Road Trip: Boracay

I will never ever get tired of watching the sunset in Boracay. This experience never gets old!

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Road Trip: Surfs Up in La Union!

08.25-08.27

We’re very fortunately to enjoy two back to back long weekends! And for the second long weekend, my officemates and I took a road trip to San Juan, La Union, also known as the surfing capital of Luzon.

San Juan is a town in the province of La Union, located at the north western part of Luzon and is famous for its surfing spots and beaches. It is accessible via car from Manila, about 4-5 hours away (depending on traffic and number of stop overs), or via bus going to Ilocos.

It was our first time to go to San Juan, but not our first time to surf. However the last time I hopped on a board was way back in 2009, so I am a little rusty and apprehensive when it comes to surfing.

We checked in at the Kahuna Beach Resort, one of the nicer resorts in the area. It was actually very comfortable and reasonably priced, although this is given they are at low peak rates. It had garden rooms like little villas and had its own pool, spa and direct access to the beach.

We were tired from our long drive that Saturday so we mostly spent time resting, sitting at the beach and swimming in the pool.

Since we had the whole day of Sunday, that’s where all the action began.

We spent the first part of the morning playing with baby Shawn in the kiddie pool as its his first time to swim.

Then it was time to conquer the waves of La Union!

As mentioned earlier, I haven’t surfed in years so I was a bit apprehensive with conquering the waters of La Union. The waves actually looked scary and with the constant rains and southwestern winds blowing, the waves were coming in droves along the coast.

We hired some local instructors to teach us how to surf. We used long boards first since we were beginners. We practiced the techniques on how to get up on the boards on the beach first before going into the water.

After a few minutes, we headed into the water to put our skills to the test!

We were just a few meters from the beach. The water just reached to chest level where we started catching waves. Our instructors usually just helped us position our boards and gave the signal when the wave comes in.

After a few wipe outs due to nerves, I finally got up on may board and hung on for a few moments!

It was just so awesome! Now I understood the thrill surfing gives! After that initial time, I stood up more often that not during the rest of our one hour lesson. Here’s an actual video:

I am not sure if its the waters and waves in LU or the instructors that made the difference, but I can definitely give credit to all my yoga and Anti-Gravity Yoga Flying Fitness classes for helping me with my balance and upper body and core strength. I could really feel my arms and core working to help me stand up properly and keep my balance.

I really had so much fun during the trip and being on a health program didn’t spoil it either. I actually packed my fruits and veggies in a cooler and brought it with me. 🙂

I am all excited and looking forward to my next surfing trip!

Project 365: I <3 Antipolo Road Trips (Day 164)

Fun and crazy night in Antipolo City over looking metro Manila. Dinner at Zero Degrees Manila and drinks and videoke at Lorenzo’s after

Project 365: I <3 BRB! (Day 147)

Meet my new favorite sweethearts – JM, Bryan, Alex and Markki! The boys of ASAP Boys R Boys were with me in Davao and these guys are like my crazy brothers!

Date A Boy Who Travels

The Answer to Date A Girl Who Travels 🙂

A Travel Blog

Since I solemnly declared yesterday, Lena Day, as the result of an overwhelming week, I urged each of you do some something that you love! I found myself in a Starbucks, inspired and whipped out this little ditty. You may have read, “You Should Date An Illiterate Girl” by Charles Warnke or the response “Date A Girl Who Reads” by Rosemarie Urquico, so I thought I’d bring you something same, same but different. Enjoy!

Date A Boy Who Travels

Date a boy who travels. Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive” or “resort”. Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.

You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only…

View original post 1,415 more words

Road Trip: Pulilan, Bulacan

04.06.12

Every Good Friday, our family takes a road trip down to the province of Bulacan, in the town of Pulilan to join the procession where almost a hundred life-size statues depicting events in the life of Jesus and note-worthy saints are paraded through the small sleepy town.

Pulilan, Bulacan is about an hour’s journey from our house, headed north of Manila. You take the North Luzon Expressway and enter at the Pulilan exit.

