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Since it is summer, sharing with you another laagan adventure post 2 years ago. If you are the type who prefer the mountain view instead of the beach, then this climbing adventure near Metro Manila, Philippines definitely suits you.

MT. DARAITAN
Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon

Major jumpoff: Brgy. Daraitan (village center), Tanay
Minor jumpoff: Sitio Cablao Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar
LLA: 14°36′48.5′′N 121°26′19.5′′ E, 739 MASL (+600)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2.5-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Tropical forest, limestone formations, river trek

The info above was grabbed from:
http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2014/10/mt-daraitan-739.html

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DAY 1
——–
0600 Take a UV Express Van from Ayala Triangle (Citibank Paseo) to Antipolo (via Tikling) [Php45.00]
0700 ETA Tikling, Antipolo. Take jeep to Tanay, Rizal [Php45.00]
0815 ETA Tanay, Rizal (Jollibee). Take tricycle to Brgy. Daraitan [P100/person for a group of 4]
0900 Arrival at Daraitan River. Take trike to barangay hall [Php 20.00 / (You may also opt to walk instead]
0915 ETA Barangay Hall; Register and secure guides. [Tourism Fee: Php20.00 ;Guide Fee: Php500.00 – Day Trek | Php 1250.00 for – Overnight Trek]

** For us, we chose to take the Tinipak River Route on the 1st day then descended via the original Mt. Daraitan Route.

1000 Start trek going to Tinipak River
1100 Arrive at General Nakar Registration (Tinipak River Camp Site) [Php20.00 registration]
1110 Explore Tinipak River and go spelunking at the Tinipak Cave [Maintenance Fee for the Cave – Php5.00]
1200 Lunch at the Riverside
** Last stop to Buy essentials (food, drinks, meds, etc.) and Refill Water
1300 Resume trek
1600 ETA summit; Set up camp
1730 Sunset viewing
1800 Dinner / socials

——–
DAY 2
——–
0545 Sunrise viewing at the limestone formations
**Given the good weather condition you may be able to see Daraitan’s “Sea of Clouds”.

0630 Breakfast / Break camp
0730 Start descent to Barangay Hall
0800 Back at Barangay Hall; tidy up
0900 Head back to Tanay, Rizal via Jeepney (Php60.00)
1015 Back in Tanay Rizal. Take UV Express Van going to Shaw (Php70.00)
1130 Back in Manila (Shaw Crossing/SM Megamall)

** Camping Stuff Rental
Tent Rental – Php 300.00 (Good for 4 pax)
Headlamp – Php 30.00

Estimated Expenses:
Day Trek – Php 500 (food not included)
Overnight – Php 700 to Php 800 (food not included)

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Before those self-proclaimed #influencers are demanding for free accommodations at some resorts in exchange of a feature, Siargao Island has already established its name on the map of the “most beautiful places to go to before you die”. Re-posting my Laagan Adventures post about this paradise almost 9 years ago. 😊

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Date: Nov. 10, 2010

The 14-hour travel by land and sea from General Santos City paid off the time we stepped on Dapa Port (RORO gateway to Siargao Island). I was just reading feature articles about Siargao Island before, but now, I will be an addition to those people who are proud to have reached this Cloud 9 destination.

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Siargao is composed of 8 municipalities. We stayed overnight in General Luna where the famous Cloud 9 waves are just about a mile away. The island has gained a reputation as the Philippines’ Surfing Capital because of Cloud 9. This right-breaking reef wave is the site of the annual Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition sponsored by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte.

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We stayed at Ronaldo’s Inn and Restobar. Among the resorts in General Luna, I should say, Ronaldo’s Inn is the cheapest. But despite its low room rates, it still provides its patrons the comfort of an island getaway.

2019 Update: The resort has improved over the years, but their rates are still one of the cheapest and worth a penny especially for those who are in big groups. Check out their facebook page for details.

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Aside from the surfing stuff, some shops in General Luna also offer island hopping trips recommended for those who just want to relax on the sand bars of the neighboring islets. They have a 16-hp motor island boat that can accommodate at most 20 passengers. It was an offseason when we went to Siargao, so we were able to negotiate their island hopping rate to as low as Php 2,500 for 3 Islands (Naked Islet, Dako Island, and Guyam Islet).

