum which allows visitor interaction. –where visitors can actually touch and play with the displays.

3. INDOOR GO-KART-RACING
If you enjoy outdoor go-kart racings, you’ll definitely love indoors as well. The more, the merrier. This could be a very nice bonding moment for you and your friends or with your family.  If you haven’t tried it before, then might as well try this now. You’ll surely enjoy it!

4. INDOOR WALL CLIMBING
Miss climbing? Then do it indoors. There are lots of areas where indoor wall climbing are being offered. You’ll feel the same as doing it outside. Same gears, stamina and outfit but just different ambience.  You can enjoy it alone or with your friends.
It is also a good exercise for your mind, heart and muscles. Don’t forget to drink lots of water or sports drink.

5. LASER TAG
This game boosted up its popularity over a small span of time. It only means, it is a  fun game to play! Invite your friends or bring your family to enjoy virtual games with them. The more you are in the team, the more fun and challenging it would be. 
Plus, you’ll get to move and play in a virtual world where you can imagine and feel being in a more futuristic era.

When it’s raining, you can’t just sing “rain, rain, go away, come again another day…” and then the rain will suddenly stop right there and then. Instead of giving yourself some stress, enjoy it as others do. Grab those umbrellas… or just leave it there and go outside.

Monday, October 1

That Big World Out There

Dear Readers,

Every once in a while we dream of a dream that we only dream of. Like a little kid idolizing Iron Man, running around inside his brightly lit room like there's no tomorrow, with a red metal suit and all.  To a little kid's mind, it is the only world out there.  But to a traveler like me, the world does not exist in only one place.


As I pack my bag, making sure everything that I need for a two-week trip is in my 50-liter hot pink, North Face backpack, I can not recall how many times I have unpacked and packed yet again (#laughing). I do not know if it is mere out of nervousness or excitement, or simply just the logical pre-trip jitters every wanderer must sure feel.


I recall almost a year ago,  I was dreaming of conquering that big world out there the soonest possible time.  I was sorely focused on introducing myself to every province our beautiful Philippines has produced.  But then, I told myself, why not conquer her and the rest world at the same time.  I can do it. I sure know I can.


It is quite hard to plan a trip.  With work and personal stuff to take care of, I sure had experienced headaches due to long hours of surfing the net.  Shopping for the cheapest accommodation and catching seat air fares.  Endless staring at google maps almost made me think that I have already been to Bugis Station in Singapore and already saw the Petronas Towers in Malaysia! (#laughing again).  But I would pinch and re-convince myself that the feeling of actually being there can never compete with  by just looking at their photos, be it a National Geographic-worthy shot or not.


Now fast forward in the present, as you are reading this entry, I may already be taking out my camera and taking multiple night shots of the Singapore skyline.  Two weeks is two weeks that will never be replaced by time.


It will only be replaced by memories: etched, stacked, pasted, permanently written in my heart and mind.


Happy and safe travels!


Love,

Pondering Paodaolei


Thursday, September 27

Wander Photo: April 2012



The moment our boat docked on her shores I was instantly smitten.  I  am hoping she will stay like this for a very long time.  Relive Calaguas Island's grandeur with me. 


Calaguas Islands, I Love You. Please click here.

Saturday, September 22

The Sexy San Juanico Bridge

If I were a man and 'it' was a woman, I will definitely fall in love with her.  She exudes freshness, youth and sexiness which are only inherent in my wild imagination.  





Tuesday, September 18

Ormoc City

Top 8 places I have visited in just one afternoon in 
Ormoc City, Leyte.

1.  Lake Danao



The tranquil Lake Danao

Friday, September 14

B, I Love You

I am sure my co-travelers would ask why of all places here in the Visayas I have chosen the now-famous Boracay Island.  Since I started travelling, I have been able to conquer quite a number of provinces in this beautiful region.  Many has sucessfully bestowed their charm upon me just like the provinces of Biliran and Bohol.  However, yearly, this majestic get-away never fails to summon me back to her very core.


Wednesday, September 12

Just A Couple More Weeks!

Okay, all our transportation arrangement and accommodations have been booked.  I have ironed out our itinerary.  I have almost finished (90%) packing.  I am praying everything will go smoothly as planned and the weather will cooperate.

I am exchanging excited thoughts with my travel buddy Chie every now and then.  We are on leave from seeing each other because we will meet on the 24th to have our hair cut styled (Hey! A girl still gotta look good, we will conduct our very own photo shoot there!) and will have our last minute 'meeting' to review and make sure all parts of the trip are covered.  


Two weeks on the road with nothing as our companion but the sun, our bag packs and of course, the big world out there.