Pulilan is the hometown of my grandfather. Although born in Pampanga, my grandfather grew up in the ancestral house in Bulacan. Until recently, his sister, Auntie Rose and her late husband Uncle Manuel, resided in the over a century year old house.

This house is home to the Mater Dolorosa, the family patroness, which has been in the family since the 1600s. And every year, on Good Friday, she joins the procession around the town, with our family devoting to decorate and pull her carosa.

The main church is situated a few blocks away from the house, and is called the Cathedral of San Isidro, where the procession will always start.

This Church is known for their town fiesta every May 15, where carabaos are paraded and made to kneel in front of the church.

The procession began at 6pm and lasted for over two hours, since there were almost a hundred carosas to be paraded. It took an hour just for the Mater Dolorosa to pass where we were waiting with our grandfather for him to catch a glimpse of the patroness. And an additional hour to walk the route.

It was tiring but always great to do this every year with the cousins, aunts and uncles. Grandfather is always fun to be around! Here he is joking around:

Until next year!

 

The Beauty Book: My Korean Beauty Loot

Koreans are very well known for their beauty and skin care lines. Brands like The Face Shop, Etude, Skin Food and Laniage have all made its way into the Philippines and have been staples in our beauty and skin care regimen.

As an avid beauty and skin care fan, I couldn’t pass up not getting something from these stores to update my skin care and make-up line.

The stores are easy to find. In Myeong-dong, the stores are right next to each other and are usually open later than the boutiques. The sales ladies are very helpful and actually know their skincare line when we asked them specific questions like “what is good for dry skin?” or “what is good for women 50 and above to use?” (like when I got my mom some beauty products). And the best part are the freebies that come with it 🙂

Here is my Korean Beauty loot:

I got some cleansers, BB creams, eye creams and lipstick!

I am an avid fan of oil based cleansers and have been using Shu Uemura cleansing oils as a prime make up remover. I was running out of stock so I wanted to get one, but found this great alternative from Nature Republic! Its made out of Olive Oil, perfect for dry to normal skin. I tried and tested it already and it easily removed my daily make-up and has the sweet smell of olive oil. Its also light on the face and much cheaper than Shu Uemura!

BB Creams (Blemish Balm creams) are all the rage now and has gained popularity in Korea, and now in the Philippine market. Its used mainly to hide imperfections, giving a smoother effect on skin. I experimented with two brands – Tony Moly and Nature Republic, trying out their snail bb cream, that promises to keep the skin moist and firm.

I already started using the Nature Republic brand, and I liked the results. I use mainly after putting on my tinted moisturizer as a sort of concealer before dusting off with mineral powder. The results is flawless looking skin and it surprisingly stays on until I wash it off with water and cleanser.

Because I am not getting younger, I invested on some eye cream to pack in the vitamins and help reduce wrinkles. I got the 70 Whitening Collagen Dream Eye Cream from Nature Republic, that the sales lady says was for lightening dark undereyes and the collagen ingredient helps reduces wrinkles. I’ve applied it both day and night. It has a light formula that isn’t that irritating to the eyes and it sticks! I was surprised when I accidentally washed it off when I went to the bathroom at night, and left a little residue.

And ofcourse no journey to Korea is complete without a stop at the airport duty free to get some MAC lipstick which was actually cheaper than here in the Philippines. I got some red Ruby Woo retro matte lipstick and stocked up on my staple Viva Glam IV lipstick.

Food Trip: The Korean Edition

Part of the reason that I was excited for my Korean adventure was to sample authentic and yummy Korean food. I have always enjoyed eating Korean food here in Manila and couldn’t wait to hit the restaurants in Seoul.

I will not make reviews on each restaurant but instead will focus more on the food itself. In Seoul, we sampled many types of food, from restaurants to street food and was treated to delightful dishes.

Let me start off with the restaurants.

In Korea, there are ample restaurants lining the streets where you can sample dishes and authentic Korean cuisine.

Appetizers

In Korea restaurants, before every meal, plates of appetizers are put down in front of you for free. These can be eaten before the meal or with the meal. The appetizers, we also noticed, vary from dishes ordered.