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Daku Island

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Pansukian Islet (also known as the Naked Island)

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Guyam Islet

Siargao Island contains the largest mangrove forest reserves in Mindanao, at Del Carmen. Long stretches of wetlands indicate a potential for commercial seaweed propagation. Siargao Island is greatly influenced by the winds and currents coming uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean, intensified by the Mindanao current running westward through the Siargao Strait. (…excerpt from Wikipedia)

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Repost from Laagan Adventures (May 15, 2011)

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The T’bolis are well known among the 18 tribes of Mindanao. Majority of them settles in the mountains of South Cotabato particularly in Lake Sebu. Even with the local government’s push towards development, T’bolis were able to maintain and preserve their rich culture and traditions. Their ways of living, in the present progressive state of Lake Sebu, can still be compared with how their ancestors lived centuries ago.

T'boli crafts

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Their contribution to the tourism industry of South Cotabato has been a big factor. They are famous for intricate handicrafts such as their colorful bracelets, earrings, brass ornaments and their world-class woven fabric called the “t’nalak”. Bags and clothes made of t’nalak are being sold expensively in parts of Europe and the United States.

The friendly T’boli Tribe in South Cotabato is worth a visit. Their happy characteristic will make your stay even more stirringly memorable. Moreover, when visiting Lake Sebu, don’t forget to witness and be entertained by the T’bolis’ tribal dances. These dances are inspired by the strokes of animals like that of the monkeys and birds. Their tribal songs are the traditions they’ve cherished from their ancestors, likewise their living connections with them ( their great grandparents).

Legends say (excerpts from The T’boli Tribe of South Cotabato)…

“…T’bolis are descendants of the survivors of a great flood. A man named Dwata warned the people of an impending great flood. But the tribe refused to listen, except for two couples, La Bebe and La Lomi, and Tamfeles and La Kagef. Dwata told them to take shelter in bamboo so huge they could fit inside and in this way survive the flood. The first couple is the ancestors of the T’boli and other highland ethnic groups. The second couple descended the other Filipino indigenous groups.”

“…T’boli women are named dreamweavers. The T’nalak weaving was taught by a goddess named Fu Dalu in a dream and that women learn this ethnic and sacred ritual, based on tribal designs and cloth patterns through their dreams.”

Tourist Spots in Lake Sebu

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Hikong Bente (2nd Falls of Lake Sebu)

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Lake Sebu Canoeing

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Lake Resorts

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If you want to visit Southern Mindanao and are looking for a out-from-the-beach summer getaway with the perfect view of the Philippines’ highest mountain, this place is just right for you. Camp Sabros Mountain Resort has a number of family-friendly zipline rides to offer, not to mention, the ambiance of a highland adventure. This mountain resort is about 2 hours away from the City of Davao, located in Barras, Kapatagan, Digos City, Davao del Sur.

You can choose either any of the adventure packages like a cable car ride, 380m zip line ride, 520m zip line ride, 820m super-zipline, rappelling and cable lift and horseback riding or even experience all of these for a very reasonable price.

It was 9 years ago when I last visited Camp Sabros. During that time, there was no entrance fee and no corkage charged if you’ll bring along your own food. But as the facilities improve over the years, their accommodation and ride packages have changed as well but I guess, prices are still reasonable. You may check their website for more information. You can spend overnight by camping/pitching tent or renting one of their cabins or glass houses overlooking the Mt. Apo landscape.

They are offering homestyle cooked food best for the Filipino or International appetite. There are also other amenities such as the billiard hall, sports center, and bonfire area.

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You can visit this link to know the different ways on how to get to the resort.
The gateway cities to Camp Sabros Mountain Resort:

  • Davao City, then travel by land for almost 2hrs
  • General Santos City, then travel by land for almost 3hrs

This video was taken 9 years ago as we spent Valentine’s day “zipping” our way up to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato… I have been featuring many about this adventure in “Laagan Adventures”, but let me just re-post it here.

Pardon me for the low-quality video. This was compiled years ago when my gadgets were only a 2MP video phone and a Hi-8 Sony camera.

The promoters say that the 7 Falls zipline adventure is the highest among other zip lines in Mindanao. This was the time when the local tourism board was promoting, for the first time, this adventure park and of course we didn’t let this invitation pass.


