Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Chinatown, Singapore

On our 3rd day in Singapore, we opted to go around the city by train. Singapore is such a small country and very easy to navigate via their MRT. Our friend from Toastmasters, Coen, was getting married that night. Since we planned to go to Malaysia straight after the wedding, we checked out of our hotel and left our luggage at Regent Hotel Singapore, a posh hotel located in Orchard Road. Thank you Coen, for being so accommodating :) After leaving our luggage, we were now free to roam around.

First stop, Chinatown. Chinatown is an ethnic enclave that is a bustling mixture of the old and new. Unlike the more modern areas of Singapore that’s filled with high-rise, modern buildings, Chinatown has traditional one-storey shops,food stalls and cafes. This is the perfect place to do pasalubong shopping. They have t-shirts, keychains, figurines and other Chinese products.

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Go live a Truly Wealthy life.

-Alex

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

We finished touring Universal Studios at 5pm. After a getting some rest and refreshments, we decided to proceed to one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions – Gardens by the Bay.

Gardens by the bay singaporeGardens by the bay singapore 1Gardens by the bay singapore 2Gardens by the Bay is a nature park that covers 101 hectares of reclaimed land in Singapore. It’s located near the Marina Reservoir and near the popular mall and hotel – Marina Bay Sands. From Harbour Pointe, we took the MRT to Marina Bay and then walked to the garden. The garden came about because of the governments desire to create a “City in a Garden” to increase the greenery in the city and improve the quality of life. The park consists of 3 waterfront gardens – Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.

To create this, an international competition for the park design was launched in 2006.It garnered 70 entries from different countries all over the world. The winners were 2 British firms – Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter.

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1 Gardens by the bay singapore 6 heritage garden1GARDENS BY THE BAYThe park has many attractions such as The Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove, Childrens Garden, Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lake, Heritage Gardens, World of Plants and The Canyon.

Upon arriving, we walked thru Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lake, Heritage Gardens and Supertree Grove. Supertree Grove is a majestic edifice that looks especially outstanding at night with all the lights on. We weren’t able to check out the Skyway as it was closed at the time, but we did visit The Flower Dome. It holds an astonishing number and variety of flora and fauna.

SUPERTREE GROVEGardens by the bay singapore supertree grove

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FLOWER DOME

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Gardens by the bay singapore 29Singapore Cityscape at night

 We also got to watch a show near Supertree Grove at 7:45pm. The show featured fire dancers,aerial yoga and fire works. All in all, it was fun tour.

-Alex

Singapore Day 2: Universal Studios Sentosa

On our 2nd day, we decided to go to one of my favorite places in Singapore – Universal Studios in Sentosa. It’s about an hours ride via MRT from Geylang. I don’t know about you, but theme parks make me feel like a child again. Even though I’ve grown up, I love the feeling of wonder and magic being in a theme park evokes in me. Knowing we’d have to spend the entire day in USS, we woke up early. Since it’s really hot in Singapore I decided to wear shorts and sandals and bring an umbrella.

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Travel tip: Bring the right footwear. Traveling usually involves a lot of walking so you’ll need comfortable shoes or sandals. Singapore is a tropical country with weather very similar to the Philippines, so I brought a long a pair of comfy Grendha’s for this trip.

We took the MRT from Geylang to Harbor Point and then another smaller train from Harbor Point to Universal Studios. Sentosa is located at the end part of Singapore so it’s beside the beach. Aside from Universal Studios, there are other attractions in Sentosa you can see as well.

Universal Studios ticket prices:
Adult               S$76
Child               S$56
Senior Citizen S$38

They accept both cash and credit card.

Travel tip: Many of the lines in Universal Studios (for the good rides) are really long. The Transformers ride was the longest. We had to wait for over an hour to be able to ride it. If you want to go at a faster pace, then you can get the VIP Pass. It’s a bit pricier than the regular ticket but it’s worth it if you want to maximize your time in Sentosa.

