The hurried trip to Sentosa Island

The original itinerary was to head to Sentosa Island as early as seven in the morning. And since I had a birthday hang over, I woke up late and was out of the hostel at around nine! To top the very late out of schedule gala, I got off the wrong train and stop! I spent more than half of the day getting lost along the Marina Bay…(no regrets though).

The rain kept me from moving on from the Marina Bay.  I didn’t have much time to ride the Flyer. 🙁 I took the train at the Bayfront Station and went on a 1-hour journey(end to end) to Vivo City.

Sentosa Island as seen from the viewing deck of the Vivo City

Vivo City was nice. I love their viewing deck,. It’s overlooking the Sentosa Island which can be reached via a bridge/boardwalk, monorail and cable cars!

Since it was quite late and the trip was sort of a hurried one, I bought myself a monorail ticket for SG $3.50 (if I remember it right).  The ticket was good for the round trip transportation to and from the island. I disembarked at the first station because of all the things I want to see in the Island was the Universal Studios.

The famed Universal Studios Globe!

I was willing to spend SG $69 to explore the theme park. USS was in my bucket list for this SG trip.  However, given that I came here when the day’s almost over, I decided to scratch it out because it’s not worth it. I wish came a lot earlier for me to maximize the time. I vowed to go back next year!

With USS out of the list, I explored the island…

The Merlion–candy look
Hershey’s choco store!

I love Hershey’s! Unfortunately, I am on a diet to control my sugar intake.  So I just enjoyed the scent and the sight of this rich chocoley-tee outlet.

The Universal Studios Singapore-I will be back.

I will pass through this gate…That I promise!

And I felt the revolution in my intestine…

And more gala…

The Waterfront

I spent a lot of time just watching the rotating US icon. Trying to figure out how I can get a picture of myself with it as a background…(the disadvantage of a soloist).

And there I was! (di marunong tumayming si kuya)

A group of tourists asked me to have their picture taken.  I grabbed the opportunity to have mine taken too! Unfortunately, the guy who took my photo didn’t bother to wait for the perfect angle before shooting! Oh well!

Adam and Eve (Hotel Michael)

Hotels around the island…

The Thinker
Resorts World
The huge Merlion

The Merlion at the Sentosa Island doesn’t spit a jet of water but you can climb up and get a view of the island from its mouth…

If there’s a mini Merlion at the Marina Bay, there’s one in Sentosa too.

The mini-Merlion in Sentosa is a whole lot cuter! If I could just bring it home!

The Merlion light show at night!

Around the Merlion is a small pond and waterfalls at the back.

bells…nothing special!

At the back of the Merlion statue is a long walk…leading to the bells.
After the bells is the winding ramp down to the beach area….

Happy 40th Sentosa!

The iFly indoor skydiving…Because I am in a shoestring budget, I vowed (again) to try this one out when I get back.

Siloso Beach and the busy Singapore shoreline

Just a few steps  form iFly is the Siloso Beach.  I’ve never been to a beach with sand this fine! powdery and soft! (disclaimer: I haven’t been to Boracay. No point of comparison)

Tired but Happy

The night was still young but I was afraid to be out in a strange land late night. Besides, I don’t even know what time the MRT closes so I decided to pack my tripod and head back to Bugis

I needed to be extremely early the following day because I have to meet Des before going back to Manila. And getting back to Manila was another big story…

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Lost II: Wandering Aimlessly (Day 1)

marina bay singapore

My first day was a tough day. All things in my checklist was ditched for a “hostel hunting”.  It was a very frustrating day…especially on one’s birthday! I was too tired to really roam around so I spent my time in my bunk the whole evening reading the stuff I got from the tourism station at the airport.

Top Bunk, Bed C, Room 2

I woke up late because I was not used to sleeping in a sort of “public” place. I always have the room for myself when I travel. It’s just that I am in a shoestring budget when I decided to wander out of the “Philippine Area of Responsibility” (parang bagyo lang!:))). Hence, backpacker’s hostel became the most apparent option!

First stop: Marina Bay

I did not intend to have my first stop at the Marina Bay.  It was my natural tendency to be lost that brought me there!

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel Resort – Casino

I hopped on the MRT hoping to go to Vivo City and get to Sentosa Island. I guess I took the wrong turn so my wandering feet followed the flow of people out of the Marina Bay Station. I walked as if I am a local and blended with the crowd.  Confident in the outside, uber worried and lost in the inside (parang M&Ms; lang!) And There I go! I walked past the mighty Marina Bay Corporate Center and Residence towards the lagoon where the Marina Bay Sands Hotel-Casino stands mighty and proud.

