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Travel

Seoul Searching: Demilitarized Zone, Common Ground, Seoul Tower

Demilitarized Zone 

Prior to our flight, I booked our Demilitarized Zone tour via DMZ Tours. We chose the basic tour which was a DMZ morning half tour for 50,000WON or PHP 2,450 per person. The tour includes an English speaking tour guide, transportation and entrance fees. The itinerary includes hotel pick-up, Imiingak Park, The Bridge of Freedom, The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, DMZ Theater and Freedom Hall, Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station and drop-off at Itaewon or City Hall Area. Your passport is needed on the tour day. 

Erika, our tour guide, picked us up at our hotel at 720AM sharp. We proceeded to the bus while she went to another hotel to pick up other guests. We were off to DMZ by 830AM. A young soldier went up our bus and checked our passports. Erika said that there are two types of soldiers – camp-based soldiers and stay-at-home soldiers. The camp-based soldiers are those who excelled in military school while the stay-at-home soldiers are those who either did not do well in military school or are breadwinners of their families. 

While Erika was buying our entrance tickets, we got a chance to roam around Imjingak Park and The Bridge of Freedom. Imjingak Park was made for refugees of North Korea who were homesick. It’s the closest location they can get to North Korea. The Bridge of Freedom was named after thousands of the Korean war survivors passed through the bridge and returned to South Korea. Hundreds of notes can be seen on the Bridge of Freedom. These notes are made for their relatives and ancestors who were stuck in North Korea. 

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Our next stop was The Third Infiltration Tunnel. Just when the people thought the war between North and South has ended, little did they know that the military in North was digging up tunnels connected to South Korea. These secret tunnels were made so the North can discreetly infiltrate South. The tunnels they made were installed with rock camouflaging bombs. But the South soldiers discovered it and made an action. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the tunnel. We were 150 meters away from the North Korea. We were also advised to wear a hard hat because the tunnel has a really low ceiling. I bumped my head twice and the echoing sound really startled me. LOL. It was suffocating because of the lack of oxygen. It was really easy going down but it was super struggle to climb up! This is not for the faint-hearted, claustrophobic or those with heart problems. Erika said there were soldiers inside the tunnel before but because there is no oxygen in the tunnel, they just use thermal meter now. 

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We also went to the Dora Observatory. It is where you can glimpse a part of North Korea. The binoculars would make you see urban areas of Gaesong, statue of Kim II-Seong and the flag of North Korea. According to Erika, the flag of North Korea doesn’t wave because it’s so heavy. It approximately weighs 250 pounds and can survive even the toughest thunderstorm. 

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Our tour’s last stop was the Dorasan Station. It was the northernmost station in South Korea which was connected to Pyongyang. It is where you can see the barbed fence of the boundary of North and South Korea. Our guide said that you can actually ride the train before but a tourist roamed around and accidentally crossed over the boundary of North Korea and she was killed. From then on, they stopped the train service. 

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Common Ground

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the popular food parks here in Manila like The Yard. Common Ground is similar to that. It’s filled with container vans which they transformed to shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s a popular place amongst tourists and Korean millennial because the place is perfect for OOTDs and photoshoots.

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We got hungry and tried a Chinese restaurant called Modern Chinese Restaurant. The food was delicious and the price was reasonable. One bowl of noodles is good for 3-4 persons. Don’t forget to try their chili shrimp.

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 Address: 17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to go: 

From Myeondong, take Line 2 

Get off at Konkuk Station

Take Exit 6

Seoul Tower and Love Locks

It’s an observation and communication tower located in Namsam Mountain. You can either hike up or take the cable car to get to Seoul Tower. We actually got lost going here. We took a detour and thought that it was an easier way but it was actually the start of the hike to the tower. We took a cab instead and got to Namsan Omuri (where the cable car is) in 5 minutes. The roundtrip cable car ride costs 8500WON. It’s the fastest way to get to the tower. 

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The tower was beautifully surrounded by cherry blossoms and spring flowers. The love locks are also in the area. Don’t worry if you get hungry or thirsty because there a lot of restaurants inside. If you’re planning to put love locks, buy before going there because it’s cheaper outside. 

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Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to go:

 From Myeondong Station

Exit 3

Walk for 10-15 minutes following the signs on the right side of the Pacific Hotel

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Travel

Seoul Searching: Nami Island, Petit France

We got up early for our trip to Nami Island. Prior to our arrival in Seoul, I was thinking of getting a tour for Nami and Petite because I didn’t think the long journey from Myeondong to Gapyeong was doable. Good thing, I didn’t get a tour because it was totally easy. It took us three train changes and an hour and a half to get to Gapyeong. 

Direction to Nami Island via Seoul subway:

From Myeondong Station

Get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Staion

Change to Line 2 heading towards Sindang Station and get off at Wangsimni Station

Change to Jungang Line and take the train towards Cheong-nyangni and get off at Mangu Station

Change to Kyeongchun Line and take the train towards Galmae Station and get off at Gapyeong Station

Once you’re at Gapyeong Staion, buy an unlimited bus ticket for 6000WON or PHP 295. The bus will take you to the ferry wharf to get to Nami Island, Petit France and Garden of Morning Calm. 