You may also check out this website for good deals. The tickets are cheaper than if you buy on site: https://www.getyourguide.com. From S$76, the USS tickets on this site cost only S$50.44. A pretty great deal if you ask me. Once you get the 1-day pass, you can go on all the rides. There are also restaurants there that you can dine in.

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Here are my favorite rides in Universal Studios:
Transformers. It’s a 3-D ride that really makes you feel like you are in the movie.
Galactic. If you enjoy going on roller coaster rides then you have to try this one. There are 2 types – Human and Cyclone. I’ve tried both and I think Cyclone is the crazier ride. You’ll need to leave your bag and loose items at the locker or with a non-rider as they don’t allow you to bring these with you for your own safety.
The Mummy. This is another roller coaster ride that takes place inside a tunnel. Also one of my favorites.
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. This isn’t an extreme ride but I still enjoyed it a lot. You’ll need extra clothes though for riders are most likely to get wet – maybe even soaked.

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Travel tip: Bring sunblock and an umbrella. It’s really hot in Sentosa and you’ll need to protect yourself against the sun’s UV rays, since you’ll be spending the entire day walking around.

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Hello Singapore!

Last week, I went on vacation to Singapore together with my mom, fiance and Sha, a good friend from Toastmasters. We were there to attend the wedding of our friend, also a fellow Toastmaster, Coen and to do a little site seeing. singapore tour 1singapore tour 3Although I’ve been to Singapore before, it still struck me how advanced it is as a country.

There are 4 things I  love about Singapore:

First, their transportation system. You can get around Singapore via private car, taxi or bus. But their most convenient mode of transportation (and most affordable) is their MRT. Their MRT is so easy to use (and fast) that we knew how to get around Singapore after just one day of using it. After arriving at Changi airport, we walked to the nearest MRT (there’s one near Changi Airport) and bought an MRT card for 15SG, 7SG of which could be used for travel. For tourists who plan to tour around the city center, they also have an unlimited, ride-all-you can 3-day pass for 20SG. We originally wanted to buy this but it couldn’t be used to go to Sentosa so we switched to the regular MRT card.

Second, cleanliness. Singapore is so clean. There are trash bins almost everywhere so it makes it easy for you to dispose of your trash.

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Third, the food. The food in Singapore is really good. But also expensive. If you’re traveling on a budget, then hawker stalls are your best bet. They have delicious food at affordable prices there. A meal at a hawker stall costs around 4-5SD. If you eat at malls, you can easily spend 20-30SD on 1 meal. On our first night in Singapore, we checked in our hotel located in Geylang and decided to roam around the area. Luckily, we found a good place to eat. I was able to try barbecued sting ray for the first time and it was really delicious.singapore tour 6 singapore tour 8 singapore tour 5

Fourth, the people. Singaporeans are generally helpful and respectful. They dont hesitate to help out foreigners in need. And it helped a lot that most Singaporeans are proficient in English.

All in all, I enjoyed Singapore and would definitely like to come back to visit it. After I visit all the other countries in my list. :)

Want to hear more stories about Singapore? Find out about Day 2 of my Singapore trip HERE.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life.

-Alex

Travel Diaries: Lake Apo, Valencia Bukidnon

One thing I love about living in Cagayan de Oro City is that it is near the beach and the mountains. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I felt like going away to the mountains so we packed our bags and went to Bukidnon. Our main itinerary was Lake Apo.

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Lake Apo is a crater lake located in Brgy Guinoyoran, Valencia City, Bukidnon. It’s about 30 minutes from the town center. It used to be a volcanic cone that later on widened into a basin and filled with water. The name comes from the bisaya term “apo” which means grandson or granddaughter. As legend would have it, a man living in the mountains was said to have assaulted his granddaughter and was punished by the deities by flooding the area with water, forming Lake Apo.

lake apo valencia 3How to get there:

From Valencia, log in to Google maps and follow the Guinoyoran road. Or you can hire a tour guide to take you there. Some parts of the road a not cemented so bring a pick-up or elevated vehicle.

