Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sleeveless in Seattle

And there it was, at the end of a gentle highway of giant Christmas trees daydreaming for Jacob to burst out behind the crisp-smelling-green-giant lushes showing off his gorgeousness, hehe (it was 4 hours away from Forks) from the suburbs is the Emerald city of the West - Seattle. 

Before we beamed on the first city traffic light, we turned right at a quiet community and ran up what it seemed like never-ending, 45-degree hills that I was so having fun while my driver aka bestbud was freakin a little bit. I didn't know really where we were going though a wonderful skyline keeps peeking in between lined-up 2-storey houses as we ascended. And when the roads turned even, voila, the amazing view of Seattle skyline with the city skyscrapers, Space Needle standing tall and the magnificent-white-capped Mt Rainier. We were gracing the grounds of Kerry Park. We had quite a quiet time staring at this view while sitting on the edge.  Parking and the park itself are free.

couldn't say more

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The 30-Firsts Project

2014. Marks another regular year. But not this time. Enthralling. Let's have it that way. And in so doing that, I am making myself face an onerous challenge to accomplish this foolishness I am branding as The 30-Firsts Project.

I have lined up things in my vivid imagination but my eureka moments are not handy these days. So, I'm gonna need your help. Throw me anything you want me to do or not do, make, go,  have. Whatever. From the simple things to highly impossible ones. Who knows. Let's see what will make it into my firsts. And I'd be glad to share it with you when I have successfully achieved it.

Oh, and I sure do have my own simple ways of extending my gratitude. A little compliment.

You can send your suggestions to my Facebook account - Wonders and Wanders or email to

Thank you, thank you. Countin' on you.


And here's what I got so far.... I divided it between Planned and Unplanned (took place instantaneously as part of my daily life and/or travel).

1. Solo dayhike - I'm looking at Batulao or Mt Pico. Take note, it should be SOLO, by myself (ok, with a guide, for safety reasons)

2. Ride our very own PNR trains - it's intriguingly interesting even when they were still dilapidated. Now that they were renewed and some new units are operating, It makes me want it more.

3. A formal driving class - The 1st driving 'class' i had was with Pops when I was 8 on a motorcycle, and we went straight to banana trees. I am confident with 2 wheels but not that much on 4.

4. Some piano lessons - Actually, I can settle with getting the instrument and learn by my own. That's how I did with guitar. I remember I borrowed a friend's electronic Organ and figured out Five for Fighting's Superman. 

5. Surf, surf, surf! - Who doesn't want? It's like walking on the ocean with a glide.

6. Cook Paella - Yum!

7. A Para-sail selfie - Let's see how this will look like. I had a nice snorkel-selfie few months back.

8. Outdoor rock climb/rappel - I did indoor. Nothing beats the natural feel.

9. Buy Lottery ticket...everyday, for a month - hoping to be instant millionaire so I can travel the world.

10. Cliff-diving - Hmmm, it's been on my list ever since I learned about Ariel's Point in Boracay. And for the several times I visited the island, I always miss it.

11. No pork or red meat in one month - A big test for me. No, don't take away rice, puhleease. That would be suicide to deprive me of both.

12. Negative temperature  - Oh yeah, not just negative but freezing -30 degrees celcius! Ice and snow fun. I also had my first swoosh on an ice-sculpted slide.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

An Island I Just Came to Know - Cagbalete

I cannot exactly recall how I heard of the place. All I can remember was a long good weekend was commencing which means a good chance for some hibernation. Everyone was hitting the road and I was there at my work station almost by myself, paper-drowned and feeling the urge to shy off from the modern jungle. This can't be happening I said. So, I hit on my friendly go-to-guy Mr Google, made some calls, arranged on some things and three hours after, I was aboard a wifi-capable bus with three others who were that willing in a snap rolling down south unto the long stretch of the highway. One more bus hop after and a pumped-boat ride we arrived in an island I just came to know.

Island's beachfront

Monday, 27 May 2013

Getting a Tourist Visa - South Korea

Philippine passport holders are required to secure a tourist or visitor's visa at the South Korean consular office. Although, Jeju Island in South Korea is a visa-free destination.

