Without planning for our itinerary, and doing some research on how to get here and there in Hongkong, we ended up being riffed-off by a cab from our hotel to The Peak Tram Station. If I only knew that it was just near Central Terminal, we should've taken the MTR from Tsuen Wan Station where our hotel is located. Anyway, that's a different story.
Visiting the Asia's World City in 72 hours including travel time is not bad. In fact, Hongkong is one place that I wanted to visit not just once but as many times as possible. So if i'm not able to dig in a lot of destinations here, there's next time! There can be a lot of things and places to discover in this city apart from the usual tour packages offered. As a couple travelling without kids, theme parks is not an option at all, because I really do have plans of booking another trip for our kids. Our trip to Hongkong made it up for the holidays since my husband will not be around in Christmas time for work and its nice to have an intimate and quality time with him alone.
Our Hongkong trip was a quick and a not-so-well-planned one. I acquired the air tickets out of my impulsiveness and also because we were confident to travel with another couple who ended up not joining because of an urgent and unexpected matter. When I heard the excuse, I was actually having second thoughts if we will still pursue the trip. But then, after thinking a hundred times, I told myself, "Sayang ang plane ticket! Tara lets go!" My husband and I decided to pursue the trip and I booked our hotel 3 days before our departure.
I always do a lot of research, reviews and blog reads before finalizing a hotel but Panda Hotel is an exemption. Why? Because I booked it through a travel agency and I was too busy to do searches because I wasn't really sure if we're going and I was cramming 3 days before our flight due to a lot of to-do list. So I relied on my travel manager's advise and there we go.
Manila Ocean Park is one destination that we used to visit especially the kids. It can be a fun family weekend or a school trip with classmates and friends. A few days ago we visited the place once again, not to see the huge aquariums and the underwater life but to visit the Trick Art Museum and to experience the Mirror Maze. I thought Manila Ocean Park was just fishes, jellyfish and penguins. But then I got curious when I saw an ad promoting Seri Fantasy World located at the second floor of MOP which showcases the museum, the maze and a 3D cinema so I bought discounted vouchers online for all of us.
The Mirror Maze is a labyrinth with multiple glass panes inside a dark room. Cloth hand gloves are provided for every guest inside the maze. It's a fun, interesting and unique activity for the family. You will need a lot of thinking and trial and error in order to master the maze and for you to find your way out of the glasses.
If you happened to read my blog about Hacienda San Benito with it's fine-dining restaurant, I have mentioned there that we got some problems finding where that place is. Because another Farm that sounds the same is "The Farm at San Benito" but please don't get confused with them, they are different, and that's where we headed first out of confusion!
So just to keep you out of any uncertainty, let me explain to you the difference between the two. The Farm at San Benito is a medical and wellness resort, while Hacienda San Benito is a residential farm estate that grows organic crops and has a restaurant which is the Terrazas de Barako. Both were situated in Lipa Batangas but in a different location or barrio. But anyway, i'm glad we visited both and was able to capture some nature photos.
I'm always fascinated by farm lands, organic crops and fruit bearing trees... Blooming colourful flowers in the garden gives me immeasurable happiness. Those are just few of the things that I wanted to achieve before my golden years- to spend my aging days gracefully. Days where fresh and organic fruits and vegetables that are usually hand-picked from the backyards maybe gone and obsolete for some, but for me, it should never go out of style. I, for one, is an advocate of wellness and I am more than willing to pursue this in the next few years of my life.
Just recently, I was blessed to have a fine-dining experience where all the ingredients for the 4-course meal I had, with my sister and a friend, were all organic and freshly picked from the gardens of Hacienda San Benito. Nothing beats the experience of having a healthy meal specially prepared by British Chef Teresa Lobb.
“Terrazas de Barako” is the fine-dining arm of Hacienda San Benito in Lipa City. The restaurant takes pride in its ever-changing menu which is always inspired by San Benito’s own fresh produce.
Target Shooting is one of the sports that I really wanted to try if given the luxury of time and money! My first encounter with a real gun, was during my younger years when my Dad was still in the service of Philippine National Police as a Senior Police Officer. He introduced me to firearms since I was the eldest and he doesn't have a son who'll probably continue his legacy. Anyway, firearms has been a "common" thing at home since my father was a police.
During my high school days when I was a cadet officer, I was chosen from the brigade to compete for the handling- assemble and disassemble activity for firearms which I'm proud to have a remarkable record of 38seconds and I owe it to my Dad for being my trainer that time.
|Focus and Determination|
A tour in Taal will never be complete without a visit to the local market. I've been coming back to this place once in a while to visit a close friend whose business was to make "panutsa" or "sweet peanuts", another native delicacy of the province, which is distributed in the local market and other neighborhood towns.
After visiting a number of ancestral homes in Taal, our friend Sir Rogie introduced us to Taal Market and told us about a local store which was famous for having the best Empanada in town. I bought ten pieces of each kind just to try it. They have choices of vegetables and meat empanada.
