I embarked in this journey not really knowing what’s in store for me. They told me it was a “Personality Development and Leadership Training Program” but little did I know that it was so much more.
It started with a friend who invited me and for her it was definitely one of the things that made an impact and changed her life, and I was convinced by what she said. And so here I am, also in my LEAP journey and one of the things that resonated with me was the theme – BREAK THROUGH.
I’m halfway in this program and I can already say that it was sooooo worth it! I have learned so much about myself and other people. I am able to experience and see things in a different perspective. I am able to slowly but surely reach those goals that I have set. I am able to just let go. Let go of the fears. Let go of the hurts. Let go of the past. Let go of the things that hinder us from being the best version of ourselves. I am able to just be so joyful and grateful. I am able to just be.
The gang is back! Traveling with my Highschool best friend Lalaine and her cousin Jen who became part of our barkada. 🙂 We had this trip last January 29-31, 2016. We decided to explore the north western part of Luzon since my best friend had a friend who’s from Laoag and made some recommendations for us.
It’s best to Drive / Rent a car 🙂
Here’s our itinerary:
First day in Laoag :
First stop – Check in at Fort Ilocandia
This is the view outside our room in Fort Ilocandia
Second stop – drive to Paoay Church then lunch at Herencia’s
Ate the famous “Pinakbet Pizza” in Herencia’s in front of Paoay Church
Third Stop – Malacanang of the North – Presidential Home turned into a Museum in Paoay. This used to be the residence of our former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Fourth and last Stop – 4×4 Sand Dune Ride and Sand Boarding – A MUST-TRY Experience if you go to Laoag! Even if I felt like it was one of the scariest adventures in my life, I almost fell out of the 4×4 after some pretty rough hills/sand dunes! It’s like a roller coaster but in intensity level 10, since you’re standing and holding on for dear life! hahaha
SECOND DAY: Jam-packed day!
First Stop – Kapurpurawan – This is located in Ilocos Norte and it is known for its creamy white rock formations, one of the must-see places if you go to Ilocos. 🙂 Beautiful location for a photoshoot, see below! hahaha
Second Stop – Light House
Third Stop – Bangui Windwills
Fourth Stop – Bantay Abot Cave
Fifth Stop – Marcos Mausoleum
Last Stop – Patapat Bridge
THIRD AND LAST DAY: Vigan!
First Stop – Calle Crisologo
Second Stop – Syquia Mansion
Overall this was a fun and budget friendly trip! I suggest if you are in the Philippines, might as well go for these places in the northern part of Luzon! You can actually drive going here (around 6-8 hours) but you can also board a 1 hr plane ride which is what we did. 🙂
And yes, I can definitely come back, it’s more fun in the Philippines after all! 🙂
Celebrated 2016 New Year in Macau, again I was able to book a not so expensive flight to Macau via Air Asia and Cebu Pacific. Our arrival was exactly during New Year’s Eve.
We stayed at Casa Real Hotel, it is located at 1118, Avenida do. dr. Rodrigo Rodrigues, Macau. It was near the city/ where Senado Sqaure is. I also love that they have a nice heated indoor pool! 🙂
You still need to take the bus and get off at the 4th/5th station I think. The hotel also offers shuttle rides to the other side of Macau where all the casino hotels are located and also to the airport.
Getting around Macau:
FREE Shuttle in your hotel (there’s usually one)
Bus (cheaper and you can just walk rather than getting a cab)
Ferry to HK
New Year’s Eve 2016 – Unforgettable! – We hopped on the bus managed to get off the right stop for the fireworks, BUT on our way back to our hotel we got lost. It was too late when we noticed that the bus we rode was going to the wrong direction. Mind you, this was already at 1:00am and we went all the way to the end of the other line before we realized we were on the wrong bus. haha Thank God we managed to find our way back! 🙂 Me and my brother sure had an adventure on our first night!
Day 1 – CITY TOUR
SENADO SQUARE also known as Largo do Senado – This is the famous town square in Macau.
ST. DOMINIC’S CHURCH – located in the middle of Senado Square
MACAU MUSEUM (MUSEO DE MACAU)
INSIDE THE MUSEUM:
RUINS OF ST. PAUL – one of the famous landmarks / tourist destination here in Macau. You can’t miss it! 🙂
Day 2 – HK DAY
We rode a ferry to go to Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui Part of HK
Family Lunch at Jamie Oliver at the Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
By the Harbour/Ferry
1881 Heritage Building
Day 3 – TAIPA VILLAGE DAY
We ate at one of their famous restaurant/eatery called “Tai Lei Loi Kei”
We ordered the following:
RUA DO CUNHA
OUR LADY OF CARMO CHURCH
MUSEUM OF TAIPA AND COLOANE HISTORY
MACAO GIANT PANDA PAVILION
We had dinner at their 1 Michelin Star Restaurant called “Golden Peacock” where they served Indian food. It was good 🙂
Beautiful Shot Outside the Venetian
Day 4 – THE OTHER SIDE OF MACAU
MACAU FISHERMAN’S WHARF
MACAU SCIENCE CENTER
KUN IAM STATUE
The Park before the Light House (and their fun exercise machines!)
