The first time I went to Seoul last December 2015, I was really hoping to experience a snowfall but with no luck and since I was in love with the place, I promised to be back, well not until I have enough savings for such a quite expensive trip!
So this time, I am with Ryan and we scheduled our trip on the mid-January on high hopes that we’d be able to cross out experiencing a real snowfall on our bucket lists. It was an 8-day trip and basically I served as Ryan’s tour guide as I’ve been to most places we visited.
Upon arrival it was already evening and the weather was at -1ºC and I was on a dress and just a single jacket because my initial plan was to feel the cold temperature because it was scorching in Manila when we left and I overestimated the cold while Ryan was enjoying (his first time to experience winter, btw). We did a homestay at an Jinho’s House where I was able to book in Booking.com. It was in Bukchon and it was worth all the penny we spent as the place is very affordable and convenient plus we had a closer access in experiencing South Korean culture. As a K-drama fan, we immediately went to a convenience store to eat cup noodles on a very cold night (Idk, but ang saya kumain ng cup noodles dun pero ang totoo nagtitipid lang talaga kami, lol). In addition, Jinho, the owner was very friendly that he even welcomed us with bottles of beer and different flavors of soju. Yes, that’s exactly what we did upon arrival, it was fun though as he also introduced to us the Korean drinking culture.
On our first day, we woke up late from all the drinks and exhaustion and we decided to just chill literally and wander around Gyeongbukgung area and visited the famous palace and visit nearby areas like National Palace Museum, Gwanghwamun and King Sejong statue.
We also found a good restaurant where the servers are ahjummas so I thought that food were good and the best part is that they have bulgogi which I was craving for days. It was also cheap considering the generous serving and how good the food was, I just wasn’t able to get the restaurant name as it is in Korean.
There’s just too much to love about Seoul and one of those things is walking around the streets and getting lost. The environment is clean, no traffic jams, the weather is good and there are good food everywhere. That night we wander around Bukchon and found this small restaurant and we dig in to some ramen and gimbap (which makes me crave for Korean food while writing this). We ate here multiple times.
Ski at Gangcheon Elysian Resort
The next morning we went skiing which I booked prior to our arrival and we were quite excited because it was a first for the both of us. Even though the ski resort’s snow was artificial, we were so delighted being there. As expected, I had a real struggle skiing, it felt like I slid 5 times and fell down 50 times, I am not really good with balancing but still it was a great experience and we had so much fun.
After that we were real exhausted and starving and we indulged ourselves to a set of samgyeopsal.
We were on our third day in Seoul and there’s still no sign of snowfall, I kept monitoring the weather forecast and it says that chance of snow is 0% which made us somewhat sad. It was during the night that the forecast changed to a possibility of 30% so we stayed awake until midnight to wait but still with no luck. How frustrating!
Suwon (Hwaseong Fortress)
Because of our sore body from yesterday’s ski activity and staying up late waiting for the snowfall that did’nt happened, we woke up very late so we then decided to just go to Suwon and walk towards the long stone walls of Hwaseong Fortress. I learned from research that they also offer archery lesson so we tried it too. Fun experience!
N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong Area
As corny as it may sound but it was actually the second love lock I cast this time around, the first time naman kase e wala si Ryan so pagbigyan, di ba! And I looked stupid as I was looking out for the first lock I cast last year, wala na, natabunan na.
Shopping at Myeongdong! As a girl and if you are into make-up, it is one of the best things to do while in Seoul and I really made sure to set aside some money for shopping here. I was really happy whenever sales ladies hand out samplers and I took all of them , seriously nawala ang hiya ko.
SNOWFALL!! and Nami Island
Okay, so this is it! It was on our fifth day and we did not expect this to happen because of the previous day snow forecast that didn’t happen. I just came from my morning bath when I peak outside the window to see how cold it is when I saw a lot of snow falling! Oh My God, it’s snowing, for real!!
I exclaimed with sheer joy as I cried out to Ryan who was at the bathroom at the time and we immediately head outside. We felt like little kids and though we’re the only ones out in the cold morning, we were literally dancing through the snow. Gladly, we didn’t catch a cold!
Like Myeongdong, shopping is also fun here as the price are much cheaper because its where most students come to shop. We also had some time to visit the beautiful Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University.
Bukchon and Changdeokgung Palace
I saved the best for last, walking around Bukchon and touring the Changdeokgung Palace. I really love walking around the Secret Garden because I love trees and the colors of winter here is very pretty.
