Hello guys! I am writing again! C'mon! It's March, and yes, this is my first in the 3rd month of the year. Been a while. Been caught up with a lot of tasks and jobs. I haven't been traveling for quite some time now, but my mind traveled a lot. I mean, while I am in one place, my mind is wandering and wondering. Yes. I have a wanderlust. I am a wanderlust. Yep!So, as I was also revisiting photos on my gadgets, I missed traveling. I missed being in a place I have never been to before. I miss boarding on a plane, I missed the stairways, the railways, the traffic, the nature and everything that I encounter in traveling. To somehow mitigate the feeling of missing, I have decided to do this blog. ...continue reading →
A lot of people availed of tour packages, one because they want convenience (same reason I do), and two, sometimes they're cheaper. That's because you get to share the cost. Also, tour package could be a good way to explore the place when you are not yet so acquainted with the area, less risky. Furthermore, tour packages gets you to places in a short period of time. But let's face it, there's more to the place than that included in the tour. That is why, if you have more time, and if your energy allows it, Do-It-Yourself is still best.
I attended the PICPA Annual National Convention in Puerto Princesa Palawan. After the convention, we decided to go on a tour in El Nido. It has always been my dream to set foot in this well known place (at least to me and couple of wanderlust friends).
I managed to convince my friends to join me in the tour. So let me tell you what the Tour A of El Nido Package as standardized by their Tourism Authority.
The Tour A package is priced at P1,200 per person, and this package includes visiting the following:
1. Small lagoon - what's in small lagoon? It's also a good destination, where you can see great rock formations and of course, the view inside the small lagoon is just breathtaking. But, I should warn you, that you either spend or swim your way to get there.
As we reached the Small Lagoon, we were informed that we needed to swim. It means we need to have our own dry bag and/or underwater camera. We had nothing. Our camera are not waterproof, we only had our cellphones as cameras. Plus, we don't have dry bag. Thank God, one of the boat crew, lent his dry bag to us, with a strong caveat that he is not responsible should the sea water manage to get inside the dry bag.
Then we were given the chance to witness the majestic view of the lagoon. I feel like words are not enough to describe its beauty.
2. Shimizu Island - what's in here? Another group of rock formations, white sand beach where you can relax and explore the place. This is where we had our lunch. And we did enjoy this one. Thanks to the boat crew who prepared our sumptuous lunch. I should note, and highlight that their culinary abilities are commendable (or was it just because we were hungry? LOL) yet, I need to tell you, they do have made us full.
The plating was also impressive, see photos below. If this isn't a tour, then it's fiesta!
3. Secret Lagoon - well, this is something (sorry to say this) a little bit not-so-astonishing, it's a good place perhaps, but I did feel, it wasn't worth it. We needed to swim again going to the shore, and from the shore, you have to walk towards the entrance where you also have to stand and fall in line, while you be on queue to get yourself inside the "Secret Lagoon" as we entered, it's as normal as the other shores, only that you have to go through a small cave-like passage to get there. Apart from that passage, this is going to be just any other beach in El Nido. We did go there because I am a curious man, and so are my friends. But seriously, if you are not as curious as I am. Then it may not be worth the swimming and the struggles to get to the shore and be on queue for a couple of minutes.
4. Big Lagoon - this was another amazing lagoon. The view makes me wanna stay and take a lot of selfies as we can. Although, you would be warn as you disembark (is that the correct term?) from the boat, that the sea urchins are just around, so be careful and watch your steps. Thankfully, none of us had an encounter with the urchins, just saw an electric eel (?).
5. 7th Commando Beach - this is heaven! A good finale of the Tour A package I should say. The sunset just blew your mind and you would feel like relaxing for the rest of the hours and just stay there for the night.
The first day Tour A is worth the 6-7 hour ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. It was all worth it when we set foot in each of the white sand beach islands of El Nido.
1. If you are not a nature lover El Nido is not for you.
Being in El Nido makes you re-connect with the universe, makes you think of earth, nature, humanity and life. It makes you re-think your plans and ideas. It could give you more clarity. It could give you calmness that you have been unknowingly craving for.
2. If you don't want to get wet, won't jump, don't want to get soaked or won't swim, El Nido is not for you.
To be able to explore its beauty and grandeur, you have to get wet. For some islands (islet) you would have to get off the boat, swim (with life vest or not), and get to the shore. You can't expect the boat to have its space and dock in the shore. No, you have to swim. And yes, that's most of the time.
