Category: Travel


Dear Diary,

What does Philippines and Thailand (or a lot of other countries) have in common?   They have a lot of  Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.  In fact there’s one near our work place.  So one day after lunch.  My Thai co-worker and I, decided to have some fun with our cups.

🙂 Find other posts about Cups around the world here:    Travel theme: World Cups

 

Love lots,

AvA_Martini

Dear Diary,

Super late post……..  It’s been a month since our 2nd anniversary and I can’t believe I’ve been so busy that I wasn’t able to update you about what we did to celebrate.

We went to Siem Reap, Cambodia!

Yes, so I channeled my Tomb Raider persona and braved the heat and long walks to see the temple that Angelina Jolie set foot on.

The overgrown forest gives Cambodia’s temple a much more ancient feel.  You can get a day pass to visit all the temples which costs $20.  We only got to visit 3 temples.  Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm (which is were Tomb Raider was shot) and Angkor Wat.  By the time we got to Angkor Wat, I was really feeling the heat and I seriously could not go any further than after the entrance…  But at least we got good view of it. 🙂

So anyway, that’s an update.   I can’t believe it’s been 2 years that we’ve been married…  So far so good, we’ve had our ups and downs, but you know you’re really with the one when your ups matter more than your downs. 🙂

Enjoy my pictures of Cambodia below.  And a collage of pictures from 9 years ago, because that’s how long Hubby and I have known each other.

XOXO,

AvA_Martini

 

Pattaya in Valentine’s Day

Dear Diary,

Weekends are the best time to get away.  Two days are short and need to be well spent.  It’s amazing that Valentine’s Day in Thailand is a holiday.  Of course, it’s not Valentine’s that they celebrate but Makha Bucha (Magha Puja) – a Budhist festival.  So a long weekend entails a trip  out of the city.

Just 1-3 hours away (depending on traffic) from Bangkok.  We stayed at Cape Dara and got a room with a view of the beach.  I swear this hotel was made for me because they’re color is teal and I just love that color! The beach may not be the best to swim in but the view is just breathtaking.  After resting (because 2 hours in a van needs recuperation time…), we had lunch at the hotel restaurant and had some time to look around the amenities.

In the evening, we went to see a cabaret show of an all-lady-boys cast at the Tiffany;s Show.  The women were fantastic, they lip-synced to popular songs and the dance numbers were breathtaking.

For dinner, we took a taxi to Patayannis Greek Taverna, a small restaurant that serves the best slow cooked lamb (cooked for 7 hours!) that I’ve ever had.  If you find yourself somewhere in Pattaya, make sure you pass by this place!  The host is just amazing as he likes to go around and tell stories to the customers.  We even had a chance to see him play some music for us.

In Pattaya, they have this place called the Walking Street.  This place is seriously DEPRESSING (unless you’re a guy who likes to buy your girls…)  We walked through the street and you could see women (young and old) just standing around, leaning on trees or sitting and waiting for men to make them an offer. 😦

But aside from seeing the sad life that some women have to live, the rest of the trip was very relaxing.  But I did have some trouble with my migraine at the time we were heading home which also prevented me from enjoying the dim sum buffet we were having at that time.  But getting back to Bangkok at around 5PM was enough time to get over my migraine and ready for Monday again.

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Singapore and a New Me

Dear Diary,

A long long time ago, I used to work in Singapore.  It was my first time to work in a foreign country.  It was the first time to work away from my hubby (who was still my boyfriend back then).

During the year and a half that I was there, I had never been to the big tourist spots until it was a month before it was time to leave.  The only real reason I could think of was that I was never the lonely traveler kind.  I do not find pleasure in seeing a place without being able to share that moment with someone.  It also never occurred to me to ask some of my friends to come with me because well, I just never really felt like it until the month I realized I would be leaving the country and heading to another…

So I crammed Universal Studios in one night.  The Merlion in another.

Then after 3 years or so, I went back again.  This time I only had 2 days and 1 night to enjoy it.  But now I was with my husband.  Missing the place and being able to see it with him was probably why I was seeing Singapore in a new way.  I no longer saw it as the place that kept me away from my family.  It was something that I could share with my husband.

We stayed in Orchard Hotel located in, well, Orchard Road… 😛  We really loved the hotel and the breakfast buffet. Plus it was walking distance to the big malls near Orchard Road.  This hotel is owned by the same company that owns The Heritage Hotel in the Philippines, which we didn’t know then and we wondered why their logo was similar. 🙂

We may not have seen all the tourist spots that Singapore had to offer.  But I was just content to be with my husband in Singapore.  It just feels different this time.

Pics or it never happened! hehe Enjoy!

Sawatdee Ka!

