Category Archives: Travel

First Christmas and New Year in Malaysia

Christmas has come and gone (considering that the date today is 20th of January, that means New Year has gone too!) and here I am, still trying to document the festivities on our first year here in Malaysia.

Babe and I decided to make the celebration fuss free. We got a few Christmas gift from a Hasbro sale we went to and got a few toys for him. Take note, a few means about 5 (LOL!) since we figured out that at Geoff’s age, it’s all about the gifts he will open at Christmas and we have very few friends here. I cooked a few meals and made a dessert just to make our Noche Buena festive.

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Embotido, Roast duck, Pasta, and Leche Flan

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This baby got sick on the 24th and to compromise, we let him open 1 gift a few hours before Christmas

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This was taken on the 26th, and the baby allowed a haircut in preparation for school. Hooray!

As for the New Year celebration, I don’t have the heart to cook another meal and Babe wanted it to be more festive. Fireworks are not allowed in our community and we are not on a high enough floor to witness any fireworks display, so we decided to do a staycation somewhere fun.

We went through the Agoda.com website and narrowed down the list to 1. those with available and affordable rooms during the 31st of December to 1st of January, and 2. somewhere there will be fireworks display and a place where Geoff could enjoy. The search led us to Shah Alam, where the City of Lights is located, as well as the hotel of our choice, Best Western. I will do the hotel and I City review on the next posts. I shall start photoblogging our New Year’s celebration.

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Outside Palm Spring, waiting for the Grab Car to bring us to our destination.

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Ferris wheel that Geoff could not forget

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My handsome boys

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Geoff’s first time to ride a “ride” alone. Big boy na talaga 🙁

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Geoff really enjoyed the Snow walk. You can tell by his face.

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Batman and Robin trying to help out Geoff from the burning building

 

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Family Selfie in Snow Walk

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We were all tired at this point and was just waiting for the fireworks display to start. Geoff told me, “Meemee, we have to ride the ferris wheel, remember?”

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Indeed, a city of lights

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Fireworks!

Overall, it was a memorable celebration. A few firsts, but definitely not the last. Hoping we get to spend more time as a family, especially now that Geoff officially started going to preschool. 

Happy new year everyone!

Geoff Visits Perdana Botanical Garden

This is a very late post.

One day last month (or was it 2?), Babe and I decided to visit this botanical garden in Kuala Lumpur after we saw some posts done by a friend in Facebook. A few days prior, we were already prepping Geoff on what to expect so that he won’t be bored and will also look forward to the trip. Let me get the details on how to get there first, before I go on about the few pictures that we had.

Since we were coming from Petaling Jaya, we took an 88 bus and went off the Pasar Seni station. Both 99 or 88 or BET1 bus lines will get you to Kuala Lumpur, but only BET1 and 88 have routes to Pasar Seni. The 99 line usually drops off in Kota Raya, which is mainly a Filipino store community (if I got the term right). From Pasar Seni, you can grab a taxi and asked to be dropped off to the botanical garden. Make sure to mention the exact name because according to the driver, there are some other gardens available. There is no other means of getting there aside from a car ride or a taxi.

Side kwento: So anyway, from Pasar Seni, we wanted to get our chocolate fix first, so we walked all the way to the Haniffa store. In this supermarket/grocery store, we were able to score Cadbury chocolates at only 5RM each. After we bought some, off we went and grabbed a taxi.

Having arrived late (around 4PM, I think), we were only able to cover small ground as we were trapped by the baby who wanted to be nowhere but the Dinosaur park in front.

I took the description of the park from the website, http://www.klbotanicalgarden.gov.my/ :

The Perdana Botanical Garden, formerly known as Taman Tasik Perdana or Lake Gardens, is situated in the Heritage Park of Kuala Lumpur. It has always been a part of the green lung of the city and has a history of over a decade. Originally created as part of a recreational park but planted with collections of tropical plants, the garden have been rehabilitated and turned into a Botanical Garden. The garden have not only botanical collections but also house features that give the visitors the ambiance of being in a tropical rainforest, despite being in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

This is the map of the entire park. We were only able to visit 3 or 4 areas.

This is the map of the entire park. We were only able to visit 3 or 4 areas.