Office Address:
122 Upper McKinley Road,
McKinley Town Center
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
1634, Philippines

Contact Nos:
+63 2 856 9210
+63 2 856 9008 (fax)

philippines (consular section)

Office Hours:
8:30AM to 5:30PM Mondays-Fridays

Getting a Tourist Visa - China

There has quite some changes with the current tourist visa requirements from the time I applied 3 years ago. It has gotten stricter.  I can't blame the Chinese government when  the number of Filipinos who previously entered China as tourists and never came back home has risen tremendously. I couldn't blame our fellas as well. China has a lot to offer that this country just continuously failed to provide. Well, I could continue with those 'frustrations'  but hey, this is about how to visit mainland China, legally. 

To easily sum it off, once the following documentations are complete, that Great Wall sticker visa is within reach.

I was given 30 days on my second, I had only 7 days on my first

Sunday, 26 May 2013

I Bow to Thee, Mother India!

by: Vaniedosa

12th of November 2012

"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind." - C.S. Lewis

As I glanced at this quote on the New Delhi airport's advertisement board, I was so itching to head back to my home country and leave this country behind while its own people were partaking the celebration of Diwali, popularly known as India's Festival of Lights. Through all my senses, I know there are far better things why I keep wanting to come back home.

On this day, we were saying goodbye to India while others marked their calendars so as not to miss this traditional holiday no matter what. The simple reason we didn't opt to stay for Diwali was simple Mathematics, "others" was way way more than "two (of us)". (I and bestfriend went). We didn't want to compete against the many locals and tourists in every way on getting in, around and out of the country with the second highest population in the world. Besides, at this point before we embarked, we thought and felt that we already have had more than enough of this so called land of thousand colors. Yes, more than enough. Err, well, just for now...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Getting a Tourist Visa - India

Citizens of the Philippines are one the eleven (11) countries granted by India for a Visa on Arrival (VOA) if entering through Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata Airports along with Finland, NZ, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, SG, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Cambodia and Laos. VOA is only granted to tourists for purposes of tourism, sight-seeing, casual meeting with friends and business visit and short medical treatment with a maximum period of thirty (30) days. Upon arrival at the designated ports of entry, one should present:

> passport with 6 months validity plus a photocopy
> 2 passport size photographs
> hotel booking confirmation
> return airline tickets
> USD60 visa fee

Otherwise, a visa should be applied as early as 2 months before departure. For Philippines, the processing is being handled by a third-party contractor - BLS International. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Day in Daejeon

Daejeon is located 104 miles from Seoul and midway going Busan and is the 5th largest city in South Korea. It serves as a hub of transportation as well as administration with the National Government Complex.

And we had a day to not just see what's in there but to meet family...

We hit the subway and traced Main Station for the bullet train they called Korail KTX.  Glad to see Dunkin Donuts on the station and some other familiar food shops.

Monday, 13 May 2013

When in Seoul...

a traditional parade. @Korean Folk Village which is partly a themed park

...The subway will be your best friend. It will take you smoothly from Incheon Airport to the city (AREX, W3,900),  it will lead you to the scenic spots without getting stuck in the traffic and will bring you back to your hotel unscratched. Yes, Seoul has road congestion, in fact, its government offers incentives or discounts to those who do carpooling. This is also to lessen carbon emission. There are noise reduction walls installed in some residential areas as well to mitigate heavy roars. Their subways are buried down to 6th level under but amazingly it's no dead spot zone. Tickets can be bought in a vendo (with English texts) about W1,700 minimum fare with a returnable deposit of W500 up to you to claim on a separate machine. The interchanges are confusing a bit at the start, long walks, convenience stores present, fun stops.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

India in a Snap

Few days from being lost in translation in China, we again packed our bags, hopped on a plane and immersed ourselves with yet another intriguing world. 

around the streets of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur - India's Golden Triangle

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Oh, Saigon

motorists-dominated saigon
& one of the trusted taxi services
Good morning Vietnam! It was past midnight on a fair day of May, 2 years ago. Tan Son Nhat was dim and quiet and customs desk was snoozing. Our ride to the city was waiting for us outside, arranged with our hotel for $30 fit for us 9. Yes, we were 9 - my largest travelling party so far.

