Temple Run: Amazing Siem Riep. Amazing Cambodia.

Cambodia. The Kingdom of Wonder.
We arrived in Siem Reap at around 9:30 in the evening. Please note that they are 1 hour behind from Manila time. We were fetched by our Airbnb Superhost, Chanak. After checking in at De Sonyn Botique, we have arranged with Chanak our Temple tour and we immediately went to Pub Street to grab some dinner and beer. It was just a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
This place is perfect for the party people.

T E M P L E  D A Y  T O U R

Blessed by a monk

 

Sunrise at Angkor Wat
We started our day early. We opted to do the Grand Circuit Day tour with Sunrise. Our tuktuk driver was very prompt. He was there to pick us up at 4:30 am and brought us straight to the ticket office. Just a tip, if your hotel booking includes breakfast, you may inform the staff ahead of time to have your breakfast packed instead so you could bring it on your tour. Since we only have a few days to spend in Siem Reap, we just purchased the Angkor Temple Day Pass for $37. The pass is personalized, it has your own photo on it. Make sure to keep it with you the whole trip as it will be checked in each temple you’ll be visiting.
                                               
ANGKOR WAT 
 

 

After witnessing the beautiful sunrise, we immediately proceeded inside the Angkor Wat temple. It is amazing to see how intricate the details were of the parts of the temple. I was lucky enough to have experienced being blessed by a monk inside the temple.
Beautiful paintings being sold outside the Angkor Wat temple.
PREAH KHAN 
 
 
 

 

 
Before going to this temple we had our lunch at a restaurant inside the Angkor Thom temple. I ordered string beans with pork for $7, which I guess was overpriced. I didn’t find the food delicious.
I personally enjoyed Preah Khan. You can take a lot of good pictures from this temple. We have an encounter wherein a police officer inside the temple has been proactively sharing information about the place and has offered to take a picture of us and even instructed us what poses to do. Eventually, he asked for a few dollars.
NEAK PAN

 

Leading to the temple is a beautiful water scenery. It is the most unique temple, it is surrounded by water. But I’ve seen some photos that it’s different during the dry season. You would also be welcomed by a group of locals who perform some of their cultural songs. They’re refreshing to watch.
TA SOM 
 
 
Just few minutes away from Neak Pan. Our next stop was at the Ta Som temple.
EAST MEBON
This is my favorite temple. I find this the most beautiful among all the other temples we have visited. Just a heads up, you need to do lots of climbing to reach the main temple. It’s worth it, believe me.
PRE RUP

Almost similar with the East Mebon temple. This is a beautiful one too. Although, this one requires more climbing than the first one. I opted not to climb up anymore as there’s an ongoing construction above.

BANTEAY KDEI

I thought at first this was already the Ta Prohm temple. I wasn’t paying attention when our driver said the name of this place. From the entrance, you will have to walk around 3-5 minutes to reach the main temple. This is is pretty small compared to the other temples. But it’s one of the most beautiful as well.
TA PROHM
 

This is probably one of the most famous temples in Siem Reap. This is where the Angelina Jolie movie, Tomb Raider, was shot. As this is one of the major temples in the tour, expect that there’d be a lot of tourists roaming around. Also, there’s a long line for picture taking but it’s worth it.Niyeaam.

TA KEO
Before we head back to the Angkor Thom complex, we stopped by this beautiful temple, Ta Keo.
 
