Japan spring is the perfect opportunity to follow the path of the pretty petals. Walked under the Sakura trees. Read a book and admire the delicate beauty they have. Hanafubuki (blizzard of falling petals) was magical. If given a chance, … Continue reading
It’s my first time to visit Baguio. I know it’s ridiculous. I live here in the Philippines most of my life and have not set foot at the summer capital. So, when this opportunity came, I was very excited. Since … Continue reading
Dasol, Pangasinan We walked along your white sand shore. I picked my beautiful shells. Just us and you. The sun didn’t stay that long so I danced in the rain for the first time. I love it and I love … Continue reading
Since we had the luxury of time, we took to the streets with our camera and maps. We saw a lot of pretty and interesting places and things. I would just like to share what we found on our two weeks in Tokyo.
The first place we stayed at in Tokyo was in the Arakawa area and we normally had to take the Nippori-Toneri Liner to get around. We decided to walk around the Nishi Nippori all the way to Nippori. Nishi Nippori has a small pretty park which is uphill. Behind the park is actually a cemetery. We tried to avoid it and tried to the temple town of Nippori. One of our turns to find a temple called Tenno-ji led us to a cemetery. I wanted to avoid it but decided against it. If you are in Tokyo during cherry blossom season, please visit the Yanaka Cemetery. It is really pretty despite the fact that it is a cemetery. It is like a whole city on it’s own. There is a ruin of a Five Story Pagoda which was burned down in an act of arson-suicide. I wanted to check out the whole section for the Tokugawa clan but it was getting dark so we gave it a miss.
Since this time around we didn’t get a JR pass because we were staying around almost a month and would not be moving as much as the first few visits to Japan, we saw some posters inside the Tokyo Metro station showing some Tokyo Top trends and on the cover was a very pretty establishment that sells flowers. We searched online for the location and found it to be near Hiroo station (広尾駅 Hiroo-eki). It is called Fleur Universelle. It was really picture perfect and the meals were reasonably priced. The food looked really pretty and tasted really good.
If you like Ueno and Akihabara, try walking from Ueno to Okachimachi then further down to Akihabara. Ueno has all the small shops and Ueno park. Okachimachi is also a shopping district. Try to walk following the rail tracks. Under the railway there are a couple of interesting group of shops. One is called the 2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan and the other is called Chabara Aki-Oka Marche. The first one is a group of stores offering artisanal goods. We had fun looking at all of their handmade crafts. Chabara on the other hand, offers artisanal edible goods. We really loved the honey, tea and the cup ramen that we bought from there.
The Yuraku Concourse is also interesting if you are planning to walk from Ginza to Hibiya to avoid having to transfer a few trains to get to Harajuku. It is underneath the tracks and the walls are old and covered with old movie posters which looked really pretty and nostalgic.
The walk from Omote-sando to Harajuku and then onwards to Shibuya is quite lively. You get to see the luxury of finer things from Omote-sando, the cool-weird fashion of Harajuku and the lights of Shibuya.
We checked our map and found out that the Imperial Palace should be within walking distance. The pretty Tokyo Station, Takashimaya Nihonbashi and the roads leading to it are very picturesque that we almost never found the famous Nijubashi because we keep on getting distracted by the pretty trees and buildings. It is quite a really grand and humongous place in the crowded Tokyo where everything is small and built for small buildings.
There might be other great walks out there in Tokyo. Hope I can share more the next time we take a walk in Tokyo.
The photos were taken using Sony A7 and Nokia Lumia 1020.
Since this is our 2nd spring in Japan, I had thought that Hanami would not be a priority. I forgot I was traveling with a flower friend. Jore wanted to smell, see and take photos of all the pretty flowers … Continue reading
Do you sometimes feel that you are in your own movie (The Truman Show comes to mind) sometimes? Like life somehow knows of your plan and all the travel shows you watch somehow relate to where you were planning to go next. This happened a lot but I specifically remember it for Jeju. We were just having our usual crash on the couch and watch a bit of TV before bed with our mates when suddenly on TV are the Haenyos of Jeju (Diving Ladies). It gave me a bit more reason to visit the island.