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Outside Gapyeong Station

I wanted to see Nami not because of Koreanovelas but because of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil’s movie called My Exs and Whys. Anyway, when we arrived at the ferry wharf, we ate lunch first at a popular chicken dak-galbi restaurant called Kko Kko Chuncheon Dakgalbi. Chicken dak-galbi is a Korean stir-fry dish which consists of chicken marinated with barbecue, chili pepper, cabbage, onions, potatoes on a hot plate. The server cooked the dak-galbi right in front of us. He told us to wait seven minutes for the chicken to be cooked. Our order came with refillable side dishes which were kimchi and mu-namul or stir-fried shredded radish. The chicken was delicious but I think a little bit of cheese would add more flavor to the dish. The serving was good for sharing and the unlimited side dishes would instantly fill you up. 

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After lunch, we headed to the ticket booth to buy our entrance tickets for Nami Island. The roundtrip ticket is 8000WON or PHP395.00 The ferry schedule runs from 0730-2140. There was a short line before entering the ferry. Don’t worry because the ferry’s big enough to accommodate a lot of people. It took us 10 minutes to get to Nami Island. 

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Ahhh! Nami Island! It was so beautiful and picturesque. No wonder a lot of tourists flock this place. My cousin who was into Korean drama told me that Winter Sonata, a popular Korean telenovela had their scenes here. I had no idea what Winter Sonata was but nevertheless, I truly enjoyed this place.

The island is populated by different types of trees but the most popular trees are the metasequoia. I’ve seen a lot of photos taken with the metasequoia trees as their backdrop. Guilty as charged! I have photos with those trees as my background. LOL. 

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You can either roam the place by foot or you can rent a bicycle, family bike or electric car. We were supposed to rent an electric car but the booth guy didn’t allow us because neither of me nor my sister knew how to ride a single bike. That’s why we ended up with a family bike for 10,000WON which was good for 30 minutes.

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For the sake of a good Instagram photo because I really don’t know how to ride a bicycle.

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. They were everywhere in Nami Island but there was one area where the blossom trees were aligned. It was near the lake, right after the ostriches. The island was so beautiful in spring what more does it look like in autumn where the leaves turn into burnt orange.

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After several hours of roaming around, we decided to take the ferry back to the wharf and go to our next destination which was Petite France. By bus, it is 25 minutes away from Nami Island.

Petite France is dedicated to the well-known novel entitled Le Petit France written by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The village showcases old French houses and street entertainment such as musical performers and theatre performances. It has an art gallery, souvenir shops and few restaurants. An individual tickets costs 8,000WON or PHP 392.00.

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Travel

Seoul Searching: Gyeokbokgung Palace, Bukchon, Insadong, Namdaemun Market

 Gyeongbokgung Palace

It is one of the main tourist attractions in Seoul. It’s the biggest and most beautiful palace in Seoul. According to Visit Korea, the palace is built in 1935 and was once destroyed by fire during the Japanese Invasion but was restored in the reign go King Gojong. 

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Don’t miss the changing of guards held at 10am, 1pm and 3pm. It’ll be a cool experience to witness it. After Gyeokbokgung Palace, you can also visit the National Korean Museum which is also inside the compound. 

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The guards don’t move at all.

You can also rent their national costume called hanbok at rental places just across the palace. We tried the hanbok after we roamed inside the palace. If I were to do it again, I would rent the hanbok first before going in so you can take photos inside the beautiful Gyeonbokgung while wearing the hanbok. Wearing the hanbok was easy because you just need to put it on top of what you’re wearing. Be prepare to shell out 10,000WON or PHP490 good for two hours. 

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Admission: Free but if you want to go inside the palace, it’ll cost you 3000WON or PHP 148

Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

How to go:

From Myeondong Station

Go to the interchange at Chumuro to get to Line 3

Get off at Gyeongbokgung, Exit 5

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon means northern village. It’s home to traditional Korean houses and is also a residential area. Make sure to keep it down so you won’t disturb the residents. You’ll definitely feel the Korean Culture just by looking at their old houses. 

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Guys, let’s all agree that it’s a nice background for an OOTD. LOL.

Admission: Free

How to go:

From Myeondong Station

Go to interchange at Chumuro to get to Line 3

Get off at Anguk, Exit 2

Insadong

It’s a long street full of shops, restaurants, alleys with cafès, teahouses and galleries. This is the place for souvenir shopping- from keychains, chopsticks with spoon sets, fridge magnets, figurines and hand-painted fans. If art is your thing, galleries are also abundant on this street. You can look at beautiful artworks for free. 

I wasn’t able to research for a good teahouse but luckily we saw this teahouse as we strolled the street of Insadong. They serve a variety of tea, coffee and desserts. An American guy was also on his way to this teahouse so we just followed him. LOL.

