Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Amangalla: The Sri Lankan Diaries

Our stay in The Three was again short lived, but the weekend was already over and we had to go back to Colombo. But before heading back, we made our last stop to our speedy adventure - the historical fort of Galle - a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Three by TPV: The Sri Lankan Diaries

From Colombo, it was already a smooth drive along the new highway to Galle. We didn't go into Galle Old Town though and headed straight to our seaside home for the night - The Three by TPV, a lovely boutique resort at Ahangama, which is just after the popular Unamawatuna beach.

Kitulgala: The Sri Lankan Diaries

We left Hatton at around 1030AM and knew the road to Galle was long. We had to go back to Colombo and then take the newly opened highway all the way to Galle, which is already in the southern coast of Sri Lanka. So just imagine, we were to travel from the central highlands, all the way to the south.

The Tealands of Hatton: The Sri Lankan Diaries

From Dambulla, we drove an exhausting 4 hours to the central highlands of Sri Lanka that is known for one thing: TEA. We passed through the cultural city of Kandy, which was another tourist destination. But because we were pressed for time, we continued on to Hatton where our next adventure was.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dambulla Rock: Sri Lankan Diaries

I still couldn't get over my amazing experience in Sigirya the day before that I looked forward to the rest of our Sri Lankan tour for the next 3 days. We checked out at the Heritage Kandalama to move on to the tea lands of Hatton in the central hills of Sri Lanka.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vil Uyana: The Sri Lankan Diaries

After that mind blowing experience in Sigiriya, only one thing was on our mind: FOOD. We managed to pass by a resort that looked posh and interesting. So, we inquired at their gates and were allowed entry. The resort was called Vil Uyana.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Magnificence of Sigiriya Rock: Sri Lankan Diaries

It was THE experience of Sri Lanka, to think that I didn't know anything about it. It would rival any Cambodian temple, all to greater heights literally. I will be senselessly raving about this part of my trip to Sri Lanka, since up to this writing, I cannot get over the experience I had in Sigiriya.

Onwards to Kandalama Heritance: Sri Lankan Diaries

We begin our escapade across Sri Lanka, a speed tour more accurately as we only had 3 days to cover the places that we wish to go to. From Colombo, we would travel 4 to 5 hours all the way to Dambulla, where the Sigiriya Rock is located.

Loving Colombo: The Sri Lankan Diaries

I never thought I would be setting foot in Sri Lanka soon. I had close friends, Paulo and Tala, living there, but when they told me they were already leaving Colombo to move to Singapore, I found myself struggling to plan a trip. So as soon as my calendar got freed up, I booked my plane tickets to Colombo.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Joaquin's Bed and Breakfast Tagaytay

Joaquin's Bed and Breakfast along the main road of Tagaytay has always intrigued me. I never got the chance to stay overnight there though, until recently, when we were trying to find a place to stay for the night. We were supposed to book in Taal Vista, but when we passed by Joaquin's, I immediately hit the brakes of my car. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Avalon Beach Club

I was already on my way back to Tuguegarao from Cagayan Holiday, but it seemed that Sta. Ana wasn't ready to leave me. Around 10 minutes from Cagayan Holiday, we passed a resort that looked very promising from the outside. I told the driver to stop so we can take a look. The sign read: Avalon Beach Club.

The Casino at the Cagayan Holiday Resort

Now, prepare to drop your jaw. The Cagayan Holiday and Leisure Resort is located in a special economic zone in the northernmost tip of Luzon island. It is also known for its casino, the main attraction for the Chinese who came in droves in the past years. 

The Other Resort inside Cagayan Holiday

If you enter the Cagayan Holiday Resort, you will notice a wall that makes vehicles turn towards the reception area. I was a bit curious what was beyond the wall. When I was walking back our room, I noticed a small gate that opened to a verdant garden. I inconspicuously entered the gate and discovered a different resort. 

Cagayan Holiday Surprise

When I explored Sta. Ana in Cagayan two years ago, I knew the place was destined to delight its visitors. With unknown isolated beaches and stunning uninhabited landscapes, this Northern Luzon escape has always been on my mind since I left. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

There are some places in the Philippines that I consider special. It's rare to find these places, especially in a country where culture doesn't seem to be preserved as much as it deserves. But somewhere in the coastal town of historical Bagac in Bataan, just less than 3 hours away from Manila, a resort is trying to change the way we look at our heritage. This is what makes Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar special.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Punta Ballo and Nataasan Beach Resort

We left Sugar Beach and headed further south to another beach destination in Sipalay: Punta Ballo. I couldn't believe me eyes when I saw islands like these pictured below. I was pointing again to the islands to our boatman, but he said that most are privately owned, and that we couldn't dock just anywhere. Another frustration.