Some appetizers include kimchi (spicy cabbage dish), bean sprouts, tofu, seasoned vegetables, and melon slices.

Bibimbap

One of my favorite dishes is the bibimbap, a mixed rice topping dish placed in a stone pot. And I couldn’t get enough of this dish! On top of the rice are ground meat, vegetables and an egg. You mix them together to make it sort of like fried rice. You have the option to put their spicy bean paste to give it a spicy kick.

Soups and Stews

Korean people also love their soups and stews. These hot dishes make perfect companions for the cold weather. We also sampled some of their famous stews.

Korean Beef Stew

This dish was a winner 🙂 We ordered this at a restaurant in Bokchon Hanok Village and it was spicy and bursting with flavor from the meat, spices and vegetables. It was also cooked in a portable electric range to keep warm.

Spicy Korean beef soup

This hearty soup kept us warm during our rainy last day. Its different from the Korean beef stew as this was more of a soup. The meat had no bones and it had vermicelli noodles in it.

Chicken Ginseng Soup

This hearty dish is already a complete meal on its own. The chicken is boiled in a soup base and packed with rice. The one we ate was flavorful and cooked just right. You may opt to dip in a salt and white pepper mixture for added flavor.

Korean Barbeque

The best food in Korea is always their barbeque. Pieces of sliced meat are cooked in front of you in a portable stove with hot coals. Once the meat is cooked, you wrap them in lettuce leaves and dipped in sauces – their spicy bean sauce and an oil, salt and pepper mixture for flavor.

Aside from restaurants we also tried a variety of street food being sold in stalls around busy areas such as Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Ehwa Women’s University and in Nami Island.

Korean Pancake

Different sausages on a stick

Hotcakes with egg in the middle

With its busy lifestyle, Korea is also home to fast food chains specializing in burgers. They have the usual McDonald’s but in Korea, Lotteria takes the lead. Their specialty? Bulgogi burgers – a burger topped with bulgogi sauce, a sweet meat sauce that brings a different twist to your regular burger.

As much as I enjoyed my Korean food trip, there are some tips to be remembered:

  • Please take note in Korea, some restaurants require you to order per person. Some of you may not understand why I am bringing this up, but in the Philippines, you are allowed to order family style for sharing. Like if we are three people, we usually order 2 dishes to share. But in the Korean restaurant where we regularly eat, we each have to get one order each. The language barrier also doesn’t help for us to explain why we want only want to order two dishes.
  • Tips are not necessary in restaurants.
  • Read carefully as you may end up with food good for a family of six when you’re only three. That was one of our mistakes in one restaurants. But then again, their menu is mostly in Korean and just have pictures and a one liner English translation.
  • Food is relatively cheap – ranging from 1000 to 3000 won for street food, 5000-7000 for coffee shops and fast food and 10000 to 3000 for restaurants.

Road Trip: Seoul, South Korea

03.03 to 03.06

Annyeong haseyo!

I just spent the weekend on my first out of the country trip this year. Destination: Seoul, South Korea.

My officemates and I have been raring to go to this city since Cebu Pacific opened a new route to Seoul. Other officemates have raved non-stop about this place and so this became on of our must-see places on our travel lists.

For 2012, my office friends and I made this our destination for our annual out of the country trip. As soon as Cebu Pacific announced a seat sale to Seoul last October, we immediately booked our flights for March. Only three of us were able to make the bookings – so the Feb, March and April birthday girls decided to celebrate our birthdays in Seoul.

Fast forward to March 2012 and we are finally set!

Preparing to Seoul-Search

Unlike our other out of the country trips, our trip to Korea required some major preparations beforehand.

