Team Building at Cala Perdida – October 2016

Cala Perdida is a beachfront resort in Batangas. My team from the office decided to hold our team building/outing there and it was set for one of those weekends in October. At first, I was tentative to join since I thought it was going to hit my Taiwan trip. But things worked out in the end and I was able to attend.

Going to Cala Perdida.

The thing with going to Cala Perdida is that you would have to pass through kilometres of steep dirt road. For people who have cars that are quite low, it could be a difficult trek. Some of my work mates had to temporarily leave the car (to lessen the load) and the driver had to maneuver carefully so as to avoid getting their cars damaged.

At the resort:

The resort itself was quite nice. It was very private (probably because of having to pass through plenty of difficult roads) and it had a number of nice amenities. The rooms/houses were nice, it had a very welcoming and helpful staff, and a nice infinity pool. I guess what is lacking is the beach and the waters. The beach front was quite narrow and the sand wasn’t really that smooth. The water as well was not really that swimmable. While the water was quite clear, you get to see pieces of trash scattered about. There was also a nice rocky area off to the side of the beach.

Sunrise:

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Battle between Light and Dark

While the place was nice but nothing really exceptional to write home about during the afternoon and evening. It changes if you try to catch the sunrise. During the sunrise you get to see the contrast between light and dark, with the water nearly perfectly mirroring whatever is happening above it. Words cannot really do it justice, and even the images I took can’t capture the awesome feeling as you see it unfold right before you.

 

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Sunrise

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Mt. Pundaquit – September 2016

I’ve always wanted to join my gym’s climbing group during their climbs but I never was able to fit it into my schedule. Fortunately, this one came up. They originally had it scheduled on August, but I think they had to cancel due to a weather problem. They then moved it to September and I was able to join in.

For 2016, I was actually able to have a climb already (went to Mt. Pulag in Benguet) so I did have some gear that i could reuse. This includes my shorts/pants and the head lamps. With that said, the group said that the climb would be a relatively easy one so not much gear was needed. Given this information, I packed relatively lightly, with the heaviest bag I have being a bottle of water and a bottle of Rum.

Mt. Pundaquit:

Mt. Pundaquit was located in Zambales. This was probably a 3 hour van ride from Manila. We arrived in Zambales at around 5am. We had our orientation and then we headed out to the Mountain already. The first part of the trek was easy, it was really just flat lands and a slight incline. I remember we passed through a few ankle deep rivers that didn’t really have any strong flow so it was fine.

I think this continued for an hour or so, until we reached a part where the mountain was muddy. I was actually just wearing sandals and was slipping all over. The mud wasn;t the type that you would sink into, but the one that you would just slide all over.

think I had a more difficult climb here than the one in Pulag simply because I didn’t really have any traction on the mud. I had my camera in hand so the priority was too fall without damaging my gear.

After maybe a couple of hours we did reach the summit. The view was nice as you would be able to see the beach front below while on top of the mountain.

The Beach

One of the more fun things about the climb was that it was a traverse. After reaching the summit, you would then climb down a different section of the mountain and you would end up at the beach.

The group stayed a bit at the beach and had our lunch since the whole trip was planned that we would visit another island/beach after. Although to be honest, this first beach wasn’t really that nice. The water wasn’t that inviting and the sand was dark. It was a good place to rest up though. We stayed here while we waited for the boat that would take us to the other island.

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The view from the beach

 

Capones Island:

The other island that was called Capones Island. It was around a 30 minute boat ride from the beach up to the other island. The boatman decided that we should try for the other side of the island instead of the more famous part. Turns out he was right as there really was a great natural view.

 

 

We stayed there for a little more than we bargained for as the boat that should pick us up came in late. We stayed so long that the weather changed on us from the blistering heat to rain and back to the sunny weather. I was sunburned to heck but I think the view and the cool waters was worth it.

Live from New York… – April 2016 (Part 3)

When I was in the US for the first time, most of my colleagues told me that I should head on over to New York. I initially wanted to go, but I had some apprehension as the plane ride costs a bit. Praveen then suggested that I take a bus to New York from DC which costs significantly cheaper. I was all set on going planning to visit from Friday all the way to Sunday.