That time the maintenance fee was only Php 250 and you’d get to ride a 45-second highest zipline, about 350ft+ level above the ground, overlooking the laddering falls of Lake Sebu. We then went back to the base camp riding the faster second zipline for 25 seconds. Well, it’s worth a pay… an experience of a lifetime.

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And since we are talking about the seven falls, of course, we didn’t miss to take a plunge and feel the ravishing stream of the highest and the only waterfall where you can have the pleasure to take a swim, the Hikong Bente.

Accommodations near Lake Sebu, South Cotabato:

The gateway cities to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato:

  • Davao City, then travel by land for almost 5hrs
  • General Santos City, then travel by land for almost 2hrs

Repost from my old Laagan Adventures Blog (08 March 2008)… This was my first ever mountaineering adventure. As you can see in the gears and outfit, everything was improvised- not fit for climbing. But since it was my first time, I consider it the most memorable one.

 

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This isn’t even considered mountaineering-ready! Lol! 😆

Most of us are not familiar with this sleeping volcano. Some would say, they’d rather climb other peaks than wasting their cracks going up the, what is known to be, Mount Matutum. But for those who live and grew up on the municipalities, cities, and provinces surrounding this almost perfect cone, it is as if they’ll be missing half their lives if they won’t be able to climb its highest point.

And who says Mount Matutum is just like that of an effortless mountain to climb? Located within Barangays Kinilis, Landan, Maligo, and Palkan of the Municipality of Polomolok, this cone formed by volcanic uplift during its previous periods of activities is such a superb, challenging and thrilling mountain for those who are seeking for an outrageous adventure; in time for the summer fun.

With much lesser expenses and an immense physical preparation, I bet you’ll have the satisfaction that a climber feels when reaching the crest. Actually, I only spent less than a grand during our ascent. The summit registration fee is Php 150.00- this is inclusive of the climber’s certificate. A jeepney or coaster rental can be bargained to as low as Php 800.00 good for 14 people (Php 58.00 per head), in a Cannery Park to Registration Site (Glandang/Lembisong, Linan/Akmunan and Kyumang) and vice versa route. A porter/guide fee is required which costs Php 500.00 per 7 people (Php 71.43 per head). If you feel you can’t endure the steepness of the mountain in carrying your stuff while you’re still at the foot, you better let these tireless porters carry them for you. For those coming from the northern part of the country, there are air travels courtesy of the country’s large domestic air transport companies, through General Santos City International Airport. If you prefer traveling through seas or by land, likewise, these are available options.

Mountaineers can choose on three officially promoted trails, namely, the Glandang/Lembisong Trail, Datal Ngesi Trail and the Limos Trail. These paths, although they have different starting points, will meet in one common summit which is Phase 2. Phase 2 is somewhat the start of a more difficult climb for those coming from Glandang or Lembisong.

My team was brave enough to take the Limos Trail which requires the use of a “4-wheel drive” (hands and feet) from the foot up to Phase 2 then to the peak. At the starting point, Baranggay Kyumang, you will spot a freshwater brook coming from a spring on top of the mountain, the source of the community’s clean water. After having your names listed on the logbook, it will take you about an hour to trek from the hall up to the rest house which is yet the start of the real climb. As the porter would tell us during our climb, it will take about 6 hours to reach the peak when trailing this rarely taken path. That is if you are an experienced climber, but for us amateurs, it took us about 10 hours. Quite a long and tiring climb, but honestly, I enjoyed it, especially, when I used almost all of my body parts to move from one rock to the other, from one root to another and from one elevation to a higher.

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If you will be lucky enough to experience a non-cloudy morning, you will see this shadow blocking the plains at the base of Mt. Matutum.

Because I spent less than USD1000? Lol! 😆

Read through to know more!

They say The Maldives is every couple’s dream honeymoon destination… a paradise ONLY FOR the rich and the famous. However, a tourism boost has made the country more accessible for those who are on a tight budget… Moreover, you don’t have to be keen on finding for “Ms. Perfect” nor “Mr. Right” because the setting doesn’t need to be romantic. Spending holidays with friends or family in The Maldives can (and surely will) also be the “B.E.A.C.H” (Best.Escapade.Anyone.Can.Have)

Ok! Enough of those cheesy introductions because, I know, I owe some friends with a DIY itinerary. Lol! After our getaway trip to The Maldives a few months ago, many have been asking me questions about it. How did we do it?… How much did we spend?… Did we arrange it with a travel agency?… How much did the water activities cost us?… I was waiting for questions like, “How was the food?”, “Are the beaches powdery?”, “Did you enjoy watching over those dolphins?” But Nah!… The first questions they uttered were all related to the budget.