Dear Diary,

Look, I’m still alive! I know I haven’t been doing a very good job at keeping you posted, but I do try… 😦  It’s just life in the Matrix is really hard to let go sometimes.  (Specially, when it’s the life that pays the bills… hehe)

Oh well, this year, I’m back in Thailand.  I might be here until March or April.  Came here in October with my husband, but he had to go home to the Philippines.  So I’m here all alone and wondering how I was able to keep a long distance relationship with him back in the days…  It’s tough but, technology allows us to communicate daily.

I feel that being apart makes us appreciate each other more.  I can’t really complain because it’s really been a blessing to be here.  To be able to live in a country so similar to mine in more ways than one.  My friend pointed out to me that people we meet here in Thailand, always look like or act like somebody we know back home.  And it’s actually very true.  Weird 3rd dimension kind of thing… hehe

Anyway, that’s all for now.  I’ll be back with more pictures…  Here’s a few to let you know how beautiful this country is. 🙂

Taken at the Ayutthaya, Thailand

Caramoan Islands

Dear Diary,

As promised, here is the post about the 6 islands that we went to during our Caramoan Island Hopping.

Lahos Island

This was my favorite island out of the 3 that we went to on our first day. There are two beaches on this island. The one where our boat docked was littered with rocks, corals and shells. This is the part where I am happy about the decision of getting me and hubby a pair of aqua shoes each. The other side is hidden because the middle part of the island rises a bit and hides it from view. Once you make your step over to the other side, you’ll get smoother sand here. Although, it’s not powdery, the rocks are much further out. It started to drizzle and so we decided to eat our lunch during this time. We didn’t want to eat in the boat, so we tried to look for a spot to hide from the rain. Hubby found a place by investigating the other side of a small opening from the nearby rock formations. Of course, he was actually getting there the hard way and we found a safer way after he pointed the place out to us. So we camped out there and ate our packed lunch on the sand. We spent around 2 hours here before we decided to move on.

Matukad Island

The island just across Lahos. From afar, we could already see that there were a lot of tourists on this island. After seeing the powdery white sand and the clear waters, I could see why. We were told that there was a lagoon on top of the rocky cliffs but after looking at the climb I decided against going up or letting anyone from the group go up, because there was no safety harness and unless you were in great shape or a mountain climber, I would not recommend it. Although, I have seen the photos on the internet of what the beach looked like from the top, I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m sure nobody got injured badly climbing it, probably just some bruises and cuts, but I was responsible for my younger cousins and I did not want anything bad happen to them on my watch…

We went around the beach to look for less populated areas and we did find a spot at the other side of the beach. I had to take off my aqua shoes so I could feel the sand between my toes. 🙂

Minalahos Island

Our last island of the day was located across the famous Gota Island. We decided not to go to Gota Island because they had an entrance fee of P300 ($7.50) to use their beach. This is where Survivor often films their show and which is why it’s pretty famous. This is also where Hunongan Cove Resort is located. Gota Beach is free to use if you’re checked in to that resort. So we docked at Minalahos instead. We ate our snack here and just waded in the water near our boat. A bit further out, the beach is full of seaweeds. And I’m not really keen on swimming with all those dark spots under me, freaking out when something slimy brushes my ankle. So I stayed away from that area. At around 5pm, we decided to go home since we were also kind of tired from the long trip and we didn’t want to get stuck in the islands when it gets dark.

Cotivas Island

For our second day, we first went to Cotivas Island. The trip to get here took almost 2 hours so we were really relieved to finally get off the boat. The sun was out today. No signs of the dark clouds that we encountered yesterday. RDS paid for our cottage (P50=$1.25) where we parked our stuff and where some of us decided to stay under for a while. The rest of us headed to the beach. It was low-tide and getting lower. We were at the left side of the island. We had to walk a bit to get to a part where the water was at our hips. After some time, we decided to head back to the cottage so we could eat our lunch.

After lunch time, we wanted to check out the other side of the island where we could see a sand bar from afar. We had to hike through ankle-deep waters to get there, occasionally stopping to get some pictures with the starfish. There are some sea-urchins on this part of the island, so it’s best to look where you’re going.

When we got to the sand bar, we were the only ones there. The others were either in their cottages avoiding the sun or moved on to other islands. But it felt like we owned the place. It’s probably why I have the most pictures taken here…

After some time, we decided to head to the next beach. When we got to the boat, we noticed that the people from the boat were pushing us out to deeper waters. So our boys decided to help push. We could here the boat dragging on the sand. One of the guys unfortunately stepped on a sea-urchin. And if you think you can just pull those spikes out, well they’re really deep inside and you have to coax them out with something acidic like vinegar, calamansi juice or your pee @_@ (that’s what they told me).