3. If you don't like sea, sun and sand, El Nido is not for you.
What were you thinking? Of course, it's gonna be sea, sun and sand. It's island hopping! If you care too much about your skin than enjoying the beach, the sand, the sea and the sun, then El Nido is definitely not for you. Because the Island hopping tour, is going to be a sunny, beachy day! 🙂
4. If you are not a risk taker, then you're not fit for El Nido.
Nobody promised a smooth sailing boat ride. Because it's not possible! The trip to every island is different, there are times it's gonna be more bumpy than a bus ride in a rough road. Yes, there will be waves, but not gigantic enough to destroy your boat, just enough to rock your trip and make it more of an adventure. The bumpy ride is worth it, and it can be hidden in your smiles.
5. If you can't eat without the "fine-dining" utensils, then El Nido is not for you.
Nobody can prepare the fine-dining meal. Nobody will care that much about food. Although, the food prepared by the boat crew were amazing, but still, there's not gonna be a long-table to serve the food. And yeah, you might have to eat with your bare hands. No spoon and fork, if you get lucky, you'd have to eat not in a plate. But who cares, when you get to witness Mother Nature's Majesty! 🙂 Forget about steak, and all other fine-dining meals, just get your tummies filled. They're all yummy anyway. 🙂
6. If you can't stand a cave, and go inside 'em, El Nido may not be for you.
There are rock formations and cave-like "structures" that wooed me. I know I am a caveman, and not everyone loves caves, rock formations, and all other like structures.
7. If you're afraid of heights, El Nido may not be for you.
There are structures, and pics that needs to be taken from atop of a rock formations. So either you muster all the courage, gather all your nerves, get up there and take a selfie shot, or exchange photo-taking with friend (stranger-turned-friend) or stay on the ground and just stare at the formations.
8. If you don't have crazy friends, El Nido may not be as enjoyable for you! 🙂
The view, the nature's bliss, the amazing experience are way better experienced when friends are crazy enough to pose with you, laugh, make fun and have fun with you.
So, there you go, the top 8 reasons why El Nido is not for you. Why do you think you should or El Nido is for you? Please feel free to share below. 🙂
Choice in responding to a situation. Chance to make great. Change so you get a difference in your daily life. If you don't make what you haven't done, you wouldn't get, what you haven't got.
Those words. Those thoughts.
It was a not-so-good evening, I was set to have a meeting with a client via Skype, and a very good electric company did not advise that their rotating brownout scheduled, as disseminated will not be followed. But I don't blame them, may be it was my fault, because I did not anticipate that they could be creative enough to change the schedule without prior notice to an insignificant customer like yours truly.
I managed to connect and got online after several desperate attempts just to give a word to my client that I am suddenly experiencing electricity challenges. He can hear me but can't see me, it feels weird to talk to a client without seeing him, and he feels weird talking to a dark room, since the candles can't suffice, to add to the spice, I have a very low connection because I am not in an LTE zone of my data plan provider. Hence, the Skype call has been a total adventure experience trying to decipher what the other line was saying. Then, out of respect to the time of both my client and mine, my client re-scheduled. What a CEO, he was so considerate. And I am thankful that he re-scheduled without further stressing about the situation.
But it did got to my nerves that time. I can do nothing about the situation, but to let it go. I decided to go out with my partner. 🙂 She agreed, and we went to Centrio Ayala Mall.
We wanted to try a new place, we checked the restaurants and we've dined in all of those in the place, except for Choobi Choobi. We have quickly decided to have our dinner there. Actually, it's supposed to be just her, coz I already had my dinner before the supposed meeting.
It's quite a cool place. And there's a local touch, since it uses "bisaya" words in their tag line.
They have a very wide variety of menu, but we only need to have something. Plus, she's not really that heavy eater. She easily gets full.
So for her dinner, we ordered:
1. Stuffed Grilled Squid
2. Crispy Kalamari
4. No juices. Just plain, mineral water.
Simple meal for a not-so-hungry tummy. Not stress eating either. Just needed to breath some fresh air from outside. 🙂
We have generally enjoyed the dinner (well, I didn't intend to eat, but got tempted to taste the Stuffed Grilled Squid and Kalamari.
Finished off the dinner, and off to watching Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. But, first, let us take a phot.
