Sorsogon Weekend

Last month, Chelli and I made the spontaneous decision to go down to Sorsogon and be guinea pigs/beta testers for Just Wandering Tours. In hindsight, we should have thought the trip through better because with over 12-hours spent on the bus per way, it only left us less with than 2 whole days in the area.

I’ve always believed in DIY travel, so it was a new experience to completely hand the reins over. Nina met us at the Sorsogon bus station with coffee and breakfast so we could stretch out before hitting the road for another hour to Bulusan.

 

Home for the Weekend

We spent the day at Bulusan lake, where it started pouring (because of course it did. My Ame Onna powers know no bounds). We managed to make the hike around the lake during a lull in the deluge, but it did start coming down again while I was in the middle of the lake on a paddleboard lol.

 

There was a stream behind the hut we stayed in that lulled us to sleep before 10pm  — a damn miracle, I tell you, considering our little band of night owls. (Or should that be our little parliament of night owls?) We checked out the stream first thing in the morning, and I have not seen a body of water so close to where people live that was so clean in years. I wish I had photos of it to share, but there was a man bathing in it while we were taking our morning stroll haha!

After breakfast, we made our way to Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp in Gubat. I was so grateful for the clear skies and glassy, mushy waves that made for a chill surf day. While it was the part of our trip that I was most looking forward to, it was also the part that made me most anxious. Not only was it my first time surfing outside Zambales, I also didn’t have the safety blanket of my usual surf buddies. But the Lola Sayong locals were really friendly and put me at ease almost immediately.

 

It was such a perfect way to end our weekend. Nina spoiled us the entire time — she had us chauffeured around Sorsogon, fed us incredibly well, and basically made our stay stress-free. I only regret that we didn’t plan our time away from the city better and stay longer. But there’s always next time, eh?

If you ever want to go around Bulusan with a local in comfort, go check out Just Wandering Tours!
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Advertisements

You Say Good-bye, I say Hanoi

I was on the fence when my mother asked me to be her travel buddy to Hanoi. I really didn’t know that much about Vietnam, so I thought it would happen sometime maybe in the next year or two. Then my travel plans for mid-2014 fell through (that’s twice now that my plans to visit a certain country’s failed, I’m beginning to think I’m jinxed) and I just refused to let the year end without a trip.

P1010794
Buildings in the Old Quarter

I loved that you can walk almost everywhere in Hanoi. Since we were staying at the Old Quarter, most of the places to see and shop at were within a maximum of 30 mins of walking away. I already worry about skeevy cab drivers at home, even more so when I’m abroad, so anytime I can walk to my destination, I’m happy. The only time we took a cab to was the area where the Fine Arts Museum and the complex that housed the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Mausoleum, former house, and Presidential Palace was.

And the buildings are so pretty. Most of them are only a room wide, but extend backwards. The streets remind me of bookshelves.

P1010793
The Opera House in the French Quarter.

This trip made me realise that I take terrible photos of cityscapes so I spent the better part of my first afternoon back in Manila being a human Instagram-like filter machine. Hahaha!

noms
Epic meal time.

My favourite meal in Hanoi and I have no idea what it’s called. Despite arguing over almost everything during this trip, Mama and I agreed on two things: No tour guides, and if the restaurant’s full of tourists, don’t eat there. This bilao of food was from an eatery hidden in a small alley across our hotel. No menus and nobody spoke English. Mama was actually trying to order something else from her list of food-to-try-in-Vietnam, but the waitress just looked at us like we were crazy and brought this out. SO GOOD THO’. The consistency of fishcake, but made of pork. Plus the usual basil and rice noodle cake things.

cropped-p1010927.jpg
Obligatory photo of my face. At the Temple of Literature.

I’d like to come back and see the rest of Vietnam soon. Prolly check out Halong Bay, because weird flight schedules only gave us 3 days in Hanoi instead of the planned 4-5, we didn’t have enough time to. I already miss the food, and our lovely hotel. Which I totally recommend, btw. If you’re planning a trip to Hanoi, check out the Hanoi Old Centre Hotel. The place is pristine, they’ve got  free refreshments in the lobby all day and the staff’s really friendly. 10/10 would stay again. 😛

These are some of my favourite photos, the rest are on Facebook, if you’re interested. For now I’m making our stockpile of instant pho last as long as possible.

Seam Reap 2013 – The Basics

P1010347

Scratched one more off the bucket list! The family and I took a little holiday last week and really, four days in Seam Reap isn’t enough. I now understand why my friends keep coming back.

I never got around to really blog about my Nepal trip two years ago, and I’m determined to it properly this time. Travel blogs pretty much saved me a lot of heartache when I was planning our itenirary and budget so hopefully, I can pass on the good vibes and help someone else. 🙂

Money:

There’s no need to change your bills to Riel; almost everyone accepts US Dollars but you get your change in Riel if it’s less than 1 USD. It’s about 4000 Riel to 1 USD.

PRO TIP: Bring new Dollars!
One of our bills were printed in the late 90’s, and no one would take it. I had to go to the bank to have it changed to a newer bill.

Accommodations:

P1010712
Home for 4 Days

Continue reading “Seam Reap 2013 – The Basics”

Back from Singapore, lah!

sporeThe company I work for was having a trade booth at a conference in Singapore, and since I’m both a company and industry no0b, they decided to send me there for a couple of days. Anticipating the work, the conference, the meetings, and my terrible, terrible sense of direction I didn’t expect to be sight-seeing or doing anything remotely tourist-y during my stay — my lack of camera proves that. (The picture above was taken by my Singaporean colleague while we were having dinner at the fountain area in Suntec.)

Turns out, I was pretty spoiled by my Singaporean hosts and I now regret not bringing a camera. A lot of firsts on this trip. First time in Singapore, first time traveling alone, first “business trip”, first time out of the country in more than 10 fucking years and I have missed traveling terribly.

So, two things there that wasn’t related to work:

  • Food:

What I love about food in Singapore is the variety that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. You can take your pick from Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian food stalls for about 3-4 SGD. My favourite was the heaping plate of briyani rice, mutton curry and a little curried eggplant on the side for about 2.50 SGD at a food stall in Little India. Stalls at the mall food courts run up to about 5-7 SGD.

I went a little crazy with the Indian food there just because it’s so expensive in Manila. Plus it’s actually spicy and they don’t skimp on the cardamom. Mmm-mmm, cardamom.

I gained about 3 lbs in the 5 days I was there. Good food can be so evil.

After work one evening, a colleague took me out for drinks and dinner at a bar in Chjimes, which apparently used to be an old nunnery. They’ve kept a lot of the old buildings intact as well as the gothic churches and all I could think about was how awesome would it be to do a shoot there haha.

  • Shopping:

I stayed away from the malls, because I wasn’t too keen on impulse spending half a month’s salary, but I did go to Bugis St. where there’s  just a whole area of little shops. They have a whole bunch of 1,2 & 5 SGD things for sale, as well as a lot of 3 for 10 SGD things which is great when you’re buying a whole bunch of souvenirs for people back home.

I could go on, but let’s not. All in all, it was an awesome trip. It would be great to come back with friends and not have to work, but then I’d have to pay for my own ticket and accomedations hahaha. 😛