3 countries in 24 hours.

So how do you go about having a time constraint planned itinerary? Embrace it.


We left Manila, Philippines at around 3:30pm due to a delayed flight and touched down Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at around 8:00pm. Travelled by taxi to our pre-booked accommodation in Mercu Serviced Apartments which is like 8 minute walk to Petronas Twin Towers. We had dinner at a fastfood-like place called Pepita’s and went straight to the mesmerizing twin towers. Home at close to 12:00am for a quick freshen up and nap, shall I say, for us to leave at 2:00am for a 6:00am flight to our next destination.

Almost an hour ride from the city to the airport, we flew to Singapore to experience Universal Studios for the third time. It still feels the same first time of being an excited kid riding the movies you’ve grown up with. Staying here quickly for just 27 hours but still managed to meet my friends and former workmates reminiscing the good old days.

Adventure continues as we cross back to Malaysia, this time in Johor Bahru where Legoland is located. Due to horrible lines in the immigration, our time were constrained. Checked in to their themed hotel with its amazingly amenities almost all made with lego. Worth every penny especially if you are tagging along children with you. Short with time though to explore the theme park, good thing long rides line was avoided since less people were in. 


Swiftly after the buffet breakfast, we rented cabs to bring us to Senai Airport for an 11:00am flight back to Kuala Lumpur for another flight back to Manila. I met Nando’s again after so long back when I was in Ireland few years back. This was also the time to catch up on our pasalubong shopping. Good thing their airports have malls to shop conveniently. 


Whew! That was a fast 96 hours journeying 3 countries with 8 airport encounters and 3 different hotels from different parts of Asia. Having 10 adults traveling, tagging along 3 kids was indeed a challenge but worth embracing every step of the way.

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Second time visiting this country still gives me the same excitement as my first. Why? Besides the fact that I will be on an ‘eating vacation’, I am thrilled to see the places that I have never been to during my first visit.

We started our long journey straight from work, catching a midnight flight. We needed to wait for another friend who was in the next flight from ours and the wifi stand was already closed so we waited as the sun rises in Taoyuan International Airport.

Bursting sunrise brought us to the hospitality of a friend’s friend who was based in Keelung, situated in the Northern part of Taiwan, an hour from the city proper. After freshening up, we went to Yangmingshan Park. Though it is best to go there during spring time to see the garden blossom, if you are a nature lover, it’s worth the end station bus ride. 

En routed to one of my favorite place that I would never get tired of going back and the best of the best night markets, the Shilin Night Market. Overwhelmed with so much food, my cravings were dearly satisfied. Limited time though, we went straight to the elephant mountain, which is walking distance from the last stop of the red line, Xiangshan station. Trekking at a multiple steps, the view of the city with the famous Taipei 101, on the top was indeed worth every sweat. Truly, first day was no sleep and tiring yet a worthwile experience.

Second day was supposedly for Sun Moon Lake, but due to some misfortunate events, we were led to the city of Hualien, which is on the Eastern part of Taiwan. Just a tip that train tickets were cheaper if you will be purchasing before riding. We rented two cabs that enabled us to tour the city at 500NT/person driving us to 4 beautiful places.

Taroko National Park is a must see in this place, seeing God’s great wonders of nature, a bit of trekking, a sight of falls with temples on the side and great scenery of the beach. Though things didn’t went as planned, the experience was worthwile for in traveling, great places are discovered by just going even though roads get a little tough.

Third day was quite tough when the temperature starts to drop and drizzles. We started our journey in Yehliu Geopark. I no longer joined the squad as they experienced rock formation at its finest since I have seen them during my first visit. Park entrance is at 50NT/adult. We rented again a cab which can bring us to Jiufen and Shifen at 1000 NT/cab. If you are in big groups, like in our case we are 11, this I think is cost efficient.