Unfortunately, I had some issues in lodging. Apparently, the weekend that I decided to go to New York was the weekend of the Electric Daisy Carnival. This meant that the hostels were pretty much full. So I decided that I wouldn’t go to New York anymore. But then, a single night at the New York Budget Inn opened up. So on Friday afternoon, I decided to book a bus to New York (leaving in 4 hours), a room at the New York budget inn, and a bus ride back on Saturday night.With the bus ride from DC taking around 5 hours, I will pretty much have 23 hours in New York 😀

The Bus Ride:

So I took a megabus from DC’s Union Station. It passed by a few states on the way (I think it was Baltimore, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, then New York) and I was pretty much just staring out the window and taking in the scenery (It had very good weather). I think in Baltimore, a guy sat next to me and we started chatting. It turns out he was in the US Army and he was just going back to New york for the EDC. Along the way, we were chatting and he told me that the best way to enjoy New York is to just look up. He said there’s a certain charm to the city that’s different from all the other metropolises. It was pretty good timing when he said that since that was when we passed through the Lincoln Tunnel and I saw the New York cityscape with the bright neon lights of the city.

New York Budget Inn

I stayed at a hostel called the New York Budget Inn. Location wise, it was pretty good since it was a few blocks away from the Empire State Building. The price was kinda high (I think I paid 70$ per night) but my friends said that given the location, the full house due to EDC, and the fact that I booked on the same day. It wasn’t so bad. I didn’t really meet anyone in the hostel, but the staff were really helpful and friendly.

New York at Night:

After dumping my bags at the hostel, I immediately headed out to make the most of my time. I first planned on heading over to Times Square since the guy at the bus told me that it’s best to see it at night. I checked google maps and decided to walk my way there. Along the way though I stopped at some landmarks such as the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. Maybe it’s my colleagues hyping up the place and reading about it everywhere, but walking along the different streets of New York, gave me that sense of awe for some reason.

 

 

After a few more minutes of walking from Bryant Park, I was finally able to reach Times Square. It was a nice view with all of the buildings, billboards, and people just milling around. As with all tourist spots though, it was filled to the brim with people and taking a good shot (and a selfie) was a bit of a challenge. But all in all, it was pretty cool. Although admittedly, that coolness factor may have been boosted because you’re a tourist and it’s a place that’s often referenced by musicians, movies, and all other kinds of entertainment materials.

 

 

After times square, I checked the map for other areas that I should visit and decided to just get lost and walk around. I came across the Radio City Music Hall. In my head it was a famous place, but to be honest I don’t know why I know of it. After that I walked on over to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral area. From there, I took a look at the church and was looking at a good angle to take a photo of it when I realized that I was actually in the Rockefeller center. After taking my photos, I felt that I needed to rest a bit so I decided to head back to my hostel (which was a few blocks away from the Empire State buiilding)

 

 

I stayed a bit at the hostel and then realized that I really should make the most of my short time in New York. So I took a quick bath, then walked around again. I then headed on over to Korea Town. I checked Yelp for good places to visit and it took me to a bar called Krush. A cool place, it had beer pong tables, a number of tv screens, and hot Korean girls. I even got a free tequila shot from a group of girls for some reason (I can’t remember why). If ever I head back to New York, I know which place I’m visiting again.

When I already felt tired, I headed back to the hostel. I stopped for some chicken wings/tenders which I ended up eating at the lobby. It was a big order so I ended up sharing some of them with the guys at the counter.

Started at Central Park:

After waking up, I had a quick bath, checked out, and stored my luggage (a bit of a bummer that there was a fee so you can leave your luggage at their storage area). The hostel offered free coffee and donuts from Dunkin Donuts but I passed on it because I was in a rush.  My goal was to see as much of New York as I can before the day ends.

My first stop was Central Park. On the way there, I stopped by the Apple Store. It had this cool elevator entrance that I just wanted to try out. I think I also tried out an iPad Pro while I was there. After a few minutes tinkering with some of the gadgets, I headed on over to the park.

The weather cooperated as it was sunny but it wasn’t too hot. I was just walking around the park admiring the scenery of having a pretty big patch of trees amidst the tall skyscrapers of New York. After walking a bit (and seeing lots of TaiChi practitioners) I decided to go to my next stop which was the MET.