The teahouse had a traditional Korean vibe. It looked like the houses in Bukchon Hanok Village. Although the servers weren’t fluent in English, they were friendly and accommodating. The tea tasted exquisite and authentic.
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My hot tea tasted like peach with herbs. It was sweet, satisfying and yummy!

How to go:

From Myeondong Station

Go to interchange at Chumuro to get to Line 3

Get off at Anguk, Exit 6

Namdaemun Market

For wholesale finds, Namdaemun is the perfect place for you. It’s the largest traditional Korean market in Seoul. The stores open at 12MN to 6AM. 

I googled what to do in Namdaemun and found out that there was a small place there where locals eat authentic Korean dishes. We went there to look for that place and try out their best-selling bibimbap. It came with unlimited kimchi and sigeumchi namul (seasoned spinach).

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Not my best shot but who cares! Bibimbap FTW! It’s 5500WON or PHP 270 for a bowl of bibimbap.

Address: Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to go:

From Myeondong Station

Get off at Hoenghyeon Station (line 4, same line as Myeongdong)

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Travel

Seoul Searching Travel Guide

I am not a fan of anything Korean. Well, except for Korean beauty products and K food but I unexpectedly wanted to see what Seoul has to offer. I kept seeing my friends’ posts and that’s what made me decide to see the beautiful places in Seoul. 

How to go:

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia fly directly from Manila to Seoul. Make sure to check their websites regularly for promotions.

We flew PAL and arrived at 8pm at Incheon International Airport. We took a cab to get to Seoul because I was with two seniors. Of course if you’re with your friends or boyfriend, you can opt to take the airport shuttle bus or airport express which is definitely faster and cheaper. 

When to go:

Winter season is low season which means everything is cheap- from flights to hotels. You can opt to go in winter especially if the cold weather doesn’t really bother you. Spring and fall are always the perfect weather for me. It’s neither too hot nor too cold. Summer is a no-no because more people are on vacation and the sun is scorching. It makes it a little difficult to travel in summer.

Where to stay:

After one and a half hours, we arrived at Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel in Myeondong. We got two standard twin rooms which came with air-conditioning, two single beds, a small sofa, private toilet and bathroom with bathtub, a stiff pillow and a soft pillow. The rooms were smaller than what I expected. It literally was good for two persons max.

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The hotel didn’t have a bell boy service and we had to bring our luggages to the room. The housekeeping wasn’t able to clean our rooms thoroughly and one staff accidentally threw my half-full moisturiser.

The only good thing about this hotel was the location. It was a three-minute walk from Myeondong Train Station (Exit7/8). It was also very convenient because 7-11, food stalls, coffee shops, restaurants and shops were just around the corner.

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We were exhausted and starving that night and most of the food stalls were closed so we had no choice but to eat at a nearby restaurant just across the hotel. It was an authentic Korean BBQ restaurant but it was also a trap! The food was delicious and the staff were accommodating but it cost us a whooping 209,000WON or PHP 10,000. Holy sh*t right? We learned our lesson that night. We never ate in that restaurant again. 

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Transportation:

The map may seem intimidating but it’s actually not. It’s very easy to understand and navigate. Buy a T-Card for 5000WON or PHP 250 in any ticket vending machine at the station. Reload it and you’re good to go. It’s like Hongkong’s Octopus Card -you may use it on trains, buses and CU convenience stores.  Travel tip: Print out the map instead of saving it on your phone. Encircle your main train station and the stations that you’re going to take. It’ll be way easier. I promise.

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Photo via http://seoulsublet.com

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Travel

How to get a Korean Tourist Visa

Are you a K pop fan? A lover of Korean beauty products? Or do you just love Korea in general? Getting a Korean visa is pretty easy. If you’re a Philippine passport holder just like me, just follow the steps below! Also, you can apply for a visa three months prior to your planned schedule.

I. Comply all the following requirements

Basic Requirements:

  1. Application Form
 – Make sure to fill everything on the form. Write N/A if not applicable.
  2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture – I got mine taken at Tronix in SM Pasig, just tell them Korean Visa size.
  3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
  4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page – This is the page where your details are.
  5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only) – I personally have Japan and US Visa so I photocopied those.

For Businessmen:

  1. Photocopy of Business Registration from SEC or DTI
  2. Photocopy of Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit
  3. Original Personal Bank Certificate (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
 – I requested mine at Landbank of the Philippines since my business’ passbook is under LBP. Your bank should know the format for the said bank certificate.
  4. Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  5. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316
  6. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

For Students:

  1. School Certificate (Original)
  2. Copy of School ID
  3. Copy of Birth Certificate
  4. Parents’ Documents
    – If employed: Employment Certificate Original [must include position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address]
    – If Self-employed: Business Registration from SEC or DTI (Copy), Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit(Copy)
    – Original Bank Certificate [must include account type, current balance, account opening date, 6 months average balance (ADB)]
    – Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
    – Copy of Income Tax Return(ITR)
    – Copy of Nso Marriage Certificate

