June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday: My Unexpected Love for Luang Prabang

It was back in early 2012 when my ex-colleague and I randomly chatted how we both wanted to backpack around SouthEast Asia. He shared how he did it few years ago during his university gap year and how he still wanted to visit those places again. I, on the other hand, wanted to visit those I haven't been to.  

On our list was Hanoi Vietnam, Siem Reap Cambodia, Koh Samui Thailand, and Laos. We have to find a way how to travel to these places safely without sacrificing time and visit at least three on the list. During our search, we luckily found out that Bangkok Airways has a discovery airpass thing. This type of routing and booking allows you to choose international and domestic flights operated by Bangkok Airways and Lao Airlines within some of the SouthEast Asian countries/cities. All you have to do is plot out your desired route based on the routing schedule they have already set. Unfortunately, a flight departing from Singapore is not included in their routing. But don't fret, because lots of budget airlines fly out of Singapore to either Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and even Laos. Wherever you plan to start your trip from Singapore, that would be your starting point of the discovery airpass. Cool right?

June 26, 2013

Traveling to Hong Kong while pregnant

I was around 28 weeks pregnant when the husband and I decided to celebrate Christmas away from home. This was last year when we both can't go home to Cebu because I was anyway due to go home in mid January. We thought why not celebrate the occasion differently, something that we haven't done before. And the easiest choice was to travel somewhere cold and experience Christmas in another place.

Hong Kong was top on the list because firstly, its near Singapore and travel time is not that long. Secondly, its winter season in Hong Kong that means weather is very different in sunny Singapore. Thirdly, Cathay Pacific had an ongoing sale for a roundtrip ticket to HK for the Christmas season. How was that for a coincidence? I certainly did my happy dance :)

Traveling with a bump more so at 28 weeks was not easy especially with the bump like mine which looked like I was about to pop anytime :D So yes, it was huge! You have to first make sure that you get a go ahead (medical certificate) from your OB that you are safe to travel. Once that's settled, then prepare your body and mind for the flight. Don't expect too much priority will be given to you just because you are pregnant or else you will be disappointed and it will affect your mood. Keep an open mind and think that you will enjoy the trip inspite of the big ball you're carrying :) Bring your own tumbler/water bottle during the flight and have it filled up with water to keep you hydrated (we all know that preggers need water all the time). Bring your little pillow to add extra comfort to your seat. Non-budget airlines will provide you with one but I was glad I had my belly pillow with me. In all times, if you can, show off your belly to get that priority. Use it to your advantage because it's never easy to queue up in the airport or taxi stand :D

Singapore: Our second home

Yes, after my 4 months maternity break in Cebu, we are back in Singapore. It feels good to be back. I've never missed Singapore like this before. It felt like a huge part of me was left behind in this little red dot and I have to be reunited with it. So here we are...

Life now has been totally different with the little one in tow. The impromptu getaways and dine outs are long gone. Planning is the thing for us now. Even day outs have to be planned ahead of time. We cannot just decide on the last minute as to where to go because we have to consider the weather and the place so the little one will be comfortable. So far, it's been good and we've fairly survived.

I am just glad that there are other mamas here who are passionate in helping other mamas out there. It makes motherhood a lot more fun and easier. I've first bumped into one of the most helpful and informative mama website while planning for our trip to Hongkong last year. And I was very happy when I found out that they created one here in Singapore too.  It has been my go-to-guide ever since. From kid friendly cafes/restaurants, weekend activities for the kids and even mama's pampering guide. (Yes, that is a must!)

February 14, 2013

Joyeuse Saint-Valentin, mon amour!

The husband and I don't normally celebrate Valentines in a grand way. We just make sure we get to spend the day together, whether at home cleaning, watching movies or dine out. If we decide to eat out,  usually not anything fancy. He doesn't even give me a bouquet or chocolates or any gift. The day is just one of our usual days :)

However, I've always wanted to travel somewhere on valentines day since this day is considered as the most romantic day of the year, where everyone is extra cheesy and sweet. I've always wondered how it is celebrated in other places and how people treat each other. In my hometown and in Singapore,  everything in town is painted red and flowers are everywhere, not to mention restaurants take advantage of the occasion and bring out their special valentines menu that comes with a pricey tag.

Today, we are celebrating the day miles apart...for the first time in our married life :( Though it doesn't really bother us, but my pregnancy hormones are making me emotional. Shooo! 

To console myself, I pictured us in Paris, France with the Eiffel tower as our background. The first time I was there was without the husband. We have made plans of visiting the city last year but the universe made another plan for us. So while we wait for that day to happen, let me dream away with this photo I took during my trip last August 2011.

I still wish it was us in that frame :) Someday...

So what's your plan for your loved ones today? 

February 11, 2013

It's more FUN in the Philippines!

I have been working overseas for the past 6 years now. I usually go on vacation to my hometown, Cebu, twice or three times a year. However, these trips back home are usually short and quick. The longest I've stayed for vacation was 3 weeks and that was during our wedding in 2009.

I have always hoped I could have a longer vacation in the Philippines so I can visit the islands and beaches I love. If I had the time, we always do quick trips to nearby beaches and resorts for day use. And when I say nearby, its just within Cebu province.

My country is very rich in natural resources and known for its beautiful beaches and islands. We have a lot to offer and its shame that most of us locals have not been to most of these paradise. I have traveled to quite a few beaches in Southeast Asia but realized I have seen very less of my country. I envy my friends who have seen a lot of these places. But happy nonetheless that Filipinos are truly appreciating the beauty of what the Philippines has to offer to the world.