GUIA LIGHTHOUSE – we walked a lot! as in a lot to reach the top and this lighthouse!
THE 8 (1 Michelin Star Restaurant at The Grand Lisboa Hotel) This is probably one of the best chinese restaurants that I have tried! 🙂 4.9 stars out of 5 for me! This is what we ordered:
It was definitely a jam-packed four days in Macau! I think four days is already enough to explore and see all the must go to places in Macau. What makes this trip special is the bonding time with my mom and my brother. <3
Time to wander to another country and experience new cultures and food! hahaha
We were invited by my Best Friend’s friend in Cagayan De Oro City because it was the opening / launch of their restaurant and bar in CDO last August 8, 2015. The name of the resto/bar is “Somewhere Else in CDO”.
Here are some photos from the opening / event:
At the same time, we also did what CDO is known for – the white water river rafting.
We also went to Dahilayan Adventure Park where we did the “SuperMan” Zipline – because your position in the zipline is similar to superman /like you’re flying and your arms are raised forward.
Dahilayan Adventure Park is actually located in Bukidnon, so we had to do some land travel for 1 hour and 30 min to get there from Cagayan De Oro City.
We had to wear this whole body suits for the superman zipline. 🙂
Aside from the Superman Zipline, we also did the “Freefall” which is I think their scariest activity if in my opinion, and the best part is we made it alive! The funny part here is we have to be the one to let go of the latch to start the “FALL” and for a good 3-5minutes we were stuck there because we couldn’t get the strap to break free! My best friend was screaming so loud! haha I’m the silent type, I scream in the middle of it already, where my senses are already in order.
On our way back to CDO, we saw this really nice cloud formation. Love the beauty of nature.
And so Cagayan De Oro City is definitely one of the must see adventure places in the Philippines. We didn’t have enough time or we would have gone to the nearby beaches! It’s definitely more fun in the Philippines! #itsmorefuninthephilippines #icetrips #iceclarizwanders
Hooray for seat sale! And everything that makes traveling abroad easier and more affordable. Indeed times have changed. We got the round trip airfare for only 3,000 pesos (approximately $60). Back when Airbnb was not yet that popular (specially in the Philippines) we had our own version, which is to stay at my mom’s office mate’s nephew’s place.
FIRST DAY – Genting Highland – This is a high-altitude hill resort in the northeast mountain part of KL, and it has a cooler temperature since it is in an elevated area. You’ll find some hotels, a casino, a shopping mall, and a cable car to view the mountains.
We went to the Strawberry Farm in Genting.
DAY 2 – MELAKA / MALACCA TOUR – For a more historical / cultural sight-seeing we went to Melaka which is aaround 3 hour travel time outside Kuala Lumpur (via train and bus)
Christ’s Church Melaka
St. Paul’s Church, Malacca
Taming Sari Tower is a revolving gyro tower and you can ride it to have a view on the top
A Famosa was a Portuguese fortress located in Malacca, Malaysia. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in south east Asia
DAY 3 – CITY TOUR
We met up with one of my friend/client who works in Malaysia at that time and helped us go around the city. We met him at the mall to eat lunch first at one of KL’s famous Malaysian restaurant – “Madam Kwan’s”
Kuala Lumpur Tower
DAY 4 – MERDEKA SQUARE
All in all it was one fun and adventure-filled time with my mom in KL. Our mode of transportation was mainly their train, except during our city tour where we hired a cab driver for the whole day – which is the trusted driver of my friend/client in KL. The currency here is Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). I think four full days is just the right amount to explore the city of Kuala Lumpur.
I say a glimpse because we literally just had a “glimpse” of Osaka since our stay there was just two full days. It was a total of four days but the other two days were allotted for our travel time.
I can’t really complain because this is a FREE trip care of an incentive trip/promo given by my company Philam Life. I am grateful that I get to experience Japan even for just two days and we were checked in at The Hilton Osaka Hotel. So no complains here! haha And yes, this is my first time in Japan. This trip happened last October 18-21, 2015. Catching up on my overdue posts here.
Our first full day was a tour in Kyoto where we visited two famous temples, Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji.
We had a restroom stop over and there was a nearby Icecream store so we went to check it out. I tried their Green tea Matcha with Vanilla icecream and it was super yummy! But there are so many more flavors to choose from!