 

MET, WTC, MSG:

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My next stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the MET. I didn’t really plan on spending too much time at the museum but I ended up enjoying it. The different sections and galleries ended up making me fascinated that I didn’t realize the time. I think I spent nearly 3-4 hours there, and it still wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, staying at the MET for that long messed up my plans to visit other areas of New York.

After the MET, I headed on over to the new World Trade Center memorial. I was planning on going up the tower but the lines were quite long and I didn’t really have the money to spend. I did take some time to wander around at the south pool of the WTC memorial though.

After this, I headed back to the hostel to get my stuff. I rested a bit and then went to meet some of my colleagues who were in New York. We were supposed to meet and eat at Momofoku Nishi but it was full so we ended up eating across at Foragers Market. After that I headed on to Penn Station to board my train. Along the way, I passed by the famous Madison Square Garden.

Back to DC:

 

I then waited a bit and took the train ride back to Washington.I was hoping I’d get to sit next to someone who would be as fun as the army guy on the bus to New York, but I ended up sitting solo in my row 😀

When I went back to the US for a sceond time, I wanted to go back to New York. Unfortunately, I had a shorter trip this time so I wasn’t able to fit it in my schedule. This was a pity as there were still a lot of places I wanted to see. I wanted to check out the Status of Liberty or even the Brooklyn Bridge, but I guess those would have to wait for another trip.

 

This is part 3 of the post about this trip, here for Part 1, here for Part 2

 

 

Walking around Washington – April 2016 (Part 2)

While Virginia (at least Arlington) had its share of pubs, bars, and outdoor festivities, most of my time exploring was actually spent in Washington DC. The good thing with my location was that it was literally a bridge away (Key Bridge) from Washington. The subway also takes me to the other side of DC when I want to.

 

Georgetown:

One of the things that I did to not get too fat from all the chipotle and five dollar friday chicken tenders from Safeway was jog. From the apartment, I would then head on over to key bridge and then go on over to the Georgetown area. It was a pretty good jog as you would have to ascend some steps and pass through some scenic buildings and areas.

I remember going around the area and getting a bit reminded of the buildings from my own college. Must have been the trees, gardens, and orange bricks that reminded me of SEC of ADMU.

Once I’m done jogging, I would rest up a bit at the benches in front of Healy Hall. It was pretty scenic especially when I jog a little before sunset, so you get to see the sun coming down on the area. It was also neat to observe the various students just milling about.

 

The National Mall:

Aside from Georgetown, another area that I really spent plenty of time in was The National Mall. The National Mall area is home to plenty of significant sites. The most famous places would probably be the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. It was nice to walk around and see these monuments and statues as well as get a grasp of their significance to the history of the country.

 

Unfortunately, most of the pictures that I took when I went around that area got lost on my SD card.But it was a nice area. Aside from the monuments and memorials, you can also visit a number of museums that are located in it. I remember visiting the National Air and Space Museum (great for those aspiring astronauts), the Museum of American History (there was a World War 2 exhibit that I had a very educational time reading. I also came upon an exhibit ), National Museum of Natural History (the Hope Diamond was there, and a photography exhibit), and also the National Gallery of Art. During my first visit, I met a girl named Phoebe and we decided to watch a movie a the National Gallery of Art. We watched a french film called Paris Belongs to Us. On my second visit, I just toured around the different galleries. It was nice to see up close a Da Vinci (the Ginevra de’ Benci, which was his only work that is in public display in the US).

There are a couple of great things about the museums. The first is that they are generally free. You would have to queue a bit for the more famous ones (the Air and Space had a long line) but you’ll get in eventually. I say generally, because there are some area/attractions that would require you to shell out some money but these are often “non-essential” and it’s optional. Another thing is that for most of the museums, there are guides who tour around the different sections and provide you with additional information about the items that are on display.

Also, when not visiting monuments or museums, the National Mall is still a good area to just lounge around in. During one visit, I remember just planning to jog but ultimately ended up playing Ultimate Frisbee with a group who regularly played there. There were also various events and activities that are done on the different lawns.

 

Other areas:

Aside from the National Mall, I also walked around the White House. Apparently, the White House is not part of the mall but you can walk there from the mall. When I arrived, it was campaign season so it was pretty amusing to see people campaigning in the area. Although I think at that time it was still the primaries.