A closer look…

The park around the bay area looks great and refreshing!

The Fullerton Hotels

The Fullerton Bay Hotel

The wrong stop was the right stop after all.  My walking tour started by going around the bay in search for a better angle to shoot the enormous piece of art…err hotel. The walk introduced me to The Fullerton Bay Hotel and the more historic One Fullerton where I first saw and touched (may ganun!) a Lamborghini! It’s just sad that I didn’t get to have a photo (natakot ako baka bawal…hehehe)

The Fullerton Hotel

Did I forget to mention that the weather was bipolar?! One minute it was freakin’ hot and it gets wet a second after!

It’s like a scene in a movie where the darkness is slowly eating the light!

I took shelter under the shades of those posh cafes along the bay while continuously marveling at the sights.

The Merlion

The Merlion is Singapore’s Symbol, part lion-part fish mythical creature.  No tourist leaves this small state without having a photo with this famed creature! Not me! Well, not that I don’t want to.  It’s just that he’s having his beauty rest for his birthday celebration.

no tourist-y souvenir photo with the Merlion! T_T

Since I can’t unwrap the mythical beast, I settled for the baby merlion!

It may not be as fierce as the original, but it’s definitely more cute!

I got tired of walking! Yeah! The weather’s not really helping by being oh! so! humid plus I wanted to relax a bit. Because I was recently diagnosed with hepatomegaly, I haven’t been to Starbucks for quite some time and I felt I deserved to have a break. After all, this trip was a birthday celebration!

Cookie Crumble Frappe if I’m not mistaken
I want to buy one of those…but stopped…ANG MAHAL!

Starbucks at home is a bit pricey for me…much more here! A venti Cookie Crumble Frappe costs SG $8.00++!!! Oh well! It’s Singapore, where everything is supposed to be pricey (except maybe for gadgets).  I left my alco-gel here! and I couldn’t find a store that’s selling one, even at 7-Eleven!

Having my coffee fix, I wandered a bit more by the bay…

Esplanade…The durian theatre!
LV! Their shoppe is one of the two floating pavilions at the Marina Bay Shoppes
Underneath the bridge where you’ll find Starbucks.

I loved the al fresco ambiance of Starbucks…under the bridge. Sa ilalim ng tulay ay sosyal!

Singapore Flyer from afar
The Duck Tour…

The Duck Tour goes around the city like your usual tour bus and dives into the water like a duck to go around the bay…cool trick huh!

I wanted to see the world up at the Sky park so I headed towards the Helix Bridge where the heavy rain finally caught me right in the middle!

Trapped underneath a piece of fiber glass fixture…
putting emphasis on the complexity of this functional work of art

The Skypark, apparently has a fee…SG $20. The shoestring budget says no! So there I go…a bit disappointed but was determined to be back (whenever that may be). So I lounged along the ArtScience Museum.  That odd, lotus-like structure just outside the hotel.

The lotus pond outside

Again, since I am on a tight budget, I wanted to enjoy the sights without spending much! hahaha mahirap lang talaga! :)) The fee was SG $15-25, if I remember it right.  So I didn’t bother to take refuge inside the marvelous structure…

My wandering feet took me somewhere free…Gardens by the Bay!

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Lost: Singapura Edition

the inn crowd backpackers hostel

I guess getting lost on the first day became a tradition whenever I travel solo. I spent almost four hours circling Iloilo City proper before landing on my bed at Ong Bun Pension last February.  And just the same, I spent hours finding my way to The Inn-Crowd Backpacker’s Hostel in Singapore recently…

#73 Dunlop Street, Singapore. The email said I can walk towards the hostel from Bugis MRT station.  I didn’t consider flagging a cab because I know that I am on a tight budget. I got myself a Singapore Tourist pass good for 3 days.  Yup! You can get the Singapore Tourist Pass from Changi International Terminal 2 MRT  station.

The Singapore Tourist Pass

You do not exactly purchase the pass but rather you rent it for SG$ 10.  I got mine good for 3 days of unlimited MRT and Bus ride! I guess at that point I was blessed to get lost in the city.  There’s nothing to worry about getting lost. I can ride the buses and trains without the fear of running out of dough! Anyway, the pass I got for 3 days is worth SG$ 20 plus the SG$ 10 rental deposit. The rental fee will be refunded if your return your pass within five days from the date it was issued.