Manlawi Island

Our second island had a wider stretch of sand bar. We could see that there was long hike to get to the shore. So we chose to rent one of the floating cottages for P200 ($5.00) and just stay at the deeper end of the island bar. Deeper meaning below-the-knee that is. We greatly appreciated the shade the cottage offered to us. After basking in the sun at our previous island, we just lazily dipped our feet in the water and occasionally got out of the cottage to sit in the water under the shade. We had our snack here that RDS packed for us. One of my cousins even took a nap. We didn’t want to leave our cottage. If only we could get the boat to just drag us all while in the floating cottage, that would just have been perfect… But we had to move on.

Sabitang Laya Island

Our last island. The waters were now waist deep. The sun was slowly setting. After a while, the beach was all ours. The sand was like powdered milk. I wished we could have stayed longer. I wish I could have seen the sunset. But we didn’t want to ride the boat while it was dark and the waves were getting higher. So we had to say goodbye.

Gota Island

Even though we couldn’t go to the island, I was still able to capture it while our boat was maneuvering to Minalahos Island. 🙂

Pictures During the Boat Ride

Since some islands took a long time to get to, we still had a lot of scenery to keep us occupied. 🙂

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AvA_Martini

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Which Ways – Featuring Roads

I was going through my old pictures looking for roads and realized that I also had some collections of signs.  So here are my entries.

Pare in English is to remove the skin of a fruit, Pare in Filipino is slang for "buddy", and in Brazil it means STOP...

Pare in English is to remove the skin of a fruit, Pare in Filipino is slang for “buddy”, and in Brazil it means STOP…

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in My Life

What does your day look like? Here’s your chance to share with everyone a day in your life! Here are some suggestions to get started: snap a picture once an hour and share what your day was like, walk us through a typical day for you, or even just what happened today!”

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On March 28 to March 31, 2013 we went to Caramoan, Camarines Sur for our summer getaway.  It might not be a typical day for me, but it’s typical that summers here in the Philippines are best spent on the beach.  I’m going to break my Caramoan posts into two so I can post about the details of getting there and what we did and another post for the different islands, because I want to do justice to the beautiful islands.  While planning for this trip, I searched a lot about other people’s experiences in how they got to Caramoan and what they did.  So to help those who are planning a trip in the future, here’s a rundown of each day of our trip. 🙂  It’s a long post but if you plan to go to Caramoan, you really need to know what your going to encounter.  Or you can just skip the blah blah blahs and enjoy the pictures. 🙂

March 28, 2013 (Thursday)

  • Me, my hubby, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend, 4 of my cousins, one of my cousin’s friend, my best friend, her husband and her 2-year-old daughter all met up in Jollibee Molito (somewhere in Alabang) where the van would pick us up.  You can take the plane or the bus as well, but we couldn’t all afford plane tickets and you couldn’t tell a bus to have a stopover if it’s not part of their schedule…
  • We left at 5:30 pm from Alabang and arrived at Sabang Port at 3:30 am… (that’s 9 hours of travel with a 1 hour dinner break at around 8 pm)…  The van was brand new so it was comfortable during the  9 hours.  I couldn’t sleep though, because being the oldest in the group, I felt responsible in making sure our driver wasn’t sleepy while he was driving.
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Mommy prepared our packed dinner. Chicken adobo with hard boiled egg. And Hotdogs for snacks. 🙂

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Yummy adobo! Favorite food for outings…

March 29, 2013 (Friday)