Our stay - Blue River Hotel 2 is a mini 6-storey hotel located inside an alley or compound within District 1 of Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. We got a good deal of $25 a night for triple room and $20 for double with wifi access inside rooms and free breakfast of french baguette, eggs and coffee.

Being the solo planner, I did the liberty of having us booked on tours 'coz I was not only concerned with the number of heads I'd have to account at every corner of Saigon's streets rather the ease of having us all together in one place for easy transport.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Angkor Temples in Photographs

Photographic experiment of the superb stone structures of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

2 Photos in Multiple Exposure: 
Entering the Temple World

Manually stitched photos taken in Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm. Initially known as Rajavihara which means royal monastery is also called Old Brahma. A typical flat Khmer Temple, it has five rectangular enclosing walls surrounding a central sanctuary. Founded as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition as it was found, one which had best merged with the jungle but not yet to a point of becoming part of it. The site is currently under conservation and restoration since 2003 in partnership with Archaeological Survey of India and APSARA. One of the most visited complexes in Cambodia's Angkor region, it was listed as UNESCO's World Heritage site in 1992. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Loving and Hating Bangkok

What I love about Bangkok:

at floating market
Fresh fruits, freshly squeezed juices, pad thai, fried rice, chicken bbq, curry, sticky rice with ripe mango, rice toppings among others has the strongest appeal on my taste buds. The delicious smell from a nearby bbq stand would usually draw me closer to it and would make me surrender. It's also funny to see pad thai (freshly cooked) being sold on the street in a rolling cart while it's a restaurant menu here. Like us, Thai also like rice toppings and sell them like in a carenderia. I remember us buying a pork stew with hard-boiled egg rice toppings on a bus pit stop from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok city. 

Prices are very affordable as well. A kilo of Mangosteen is only about 40-60baht, street pad thai is 15-30baht, tasty fried rice is 20-45baht. Though restaurants has almost the same price ranges as here, the Thai cuisine is just as bursting as its culture.

Bangkok is a backpackers paradise most specifically the area of Khao San road. Affordable stays are absolutely everywhere. You can head directly to the area even without a reservation and look around if that works for you. From our experience, we booked ahead online, we were able to get a 300baht AC room good for 2 for a night with TV, a free wifi and own T&B, amazing isn't it. Even a starred hotel would cost only about 20-30USD a night including a buffet breakfast and all the perks of a comfortable stay.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Gunung Bromo, Probolinggo. Ano?

Gunung Bromo means Mount Bromo (named after Brahma, Hindu's Creator God), considered sacred, is in fact a volcano, part of the Tengger Massif, an active one with last dated eruption in January 2011. Probolinggo is a town located in East Java, Indonesia. How on earth we found this? Because of one single photo (doesn't look the same when we visited because of the eruption) by one of the travel bloggers that I am following.

trying to re-create the 'inspiration' photo, can you spot the difference? there's a lot
up close Mt Batok, a dormant volcano

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Bacolod, A Work-Travel...Not

Travelling for work is not at anyway a luxury. Most of the times your itinerary revolves around the airport, hotel, restaurants and clients. Your working time extends to late night and weekends to completely cover the objectives of the trip. This was how usually it was with me. But if I didn't turn the opportunities into gold, I may have eloped with my backpack and thrash all the work documents the moment I saw a bus with a sign "going nowhere".

So, in June 2010 when I landed in Bacolod on my first leg of a West Visayas OB trip, I made use of the small gaps I had in between my priorities and my real life. A big thanks to some friends who made it possible for me.

Guintubdan Mountain Resort
How to get there? I don't know. Maybe Mr Google can help but unfortunately I cannot, I was out of directions at that moment because I just got off a plane, took a quick lunch and off we're gone driving through sugarcane plantations, wide plains and highways cutting through the mountains with thick forests and fog. I didn't know where we were heading and didn't see any road signs nor any motorists. Hour later we reached a lone establishment at a hill called Guintubdan. We were in La Carlota. It was a Sunday.