Close to Georgetown, there was also the Georgetown Waterfront Park. I walked around this area in the afternoon as well as in the evening. In the afternoon, it was a pretty chill time. People were lounging at the cafes and bars and the yachts. In the evening, it turns to a party place with the yachts pumping out loud music and people in their swimsuits dancing to the music.

I also tried out the food. I met a girl there named Olivia, and we tried out this French restaurant in DC. Other than that, I was fortunate to have a company sponsored event in a bar in DC. Also, had my taste of Shake Shack and Five Guys. On a related note: If I had to make a choice, I’d choose Shake Shack, although I’d probably go with Ray’s Hell burgers in VA instead (which was a 10 minute walk away from my apartment).

 

This is part 2 of the post about this trip, here for Part 1, here for Part 3

Venturing to Virginia – April 2016 (Part 1)

I was very fortunate to be able to travel to the US in 2016. This was actually my first flight out of Asia. I was sent there twice, the first, which happened in April-May (about four weeks) then flying back to the US in July and staying there for 3 more weeks. It was for work though, so I wasn’t able to explore as much as I would have wanted. But I still had the weekends and the weeknights so it wasn’t too bad.

On a side note: one of the reasons why this blog actually stopped getting updates was because I got a bit frustrated when I lost my pictures during my first trip.  I transferred most of my raw image files from my camera onto a portable hard drive which  got corrupted. The corruption led to me losing a couple of weeks worth of pictures. I was a bit disheartened until I saw that the SD card in the camera still contained some of the images that I gathered (good thing I was able to get another chance to fly to the US). Anyway, back to the trip.

The Trips:

The trips I made were for business. I went to the USA to go to the client’s office for some meetings and to generally see how they conduct their work. As mentioned in my Korea post, it was a bit of a rushed trip, and I wasn’t really familiar with the area that I would go to. Turns out, I was being flown in to Rosslyn, Arlington, VA. The first trip had me riding a plane from Manila to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Chicago, then Chicago to Washington (DCA) in Washington. That Hong Kong to Chicago leg was amusing because I sat next to a female doctor who chatted me up while we waited for the long lines at the immigration. I think we were actually in line for nearly 3 hours, which Unfortunately, she did not add me on facebook like she was supposed to so we never got in touch anymore :(.

The second trip had me riding a different route. This time I went Manila to Narita, Narita to Washington (IAD). The difference is that IAD to Rosslyn was a pretty long cab ride as compared with the 15-20 minute one from DCA.

Arlington, Virginia:

The client’s office was located in Arlington, Virginia. It was specifically in Rosslyn, so I was given an apartment that was quite near it. Rosslyn, was actually a pretty quiet area I guess. It had mostly office buildings so it was pretty quiet once 6:00pm (after office hours) comes along. Although there where plenty of bars and restaurants in the area. One thing I observed was that the Rosslyn neighborhood were really trying to get the people to go out and have fun. My first visit, I remember being able to join a Cinco De Mayo celebration with food trucks, beer, and performers .On my second trip, there was an outdoor cinema festival. I remember it showed Casablanca (picture below) and on other day it was Inside Out.

 

Key Bridge:

One thing I really loved about my area was that it was minutes away from Key Bridge. The bridge is above the Potomac River and takes you from Rosslyn into the Georgetown area. I love walking around it especially after work (I think sunset in VA, happens at 7:30pm) and just looking at the sunset for a bit. It was great during my first trip where it was pretty chilly, not so much in my second trip which was hot (summer time).

The Pentagon Memorial:

Since I was in Arlington Virginia, I decided to head on over to the Pentagon Memorial. Jim initially pointed it out when he toured me around but I think I only visited it during my second tour. When I was there, it was a bit surreal and emotional I guess that I’m not really sure how to put it into words.. The 9/11 attacks were literally half a world world away for me, but being in that area and seeing the benches with the engraved names made it more real.

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After work activities:

There wasn’t much in terms of fun activities in my side of Virginia I guess. I think it’s partly because I was traveling solo and it was for business so I didn’t really have people to join in with, or time to explore. With that said, if you wanted to have a beer, watch a game, and meet new people. Then this neighborhood is pretty good for it.