Markets in Jiufen are indeed fruitful array of food, products and restaurants. Same way in Shifen, which a growing number of food stalls assembles on the side of an active railway. Wish lanterns is a must when you visit this. It allows you to have your wishes be written on lanterns which is fired and flown afterwards. Ending our day in another night market in Raohe and hotpots are our subject because of the cold weather. To bad, rain is falling that we did not have the chance to explore the market though.

The fourth day was quite compacted as our friends are flying back to Manila in the evening and we need to move out and check in to a near hotel in Ximen. Meeting our friends in Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and preceded to Taipei 101 was the itinerary for this day. As soon as we bid goodbye to our friends, we went straight to my favorite Shilin Market and food trip and shopping starts. 

I actually reserved another day for me to maximize my shopping and food trip as these were the main reasons for returning to this country. Last day was basically for me to recharge as I comforted myself on a good hotel bed and wake up just in time for check out. This was the time to have my own walking and biking tour in the cities nearby, searching for a good coffee place to chill and some last minute shopping.

Indeed, going back to this land was an adventure like seeing it again for the first time but reminiscing the same excitement as what your first time was. The company of a big group of friends added so much fun during the journey. Truly, I will not get tired of going back to this country once more.

Round up 2016.

So another year that was. What happened in the 365 days of 2016?

January started stressful as a new project starts at work, but nevertheless through Him, all things became possible.

February was highlighted with my comeback travel to Hong kong as I celebrated Chinese New Year in a Chinese territory surrounded by the Chinese race. Ended the month with a quick trip up north to celebrate Panagbenga Festival in Baguio with friends.

I can consider March dedicated to my family as we spend some time in the beach, consequently the birth of ‘Saber’ being a blessing from above. A check definitely in my goals for 2016. Also on this month, I was diagnosed with something I have been concealing and denying to myself and acceptance came in as I need to do a maintenance meds horror.

April started with summer outings one from another. A trip to Beijing definitely helps me check seeing the great wall on my bucket list.

May jumps me into wedding stints as one by one friends are getting married and definitely provided me an alias as the ‘Pambansang Abay’ for hopping from one wedding to another as a sponsor but never a groom.

June makes me realise that the health part on my goals for the year is quite far from what it should be. Slowly but surely, I started to keep an eye on it by going back to running and yoga.

July greatly deserves a break as friends flew to Bangkok visiting the city the second time. Finale was a start of my journey in seeking our only Saviour, joining a ‘True Life’ retreat. Truly, a life changing experience.

August is where I try to search for new activities where in I attempt to proliferate the world of calligraphy. Too bad, my time does not allow me to focus on this.

September was for another two weddings to attend to. I started to memorise how every wedding goes.

October brought a quick trip to Tagaytay with friends. Great way to rest and recover.

Birthday month November brought me to a trip to United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be exact. Meeting friends who are based there makes every stay worthwhile.

December is really the season we all have been working for. Promotion from work came in. Indeed, only by His grace, everything through Him. Victory serenades as I hosted the company’s yearend event, loads of parties and get together and prepping for the holidays.

What a year that was and never been grateful. Cheers to 2017! 👆🏼

 

Contentment vs. Complacency

  

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and randomly ‘Contentment’ has been the topic of the message in the church. So I tried to be listen and comprehend the message and it all boils down to being grateful and appreciate everything that life has to offer. 

As I deepen my reads with this topic, I came across an article by Andrea Richards Scott, who is a visionary that helps transform your passion into profits, which helps me understand more the difference between Contentment and Complacency. 

Furthermore, I became more firm with my stand of practicing gratefulness as I start my everyday devotion as I face my life at work and dealing with things around me. I tend to extend my understanding among others and see the positive side in everything. 

And so, I am sharing this excellent read in order to keep us inspired in our daily lives. 


Contentment vs. Complacency

The Purpose Guide by: Andrea Richards Scott

With all of the personal and professional development pressure to accomplish goals and pursue success, there doesn’t seem to be any room for satisfaction. Yet, I believe that the first step to success is contentment. There is a definite difference between contentment and complacency. Individuals who are content have a posture of gratitude, thanksgiving, and acknowledgement.