I have created a separate post for all the foods we had in Seoul because #foodislife!
I have been hearing a lot of great places to see in Baler and since we were on a limited time the first time I was there, I had to say yes when my colleagues/ friends were planning to organize for a weekend getaway to this place. What I really wanted to visit at first was Dingalan Lighthouse because of all the photographs I see on the internet but Trish said it was too far so she just included Dicasalarin Cove to our itinerary, she said they looked almost the same anyway.
The road to Dicasalarin was like a smaller version of the Kennon Road in Baguio and when we catch of glimpse of the cove, we were roaring with much excitement.
The place was too picturesque we couldn’t stop taking pictures.
This secluded place was like a haven of peace, we wished we learned earlier that we can do camping here so we could have stayed overnight.
Nagsasa Cove is one of the most underrated places I have been to but I found it very close to my heart. I think its because life here is simpler and more peaceful and that is what I have long been looking for.
It was our first time to be joiners of other groups which was organized by sir Avel who I came across in one of the Facebook backpacking pages. The trip was actually an island hopping to Camara, Capones, and Nagsasa Cove which we had an overnight stay. We had a very limited time to the first two islets and I was so disappointed as I enjoyed the beach at Capones so much, the water was very warm and it was so clear.
We had camping at Pamimi Campsite and the vibe was just what I exactly needed. Unlike those crowded places, I found a much needed inner peace and had a perfect place to relax and disconnect from the all stress and hustles of the city I am currently living in. The place lacks phone and internet signal so I completely disengaged with my phone, yay! I realized that having the time to interact with others feels great since we joined a completely strange groups who became friends at the end of the trip. Aside form enjoying the magnificent view, we spent the day sharing stories, swimming together, taking pictures and it made me appreciate the gift of life even more.
Days at provinces like this where there’s not much to do are usually longer and that made me miss living in my hometown. At night, we had the traditional drinking game while telling ghost stories over a bonfire. I guess, this is really usual for large groups to talk about scary stories during outings.
The next morning, sir Avel took us to some hiking and cliff jumping and the view on top of the hill was the most beautiful. The way down to the cliff is a little risky though but tiwala lang. My knees were already trembling when we reached the cliff so I chose not to jump anymore before my fear of heights completely dominate me.
Ryan did it and so does the others while I just enjoyed swimming until a jellyfish started to prick my arm. 😦
It was a short stay we had at this place but it was one of my favorite weekends so I will come back real soon.
For four days wandering around Bangkok, we spent most of our time eating and enjoying the wide selection of Thai cuisine. All I know before was about pad Thai and I never knew that there’s more to love aside from that dish when I went to visit Bangkok. From street foods to weekend markets to restaurants, I found that most dish have flattered my taste bud and I realized that Thai food in general was one of the best cuisine I have ever explored.
We didn’t have a concrete plan for the entire trip so on our first day we just wandered nearby the place where we stayed and ended up to a street market. The streets of Bangkok were filled with vendors selling different kind of foods.
Lisette and I have some list of street foods we want to try and first we encountered was these crispy pancakes or popularly known in Bangkok as Thai crepes . It comes with different flavors and topped with shredded coconuts and some other fruits. It tastes so good, promise.
I’m craving for all of these while writing 😦
A lot of people were lining up for this crepes so we tried one too.
Thais are very much fond of fruits, I saw a lot of vendors selling fruits of all kinds, they even have macopas which I though is a native fruit here in the Philippines.
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While roaming around Chatuchak Weekend Market, we saw this Spanish guy cooking paella while dancing. A lot of people were buying his paella so we tried it too and Oh God, it was really good.
We were just really eating the entire time and we were grateful that foods are so affordable but damn so good.
We really tried tasting almost everything out even these colorful drinks and Popsicle, and big-sized yakults!
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The next day, we went to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market for food adventure again, of course.
My friend knew about this Thai seafood restaurant called Somboon that serves this very yummy crab curry.
We also ordered other seafood dishes, good thing I had my antihistamines.
Another thing I love about Bangkok is their convenience stores that sells a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals like pasta and rice seafood meals. We used to buy some of these everyday for breakfast, masarap na, tipid pa!
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And no Thailand trip would be complete without an authentic Thai massage. The lady massaged me was so strong that I feared for my life but at the end, it felt so refreshing. All the pagod I had for the four days of walking and roaming around were gone.
The only temple we chose to visit was the Grand Palace but we were too late because it was already closed the moment we arrived so we just enjoyed the view outside.