I remember going to the Clarendon Area, which is filled with bars and pubs. My personal favorite would probably the rooftop bar at Whitlows on Wilson. The vibe of the bar was pretty nice and 3 dollar beers (due to Cinco de Mayo). I also had a fun time at Spider Kelly’s due to their pop a shot. I was in the zone one night, and met some new friends who were amused at the scores I was getting. I also remember heading over to Don TIto’s to watch the hockey game. A nice place, I remember just talking to people about hockey and basketball (a Cavs playoff gone was on) , and there was this very cute/hot bartender 😛

Also, I can’t forget going out with Jim during my first day in Virginia. He toured me around Oldtown in Alexandria and we grabbed a beer at this pub. It was a pretty nice area and they had a great chocolate place but the name escapes my head at the moment. The chocolates were delicious but were expensive as heck.

 

This is part 1 of the post about this trip, here for Part 2, here for Part 3

Having Fun in Hongdae : April 2016 (Part 3)

Now that I was finally able to see the cherry blossoms (see previous posts here and here), I think it’s time to talk about the trip in itself. I guess I’ll start off by talking about the area that I stayed in – Hongdae.

Hongdae:

Hongdae is a college area, it was so named because that is where the Hongik University is located.  A side story I guess, aside from the cherry blossoms, one of the reasons that I wanted to travel to Korea was because music video that I saw of 10cm – 오늘밤은 어둠이 무서워요 (Tonight, I’m Afraid of the Dark

 

I wanted that vibe and feel of just walking around and seeing all kinds of performances. So when I decided to book a hostel, I researched and found out about this area where its common to find people just doing street performances everywhere.

I was not disappointed. There was Hongade Norito, which at daytime (during weekends I think) there were creative types who would sell their wares (trinkets and on-the-spot art mostly) then when evening rolls around, it becomes filled with performers of all types (rappers, guys and girls with guitars, dancers). Aside from Hongdae Norito, there was also an area across the street where all kinds of performers usually sang and danced with crowds surrounding them. It was cool to just walk around the area with street food and beer in hand,  just watching and listening to the different performers. You also get to interact with the crowd and generally just have a chill time.

 

One of the more amusing things that happened was that a certain performer was actually touring the area – Hong Dae Kwang – and I got to see two of his stops unintentionally. First, was at the Hongdae Norito, he was playing his songs and I found it quite amusing that there was a camera crew (I used to listen to kpop but not really that much anymore) so I peered. The producer of the show actually saw me and talked to me and asked if I knew him, when I said no, he told me that the guy perfomed at superstar K. After watching his performance I decided to head on to another area to visit another cafe, as I was walking boom, I saw him again setting up, The producer saw me and told me “Are you a fan?” you see him twice today! I didn’t really mind he sang pretty well and I kinda liked his songs.

 

Noryangjin Fish Market

During my last night (I flew out evening the following day) Viola and Yan (girls I met at the hostel) decided to take me out to eat at Noryangjin Fish Market. At first, I wasn’t too excited since I thought that I was allergic to seafood but things turned out pretty well in the end.

At this market, you purchase fresh feet seafood from the market, then they will then be brought to a dining area/restaurant where they will prepare and cook them to your liking. In the Philippines we have a similar setup called “Dampa”. Again, I was afraaid to try since I thought I was not able to eat crabs and shirmps, but apparently I am not allergic and I did get to try out a moving octopus as well.

 

 

Hongdae – Come Inn Guest House: 

My post about this Korea trip would not be complete if I did not mention the people that I met while I was there. Thanks to the guesthouse, I was able to meet some wonderful people who I am still in contact with even now.

I was very fortunate to have flown to different countries for 2016 and when people ask me which I enjoyed the most, I can’t help but respond with Korea. To be honest,  I can’t recommend a place to visit but because I had so much fun hanging out with the people who all came from different backgrounds and countries. I may not have gone to that many tourist spots but sharing time with them may it be hanging out at the rooftop, eating lunch or dinner, eating breakfast at the hostel, or just drinking coffee during my last day really affected me and made me realize that sometimes it’s not even the destination it’s the people you meet along the way.

