Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love Me Like Cebu

Finally got to visit Cebu last July! So many firsts (and probably, lasts) during this trip. Another adventure filled trip! Exhausting yet memorable.

I still can't get over how beautiful southern Cebu is. Look at this view from our hotel room balcony in Savedra Beach Bungalows:

A video posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on

Watching the sun set while listening to the waves crashing onto the rocky shore is the most relaxing thing to do. But that's not exactly why we went to Cebu.

Day 1 was island hopping around Moalboal c/o Galore Tours to find Nemo, Dory and friends. We sailed into the open sea past 1pm. The package included dolphin watching, but unfortunately, there were no dolphins around at that time.

We saw a lot of sardines. In the shallow waters of Pescador island we got up close and personal with the fishes while feeding them. The current is quite strong in that area, fyi. Last stop was to see Crush, the sea turtle. We had to swim into the open sea to see how he's doing. No sign of Nemo, though.

We had an early start on Day 2 because we just had to see Destiny, the whale shark while we're there. We thought maybe Dory was around too.

Be early! There were already a lot of people by the time we got there which was around 6:30am. There was a short briefing before actually swimming with and seeing the whale shark. Safety precautions. Better to swim with the whale shark than to just watch from the boat; there's not much to see from the boat since they are underwater.

For better appreciation of southern Cebu, watch this:

We also tried canyoneering but let's leave that for my next post (and video).

Budget. I got to say, this trip was not cheap, but it was comfortable.
  • Van rental (airport to Moalboal): Php 3,000
  • Hotel accommodation in Savedra, for 2 twin rooms (1 room with extra bed) and 1 double room: Php 12,610
  • Galore Tours island hopping: Php 3,000
  • Van rental for 12 hours (hotel-Oslob-canyoneering-hotel): Php 3,500
  • Whale shark: forgot the actual rates
  • Canyoneering: Php 1,200
So far, budget was around Php 4,360 per person + whale shark (not including food and pasalubong).

For a non-swimmer such as myself, I think I have fallen in love with the sea.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Baluarte ni Chavit

Since Vigan is Singson's territory I just had to highlight what they have done for Vigan. 

Baluarte ni Chavit
Honestly didn't do much research which is what I always do when I travel. I was clueless as to what Baluarte ni Chavit has in store for us. I thought it would be a museum-type similar to that of Malacanang of the North in Laoag. It turned out to be a zoo.

There were parrots:

Pardon my weird posture. The parrot's claws were digging through my shoulder so I couldn't move that much.

A goat having an identity crisis (or simply liked the food of the geese/duck):

Deers, makes me think of Japan:

Gwen feeding the deer for Php 10.

Tigers. I think they have around 6 tigers here:

We got up close and personal with a 6-month old tiger:

That fake smile cos I was so scared the tiger might eat my hand off

They even have a museum of different preserved animals that Chavit Singson hunted. Hunting ain't cool. Just saying.

Look at all those deers' heads. The lion, bear and humongous elephant. How was he able to kill them?

Dancing Fountains at Plaza Salcedo
Every night at 7:30pm, people gather at Plaza Salcedo for the Dancing Fountains show. It was amazing! In Ayala, we only have the lights show every Christmas, but in Vigan, they have this every freaking day? Wow.

I think it lasted for more than 30 minutes. Actually we didn't finish it anymore cos we wanted to have dinner already. They played so many songs, including Frozen's Let It Go, Eye of the Tiger, Katy Perry's Firework, Psy's Gentleman, and Jingle Bell Rock.
They have managed to develop the city while maintaining it's beauty of an old Spanish town.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We've Only Just Vigan

Vigan has been in my domestic travel bucket list because of the picturesque beauty of old Spanish houses. I'm also into the history, culture and the arts when I travel. "If these walls could talk," right?

All I was thinking before this trip was how nice my photos would be but I never thought about how scary it is to be in an old town. Nothing strange happened anyway.

Vigan is in Ilocos Sur, around 2 hours away from Laoag and 4 hours away from Pagudpud. In May 2015, it was declared as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities. It is considered "the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia".