So on our usual escape out of the Island last September of 2011, we decided to give South Korea a try. We’ve included Jeju in our itinerary with a specific goal other than the awesome view: to see and talk to a Haenyo.
So from Seoul Gimpo Airport, we boarded our Jeju Air flight to Jeju Island. Since I never looked at the map properly, I was shocked when we were trying to land. The island is HUGE! I really thought we took the wrong way and were landing on the wrong island. It was no wonder that it takes one hour from the airport to get to our hostel. We were actually very lucky that the owner herself was in Jeju at that time. She was the one who picked us up and accompanied us to have dinner.
We stayed at Ssari’s Flower Hill, a hostel owned by the same people who run Seoul Guest House. It is a concrete bungalow on the outside, and all Hinoki (Japanese Cypress) interiors. It is the perfect place to relax after a whole day of travelling. The room smelled so nice and the interiors are just perfect. They also have 2 huge dogs who are just the sweetest.
There’s a lot of things you can do in Jeju so don’t be like us and just allot at least 3 days there. There’s Seongsun Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) — a UNESCO heritage site meaning castle hill. A must see site. It takes a while to reach the top but the view and the place is amazing on it’s own. People actually climb up there to see the sunrise — hence the name.
We were fortunate that our landlady was such a sweetheart and dropped us off the next day near the base of Seongsun Ilchulbong. So off we went to climb up to the peak where the view is spectacular but make sure you have enough water as it was quite a long hike. I wouldn’t even think of climbing the higher one which was Hallasan until maybe I’ve trained for it.
After climbing down, we opted to walk to the pier to head towards Udo Island (Cow Island). Udo Island is where they shot some part of the movie Il Mare of which the movie The Lakehouse was based on. Once there, Jore saw simple modes of transportation that she decided to rent and force me to drive. Good thing she rented a golf buggy and not some ATV.
We chugged along with me panicking every once in a while. I had a scary thought running through my mind: If they didn’t check if I had a driver’s license, then what about the rest of the drivers zooming around the island…
Without much incident, we parked and had a little stroll along the beach where Il Mare was shot with Jore waiting for her Lee Jung-jae.
By the way, remember the goal of meeting a Haenyo? We got to see a lot in action. We ran into one but she was quite busy and only was able to say “Hello” to her. The rest were all out at sea diving. It was amazing how we just stared at them while they were out there doing their thing in the cold sea.
After chasing Haenyos, we explored the rest of the beautiful Udo and returned our rental vehicle. Once arriving at the port, we took a cab to the Teddy Bear Museum at Jungmun. Since, we are talking about taking cab, I suggest you take a cab service if you want to explore the island as it could easily cost you an arm and a leg just to keep on hailing cabs from the streets. Our cab fare from Seongsan Pier to Jung Mun was a whopping 58,000 KRW which is more than I pay for a night stay in Jeju! If you rented a cab for the whole day, they would only charge you around 100,000 KRW.
There’s a lot of other places in Jeju that we wished we could have seen. We wanted to follow the Olle Trails but didn’t have the time nor cycling skills. We’ll learn how to ride a bike, then we will be back, Jeju.
If you are a fan of K-Pop or Korean drama, we might not be able to perk your curiosity as we didn’t go to sites in the film or series. But Seoul has a lot more to offer to non K-Pop or K-drama fans as well. I don’t think any trip to the country is ever complete without Seoul. I have to say that I’ve barely even seen Seoul even if I stayed there for 3 days. One thing you must do is prioritize. You can get tired just focusing on UNESCO alone. I have to say though that sturdy comfy shoes are a must. You can use the guide books for outline as they barely give you a feel for what you will be experiencing. The Korean Tourism Organization is a good place to start.