Bangkok was pretty much like Manila when it comes to various things but I found this foreign country more progressive. It makes me sad actually because I think that Philippines is being left out in terms of economy growth. I have been to some other Asian countries and it makes me feel sad every time I see how they have efficient transport systems.
There’s also mild traffics here but look at the vehicles properly lined up, in a way, their motorists are still disciplined enough.
I’ve done my research to see if Thailand is considered part of the underdeveloped countries and turned out that it is actually on a middle class. They have some features of a non-industrialized country where some of their facilities are underdeveloped but they are also technologically more advanced to qualify for a first world country.
I have always wanted to cross this off my bucket list but I haven’t had enough courage to do so until this time. Last December, I saw another cliff jumping spot here in Boracay called the Magic Island but we were unable to go. I heard about Ariel’s Point from Lisette so I made sure that this comeback to Boracay would include a day trip so I can finally try this adventure.
It was an all-in package of a whole day activity at the island, lunch and an open bar, snorkeling, kayaking and of course, unlimited cliff jumping. 🙂
Ryan was one of the first brave ones to try it on the 8 meter platform, ikaw na!
And he has the guts to try it at the highest point (15 meters)!
My turn, but I only opted to try it at the lowest platform which is 5 meters. Actually the lifeguard has let me try it on the 3 meter platform first as I was deeply terrified but I was determined to go on with the next level so I did it, yay! It took me about half an hour to convince myself to jump.
And here I go..
I liked the package as a whole because the place was great, I love swimming by the clear waters. The only downside is that it had too limited time, it started late and they just let us wait for more than an hour for the boat to arrive, we could have enjoyed swimming and had more time to relax if we arrived earlier. And the food too was not so great, the meals offered for the island hopping was much yummier.
Summer came in early this year when my good friend, Lei invited us to join them for an island camping in Caramoan. It is a place far far away from Manila and she told me that we’re going to commute so I thought that would be a long and tiresome trip but I gave in anyway, its a beach we’re going so I couldn’t care less. 😀
It was a 13-hour bus ride to the municipality of Caramoan so were totally worn out the moment we arrived at the town. Afterwards, we have to ride this big tricycle to reach the boat that would charter us to the island.
Before we arrived at the camp site, we went island hopping first.
The place was so charming. The clear waters however was very shallow that time so we can’t enjoy swimming but the view is just so lovely so photo ops na lang.
We had camping in Matukad island where we had the place to ourselves. We were isolated over the night as there was no electricity and signal, just our tents and lamps. It was my first time to go island camping so at night I was kinda scared because we were the only ones in that island and the townsfolk lives afar but over time, I was assured that the place is safe for campers.
While there was still sunlight, we rushed on setting up our tents and prepared for our dinner. It felt really good to disconnect for a while where all you can do is enjoy the peacefulness of nature. It was a long long night so after dinner, we had some drinks and went swimming.
And we had to climb this edgy rock formations to see the mysterious giant milk fish in a lagoon. The view on top gave us a wide panoramic view of the entire Matukad island, so lovely!
“The scariest place on Earth” – Former US President, Bill Clinton, during his visit in 1993.
This is probably the most terrifying tour I have ever tried and I was grateful that I was able to get out of that place unharmed and alive. I can say that I technically been to North Korea.
Being able to experience this tour requires advanced reservation because of security reasons so even before our trip to Seoul, I have arranged for the reservation because I badly wanted to go to the border. And having a reservation also does not guarantee that the tour will push through because it depends mainly on the situation between the two countries. Luckily, there was no tension during our scheduled visit so yay!
The Joint Security Area is the place where guards of the two countries face each other. According to the tour guide, sometimes the North Korean guards does not appear for some reason, so swertehan din.
Basically they allow visitors to have their picture taken behind North Korea side but it is strictly prohibited to take picture of the south side. There was this instance where one of the joiners of our group accidentally taken her selfie showing the south side as the background and the soldier approached, asked her to show him the picture and have it deleted. The reason for that act was because you may be suspected as a spy to the other country. The best thing you can do here is to obey.
Look at that North Korean guard taking a picture. Accordingly, they usually do that when they spot someone famous visiting the border, I wonder who might that be.
By taking this picture, I was literally standing between two counties, my left foot on North Korea and the right on South.
This conference hall is the only way you can set foot on the exact border. When you’re at the opposite side of that table, its the moment you can say that you are officially in North Korea.