Just a couple more weeks! I have never been this excited my whole life.







Monday, September 10

Breathless in Biliran

The moment I alighted from our vehicle, I knew that I would be experiencing that very rare small-town feel in this far-away land.  True enough, Biliran took my breathe away.  Even in the provincial capitol, Naval, the town seemed sleepy in a positive way, even during the middle of the day. I absolutely loved the homey vibe.  


A hazy morning at Naval, Biliran's capital 

Thursday, September 6

Sto. Niño Shrine and Romualdez Museum

The Sto. Nino Shrine and Romualdez Museum used to be one of the rest houses of the Marcos family.  Considered to be one of the top tourist attractions in Tacloban City, the ground floor houses a chapel, with the image of the Sto. Niño at the center and surrounded by locally-themed guest rooms depicting characteristics of the different provinces/places in the country.

The second floor houses the large ballroom, dining halls and the bedrooms of each member of the former first family. The house is modest outside but is intricately designed and adorned inside.


Sto Niño Shrine and Romualdez Musuem, Real St., Tacloban City

Thursday, August 30

Wander Photo: March 2012

A National Geographic-worthy photo, lol!

Every time I look at this shot I find myself laughing so hard my cheeks will hurt and a tear or two will be shed.  My visit to Baler last March 2012 is definitely memorable to me since this was my very first attempt to surf. And with God's grace, it was successful.


Share my Baler experience! Click here.

Friday, August 24

Palo's Pride


I did not know that Doug was so tall. He was twice my height making him stand at more than 10 feet tall!  As our trike stopped right in front of General Douglas MacArthur Park in Palo Leyte, I see his head and that of his comrades peeking above the marker placed almost lying in front of them.  Hahaha! Of course I know he is not really a giant.

Saturday, August 18

The Historical Wonders of Tacloban City

Coming from an hour flight from Manila via PAL to Tacloban City, I found myself meeting two virtual friends who became reality at around 11 AM on July 1, 2012.


With friends Keith of Tacloban City and Ormoc City's  Ephraim 

Wednesday, August 15

Where Will I Go Given A 1000 Peso Budget

I would definitely go to the City of Seven Lakes: San Pablo City.

This has been a habit of mine over the years.  San Pablo City has its own rustic charm I possibly couldn't turn my back from!  Below I listed my guide, estimated expenses and activities I do during a day visit.  I could satisfy my love for old structures by visiting San Pablo Cathedral and the adjacent old house.  Be united with nature as I hang-out at Sampaloc Lake, with the picturesque Mt. Cristobal standing not so far.  Have a food trip from the various street foods along the lake shore.  Bust out my wallet in the numerous ukay-ukay shops downtown. And finally relax by taking a dip in the cool waters in a quiet resort tucked away in the outskirts of the city center.


(fares quoted in Peso)


8 - jeepney fare from my house to van terminal going to San Pablo City Center (10-15 mins)

80 - Van fare from Balibago Complex Sta. Rosa City (Laguna) to San Pablo town proper (1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the traffic)

FREE- Walk from town center to Sampaloc Lake 



source: bukisa.com

Sunday, August 12

Tamed By You

One glance at the photo of Tinago Falls in Caibiran, Biliran Province I knew at the back of my mind that  I had to see her up close and personal.  That is why I have not wasted time in constantly reminding a very good friend of mine, Ephraim of The Adventist Adventurer, that this would be number one on my bucket list once we set foot on this serene island province north of Leyte.


Tinago Falls
Truly, seeing her roaring like that quieted the loud inner me.  Her position is kind of hidden from view and one must go down to the lake pool below to have a glimpse of her best angle. Seeing her brings up a five-second image of a beautiful woman in my mind, posing sideways for a portrait shot, with a matching colorful flower tucked in her right ear.

The hidden beauty of Tinago Falls

After minutes of capturing her in our cameras we quickly changed to our swim wear and felt her not-so-cold waters down our backs.  

I am sure if she was a human, I would have damaged her eye sight from the countless photos I have taken! 


Luckily, Ephraim's friend, Regin, owns a motorcycle and gladly toured us here without the hassle of haggling.  (We just made sure we treat him for merienda and gave a little tip and paid for gas as courtesy for bothering him that day. Thanks again Regin! It was nice meeting you!)  



Truly, Tinago Falls is like the King of the Jungle.  She can be tame, she can be wild, she can be daunting at times but her overall gloriousness definitely is a welcome respite to a tired wanderer.  She can leave you breathless, she can make your eyes blink not twice, not thrice, but a thousand times.  


Other parts in this series:

Part 6/7 - Ormoc City