  • At Sabang Port (since it was high tide the boat was on the other side of the island so it was easier to get on) the first boat leaves at 5:30 am.  So I wrote our names in the manifesto and we waited to board at around 4 am.  We were told that if we had come at a later time, the lines would be longer and the place would be crowded.
  • We sat somewhere in the middle and I have to be honest, that’s probably the most uncomfortable 2 hours of my life…  Our bags were under our seats and so I couldn’t stretch my leg…  The seats were made of wood with no padding. So I wasn’t surprised that after 30 minutes my a$$ started hurting…
  • After 2 hours we finally reached Guijalo Port.  The boat wasn’t going really fast, so the ride felt pretty smooth. (Not sure how it’ll be during the rainy season though…)
  • We booked rooms at Residencia de Salvacion (RDS) and they had our rides ready when we got to Guijalo Port.  It took us around 20 minutes to get to our board and lodging.  We had our breakfast, settled in our rooms, showered and changed outfits.  Let me take this time to tell you about the place where we stayed.  The best way to describe it is that it’s like a home away from home.  It’s a home that has been fixed up to accommodate boarders.  It’s clean.  They have the most delicious food.  The staff is friendly.  And the package deal left us with no headache at all when we got to the island.  They had transportation ready for us and the food was taken care of during our island hopping.  Here’s their Trip Advisor reviews to prove that this is a great place to stay.
  • At 10:00 am we were ready to island hop! We rode the tricycle to where the tour boats where.
  • Kuya Dex, a staff from RDS, helped us get on the boat they rented for us.  It took us about 30 minutes to get to our first island, which is Lahos/Lajos Island.  We ate our lunch there after exploring the beach a bit (RDS packed lunch for us.  It was delicious and a lot, so we shared it with Kuya Dex and the people on the boat.)
  • We stayed on the island until around 2pm before we left to go to our second island, which is Matukad Island.  It was just across Lahos Island.  Matukad island was closed last year because the 26th season of Survivor was being taped.  We were glad it was now open to public. We didn’t spend too much time here because there were a lot of people, so we headed to our 3rd and last island, which is Minalahos Island.
  • Minalahos is just across from Gota Island, which I heard had an entrance fee of P300 to use their beach and which was also closed last year because the Survivor staff were all staying there.  We had our snack on that island, packed by RDS.  We left at around 5 pm and headed home.  There were no lights in the islands so we didn’t want to get caught there in the dark.
  • We got back at RDS at around 6pm.  We took our showers and got ready for dinner. Dinner was DIVINE!  We had laing (which is a Bicol delicacy), lumpia and gigantic shrimps!
  • We watched a scary movie in our room where the boys joined us.  I kept dozing off in between and I woke up just in time to see the scary parts and join the screaming and laughing.
  • I was told there was a short power outage sometime after midnight, but I think even if the world ended, I wouldn’t have been able to wake up from my sleep… hehe

March 30, 2013 (Saturday)

  • We woke up at 6am so we could have more time on the islands.  This trip took us about 1 and a half hours in the boat this time.  Our first island was Cotivas.  It had a cottage which was paid for by RDS (P50) and we ate our lunch there then walked to the sand bar, played with the starfishes, and we spent some time there before leaving.
  • Our boat was caught on low tide, so the boys got off and helped push it to deeper waters.  My best friend’s husband, unfortunately stepped on a sea urchin… (No, we did not pee on it… I think he used calamansi on the injury.)
  • After getting into deeper water, we headed to our second island, which is Manlawi Island. It also had a long stretch of sand bar, but we opted to rent a floating cottage (P200) because we wanted shelter from the hot sun.  We also had our snack there.
  • Our last island was an hour away, so we knew we were near the port now.  Our third island was Sabitang Laya Island.  The water was now waist-high so it was a break from the previous islands with ankle-deep waters.  It was getting dark and diving in the water felt like the perfect ending to our island hopping.
  • We headed home by 6pm and stopped over to grab some souvenirs.  I got magnets, key chains and Survivor t-shirts.
  • After dinner (which we gobbled up again…) we showered and got ready to watch a movie.  I ended up talking to the owner of RDS with my hubby instead until we felt too sleepy to continue.
  • The water pressure was really low to non-existent,  they said that usually at night it’s like that but in the morning the water comes back.

March 31, 2013 (Sunday)

  • Woke up at 5am to get ready.  We ate our breakfast and left around 7:30 am.  😦
  • It took around 10-15 minutes to get to Guijalo port, where we paid for the terminal fee and they gave us our number.  There were a lot of people already there waiting.  The first trip is 7 am.  The rest of the trips depend on whether the boat gets there on time or if they have enough people to fill it.  We were part of the group that was last to be seated so some of us ended up sitting in front of the “engine room”.  My sister said she sat on what seemed to be just the size of wood used for hand railing  instead of a normal wooden benches…
  • When we got to Sabang Port we were surprised that it wasn’t the same place where we boarded last time.  They told us that it was low-tide on the other side so they couldn’t drop us off there.  So we had to be dropped off on the beach side.
  • We had to ride a floating bridge that took people from the boat to the shore.  There were lots of guys on the beach telling us they could carry our bags safely to the shore, we didn’t let them though because we didn’t want to pay.
  • Finally, we got in our van and headed for home.  Since it was Sunday, which is the day vacationers head home to the city, we got stuck in traffic in Quezon and San Pablo.  So from 10:30 am at Sabang, we reached Alabang at around 10:30 pm as well, the 9 hour travel time became 12 hours!
  • But we thank God we got home safely.  We also thank God for such a wonderful experience.  Seeing the beauty of His creation never ceases to amaze me. 🙂

Lessons Learned

  • Next time take the plane…  Or plan the trip during the off-peak (but still sunny) seasons.
  • Take more pictures and videos and get a good underwater camera or casing.
  • Visit more islands.
  • Bring a small pillow for you to sit on during the boat ride.
  • Use backpacks instead of shoulder bags.
  • Buy a good pair of aqua shoes.
  • Use ziplock bags for your gadgets just in case your bags fall in the water.

So now it’s back to reality……. KJSO

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