BAYON
 
Bayon Temple is part of the Angkor Thom complex. Angkor Thom is part of the 4 major temples in the Temple tour. Coming from Angkor Wat, we’ve already passed by this area but our driver opted to do the smaller temples first and make this us our final temple destination. There’s a lot to see in this temple. However, the sun was too aggressive already so we had limited activities done.
Angkor Archaeological Park
Alright, while we were happy that we’re able to visit 10 temples in just one day, we also felt so tired during the whole trip. Angkor Wat alone can take up so much energy already. There are temples that would require a lot of walking and climbing so you gotta be prepared.  We started our tour at 430 am and finished at 1pm. Temple fatigue is real. But I guess this can be avoided by managing the phasing of your tour. Or I would highly suggest you do the Small Circuit tour which covers the 4 major temples if you only have a day to spare.
Explored the Angkor Archaeological Park via TukTuk.
We paid for $25 for our tuktuk service. It was arranged by our hotel. I wouldn’t know for sure if it’s the same with the other tuktuk service but ours had unlimited supply of bottled mineral water. We opted not to have a guide, the only downside is that we’ve no information about the temples we’re visiting. I suggest you get a guide book beforehand. Our guide didn’t converse much in English but we loved his service.
We’re back at our hotel by 3 pm. I immediately asked Chanak to reserve us a table at the Koulen II Restaurant for the dinner buffet and to witness the Aspara Cultural Show. I would have wanted to do a quick afternoon swim but the sun was scorching hot that time and we’re too tired already from doing all the 10 temples in a short span of time. So we decided to just sleep and rest.
Aspara Cultural Show
We went to Koulen Restaurant by 6pm. Chanak brought us using his motorcyle. He’s really such a superhost. He didn’t leave until we’re able to secure our reserved table. It costs us $12 for the buffet plus show. You should try this out. Believe me. It’s all worth it. Their buffet has a wide range of food selection from local dishes to international cuisines.
The dinner starts at 6pm and ends at 830pm. Please note that the $12 fee only covers the food. You would need to pay for the beverage separetly, we had bottled water and coke for $4.

The cultural show starts at 730pm. They have performed several dances and they’re amazing to watch. You would witness how rich their culture was through their performances.

We headed to the Night Market after our dinner. We paid $2.5 for our tuktuk service (good for 2 pax). We bought souvenirs. Make sure to haggle and demand for the price you would like to buy the item(s) for. Most of the time the sellers will give in. But make sure it’s also reasonable. The night market is just adjacent to the Pub Street. We decided to go home early and prepare for our city tour the next day.
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Colors of Baguio

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“Summer Breeze, makes me feel fine!”

I recently had a sweet escape in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I booked a ticket online at the Victory Liner website for a 5 am trip, it was priced at P495 (including seat selector fee). At around 10:30 am, I arrived in the city. Prior to the trip, I’ve been able to book my hotel through TravelBookPH, I chose Chalet Baguio Hotel, and I got it at a bargain price.

The hotel staff were very accommodating and helpful (as I had a problem with my hotel booking), they let me check in as early as 10:30 am. They have unlimited coffee supply at the reception which you can also bring in your room. After I was able to freshen up, I went out for lunch. I opted to just walk around the city. SM Baguio is just 15 minutes away from the hotel. Although it’s almost noon time, the weather was still cool.

On my way back to the hotel, I had a light lunch at Cafe by the Ruins, Dua. I tried out their Strawberry Italian Soda (P120), Cafe Leche Flan (P70) , and their Classic Tomato-Basil Pasta (220). They all tasted good but I love the Strawberry Soda the most. It’s so refreshing and you can eat them fresh strawberries.

The cafe is just a 5 minute walk to the hotel. I rested for a bit and waited for my friend to arrive from La Union. At around 3pm, we did a quick tour in the city. We first went to SM Baguio, then crossed over to the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral and heard an anticipated mass.

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We proceeded to the crowded Burnham Park. I find it rather fascinating. I’m loving the weather even more, it was getting colder as the beautiful sun sets.

Our hungry tummy brought us to the 50’s Diner’s branch in Session Road. It is located in the 4th Floor of a certain mall. They have a big serving of food. So big it won’t fit in their plate. I had Guys On The Hood (P130). It’s a combination of pork chop, slice pizza, chicken, spaghetti and garlic bread, served with fries and vegetable. It tasted okay nothing extra ordinary. Tired from all the walking we rode a cab from SM to Chalet hotel for only P45. We slept early as we have a hectic schedule the next day.

