Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. It is very similar to Manila. Even the people can pass for Filipinos ;) Other similarities to Manila are the traffic, pollution and over-crowding. However, just like Filipinos, Thais are very hospitable, always helpful to tourists and very polite.

Smog or fog?

The Chao Phraya River is the major river that runs the whole of Bangkok and other cities in Thailand. A huge network of water taxis and ferries crowd the river which are filled with tourists but are mainly used by  locals to go about their business.


The Grand Palace is one of the most visited places by tourists. It is the official residence of the royal family so there are areas which are restricted to visitors. The complex is made up of enchanting temples, elegant halls and magnificent gardens.

Some of the temples are active places of worship. I did feel guilty taking snaps while the locals are praying fervently to Buddha.

The temples are very enchanting: gold-plated, magnificently tall and very artfully decorated inside-out. Some of the walls have fascinating murals that take you back in time. It is simply amazing how these people have created such exquisite architecture driven by their spirituality. The Grand Palace

Wat Pho is one of the oldest and largest temples (Wats) in Bangkok and is home to the famous Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is about 40-feet long, has a gold-plated body and eyes made of mother of pearl.  The Wat Pho complex is made up of several compounds: temple of the Reclining Buddha, a massage school and a functional buddhist monastery. We had the priviledge of experiencing the ever-relaxing thai massage from the students. After a long day of walking, it was definitely a treat. Wat Pho

     The Reclining Buddha


Khao San Road is a strip in central Bangkok where locals and tourists alike love to congregate and be merry. The strip has affordable accommodations, pubs, shopping centers, restaurants, internet cafes, exotic night clubs and massage parlours. This street is always crowded day and night. If you love the night life, then this is the place to be ;)

While walking along Khao San Road we bumped into a street vendor selling local crispy treats....
Did we try them?....No way!

Our trip came to an end. It was an adventure worth-remembering. I was so awe-inspired by the temples that we visited. It still amazes me how faith can create such a magnificent form of art. Tourism is a huge part of this country's economy. Millions of tourists visit each year. We were not obvious foreigners though as we can pass for Thais. Some even tried to speak in Thai when they saw us. All we did was smile and bow ;)

Hope to see you again Bangkok! "SAWATDEE!"

Monday, January 25, 2010


Singapore is one of the most industrial and prosperous countries in the world. It is a small country off of the Malay Peninsula, yet despite its size it is an economic giant.

Its name is derived from a Malay word "Singapura," which means Lion City.

The Merlion

Singapore is one of my favorite countries to visit. It is my gateway between the US and the Philippines. People are very polite, streets are always clean, and infrastructures are always modern. Discipline is one of the values that are emphasized the most. As you walk along the streets or wait for the train to come you would notice signs of fines for certain unlawful acts.


One of our favorite places to visit to savor some local treats is the hawker center. Here you get to choose from a variety of small stalls selling a wide selection of food from noodles to barbecue. All of Singapore come here to gather whether they are by themselves or with their family. Hawker Center


Going around the city is very easy. Public transportation is highly accessible and cab drivers are always helpful. Just don't forget to call them "uncle." The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is the easiest and cheapest way to go for tourists. It is advisable to purchase a tourist pass for convenience. The pass has 3 options, 1-day, 2-day and 3-day passes. Tourist Pass


Christmas in Singapore is very festive. Streets are highly decorated even though Christians are a minority in the country. And due to its large population of tourists and foreign businessmen the country tries to celebrate all the common holidays of the world.


Sentosa Island is one of the most visited places by tourists in Singapore. The island used to be a military fortress but was converted into a a huge tourist attraction in the 1970s. It is composed of theme parks, 5-star hotels, beaches, luscious gardens, indigenous fauna and golf courses. Access to the island is by a cable car from the mainland. The island is also home to exotic pink dolphins which I had no idea existed what-so-ever. These mammals are fast becoming endangered species.