For Employees:

  1. Original Certificate of Employment
    (must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address
  2. Original Personal Bank Certificate
    (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
  3. Bank Statement  (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  4. ITR(Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
  5. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

For Househusbands/Housewives:

  1. Additional documents
    – If husband is employed : Husband’s Employment Certificate Original [must include position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address]
    – If husband is self-employed : Business Registration from SEC or DTI (Copy), Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit(Copy)
  2. Original Personal or Husband’s Bank Certificate [must include account type, current balance, account opening date, 6 months average balance (ADB)]
  3. Personal or Husband’s Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  4. Husband’s Copy of Income Tax Return(ITR)
  5. Copy of NSO Marriage Certificate

For Retired Senior Citizens:

  1. Original Personal Bank Certificate
    (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
  2. Bank Statement
    (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  3. Copy of Senior citizen’s ID

For Filipinos married to Koreans:

  1. NSO Marriage Certificate
  2. Certificate of Korean Marriage History (valid for 3months)
  3. Photocopy of Bio-page of Korean’s Passport
  4. Invitation Letter from Korean Spouse
  5. Photocopy of Korean’s Philippine Visa
  6. Original Employment Certificate or DTI (or SEC) of Korean Spouse

Important Tips:

  • If personally invited by Korean. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card
(authentication not required)
  • If invited by Company in Korea
. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit
(authentication not required)
  • Frequent travellers who have travelled as tourist to OECD member countries within 5 years are exempted from submitting ITR.
  • Processing Time:
    • 3 working days (for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist)
    • 5 working days (for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years)
    • Visa Fee: 59 days (or less) stay in Korea — GRATIS
    • 60 to 90 days stay in Korea — PHP1,800.00
  • Filing your applications is only from 8:30am-11:am while releasing time is from 1:30pm-4:00pm only. For family applications, documents for proof of relationship are a must. (example: marriage contract, birth certificate)

II. Lodge your application

Submit your complete application to the Korean Embassy. Unlike other embassies, you do not need to set an appointment. Walk-ins are totally allowed. Make sure to be on time as the embassy only allows submission of application from Mondays- Fridays from 8:30am to 11:00am only.

III. What to expect inside the Korean Embassy

You will be asked to register upon entry. The guards here are extra friendly so don’t be afraid to ask. Another guard will ask for your application and required documents. If you have a visa from any of the OECD countries or if you’re a frequent traveller, you will be given a number to the VISA 3; otherwise, you’ll be waiting for your turn in VISA 1.

The consul will ask for your documents. Relax and smile. They will check if your documents are complete. If you’re assigned at VISA 3, they will ask for the passport where your OECD visas are. If you submitted a complete set of documents, they will give you a piece of paper with the release date on it.

IV. The Waiting Game and Claiming of the Passport

Waiting is a crucial game but remember patience is a virtue. We were given a single entry Korean visa seven days after we lodged our application. I left the office at 3:00 pm and traffic was pretty bad that day. I was so stressed out that I wouldn’t make it in time to get the passports. I got to the embassy five minutes before 4:30. Luckily, I still managed to get our passports. I handed out the piece of paper the consul gave me. Yes! Visa granted! Hello, Korea!

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Travel

Relax and surrender in Bohol

I’ve been to Bohol three years ago and now, I’ve decided to revisit this wonderful island. Bohol is located in Visayas and is known for Chocolate Hills. It is also home to tarsiers, the smallest primate in the world. It is also known for amazing coral reefs and pristine beaches.

How to go:

Airlines such as Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Philippine Airlines have direct flights from Manila to Tagbilaran (which is the capital of Bohol).

Ferries such as 2GO, Fast Ferries such as Super Cat and Ocean Jet also offer passenger service from provinces nearby to Tagbilaran port.

When to go:

April-June are the best months to go. These are summer months so the sun is scorching hot- perfect to get a tan. You can opt to go to Bohol in other months just make sure to check the weather forecast for rain showers.

Where to stay:

The most popular areas to stay in are Alona Beach, Dauis Beach and Panglao Beach. My first choice was Hennann Beach Resort but it was located along Alona Beach which was a bit crowded so I chose Bellueve Bohol instead because it’s on the quieter beach side of Bohol.

Bellevue Bohol sits on the less crowded side of Panglao Island. The hotel is relatively new – it just opened three years ago. If you book through their website, you’ll get free transfers to and from Tagbilaran Airport to the resort. The resort offers a big swimming pool which is suitable for both kids and adults. It is surrounded by greens and a big koi pond near their in-house restaurant.

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We got the the deluxe twin for our first night and upgraded it to a deluxe room with ocean view for our second night. All rooms come with a free breakfast buffet and are equipped with private toilet and bath, airconditioning, cable TV and comfortable beds.

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The breakfast buffet at Bellevue was wonderful. They offer a wide array of food. They serve Filipino breakfast like longganisa, egg, dried fish, fried rice but they also offer American, Chinese and Korean cuisines. I love that they have different kinds of breads, native Filipino desserts and fresh fruits. The servers also do rounds offering guests fresh juice and hash browns.