 

This is part 3 of the post about this trip, click here for Part 2, and here for Part 3

 

Chasing Cherry Blossoms in Seoul: April 2016 (Part 2)

After that slightly disappointing trip along Yeouido Park, I went back to the hostel to hang out with the other guests. I stayed at a hostel  in Hongdae called Come Inn Guesthouse. While on my laptop, I was able to see a couple of Korean friends (who I met during my Singapore trip) on facebook post pictures showing a good area filled with cherry blossoms. I sent one of them a message to ask her where she took it, and she replied that it was at Seoul Racecourse Park. I researched the place and decided that I’d be headed there the following day.

Deoksogung Palace:

I planned on going there early, but some of the hostel guests invited us to have lunch. So I thought I’d just go after eating, meaning I had some time in the morning. I was planning on just going around the different stations, when I checked the time and realized that I’d be able to catch the Changing of the Guards Ceremony at the Deoksogung Palace (which happens 3x a day at 11:00/14:00/15:30).

I think visiting this place was the only “usual” tourist activity that I did during this trip. I’ve actually been to this palace back in 2013, and was already able to catch the changing of the guards. Back then I didn’t have a camera with me (save for my Note 2) so this was a good chance to try and take good pictures. Another difference is that this time I was able to catch the march from the inside of the palace aside from the ceremony outside the Daehanmun gate.

Korean Lunch:

After the ceremony, I headed back to Hongdae to have lunch with the other guests. We went to this Korean restaurant a few blocks away from the hostel. It was a pretty diverse group consisting of people from Belgium, Canada, the US, Thailand, and me (a Filipino).

Seoul Racecourse Park:

Once we were done with lunch, I headed back to the hostel to prepare my stuff for going to the racecourse park. I told the people where I was headed and Tong (one of the Thai girls I had lunch with) told me that she wanted to join. I was thankful for the company, so we headed over to the park.

The racecourse park actually has a subway station near it (line 4). Going down the station and walking a bit, you would be able to see some signs that lead to the race track itself and the park. We got lost a bit, but the locals were nice enough to point us to the right direction.

When we got to the park, I was overwhelmed by the sight. While it may not be as magnificent as the other sites, being around the area with blossoms and the wind blowing through them and the flowers just swirling around you was still an awesome experience.

The park is a circular road that has various cherry blossom trees around it. I believe there  was a festival that happened (or was about to happen) as there was a stage and a sound system setup. It was a great experience to just stroll around the park and having Tong to accompany me was nice as well.

This is part 2 of the post about this trip, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 3

Chasing Cherry Blossoms in Seoul: April 2016 (part 1)

I had been to South Korea back in November of 2013. It was pretty fortunate that I got a 3 year multiple entry visa, so I always planned on going back. When a seat sale came last January 2016. I thought that maybe I should go.

I targeted a Mid April date as I really wanted to see the cherry blossoms. I thought that if Japan was too expensive, Korea would be able to provide an alternative. Also, for this trip I thought that it would be a different experience as during my previous visit I had already been able to go to most of the touristy sites except for the theme parks.

[Side note: That 2013 Korea trip was probably one of my best “scores” when it comes to Cebu Pacific tickets. I think I was able to buy 2 round trip tickets (I brought my sister along) with baggage allowance for less than 3500.00).

Even before I left, there were already a couple of problems that popped up:

First was I had a US work trip on the horizon and it seemed that I wouldn’t be able to fly to Korea as it would overlap with the schedule. I was actually all set on not going on the trip that I didn’t pack my bag anymore or even call a hostel to confirm where I’m staying (I did initially send emails though). I guess the trip was meant to happen though, as literally hours before my flight, I got confirmation that my US work trip will be postponed for a week. Upon reading the news, I packed my bags and called the hostel to check if they had rooms available, fortunately they did, and off I went to Korea.

The next problem was the cherry blossoms themselves. On the days leading to the trip, I had researched the dates of the blooming and it seemed that I will arrive a week or so too late for the cherry blossoms in Seoul. However, I did find that Yeouido park and the streets leading up to it are known Cherry blossoms and that there would still be some when I arrived.

Yeouido Park:

To get to the park, I hopped off at the National Assembly Hall station. I then walked around the area and follow the signs on the way to the park. Those were the cherry blossoms on the roads leading to the streets which while gave me some hope, also showed me that the best views have already passed. However, for someone like me who has never seen it, they were already quite nice.