This is the dinosaur park. We were held up here for the longest time simply because the baby enjoyed it so much.

This is the dinosaur park. We were held up here for the longest time simply because the baby enjoyed it so much.

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Geoff had fun climbing and sliding 🙂

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He was not scared of the bridges and even found the trampoline fun 🙂

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Yep, he loves them slides!

Of course, since it was a botanical garden, there were lots of pretty blooms and the landscapes are just as gorgeous. There was a lake, a lagoon (?), and a man made waterfall.

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Not sure what this space was called, but it is very pretty up close. Perfect for making tambay. LOL!

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The waterfall wall. Very picturesque!

I am so sorry. This was the closest picture I have of the lagoon. I guess I forgot to take a picture after all. :(

I am so sorry. This was the closest picture I have of the lagoon. I guess I forgot to take a picture after all. 🙁

This was supposed to be a lake. Again, I apologize for the sorry excuse of a photo :(

This was supposed to be a lake. Again, I apologize for the sorry excuse of a photo 🙁

Based on observation, the place is best for spending an afternoon with the family. The place is  tranquil, perfect for joggers and bikers as there are no cars inside (the roads are big enough to accommodate them as far as I saw). We also saw a couple of groups playing football, a bride and groom having their prenuptial photos, a class having their photos, and a group celebrating a birthday. There were also a few who was watching the lake for ducks and birds, some were also feeding them.

Yep, a green place in the middle of a very busy city.

Yep, a green place in the middle of a very busy city.

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The sunken garden

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Walkway towards the lagoon

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An expansive lawn

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Unique trees collection

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Entrance to the sunken garden

Sunset fell upon us, so we had to leave.

Sunset fell upon us, so we had to leave.

We urged Geoff to lay down the grass in front of the lake. This silly boy found the idea yucky and decided to look for a better place to have his milk; a picnic table!

We urged Geoff to lay down the grass in front of the lake. This silly boy found the idea yucky and decided to look for a better place to have his milk; a picnic table!

For those planning to spend a day in Kuala Lumpur and stay within budget, I highly encourage visiting this place. You can even bring your running shoes if you want to (LOL!). The most you will be spending on is food (bring it with you, there are no stores inside), and fare. There is no entrance fee, but since the area is quite big, you have to be there early. Operating hours are Monday to Sunday, 8AM to 7PM.

One last tip, 7PM is quite “early” in terms of light in Malaysia. Meaning, it will start getting dark at around 8PM, so plan your trip accordingly as the hottest part of the day is longer.

Summer Promo: #LetsPalawan

We all know that regardless of the season, Palawan will always be one of the most go-after vacation spots in the Philippines. Personally, I have been in Puerto Princesa twice and once in El Nido, and if asked if I want to go back and explore some more, it would be a very big YES! Some of my posts can be read here, here, and here.

Recently, someone from Lets Palawan got in touch with me and several other people to promote more of the beautiful places in Palawan. I chose my top 3 destinations and may I tell you that choosing just 3 is so difficult?

From: http://letspalawan.com/palawan-packages-2015/#joanneperez

From: http://letspalawan.com/palawan-packages-2015/#joanneperez

Anyway, as part of the Lets Palawan team’s promotion, they are offering $30 off on any of the packages that you wish to avail! Sounds great if you ask me. All you have to do is to click this link and use cKmmC023 for the coupon code. Easy peasy. 

Go, travel, and enjoy Palawan!

Geoff’s Adventure in Snow World

Babe was able to get a leave from work today, thus we scheduled a trip to Genting Highland to visit Snow World.

We already visited Genting Highland last year but did not really entertained the thought of availing tickets to any attractions. We were there to see the sights, and basically just to be there.

With Geoff in tow this time, I wanted to be prepared and did some research. In the process of doing so, we stumbled upon Resorts World’s ticketing tool and discovered that the Snow World ticket was actually on sale. Since Geoff is already past the “free entrance” phase, discounted ticket rates were a welcome treat!

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Discounted rates if you book through their website!

In order to get to Snow World, you have to get to Genting Highland first. Getting to GH from the Petaling Jaya area is very easy; we just boarded a bus from 1Utama Mall, located in the new wing. Rates are as follows:

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This was taken last year but the rates were the same when we boarded the bus today.