Some lessons we’ve learned while in Seoul: 1. There are a couple of ways to get from the airport to the city: the train or the Airport Bus. The Airport Bus has enough bus stops in the city for it to be really the top choice. The driver/concierge helps you with your luggages unlike the train stations. If you are choosing train, transferring from one line to the subway is a series of walkways, escalators and confusion. One advantage of the train though is that it gives you a nice view from Incheon to Seoul. 2. Korea runs only on 3G. Please remember to enable the 3G on your phone but disable data roaming to avoid paying a bomb. 3. The major restaurant/coffee place garbage bins are recycle friendly. I had a hard time figuring out how to segregate in lesser time. 4. It is still quite warm even when it is almost autumn. 5. People dress according to season in coats and closed shoes even if it feels warm.
We stayed at two hostels in Seoul. One was Korea Central Backpackers when we just arrived. We just stayed overnight. The place is quite centrally located near Hyewha station which is the University District. The place was quite new and very very clean. Only thing is, the bathroom door. The water has already warped it due to how Korean shower heads are connected. When we arrived back from Gyeong Ju, we stayed at Fully Guesthouse until we flew back. This hostel is in the same University District but nearer to the Airport Bus stop. I would have to say that this is one of the best places to stay in the country. The room floors are heated, the bathroom is very clean and has basic toiletries and there is a fridge. The internet and TV is only at the common area probably to encourage a hostel environment. Mr Cho’s breakfast is quite nice and Kimmy is the best guide. If ever the fares allow me to go back to Seoul, this will be my official temporary residence.
Seoul has a lot of nice places to visit: They have a lot of Palaces, some of them connected by paths. I think it would be best to choose which one you really want to visit. We visited 2 but not on purpose. I just wanted to see the one which was nearer to our side. Changgyeonggung is connected to Changdeokgung. Apparently, we missed all the excitement of being tourist as the ones which are interesting were Deoksugung with the changing of the guards and Gyeongbokgung which has a mountain behind it as a backdrop and there is opportunity for you to dress up in Korean finery. Jongmyo Shrine – might be better to visit the park outside with all the uncles playing chinese chess rather than the shrine itself. The place itself is lovely but it might be best to visit during the festival in May where they perform ceremonies and really bring out the spirit tablets.
Although it is a place full of history, it is also a shopping paradise. They have Dongdaemon and Namdaemon markets (east and south gates respectively) where you can buy anything from raw materials to finished products. Myeongdong is Seoul’s Orchard road, full of malls and stores. It is really really crowded and there are a lot of stalls on the side that sells street food.
Because I still need to satisfy my culture vulture side, we went to Insadong where we saw nice art shops and ate tasty dumplings. Samseungil was also a nice place giving a bit of the european vibe. The best is Bukcheongdong where most of the houses are still built in the traditional way with wood but beware the cctv is in operation so I didn’t dare touch the cute postbox. We wished we had more time in Seoul as there is still so much more to see. We’ll be on the lookout for discounted fares. See u soon, Seoul.
Last August, my family and I went to El Nido, Palawan. It was one of the best beach getaways our family did. I finally understood why they call Palawan “umbrella” or shelter. It’s not crowded and you can literally have your own island. The white, serene beaches are very calming and relaxing.
Unlike popular belief, you can have a budget holiday in El Nido. There are lots of small hotels at Bacuit beach, El Nido. From there, you can hire boats to go for island hopping. The food there is fresh and cheap.
We stayed at La Salangane. They have a restaurant and the food was great.
I have always felt this innate need to be near a body of water. It calms me down to hear the sound of water lapping against the shore. Where I stay, I would normally have coffee facing the marina. It gives me the best feeling. And the fact that every time I go there, I have to compete for the best seat makes me realize that a lot others share the same sentiments. Island paradises have become the preferred holiday destinations. I’ve been to a few and would like to share how beautiful they are and how blessed I felt to have seen it with my own eyes. The pictures normally don’t do it justice but here goes.