Boracay after dark

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Just as dusk slowly sneaks in and sunlight dances to reveal its different colors in the sky, the shores of Boracay transform and take on a different personality. Party music starts to fill the air, and while strolling along the beach you’ll see people heading out to their favorite bar for Happy Hour and more.

I am an eternal fan of sunsets and I enjoy watching them especially in a breathtaking beach setting. I am just in awe of how unique each one is and I just spend a moment or two just being grateful and happy that I’m alive.

Okay, enough of the sentimental bit.

Anyway, there are lots of bars and clubs that make up Boracay’s vibrant nightlife. Last time, we partied mostly at the Epic Bar because of the nice vibe and good music. Stations 1 and 2 usually have good places to drink or dance floors to party the night away. Of course, partying wouldn’t be fun without your own posse! Cheers to that!

What’s hip and gaining popularity in Boracay’s night scene are the fabulous fire dancers. They can usually be found near the restaurant, Aura in Station 2 and some bars in Station 1. Most of them are gay (I think) and I guess that’s the reason why their performances are so much energetic and fun! :) They perform to the latest beats, and you can enjoy watching them from afar or while having dinner, or if you can even go near and have your picture taken with them! Tipping generously is much appreciated.

So if you fancy something fun, crazy or wild why not explore Boracay’s nightlife? Careful not to get caught up in flames. xoxo

Boracay…finally!!

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Never mind that it took me 25 years of my existence to visit these shores.

Never mind that despite my several beach trips every year, this destination was always set aside.

Never mind that even when I finally booked my air ticket last year, I still had to cancel and re-book due to a sudden business trip. (What a coincidence, right?)

But when I finally made it, it was love at first sight  ❤

For those who have been to Boracay in the early 80s or 90s, they often compare to what the island was back then and say that island now has transformed into something that is too commercialized, too crowded, too noisy and too dirty. They say Boracay has lost its charm and has drowned with the huge influx of tourists,  restaurants, bars and shops that have sprung like mushrooms in this island. Despite this, I was still lured by the promise of pure, powdery white sands and clear, calm turquoise waters. Surely, there must still be something that continues to draw new visitors and keeps people coming back.

Okay, so Boracay is not your typical paradise. You will not find a empty long stretch of beach all to yourself. The rows of restaurants, bars, shops and hotels line as long and as far as the beach stretches. There is a vibrant and (most of the time) crazy nightlife and the parties last until wee hours of the morning.  But there is a certain charm that it holds for me because it has almost everything I need if I want to getaway, craziness included.

So, what can one do in Boracay? Apart from chilling and bumming around, getting a good massage in the beach and sampling all the restaurants and shops in D’Mall, there are several water sports activities. You can try the usual activities like island hopping and explore Puka Beach, or snorkeling, banana boats, etc but I will definitely recommend that you try parasailing!

What happens is you get towed by a boat while riding a parachute (or kite). Sounds fun? :) Hell, yeah!! Although it is a bit pricey (Php2,500 for a mere 15 mins up the air), I’d say the experience is definitely worth it. I tried it with my best friend, Maan and we had so much fun!

To top my list of memories in Boracay, on our last day, as soon as I stepped out of our guest house, it started to rain quite hard. I was starting to feel bummed out since this was my last day to enjoy the sun and the beach but after a few minutes, it suddenly stopped! And lo and behold, I got a rainbow on my last beach day! Yipeeeee!

I wish I could stay longer, but as it goes, all good things must come to an end.

Never mind if I only stayed there for almost 3 days, 64 hours and 3,840 minutes. More or less haha. (This was last June 2011).

I definitely fell in love with Boracay. And I don’t care if it’s such a cliche.

Till we meet again :) xoxo

Masskara Festival!

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Hello Bacolod, the City of Smiles! :) Every 3rd week of October, local and foreign tourists head to this bustling city in Negros for one of the most colorful and lively festivals in the Philippines – the Masskara Festival.

According to the Official 2011 Masskara Festival website, Masskara means many (“mass”) faces (“kara”)…well Masskara festival is not just about many faces, but many smiling beautiful faces! It is a celebration of blessings and abundance for the people in Bacolod after surviving a long period of drought in the sugar industry in the 1980s. Now, Masskara also means a weekend of colorful parades, dances, good food and non-stop street parties!

What better way to enjoy this festival with a happy bunch of friends! Here’s some of the Bacolod gang along the Lacson street and doing some shopping in the Negros showroom.