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The bus.

We originally purchased 2 tickets for a one way trip to GH. This includes the bus fare and the Skyway. When we got to the entrance to the cable cars (Skyway), we were told that we have to pay for Geoff. That was an additional RM6.40.

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Bus ticket was free for Geoff, but not the Skyway fare.

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The cable car

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Mandatory shot at the model car

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The ecstatic little boy during the cable car ride.

When you alight the cable car, it is a bit of a walk going to the location itself. Be aware of the signs and don’t forget to ask for directions. You will have to pass through the lobby of the Maxim’s and RW hotel and a few escalator rides. Snow world is located at the second level, 2A to be exact.

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No pictures allowed inside.

It was -5 degrees inside, thus, it is highly discouraged to bring in cameras or gadgets. It might be damaged by the cold.

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Dos and Don’ts

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Current temperature is flashed outside. It was -5 when we went in!

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Operating hours

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Regular rates.

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Picture taken from outside

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Some of the displays

Jacket, gloves, and boots were provided as part of the the entrance to the attraction. If you are the type who gets cold easily, I suggest you bring an extra coat, or and earmuff or a scarf to protect your ears and neck (some of the coats provided has no zipper nor velcro to close it).

As there is only a limited space to the attraction, what you are really paying for is the experience of extreme cold. There is no actual snow that you can form into a ball (as what Geoff really wanted) but there is Cresta Run and a few sleds that people can use in order to get the winter feel.

Photographers also roam inside Snow World, however, since I have read that the rates for the shots are more expensive than the actual entrance rate, we decided to skip it.

We picked the 3:30 PM – 4:10 PM schedule, so after that, it was mostly a waiting game as the buses going back to 1Utama mall was not due until 8:30 PM. Aside from Snow World, there is also an indoor theme park for kids. I was not able to get the rates, but you can visit the RW website for the rides and rates. Since we were just killing time, we bought 4 pay per ride ticktes, 2 for Geoff and 1 for Babe and I to accompany him. It costs RM8.50 each.

After we were done with the rides, we went back and spent a few minutes in the arcade. The arcade uses the swipe card, much like Timezone and the minimum you can buy is RM20. We just let Geoff roam the arcade and went outside to enjoy the cool afternoon fog. Geoff also enjoyed hamming it in front of the camera.

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Foggy

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He asked his Deedee to take his picture. The act earned him a chocolate bar because the lady beside us was amused at his antics 🙂

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With deedee

And after all the excitement, Geoff was able to see the sunset and said bye bye to the things he saw today. 🙂

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Geoff’s firsts today: cable car ride, snow world, fog, forest, and sunset.

Malaysia Diary – Day 0.5 (From airport to MY)

After months of planning and anticipating, THE DAY finally arrived.

When Babe resigned and got his last pay, we planned for me to come and visit him. This was back in June. We counted down the days, and finally, we finally saw each other for the first time in months (which is also the longest time we have been apart!).

To back track a bit, I had a very early flight, and I was required to be in the airport at 3am. I also had a bit of a difficulty with the immigration as 1)l didn’t have any hotel accomodation 2) I didn’t have a company ID with me (we had to surrender it during the company ID printing but the printer was unavailable, thus I don’t have it with me) and 3) they were asking for Babe’ details such as a copy of his oec, passport, and address. Luckily, I was able to move forward and was allowed to board the plane.

After 3 and a half hours in the air, I landed in KLIA2. One of the things I noticed is that the place is really big. There were a lot of passengers with me who chose to freshen up first. For some reason, after I got out, there was hardly anybody in sight, signs are all in Malay (?) and I was literally alone to find the exit. Aside from being a big place, the internet connection is a big convenience. Never was there a spot that I wasn’t able to get a connection. This was a big plus since I decided not to enable my roaming and relied on viber to contact Babe.

20 minutes later, I found my way out, saw Babe and made our way home. Travel time from the airport to Petaling Jaya is an hour and a half. More of our simple adventure in the next posts.

