A new travel companion: the Asus Zenfone 2

My Nexus 4 started sputtering the Saturday before Mother’s day, and finally gave up on the 11th. I was phone-less, and while I prefer to have it repaired and keep on using it, I know I may have to look into buying a new phone. But which one to buy? With a limited budget (I’ll be going on a trip soon, so no big purchases), I’m pressed to find one that meets my needs, and has a UI that will not bug the hell out of me.

The last part is what endeared me to the Nexus line. It’s Android as Google intended it to be, and it does not have bloatware: apps that you don’t use, but cannot uninstall. The interface is clean and straightforward, and it’s very easy to find your way around it. After my experience with other Android phones from other manufacturers, I wasn’t too excited to finding a phone to replace Miss Satsuki.

The problem was taken out of my hands when I was given an Asus Zenfone 2 to review. I love you, Universe.
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Indie Singapore: Free walking tours of the Lion City

My brother has been living in Singapore since 1996, and I have been visiting him and his family since 2000. During that first visit, we made rounds of the tourist attractions every weekend. The next time I went there was in 2006, when I started traveling. Singapore has changed a lot since then, and in every visit, I try to do something touristy in between trips to my favorite places and meeting up with friends.

Indie Singapore Free Walking Tour
Wei at the start of the tour in Chinatown

Through the years, many of my friends have moved to Singapore to work, so most of my days are spent catching up with everybody. While most of my friends there are Pinoys, I have also made some Singaporean friends online, either through the forums, my doll collection, or through this blog.

Wei and Jo wrote to me years ago, asking about their itinerary for the Philippines. I was more than happy to help them, and we met up when they were in Manila. They are such a fun couple, and I always loved meeting up with them in Singapore, because they take me to discover new places that I would might have given a miss.
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Travel Expenses: Matnog Island Hopping

I’ve visited the Subic Daco beach and the Juag Fish Sanctuary back in 2011. It was cloudy then, and the waves were pretty big, so it wasn’t quite as pretty. We were awed, but the photos aren’t too impressive.

Subic Daco
Subic Daco

It’s now the beginning of the summer season in the Philippines, and despite the threat of a typhoon coming this way, we were blessed with really good weather. Subic Daco really blew us away.
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Falling in love with Hanoi the second time around

The first time I went to Hanoi was in 2010. It was the last stop in my 10-day trip in Vietnam, and after going from Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, and Hue, I’m ready to just take it easy. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Toy Story 3 just came out, so instead of sightseeing as all the travelers are doing, I did what the locals do on a Saturday afternoon: I watched a movie. Apart from that and my day trip to Halong Bay, I did nothing else in Hanoi.

Hanoi, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

That’s why when I got the invite from Cebu Pacific to visit Hanoi, I jumped on the chance to really see what Hanoi has to offer.

Cebu Pacific flies to Hanoi three times a week from Manila. The flight arrives in Hanoi just past midnight, and flies back at 1 am, giving tourists an entire day to explore the city after and before their flight. Perfect for a weekend getaway.

Though the trip was just a tad longer than my previous trip to Hanoi, I was able to see and do a lot more. Here are the things I loved about this city:
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Bantayan Island Travel Expenses and Notes

Last August, I finally bit the bullet and booked a flight to Cebu to finally make it out of the city and explore Bantayan Island. It just so happened that I won Airbnb credits at a contest, and there was a beachfront house listed. Perfect.

Sta. Fe Beach

Traveling for almost 12 hours from my house to Sta. Fe is quite taxing, but that place was worth traveling by air, land, and sea. The weather is still quite cool in the Philippines this time of the year, and most of the locals are either recovering from the Christmas season or traveling to the Sto. NiƱo festivals in Kalibo, Iloilo, or Cebu. It’s mostly foreign tourists we saw in Bantayan, and there’s not a lot of them either.
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