  • We had to secure a Korean Visa. For those from the Philippines planning to go to Korea, you would need to apply for a visa. It usually takes 3-5 working days to process. You can either visit the embassy personally or go through a travel agent for a fee. Please note that not all are immediately granted visas (I’ve heard of some people who were denied) and usually those with US Visas have higher chances of getting a visa.
  • March is usually end of winter, going towards spring. We’ve been monitoring the weather and the temperature ranges from -1 to 11 degrees Celsius, much colder than the Philippines, who is on its way to summer months. We had to pack winter outfits like sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots to keep warm.
  • Koreans speak a very different language and not all speak English. We had to stock up our iphones with Korean language translation apps to help break the language barrier.
  • Since it was our first time, we had to prepare a detailed IT to help us navigate the city. Websites like Visit Korea and apps like iTourSeoul were great help for directing us exactly where to go and how to get there.

Touch down Seoul!

We arrived in Seoul at 6.15am, right on schedule at the Incheon International Airport. From the airport, we took an airport bus (10,000 won) to the city. The airport is about an hour away from the city.

We went down the Myeong-dong station, the closest station to our guest house. For this trip we opted to stay at a guest house instead of a hotel as it was cheaper and the place we got was very accessible to the train station and the shopping area.

We were picked up by Mr. Chong, the manager of the guest house, Alps Seoul, and immediately checked in our room.

Guests houses are often used by people who stay longer in Korea, like those who study. Our room came with its own bathroom and private kitchenette at the price of a standard room of a hotel. And it was only a five minutes walk from the main shopping area – Myeong-dong!

Riding the Seoul train

Getting from one place to another is very convenient in Seoul, with their elaborate subway system, with 17 lines crisscrossing the city’s underground. Their stations are clean and well-lit, and the tracks have gates to protect passengers from falling into the tracks.

For foreign tourists, it is very easy to navigate the system as the signs and maps have English translations, and the voice over inside the trains and at the stations also have English. Their trains are also not very crowded even during rush hour that even crazy tourists like us can conveniently take a picture.

A trip on the train costs about 1650 won for a single trip but you can collect a deposit of 500 won after.

Seoul-Searching

So now we have arrived, what are the best things to do in Seoul? I’ve named the top 10 things to do while in the city:

  • Shop. Shop. Shop.

Being a bustling city, Korea is well updated with the latest fashions and brands like H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo have all made its way there. The best place to go shopping is Myeong-dong, located at the heart of the city. It can be comparable to Times Square of New York, Tsim Tsat Tsui of Hong Kong or Orchard Road of Singapore. Rows of boutiques, restaurants and specialty shops line the area, and at night, stalls selling goods and food line the streets.

You can also try the Ehwa Women’s University area for boutiques and knick-knacks to tickle a girl’s fantasy. Since these stores cater to university students, their prices are cheaper and their items cater more to the younger crowd.

Another good place to shop is COEX Mall, located at Seongsam. Its Seoul’s biggest underground mall and hosts many activities like the Teddy Bear Museum, Kimchi Museum and an Aquarium.

  • View Seoul atop N Seoul Tower

To get the best view of the city, you can ride on a cable car up to N Seoul Tower to see the beauty that is Seoul. This is just walking distance from our guest house and Myeong-dong. After taking in the view, you can go down and affix a locket in the museum in Namsan Park.

  • Visit Nami Island

Nami Island is a small park just two hours outside Seoul. You can take the bus via the Nami Island Shuttle located in Insadong. The bus leaves at 9.30am and comes back at 4pm.To enter Nami Island, you can either take a 10 minute ferry ride or zipline your way inside.

Nami Island is a beautiful park with tree-lined paths. Its the setting for one of Korea’s most popular drama, Winter Sonata.

Visitors can walk the many paths, ride bikes or take the train around the island. It is also friendly for children as the park also boasts many playgrounds for the kids.

  • Visit a palace

Seoul is home to many palaces from the olden times and you can visit as many as five in the city. We chose to go to one, Changdeokgung Palace located in Jongno-gu. Its one of the biggest palaces and has a secret garden. There are tours around the place in Korean, Chinese and English, but tourists can explore the palace freely.

  • Look for art along Insa-dong

This is a strip of art galleries and little boutiques where you can walk around to admire artwork and shop for little trinkets. Galleries usually open new exhibitions on Wednesdays between 5pm-7pm.