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Chalet hotel offered a buffet breakfast instead of the plated one that day. I sampled all of their food offerings except the beef dishes (I don’t eat beef). They all tasted good. I wouldn’t know for sure but I guess Dulcinea caters the buffet and regular breakfast.

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9 am. We hailed a taxi that brought us to Bell Church and the new attraction, Colors of Stobosa. They are just 3-5 minutes away from each other. Fare is 85 pesos. They are located in the boundary of La Trinidad and Baguio City. There are no entrance fees for both sites.

When you’re are at the Bell Church, please be mindful of their rules and regulations. It is a Taoist Temple.

This colorful houses in Stobosa amazed me. I only wish that they have a proper viewing deck so tourists won’t interrupt the people in the community.

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BenCab Museum

Our next destination was the BenCab Museum. The taxi driver offered a P500 fare from La Trinidad to the museum and back. He gave us an hour to explore the place. Entrance fee is P120.

We also tried Cafe Isabel. I ordered a Pesto Pasta (P200) and a Fresh Strawberry Shake (P150).

IMG_3178Our taxi brought us back to the hotel. I opted to leave my bag as there still some spots we would love to visit. We had lunch at Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay. I tried their Batirol Special Drink (P160) and their famous Turon (P90 for 3 pcs).

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From Camp John Hay, we rode another taxi to bring us to Mines View Park. We made sure to try out their Igorot costume for only P20 with unlimited picture taking. Before ending the trip, we went to Good Shepherd for some Ube and Strawberry Jam. They are priced at P210 (12oz) and P190 (8oz).

I’ve been to Baguio a lot of times already. But this was the first time I did a DIY style trip. We chose to ride taxi instead of regular commuting because we have limited time only. I took my bag from the hotel and boarded a 4:30 pm bus bound for Manila. I will sure be back again. Prolly next year and explore more of what Baguio has to offer.

Discover Aurora

IMG_2542Welcome to the beautiful Province of Aurora. Aurora is located in Central Luzon. It has 8 equally beautiful municipalities. Baler, its capital, San Luis, Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, Dinalungan, Casiguran, Dilasag, and Dingalan.

It’s been a common misconception that Aurora is still part of the Quezon Province. Not anymore. It was in 1979 when Aurora was officially granted a Provincial status. The province was named after the former First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon.
Aurora has also produced some of the most prominent names in the field of politics and entertainment. Manuel Luis Quezon, the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, will always be one of the favorite sons of the province. We also have former Senator Edgardo Angara and his son, Senator Sonny Angara. And of course, the award winning actor, Heneral Luna’s John Arcilla.
Every February 19, Aurora celebrates its founding anniversary. It is also the birth anniversary of Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon. So, if you’re IN for an awesome nature adventure, be sure to #DiscoverAurora now.
1. Baler
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Baler is the capital of Aurora Province and its oldest municipality. The name “baler” is said to have originated from “balod,” a type of mountain pigeon. Baler is the second most populous town and the densest in Aurora although it is the smallest in terms of land area. It is also where President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife, Dona Aurora Aragon, hail from.
2. Casiguran

casapsapan beach casiguranCasiguran is one of the three northern towns collectively known as the ‘Dicadi’ area, which stands for Dinalungan-Casiguran-Dilasag. Among the three, Casiguran is the most populous town and is often considered the northern capital of Aurora. Casiguran is the most developed town in Dicadi, boasting an airport, a full-scale hospital and white sandy beaches.

3. Dilasag

dilasag canawer

Dilasag is the northernmost municipality of Aurora Province. Being the farthest town from Metro Manila, it is largely undeveloped. Its beauty lies in its natural attractions: a long, unspoiled coastline, highlighted by fine, white-sand beaches. This quaint town is ideal for visitors longing for an escape into idyllic environs.

4. Dinalungan

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Dinalungan is the least populous municipality in Aurora. It is bound by the Dinalungan River, Dinadiawan Creek and Casiguran Sound. While surrounded by water, the town is nestled in the mountains, making for excellent hikes that afford spectacular views of the ocean.