Gratitude

It has been my experience that people who are content are grateful for what they have even as they seek to achieve their goals. They have experienced success in the past and have a quiet confidence that will enable them to achieve even more. These individuals have a strong sense of self so they aren’t trying to prove anything to anyone else. On the other hand, individuals who are complacent believe that things are okay as they are and are not likely to get better. Therefore they make no effort to improve their situation. They tend to be ungrateful about the things that they do have. They typically exhibit traits of low self-esteem and seem to have something to prove. This is evident in their attempt to be something that they are not or live above their means.

Thanksgiving

Another noticeable characteristic of individuals who are content is that they are thankful for the opportunities that they have received. It is with this attitude of thanksgiving that they seek out new prospects and projects. Their attitude seems to attract additional opportunities. People sense their positive energy and want to be in their presence, do business with them, and reward their efforts. Individuals who are complacent seem to have the opposite effect. Instead of being thankful, they tend to complain about their situation while doing nothing to change it. Because they can’t appreciate how much they have already achieved, they are powerless to achieve more. Their negative energy deters progress and drives people away. As a result, they tend to receive less leads and referrals.

Acknowledgement

Individuals who are content understand that they wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t receive help from others. They accept the fact that they need something greater than themselves in order to achieve true success. They realize that they need to partner with others in order to get to their desired destination. While it looks like they are in waiting mode, individuals who are content realize that sometimes situations are outside of their control. They are able to refrain from activity that is counterproductive in order to plan actions that produce results. Conversely, complacent individuals think that they are responsible for their current success. They think that they have achieved everything on their own. They may not believe in anything beside themselves or trust that others are willing to help them succeed. They may not believe that a force or power outside of themselves is working on their behalf. These individuals tend to wait for opportunity to knock rather than seeking it out. Since they don’t seek help or support from others, they get burned out quickly trying to manage situations that are not within their scope. In fact, they may spin their wheels trying to manage something that promises great results but has lack-luster reward.

While we push towards more and more success, we must take a moment to evaluate which model we have adapted. Are we content? Do we feel grateful, thankful, and supported? It is essential that we evaluate our underlying motivations because they drive results. Being content positions us for future success while being complacent sets us up for failure.

Cebu Hits!

The Queen City of the South has so much to offer which still surprises me even on my third visit. 

  
Malapascua Island is located on the northest peak of Cebu, approximately 145 kilometers from the city proper.  If adventure calls you, a 5-hour Ceris bus ride at Php 180 will bring you to Maya Port from the Northern Bus Terminal. If on time constraint, taxi drivers or private vehicles can bring you to the port for Php 2500-3500 for about two and a half hours. Boatmen will offer you private boat ride at Php 1500, usually in the afternoon before the sunset, but the normal 30 minutes to an hour ride to the island is just Php 100 per person but number of passengers needs to be filled before you go. Beware of guys who will help you carry your luggages for they will ask for a tip. Better spare some loose bills for them. 

  
Malapascua Island is worth the long travel experiencing a fine white sand beach with so much wonders underneath. This is one of the targets of most scuba divers. Many spots of the sea are considered underwater sanctuary. 

  
  

One of the reason why I booked a ticket to Cebu is  to experience a taste of luxury of the Moevenpick Resort. Located in Lapu Lapu City proper, it’s hip and chic mediterranean inspired hotel truly great for leisure and relaxation.

  
By the end of the sands come the Ibiza Club. Party all night experiencing the club by the see. Truly something to look forward to.

  
Cebu never fails to offer a wide range of vacation, adventure and leisure. It will truly remain on its throne as the queen city of the south. 

 

Terrific Taiwan.

Every Travel has a story and Taiwan has its story to tell. I booked a flight to Taipei just to see the world’s second highest but never thought that many other experience will be exceptional.

  
Touching down the Taoyuan International Airport with its marvelous architecture. Truly something will amazingly welcome you.