  • Have coffee in one of the numerous coffee shops

Coffee shops have lined the streets of Seoul, ranging from the regular Starbucks and Coffee Bean to home grown stores like Caffe Bene and other quaint places, especially around the Hongdae area.

Our favorite thing to do in hangout in one of these places in the afternoons to get away from the bitingly cold air.

  • Shop for Cosmetics

Koreans regard skin care as high priorities on their list, and so the city is littered with hundred of beauty care shops featuring Korean beauty products. These shops boasts of using natural ingredients like snail, snake essence and mineralized water.

Its no wonder that the Korean girls have such flawless faces.

  • Visit Everland/Lotte World

For those bringing their families, you can spend a day at either Everland or Lotte World, Korea’s top amusement parks. We didn’t get to go on this trip because we had enough of the cold when we were in Nam Island.

  • Drink and be merry!

Korea, being a bustling city, also has a vivid night life. Popular places to go clubbing are in the GangNam area, while a popular drinking place is Hongdae located near Hongik University, where rows of bars and restaurants are along the streets to serve yummy Korean barbecue, chicken and beer to students and guests.

We went there on our last day during the afternoon but most restaurants were already closed.

  • Eat, eat, and eat!

I will be putting out a separate entry on Korean food, but this is a definitely must do in Seoul. Korean food is so good, even their street food is yummy!

And there you have it, our weekend Korean adventure! I am still having a severe Korean hangover.

I would definitely love to go back here again!

Nang san hami da!

 

Road Trip: Seoul, South Korea

03.03 to 03.06

Annyeong haseyo!

I just spent the weekend on my first out of the country trip this year. Destination: Seoul, South Korea.

My officemates and I have been raring to go to this city since Cebu Pacific opened a new route to Seoul. Other officemates have raved non-stop about this place and so this became on of our must-see places on our travel lists.

For 2012, my office friends and I made this our destination for our annual out of the country trip. As soon as Cebu Pacific announced a seat sale to Seoul last October, we immediately booked our flights for March. Only three of us were able to make the bookings – so the Feb, March and April birthday girls decided to celebrate our birthdays in Seoul.

Fast forward to March 2012 and we are finally set!

Preparing to Seoul-Search

Unlike our other out of the country trips, our trip to Korea required some major preparations beforehand.

  • We had to secure a Korean Visa. For those from the Philippines planning to go to Korea, you would need to apply for a visa. It usually takes 3-5 working days to process. You can either visit the embassy personally or go through a travel agent for a fee. Please note that not all are immediately granted visas (I’ve heard of some people who were denied) and usually those with US Visas have higher chances of getting a visa.
  • March is usually end of winter, going towards spring. We’ve been monitoring the weather and the temperature ranges from -1 to 11 degrees Celsius, much colder than the Philippines, who is on its way to summer months. We had to pack winter outfits like sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots to keep warm.
  • Koreans speak a very different language and not all speak English. We had to stock up our iphones with Korean language translation apps to help break the language barrier.
  • Since it was our first time, we had to prepare a detailed IT to help us navigate the city. Websites like Visit Korea and apps like iTourSeoul were great help for directing us exactly where to go and how to get there.

Touch down Seoul!

We arrived in Seoul at 6.15am, right on schedule at the Incheon International Airport. From the airport, we took an airport bus (10,000 won) to the city. The airport is about an hour away from the city.

We went down the Myeong-dong station, the closest station to our guest house. For this trip we opted to stay at a guest house instead of a hotel as it was cheaper and the place we got was very accessible to the train station and the shopping area.

We were picked up by Mr. Chong, the manager of the guest house, Alps Seoul, and immediately checked in our room.

Guests houses are often used by people who stay longer in Korea, like those who study. Our room came with its own bathroom and private kitchenette at the price of a standard room of a hotel. And it was only a five minutes walk from the main shopping area – Myeong-dong!

Riding the Seoul train

Getting from one place to another is very convenient in Seoul, with their elaborate subway system, with 17 lines crisscrossing the city’s underground. Their stations are clean and well-lit, and the tracks have gates to protect passengers from falling into the tracks.