Sugar Beach and the Most Unusual Beach Resort

Not much Filipinos know about the beaches of Negros, except of course if you are Ilonggo. Negros doesn't really stand out as a beach destination for most. Since I began traveling, I've been hearing about this beach that the Ilonggos go to, say an escape from Bacolod. They call it Sugar Beach.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Islands of Sipalay

The sun was up bright, and I was all set to explore the islands. It's been a while since I have gone out for a whole day to island hop, so I was pretty excited. Rene, the manager of the resort, arranged a pump boat for me for P2,000. I said I just wanted to visit as many islands and beaches we can. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Punta Bulata Resort and Spa

Among all the islands of the Visayas, my most least explored is the island of Negros. Usually, when I'm in Negros, I just devour in Bacolod or passby in Dumaguete. I have been to most cities and towns, but mostly for work, so I haven't gotten enough time to really discover new places. So, after another business trip to Bacolod, I took three days to explore, and my choice was the town of Sipalay and its surroundings.

UP NEXT: Guess Where?

Let's go back the Philippines once again, and head for the beach! One of my newest destinations is also one of my most surprising beach destinations. Can you guess where this beach can be found?

Monday, August 27, 2012

W Taipei

Located at the heart of the cosmopolitan district of Xinyi, the W Taipei is one of the trendiest hotels in the city. Aside from its central location, the W has also become a popular hot spot for the social set of Taipei, making it the most hip and happening hotel in Taiwan. 

Taipei Night Markets: More Fun in Taiwan

I can't stop raving about Taipei's night markets. So far, they are my favourites in Asia (haven't been to Japan and Korea yet though). There is something in these night markets that breathe life and it's certainly addicting.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yehliu: More Fun in Taiwan

I didn't get up early for Day 3, since after that trip to Hualien, I sort of partied the night at a local bar. It was also a cold and damp morning, so it was just irresistible to stay in bed (even if my bed wasn't comfortable). At around 10AM, I pulled myself out and headed to the North Bus Station, just beside the Taipei Main Station. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Taroko Gorge: More Fun in Taiwan

Day 2 of my Taiwanese escape began early. I woke up at 5AM to catch at 6AM train to Taroko National Park in Hualien, in eastern part of the country. 

Taipei: More Fun in Taiwan

It still surprises me that even though Taiwan is just 2 hours away from Manila, it was my first time to be here this year. I mean, I've heard a lot of good stuff about this small country, but I never managed to step foot on it. I didn't set any expectations when I arrived though, so every experience was a pleasure indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sarangani Highlands

General Santos has grown over the past years. When I first visited the city 7 years ago, Manny Pacquiao was not the attraction here. I passed by the city again two years ago, and was amazed at how much the city has transformed, and how the Pacquiao name is synonymous already with the city. This year, I made it to the southernmost city in the Philippines, the tuna capital and discovered a new resort that got me really excited. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa

The Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa is one of the most desirable resorts in La Union. I mean, it is the choice resort of celebrity surfers and the jet set crowd in popular San Juan beach. Hence, when I was on a roll in La Union, I just needed to find out for myself if the saying is true - that Kahuna is the best accommodation in La Union (even better than Thunderbird according to some colleagues).

Sunset Bay Beach Resort

San Fernando La Union is not known for its beaches. So it was surprising that there was one beach resort tucked away beside its airport that was as popular probably as Thunderbird. Welcome to Sunset Bay Beach Resort.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Villa Athena at Thunderbird Poro Point

A visit up north to La Union usually comes with a stopover in the province's most prestigious resort complex - Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point. With an impressive view of the South China Sea, its notably Greek architecture and design stands out among the rest of resorts in the region. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Dolphin House: Moalboal, Cebu

Moalboal is my Tagaytay in Cebu. If I use ant to escape the city, I usually end up driving here. Though it doesn't have the best beaches in Cebu, I love the vibe of the entire place. I have already featured Club Serena and Ravenala in the past. Now, let's take a look at another gem of Moalboal - The Dolphin House.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

South Africa Sojourn: The Conclusion

We finally end our trip to South Africa. We spent a total of 12 days here, traveling from Johannesburg all the way to Cape Town. Now, even though we didn't make it to Kruger National Park and experience a true safari, we were quite satisfied with what the Eastern Cape had to offer. So, here are a few tips if you want to visit this wonderful country:

1. Safaris range from the budget ones (you drive and explore on your own) to guided luxury (tour with all the comforts). You don't have to spend a lot of an lavish camp inside the park. If you're on a budget, you can spend your nights outside the parks. And again, you can drive through the reserves. Kruger is huge, and you have to plan your location there. The Sabi Sabi Reserve is said to be the best, but can also be the most expensive.

The V&A Waterfront Cape Town

I have fallen in love with Cape Town that I wanted to buy a house here. Thus, it is only fitting to end my posts on South Africa at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, which is the perfect Cape Town urban complex.

