Philippine Travel Mart 2010

The 21st Philippine Travel Mart was formally announced yesterday to an overwhelming crowd of seven (yes! Count ‘em, SEVEN!) bloggers. It’s not an exclusive event, it’s just that Typhoon Basyang made sure everyone stayed where they are so I can finally win in an event raffle.

Gloating aside, this year’s travel mart will be held on September 3-5 at the Mega Trade Hall of the SM Megamall in Ortigas.
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Category: Everything Travel
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Travel Expense: Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia

It’s not the cheapest of trips (specially if you see the version where my personal shopping was included), but relative to how much I spent on previous trips, this is pretty good for a 2-week jaunt across three countries. The tickets I hoarded last year played a big part in keeping the budget low. For a total of Php 5,275.85, I was able to fly to Saigon from Manila, Saigon to Da Nang, Hanoi to Bangkok, Bangkok to Krabi, Krabi to Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Manila.

Vietnam was pretty cheap. Dining at the restaurants can set you back around Php 300, while dining in the streets or markets can go as low as Php 40. Accommodation is also relatively inexpensive. My rooms range from $15 to $18, all with air conditioning and a fan, with ensuite toilet & bath, cable TV, a closet and even a small fridge. While the xe om is the most popular way to getting around town, I prefer to hop on a cab. The taxis in Vietnam are well kept with good air conditioning. Meter starts at VND 9,000 for the small cars, VND 10,000 for the sedans and VND 12,000 for the vans (depends on the company). Be careful about the taxis though; there are rogue taxis that use a very fast meter! They use the same name as the big cab companies, only changing one letter and using almost identical hotline numbers.

Krabi, on the otherhand, is pretty expensive (as expected). However, in the midst of the Thai and Italian restaurants, there are small street stalls selling noodles and rice. I stayed in Ao Nang beach, and it’s small enough to walk around. You can take the tuktuk around town, but to go beyond, you’d either have to ride the government songtheow (with routes to Krabi and other places) or hire a taxi (taxis in Krabi are Toyota Fortuner. Sosyal!)

Bangkok and Kuala lumpur are only in the itinerary for transit and shopping.
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Category: Travel Budget, Vietnam
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Congrats to the Living la vida Imelda contest winner!

Thank to everyone who shared their Metro Manila itineraries! It was such a joy to read the replies, specially the ones that included detailed descriptions, significance of the places and means of transport. It gave me plenty of new ideas for when I have friends and family coming to visit. If you’re thinking of places to bring your guest, the comment section of that post is rife with possibilities!

Chyng deliberately disqualified herself by saying outright that she wouldn’t take her guests around Manila, while Cornelio started with Manila, yet ventured out of town and had his itinerary spread for more than a day. I intentionally limited the itinerary to one day and only within Metro Manila. Why? Because most of those who travel to Manila only transit here — they fly in only because Manila is the main international hub and they use it as the jump off point to exploring places outside Manila.

In Requiem: Phonie's last days
Father Blanco’s garden circa 2006

Allan Reyes said he’d take his guests to Tondo so that they will see the real Manila, and erica yu-b said she’ll take them for a peek at Smokey Mountain so that her guests would help make the Philippines a better place. I understand what you guys are coming from, but let’s face it — those squatters is what the world already have in mind when they think about Manila. That is what’s often depicted in the media. I believe it’s every Filipino’s responsibility to make the Philippines a better place, not our guest’s.
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Category: Everything Travel
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Living la vida with Carlos and Imelda

Let’s start the week right with a contest! Up for grabs is a free pass (for two!) to Carlos Celdran’s Living La Vida Imelda tour of the CCP Complex.

Carlos Celdran's Livin la vida Imelda Tour
Why don’t I have a photo of Carlos with the Imelda photo? Fail.

I’ve done the Imelda tour last March and the Intramuros tour last April. I thought more people should experience one of Carlos’ tours, and here’s your chance to try it out for FREE!
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Category: Everything Travel
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Bangkok with a bang

From Hanoi, I flew to Bangkok. It was just to transit for my flight to Krabi, but of course, it’s never “just” a trip to Bangkok. In the three hours that I spent outside my super charming guesthouse (more on this soon!), I managed to blew whatever money I’ve saved in Vietnam.

Bangkok has gone back to normal. Save for the gutted buildings, there were no signs that this was a city that has been paralyzed by the red shirts a month ago. The malls are open again, the BTS taking people from one end of the city to another.
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Category: Bangkok, Thailand
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