There are two major parades in Masskara – the Electric Masskara (which is done during night time with a lot of lights) and the Masskara Dance Competition (in the afternoon at the main plaza). People look forward to the Masskara parade and dance competitions for the elaborate and colorful costumes of locals. They can be made from the simplest or most basic things you see everyday, and with a lot of creativity and imagination, they turn out to be the most extravagant costumes!

Enjoy looking at some our favorite Masskara costumes last year! xoxo

Conquering Banaue and Sagada

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I am definitely not a mountain person.

I have poor hand and eye coordination and am not good in balancing at all. But a few summers ago, instead of having a beach birthday weekend I opted to head up to Ifugao and Mountain Province with my best friend and see how far we can go.

Ifugao is home to Banaue Rice Terraces, the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was really amazing to see it up close and I also felt really proud that this is something that indigenous Filipinos did a long time ago! There are several vantage points in Banaue but the one we went to really resembles the image at the back of the Philippine P1000 peso bill. Cool!

Near the entrance of this vantage point that we went to were a group of Ifugao women in their traditional clothing. We asked them if we can take a picture with them and they happily obliged :)

After sightseeing in Banaue, it was time to go to Mountain Province for the real adventure. We had to ride a jeepney to get through the steep and curvy mountain path. It’s not scary at all and the view was awesome!

One of the most famous municipalities in Mountain Province is Sagada. Adventurers seek out this place for caving, spelunking and trekking. The biggest cave is Sumaguing because it has so many chambers and connections to other caves. They also said it was the “easiest”. Yeah right.

We had several warnings from the guides before going inside: (1) Do not wander off alone. (2) Stick with your guide. (3) Follow instructions. (4) And most important of all – Never give up!! We had one local guide assigned to us, Kuya Orion. He is very encouraging and helpful (especially at times when you seem tired and about to give up!). Try to look for him when you go to Sagada.

The rock formations inside seemed unreal. It was amazing to see how all these natural creations were still intact. And oh, the rocks also had a lot bat dung but I didn’t care. I was more focused on surviving this cave adventure. I cannot imagine how I was able to climb up, go down and squeeze myself in these rock formations! Thankfully our guide turned out to be a trusty cameraman who was just popping out from different angles taking pictures of us all the time and documenting our struggles. Haha.

Take a second look at the two photos of some of Sumaguing cave’s famous rock formations. Don’t they look familiar? Can you guess? ;p

Finally, after 3 hours we managed to get out of the cave alive with all parts still intact. Whew!

At first I thought I would really struggle, but when you’re there inside the cave, you just have to find your strength (physically and mentally) and just push yourself to do it. It’s a good test of how tough you are and see how much you can push yourself. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it! I did have a lot of muscle pains after, but it’s definitely something I would consider doing again.

Hmmm..so maybe I can be a bit of a mountain person after all. :)

PS – Saving the best for last..my favorite spelunking picture! I was trying to get to the other rock and from out of nowhere Kuya Orion called out and said “Smile ma’am!” I flashed my brightest smile even though I was so tired and dirty. And look at the result! Haha! xoxo

A Taste of Malaysia

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Last February 2012, I had a chance to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I had only a weekend to stay and I wanted to explore the “real” vibe of the city. Of course I had to see the Petronas Towers up close and visit Jimmy Choo and Vincci..but other than that, was there more to KL’s lights, shops and glitz?

I discovered this food escapade in Trip Advisor called “Food Tour Malaysia”. Lots of travelers raved about it and said that they apart from the good food, it was also interesting to see local culture and meet new people. So for RM160 (a bit pricey I think..), I decided to give it a shot. I also tagged along my friend Grace to join me in this food trip.

But before the food tour could start, I couldn’t help my craving anymore so we went out to satisfy our taste buds for some classic assam laksa. So spicy lah! Love it!

We finally met up with Charles, our food guru, along with another couple from Australia. According to Charles, there was only 1 rule in this trip – you can’t say the “F” word.

You can’t say you’re FULL!!! Hahaha.

We went to 5 or 6 places, and it was nice because we were the only “tourists” in the area..which means these are genuine hole-in-the-wall local spots. Cool!