Now that I am in Cebu, I hope I could at least make a trip to some of my dream islands. I know I am here for delivery and can only travel once my little bun is older, but what the heck! I think it wouldn't hurt to get out of the house and spend a day or two under the sun. So while I dream away and wait for things to fall into place, let me share to you the beautiful islands and resorts I want to check out soon.

#1 Club Paradise, Coron Palawan - http://www.clubparadisepalawan.com/index.html

(image from google)

I haven't been to Coron, Palawan ever and this resort has been top of my list since last year. Although I don't mind staying in a less expensive resort but if we have the moolah, why not go all out?! Hehehe

#2 Amorita Resort, Panglao Bohol - http://www.amoritaresort.com/

(image from google)  

Unlike Coron, Panglao is not new to me. I have been to the island quite a few times since Bohol is just 45 minutes away from Cebu by ferry. But this new boutique resort is such a sight and I could not allow myself not to include it in my list. I have read raves about this place and its making me more excited.

#3 Tao Philippines Expedition, Palawan - http://www.taophilippines.com/

(image from Tao's facebook page)

I know this is not a resort but this group values the beauty of Palawan so much that they organized an expedition which connects El Nido and Coron. The trip is not a tour between these islands but sort of immersion to the place with the locals helping out and explorers will experience the local life. Check out more information in their website. 

#4 Fridays, Boracay Island - http://fridaysboracay.com/

(image from google)

The second time I was in Boracay was to celebrate our honeymoon. We really didn't have the time to explore the island due to our tight schedule. That is why the husband and I promised we will go back and explore the island big time and we will stay in this resort, which I fell in love the first time I saw it.

I can't wait to visit these beautiful places. Indeed, my country has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. It's more Fun in the Philippines!

February 09, 2013

Chiangmai Thailand on a tour package

It was our first time to join a tour package. I can't recall why I booked it in the first place when in fact we have been to Thailand quite a few times already :) I initially thought that the deal was a steal only to find out there were lots of hidden charges and flight schedules were limited. What a bummer! We didn't have a choice but to push through with the trip with additional expenses on weekend flights and tour guide fee, which by the way was not mentioned in the tour operator's T&C. Oh well!

I have never been a fan of tour packages however, they are sometimes helpful when you are traveling with family or with the big group. But if you travel with your partner or traveling alone, please avoid booking one. It's more fun exploring the place without any specific schedule.

Anyway, enough of my rants. Here's what was included in our 3 day itinerary, which only included 2 days touring. 

First stop was a Chinese restaurant. Photo above is a bird's nest soup. I figured that these tour operators partner with shops, restaurants and other small businesses to rip off money from tourists. Glad we only tried the soup which tasted okay.

They also brought us to other small shops like those selling honey and other herbal teas. We only tasted what was offered for free and never bought a thing :D

Then off to a temple on a mountain top. I am never a fan of temples so I got bored :) It was opposite for the husband.

The umbrella factory was quite a sight. They showed us how it was crafted and how locals benefit from such business. I love the colors!

Dinner was an authentic Chiangmai food. They brought us to a huge restaurant with local performers and other tourists on a tour package as well. We had sticky rice (which I love), pandan chicken and veggies. Its eat all you can with food served by the locals.

Second day was another tour day. First stop was the elephant show. Ironically, it was the first time I watched an elephant show in Thailand even if I've been to the country quite a lot :) They do have amazing tricks but I am always half hearted towards these gentle giants. Sorry.

Also visited an orchid sanctuary.

Lastly, we visited the famous long necked village. I've read sad stories about them thats why I hesitated taking lots of photos. Some say they're housed in that village by a rich government official and forced to wear traditional costumes to attract tourists. I am not really sure if its true but whether there's truth in it or none, they're still worth visiting.

Before heading back to our hotel, we requested the tour guide to bring us to the market to try their exotic foods - the insects :) They don't actually taste as bad as they look. They're quite tasty especially when dipped in vinegar.

The hub and I spent the last day walking around the nearby alleys and streets to discover off the beaten track attractions. Luckily, we managed to find a few.

February 08, 2013

Flashback Europe...traveling light!

Wow, its been 7 months since my last post! What a lazy a** I am. But before anyone condemn me for not updating (if anyone cared to read this blog), I have been busy taking care of my belly bump for the past 6 months and writing a post requires a lot of effort :) But since I am now nesting, I've got the time to finally post something. Hope someone do care to check my updates :)

Speaking of nesting, I've been spending my time going through my travel photos. I finally managed to arranged it by folder and segregate by places. Imagine it took me two years to check all photos from our Europe trip in 2011! It was quite massive that I always dread opening one folder. I'm just glad I had the courage and time to do it :) So expect more travel photos/updates to come while I wait for the arrival of our little bun.

The photo above reminded me of how amazing my travel to Europe was. I was there for 23 days with a 40L backpack. I can't remember how I was able to managed traveling light in such a beautiful place. Normally, I would bring clothes for everyday change and one clothing should not be worn again. But it was the opposite while in Europe. Though I did not really wear the same clothes everyday, I experimented on whatever clothing I brought and made sure I brought the basics. That made the difference. Plus it was summer, so it was easier to bring light clothing.

If I'll have the chance to do it again, I would do it without batting an eyelash. I've experienced the pros of traveling with a backpack rather than lugging a huge suitcase. Maybe it will be quite difficult if you travel during winter but during the summer season, it's very doable. I wish i took a photo of what was inside my pack but for reasons I cannot remember, I forgot :) Got too excited I guess.