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To be honest, our expenses are not the recommended ones. Thus, this is a disclaimer for those who are following a strict “backpacking” budget. This is my “Not-So-Budget-Friendly” itinerary for 4 nights and 4 days. I think this is reasonable though. I will be discussing them below and you may (or may not) follow all of them. Prices may have changed from the time we went there so please take note of that as well.

When we planned this trip, one of the criteria we agreed upon is to experience the comfort of an island resort staycation as well as enjoy the pocket-friendly activities and food offered on a local island. So, if you plan to spend your whole trip in a cheaper stay at the local islands you may need to drop the read. I will be splitting this into 2 parts:

  • 2 nights and 2 days in an Island Resort
  • 2 nights and 2 days in a Local Island

But first… How Did We Get There?

I am biased with the airline company that I am working for. Lol! Of course, we flew with Scoot. The roundtrip Scoot fare to the Maldives ranges from as low as SGD 250 to as high as the SGD 800. This is depending on the timings of your booking and flight dates. If you are a good “Promo/Sale Fare Hunter”, you can purchase a roundtrip ticket of less than SGD 200. Example of these is Scoot’s Take-Off-Tuesdays.

Flight time from Singapore to Malé is 4.5hours. Scoot does not fly daily (M-W-F-Su) and as of writing, the ETD from Singapore is 19:10H. There is a 3-hr difference in the UTC between Singapore and Maldives, so ETA in Malé is 20:50H.

If you want to book from other airlines, you can choose from this Skyscanner list.

As I purchased a staff travel fare which is one of the privileges of working in an airline company, I won’t be telling how much I paid for a roundtrip ticket. ‘Cos it’s much cheaper. Haha! But my colleagues were able to purchase a roundtrip fare of SGD230, approximately USD170.00.

2-N, 2-D in an Island Resort

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Though the dream travel to The Maldives may just be an arm-reach away, it is still advisable for you to prepare, especially, if you don’t want to carve a much bigger chunk from your holiday savings. As mentioned above, we wanted to experience the Maldives in 2 ways- the intimate, peaceful and relaxed type, likewise, the practical one.

We found this resort which is just 10 minutes away from Malé – the Malahini Kuda Bandos. They don’t have the most sought water villas though. Instead, they have beach villas along the shoreline made for contemporary beach front living. They also have rooms with lower rates such as the Deluxe, Garden and Classic Rooms.

Since this is a private island, everything from airport transfer, to water activities, and meals are arranged within the resort. It is highly recommended that you book your accommodation via their website so you can immediately coordinate for early check-in or late check out. They also offer discounts and spa vouchers if you intend to stay for more than 4 nights.

The resort offers an extensive range of excursions and water activities for all their guests; hence, they do not allow private excursions or boat hire arranged from the outside. Price ranges are also much higher compared to those from the local islands. Availability for some activities may also depend on the number of heads, unless, you are willing to shell out more from your budget. Fortunately, there were 6 of us so the arrangement of the activities we took is much easier.

Here is the breakdown of our expenses in Malahini Kuda Bandos:

2 Garden View Rooms (3 pax per room for 2 nights) – USD 220 per pax (USD 1315.76)

– Includes breakfast buffet meal at Maaga

– Unlimited drinks at Bluu Bar

– Airport Transfers (to and fro, via speedboat) and Green Tax

– Free use of gym amenities

– Free use of SUP, Canoe, Windsurf & Paddleboat

Dinner at Bluu Bar- USD 14.00 – USD 25.00 per pax

Full Day Excursion Activities – USD 95.00 per pax:

– Water Villa visit (Thulhagiri Lover’s Paradise)

– Sting Ray Encounter (Snorkeling at Sting Ray Point)

– Sunset / Dolphin Cruise

Souvenirs and other expenses -Approx. USD 50.00 per pax

For the whole stay in this island resort, each of us had paid out USD390.00.

How was our stay on an Island Resort?

