Since my last visit to Penang was way back in 2009, I decided it was high time I visit again, when a couple of seat sales came up last January. I remember telling myself that the next time I come back to Pulau Pinang, I’ll stay in Batu Ferringhi.
Thanks to the lovely people at Shangri-La, they made my plans come into fruitition. I reached out to my contacts, and was offered a two night’s stay at Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa at the start of my trip. It was the perfect timing, as the resort was a beautiful welcome to the island after a long night of traveling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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. Niño festivals in Kalibo, Iloilo, or Cebu. It’s mostly foreign tourists we saw in Bantayan, and there’s not a lot of them either.
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.
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.
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.