Helpful hints:

1. It is a standard to be in the airport 5 hours before your flight when travelling international. However, in my case, my flight was at 7:30am. In terminal 4, they will only allow you inside when immigration people arrive at 4:30am. As such, you can be at the airport during this time so as to save you the hassle of waiting (you only get to wait outside, FYI).
2. Exchange rate of pero to ringgit is 100=6.70 (Maybank KLIA). To give you an idea, my P2,500 only converted to RM167.
3. Bus tickets are available at the basement area of the airport (near the exit). Ticket prices vary by location and departs by schedule. Tickets to 1utama mall in Petaling Jaya costs RM15.
4. We mostly travelled by local commute (bus) and the usual fare is RM1. Again, they depart on a 15-20 minute interval and routes differ depending on the bus number.
5. Be prepared to walk o and from bus terminals. Taxis are a bit expensive especially when the price of the commodities sink in (haha!).
6. Chinese food are the most common. Indian dishes next.
7. Taxes are computed separately, so if you purchased a RM5 dish in a restaurant, it is usual that you have to pay more (government tax is 6%).
8. Language can be a challenge. Bring patience and listen well. It will also not hurt to keep an open mind in order to understand what is being asked.

Hello Palawan! The Activities

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I posted the last Palawan entry. I have posted our itinerary and the food trips you can do, this time, let me post about the our adventure during our stay in Puerto Princesa. BTW, I was not able to get photos of how wonderful the Honda Bay is. We opted not to bring any phones for fear of it being wet, and we did not want to buy an overpriced camera case.

Accommodation was courtesy of Balay Inato, which is along Manalo St., a few minutes from the airport. The rates are as follows, Php 1,200 for a double room and Php 1,400 for a family room. We stayed in a double room which I think is roomy enough for both Babe and I. Extension per hour is Php 50, which I think is very fair. The room is very standard, with a comfortable double bed, TV with cable, phone, T&B with heater, a boudoir, and a single table with 2 chairs. I highly recommend this place, since it is very accessible and most of the notable restaurants are nearby (Bona’s Chaolongan, Balinsasayaw, Haim Chicken Inato (same venue!), Ka Lui). They even make arrangements for the tours, just ask the person from reception.

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During our first day, we decided attempted a DIY tour of the city. Too bad most of the establishments close by 5 PM, thus we were only able to visit the Butterfly Garden.

Entrance to the butterfly garden is only Php 30 or 35 (sorry, I can’t remember!). In summary, the place is literally a small garden, that you can tour within 10 minutes. They’ll show you the butterflies that they breed and hatch, as well as other animals that you can find inside. They have a small gator, a bobcat, lizards and insects. There is also a trail where the Palawan tribe is.

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There was an interpreter and 3 palawano males. They described their usual activities, which was smoking, hunting, and the things that they use. They also have a pet snake which they let us pet 🙂

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After the trip to the Butterfly Gardens, it was almost 5 PM, thus, we no longer pursued the rest of the spots included in the City Tour. The places mainly are: Crocodile Farm, Iwahig, Baker’s Hill and Mitra Ranch. We grabbed a ride back to the city proper and went to the Baywalk instead.

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The highlight of the trip is the Underground River. This is the place that Babe wanted to visit last year. Of course, the mandatory shot beside the sign is well, mandatory (lol!).

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The Underground River is located in Sabang, which was about 2-3 hours away from Puerto Princesa. This is the second time that I visited the place, but the first time that we availed of a guided tour. I find it convenient but only to some extent. The guided tour normally costs around Php 1,300 to Php 1,500 and includes transportation to and from where you are staying, a buffet lunch, and arrangement of permits and schedules.

The actual tour of the river is only an hour at most. You will be spending time most in the transport as Sabang is quite far from Puerto Princesa. From the wharf itself, it will be another 30-40 minute boat ride, but rest assured that the trip itself is a wonder as you will be surrounded by islets, mountains, trees, and of course, the ocean. Once you get to the island, it’s another set of waiting game for your number (which will be arranged by your tour guide), for the mean time, take your time looking around as there are lots of monkeys and monitor lizards walking roaming around.

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We also availed of the Honda Bay Tour, courtesy of the 8 Dragons Tour. No pictures, sorry! We paid Php 1,100 per person which included the transportation to and from the wharf, lunch prepared by the tour guide, boat transportation and entrance fees to the island. It’s only a few minutes from the city and it’s a must to rent a snorkel set (Php 150) and buy lots of bread to fully appreciate the corals and fishes you will feed when in Pandan Island (very therapeutic, the fish feeding).