Since the resort is just 10 minutes away from the airport you also don’t need to worry about getting there. They will arrange your boat transfer at any time- 24hrs. Unless there’s a bad weather advisory, they will be able to fetch you even if your arrival time is late at night. The staff are also accommodating and are happy to welcome you upon your arrival.

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With a touch of minimalism, the rooms are tidy and spacious. Everything in the resort is accessible. Though there was a bit of an issue with the toilet flush system, the staff had immediately rectified.

Food choices were reasonable, with the set of local to international tastes. Maaga has a tropical ambiance overlooking the crystal blue waters. There is an open-air deck if you prefer to sit, dine closer to the sound of the sea waves and kissed by the morning sun or see the stars shine bright like diamonds at night.

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Above all, the beach is tranquil and clean. Imagine just lying on a hammock, feeling the breeze gently blowing the scent of the sea… This vibe! It’s just so relaxing!

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2-N, 2-D in a Local Island

As many budget travel websites would prefer, local islands in The Maldives serve those who are trying not to reach the ceiling of their holiday expenses. Moreover, if you are the type of person who easily gets bored of just lying on the beach, isolated in a less crowded island, then, staying in one of the countries local islands would be favorable for you.

After spending the first half of our trip to an island resort, we transferred to Maafushi. Although Malé, the capital city, has all the convenience from transportation to establishments, this local island is the most recommended one considering its distance from the international airport and the competitive accommodations it offers. To mention, the capital city has already been developed in terms of infrastructure so the “beach vibe” is no longer apparent compared to the other local islands.

We were able to find our hotel via Booking.com. We stayed at Velana Beach Hotel, located at the beach front opposite to the more commercialized side of Maafushi. Since it is located away from the crowded side of the island, the atmosphere here is typically serene.

Maafushi is accessible via public ferries from Malé, but you can also arrange a speed boat transfer with your hotels if you prefer convenience. Just a note, public ferries are scheduled and since The Maldives is a Muslim country, they don’t operate every Friday. For us, we arranged our transfer to and from Maafushi with Velana Beach Hotel.

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Maafushi Bikini Beach

I will give the details of what we did in Maafushi in a separate article, but here is the breakdown of our expenses including the excursions we took:

3 Super Deluxe Rooms (2 pax per room for 2 nights) – USD 91.00 per pax (USD 546.00)

– Includes breakfast buffet meal

– Unlimited drinks

– Airport Transfers (to and fro, via speedboat) and Green Tax

Dinner at:

Areena Beach Hotel – USD 14.00 per pax

Kaalamaa Restaurant – USD 15.00 per pax

Excursion Activities:

1st Day:

– Half-day Snorkelling and Sandbank tour (private tour for 10 pax = USD 300) – USD 30.00 per pax

o Snorkeling at a Marine Sanctuary

o Lunch at the Sandbank

o Snorkeling at Turtle Reef

o Dolphin Cruise

2nd Day

– Half-day Island Resort Tour (Fihalhohi)

USD 25.00 per pax (USD 150.00 boat transfer)

USD 70.00 per pax (Resort access fee and lunch)

o Includes full access to resort amenities

o Includes lunch buffet

Souvenirs and other expenses – Approx. USD 50.00 per pax


Everything in Maafushi is of reasonable prices, whether be with accommodations, food or water activities. The island offers great choices or options and even the beach is what tourists are looking for.
For the whole stay in Maafushi, each of us had shelled out USD295.00.

Now… Do you think this is a “not-so-budget-friendly” itinerary?

My expense breakdown may not be the recommended one. I just wanted to show you how we enjoyed this trip without ruining our mood thinking about how much were we spending. Above all, it pays off to be prepared in every travel you make. Each of us will have our own trip goals and expenses but, in the end, we still wanted to check how others have done it.

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For me, I am happy to be able to share our own way of doing the 4N4D trip to the “Sunny Side of Life” … the Maldives.

Although this was the wrap-up trip of our 11-day Japan adventure, I can say, our itinerary was still loaded. From visiting historical landmarks to food tasting, our remaining 3 days in Japan was never boring.

From Fujikawaguchiko, we jumped off and rode the train going to Osaka. We missed the Shinkansen twice when we were in Yokohama so we arrived late in the afternoon at our hostel. We just settled for a bit and went off again to Dotonbori to shop for souvenirs and, of course, for a food trip. We spent our first night in Osaka bumming around Dotonbori.

