Tagaytay Hotel: Taal Vista Hotel

Over the last half a decade or so, development over the Tagaytay ridge has been aggressive.  Sometimes, leaving behind the atmosphere and nostalgic experience that Tagaytay use to be. But there are things that has thankfully there are places that seem to have stood still in time that you can always go back to and relieve the Tagaytay that you or parents knew on their younger years, the Taal Vista Hotel


 sweet welcome confectionery  

Built during the 1930’s president Quezon ordered Manila Hotel Company to buy a parcel of land from to be developed as a destination for rest and relaxation. By the 1939 construction of the Taal Vista Lodge commence and was soon completed and inaugurated by the same year. Today the same establishment is now known as the Taal Vista Hotel has retained much of its old world charm, bringing you back to the pristine Tagaytay that people knew about.

As I entered the lobby, I was warmly greeted by everyone at their front desk. The lobby was classy yet not that intimidating giving that homey feel like how it was at grandma’s place.

After checking in, I was lead to my room passing through a corridor adorned with memories of the hotel’s colorful history. The secondary lobby opened up to a beautiful veranda, albeit filled with fog because of the weather.

Also Read Travel Guide: 1 Day Tagaytay Itinerary


The Food

My first night’s dinner was the Veranda restaurant. Their menu is collection of cuisines that are familiar from my travels around Southeast Asia and beyond. I asked about how much is a serving good for and was told that it was for one. However, I don’t eat much so I guess a couple can share the food that I ordered, hahaha! I indulged my self starting with the Chef’s salad which is a medley of crisp and fresh vegetables tossed in a special vinaigrette. I love the subtlety of the dressing allowing the fresh flavors of the salad become the dish’s feature.  My main dish was a Nasi Goreng. The Nasi’s flavor reminded me of the *insert Street Name* colorful food scene. The tenderly flavored beef seem to have just transported me back to Malaysia. It was everything I remember. Like they say always leave room for dessert. But no, I made room for dessert. The Brazo de Mercedes was just exquisite, it felt like they know how I wanted my food. The cake wasn’t too sweet just enough for you to appreciate heaven.

 Chef’s Salad

My last dinner was hosted by the hotel’s Taza restaurant. I was sat down in a table and was asked if wanted something to drink while waiting for my food. I asked if they have juices or tea (which they do) but I pushed a little further. See I rarely drink sodas and powdered drinks, so I asked i those were either house brewed ice tea or real fruit juices. Dinner started appropriately with some soup followed by some appetizers. The main star of the night’s dinner table was the Tomahawk Rib Eye. The meat was just heavenly to chew on and cooked to perfection. The juice from the steak was just so full of flavor.

After an entire full 8 course dinning experience, I spoke with the restaurant manager and learned that their meat are locally sourced to as far as Bukidnon for the best ingredients. Something that I feel needs to be commended in a world where everything is flooded by cheap imported goods.

The Room


The room booked for me was a premier room at the Lake View wing of the property. The sight of a gorgeous bed was a welcome site for me. Having traveled from the northern part of the metro all the way to the south was a challenge. But after all that hassle, the warm embrace of the comforter and the soft hugs of the bed made it all worth it.

The suite is well appointed with wood furnishing. But the true test for me in any good hotel is the bathroom, and I was not disappointed. The huge bathroom has separate showers and toilet and a good mirror between them. Water pressure was awesome, unlike some hotels where you just want to beg for more water to come out, Taal Vista’s water pressure was just right. The toilet is equipped with a bidet, that’s an extra point no need to touch you tushy.


I appreciate that the room smelled clean. I mean yes of course hotels should smell clean but do they most of the time? Though the Taal Vista Hotel was built in the 1930’s the management actually closed it down for a couple of years and had it renovated and restored to its original architecture during the early 2000’s. The furniture are all updated to a modern taste and yes it doesn’t smell mold like any other old hotels. The room also had a big TV that kept me entertained with cable programming. I don’t really watch TV but it helped a lot keep me updated since there was a storm that time and I couldn’t really walk outside of the property.


The View

This here deserves a separate insight. Probably the best thing about mornings in Taal Vista Hotel was waking up to an unbelievable view. You know that feeling when you watch movies where the character starts his or her day? They pour in their coffee and open up this huge glass panel door, walks right into their veranda and breathes in the cool crisp air while looking into that awesome view as they drink their coffee? That feeling! I couldn’t just get my self to close that window. My bed was near the huge glass doors and I just spent so much time lounging at the bed, working on my laptop and just giving that view a glimpse form time to time. It was all the motivation I needed to work that day.