I went around the area, even visiting the KBS World station and anticipated that since the streets were lined with petals, the actual park would be more beautiful. Unfortunately, the park no longer had that much blossoms and only had this:

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Disappointed, I just toured around the park and looked at the sights. I came across a clearing which had rows of basketball courts and were amazed at how empty most of the courts were. I was thinking, if this had been in the Philippines, I’m pretty sure this would have all been filled by now.

After a bit of touring, I headed back to Come Inn Guesthouse. I was disappointed with what happened, but what I was was still nice enough that it wasn’t really that frustrating. Fortunately, things turned out pretty well after this.

This is part 1 of the post about this trip, click  here for Part 2, and here for Part 3

Solo in Singapore: February 2016 (part 2)

Singapore By the Bay:

After experiencing that unique side of Singapore, I guess the next visits weere more of the usual ones. I visited the Harbourfront area for a couple of reasons, the first was to check out if there were any events happening at Esplanade (the last time I was there there were free performances) and to eat at Gluttons by the Bay. Unfortunately, there were no performances (I guess the last time there was a Lunar festival event)  and Gluttons by the Bay was closed for that day.

So I just walked around the area and took pictures of probably two of the most common scene that people take of Singapore, the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands,  I already had shots of these landmarks but this time I had a (knockoff) gorilla pod with me and a different lens.

 

After taking the shots, I decided to just walk all the way back from Esplanade to the hostel. I loked at Google Maps and saw that there was a path that I haven’t really explored that was near the river. I think it was around the Boat Quay/Clarke Quay area. I wasn’t exactly tired but I decided to just sit by the river with a drink in hand and just look at stuff. Emo I know but it was a pretty good change of pace from touring.

 

 

Food, Friends, and Frisbee:

I think aside from the tourist spots, one thing that people would do in Singapore is food trip. Being home to a mix of cultures, you really get to have a variety when it comes to food.

While at the hostel around midnight, I went to the pantry to just have a snack. While in there, I saw two korean girls who were eating Bakwa (a sweetened jerky). I offered them my chips and they offered me their meat (not exactly a fair trade I know). We also chatted a bit using our phones to translate and we ended up by adding each other on Facebook (this would play a big role in my Korea post).

I met up with another friend, Zhengning and this time we went to a Kaya place (for the life of me I forgot what it was called). Kaya is a very common snack (breakfast?) in Singapore. It usually consists of toast, kaya spread (coconut jam), egg (dipped in soy sauce), and coffee or tea. As for the coffee/tea, you would usually see Kopi (coffee) or Teh (tea) with a letter. I found out that:

Kopi/Teh O– Black Coffee/Tea
Kopi/Teh C –  Coffee/Tea with milk

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The Korean friends, Lena, and Zhengning

 

After chatting for a couple of hours or so, Zhengning had to leave so I had time to wander again. I actually came across people playing Ultimate at Hong Lim park. I just stood around and asked to join in and they allowed me to. There was a Filipino guy, Philip, who happened to be playing and he actually was able to catch a highlight of me. Here’s an instagram clip instead (look for the blue green pixel wearing number 14)

 

I washed up after Frisbee and headed over to the Maxwell Food Center, home of the Tian Tian chicken rice (made famous by Anthony Bourdain, I guess). However, when I went there, I was actually planning on eating at their competitor a few stalls away named Ah Tai. Apparently, Ah Tai is run by a relative of the one who put up Tian Tian. I bought the chicken rice and some lime juice and proceeded to try Ah Tian. My verdict? While Ah Tian is good, I still think that Tian Tian tastes better. You can’t go wrong with either though, so just go with whichever stall doesn’t have a long queue.

Flight out:

I had an evening flight back to the Philippines, which meant that I had some time to spare. After hanging out with Lena for her homecooked brunch, we headed over to the airport. I was a tad early at the airport so I explored around. Despite being there for a couple of times already, it was only during this trip that I realized that Changi airport actually had an entertainment deck. They had video games, a theater, and even a sunflower garden!

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Realization:

After Hanging around at the airport for a bit, it was time for my flight back. On the plane I realized how uncommon this trip was. While I did explore the country, I think this trip was defined more by the people I met on the trip. There was Lena who took me around uncommon areas in Singapore, Zhenging who was someone I met years ago via penpals, and the other people at Wink, especially the two Korean girls..