What's in there? Oh, a beautiful and gracefully flowing falls. But there will be some legs exercise before witnessing this.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Batanes Fever After Two-and-a-Half Years

It's been two and half years since yet the fever remained...

I knew we were going to have a more than amazing tale the moment I saw beautifully lined-up hedges on top of never-ending greens and the dangerously-looking paved roads hanging by the edges of the rugged mountains from the window of the Dornier. We had one of the very smooth touchdowns in one of the smallest runways and  a very warm welcome by our host. Few steps from the airport is Basco town itself.

Our accommodation was nothing fancy just like its town. But I had that tingling feeling there's just something behind the quiet and simple community like a curtain waiting to be unveiled. And so the show began...

The Starex we rented hit the road through sharp and most of the time blind curves beside cliffs and the raging splashes of the waves . One false move, we'll fly to the oceans where big and mighty rocks await to turn our bodies into pieces. But hey, it's not as scary as it sounds, thrilling was the right word.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Just Go!

Does it always take you awhile contemplating on clicking that 'confirm' button of a long-awaiting promo ticket now right in front of you and regretting afterwards because you didn't? Being a corporate slave, for years, here's what mostly worked for me. 

Booking the Ticket
Photo courtesy of
For domestic flights, if the total return fare is not greater than Php1,500, while Php3,000 and less for international, it's a no-brainer, BOOK IT! The next time you refreshed the page or click the 'next' button, your session has timed out and the lowest fare is gone so act fast otherwise, stay glued for the next promo round. If you have a deeper pocket, you most probably can still allow up to 2,000 for local and 5,000 for abroad RTs.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cruising Halong on a Junk

If there is one easy trip I've had so far, it would be this. Easy in the sense that when you get to the place, all you need to take care of is how to have fun - no planning where to go, what to eat, what to do most of the time. It's also maybe because it is one of the rare times that we went on strict tour, we usually would go for do-it-yourself budget itinerary.

Ha Long bay is located at the northeastern part of Vietnam. Nearest airport is in Hanoi, 170 km away or 3 to 3.5 hours drive.

There is no other way to sail along the bay of Halong but to get on tours unless otherwise if you own a boat or has a friend who has a boat in that side of the world then you must be one lucky/rich person. So for an ordinary individual like me, I'll buy myself a slot on a tour therefore, the big challenge is how to choose the right tour service. It could either make or break the trip if not carefully decided.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bali: Quick Guide and Tips

Here's some hopefully-useful notes (especially for time and budget constrained) when visiting Bali, Indonesia.

How to Get to Your Hotel from Airport
There are several taxi services just outside the arrival area of Ngurah Rai Airport offering fixed rates depending on location/area. You my visit this link - Bali Aiport Service. If your hotel is located nearby like Kuta, just walk towards the parking area and get a public taxi instead, rate should be lower than the airport cabs. 

Where To Stay
a peek of Kuta Square
Definitely, Kuta area is recommended. It's 5 minutes from the airport and walking distance to the beach (2-10 minutes), to shops, restaurants and convenient stores. To save on accommodation, there are homestays in the area keeping good competition with the hotels in terms of quality and service but assured cheaper. 

We stayed at Bakung Beach Club (BBC), a little pricey but not a good value for money. We met Ketut, our driver/tour guide for 2 days and mentioned his brother's newly opened Samudra Homestay located in Kartika Plaza in Kuta with reasonable rates, free breakfast, free airport transfer and free wifi. Had we not fully paid BBC, we could've transferred and Samudra is few steps away.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

How We Made It: China, again

Our day-by-day journal with the China trip that we took, how we were able to go around and survived surprisingly despite being Chinese-language illiterates. Our itinerary maybe touristy but it was already difficult especially communicating nevertheless, it was a damn good and fun experience. It was our second time in China and we are still looking at part 3 or 4 or more.