For foreign tourists, it is very easy to navigate the system as the signs and maps have English translations, and the voice over inside the trains and at the stations also have English. Their trains are also not very crowded even during rush hour that even crazy tourists like us can conveniently take a picture.

A trip on the train costs about 1650 won for a single trip but you can collect a deposit of 500 won after.

Seoul-Searching

So now we have arrived, what are the best things to do in Seoul? I’ve named the top 10 things to do while in the city:

  • Shop. Shop. Shop.

Being a bustling city, Korea is well updated with the latest fashions and brands like H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo have all made its way there. The best place to go shopping is Myeong-dong, located at the heart of the city. It can be comparable to Times Square of New York, Tsim Tsat Tsui of Hong Kong or Orchard Road of Singapore. Rows of boutiques, restaurants and specialty shops line the area, and at night, stalls selling goods and food line the streets.

You can also try the Ehwa Women’s University area for boutiques and knick-knacks to tickle a girl’s fantasy. Since these stores cater to university students, their prices are cheaper and their items cater more to the younger crowd.

Another good place to shop is COEX Mall, located at Seongsam. Its Seoul’s biggest underground mall and hosts many activities like the Teddy Bear Museum, Kimchi Museum and an Aquarium.

  • View Seoul atop N Seoul Tower

To get the best view of the city, you can ride on a cable car up to N Seoul Tower to see the beauty that is Seoul. This is just walking distance from our guest house and Myeong-dong. After taking in the view, you can go down and affix a locket in the museum in Namsan Park.

  • Visit Nami Island

Nami Island is a small park just two hours outside Seoul. You can take the bus via the Nami Island Shuttle located in Insadong. The bus leaves at 9.30am and comes back at 4pm.To enter Nami Island, you can either take a 10 minute ferry ride or zipline your way inside.

Nami Island is a beautiful park with tree-lined paths. Its the setting for one of Korea’s most popular drama, Winter Sonata.

Visitors can walk the many paths, ride bikes or take the train around the island. It is also friendly for children as the park also boasts many playgrounds for the kids.

  • Visit a palace

Seoul is home to many palaces from the olden times and you can visit as many as five in the city. We chose to go to one, Changdeokgung Palace located in Jongno-gu. Its one of the biggest palaces and has a secret garden. There are tours around the place in Korean, Chinese and English, but tourists can explore the palace freely.

  • Look for art along Insa-dong

This is a strip of art galleries and little boutiques where you can walk around to admire artwork and shop for little trinkets. Galleries usually open new exhibitions on Wednesdays between 5pm-7pm.

  • Have coffee in one of the numerous coffee shops

Coffee shops have lined the streets of Seoul, ranging from the regular Starbucks and Coffee Bean to home grown stores like Caffe Bene and other quaint places, especially around the Hongdae area.

Our favorite thing to do in hangout in one of these places in the afternoons to get away from the bitingly cold air.

  • Shop for Cosmetics

Koreans regard skin care as high priorities on their list, and so the city is littered with hundred of beauty care shops featuring Korean beauty products. These shops boasts of using natural ingredients like snail, snake essence and mineralized water.

Its no wonder that the Korean girls have such flawless faces.

  • Visit Everland/Lotte World

For those bringing their families, you can spend a day at either Everland or Lotte World, Korea’s top amusement parks. We didn’t get to go on this trip because we had enough of the cold when we were in Nam Island.

  • Drink and be merry!

Korea, being a bustling city, also has a vivid night life. Popular places to go clubbing are in the GangNam area, while a popular drinking place is Hongdae located near Hongik University, where rows of bars and restaurants are along the streets to serve yummy Korean barbecue, chicken and beer to students and guests.

We went there on our last day during the afternoon but most restaurants were already closed.

  • Eat, eat, and eat!

I will be putting out a separate entry on Korean food, but this is a definitely must do in Seoul. Korean food is so good, even their street food is yummy!

And there you have it, our weekend Korean adventure! I am still having a severe Korean hangover.

I would definitely love to go back here again!

Nang san hami da!