Here are some of the food we tasted! From left to right: (1) Otak Otak or fish paste (2) Nasi lemak (3) Venison (4) Sting ray!! Tastes like fish actually.. (5) Fish in yellow curry (6) Curry puffs (7) Sweet apam, glutinous sweet rice and coconut (8) Roti and curry (9) Pork Bah kut-teh (10) Banana puffs (11) Chicken char kway teow (12) Fried tofu and pork filling

We also had some (non-alcoholic) drinks, the pink panther drink (rose syrup and milk), Chinese margarita, and teh tarik with ginger .

After almost 5 hours of good food and conversations, we decided to call it a night! Whew! The verdict: It was a great gastronomic treat! Definitely worth it. As they say, the best way to get to know the culture of a place is through it’s people and food. xoxo

Check out Food Tour Malaysia in Trip Advisor.

Singapore in less than $7

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Yeah, you read it right.

No kidding. I only spent $7 SGD for a day in Singapore. I had lunch, dinner and some sightseeing. Curious? Read on.

Last July 2008, on my way to the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, I had a layover in Singapore. Instead of just bumming around and exploring the nice Changi airport, my WYD mates and I decided to take a peek at the city, even just for a few hours.

Turns out, there is a free shuttle from the airport to the city if you have a layover for at least 6 hours. Free transportation? Check!

On the way to the city, we also made some stopovers. My favorite was the newly built Singapore flyer. We were able to go down the shuttle and have a closer look. Yipeee!

When we reached the Suntec City Mall, we learned that it was the Food Festival Week so all tourists with layover get free meal samplers. I got some spicy noodles and shrimp. Tastes quite good!

We wanted to explore more, this time we had to pay for our train tickets. We went to Chijmes and hung out for a while there. Love the vibe of that place. Very chill and casual.

It even had good architectural design. I couldn’t resist and took some shots.

The view at night was even better!

By this time, I also bought water (we all need to be hydrated) and we had to meet one of my WYD mate’s friend for dinner so took the train again. I forgot where we had dinner..all I could remember was yummy roti bread and curry. I was a bit worried on how much we spent because we ate a lot, but surprisingly, their friend treated us to dinner!!! How lucky can we get?!?!

After that, we rode the free shuttle back to the airport and waited for a few more hours before our flight to Sydney. I remember we were so thrilled that we just spent so little exploring the city! Which led us to a Charles & Keith shopping spree haha. (Ok, that’s not counted in the official list of expenses..)

I’m glad I met these 2 girls – Tzie and Jo..although I can’t find them on FB and lost my contact with them, I had a great time traveling with them!

I still get a kick when I think of this trip because of how lucky and cool it was to be able to do those things without spending so much. Back then I didn’t really know the joys of backpacking, but I guess I had a feeling then that there are ways to enjoy and travel without splurging so much. You just have to be creative and resourceful enough. xoxo

Do you have a life theme?

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I stopped making new year’s resolutions because I can’t keep them.

I thought of doing life goals but somehow it’s still not right. Life’s unpredictable. There are some opportunities that may need you to change your goals.

I came across a concept called “life theme”. It’s self-explanatory right? Every choice you make should be aligned to the overall theme you want your life to have.

So for this year..here’s mine:

Life is out there. And so is love. Be available to it this 2012! xoxo

My love affair with traveling

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The moment I boarded my first international flight (circa September 2007 MNL-HKG), I knew I was meant for this. Wondered why it took me so long to do this. Perhaps it was because of the circumstances I had growing up, but I’m grateful for that chance back then. After that short business trip, I knew it was the start to discovering the bigger things out there.

I love traveling…and I wish I had loads of money to go around the world. But that wouldn’t be fun if everything was handed to you on a silver platter. I get a certain high whenever I plan for a trip, more so during the time I’m traveling and discovering new places, meeting new people, and gaining new experiences.

So let me take it one step at a time.

One place at a time.

One country at a time.

I feel like I’m back where I started almost 5 years ago. I’m now living in Hong Kong, which was the first country I ever visited 5 years ago. And I was here before and here now because of work. Funny how that came about. Whether it is destiny or just coincidence, I’m happy where I am at this point.

And for now, I want to have something that I can look back years from now and reminisce at what kind of person I was back then. Because I certainly am no longer the person I was before because I fell in love with traveling. I learned that the more I discover about new things, the more I realize that I know so little.

This is why I’m starting this blog. I do hope I can keep it up! *fingers crossed*

Cheers to more discoveries and travels!!

Hang on guys, I’m gonna rock the world. xoxo