Route: Manila-Beijing-Xian-Wudangshan-Xian-Shanghai-Manila
Period: October 18-27, 2012 (late Fall)
Travelling Party: 2

Day 0: Manila-Beijing via Cebu Pacific.
Midnight - Arrived Beijing. Rest. Stayed at cousin's place at Hairun International Compound in Chaoyang District. Beijing is huge and divided into several districts so make sure you are somewhere near public transport (train stations, bus stops).

Morning - Depart to Mutianyu Great Wall, another section of the Great Wall relatively newer than the famous Badaling. Not that easy but was able to arrange a cab for 550yuan for return trip. Arrived Mutianyu after 2.5 hours. Check out for information and details. We paid 80yuan/head for the cable (return) and 45yuan for the entrance fee per adult. There are other features and activities in Mutianyu had we had time I would try it out. Back in the house late afternoon and met old colleague at night.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

From Where I Came From

From  where  I came from, backyards still exist.  Our  house  sits  at  the bottom of mountain ranges  mostly  along the car-line, some even built atop. The wind brushes the trees before it sweep you and we love it when it rains, we bathe on it.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Almost a Mountaineer

Our team in Mt Pulag summit - 2009
How do you get to be called a mountaineer? I believe it's more than its definition. How do you?

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Still a Paradise, Boracay

My mom was one of those lucky few who first witnessed this wonder and experienced its raw state. I remember she told us that getting off right at the coast line was the way to get into the island. They rented out a house, bought from the wet market, cooked their own food, strolled along the beach front and shopped real pearls in the neighborhood. She did not mention any night outs or water activities other than swimming. Sadly, it will have to be just told stories now. The place is now another version of itself. Improved? Perhaps.

These days, having to set foot in Boracay is a bragging right to most like a fad. Why? Because it is Boracay (not Bora as the locals insist).

Photo courtesy of Vaniedosa
For me, this is one place I visit that I do not bother preparing an itinerary and never went on tour. With everything present in this small island, I never worry of things. The food stalls are my kitchen, the sea is my bath, the hotel chains are my neighborhood, the beach front is my park, the people is my connection to the world and the view is my entertainment.

It is for a fact that progression compromises a lot and it will never bring back whatever was taken or shattered. Like life, we should live by today and believe and work for a sunnier tomorrow. Boracay maybe on the verge of wafting apart from its natural shape but it may not yet too late to redesign it to better serve its god and its people.  And so I am glad to see efforts being done now.

Whatever the island will become as it attune with its environment, I will always be a fan. Like Boracay, I have gone a long way in there. I got mesmerized, I got sick, I was healed, and I am always surprised. Despite it all, this place is still a paradise.

Visited: 2009, and at least once every year since

Beijing in My Perspective

A birthday treat for myself and my best friend last 2010 was a quick trip to the mainland Beijing, China. But first, we had to run for visa at the Chinese Embassy and as first timers, there are quite a handful of papers to produce that I had to resort an agency's help to get me out of the hassle of queuing as time's ticking fast. Fortunately, I got it just in time.

Olympic Logo outside a building within the Olympic City
Bird's Nest - Olympic Stadium.
Converted into skating rink during winter  and indoor pool in summer
The Cube - Indoor pools inside
made of rubber walls reflecting the color of water from the outside

Olympic Torch fired up in 2008 Olympic Games
Beijing is now becoming a combination of the modern and traditional city inspired after its sister Shanghai. Having hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics paved way to remodeling what just used to be swirling roofs and dragon paintings into tangled fiber steels stadium and a water cube indoor pool. The event gave birth to a city within the city, a representation of what it is capable and what it can eventually turn into anytime they wanted to. Also because of the historic sporting affair, English road signs and directions became visible, a very helpful tool for non-Chinese readers like us and the rest of millions of tourists flocking the city every year. 

the unsinkable marble ship floating on a pond
inside the gigantic summer palace
the Summer Palace Tower gleaming above
the whole wide wondrous Garden

Yet the structural marvels were not the key treasures of Beijing. The classic Summer Palace, the mirage-like Forbidden city, the seemingly empty but symbolic Tiananmen Square and of course the one and only Great Wall are the main stars here. These sites will forever epitomize how Chinese customs were born and transformed, their struggles and triumphs, who they were and why they are at this present time.