Welcome to Casa Villavicencio! The last house that we visited during our walking tour in the historical town of Taal. The house of Don Eulalio Villavicencio, a ship captain, and wife Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio. Casa Villavicencio was named the "wedding house" as it was Don Eulalio's wedding gift to his wife Gliceria. The house has been featured in books, national tourism promotions, publications, and as movie / advertising sets.
My favorite among the ancestral homes that we visited during our Taal Heritage Tour is the Galleria Taal. A camera museum with is the first and only in the country. It is located along the main street of Taal, just a tumbling away from the Leon Apacible Museum and the Agoncillo Shrine. It is an ancestral house and a camera treasure trove wrapped into one.
The ancestral home of the Ilagan-Barrion family houses an impressive and vast collection of vintage cameras owned by Mr. Manny Inumerable himself. Apart from the cameras, it also showcase an exhibit of photos by John Silva, John Tewell, George Bonasay and Sonny Camarillo. The exhibit also includes the only known existing photograph of Jose Rizal's execution.
After a sumptuous colonial lunch prepared at Villa Tortuga we proceed to the continuation of our walking tour. This time we set foot on one of the oldest ancestral house in Taal, the Leon Apacible Museum.
According to history, Leon Apacible is a lawyer and a judge of the Court of First Instance of Batangas City. With the proclamation of the Revolutionary Government, Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo appointed him as finance officer of Batangas.
If you have a penchant for history and wish to travel back to the Spanish Era, a tour inside Villa Tortuga is perfect for you. Not only will you experience the feeling of being transported back to another time but you'll enjoy a taste of spanish recipes. I chanced upon this deal online and invited my husband who's a history buff to join the trip.
Doña Marcela Marino Agoncillo is the distinguished Taaleña matron who sew the first Philippine flag, which was waved during the Independence of 1898. The house where she grew up was built by her grandfather, Andres Marino in 1700s. Now the ancestral home was turned into a museum for historical and heritage tours. I've visited the place once during my highschool as part of our educational fieldtrip.
In its garden stands the bronze statue of Marcela Agoncillo, cradling in her arms her legacy to the nation.
Basilica de San Martin de Tours or Taal Basilica as some would prefer to call it is one of the oldest church in Philippine History. It is also considered as the largest church in Asia, situated in the heart of Taal, Batangas. I always admire the glamour of its facade every time I pass by going to other towns close to it. I've attended several weddings and baptismal in this church but haven't gone further its premises apart from the altar.
I had the opportunity to join an exclusive tour to this historical town when I saw this deal on a buying site few weeks ago. I was getting addicted to groupons, acquiring trips and gift certificates at discounted prices through vouchers sold online. Actually, I was just expecting a plain tour inside Taal Church itself, but then I was startled when our tour guide started acquainting us to the different areas of the church which is beyond my expectation.
Basilica de San Martin de Tours
The sleepy town of Taal is one of the most visited places here in Batangas with it's famous ancestral houses and the magnificent Basilica de San Martin de Tours (Taal Church). The town's rich cultural heritage has been preserved despite the pressures of modernization and it has always been close to my heart.
It was my second visit at Subic, but this time with my beloved in-laws. The idea of a long weekend was supposedly a total R & R, but it turned out to be a tiring, but fun rainy getaway. Stormy weather didn't bothered us a bit! It was a rain or shine "gala" at Olongapo City to visit some relatives and wandering around Subic Bay.
My first visit to Subic wayback 2002 was a Lions Club International Convention. As part of my mom's active organization memberships years ago, me and my sister have the perks of visiting new places from time to time because my Mom wouldn't want to leave us home alone.
It was a group tour and we stayed in Subic Homes for three days. I love the place because it was clean, quiet and comfortable. The place where we stayed is very nice and cozy. I'm happy I was able to visit it again after 9 long years, now with my husband and kids as well as my in-laws.
The place has the same clean and quiet surroundings. And I noticed some improvements with the housing facilities in the nearer areas. I booked a unit with 3 bedrooms plus a servant's quarter near the kitchen and a garage at Binictican Heights. I was actually referred by a cousin in a website for the contacts. The place was big enough to accommodate a party of twelve (12) including two kids and a nanny but quite creepy and old unlike the other units just a few blocks near the entrance and the pool.
Family Living Area
A trip to the city of Durian will never be complete without visiting Samal Island, the beach in Davao City. It is a small island and is recognized to be the cleanest among the islands in the Philippines according to most travellers.
So before we left for our Davao vacation I made a few research about resorts in Samal Island which is accessible and affordable, but not compromising comfort, security and leisure. There are a lot of other nice resorts in Samal but Paradise Island complemented my queries, also thinking that we are a couple of heads travelling together, it's the most budget friendly option.