Then we’re off to our first temple stop – the Kiyomizu-dera Temple which means “Pure Water Temple” where we also drank from their “waterfall” where it is believed to give you good luck and prosperity. This temple is part of the UNESCO World heritage site of Ancient Kyoto.
I don’t really believe in those “Good Luck Rituals” but nothing to lose if I tried it, so I did. 🙂
We had a Beef sukiyaki with Chicken Karaage lunch.
After lunch, we went to the Golden Temple in Kyoto called “Kinkaku-ji”. This is one of the most popular tourist spots/ Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It was established / opened back in 1955.
Second Day – we just explored on our own. Went to ride their subway station to go to Shinsaibashi mall.
We ate lunch at a Japanese Restaurant of course! that served bento meals. I had the Eel Bento. 🙂
For our dinner we went for some authentic Japanese Ramen at a restaurant in the mall called “Kamukura”. Kamukura in Osaka/Dotonbori has garnered high reviews from its customers.
2 Chome-8-26 Shinsaibashisuji
Chanced upon some Authentic Takoyaki (and they don’t put sauce in it)
And that’s a warp! Just like that two days went by so fast! Until my next trip to Osaka! Oh, and I bought a lot of Kitkat and Royce Chocolates! HAHAHA
For someone who loves traveling as much as I do, I bet that one of the places in their bucket list (I’m not saying all but most) is the center of the “greenest pasture” or what we call the domain of the first world countries which is none other than EUROPE! Yes it has to be all capital letters since I cannot give enough emphasis to this destination. And for me part of that bucket list was ticked off this year. To be exact it was from May 28 to June 7, 2015. I say “part of” because I haven’t been to all counties in Europe, just three. But one of the three big ones – France, Italy and Spain.
I believe that hard work does pay off. And the harder you worked for it, the more satisfying it is to enjoy the reward. This trip is care of my company, Philam Life. It’s actually an incentive trip to those who have reached their targets and qualified in the prestigious top one percent of life insurers’ organization called the Million Dollar Round Table. And I truly thank God that through Him I was able to accomplish this feat and qualify myself for the trip and to be called an “MDRT”. I also have to thank the support of my family, friends, mentors and my loyal clients.
At first I did not want to get so excited until I was already really really sure that this trip is happening. (This is the “segurista” in me) There can be several reasons why this might not push through and thankfully once I passed the hurdle of getting a “Schengen” visa (The visa that you have to get for Europe for the Mediterranean cruise – We applied through the Spain embassy since that was our main entry point and exit), I knew that this is really it! I was bound for one of my dream travels.
The first European country stop is Barcelona, Spain. That is our port of entry for the Mediterranean Cruise. We usually travel in groups, together with the people who also qualified. But it was like I was traveling on my own going to our first stop because I was separated from my original group since I had to take a later flight to still attend a wedding of my good friend. I couldn’t miss it since I was part of the entourage! Talk about a very hectic schedule. After the wedding, I quickly changed to casual clothes and headed straight to the airport to catch my flight. Thank God for the light traffic. But when I got inside the airport, there was heavy traffic of people. There was a long queue for the Emirates Airlines. So I lined up at the very end, good thing I was early. After 30 minutes of lining up, someone told me that if you already did your web/online check-in then you can go straight ahead to the counter and skip the long line. Good thing I did the web check-in and was able to save more time despite already wasting 30 minutes. Lesson learned, next time always check the queue for the regular check-in and the web check-in. Chances are the Web Check-In will be much faster.
This is not really my first long solo flight and I have spotted familiar faces from the company taking the same flight. I was seated between two big guys during our flight to Dubai (this is our stop over country/connecting flight to Barcelona). It was approximately 7 hours of plane ride, and then another 6 hours from Dubai to Barcelona. Just my luck, but the good thing was that Emirates served some good food.
The cruise line is called “Royal Carribean” and the ship we were on is one of their biggest (can accommodate up to 7,000 passengers) called the “Allure of the Seas” which had a Mediterranean itinerary. But during our cruise, we were not in maximum / full occupancy, i think we were less than four thousand on board. Our first stop was Palma De Mallorca in Spain. Second stop was in Marseilles, France. Third day we went to Florence, Italy. Fourth was also in Italy but in Rome. Last stop before we head back was my favorite in Naples, Italy. I will post separately for each day of the trip.
Let me tour you in this luxurious cruise ship.
The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship (By Royal Caribbean)
Top Deck View:
The Middle of the Deck / Ship View:
The Floor/ Deck Guide
The Grande – where the Fine Dining Dinner is served
The food there was another story! Fine Dining eat all you can in Le Grande! I actually gained weight because you can literally try everything there! I would almost order one of everything in the menu! hahaha There is a “seating time” at Le Grande, ours was 6-8:30PM, and if we don’t want the fine dining then there are four other options for us: The Buffet area, The Salad and Sandwiches place and The Grill place and the Pizza and Cafe place near the entrance of the ship.