  
From the airport, an hour bus ride at 125 NTD, which will bring you to Taipei Main Station, which is the center of Taiwan’s capital. Most hotels, transportations and shops are here thats why this is one of the travelers’ destination when in Taipei.

  
XiMen is the shopping center of Taipei. With just a station away from the Main Station, great shopping spree is awaiting. Plus numerous array of restaurants to satisfy your tummy. This is Taipei’s version of Japan’s Shibuya.

  
This Mala Hotpot Buffet is highly recommended. With it’s all you can eat meat and vegetables plus haagen dazs to fill in your sweet tooth. Yes, it’s unlimited at 549 TWD only.

  
Located at Taipei’s Central Business District, Taipei 101 is the second highest building in the world next to Burj Khalifa. It’s 89-floor architecture exhibits Taiwan’s strong foundations. 500 TWD to get up the tower and experience the fastest elevator reported by Guinness.

  
Taipei’s train system is efficient at a minimum fee of 16 TWD. Almost all were underground with shops underneath which will bring you to every part of the city. Urban planning was indeed effective.

  
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall shows how the Taiwan culture had been brave through the year.

  
Shilin Night Market is a must visit. With its line of shops at a very affordable prices and yummy street foods you will ever crave in your life, you will definitely go back again and again. Stinky tofu, Vegetable Dumpling bun, Grilled mushroom is just to name a few.

  
Yehliu Geopark is on the northern part of Taiwan. The amazing stone formations were truly worth the hour of travel from Taipei.

  
The second biggest night market in Taipei can be found in Raohe. You can visit a temple adjacent to the entrance of the market before you shop and go food tripping.

  
Adding to its efficiency, bike stations are located everywhere within the city to rent at minimum price of 10 TWD per 30 minutes.

  
Taiwan visit will never be complete without seeing the famous Taipei Zoo. Sadly, the gondola closes every Monday.

  
Taiwan is enriched with very abundant culture, responsible people and delectable delicious food. Indeed the travel is one for the books.

Vindicating Vietnam.

Vindicating Vietnam.

Vietnam has so much heart on their history keeping their heads up on what their country has become. With its great array of quality food and good shopping finds, Vietnam is one country recommended for backpacking tourists who seeks adventure and thrills on their travel diaries.

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Ho Chi Minh City or previously known as Saigon is located on the southern part Vietnam in which most tourist visit. Pham Ngu Lao is the main center of all the visitors of the city. Most hotels, bars, parks, markets, restaurants, shopping stores are located nearby.

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The Ben Tanh Market is where most souvenirs, good buys and delicious food can be found. Make sure you suite yourself to your best bargaining skills to maximize your shopping budget. Be also mindful with people who try to take advantage over other people, especially the tourists, who over priced their products plus can held you up if they really want you to buy their stuffs.

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The War Remnants Museum is one of the must visit museum in the city. It showcased the stories of Vietnamese during the war of the Americans. The understanding beneath the hearts of every locale from this country will surely be explained here, especially of what had happened during the era of the “Agent Orange”.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral is another site to visit. It’s good architecture will surely amaze every tourist visiting.
Another must see is the Central Post Office. It is open for tourist to view what’s in store and to take some pictures with an ongoing sight on how the post office rolls.

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TIP: If you are on a tight budget and cool to walk around the city, it can actually be strolled since the spots are just near to each other and near Pham Ngu Lao, which is again the center of the tourist attractions.

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Cu Chi Tunnels is about 90-minutes away from Ho Chi Minh City. In here, you can see the maze tunnels and picture how people lived underground during the war era. A documentary film can be viewed showing the Vietnamese struggle during the war. The nearly 200 kilometer tunnels serve as their underground cities to defend themselves from the attack of the Americans. Experience these tunnels to feel like a local on their medieval years.

TIP: Always be vigilant and keep an eye on your valuables especially with people taking advantage of the tourists.

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Vietnam has so much things to offer. The city is a tourist friendly, especially for backpackers, however, not recommendable for family trips. Will definitely find time to see what the northern part of this country has to say. I will see you very soon, Hanoi!