All the while, I thought Davao Crocodile Park was a government property, until I came across it's history and was enlightened that it is a privately owned institution operated by a group of businessmen from Davao City. I was even surprised that it all started from the fascination of the owner to Saltwater and Freshwater Crocodiles and not as a lucrative business right away. Not until he learned that crocodiles raised in other countries are not just for public viewing but for leather production purposes too.
Crown Regency Residences served as our home for three days during our family vacation in Davao City. My initial reaction with the place was quite good, spacious and comfortable for my kids and the rest of the family members especially my parents. It has a home-like ambience and charming mediterranean architectures. Some areas of the room needs to be refurbished though the interiors are quite nice and clean. (Some of the photos are courtesy of Crown Regency and Tripadvisor, I wasn't able to take more photos because I was too busy attending to my babies' needs).
Facade of the Hotel
Eden Nature Park is a vast garden of greenery, flowers and organic vegetables. It is a resort situated on a mountain 3,000 feet above sea level and it is 95% man-made. We travelled more than an hour from the airport to reach the district of Toril in Davao. We hired a van for the whole day tour, the same van who picked up us upon arrival at the airport.
Welcome to Eden Nature Park
Madayaw na Pag-abot sa Davao!
Just a month ago we had another short but fun-filled three days vacation to the City of Durian, which is also known for its fresh seafoods, notably the grilled yellow fin tuna, tiger prawns, barbeques and other delightful specialties, as well as fresh fruits!
Our first itinerary was the Eden Nature Park. Upon arrival at the airport we headed straight to the Park after dropping by in a near Jollibee for a quick breakfast.
My family at Eden Park
Ofcourse, when walking around Universal Studios, one will definitely become hungry, so we went in to KT's Grill to have a meal and here is my short blog about this restaurant located inside Universal Studios Singapore.
On our 3rd day, we went to Universal Studios Singapore and the initial experience from walking around the place, really impressed me and left quite an impression. It was a dream place for me and I was really grateful for all the favors we got to enjoy such place. I enjoyed every journey along the way and all throughout the theme park.
Lovers at USS!
Our fourth and last day in Singapore was consumed by a visit at the zoo. This time it's a private tour, about 45 minutes drive from the city. It's no ordinary zoo because the moment I stepped in, I was like walking in a jungle and experiencing a real tropical rain forest adventure. Singapore Zoo is set in a rainforest environment, inspired by the wonders of nature.
The highlight of our day tour around the city of Singapore all the way to Sentosa Island is the mesmerizing "Songs of the Sea". It is a multimedia show which takes place at Siloso Beach, Sentosa Island, Singapore.
A spectacular pyrotechnics display, with water jets that could shoot up to 40 meters, laser show, flame bursts, a live 7-person cast, and an open-air viewing gallery which can comfortably accommodate 3,000 visitors.
It was the best I've ever seen in my entire life! The cast which is composed of Li, Oscar the Tiger Fish and friends, Princess Ami, Li's Friends, and the Lords of the Elements -The Mighty Lord of Fire, The Spirit of Light and The Lady of the Sea was really awesome. A great show that shouldn't be missed out when you are in Sentosa. Not only kids will enjoy it but adults as well will really love it! That instant I wanted my kids to enjoy the show with us, but sadly it's never that easy. So I promised myself I will bring them there!
The Musical Fountain featuring Oscar!
Singapore claims to be one of the cleanest city in Asia, no doubt it is. And having a glimpse of the city for a day was an amazing experience for a first-timer like me. Having Singapore as our first out of the country trip, I am not yet familiar of bookings and the DIY travel itinerary thing so i relied to my travel adviser to book our trip.
Just a few months ago me and my husband had our first out of the country trip. As much as we wanted to bring along the kids, but we decided not at all, because they are too young to travel and I don't think they will be able to appreciate the trip. Plus, it was booked in celebration of our anniversary, and we wanted to make it memorable by giving each other an excellent time together. And yes, we do had a great time visiting places and other tourist destinations..
Welcome to the Lion City!
It was a good start for the week to meet up with some good old friends! I always love reunions, and the food trip associated with it, because it's the perfect time to enjoy good food in a good place over nice long talks with old time friends. I've been out the whole day to meet up with my college housemates Analie and Monaliza after 6 long years... so happy that we got an "unplanned" lunch date and ended up strolling around the City of San Pablo Laguna and the province of Tiaong Quezon... Glad to meet the Pasco Family and I'm so grateful for the warm welcome at their home. We had a lovely lunch at Palmeras Garden Restaurant which they said was one of the Best in San Pablo.
I had a confession to make..I love writing…eversince i was in primary school, i find writing interesting…i love writing notes on my pad paper, writing on my journal which i always started with the very familiar words “Dear Diary”…
During my Highschool days, i used to write letters to my classmates, passing it from one table to another, i also reply to loads of love letters from suitors and admirers (hahaha!)…I have a box of letters from friends which i am still keeping up to now, result of the replies that i gave them from their letters, some are feedbacks from teachers and groupmates. I have a big circle of friends from other schools and writing is our way of communicating.