Here are the places we visited in Ilocos Sur:
  1. Bantay Bell Tower
  2. Grandpa's Inn and Restaurant
  3. Hotel Luna
  4. Cafe Leona
Bantay Bell Tower: The Bell tower of Santuario de Nuestra Senora de Caridad, St. Augustine Parish, Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

Built in 1591-1592, it was constructed as a belfry of the church and the watch tower of the town.

Our driver mentioned that this is where Fernando Poe Jr. shot a scene in Panday.

There was this nice old man who offered to take our photos. But it didn't stop with group pictures...


He took individual photos and made us pose. I must say, he's already a pro at this. He knows the angles and position where to take the photo. See for yourself:

Took a while for us to get this shot

Going up the belfry seemed quite dangerous especially when there are a lot of people already there.

The flooring is made of wood planks and you can peep in between them. It felt like it could collapse anytime. No worries, it's sturdy enough.

I wonder if they still ring it?

The bricked wall of this bell tower atop a well-landscaped hill on such a beautiful sunny day is the perfect background for a photo, don't you think:

Grandpa's Inn & Restaurant

We had lunch at Felicitas!
Everything's just so yummy! You can never go wrong with Filipino food served in the province. It's fresh, natural and just delicious!

We checked out their rooms after. They have one with beds made out of calesa. Really creative.

This hotel has a homey feel to it.

Hotel Luna. The newest addition to Vigan's accommodations. Hotel Luna opened just a year ago. It's the only hotel-museum with a swimming pool. The other museums were closed by the time we wanted to go so we ended up here.

It blends with the rest of the city:

I was so happy to see a few of the works of my favorite sculptor, Daniel de la Cruz:

A photo posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on

Cafe Leona
My friends and I have been wanting to eat bagnet pizza since we were in Laoag. Glad that this restaurant is just beside our hotel, Vigan Plaza Hotel.

The interiors are not well maintained but I guess people really go here for the food.
A photo posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on
It's the Zobel skirt used as a table cloth!

Vigan is just breathtaking. Food is great. The tourist spots are picture-worthy. There's still more to share about our Vigan experience in my next post.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bichachos Goes Local

It's the first time the bichachos traveled au localle!

Didn't have a post for it but our first trip together was in Bangkok, 2 years ago. So far our itineraries consist of 80% shopping. But this time, we got nowhere to shop but a lot to explore!

We booked our flight on Labor Day this year and booked a tour via E-Philippines. Check out the package tour we booked here. We were in Ilocos for 4 days and 3 nights. I can say that's more than enough to explore Laoag, Vigan and Pagudpud.

The packages they offer vary from the number of people in a group, for a minimum of 2 persons to maximum of 12, and whether you prefer Budget, Standard or Premium accommodations per city.
Budget package can go as low as Php 3,200 up to 8,000.
Standard package ranges between Php 5,300 to 10,000.
Premium package ranges from Php 7,500 to 13,500.

Package rates are inclusive of the van, Ilocandia tour (Laoag, Vigan and Pagudpud), entrance fees for the mentioned areas, and accommodation with breakfast. Additional charge for Laoag sand dunes ATV and sandboarding.

We were so chill and relaxed during this trip. No rush in enjoying wherever we were.

Here's our itinerary:
September 24: Arrival Day; Laoag City Tour
  • 0100PM Airport pick up; Drop off bags at Java Hotel
  • 0115PM Proceed with Laoag City Tour; nearby places.
  • To Visit: Marcos Mausoleum and Museum, Empanadaan, Paoay Church,  Herencia Café, Paoay Lake, Malacanang of the North, Fort Ilocandia, La Paz Sand Dunes.
  • 0600PM Back to Java Hotel– Laoag City

September 25: Vigan City Tour
  • 0800AM Hotel pick up; Proceed with the tour
  • To visit: Bantay Church and Bell Tower, Plaza Salcedo, Cathedral of St. Paul, Archbishop Palace, Plaza Burgos, Empanadaan, Calle Crisologo, Baluarte ni Chavit Singson, Syquia Mansion, Juan Luna Shrine, Burgos Museum, Pagburnayan.
  • 0600PM Check in at Vigan Plaza Hotel – Vigan City