Review of Choobi-choobi
Sanitation: 4/5 it was clean. Easily gets cleaned. Fast crew to clean the table every after guest use.
Service: 2.5/5 the food took a little bit longer to be on our table. When the Crispy Kalamari was served, it took another 10 minutes to get the Stuffed Grilled Squid to follow and served our table. But the crew were friendly and welcoming.
Price: 4/5 reasonable pricing. Worth the penny spent for the food. Not extravagantly pricey.
Place: 5/5 Cozy place. Not so quiet but not so loud and noisy. Just good for dinner convo. Well ventilated and well lit place.
Food Taste: 3.5/5 there's nothing so outstanding with the food taste, but it's already sufficient to fill our tummies. (Disclaimer: we've only tasted Stuffed Grilled Squid and Crispy Kalamari. Well also Halo-halo and this review on food taste is only based on those. Some of the food may have excellent taste.)
For a complete list of their food choices and corresponding prices, you can browse their menu.
They are located at Centrio Ayala Mall's 2nd floor.
I have been traveling since last year, within the Philippines and even outside the country. I have been curious about other countries' food, culture, places, and keen on completing the list of countries I want to visit. As of this writing I have already visited five countries. And more in the next months and years! Yep, I am believing for it! I am claiming it! And this post also manifests my BIG Thanks to God and universe for enabling me! Sharing proofs and posts below! 🙂
To travel is to make memories in different places. Fortunately, for ASEAN member nation like Philippines, to travel to neighboring Asian country is easier, no need to secure a VISA because of the VISA exemption.
Thailand will always be so memorable to me, it was the first country I've visited for my FIRST INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL. Yes, literally, the first foreign country I went to.
What was my experience in Thailand like? I'd share below, some of the things I could remember we (JC D and I) did in Thailand.
First to spend a different legal tender!
Conversion at that time was P1.60 = 1THB
First view of a foreign land!
I am always thankful that my first international travel granted me a window seat. Thanks Cebu Pacific!
First, stamp on my passport!
My first time to fill up that immigration form and have this first passport, have my first stamp!
First, foreign country airport!
I was so thrilled to have landed in a foreign country's airport!
And yep, shameless photo op everywhere!
First time to be on a "Foreigner Lane"
Foreigner be like!
We stayed at D&D Inn, at Khao San Road.
View of D&D at night!
Perfect location of D&D Inn at Khaosan!
Yep, with other foreigners!
It's a busy street at day and night time, but yes, it's really busier and lively at night.
What to do in Thailand?
1. We rode a tuktuk to take us Temple-hopping, the tuktuk (tricycle) driver knows the popular temples in town. So day 1 in Thailand was literally, temples, temples, temples!
Travel tip #1: Negotiate the price, don't believe everyone you meet's suggestion. Some of them are schemes to lure you to take the tour they are subtly endorsing. We were told the grand palace was close, this spot is not open at this time, and some more things, but later on realized, it wasn't true. Still, we were able to visit places. In some of the temples we've visited, we took pictures almost all around.
JC Asked if we could hold the gun. The guard didn't answer, neither did he smile nor move.
2. Khao San Road Exploration! Street food! Night Cafe! Night Market! And all other fun things at Khao San!
Travel tip #2: Trust your taste and instinct. There are some more exotic food (street food) offered but I didn't try them, because it's hard to have an upset stomach while in a foreign country. So just choose from what you think your tummy would be comfortable digesting.
Had to try local street food!
Are these pizza? We just have to have a bite!
Yep, tried their beer too!
Well, well, hello there Donald! The barbeque isn't from Mc Donalds though. 🙂
Yep, there's a train! Mini-train! haha
3. We went on an Elephant Ride! Yus, I did ride an elephant, for the first time of my life, in Thailand!
Travel tip #3: We booked for the elephant ride. Already paid. But as we rode on the elephant's back, we were told that for the elephant to really enjoy the ride, we've got to buy the bananas to feed them with. I forgot how much was that for. But yep. Get ready with some extra money.
You can ask the other tourists/travelers who rode the elephant to exchange the favor of taking pictures. 🙂
Up close with a young elephant!
4. Floating Market! Yep, a must-do in Thailand. Visit the floating market. It's floating market because the vendors are on the river water, on their boat/banca (is it what it's really called?) to sell their items or merchandise. At Damnoen Saduak, Thailand!