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This resort is definitely worth it. They have an extremely satisfying customer service, very good breakfast buffet (the food  from their in-house restaurant is really delicious), and quality yet reasonably priced rooms and the ambiance of the hotel will definitely make you feel at home.

What to see:

There are several tours offered by Wow Bohol Tours. We decided to get the Countryside Tour which includes the main tourist attractions of Bohol – Tarsier, Chocolate Hills, Man-made Forest, and buffet at Loboc River. We opted for the cheapest country tour which was P1720/pax. Pick-up and drop-off from the hotel, all entrance fees, car and driver were all included in this package.

I really recommend this travel agency because they replied promptly to all my queries. I asked if we can skip several tourist attractions and change it to two other destinations, they happily allowed my request. Our driver, Kuya Melchur, also acted as our tour guide. He was accommodating, polite and punctual.

Our itinerary for the day was Hinagdanan Cave, Dauis Church, Blood Compact Shrine, Baclayon Church, Tarsier Conservatory, Buffet at Loboc River and Chocolate Hills. Our driver picked us up at 830AM in our resort and our adventure began.

Hinagdanan Cave has both salty and fresh water. It is surrounded by beautiful limestones and rock formations. The name was derived from hagdan (stairs). Before they discovered an easier way to enter the cave, they use rope stairs to climb down the cave through a tiny hole. You can swim for an additional fee of P75.

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Baclayon Church was built during the Spanish Era. It was a beautiful church until a strong earthquake destroyed it. We weren’t able to enter the church because construction is still ongoing. Kuya Melchur said that the workers are trying to rebuild and reopen it by the end of 2017.

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Blood Compact Shrine is said to be the First Treaty of Friendship between Raja Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez dela Legaspi.  It is said to be the bond of friendship between the two tribes.

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Tarsier Conservatory  is the home to these smallest primates. Fact: Tarsiers are loners and territorials. They to live alone and are introverts. If they get stressed out, they tend to commit suicide by banging their heads on the trees or worst, they hang themselves using their tails.

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Buffet and Cruise at Loboc River is a tour loved by both foreigners and locals.  It goes down the peaceful river of Loboc until the Busay Falls. The tranquility given by the trees surrounding the river makes it a pretty view to see.  You can feast on local food while cruising the river. Most tours include the entrance and the buffet fee.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also try paddle boarding.

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Chocolate Hills is the main attraction of Bohol. These are dome-shaped hills which IMHO looks like boobies in different cup sizes. LOL. During wet season the hills look green because of the grass then turn dry up and turn brown.

It’ll be an instant cardio day when you visit this attraction because you have to climb 220+ steps to view the pretty Chocolate Hills. Fact: Chocolate hills got its name from the brand, Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss because they look like chocolate kisses.fullsizerender-203 fullsizerender-176

Man-Made Forest is a two kilometer forest filled with mahogany trees.It is called man-made forest because government employees revived the almost dead forest by planting mahogany trees. These are not artificial – they’re real plants and trees.

The attraction is perfect for photoshoots. Beware of the coming cars, though.

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Have you been to Bohol? What’s your favorite tourist attraction? Share your thoughts and comment below! 🙂

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Travel

Forever Summer in Boracay

When you live in a tropical country like the Philippines, it’s forever summer. With 7107 islands, beaches are abundant but my heart always beats for Boracay. It may seem like a normal beach for most Filipinos who have been to the island, but it holds a special place in my heart. 

Come on, what’s not to love about Boracay? A beautiful sunset, fine white sand and clear blue water— what more can you ask for? I’ve been to Boracay countless times but I always keep coming back especially when the place you’re staying makes you feel at home- that’s why I choose to stay at Discovery Shores located in Station 1. It may be expensive but super worth it. 

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To celebrate my mom’s birthday, my sister and I planned a quick getaway in the island of Boracay. We were supposed to book a two bedroom suite to accommodate the six of us, but it wasn’t available anymore so we opted to book two junior suites instead. Days before we checked in, I asked for a small birthday cake for my mom and they willingly granted my requested. 

One of the many things I love about Discovery Shores is how they accommodate requests and make personal touches to each and every guests. I also love how they treat guests like royalty- cleaning sunglasses, fixing your stuff in the sun lounge, spraying Evian facial mists on your face, giving snacks to each guests. 

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A relaxing in-room foot massage.

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Personalised welcome greeting.

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Yummy snack to fill you up.

Delicious food at their restaurant called Sands.

Delicious food at their restaurant called Sands.

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A relaxing and cozy place.

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If you want to feel relaxed and pampered, better book at Discovery Shores. Words cannot justify what I’ve experienced at this resort. The three nights have been nothing but wonderful!

Discovery Shores is located at Station 1, Balagbag, Boracay Island. 