5. Dingalan

Aurora Province not Aurora Quezon

Dingalan is the nearest municipality to Metro Manila, and the southernmost town of Aurora. The Sierra Madres separate Dingalan from the rest of the province.A portion of Barangay Umiray in Dingalan was proclaimed in January 2000 as a Special Economic Zone by President Joseph Estrada. It forms part of the Pacific Coast City Ecozone that also includes areas located in Barangay Umiray in Gen. Nakar, Quezon. The ecozone is destined to be a world-class resort and investment haven.

6. Dipaculao

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Dipaculao is the northernmost town of the central sub-region of Aurora. Its land area is a long strip that offers a stunning vista from any vantage point. Dipaculao is bound by the Pacific Ocean to the east and by virgin forests of the Sierra Madres Mountain Range to the west. Traveling along the Dipaculao highway, one is smitten by the sublime contrast of breezes from the Pacific Ocean and sylvan zephyrs from the Sierra Madres. The town’s waterfalls and natural springs offer a pleasing respite from the scenic drive.

7. Maria Aurora

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Maria Aurora is the most populous municipality in Aurora. It is the only non-coastal town in the Province and is largely a mountainous area. One of its barangays, Villa Aurora, is situated right by the Aurora Memorial National Park, which encompasses most of the Baler-Bongabon Highway and the Sierra Madres forests around it. Tourists flock to the town to visit the famous Millennium Tree.

8. San Luis

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San Luis is the largest municipality in Aurora and the home of Baler Airport. San Luis is the first town one happens upon after traveling through the Aurora National Memorial Park. Like Dipaculao, San Luis welcomes visitors with a dazzling array of waterfalls and natural spring pools.

Credits: Photos for Casiguran, Dilasag, and Dingalan were obtained from the Aurora PH website.

Singapore

photo (2)Singapore. The Lion City

Merlion Park w/ my epic fail face
It was my very first time to travel out of the country. I had a little “bobo moment” with the SG immigration. I didn’t fill up the embarkation form as I was under the impression that I won’t need to as it’s just a quick layover. When it’s already my turn to be interviewed by the officer, he had me go back to the line and fill the necessary information needed. As he stamped my passport he said “pasaway ka kuya.” Haha.
Me, Ericson, and Jawo

Marina Bay Sands

I was lucky enough that I have friends working in Singapore. They have offered to tour me around the city. Ericson, fetched me at the Changi airport. He let me experienced riding SMRT and I was truly impressed. We boarded the East West Line and we’ve gotten off the Raffles Place station. I was only able to visit Marina Bay sands and the famous Merlion park due to time constraints. After having our lunch at Esplanade Mall, I decided to head back to the airport so I won’t miss my flight to Bali, I anticipated the long lines in the immigration.

Some of the authentic SG food I’ve tasted

Back at the Changi Airport, I was able to do a quick tour to enjoy the amenities offered by the airport. They say that the best place to have a layover is Singapore. I couldn’t agree more. If you’re the type who prefers to just stay at the airport while waiting for the connecting flight, you still could enjoy a lot of things in Changi.

As I boarded Singapore Airlines, I stayed at Terminal 2. Here you can find the ORCHID GARDEN and SUNFLOWER GARDEN. Also, you may enjoy free movies and internet while waiting. Shop all you want with different stores inside the terminal. I also qualified for the $40 voucher under the Changi Transit Programme. I used it to shop “pasalubong.”

Should you have more than 5 hours layover, I strongly suggest you take advantage of the Free Singapore Tour being offered by Changi Airport. If your flight is arriving in Singapore between 9am to 6 pm, you can join their Heritage tour which would take you to several spots such as The Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, The Esplanade,The Merlion Park, Colonial District, Chinatown, Little India, and The Central Business District. They also have the City Lights Tour which goes to Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Bugis Village, and Raffles Hotel. These tours are absolutely free. All you have to do is to register at the Free Singapore Tours (FST) Registration Booth.

I am really glad that Singapore was the first ever out-of-the-country destination I’ve ever been to. I’d definitely go back here soon.