 

 

The next morning, we went off early for Kyoto as we wanted to maximize our day in 2 cities. We planned to spend the whole morning and afternoon exploring Japan’s former capital city and experience nightlife at Kobe.

It, really, is a good idea to visit popular tourists’ spots at the earliest possible time since they aren’t that crowded yet. From Arashiyama Bamboo forest to Kinkakuji to Fushimi Inari; squeezing in these 3 Kyoto destinations in a day was all good for us to take as many selfies as we could. Lol! But yeah, Kyoto has a lot to show and one day is really not enough. We will probably be back!

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Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

 

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Kinkakuji Temple

 

Eating everything “Matcha”

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Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shinto Shrine)

 

There are hundreds of Torii Gates in Fushimi Inari Taisha that you won’t even give a damn effort to count. And the sunset?… It rained for almost the whole day but, fortunately, the sun showed up when it was just about to set. It was just magical.

We went off towards Kobe around 5pm. Anyway, since the sun rises early in Japan, it also sets early so it was already dark when we arrived at Kobe although the time was only around 6pm. So… what else would we do in Kobe?… Of course, to eat one of the specialties that the city is boasting of- the Kobe beef. There are a lot of restaurants in Kobe Harbourland which offers Wagyu beef steak but in some blogs I read, there are other places in Kobe where the prices for this sought-after “meal” are much lower. We were not able to go and find those restaurants though. We were a bit exhausted exploring Kyoto and all we just wanted is to find a place to sit, eat and relax.

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Mouth-watery Kobe Beef

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Kobe Harbor Front

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Mosaic Big Ferris Wheel, Kobe Harborland

The next morning, since our departure time going back to Singapore is at 6pm, we went to take a quick visit to Osaka Castle. The surrounding park was wide so we just spent 3 hours roaming around and killing our time before heading back to Kansai Airport.

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Osaka Castle

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It was only my second time to visit Japan and I’m really looking forward to more adventures in this amazing country. Our 11-day trip was really not enough. I have only been to the major cities and hopefully when I’ll be given the chance to go back I can visit more of the outskirts. As I heard those places pull you closer to the rich culture of Japan. Sugu Modorimasu! Doumo Arigatou Gozaimasu!

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This quiet town of Fujikawaguchiko gets busy with the influx of tourists – foreigners, and locals alike – all year round.
But still, unlike other attractions around here (Mt. Fuji Ropeway and Fuji-Q Highlands) where queues are long, the town also has tourist spots closer to nature, where you can enjoy and relax without getting stressed due to queuing up. Masaya maglakad lakad dito.
Note: May kaunting takutan na nangyari sa video dahil malaki at medyo luma ang style ng nakuha naming AirBnB, pero maganda naman ang bahay. Ideal for groups of 8 and more. Haha!
#Fuji #Kawaguchiko #Japan
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Majestic View of Mt. Fuji from Saiko Iyashino-Sato Nenba

Just before the Chinese New Year, we’ve been thinking about where can we spend our days off (holidays). It should be somewhere culturally/traditionally rich, Instagrammable as well as “blog-worthy” and easy-access for our Philippine Passports. Where else? BALI topped our list… As a last minute decision, we grabbed our backpacks, put in all our gadgets, comfy clothes and headed to a Tropical CNY Escapade!

Below is a compilation of this quick but fun trip to Bali:

 

Photos will be posted SOON. 😊

 

Tokyo…

Absolutely, a must-visit city for everyone- from all “walks of travel”. A city where tradition and modern life get along in balance. I got the chance for a 1 night-1 day stopover in Tokyo during our Japan trip and I would say, though compressed, it was still loaded with fun. We were able to stretch our legs to explore some of the famous tourist spots around the city.

Our first stop was in Shibuya- famed as the busiest intersection in the world. Where else could you get your “Hello Tokyo!” selfie, but here. The flow of people, crossing from different directions, is incredible that you would be asking yourself, “Where are they coming from?”. We only went to explore Shibuya on our first night since we need some rest to recover from our Sapporo trip. Then, we decided to go back to our hotel after dinner.