Of course, you can’t always count on meeting new people and having a great time when you travel, but it may be a great idea to put yourself in positions wherein you would be able to do so.

 

This is part 2 of the post about this trip, click here for Part 1. 

 

Solo in Singapore: February 2016 (part 1)

Back in September 2015, I visited Singapore alone. It was my first time traveling solo, and I really had fun doing so. I think one of the main reasons why I was able to have a good time was because I chose to stay in a hostel. During that time, I was able to meet new friends and I guess I had a bit of a promise to try and go back.

Initially, I wanted to go during the Chinese New Year. However, my friend warned me that Chinese New Year in Singapore is generally not that fun with people usually just going on breaks with their family and some establishments just closing down for the week. Thus, I decided to book a trip a few weeks after.

Hostel:

I decided to go and stay at Wink Hostel again. Wink Hostel is located in Mosque street, a few hundred meters away from Chinatown station. The main reason I chose to stay there is that my friend worked there but it was also because I’ve stayed there before and it was okay. It was a bit expensive for a hostel, expect to spend around 45 SGD a night for a bed (a pod type one). However the clean amenities, the location (walkable distance to Maxwell food center, temples and the MRT), and a great previous experience, made me think it was worth it.

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First Night:

My Cebu pacific flight got delayed for a bit. Instead of arriving at around 7pm, I think I arrived around 9pm already. It was probably due to the weather. When I arrived in Singapore, I took the train from the airport to Chinatown station and was surprised at the very heavy rains that greeted me. There was a Cheers nearby so i bought an umbrella and went to the hostel. After checking in, I was a bit hungry so I decided to go to the food street for some fish soup and beer. I think I spent around 10SGD for everything. It’s not exactly street food cheap but it was filling and for that cold night, it was a pretty good combination.

 

Second Day Stroll:

The thing with this particular Singapore trip is that I didn’t really feel like doing tourist things. I guess you can chalk it up to me being there quite a bit in such a short span. This means that the places I went to weren’t exactly the famous ones, I was just going around riding trains, buses, and walking all over. I did go to Queensway to check out some shoes (nothing bought though) and on the way I did end up seeing IKEA and finally tasting their famous meatballs and coffee which goes for around 8 dollars (6.50 for 10pcs of meatballs and 2 dollars for refillable coffee. After eating breakfast, I was just strolling around, going to Vivo city and then back to  Pagoda Street.

 

Uncommon spots in Singapore:

Dakota:

As I mentioned, one of the main reasons that I went to Singapore was because of the friends that I met during my previous trip there. The great thing with having a friend in a different country is that you don’t have to stick with the usual places when touring around. In this trip, I asked Lena (who I met last time) to tour me around but not to the common places that people go to. She decided to take me to Dakota.

Dakota, is actually one of the older residential areas in Singapore. Going around, you would feel the vibe of the older style HDBs as compared with the newer high rise ones. When we arrived in Dakota, it suddenly rained, good thing we found some space in this vintage looking cafe in the area called Tian Kee and Co. Now, it was filled and I’m not sure  whether it was because it’s a good place (it had great food and drinks) or because everyone was just passing time until the rain stopped.

 

Joo Chiat:

If you look at the pictures above, you would see an ondeh ondeh cake. Ondeh ondeh is one of the traditional Peranakan (local Chinese descendants) delicacies and I guess partly inspired by this, Lena then decided to take me to Joo Chiat.

We were just strolling around the area when we came upon this rattan furniture shop. We stayed a bit, even sat on the chairs and just chatted with the auntie about her shop. After that we went into this store which showcased Peranakan culture and even sold some food items. We stayed a few hours in that area just eating food and chatting about whatever topic we came across.

 

After that, Lena had some business to attend to so she left, and I headed back to the hostel. I think that that kind of afternoon was one of the more unique things that I got to do in another country. I liked that it was a different side of Singapore that tourist don’t normally go to. While there are benefits to going around the more famous places (after all, they did get famous for a reason), I think there is also some joy to be found on going off the beaten path as well.

This post covers the first couple of days on the trip, I’ll post an update to it soon.

 

This is part 1 of the post about this trip, click here for Part 2.