Flat Rock Suites at Long Street

Long Street is known in Cape Town as a bohemian hang out and a venue for arts and culture. With its Victorian buildings with wrought iron balconies, Long Street is charming and has a very diverse selection of restaurants, cafes, bookstores and shops.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Table Mountain

The most popular attraction of Cape Town is its heart - Table Mountain. When we entered Cape Town, I was struck with awe at the sight of the mountain. It was impressive, imposing and calming at the same time. Cape Town is built around the Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DysArt Hotel: Cape Town

As mentioned in my previous entry, we checked in our Agoda booked hotel at 6:30PM. There was still sun over Cape Town as we had an hour before sunset. We booked a hotel the night before, so we really didn't know where it was. Finally, after some navigating using GPS, we made it to our hotel. To our surprise, the hotel didn't allow children. They politely declined us, and even offered to help look for a replacement. I was quite pissed, because I was already tired. But since they were kind enough, we tried to look for a nearby hotel. That was how we ended up in Dys Art Boutique Hotel.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camps Bay: Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town after a scenic drive through the mountains from Franschhoek. Finally, we made it to Cape Town and everything said about it was true. Lizzy was asleep in the car, so I didn't know what to do. The first thing that popped in my head was the beach. I was itching for sand. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Cape of Good Hope

I knew this was going to be an exciting destination, but I wasn't prepared for what was ahead of us. We arrived in the Cape of Good Hope National Park hungry and agitated. Nevertheless, the anticipation was so intense that we wanted to explore as much of the park as we can. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Cape Peninsula

We had 3 days in Cape Town and its surroundings, and part of the plan was to drive to the Cape Peninsula all the way to the Cape of Good Hope. It was an exciting part of our trip, since we've heard that the scenery is jaw dropping amazing. So we set off early in the morning, and drove for less than an hour to our first stop on our route to the Cape of Good Hope: Muizenberg.

The Winelands of Franschhoek

It was a long yet amazing drive to Franschhoek, our final destination before we hit Cape Town. The village of Franschhoek (French Corner) is tucked into the Cape Winelands of South Africa. It is known as the country's food and wine capital. The vineyards here are established more than 300 years ago and cascade over the hills outside town. 

Outdshoorn: Cango Caves and Beyond

Our strategy for this trip was variety of experiences. Outdshoorn was the ostrich capital of the world, and we hadn't seen as many ostriches in our lives when we were driving around the countryside. There were ostrich farms left and right, and ostrich pens had as much as a hundred birds contained. Thus, we weren't as fascinated anymore with the ostriches. Part of the reason why we decided to go to Outdshoorn was another attraction: the Cango Caves.

De Denne Country Guesthouse

We reached Outdshoorn after almost 2 hours from Wilderness. We were to check in a guesthouse called De Denne, which again was highly recommended over the internet. We had trouble looking for the guesthouse, because it turned out to be outside of town, around 20 minutes from the center of Outdshoorn.


We had to bid farewell to Knysna and continue our joinery towards Cape Town. We were already on Day 3 of our road trip and we had to make it to Cape Town in 5 days. We decided to go on the more adventurous trip on the Garden Route that would lead us to Route 62 and then to the ostrich capital of the world, Outdshoorn. But before that, we had a quick stopover in another seaside town, Wilderness.

Brenton on Sea

A short 10km drive away from Knysna in Brenton on Sea. We were looking for things to do in Knysna, and we were desperate for the beach already, so we decided to spend the rest of day there.

St. James of Knysna

It was the first hotel that we saw when we entered the road leading to the Waterfront Lodge, and it looked exclusive and thus, expensive. But since we had no other choice, we decided to jump in and book a room at almost $400 for a night. We hoped it would be worth it. Good thing it was. Welcome to St. James of Knysna.

The Waterfront Lodge: Knysna

We arrived in Knysna at around 8PM and at this time, it was already late for someone to arrive at a lodge. So when we finally found our place for the night, it took a while for someone to answer the door.

Knysna is Nice Ha!

As the title suggests, Knysna is pronounced "nice na". At first I was pronouncing it wrongly, so the guys at Hitgeheim politely corrected me. Well, Knysna is a popular seaside town along the Garden Route. We were supposed to stay in Plettenberg Bay, but the accommodations there were hard toy get by.

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden

In Hitgeheim, we spent our time mostly with a family who had two kids. These two kids were Lizzy's companions throughout the entire safari. They came all the way from Cape Town and ending in an Eastern cape safari. We were to do it the other way around. Anyway, they recommended this place near Knysna that is another popular attraction for kids.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Beginning of the Garden Route

Day 3. We bid farewell to Archie and Hitgeheim Country Lodge. It was so far a pleasant start for our South African adventure. The bar has been raised, and we have so much to look forward to, now that the safari is over. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The African Safari Experience

The highlight and most anticipated leg of our trip is finally here - our African Safari. Though it may not be the hard core safari experience, we were still very much excited. In South Africa, most go to the Kruger National Park, an area as big as Israel as they say, to go on a wildlife safari. But we decided to keep it simple and safe, and so, here we are at the Eastern Cape where the reserves are malaria free.

Hitgeheim Country Lodge

Finally, Lizzy arrived at Johannesburg two days later than expected. It was a good thing that our plane tickets were easily rebooked for free (South African Airways). And our first adventure was down South of the capital, to Port Elizabeth. We rented a car and drove off 2 hours to the town of Addo, where our first real South African hotel, the Hitgeheim Country Lodge is located.


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