Back when I visited Palawan the first time, we were able to visit at least 3 islands, which included the Pambato Reef. Unfortunately this year, kuya tour guide informed us that the Pambato Reef is closed until further notice. According to kuya, the government needed to rehabilitate the marine life there and are not sure if it will still open to the public. We only get to visit 2 islands, namely Starfish and Pandan island. I loved how different it was now. Cleaner and more inviting. I guess, the local government is taking more measures in order to keep the island in top shape to attract more tourist without doing much damage to the environment.

If asked if I will want to go back, the answer will still be yes. Palawan is a place that is worth coming back to. The people are friendly, the spots are pristine. You can definitely see where the money you pay for goes to. I salute their local government for funding the solar panels and turbines for barrios that is too far for electricity to come to. I like the idea that they only allow the people from a certain place to do business from where the tourist spots are (like people who live in Sabang are the only people who can do business in Sabang, no outsiders) as it gives the families in that place equal opportunity to earn. So yes, I would love to go back and bring Geoff with us when that happens, our families even. And maybe next time, we will have a chance to visit El Nido and Coron as well. 🙂

Hello Palawan! Food Trip

Sorry for the very long break that I took from blogging. We were yaya-less for almost 2 weeks, add up the quota I need to finish for work. So anyway, here is the second part of our Palawan trip, which is mainly about food.

Now, this trip was set on a very strict budget (due to some unforeseen circumstances) and each restaurant that we ate in was either due to the research that I did beforehand, or due to our own convenience at the time.

We arrived very early in Puerto Princesa, and was picked up by the Balay Inato shuttle at around 7AM. As we were still waiting for our room to be ready, we decided to eat from their restaurant. The breakfast was quite basic, nothing fancy. Babe and I had baconsilog and tocilog as their signature Inato Chicken was not available at the time.

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After the filling breakfast, we slept first as we came directly from shift. We woke up at around 2 or 3 PM in the afternoon and decided that we were both hungry (again!) and would like to make the most of the afternoon looking around and somehow visit some of the places I had listed prior to the trip.

As we walked to the main avenue (I am not sure if it even is the main avenue, but it is where most of the transport is available and commercial establishments are located~ please forgive my momnesia!)

Babe wanted seafood so when we saw that the Skylight Hotel’s Restaurant was offering fresh seafood, we went ahead and asked the person who was on duty. It was quite disappointing that everything was pricey, so since we were already there, and we already pestered kuya so much with prices, we just settled with their seafood platter, priced at 700+.

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Everything tasted so good, except we think that the crab was no longer fresh. For some reason, Babe’s allergy was triggered and he had to look for a drugstore for his antihistamine. 

We ended the day by going to the baywalk. We were still full from the late lunch earlier, so we decided to make “tambay” (LOL!) by the sea wall. We saw an ice cream cart with bread and relived our childhood. Bread and dirty ice cream? Heaven!

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Our lunch meals for days 2 and 3 were covered by the tour, but, I would like to make a special mention to the most wonderful purchase we did during our Honda Bay tour. The Rock Crabs!

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A few vendors were selling these during our stay in Pandan Island. For 550 pesos per kilo, you would probably get 5-6 pieces. We opted to get the 3 pieces kilo for 280 pesos due to the constant urging by Babe. Good thing we did as this was the closest we could get to a real lobster meal. Babe devoured his share during lunch that day, while I packed these 2 halves for my dinner pleasure.

One of the restaurants that I included in my list is the Balinsasayaw. It’s on the same street from where we were staying, so we only had to walk from the inn, to here. The place was really cozy and when the food arrived, it was love at first sight!

DSC_0263We ordered the grilled tuna belly and garlic shrimps. We paid a little or more than 500 pesos, but I swear, the food will not disappoint!

Finally, for the last lunch (Day 4), I asked Babe if we can try Bona’s Chaolongan. He agreed since the place was also nearby. Right after we went pasalubong shopping, we asked the trike driver to drop us in, and what I read about the price was right. Everything was cheap.