I met some fellow first timers in the Lion City while we were in transit from Changi Budget Terminal to Terminal 2. We all hopped in and marveled at how cool the MRT system is!

Tanah Merah Interchange

We alighted at Tanah Merah Interchange and hopped on to another train (green line) heading towards the city.  I got off at the Bugis Station and was on my own!

BUGIS STATION

I was confident that  I can find my hostel in a jiff…I took the my turn to Exit B and found my way out. I was wondering aimlessly and I couldn’t find the hostel.  I found G4 Backpacker’s hostel instead.  I consulted the email confirmation and checked the instructions.  There was supposed to be a map when you click the link.
Unfortunately, the ever prepared me printed the email confirmation and forgot about the map.  I was under the impression that it’s an easy find!

Luckily, I brought Ippie, the iPad. I can open the email and open the link to the map! ERRRR!!! I have no data coverage in Singapore! Epic fail #2! I was wandering aimlessly around Bugis street.  I passed by Sim Lim Square, Albert Mall, Bugis Village, The Raffles Hospital, The Parkway, and Little India.  I looked at my watch and it’s already 5:30 PM!

I sat on a park where a nearby church stands where it was less crowded.  I took a deep breath and was resigned to check in the nearest hotel I will come across with.  I opened the free map I took from the airport and started scanning. I searched each and every corner and I still couldn’t find Dunlop Street! I felt the sky falling hard on me! “Am I gonna sleep in the park?” “What if it rains or it’s prohibited to sleep in the park?”

Then I closed the map. Closed my eyes and asked God for guidance.  I asked Him to guide me.  Finding my hostel was the Birthday gift I asked the Lord…

When I opened my eyes, the sun was beginning to retreat.  I took a deep breath and headed down Albert Street Mall.  I decided to start from where I am supposed to – The Bugis MRT Station!..

The Re-Quest!

Originally, I took Exit B in Bugis Station and did not find the Hostel.  This time I decided to try getting out at Exit A, Victoria Street.

I just stepped in the escalator when I noticed the relatively big Local Map. The instant I stepped out of the “going up”escalator, like a kid, I hopped in the “going down” one!..I looked at the map and in less than a minute I found where Dunlop Street is! I took a good look at the map and the landmarks like taking a good picture. Dunlop street is next to Mayo and right across Sim Lim Tower! (I’ve passed by Sim Lim Tower a couple of times and did not notice it!)

Tracing the path I’ve taken a couple times was just too easy…I breezed through the streets and to my surprise I’ve found The Inn-Crowd Backpacker’s Hostel along other backpacker’s hostel.  It’s like a district full of it!

The Inn-Crowd Backpacker's Hostel
The Inn-Crowd Backpacker’s Hostel

I stepped in and informed the receptionist about my reservation…I hopped in my bed..I slept…

The Inn-Crowd Hostel Photo: from http://www.singapore-tourist-info.com

Marina Bay Gala

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An impromptu city tour

When I got to SM Iloilo I have no idea where to start. I circled  the not so huge mall and I couldn’t even decide where to eat.  To top it all, the city has no power at the time and it’s raining.  It always rain when I travel!

What’s for lunch?

I thought I wanted to get a taste of  the famous La Paz batchoy from Ted’s or Decos but the shoppes were full and I can’t hold the monsters in my tummy any longer. I spotted a small place near one of the mall entrances called Green Mango.  It sounded familiar but not quite. I decided to grab a chair and order. At the back of my head I was just tired and I needed a safe place to consult Mr. Google.

I ordered one of their platter.

Lunch

rice ball, pancit canton, fish escabetche (don’t know how to spell it), a chunk of fried chicken

The city tour!

Lunch was good but my worries are starting to grow because the rain hasn’t completely stopped and my head is about to start singing Eva Peron…”Where do we(I) from here?…

I wandered a bit until a decided to text Ong Bun Pension to ask for directions. I was told that they can only hold my reservation until 6 in the evening! That added more panic. Fortunately (or I thought it was), the instruction was simple–Hop on a jeep with the sign “Iloilo City Proper” and drop off at the pension house. I boarded a jeep and went on my way. We’ve passed UP Visayas, the Sarabia Manor, the Provincial Capitol and a whole lot of streets. Among those streets I couldn’t see any sign of the pension house so I decided to drop off at Ledesma St. where the pension house is suppose to be located.