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Canyoneering in Badian, Cebu

I love traveling and trying new, sometimes crazy, things. I’ve been dying to try canyoneering ever since I saw videos of it on the net.  Last April, my friends and I were finally able to do so. And it was AWESOME!

canyoneeing in badian cebuCanyoneering is the sport of exploring a canyon thru different activities such as waterfall jumping, climbing, swimming, walking or sliding. Canyoneering in Badian was discovered by a couple of tourists about 5 years ago and has been gaining popularity ever since. The trek starts at Canlaob river and ends at Kawasan falls. There are about 6 jumps and 2 slides.

Height of jump:
– 7 feet
– 10 feet
– 35 feet
– 45 feet (Running Jump)
– 75 feet (Waterfall Jump)
– 100 feet (Waterfall Jump)

I was able to jump all the jumps except for the running jump (there were too many people) and the 100 foot jump since it’s not allowed anymore. For those who are adrenaline junkies, you’ve got to try this! It’s just crazy awesome!

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Route:
Bus from Cebu-Badian (South Bus Terminal)
Time: 3 hours
Fare: 200

Canyoneering Rates
>10-14 pax: 800 php
>8-10 pax: 850 php
>8-9 pax: 900 php
>5-7 pax: 950 php
>4 pax: 1,000 php
>3 pax: 1,200 php
>2 pax: 1,500 php

Inclusions: Tour guide, helmet, life vest, dry bag, transportation, lunch
What to wear: leggings or shorts, rash guard, aqua shoes
What to bring: water, Go Pro
Timeline: 5-6 hours

canyoneeing in badian cebu 6Jumping from a height of 75 feet is scary. But here’s how to jump at ANY height 😛

Step 1: Decide to jump long before you’ve reached the jump point.
Step 2: Upon reaching the area, count from 1 to 3. Don’t spend more than 5 seconds there or fear will take over and it will take you forever to jump. Trust me, the longer you stand there staring at the edge, the scarier it becomes.
Step 3: JUMP!

canyoneeing in badian cebu 5 canyoneeing in badian cebu 7canyoneeing in badian cebu 3 canyoneeing in badian cebu 4The more I travel in our country, the more I’m struck by it’s natural beauty. I can’t wait for our next adventure!

For those who want to try canyoneering, contact Lyka at 0933 604 1516.

Check out our canyoneering video here, courtesy of Stef Uy :)

La Vie Parisienne

la vie parisienne cebuWhen I first saw blog posts about this restaurant from my favorite bloggers, I just new I had to come here. It was such a pretty restaurant! The cherry blossoms, the furniture and the decors were like a dream. It didn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, we almost missed it. But the inside was like a different world altogether.

la vie parisienne cebu 2La Vie is the first French Boulangerie, Pastry Shop & Wine Library in Cebu. It has an array of french pastries and wines to choose from. What I love about it is it’s relaxing vibe and cool atmosphere. You can enjoy a glass of wine while listening to chill music. And the best part is, it’s just in the middle of Cebu City!

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La Vie is definitely a little gem in the middle of the city. You may want to try it out for yourself!

Go live a Truly Wealthy life!

-Alex

 

Toastmasters District Conference 2016: Cebu (Day 2)

IMG_8370Day 2 of Discon 2016 was just as fun and exciting as Day 1. Despite the lack of sleep from last night’s Fellowship Night we had to go to the venue early for the judges briefing since my friend, Stef, was a judge in the International Prepared Speech contest. The morning started off with learning sessions about Leadership and Branding. Then came lunch. Afterwards, it was contest time!