Our tour concluded with a sumptuous meal which was included in the package.
Our first visit to Palawan was the moment I realized how truly blessed and beautiful the islands of Philippines are. The main highlight of this trip was to experience island hopping in El Nido and as a sea lover, the place instantly became my most favorite and convinced myself that I would definitely go back.
It was those first trips where Ryan and I were not yet into budgeted travels so I felt like Palawan was quite an expensive place to visit but I guess it was worth every penny to what beauty I have witnessed during our whole stay. The islands were filled with pristine beaches and the crystal-clear waters made me so much in awe of the offerings of the place. I was also moved by the warmth and kindness of the people we were able to meet plus the food were delectable (thinking of these makes me want to go back like right now).
The five-hour van ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido was quite nerve-racking because of the narrow rough roads and lack of street lights (we traveled at night time) coupled with kuya driver’s swift driving. It was around 1am when we reached the hotel and I was so excited hearing the waves and I hardly got enough amount of sleep. I remember waking up at 5am and the sun wasn’t out yet so I just went for a walk at the shore and it was the most relaxing walk I have ever had for years. When I finally came to see the morning view, I swear, the sleepless night was worth it.
I always thought that people living on a beachfront houses are the luckiest and I was beyond thankful for those two mornings we were able to have our breakfast with a very much impressive view. Aah, #takemeback.
Island hopping, yay! According to the resort staff, the best tours offered are A & C so we availed both for two days but the next time I visit, I’ll make sure to go with all four and I would stay for a whole week, para sulit (and that is if I have enough money).
I never have much love for long hours of boat sailing until this point of time in my life because of the magnificent view all around. All the islets has different beauty and I came to know the reason why everyone regards Palawan as a paradise for the living. I know the photographs I have do not represent the picturesque view I am talking about but believe me when I say it is breathtaking.
What’s more lovely with the island hopping tours was that they serve buffet lunch. The guides would grill while sailing and during lunch time, they would serve us a delightful meal with wide selections of yummy-grilled seafood and barbecue to fresh vegetables and healthy fruits. I know, what a life, right?
One of my favorite was this view on top of a hill in Matinloc Shrine, it gives a panoramic view of crystal clear blue waters. The stairway was somewhat rocky though and has lots of mosquitoes but I couldn’t care less because I was stunned and excited the whole time. I also loved the beach at Seven Commandos, the fine white sand and the clear waters made the place a haven of peace and the several snack shops offering fresh buko shakes are the realest. I was skin burnt the whole time as I had way too much time enjoying the sea that I kept forgetting to smear sunscreen.
I also loved how in the afternoon we would chill by a beachfront restaurant nearby enjoying the seafood paluto while sipping cocktails.
Our 2-day stay at El Nido was one of the happiest moment of my life and I wish to be back real soon.
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Since our flight back to Manila was scheduled in the afternoon, we opted to do the city tour in the morning. There’s plenty of places to see but due to limited time, we shortened down the list to Baker’s Hill, Crocodile Farm, Plaza Cuartel, baywalk and we also had some time to try out chaolong at the famous restaurant Bona’s.
Baker’s Hill was a small village located on top of a hill and the place was surprisingly good. Aside from their wide variety of yummy pastries (I love their hopias and chocolate crinkles), I like how they converted this shop into a mini park where family and barkadas could bond.
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My favorite spot on the park was where this two kids playing sungka, it gave nostalgia to my childhood days where we would enjoy this game. Look at those precious smiles, I still prefer these traditional games over the latest technologies because they bring simple joys and not to mention I love simpler life. Given much more time, I would have loved joining them for a round, of course, I still remember how the game goes.
I was surprised how historic the province of Palawan is and I am glad that they were able to maintain some of the historical places for modern people and tourists to see.
I was quite disappointed with the bay walk because of the bad smell, I would have loved biking or walking around without it.
Top priority on my list is to enjoy a bowl of chaolong at Bona’s so I really made sure that we don’t run out of time trying this out. Best paired with banh mi, It was really good and so affordable.
I also learned that there is a small Vietnamese village in the center of Puerto Princesa which served as a home for a Vietnamese refugees after a Vietnamese war. Introducing their culture including their cuisine is a simple way to show their gratitude for the hospitality of the locals.
It was one of the few trips where I nearly cried when going home so I really promised to come back to Palawan and so this year, I planned for a trip to Coron this time, hope this trip would turn out to be as memorable as our time in El Nido. 🙂