Friday, April 9, 2010


Everybody knows that London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom. I've always wanted to visit the city and see first-hand how it is to be British. We had that opportunity 2 years ago and our trip was as exciting as I expected it to be...well, minus the weather. 2 out of the 3 days we spent in London were rainy and chilly. But we still had a great time!

Since the the dollar to pound rate was so low (and still is) we decided to take the "TUBE" most of our stay in London. The London Undergraound is the main public transportation in the city and neighboring areas serving about 270 stations. It was kinda confusing going thru the TUBE map. But we got to our destination in one piece and most of all on time and that's all we cared about. Time was precious. So much to see...So much to do...


The "Underground" (the subway)

The black cab is an icon in England. When you see a black cab in a movie you always know it was shot in London. Or at least they want you to think it was set in London.  The cab drivers are considered to be the best tour guides as they are required to know every street, big and small, of the city and its outskirts. Contrary to belief these cabs also come in different colors.

The black cab

Inside the cab

The red double-decker bus is another icon of London. Talk about space-savers! It was so much fun to ride one. Of course to take full advantage of the sights you have to sit on the top deck.

View from the top of the double-decker

On every street in the city are these red telephone booths. These boxes were first introduced by the UK post office in the 1920s, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.


Every corner of every street

The River Thames is a major river that runs through Southern England and most of London. It is the second longest river in the country. If you want to see London's major spots then all you have to do is ride the ferry boat through the river.

Resto-bar on the River Thames

The London Eye is one of the biggest Ferris Wheels in the world and the largest in Europe. It has 32 sealed and air-conditioned egg-shaped capsules. We didn't get to ride it though. We're scared of heights!

The Tower Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. It is located on River Thames and is close to the Tower of London, thus its name. Talking about icons this bridge is definitely the iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of 2 towers at each end and are connected by 2 walk-ways. People often call this the London Bridge but the real London Bridge is the next bridge upstream.

Distant view of the bridge on the River Thames


Going towards the walk-way

Second level walk-way

The real London Bridge

The Houses of Parliament or Palace of Westmister is the meeting venue for the houses of parliament of UK. On one of its ends is the world famous Big Ben which is actually the giant bell inside the tower, not the clock.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Houses of Parliament up-close. Magnificent architecture (Gothic style)

Big Ben is hidden inside the clock tower

A block away from the Palace of Westminster is of course the Westminster Abbey. Several coronations took place in this church. This is also where the wedding and, unfortunately, the funeral of Princess Diana took place.

The massive door

Trafalgar Square is located in central London. At the center of the square is Nelson's Column and on each end are 4 stone lions. Fountains also adorn the square.

The guardian

The fountain

The Piccadilly Circus is a chic area kinda like London's version of Time Square, to me at least. Just like Time Square it has several neon signs, fancy restaurants, theatres, pubs, and shops. On one area of Piccadilly is a fountan dedicated to Eros (Cupid). However, this fountain was originally intended for Eros' twin brother, Anteros. Didn't even know he had a twin. I do learn a lot from my trips...

Time Square?

Fountain of Anteros/Eros

St. Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican church located on Ludgate Hill which is the highest point in the city. This church is the seat of the bishop of London. Today it remains as an active church but also a very popular tourist spot.

We couldn't make it to Buckingham Palace and watch the changing of the guards coz it started pouring on our 2nd day. It would've been a sight to see!

I felt 3 days was enough to enjoy London. However, I can stay longer if we had more time. As I've said, so much to much to do...There's just never enough time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Petronas Towers, KL, MALAYSIA

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia. It is now becoming one of the fastest growing economic giant in South-East Asia. It is also home to the  tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Towers, which was the primary reason for our visit.

Our trip to KL was a very short one. We were headed to Siem Reap, Cambodia and decided to spend the night in KL to visit the twin towers.

After checking in we grabbed a quick lunch in one of the hotel's restaurants and headed to the towers. It was only about a 15-min walk from our hotel and I was greatly amazed by how it felt like I was walking the streets of Makati. Plus the locals look exactly like Filipinos. The weather was awesome, as always, since it's a tropical country and traffic was light. We took our time to enjoy the view and just take in some fresh Asian air (polluted or not, my lungs are used to this kinda thing).

