Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Manila: The land with Gigantic malls

So we hop on the earliest flight out for our first day in the Philippines and arrived in Manila at around 10am.
So, when we arrived at the airport, there is only 1 queue in sight. Despite many warnings about the yellow taxi, we went ahead to take them because we are unable to find any other taxis. We took the 40 minutes ride to Makati, their CBD area, due to a bad jam since it’s Friday and it costs us about 14SGD, which I thought it was still alright.
High rise in CBD
The hotel only allowed us to check in at 2pm sharp as their room was not ready. But they were really nice to let us put our bags there while we go shopping and have some lunch!

Our lunch at Reyes Barbecue in Greenbelt 1. Total damage: 340PHP ~ 10SGD. They come with a drink of your choice. Looks like a most economical choice as tonnes of people are queuing for this. And it's delicious too!!! And, oh ya, people in Philippines just loves pork. You will see how in my other posts in other cities. :)

And our dinner at Shakey's in Glorietta 3. Total damage: 830PHP ~ 24SGD. Shakey's in Philippines is like a franchise as we see them everywhere, in Manila, in Legaspi, Cebu and even Palawan. Anyway, we were forced to take the hand tossed pizza as the thin crust one was out of stock. No idea how this could happen but ya. We realised during this trips, tonnes of things could happen! The chicken is tender and soft. But I personally feel that they were a little dry on the insides. The pizza was great though. But a little too much for 2.

We stayed at Prince Plaza II Condotel which was great since shopping malls (Greenbelt) is just right across the street, like literally. The rooms are big too as expected from a Condotel (Condominium + Hotel) and it also includes in room amenities like oven, small dining table, stove and refrigerator.

The entire area consist of Greenbelt (5 zones), Glorietta (4 zones), Landmark and SM Makati. They are HUGE! We spent almost the entire day trying to complete Greenbelt and only about 2/3 of Glorietta. And nope, we didn’t even reached SM Makati. But oh well, it was compensated by our last day in Manila when we went SM Mall of Asia. Will cover more on that later.

When we went back to the airport the following day, we caught a white taxi with the help of the guard for our hotel and guess what, it costs less than 4SGD!!! Now you know why the yellow one is a rip off! ARGH!

Some tips about staying in Manila:
1. Try not to stay out late, go back before 930pm. There’re a lot of kids on streets who will try to sell you things and get real close to you. Personally I wasn’t very comfortable with them touching my arms and bags.
2. Keep your bags in sight as much as possible especially in the evening
3. DO NOT take the yellow taxi; take the white one instead. You can thank me later

Since there isn’t any direct flight from Singapore to most of the smaller islands in Philippines, we decided to purchase a round trip ticket to Manila since it’s really cheap during the promotion period for PAL (Philippine Airlines). I heard from a Singapore taxi uncle that he went during the same period as I did and he paid 350SGD for his budget Tiger Airline flight. I ONLY PAID 276SGD FOR MY PAL FLIGHT!!!! (Including check in luggage and on board meals!) SO MUCH WIN!!!

So anyway, back to the topic on SM Mall of Asia. It is HUGE. So huge it’s difficult to describe how big it is. Perhaps about the land size from Orchard MRT to Somerset MRT in Singapore. One other great thing is that it’s really near to the airport. Only a 5-10 minutes drive in normal traffic conditions. So if alike me, you have a few hours to spend before your boarding, hop on a cab and visit this mall. You will be astonished by the mere size of it. Like its logo suggest, No Other Mall Comes Close.

SM Mall of Asia

The Arena

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Life isn't beautiful

It's filled with hundreds of heart wrenching heartbreak, gallons of tears and countless failures. But akin to a pouring thunderstorm, the sun will shine one day. Like a winding hill, there's ups and down in all our lives.

But smooth sailing lives wouldn't be an exciting life.

Without the efforts, hardwork and countless failures, we are unable to appreciate what we achieve each day. It is no feat for most to see, to hear and to run. But for many, opening their eyes to see for the first time in their lives have brought a whole new meaning to them.

Life is hard. Life is full of negativity and sometimes it will knock you down. But struggle makes us stronger and change make us wiser. We are all given a powerful tool called choice, a choice to react, a choice to choose, how would we let these experiences and events define our lives.