 

 

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Travel

El Nido Island Hopping Tour

We spent 4 days and 3 nights in the jaw-dropping island of El Nido. I’m going to share to you our itinerary:

Day 1- Arrival and check-in at Lagen Island Resort

Day 2- Tour A and B

Day 3- Tour C

Day 4- Rest and fly back to Manila

I shared my review about Lagen Island Resort and basically our day 1 here. Hooray! Day 2 is for island hopping! We booked a private combo tour via El Nido Paradise. We thought that they were a reliable agency, but nope, we were wrong. We found them online, paid 30% downpayment and they sent us an email of confirmation. A day before the tour, we called them and asked them where’s the pick-up point. A girl answered and said that she was in a hospital in Manila and we should wait for a return call. We waited for her call for two hours. We called again and she said that we have to pay P3000 for the pickup and drop-off to Lagen Island. We were surprised because it wasn’t part of the agreement, haggled and eventually agreed to pay the additional payment to cut the story short. On the day of the tour, we were unsure if the boatman’s coming to get us or not. Luckily, they came. Bottomline and yet another travel tip is make sure that you get a reliable and trusted tour agency like Northern Hope Tours. If you want to save up, you can contact the boatman that we hired directly for our Tour C island hopping. His name is Kuya Argie and you may contact him at 09126971020. 

Tour A and B are one of the most popular tours amongst tourists in El Nido. Tour A consists of the Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon and 7 Commandos Beach while Tour B consists of Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave. Tour C includes Hidden Beach, Helicopter Island, Secret Beach, Matinloc Shrine and Star Beach. The tour includes lunch (grilled fish, chicken, pork belly, seafood, salad, and tropical fruits), snorkelling gears and life vests. You have the option to get a group or private tour. We chose the private tour because we get to decide which islands we want to see and we get to choose if we want to start the tour early or a little bit late.

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We skipped several islands and head over to the really popular ones. The best islands, IMHO, were the big lagoon and small lagoon. The big lagoon was amazeballs! The boat can actually enter the lagoon or you can kayak your way to explore it. Our boat parked somewhere in the middle of the lagoon and we kayaked ourselves to see what this beautiful lagoon had to offer. We stopped in the middle of the lagoon and checked out the Big Lagoon’s underwater. Kayaking made our arms suffer but it was worth it! The experience was surreal. It definitely made us appreciate nature. The small lagoon was as beautiful as the big lagoon. Boats cannot enter anymore so you have no choice but to kayak. Swimming is not advisable because the fishes in the small lagoon are territorial. The small lagoon is beautifully created. Imagine a small body of water nestled in between rock formations. It was just wonderful.

I wasn’t a big fan of the caves, though. I felt like there’s nothing to see inside but bat poop. LOL. There were small caves that you have to go in for you to see a secret beach slash secret body of water inside. It was thrilling yet tiring but very worth it. Trust me! Every island that you’ll visit will surely catch your attention.

The best time to visit El Nido is from February to May where skies are clear and there are less chances of rain.

I’ve shared my experience! Have you guys been to El Nido? How was it? 🙂

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Travel

Birthday Getaway: El Nido, Palawan

Last week, Tsubi and I went to El Nido Palawan to celebrate my 24th birthday! I’m actually 28 years old but I like to think that I’m stuck at 24! LOL. I read wonderful comments about El Nido. I decided to check it out for myself. True enough, it didn’t disappoint me.

There are two ways to get to El Nido:

  1. Manila-Puerto Prinsesa then hop on a bus which will take 3-5hours to get to El Nido
  2. Manila-El Nido via Airswift which is approximately an hour plane ride

We opted to get the direct flight. There wasn’t a promo when we booked but I’m sure that they have so make sure to check their website regularly. We arrived at El Nido Airport at one in the afternoon. There were snacks and refreshments at the arrival hall. A guide from the Lagen Island Resort welcomed us and showed us our van which will take us to the pier. It took us 15minutes to get to the pier. From the pier, we transferred to a boat which will finally take us to the resort. Oh boy, the boat ride was super long! It was a 45 minute boat ride. Good thing, both of us weren’t seasick or else this will be a big problem. Travel tip: If the sea makes you sick, bring bonamine or any anti-dizzy medicine. 

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Finally after 45 minutes, we arrived at the beautiful Lagen Island Resort. We were greeted by a choir who sang a welcome song. The resort was nestled in between wonderful rock formations and greeneries. The ambiance was relaxing and the view was A+. The resort has a little beach shore but that’s okay because they have a gorgeous swimming pool, anyway. They have free kayaks and paddle boards for the guests. They also have a spa, game room and 24/7 gym. Check-in was easy breezy. The room was ready after we settled the security deposit. 

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I actually wanted to try out one of their water cottages but it’s so expensive, I got the Forest Room for 3 nights instead.  The room was well-equipped. The size was also pretty decent as it can fit 3-4 persons. It has a queen-sized bed, cable television, ceiling fan, aircondition unit, in-room wifi access, water heater, fridge, daybed, private toilet and bath, and terrace with a daybed. The free water isn’t bottled so we had to buy from their boutique. The bed was comfortable but we had a problem with the pillows because they were stiff. Fortunately, they have more comfortable pillows and in like five minutes, the housekeeping delivered them to us. Travel tip: You can buy snacks and bottled water for a cheaper price at the El Nido Town Proper which you’ll pass by before going to the pier. You can ask your tour guide for a stop-over. 

