Destination, Morocco

Ouarzazate and Aït Benhaddou

We claimed our bags from the bus’ hold and had to stop to stretch our stiff bodies. The trip from Merzouga covered a good part of the day; it was already 4pm when we arrived in Ouarzazate. This small town was added to our itinerary primarily for Aït Benhaddou and we had no idea what to expect from it.

Ouarzazate square

Our accommodation for the night was at Hotel Amlal, which we picked because it has Wi-Fi and offered half-board meals. Unlike Hassi Labied though, there were plenty of restaurants and shops in Ouarzazate, so finding food was no problem. Nevertheless, the were glad for the decision to go half-board as Hotel Amlal served the best tagine I’ve tried in Morocco.
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Destination, Morocco

Hassi Labied and Erg Chebbi

Once again we woke up inside a bus, but the landscape outside is quite different. There seemed to be a seemingly endless nothingness, broken only by small clusters of buildings every once in a while. Slowly, the bus empties, until only half a dozen tourists remain. The driver pulls up to a small town in the middle of nowhere and announces that we have arrived in Merzouga.

Erg Chebbi
Erg Chebbi with dunes reaching up to 150 meters in height.

We were met with a bunch of touts, something that we are already used to in Morocco. Each one was offering to take us to a hotel, and we ignored the calls, except for one: Hassan Ougnir’s of the La Source Inn, where we made reservations for.
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I was jolted awake when the bus made a sudden turn. I looked out the window and was dismayed to see that it was raining. The rain was unrelenting, following us for hours as we journeyed from Meknes to Chefchaouen. It was nearly four o’clock when we glimpsed a sea of blue on the side of the mountain. So Chefchaouen really was blue.

Chefchaouen 10
Chefchaouen square

The rain still hasn’t let up when the bus pulled into the town’s central bus terminal. We dashed through the puddles and up the steps to the station’s offices to book our bus going down to Fes in a couple of days. We were hoping that the rain would have already stopped when we were done with our business, but it still continued to pour. Luckily, when we went down to the waiting area, a taxi drove in to drop a passenger. We asked the driver if he can take us to Pension Suika, and after some (half-hearted) haggling, we agreed on a price.
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Fuerza Bruta in Manila

It was a show like no other, that’s for sure. Prior to last night, I had no idea what Fuerza Bruta was. Watching the preview didn’t really give me much to go on. Still, my friend Ida was excited about it, so I figured it’s something to look forward to.

Fuerza Bruta
What exactly is Fuerza Bruta?

While in discussion about the invites for the opening night’s show, I asked’s PR manager if it’s okay to take photos during the show. She said it’s okay, but I can join the media preview the day prior. So off to the Manila Hotel tent I go on February 13th, not knowing what to expect. They led us to a seemingly empty room, and the first thought in my mind was “this is it?”
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The 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Thursday, very early in the morning, found me stumbling around in an unfamiliar room, getting ready for the day while trying to shake away the last traces of sleep. It was the first day of the 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and it’s one event you wouldn’t want to be late for.

The 17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

I was lucky that I still managed to get some sleep, as Caltex, our host for this trip, billeted us at the Hotel Vida in Clark, so we can be at the venue before the crack of dawn. It was still dark when we pulled up to the field, but the traffic was starting to build and the parking lot was quickly filling up. Though there are activities almost every hour for the next four days, the highlight was the flight of the hot air balloons.
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Batangas, Philippines

Blue Dolphin Resort

It’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary next year, and me and the siblings are already planning how to celebrate it. My eldest sister suggested that we rent a house with a pool again, like we did years ago and stay for a night or two with the entire family. Sort of goes without saying that I’ll be the one searching for this house.

Blue Dolphin Resort

Luckily enough, Gail invited me for a resort opening a couple of weekends ago. Turns out it was for the re-opening of the Blue Dolphin Resort in Balayan, Batangas.
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Traveling with the Visa debit card

This is an advertorial

Last September, I wrote about how I deal with money when traveling. Last January, while in Boracay, I was finally able to try using a Visa debit card.

Visa Debit Card
Works as well as a credit card, but without the absurdly high interest rate

It indeed, worked flawlessly like a credit card. After a sumptuous meal at Lemon Cafe in D’mall, I realized that I didn’t have enough cash with me to pay for my meal, so I paid using the card, knowing that this is one of the establishments in Boracay that accepts credit card payments. I was worried that their machines wouldn’t support debit cards, but turns out I didn’t have anything to fret about. The transaction went through without a hitch — I didn’t have to wash the dishes to pay for what I ate, and didn’t have to worry about credit card bills and interest rates.
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