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discon 2016 cebuToastmasters of the Day

discon 2016 internation speech contestContest Chair DTM Dulce Ranosa

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The International Prepared Speech Contest started at 1pm and was hosted by incoming District 75 Director Dulce Ranosa. All the speakers were true story tellers and I had a great time listening to one story after another. I’m sure the judges had a hard time picking their top 3. From climbing Mt. Apo to killing to a giant python to growing up in jail – their stories had me captivated from start to finish.

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discon 2016 internation speech contest winnersInternational Prepared Speech Contest Winners
Champion: Amy Pagdanganan, Division A
1st Runner-up: Nedo Sasing, Division L
2nd Runner-up: Chris Dao-anis, Division G

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After the contest, there was an election of the  next district officers and then we were given time to prepare for the District Directors Ball. The theme for the District Directors Ball was Casino Royale. The ball is usually held on the last night of the District Conference. This is where we honor our district officers, past district governors, give out awards and bond with our fellow toastmasters. I see it as a grand conclusion to every discon. And this years ball was grand indeed. We were all dressed in either black or white and the room was set up like a casino with giant cards as the centerpiece of every table. I felt like I was in a James Bond set.  We were entertained by different production numbers. There was singing, dancing, gravity defying acrobatics, singing again but this time on hoverboards and a whole lot more.  IMG_8419 IMG_8421 copy IMG_8423All in all, it was a great district conference. I commend Discon Chair Benzon Lim and his team for all their effort and sacrifice in making this conference possible.

The 2016 Midyear conference this October will be in Davao. See you then!

-Alex

Photo credit to Ed Fabonan

Toastmasters District Conference 2016: Cebu (Day 1)

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This years Toastmasters District Conference was held in the Grand Convention Center of Cebu. The event was opened in true cebu fashion with the marching of colors and various cultural presentations. For those who are not familiar with Toastmasters, it’s an international organization that helps develop your communication and leadership skills. There are different clubs all over the Philippines. A group of clubs form an area, a group of areas form a division. We have 11 Divisions in the Philippines and they form one District – District 75.

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We have 2 conferences a year. The District Conference in April and the Midyear Conference in October. The highlight of these conferences are the speech contests.

There are 4 Speech Contest Categories in Toastmasters:

  • International Prepared
  • Humorous
  • Evaluation
  • Table Topics (Impromptu Speaking)

For this Discon, the 2 contests were the International Prepared and Humorous Speech Contest. The Table Topics and Evaluation Contests are scheduled in the Midyear Conference.

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toastmasters discon 2016 3District Director Boy Archie giving his welcome speechtoastmasters discon 2016 4toastmasters discon 2016 7Toastmasters of the Day

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toastmasters discon 2016 2Past District Governor Noli Espina announcing the winners for the Humorous Contest

toastmasters discon 2016 12Humorous Competition contestants receiving their certificates

toastmasters discon 2016 9Humorous Speech Winners

  • Champion: Joanna Katrina S. Magalong (Division B)
  • 1st Runner Up: Jinnelyn O. Li (Division C)
  • 2nd Runner Up: Leonilo S. De los Santos (Division D)

Fellowship Night – Coachelladiscon 2015 coachella

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In the evening was the Coachella-themed fellowship night. I loved the decor and the relaxed feel of the venue. I especially enjoyed the Tawag ng Tanghalan – the Toastmasters version of a Karaoke showdown. We got to witness a representative from each Division showcase their singing prowess for all 3 rounds. That is, if you don’t get gonged during the first round.

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Congratulations to our Tawag ng Tanghalan winner – Joanna Katrina S. Magalong! We’ll be expecting to hear wedding bells soon.

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All in all, the first day was a blast! I met some old friends, made new ones and generally enjoyed myself. Learning can be fun. And it’s fun learning here in Toastmasters.