September 26: Pagudpud Tour
  • 0800AM Hotel pick up; Proceed with the tour
  • To visit:, To visit: Bacarra Ruins Tower and Museum, Pasuquin Salt Making, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Wind Mills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Kabigan Falls, Agua Grande, Patapat Viaduct, Paraiso ni Anton, Bantay Abot.
  • 0500PM Check in at Tartaruga’s Hotel – Pagupud

September 277: Free Day; Departure Day
  • Free Time
  • 12NN Continuation of the tour; Back to Laoag City
  • To Visit: Sta. Monica Church - Sarrat, Sinking Bell Tower, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tobacco Monopoly Marker, Ilocos Museo.
  • 0500PM Early Dinner at Laoag City.
  • 0640PM Drop off at Airport for 0840PM flight out.
Exploring Ilocos got me excited to check out other areas in the Philippines! It's more fun in the Philippines, indeed.

Wait for my #MyHeartGoesShalalaLaoag, #AtTheViganningWithYou and #RumaramPagudpud posts.

PAL flight: Php 3,500
Package tour: Php 7,100
Pocket money: Php 5,000
Total budget: Php 15,600

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Exploring Kuala Lumpur

While fellow Filipinos celebrated National Heroes Day on August 31, my friends and I celebrated Malaysia's Independence Day. We happened to have planned our tour around the city on the same day as well.

Booked a cab in the hotel to service us around the city for the day for MYR 100 per person. But it's better not to because the tourists spots are just near each other and it will be so much cheaper if you just take the bus or monorail. There's also the Hop On Hop Off.

Batu Caves
This is perhaps the farthest from the City. There are two ways to go here: (1) by taxi, which costs, if I remember correctly, MYR 120, one-way, and (2) by monorail.

Be sure to dress appropriately.

A photo posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on

Almost there guys!

Just a few more steps

Walked 272 steps just to see...

The lair of monkeys

Merdeka Square
In this area, you can already visit 3 or 4 tourist spots, mostly museums actually. We weren't able to enter any of those museums, but we got to celebrate Hari Merdeka! Sort of. We got there just when it ended.

Music Museum

National Textile Museum

Thean Hou
While searching for places to go in KL, I stumbled upon this and loved the look and colors.

Honestly, from what I've seen on TV and movies, I've always wanted to pray in a temple, light an incense, ring the big bell. I've always wondered what doing those meant. Quite interesting.

They have Chinese Zodiac statues in one area. I had to take a photo with my zodiac sign, The Horse:

Year of the Horse pose

We also went to KL Tower just to see what's there. Nothing, really haha my experience at Seoul Tower was much better with their visual in the elevator going up, making it seem like you were going to space, and going down, like you're going back to Earth.

Then we ended the day at Central Market to shop for pasalubong. Don't shop for food there. It's cheaper in the supermarket. But they have nice home decor and accessories.

I would definitely go back to Kuala Lumpur to check out the museums in Merdeka Square.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Photo Blog: Legoland Malaysia

As mentioned, Legoland was the real reason we booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur. Apparently, though, we found out that Legoland is so near from Singapore (1-2-hour ride) than Kuala Lumpur (5-hour bus ride). We had to book a bus from KLIA2 to Johor, and a hotel in the area.

Sadly, things don't always work as planned.

We booked a bus from Bukit Bintang to Legoland, and had to go there just for the day. The bus ride was from 6:30am to 11:30am, with a 30-minute stop over.

Legoland is quite nice for kids and families to enjoy. Not much to do for kid's at heart, like us, except take lots of photos:

Lego City

Where I got my driver's license. Just kidding.

A photo posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on

Land of Adventure


Lego Kingdoms


A photo posted by nini (@jemappellenini) on

We didn't really try any rides but I was curious with big version of EK's log jam. It looks fun!

Of course I didn't leave Legoland without buying these:

That's it for my Legoland experience!

For reference:
Bus (Bukit Bintang to Legoland): MYR 57
Legoland Entrance Fee: MYR 132 (buy tickets as early
Cab (Medini to Johor Premium Outlet): MYR 63
Cab (Johor Premium Outlet to Medini): MYR 62
Bus (Legoland to Bukit Bintang): MYR 57
Total expenses (excluding lunch and shopping): MYR 371 (approximately Php 4,101)