Changi Airport is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. It has won several awards in the last 2 decades. I love coming to Changi. If my flight gets delayed or cancelled I never worry because there are so many things I can do there: shop, eat, watch movies, surf the web, take a shower and even sleep. Aside from being functional, Changi is very aesthetically appealing as well.

Visit Singapore! You will never regret it ;)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Boracay is an island in the Philippines, specifically located in the the province of Visayas. According to Yahoo!Travel it is one of the world's most popular beaches in 2007.

Getting to the island can be a hassle for some as you need to either get there by plane or ship then ride a small boat in order to get to the island itself. And yet for some this can be a great adventure. We rode a small charter plane which seated 9 passengers. It was quite of a bumpy ride for me because we chose a date when a typhoon was lurking around the country....

We were a very adventurous couple. We did not book a hotel beforehand because we wanted to explore our options and choose the best accommodation for our 5-day trip. However, that feat proved to be very challenging because as soon as our boat docked rain started to pour and the wind was howling like a hungry banshee.

But at last we found a gorgeous beachfront hotel after a few minutes of haggling with the hotel manager. My husband just loves to haggle. Scheduling a trip during the monsoon season has its perks after all.

There were not a whole lot of people in the island due to the typhoon but we enjoyed ourselves tremendously without getting worried of placing a reservation in restaurants on time or fighting over securing a good spot on the beach. Speaking of the beach, it was actually barren as the desert. I attempted to brave the waves but failed so I just decided to hang out by the beach.

Our trip was phenomenal except for the occasional rain here and there but we were able to do some activities such as riding a bike around the island, snorkeling, boat riding, shopping and of course sampling all the restaurants we found appealing to our taste buds.

The trip came to an end. I left with a heavy heart but at the same excited to be going back to the bustling city. I highly recommend this island for those who love beaches. However, try not to schedule your trip between May and August ;)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I was born in a southern city called Zamboanga, the City Of Flowers. Zamboanga came from the word JAMBANGAN which means "Garden," so I guess this is where the nickname came from. Our dialect is called "Chavacano" which is very similar to Spanish (FYI: The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 4 centuries). Zamboanguenos are very polite, hospitable, very hard working and most of all beautiful ;)


The airport is small but given the population of the city I think the size is appropriate. The architecture symbolizes a great Islamic influence as the country was predominantly Islamic until the Spaniards came and spread Christianity.


The common means of transportation is by Tricycle and Jeep. A tricycle is a 3-wheeled motor-operated bike with a car on its side for passenger/s to sit. Maximum capacity: 4.... driver, 2 on the passenger seat, 1 across the passengers and 1 behind the driver.


The jeep/jeepney is modeled after US military jeeps that were left in the country during WWII. Some can be very colorful, yet others can be simple. Maximun capacity: 19-23. Extreme maximun capacity: count less.

Photo courtesy of Padini


The city has several beaches. Zamboanguenos love to hold family picnics on Sundays at these resorts. I had very fond memories of those growing up. My favorite private beach  resort  is La Vista del Mar which means "view by the sea." It is one of the most popular resorts with beautiful gardens and manicured lawns. It also has a gorgeous restaurant that serves sumptous local cuisines.

La Vista del mar


The Boulevard is a strip of waterfront by R.T. Lim Boulevard where a lot of people love to park their cars and enjoy the sunset or watch the stars. I, for one, have done this many times. While enjoying the scenery visitors snack on peanuts, "balut" (boiled duck eggs), "chicharon" (crispy pork rind), and barbecue.

The Boulevard


The holidays in Zamboanga are VERY festive. People spend so much time and money decorating their houses with lights and other Christmas decor they can find. At night streets are colorfully lit by hundreds of tiny light bulbs emanating from the houses, christmas carols can be heard from children going from house to house, and the smell of barbecue gives the festive air a homey feel.

City Hall
Photo courtesy of Dr. N. Dionio