According to the posts I read, the must try was the Chaolong and the French bread (as pictured). Babe liked it a lot because aside from the gigantic serving, he also found it savory. I also liked the french bread. Too bad my palate was not that sophisticated to try a different delicacy. Though I found it yummy, I also found it weird at the same time.
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We were also able to taste the famous Chicken Inato from Hain Chicken Inato. As luck would have it, this is located right in front of our room! Too bad there were no pictures, but I tell you, this is more delicious than the traditional chicken barbeque or Chicken Inasal.

All in all, we probably spent 2-2.5K pesos for food during our stay. This budget may seem small, but I assure you, sobrang busog kami everytime and it’s something na hindi natipid 🙂

Hello Palawan! (The Itinerary)

Hello! Hello! It’s been a week since we returned from our second anniversary Palawan trip. Yes, a week since we returned to reality (LOL)! Though the trip was planned, we were unable to visit everything that I had on my list due to laziness and meager funds. Thanks to 8 Dragons Tour and Em of Akira and Everything Nice, Babe was able to experience the beauty of the Underground River.

We stayed in Puerto Princesa for 4 days and 3 nights. Considering that we wanted the trip to be relaxed, we only booked 2 days of our stay with tours. Anyway, here was what we did for 4 days:

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Day1: Early morning arrival from the Airport. We booked our tickets through Air Asia, and I must say, the airfare was cheap, but the service was fantastic. Not only we arrived on time, but was a little early as well. We were booked at Balay Inato (more details on the next posts) and slept until the afternoon. Upon waking up, we freshened up and looked for something to eat. We ended up at Skylights hotel, which has a restaurant as well. We stayed there at least an hour or 2. After lunch, we went to the Butterfly Garden. This was our last stop for the day since most of the tourist spot (save for the usual gardens and the baywalk) has an operating hours of 8AM to 5PM. For dinner, we ate at Balay Inato (Haim Inato) and had the best chicken.

Day 2 – This was the day we went to the Underground River. The tour ended at around 4PM or 5PM. I don’t quite remember, but we slept again right after we got back to the Inn. We had dinner at Balinsasayaw that night. BEST. DINNER. EVER.

Day 3 – We booked the Honda Bay tour. This was where we were able to buy and eat a rock crab or what they call pitik. More kwento about this on a separate post. This tour ended almost the same time with the Underground River. As explained by our tour guide, Sonny, the bangkeros were expected to be back by 5PM for safety reasons (their boats does not have lights, thus, are only allowed to go during the day). We had dinner at Haim Inato again (did I mention that their chicken was the best?)

Day 4 – The longest day is often the last day. The heat was really unbearable, so we only went out to buy a few things to give the family and friends back home. We ate lunch at Bona’s Chaolong, which was said to serve the best Vietnamese dish (Chaolong) in Puerto Princesa. Let me say that it was good, however, my tongue is not used to a different taste, thus, I found it a bit weird. We arrived in Manila about 15 – 20 minutes earlier than expected. We purchased return flights, so, we boarded the Air Asia aircraft again.

It was work day the very next day, so imagine how tired and sleepy I was during work. I will be posting about our expenses in another post as I go along the activities that we did during our stay.

See You Soon, Palawan!

A few years back, my friends and I visited the wonderful province of Palawan. Due to time constraints, we were only able to visit a few must sees in Puerto Princesa and El Nido. We had so much fun then and everything that we did were DIY. There were only 3 of us on that travel, and it was pure luck that Bambi, was a self confessed traveller, and she made all the necessary arrangements and itinerary. All Rney and I did were to go with the flow and pay for whatever is needed. I think I was able to spend around 6K the entire trip, only because I splurged on pasalubongs and food everytime we dine out.

This year, Babe and I will celebrate our second wedding anniversary and semi financial freedom, in Palawan. Babe wanted to see the underground river, and I am more than happy to oblige. This will be the first time that we will leave Geoff for a few days, we are quite sure that he will be in good hands.

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From one of the islands during the Honda Bay Tour

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Entrance to the Underground River

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The sign right before you get to the actual entrance 😀

I am done arranging our IT and our lodging. I will be depositing the down payment for the tours by end of month. Surely, I will post about our adventure after. I can hardly wait!