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Let’s talk about breakfast! The resort provided a free breakfast buffet for us. It has a wide selection of food and drinks. I wouldn’t say it was the best breakfast buffet. It was okay, though. I loved that they change the main dishes everyday. Like most buffets, it has a wide bread selection including local jams like guava and mango, butter, nutella and peanut butter. It has a salad bar, main dish and soup station, hot plate (waffles, bacon and eggs) station, cereal station and fruits and dessert section. I got breakfast buffet coma every single day! fullsizerender-25 fullsizerender-23 fullsizerender-11 fullsizerender-17 fullsizerender-22 fullsizerender-13 fullsizerender-6

I was in love with the resort! The staff and service were awesome. They were friendly, accommodating and greeted us with a smile. I also love that they have a happy hour (the drinks menu changes everyday). The wifi’s not really fast but well, hello! It’s an island. However, Globe and Smart have strong signals. The only thing that bothered me was the room wasn’t sound-proof. We can hear the loud kids running outside. Aside from that, I don’t have anything to complain about. The resort is definitely perfect for couples and families who want to relax and getaway from the city life.

You can check out Lagen Island Resort at www.elnidoresorts.com 🙂

 

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Travel

Things to do in Cebu

Since it was our first time in Cebu, my boyfriend and I made sure that we won’t miss out the tourist spots. We chilled at the beach on our first day. We had no choice but to eat at the hotel. It was expensive but good for sharing. We had sweet and salty spareribs for lunch and truffled parmesan fries for snacks which we downed with local beer. The resort also offers water activities such as island hopping, jetski, kayaking and snorkelling. We didn’t avail it because our adventure started the next day.

thumb_DSCF0066_1024thumb_DSCF0054_1024thumb_DSCF0051_1024Beach, please.

We went to the city for our second day. It was far as the travel time from Mövenpick to the city’s approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. We got an Uber instead of a regular cab because they (the regular cabs) tend to increase the fare by not using their meters. So anyway, our first stop was Rico’s Lechon. A trip to Cebu isn’t complete without eating lechon (roasted pig). I have tried Zubuchon before and Rico’s definitely way better. It has a rich and savory flavour. Lechon restaurants in Cebu doesn’t offer sauce like Mang Tomas. Their usual sauce consists of vinegar, soysauce and chili.

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Our next top was Magellan’s Cross and Basalica De Sto. Nino. Both places have free entrance. It was an awesome sight to see. The cathedral was jaw-dropping beautiful. Old locals sold us candles for P10 each. We bought and offered a prayer when we lit the candles. It’s definitely worth seeing.

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We killed time in Ayala Center Cebu. We went see a movie called Lights Out. We were surprised that their cinema has a premiere and deluxe part and vendors also sell popcorn and soda inside the theater. It was a fun experience, though- so old school. It was like a crossbreed of Greenbelt and Glorietta in Makati. We also played in Timezone. LOL.

Come sunset, we went to see the Temple of Leah, which according to our driver, is a temple made for Ellen Adarna ( a local celebrity). Too bad, we went late. Some  rooms were already locked. It was like Pantheon in Rome.  Entrance fee is P50. It is  not finished yet and construction is still at full swing. You can pass this because there’s nothing pretty yet to see.

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We had dinner at a grill place hidden somewhere in Lapu-Lapu City. Our driver took us there because I really wanted to taste pusó, steamed rice wrapped in coconut leaves. We had barbeque, chicken heart and grilled hotdogs. Cheap treat! Our bill including the soda was P300.

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Our second day was fun but tiring! If you’re going to Cebu, don’t miss on the delicacies they offer. Everything’s worth a try especially the lechon. You may also want to try CNT lechon. There were a lot of places we weren’t able to visit like Fort Bonifacio, a fort created by the Spanish when they went to the Philippines ages ago, the Taoist Temple and Mountain view. You may visit these places also. 🙂

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Travel

Mövenpick Hotel, Cebu

To celebrate our 1st year anniversary, Tsubasa (my boyfriend) and I went to Cebu. It was my first time to see the wonderful places Cebu has to offer. We checked it in Mövenpick Hotel where we both can enjoy the beach and swimming pool. Bonus point because it’s just 10 minutes away from Mactan International Airport. The hotel also has a beach club which is called Ibiza Beach Club. They have djs on weekends and  everyday events.

thumb_DSCF0018_1024This is the beachfront area. I love how they have lots of sun lounges. It’s the perfect area to bask in the sun, chill and drink beer in the afternoon. Don’t you just love how cozy it is? The beach is clean yet a little rocky but I’m not complaining. Of course, nothing compares to the beach of Boracay but Mövenpick’s beach is average.