Some of the Fine Dining dishes that I have ordered:
The Comedy Live Bar
The Amber Theater (where we watched a play and a show ala “Cirque de Soleil”)
They also have an outside theater that hosts a Cirque Du Soleil inspired show called “Oceanaria” which has water stunts/tricks. It was such an entertaining show with lots of diving and flips from high points and into the man-made pool they have built in the stage.
It’s convenient to book the shows/events that you want to attend via their home channel in the TV located in the cabin rooms. So I booked our shows there.
Some artworks that you can see on the deck hallways / staircases:
There are also lots of activities that you can do including Zipline and Flow Rider! I tried or the first time the flow rider, it was a challenge but super fun!
This was probably one of the best trips that I have experienced! The convenience of a cruise ship is that you have a “mobile hotel”. You don’t have to pack and unpack your bags and ride another transportation to go to another destination. And they offer you a lot of activities on board the cruise ship, so there is no down time unless you choose to. There is a strict schedule to be followed and you have to abide by the ship’s call time to get on board after you tour/go down the different ports. If you are late and get left behind then it will really cost you a lot to catch up with the ship and ride back. So better early/safe than sorry.
I will rate the Allure of the Seas / Royal Caribbean 5 stars! Here is their website if you want to check it out: http://royalcaribbean.cruiselines.com/
The last but definitely my favorite adventure happened on my birthday (June 5) So this post is yes, 2 years delayed but the memory and this awesome place will stay with me.
Our fifth / last stop was in Naples, Italy (from the Mediterranean Cruise) Out of all the tours that I can choose from, I chose the Amalfi Coast via motorboat with a visit to Pompeii in the afternoon.
A lot of firsts for my birthday (back in 2015), first time in Europe, first time to go on a cruise, and first time to go alone in a tour abroad. Even if it’s just for a day tour, it was still a new experience from me. I made sure to bring a selfie stick (thank God for selfie sticks, one of the best inventions ever) so that I can get a photo in case I can’t ask someone / I’m not able to make friends with the tour group that I’m going with. But I’m quite happy that I was able to meet someone almost my age and she was with her mom. So I made friends with her and became my companion / photographer in the process as well. HAHAHAHA
First stop – visited the quaint small town of Amalfi
Visited their church
Second Stop – Lunch at an old castle (Castello De Arechi) that was transformed into a restaurant (Al Fresco Dining)
My buwis buhay photo – overlooking view from the top of the castle
Third Stop – Pompeii
My Birthday Dinner at the Le Grande (Aboard the Cruise Ship)
Florence was our third stop from the Mediterranean Cruise by Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas). It was only one day that we were there, as our schedule will allow, but it was definitely a jampacked day.
Our first stop was the Florence Cathedral which is one of the most majestic churches that I’ve seen. The fascinating thing is that it is made out of marble. It is also known/called as the The Duomo and Santa Croce. It is so vast! Too bad, we didn’t have enough time to go inside anymore.
Our second stop – LUNCH! Tasting the authentic italian pasta and their gelato! We ate at this pizza/pasta place called “Cucina Torcicoda” Torcicoda is a flavor of their gelato and it is one of their specialties. The food there was also absolutely divine, especially their gelato! You should try it when you’re in Florence. You may visit the restaurant’s site here:
I tried the Torcicoda flavored gelao and it is really yummy!
The authentic Italian Pappardelle pasta with Ragu sauce is also really good.
Third stop – Leaning Tower of Pisa. The highlight of the day is finally seeing the infamous “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and having some hot guy take my photo! HAHA I don’t have a photo of the hot guy but they certainly looked like pro-bikers that travel a lot.
Up next my 2015 Bday Celebration in Amalfi Coast, Italy!
Rome was actually my dream honey moon destination before. I didn’t have a specific reason why, I just knew that it was a beautiful and romantic place to be in. Or maybe I was influenced by that movie “When In Rome”. 🙂
The day when I am finally able to set foot in this beautiful place has come, just not my Honey Moon. So I will have to select a new place for that.
This is actually our fourth day on the cruise. We went to St. Peter’s Basilica first, too bad the line to get inside the church was too long and we didn’t get to go anymore. This means I will definitely be back.
After the Basilica we went to see the Trevi Fountain which unfortunately was under construction. There was this cute kid playing an accordion and singing for us while we waited for our bus.
The very famous Colosseum was also under renovation but I still took photos of course!
We also passed by the Spanish Steps and bought an authentic Truffle Pasta which we ate on the side street because we didn’t have enough time and our bus is leaving. We certainly don’t want to be left behind! They are always on time unlike here in the Philippines always LATE!
There’s so much more to explore but since only one day is dedicated for each stopover, there was only enough time to visit some of the highlights of the city.