I walked along Ledesma St. but could not find the pension house.  I turned to Mr. Google once again and looked for landmarks. It was near a huge local supermarket and SM Delgado. When I saw the hard-to-miss supermarket I turned right and headed towards SM Delgado. The city is busy and so am I in being lost.

I found the hotel  in my list when I was researching Iloilo and It’s nice to finally see them in person aside from the fact that I can’t afford them. While walking, I passed by the riverbank.  I recognized the body of water as the Iloilo river.  The breeze is cool and relaxing, especially when your feet are sore and your whole body is drenched in sweat. I would have loved to stay and relax a bit but I am yet to find my bed!

Returning to the busy city, I passed by quiet street-Arroyo.  It looks like a slum area. Natakot ako because it kinda looks like a street in Tondo, Manila.  Isama mo pa ang questioning eyes of a few while I’m passing by.  I don’t mean to judge the place nor the people…my instinct told me to be careful.  Arroyo street ends in a Rotonda.  The funny thing is, it’s the same place where I started to walk. The area looks like a chinese town where lanterns adorns the center of the rotonda while the buildings show influences of the chinese architecture. So there I was! Back in Ledesma St. This time I walked on the other side.  It wasn’t really far from where I stand I raised my head and miraculously saw the sign! Ong Bun Pension House with its corresponding chinese characters.

As I draw nearer, I realized that the building was actually  the next one if I did not turn right towards the hard-to-miss supermarket.

There! I was able to go around Iloilo City in an instant because I got lost.  After having a cold shower, I slept comfortably…

Exploring Tagbilaran City



Boarding Pass: Seat 28F. Window seat pa rin 🙂



After my first leisure travel experience in Cebu last March, I have grown the habit of visiting the local budget airline sites such as that of Airphil Express, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air. The story of how I got the trip to Bohol is here.
There was tropical depression somewhere around the western region of the country on August 20.  I could not even see the sun when I punched OUT of the office to NAIA Terminal 3. It was a gloomy Saturday morning.  I took the cab (Php 140) to T3 and it only took me about 20 minutes to reach the departure bay of the airport.  It’s no longer new to me because I used the facility back in March when I went to Cebu.  More than being excited for this trip, I was early because of my desire to get a window seat.  I was looking for the check-in counter for my flight bound for Tagbilaran but could not find it.  Apparently, there were a couple more counters at the back that I missed.  Hence, I got seat 28F which was almost at the tail end of the aircraft.  As a consolation, 28F is a window seat with a clear view of the right wing. Based from my past experience with Airphil Express, boarding time is never on time.  Surprisingly, the first boarding call for my flight was a minute ahead of schedule! A sign of a good start. We landed perfectly at Tagbilaran City Airport 17 minutes ahead of schedule.  It was amazing! Manila’s gloomy mood dramatically changed to a sunny Bohol!




Boarding at NAIA T3

I am a light traveler so I did not check-in my luggage.  I only carried my Serge backpack and a camera bag for my Nikkie. I was surprised with the size of the airport.  It barely resembles one except for the big sign and the control tower.  Other than that, it looks like any other buildings.

I met the driver from Taver’s Pension House at the waiting area outside the airport.  I’ve arranged an airport transfer when I called for reservation which, by the way is free as long as it’s arranged early for them to fix their driver’s schedule.

Taver’s Pension House was, I thought, far from the city proper.  I was kind of disappointed initially. I thought I was staying in the heart of the city (their location map said so in their website).  Looking at the surrounding establishments, I didn’t think I am in a city. Since I already made my reservation and there’s no time to cancel and look for a new one, I went ahead and checked in.  I got Room #6 which is really accessible to the small reception area. I liked the set up of my room.  It was quiet and peaceful.  Just what I needed at the time. 



Standard Single Room (P 750/night)- Taver’s Pension House



The room was clean and huge (at least for someone staying alone).  It could fit another bed! Well the bed itself can accommodate two average-sized adults. The room was air conditioned while the bathroom has hot and cold running water.  It also has a 14-inch TV with cable channels. For the size of the room and what it has, I’d say Php 750 a night is well worth it.



I’m not that religious but I like the fact that there is a Bible in my room.

