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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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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Review: Harolds Hotel in Cebu City

In our family Viber group chat, my brother expressed his interest in joining the Cebu Marathon in January 2015. He’s excited by the lechon-shaped medal, but he laments that the rates for the good hotels are all too high. I told him to look for Harolds Hotel. He searched for the hotel on Agoda, and was surprised to see how cheap the rates are.

Harolds Hotel Cebu

I found out about Harolds Hotel when Agoda arranged for me and my friend to stay there before we leave Cebu. Our flight was fairly early, and we felt much comfortable staying overnight in the city, instead of traveling all the way from Badian.
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A birthday treat at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel

I love getting e-mails from Hong Kong, because that meant good things were coming. And I was right — with it came a question: am I traveling sometime soon, and can Shangri-La assist with my accommodations? My travel plans at the time were non-existent, but I knew I wanted to have a special treat for my birthday, and that’s how I ended up at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel last Monday.

Edsa Shangri-La Hotel
Edsa Shangri-La all decked out for Christmas

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Paradise found in Badian Island Resort and Spa

When asked what kind of place I would like to go to care of Agoda.com, my answer came quickly: the beach. Living in the city all of my life, getting the chance to see and be close to the sea is always a thrill, even if I can’t swim that well and scared of very deep water. The turquoise water, the sand on my feet, the bright blue sky, and the gentle breeze that tickle the coconut trees, that for me is the formula to happiness.

Badian Island Resort and Spa
Take me back to Badian

A couple of months after that conversation, Charisse got back to me with another question: would I like to stay at Badian Island Resort and Spa? A quick read about the property resulted in an even quicker (and overly excited) yes.
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