Travel tip #4: Make the most out of it. Usually, your tour guide would give you certain number of hours/minutes to stay and explore. So, as you explore the floating market area, go to the highway and check out some stores. Check out the highway and take pictures with the road signs! Haha
Travel tip #5: Bring extra cash when on a river tour, so you could also buy some souvenir items. There are cheap items here. Just know how to haggle with the price.
Asians be like. Including me. Haha
Some fresh fruits on the floating market eh?
She was selling something, but she smiled or posed when I clicked the camera phone. 🙂
Captured this random picture! The busy intersection of the floating market!
So you know what you have to do here? Gossip Cafe! haha
How about this for a great photo?
Yep, fruits anyone?
Yep, it's in a river! Floating! Hello vendors!
After the floating market exploration, we needed to sit down. And yes! Another opportunity to try their local food.
As we visited the floating market area of Thailand, JC D has this ritual of sending a postcard to himself. From the country he traveled to his Philippine residence address. I followed his lead, but didn't send the postcard to myself, sent it to my mom instead. My way of saying,
"hey Mom! Thanks for being so great that I was able to travel the world now. I remember you, wherever I am right now. I love you!"
Before I posted the card! Mom received it actually after a month. 🙂
On top of the floating market, we had to check out, and yes, take a selfie!
Some more photos of the floating market area!
5. River Tour! After the floating market escapade, we are off to another booked tour. The river tour starts at the floating market area. There's a designated area where you're going to ride a banca/boat for the river tour. You'll go through the areas in Thailand.
Travel tip #6: Get ready with your camera. You can expect that your camera is safe in the river tour. No need to worry for splash. It's a river not a sea. So, no high waves to worry about. And yes, you can't miss the beautiful views you'd be seeing. Or at least structures and designs you want to capture. 🙂
This is where the river tour starts!
Yep, didn't want to miss the chance to take a photo! haha
As the river tour goes on, you'll see different structures and designs, can't help but click.
This design is not really common in our country, so I clicked!
As we finished the river tour, I took the chance to have this photo below taken at Baan Sukchoke Country Resort.
Can't take a solo pic. Photobombers all around. haha
6. Visit one of Starbucks Cafe! Some friends back in the Philippines are asking for a "pasalubong" or at least, buy some items for them to reimburse the cost. Either a mug, tumbler, or whatever. So, why not try Bangkok's Starbucks?
Like a model? Bwahahah
7. Visit a McDonald's? Yep, they have some unique Thai-based menu.
Only in Mc Donalds Thailand!
8. Find some Monks, and take a picture with them? I didn't know if it's a rude thing to ask, they don't speak much to us. But, we approached, they said okay, and yes, I posed with them. Thanks to your generosity Mr. Monks! T'was my first time to have a picture with monks. Also first in Thailand!
They didn't look at the camera, but they did say, it's alright. They seem to be busy discussing something. 🙂 Despite that, thank you for allowing my rudeness, and responding with kindness my brothers. 🙂
9. Relax and enjoy the pool area of your hotel! D&D has a pool area at the rooftop! Take time to enjoy the "time of your life!" Live in the present. Enjoy! It's not every day that you'll be in some hotel, in one of the greatest city in Asia, the busiest night life and where fun happens!
Like a boss! 🙂
I am ever grateful for my friend JC D aka Caloy for tagging me along with his travels. It was initially a trip for five but the other friends of ours weren't able to secure their passport on time. So, we were left with no choice but go on a duo travel!
This first time to travel abroad was worth all the experience.
Travel tip #7: If it's your first time to travel (or even if not depending on the immigration officer at the airport), get ready with all possible documents to be asked for presentation.
Government Issued ID (like PRC, SSS, etc.)
Approved leave form (for government employees usually).
You'd also be typically asked for the reason of your travel, who you're with, if you have a job, where do you plan to stay, etc. Keep calm, don't panic, these are normal questions. They are not suspecting you. Don't tremble. 🙂
My experience was, when Caloy presented his passport and ticket (his was stamped almost full! Naaaaks!) took the immigration officer to stamp his passport not more than two minutes. Mine was different, the immigration officer saw that it has never had a stamp. First timer blues. She went on to ask searching questions? 🙂 But, I guess I managed to pass 'em. Thanks to Caloy for preparing all those documents.
How about you? Where was your first international travel? How was it? Feel free to share below. 🙂
Got questions? Ask 'em on the comment section below.