Because life isn't beautiful as we imagine. Life is beautiful in ways we couldn't.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Art of getting tan (Part I)

With one random remark from my daddy, off we go to the sunny island of Langkawi in Malaysia. As Langkawi is a pretty small island, our itinerary is pretty simple.

Day 1: Arrival in Langkawi (10pm)
From a close friend of mine, I was able to get reliable car rental local personnel for our car rental.  It's super cheap. I know because i have a friend who went before and the price is barely half! *whee* As our flight arrives at around 10pm, we were pretty worried that any conventional car rental company may be already closed. Furthermore, as our flight was slightly delayed, I was also very worried that Kelvin (our rental) would have left since we’re late. But thank god, he was very patient and waited until we land. *wheee*

So we just took out our GPS and off to our hotel!

Day 2: Cable Car
We left for the cable car at around 10am after we had the breakfast in hotel. The drive to the cable car station in the oriental village was about 35 minutes, though it should be shorter (because we took our time on our way to admire the scenery)

A yatch club along the way

Finally! The Oriental Village!

This place is quite a picturesque place. However, as it is a tourist attraction nonetheless, the things sold here are what you will expect: touristy stuff. We arrived at about 12pm to a horrendous long queue to buy the tickets, under the hot sun! To double that horror, one of the attraction known as Sky Bridge is closed. *dang dang dang*

The sky bridge is down. :(

They offered a package to top up about 50MYR for an express queue but it costs more than double since the cable car ride only costs us about 30MYR. Since we have loads of time, we decided to queue for the cable car.

But the queue was so damn long. We ended up queuing for about an hour. And UP WE GO!

The view is really breathtaking. Hard to believe this is Malaysia, Truely Asia.....

Who can resist some Ramly Burger!
The beautiful Sky Bridge that closed on us. Pmpft!

Even my dad agrees that the wait was all worthwhile when we reached the peak. The weather was totally different, all cool and windy, unlike the cruel sun nearer to home.

And it is super windy!!

Since we are in Langkawi, we have to visit the beach isn’t it! (I think)

I think one great thing about Langkawi is that their beaches were all actually very clean. Comparable to those in Phuket and Krabi to be honest. Now don’t be deceived by these white sand and blue sand. The sand is SCORCHING HOT! THEY BURN! Really. We ran into the water to prevent our small feet from getting burned.

Day 3: Mangrove tour
We booked our Mangrove tour the previous day from a random group we saw at the beach. And yes, it was rather impromptu. We spent about 300MYR to charter a boat (which I think it’s so damn cheap) and they come and pick us up at our resort (sort of). But because the deal seemed too good to be true, I kept worrying that they do not turn up. But luckily they did!!

Bat Cave
Outside bat cave
The baby monkeys are soooooo cute. But the adult monkeys are all so aggressive I don't dare to go any closer. 

They brought us out into the open sea and I think that wasn’t supposed to be part of the package since only our boat went out. *so much win!!!*

Aw the scorching sun!! It's really really hot if not for the breeze on the boat. 

Eagle Feeding

I really thought we were gonna feed the eagles until i realised they are just throwing chunks of fish meat into the water to bring the eagles down. But it was really damn awesome. I have never see so  much eagles in the sky before. 

The monkey cove* or something. The guide was saying something I couldn't make out. But there's really loads of monkeys as well. This one's super close to our boat. He could almost jump right in. 

Floating village*


At the end of the tour was a short break at the floating village where you can have lunch and look at some of the marine collection* they have. This one is a 20kg ray kept in captivity. I have to say I'm surprised they keep these animals.

Ever since I heard my friend’s story about a pink dolphin rescuing her in the water around here I was so obsessed and was hoping so much that a dolphin will appear. And dolphins are supposed to be rare in these water.

Open sea overlooking the Kilim Geoforest Park

When I came back I saw news that there was a cluster of dolphins swimming through the Penang bridge. Fml.

We came back and went for spa and high tea! Such good life.

The standard tourist photo at the Eagle Square!

    Some other really nice architectures near the Eagle Square

Day 4: Depart from Langkawi

And we have to say goodbye..


PS: we lived right next to the airport, about 10 min drive. So it's really centralised and near to everywhere!