Since we wanted to maximize our time, we started the next day early and went to Odaiba, a popular shopping and dining district on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. We dropped by The Diver City, famous for its Gundam attraction. Of course, the life-size statue should not be missed out. The size of this Gundam model is huge to make someone think it is the protector of Diver City and probably the first line of defense of Tokyo. Ok, I’m exaggerating! Lol!

Odaiba also offers visitors the “New York vibe” because of the Statue of Liberty replica standing with a background of the Rainbow bridge. But don’t get fooled by some of the photos online. The size of this replica is only about 1/7th of the original one. The walkway near this statue will give you an angle and the feel of being teleported to New York City.

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After spending almost 2hrs in Odaiba, we went ahead to visit the Hama Rikyu Gardens. This is a landscaped garden, large enough that you will have a hard time finding your friends around especially when there’s no way that you can contact them. It happened to us. We waisted almost an hour finding everyone. Lol! This garden has also served history. It has been an imperial detached garden, duck hunting ground and a residence of a feudal lord for centuries before it was opened to the public. Some of the structures and equipment here remain preserved by time. There is also a tea house situated in the middle of the sea water pond which serves the traditionally made Japanese rice cake (mochi). One of the must-tries in Tokyo.

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With regards to fashion, Japan is also a trendsetter. Expounding that, Harajuku is an area in Tokyo where you can find all the latest and trendiest teenage fashion – though there’s merchandise for adults as well. We got into this street in Harajuku- Takeshita Dori- famous for being the birthplace of Japan’s fashion trends. Outlet stores, boutique shops, and restaurants lined up in this narrow street with their goals of targeting the stylish teenage markets. This area has become well known that it really gets crowded at any time of the day.

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Now, if you are more into traditional Japan, just a few hundred meters away from Takeshita Dori is Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sanctified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine is dense with large trees but has established walkways for visitors to explore. Actually, we didn’t include this in our itinerary, but, since this is just across Takeshita Dori and near the JR station, we did a quick visit. Anyway, admission in Meiji Jingu is free.

One thing I observed about Japan is that the sun sets as early as 4PM. At 5PM, it is already dark and makes you feel hungry for dinner. Our day was full, so after visiting Meiji Jingu, we went ahead to look for a place to relax a bit. Since it was too early for dinner, we decided to head to Roppongi Hill. Roppongi is Tokyo’s business district and the home of some of the leading IT companies in Japan. We just roamed around the shopping malls in Roppongi and stayed in a cafe. Haven’t been noticing the time, it was already 8PM when we headed on to our next stop, the Mori Tower, access to the 360-degree view of Tokyo City. The observation deck and Art Museum are on the top floor and can be accessed through admission tickets. I would highly recommend this for first- time visitors, the view of the city lights at the top is stunning and the exhibits at the art museum is interesting as well.

We went down Mori Tower and headed towards Tokyo Tower around 9PM. We enjoyed so much in Roppongi and realized we only had little time left to visit Tokyo Tower’s observation decks. Thus, we decided not to proceed, though, we still had decent photos of Tokyo’s tourist symbol even from the outside. This will surely be one of the reasons why I need to be back in Tokyo- to take a selfie in the Sky Tree. Lol!

We only had a day to explore Tokyo, but we still had the chance to make it as maximized as possible. The last time I went to Tokyo was also a quick one so I never had the luxury of time to enjoy more. Definitely, I will be back and hopefully by then, it will be a more relaxed itinerary. Still, there is a lot I need to explore around one of the visited and loved cities in the world.

Bangkok Quick Trip

Happy New Year!!!

This would be my first official post, but not the first official travel, for 2019. Since this was a business trip, I really didn’t have the chance to explore the city. Although, I already visited Bangkok more than a year ago and I’d say, our time then was enough to be able to explore some of the well-known tourist attractions, except for one – The Grand Palace. Thailand was still mourning for the death of the King during that time so it was closed for tourists.

This time around, I really did squeeze in a quick tour of the city’s important and most visited complex.

Our hosts also treated us for dinner at the M.R. Kukrit House – a heritage museum dedicated to Thailand’s former Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj. Thai cuisines, indeed, are the tastiest in South East Asia. The dinner also gave us entertainment showcasing Thai cultural dances.

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Here’s a video compilation of my quick Bangkok Business trip.

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Lumpini Park

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“Tuktuk” – who could have missed riding Thailand’s well-known mode of transportation.

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