At the main gate of the Forbidden city sits the huge image of Mao
fronting this on the other side of a 6-lane hiway is the Tiananmen Square

Great Wall at Badaling section - the most famous thus touristy area

The Chinese people in the mainland are maybe one of the most intricate individuals to comprehend by having to mingle with them in just two days but they are definitely one of the hardcore 'traditionals' with utmost veneration to what they believe in. We exist and co-exist so we have to give it to them, anyhow they allowed themselves by opening their doors to the rest of the world and share with us what they have and maybe what they intend to achieve in the future.

Applying for Chinese Visa for the first time? Please click this link. Thanks to Pinay Travel Junkie for the comprehensive and updated info. I have also created another version of that page here. Click on here.

Monday, 4 February 2013

My Version of a Bucket List

I've been seeing bucket list from magazines and travel communities just about everywhere and while I've been having mine kept in my mind ever since, these crazy blogs persuaded me to finally write them down. 

This is my lifetime list (done items also not shown) but not everything is in here to save me that mystery I used to keep with what I wanted to do with my life. So, in no particular order, let's get started.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Visa-Free or Visa-On-Arrival for Filipinos

We always wonder where in the world we can set foot with just our Philippine passports in tow. I had the same queries from time to time so I bookmarked a site about this and it's the same I'm sharing here.

Courtesy of: Wikipedia

These are the territorial entry points where Immigration officers just do the stamp/s to the passport (Visa-Free) without any questions (or maybe a little bit sometimes basically about your trip) nor pay something:
  1. Brunei - 14 days
  2. Cambodia - 21 days
  3. Indonesia - 30 days
  4. Laos - 30 days
  5. Malaysia - 30 days
  6. Singapore - 30 days
  7.  Thailand - 30 days
  8. Vietnam - 21 days
  9. Morocco - 90 days (open-dated)
  10. Seychelles - 30 days
  11. Hongkong - 14 days
  12. Israel** - 90 days
  13. Macau - 30 days
  14. Mongolia - 21 days
  15. Sri Lanka - 30 days (Electronic  Travel Authorization)

Regretting (we only had) a day in Macau

It was sweat-less to reach Macau from Hongkong. I have heard of the place rarely so I had no idea that it was even previously colonized by the Portuguese for quite a while. It was very evident then seeing its alleys, cobblestones and the accents of the buildings around. And not far away from the astounding facade or remaining wall of the ruins of St. Paul and the bustling shops at the Senado square lies little sin city.

First Timers Notes and Tips: Hongkong

If it's your first time, definitely there are lots learnt. So I just wanna share them to make it a better Hongkong trip for other first-timers like me.

1. Maps and other brochures are available at the airport for FREE so just grab all you want.
2. There's an airport express train from the airport to the city or take the efficient bus if arriving after midnight.

HK: My First

Growing up, I had certain expectations when going abroad, that in 2009 when I made my first leap outside the archipelago, I was excited for a snow or at least a chill, changing-color trees, outrageous structures and very English-speaking people. But I was nowhere far. I was in Hongkong in an autumn and I was disappointed, just momentarily, because the city is more than the words scribed in my scented stationary.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Dee

My photo
I was born and raised attune with nature, grew up from the countryside and a strong believer in endless possibilities. I am drawn to adrenaline rush and was never a girly kind but I dig chick flix and plays some music. I started this site during a 6-month distressing/long sojourning away from the corporate world. I gathered all the travels I went and translated them into words. I am not fond of sharing details of my trip and thought looking at the photos I've effort-fully taken was enough. Yet to my amazement reading through it flashes back more wonderful memories like a gush of throwback Thursdays. This is also a good venue to practice writing and to connect. So, thank you for stumbling upon my corner. Sorry I can't update regularly but I hope you'd visit again as my journey continues, find some useful information here and most of all be inspired to go on adventures your own. See you on the road!