-Alex

*Photo credit to Ed Fabonan

 

Travel Diaries: Siquijor 2016

Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines and is associated with mystic traditions. It was originally called Isla del Fuego or Island of Fire by the Spaniards who first sighted it in 1565 because of the eerie glow the island emitted due to the large swarms of fireflies on the island. I have heard of stories about witchcraft and sorcery that’s been said to be practiced on the island. But when I visited Siquijor, all I saw was the clear blue water and the pristine white sand that enveloped the island. There were a lot of local and foreign tourists too.

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We took a ferry from Dumaguete to Siquijor. We bought tickets at the port on the day and took the 7am trip.

Dumaguete-Siquijor Ferry Schedule:
Cost: 130php
Schedule: 7am, 10am, 4pm, 6pm
Travel time: 1 hour

Upon reaching the island we met a tour guide on the port, Kuya Irvin, that offered us a day tour of the island for only 1,000php. We decided to take the Day Tour since we weren’t familiar with the island. But if you know your way around Siquijor, another option is to rent a motor cycle at the port and use that to drive around the island. The rental rate is just 350php for the whole day.

Here’s our itinerary for our day tour:

  • Paliton Beach
  • Capilays Spring Park
  • Enchanted Balete Tree
  • Crocodile Hill
  • San Isidro Labrador Church
  • Cambugahay Falls
  • Salagdoong Beach

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Enchanted Balete Tree
This 400-year old Balete tree is believed by locals to be enchanted. It’s the said to be the oldest and biggest Balete tree in Siquijor. Water flows out from the roots of this massive tree and pools around it. Aside from admiring this majestic force of nature, you can also sit on the edge of the pool and enjoy a fish spa for only 5php. It’s a huge contrast to the 250php I paid for my fish spa in Ocean Park. Initially, it feels very ticklish but then you get used to it.

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Crocodile Island
From this spot on the island, you can see Crocodile Island. It’s named as such because from this vantage point, it seems to take the shape of a crocodile. At the suggestion of Kuya Irvin, we had our mandatory jump shot with Crocodile Island in the background.
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San Isidro Labrador Church
This is said to be the oldest church in Siquijor. It was built in 1887 making it more than 100 years old. According to our tour guide, the stones used to build this church have never been replaced. That’s something to be said about the architecture of this edifice! 129 years and still standing. Not bad.

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Cambugahay Falls
One of my favorite stops on the island was Cambugahay Falls. It takes you about 100 steps to reach the bottom. Coming from the City of Waterfalls – Iligan City – I’m hardly amazed by other waterfalls that I see. But I still liked this one because of the clear blue waters that seemed to beckon to me. It was a sweltering hot day and I was more than willing to oblige. There was a rope from where you could swing and then jump into the water just like Tarzan. The falls itself had 3 levels. We hung out here for about an hour, swimming around and jumping off from the waterfalls.

Siquijor tour + Cambugahay falls

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Salagdoong Beach
Salagdoong was my favorite stop in Siquijor. You can’t go to Siquijor and not drop by here. Aside from it’s gorgeous white-sand beach, it has one attraction that keeps tourists coming back. Cliff diving. There are 3 levels you can jump off from. I was able to try the first and second level. I’ll definitely come back for the third. It can be quite scary from up there but after the first jump, the adrenaline rush is like no other. You’ll keep coming back for more. 

salagdoong cliff jumping 2Photo from http://www.outofofficefortravel.comSiquijor tour + Salagdoong beach Siquijor tour + Salagdoong beach 2

DCIM111GOPROPhoto from mingjamoves.com

Siquijor tour + tour guide

Here’s our tour guide, Kuya Irvin, who brought us around the island. Siquijor is so small you can tour the entire island in about 2 1/2 hours. If you want to visit Siquijor, you can contact Kuya Irvin at 0915 890 3286.

Siquijor has one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely a go-to summer getaway, especially for beach junkies like me!

Life is too short to be spent working all the time. Enjoy your summer. Eat. Have fun. Travel! Visit Siquijor.

Go live a Truly Wealthy life!

-Alex

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