  

There goes the 14″ TV and the way to my private loo. ☺
Since I was pressed for time to arrange a tour of the countryside, I asked if Taver’s can arrange a tour for me the following day.  I was quoted with Php 2,500 for the entire day.  It could have been cheaper if I have someone to share the expense.  But since this trip is about mmyself, someone who doesn’t have any real experience traveling solo, I took the deal. 
I arrived early and was able to settle in my room at around 12:30 in the afternoon.  It’s too early to be retiring for the day so I went out for a walk to see the city.  The first thing I noticed was how provincial the city looked like. It didn’t have the feel of being in an urban jungle (at least for someone who has lived his last 7 years in Makati). Heading towards the center of the community, I’ve seen a number of barber shops.  Not the salon kind of shoppes. They’re the traditional barber shops where men gather around to watch the local sports channel if not having their hair cut.  I couldn’t help but wonder why these shoppes are like mushrooms growing all over the place.
Anyway, I thread the not so busy streets of Tagbilaran looking for a place to eat. I didn’t have anything since that Friday’s dinner other than the two venti cups of latte from my boss. I found myself ordering  chicken inasal at Bojol Grill at the second floor of Tagbilaran City Square Mall. It kind of looks and feels like St. Francis Square in Ortigas minus the crowd and they have fewer stores.
Bojol Grill
I came unprepared! I didn’t know any place to have lunch.  I came to Bojol Grill (It’s not a typo!) and it was obvious that lunch hour has already passed.  There were just a few diners.  There were a number of choices but I was looking for something special.  Something native or local. My tummy was already twisting and turning so I called one of the restaurant’s attendants and ordered their chicken inasal.  The menu said it is a specialty so I decided to give it a try.
Being hungry and all did not let my customer service QA mindset take a vacation.  The lady who took my order wasn’t exactly happy to be serving me.  I mean, I’m not asking her to treat me like a royalty or something. She could have at least sported a smile to make the hungry feel delighted a bit while waiting. It surely doesn’t hurt to be polite too.

The epic Chicken Inasal from Bojol Grill.   (photo taken using my low-tech camera phone)

On top of the customer service epic fail, the waiting time was like forever! The people cleaning the air conditioning unit near my table was almost done when I finally get to meet my chicken inasal. At first glance, there’s nothing special.  It looked like a chicken leg in a skewer. Then came the taste test.  And the verdict-the chicken was juicy, tender and flavorful.  They were not kidding when they said it is their specialty.  Okay, so the inasal made me forget the customer service epic failure! It was definitely a winner! Oh! Did I forget to say that it was only 60 pesos with a glass of lemon ice tea? As my reps would have said “PWEDE”!
Bohol Quality Mall
BQ Mall is it’s more popular name.  It’s right across the street from City Square Mall. I’d say this is a real mall. There was some sort of an audition thing going on at the atrium at the time so I decided to stick around and be a regular “uzi”. It was some kind of talent search. “Ramping” was used in a relatively inappropriate way as “can you do the ramping.” Ramping is defined as walking with the arms raised as if excited… I guess the idea of coining the word came from “ramp modeling” where models usually showcase whatever they’re promoting by strutting on a custom made ramp/stage.  Hence, “ramping”
Who do you expect would pass the audition but some cute and lean college dudes and some teenage half-pinays who speaks english better than those who were interviewing them.

Gelateria Milano

At the higher part of the BQ Mall, there’s a small Italian Ice Cream Parlor. I was getting tired of watching the show down at the atrium so I went upstairs.  Gelateria Milano was in my original itinerary.  I just did not expect it to be at the top of BQ Mall.
It was small with only three tables inside the shoppe and around two more al fresco. I took the seat near the window because it has a great view of the bay.  Wifi was available too.  I ordered a macchiato.  I was thinking of the macchiato like the one from Starbucks.  I was wrong.  It was served on a cute coffee cup and saucer but the flavor was really big! The aroma of real coffee.  I was told that they only serve authentic italian coffee!
Pizza Hut
For lack of place to have dinner, I opted for the usual.  I ordered bolognese with meatballs and a solo pan pizza for takeout. 
The outlet in the BQ Mall is quite nice and warm. The waiting staff is friendly and accommodating. Actually, I like the guy (Earl Josepe) who waited on my table. He’s very warm and friendly with good customer service attitude. He really made me feel like a guest.
After the hearty dinner I walked home.  It really did not feel like a dangerous city so I was confident walking my way to Taver’s. The receptionist confirmed my schedule for the tour at 9AM so I took a hot shower and slept early.
I was tired after a very active day exploring Tagbilaran City on foot.