After 3 blocks we could see the tip of the towers. Actually, we have a good view of the towers from our hotel.

View of the towers from our hotel room

We're almost there

And there they were. Tall and majestic. Very beautiful indeed.

The sky bridge

The entrance

Petronas is a 2-tower structure connected by a sky bridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. It has 88 floors where Tower 1 is fully occupied by Petronas and Tower 2 is leased by other companies. According to Wikipedia the towers are the tallest buildings in 1998 to 2004. Didin't even know that! On top are spires which in my opinion add to the towers' personalities. On the ground floor is a mall where you can shop til you drop (not a big fan!) or just merely sit on one of the benches and watch people walk by (big fan!). TRIVIA: The towers were featured in the movie Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1998. 

The Kuala Lumpur Internatial Airport (KLIA) is one of the busiest airports in South-east Asia. According to Wikipedia it handles 35 M passengers a year. The airport puts great emphasis in allowing natural light to enter the building, thus, there are several glass walls and windows throughout the building. It has won several international awards including Best Airport for 2 consecutive years (2005 and 2006).

I'd like to go back to KL in the near future. And next time I will definitely stay longer!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Siem Reap has recently become one of the most exotic tourist hot spots. It is home to the most famous mother of all temples, Ankgor Wat, which was discovered in the early 1920s.  Thousands of tourists flock to this small town every year, thus, a multitude of hotels have sprung in the last 3 decades.

We decided to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Siem Reap. The airport is small but very charming, clean and definitely exotic.
Our plane

A marble elephant stands guard at the entrance towards the immigration booths

 The exterior


The ride to our hotel was fascinating. We saw a loooot of motor bikes, tuk-tuks, and locals walking on foot going about their business. And of course, rows and rows of hotels from the lowest to 5 stars with impressive driveways and fountains on their front lawns.


Our hotel was simply breath-taking! My husband got a very good deal for this accommodation. Angkor Palace Resort & Spa 

 It was green everywhere

The best part was that there were not a lot of guests so I had the pool all to myself at certain times.

Our room was huge. The bed was too firm for my taste though.

It had a little porch that can take you straight to the pool. Nice!

First thing we did was go to the Old Market. We rode a tuk-tuk and it was such a fun ride- all bumpy and dusty but who cares? It reminded me of my home town :) The market was crowded. You can buy anything there: clothes, jewelry, food, paintings, etc.

This reminds me of our wet market back home.

Can you guess what these are? 

That night we went to Koulen Restaurant which is very famous for good Cambodian food and cultural dance shows (including Apsara dances).

Apsara dancer

Siem Reap has so many temples and ruins that it was literally impossible for us to visit each and every one of them. So we decided to visit the Angkor Archeological Park near Siem Reap and chose 3 temples to visit. Angkor Archeological Park

Getting our tickets. $20 for a one-day pass

Entrance to the park. 

Our first temple was the Bayon Temple. This temple is known for its huge stone faces of the smiling Avalokiteshvara. Also carved on the walls are apsaras and warriors.

Bayon Temple


We then walked to our next temple. Along the way we saw more ruins, interesting walls with beautiful carvings and elephants!
A huge wall with hundreds of carved images

Ride the elephant for $10. It was so much fun!

Our next temple was called Ta Prohm. This temple is known for giant tree roots springing from the temple ruins. Oh and you can also see shots of the temple in The Tomb Raider. Close to the entrance of the temple was a group of handicapped men playing some Cambodian instruments. These men were tragic victims of landmines that were left by the Khmer Rouge. 

Please donate...

Look at those roots!

Some parts were being renovated

Saving the best for last- Angkor Wat. It was built in the 1200s for Suryavarman II. It was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu and later converted into a Buddhist temple. The temple has an outer wall surrounded by a moat, an inner wall that serves as a fortress then finally the temple itself.

The moat surrounds the walls

Angkor Wat. Some parts are being renovated

Galleries inside the temple

Buddha with lots of offerings

Rear courtyard

Monkeys around the temple walls

Ancient architecture and archeology are 2 things that really fascinate me. This trip was definitely a very memorable one. It was hot as hell but I enjoyed every single minute of our stay in Siem Reap. We're thinking of making a second trip. Still have lots of temples left to see.....