thumb_DSCF0029_1024thumb_DSCF0031_1024The lobby has an exquisite design. It’s modern and airy. We arrived at 11 am and waited for 2 hours until our room is ready. We politely asked the front desk officer if we can get the room ahead of their check-in time. She told us that she’ll have it checked. Tick tock, 45 minutes later, it’s still not available. She also made face when we asked her for the second time, which ticked me off. I kept my cool and asked her for the third time. At last, our room was given to us. Anyway, the lobby could have been better if they put cooling fans also. The heat was unbearable and if you’re waiting in the lobby, it can be irritating and annoying.

thumb_DSCF0034_1024We stayed in their One Bedroom Suite. The room has a king-sized bed which is perfect because I tend to roll and drool when I sleep. LOL. I love that they have a pillow menu (I forgot to take a picture of it, though).

thumb_DSCF0033_1024thumb_DSCF0032_1024This is the living area of the room. You can sneak it another person, if you want to. *wink, wink* The room is spacious! It also has a balcony overlooking the ocean or the city. They gave us the city view which is okay but I prefer the beach view.

thumb_DSCF0039_1024thumb_DSCF0038_1024Talk about luxury! I am so in love with their bathroom! It’s big and clean! No old school stuff here! They also gave us complimentary Chopard toiletries which include shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap and body lotion! I tried the shower gel in the bathtub. It smelled heavenly. It made my skin smooth and silky!

thumb_DSCF0132_1024Swimming Pool

thumb_DSCF0046_1024Ibiza Beach Club

We booked directly through their website. Sadly, they don’t offer discounts unlike other hotels. I should’ve booked through Agoda instead. I think they have a discounted rate there. Our room didn’t come with free breakfast so for the next two days, we availed of their breakfast buffet which is P1,200 per head. Yup, it’s definitely not cheap but it’s worth it. They have a wide selection of food- Filipino, Korean, Singaporean, Japanese cuisine. They have a lot of pastries, cereals and desserts, too! The fruits that they serve are fresh and sweet. I specifically love their pineapple and watermelon. Their breakfast buffet is to die for!

The hotel is far from the city. It will take you approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the town. We had no choice but to eat dinner in the hotel. I suggest that you eat dinner in Sails. They also offer dinner buffet. It’s P1,700 per head. The food selection during dinner is less than what they offer during breakfast.

thumb_DSCF0048_1024thumb_DSCF0049_1024thumb_DSCF0047_1024  Dinner Buffet

If ever I’ll go back to Cebu, I’ll try staying in other resorts like Shang-rila Mactan or Crimson Hotel. As much as this hotel has a lot to offer, I dislike their staff’s service. One time, we ordered a pack of cigarettes, the girl kept forgetting and we had to remind her thrice. They don’t pay attention to your needs, too. I don’t know if they were just understaff or they just have poor service.

 

2016, Beach, Coron, Palawan, Philippines, review, Summer, Travel

Coron, Palawan

Coron is one of the towns in Palawan, Philippines. Some of its main attractions includes Siete Picados, Kayangan Lake, Malcapuya Beach and Twin Lagoon. Tourists frequent the place to see the wonderful coral reefs under the green and blue sea. They also visit Coron to experience island adventures such as snorkelling, kayaking.

How to get there:

Airlines like Cebu Pacific Air, Skyjet, and Philippine Airlines have direct flights from Manila to Busuanga. Fares are cheap if you’re lucky to avail of the promos but can be expensive as well if you book two days before your trip.

Super Ferry and 2Go offer trips to Busuanga, too. It’s cheaper but it will take several hours to get to Coron compared to riding an aircraft.

When to go there:

March, April, May are summer months in the Philippines. It’s hot, humid and the waves are serene. July-October are rainy months. Perks are it’s low season which means cheaper airfare and accommodation. Cons are strong waves because of the wind.

Where to stay:

Coron Gateway Resort Hotel  P3,250++

The Funny Lion Inn                   P6250++

Coron West Town Resort         P3270++

Two Seasons Coron                    P22,918++

Suggested Itinerary:

Slide1You have an option to book through a travel agency or book a boatman (which is cheaper). I highly suggest Kuya Allan . You may contact him at +639083497499. The tour package includes lunch by the beach, snacks, snorkelling mask, entrance fees to the islands and the boat that you’re going to use.

IMG_7547 (1)The beautiful Kayangan Lake.

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IMG_7535Maquinit Hotspring which helps relieve muscle sore.

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IMG_7550Restaurants are cheap in Coron. I recommend Santino’s Grill (just ask the tricycle driver to bring you there).

IMG_7551Crispy Lechon Kawali (Pan Fried Pork)

IMG_7552Pinakbet (a mixture of vegetables with shrimp paste)

IMG_7553-1Malcapuya Island

Coron is definitely a must-see destination in the Philippines. The islands and beaches are to die for. The people are friendly and accommodating. The food is simply mouthwatering. Discover Coron now.