The room has a veranda that could have been perfect to spend your afternoons at. If not for the strong winds and occasional rains I would have ordered my self a pot of brewed coffee and just admire that picturesque view.



The Taal Vista Hotel Property

If you have ever passed by Taal Vista Hotel’s area, you might have the notion that the property’s area is a bit small. Well that was my impression before, at least. However passed the main building and this hill (which was actually a wall) that separates areas of the property. I walked around and explored the property a bit further.

The Gym

I’m not a fitness freak, but I do try to get some exercise. I just don’t want to gain those pounds again (#paranoid) and it was a good thing that Taal Vista Hotel has gym with ample equipment that you can use to burn those extra fat. Though it was raining and foggy outside, I appreciate that they air conditioning was still on. See when you burn more fats when you work out in a cold environment. This is because your body uses more energy to heat up your self and perform its functions. Now that’s one good fitness tip for you 😉

The Pool

I’m not quite sure if the pool is heated or not, but i tried to take a dip on that gloomy day and the water was just perfect. I admit that I am quite squeamish with cold pools, but the water was just fine! It is also notable that the pool is hidden from plain sight from the public areas. Remember that hill looking wall? This is what was behind it. The pool also has an on duty life guard so kids are safe, still of course don’t leave minors unattended.

Sky Ranch

If you are staying in Taal Vista Hotel, you can also gain special access to the Sky Ranch theme park. The hotel has a special access to the theme park so there is no need to go out and walk on road side. This is also great since your room is easily accessible from the park. May also ask for a special rate for the park.

My Goodbyes



On my last day just before I check out of the property, I asked for a cup of coffee. It was a good cup. The bitterness just strikes my palate at the right spots with notes of rubbery goodness. Everything that I am looking for in cup of coffee while I gaze at the incredible view of the Taal Volcano one last time. The Taal Vista doesn’t just offer a room for everyone. It offers an opportunity to travel back in time and feel how it was back in the days when the ridge was uncrowded through its wide open spaces facing the lake.

If you have just one day and couldn’t stay, I’d say give the spot a few hours, buy a cup of coffee and just stare at the amazing view of the Taal Lake. Slow down a bit and feel the beauty of life at Taal Vista Hotel. 

Boracay Hostel: W Hostel Boracay


Boracay can be a lonesome place for a solo traveler, but thank God for Hostels. Hostels are a very good place to find travel buddies even for just a short while. That’s why I love staying in Boracay hostel. So on my uhmm…. fourth (not sure though) time in Boracay, I scouted for a cool hip place to stay where I can meet new people and I was not disappointed.

This Boracay Hostel is strategically located along Bulabog road. Just right between the kite surfing famous Bulabog Beach and the world famous White Beach of Boracay. The hostel occupies two floors of the building allowing them to offer dorm type, en-suite and private rooms for travelers of different kinds.

What I Love About This Boracay Hostel

The Hostel

As soon as I enter the reception of the hostel I was warmly greeted by the staff as if they know me (yeah you get the warmest hellos in hostel – not at all hostels though, unfortunately). Jen their lead front desk officer assisted me in checking in and helped me settle in the hostel. Really felt I was genuinely welcomed.

The hostel doesn’t have those super dorms putting in 12 or more people in one room making it bearable. I was assigned on a four bed dorm with fellow travelers from France and Germany . Each room has a corner table where you can work on. Every bed also has a certain level of privacy. Each one of them has curtains installed to cover, giving you a capsule like experience. And yes all rooms are air conditioned. I was also happy that they have multiple showers and toilets for each floors. available so using the bathroom was never an issue.

It was raining my entire stay in the island and you know what my saving grace was? This Boracay hostel! Since the weather was bad most of the time with the sun peeping every now and then, it was awesome that they have this roof top where I can hang out. the rooftop has a small pool where you can hang out while looking out to Bulabog Beach. They also have some weights that you can use to keep your self fit while lounge chairs  are enough for people to catch some of that Sun.



The hostel is also located between the two most popular beaches in Boracay giving you easy access to both of them. Food selection, grocery and night life is also not a problem. WHostel Boracay is just a several meters away from good Filipino eateries, water refilling station, D’Mall, grocery store, spa and restaurants around station 2.


I got my bed for a little over $6 a night. The price includes breakfast that usually are bread, jams, congee, flowing brewed coffee and each guest gets one egg for free which the staff can cook for you. I choose to cook my own to a fluffy consistency ^_^ .  Do I need to say anything more? I mean the price was just amazing having those amenities and inclusion at your disposal. I say it was a good deal.



This boracay hostel is a great choice if you are looking for value. Yes, it may not be a beach front property but access to both Bulabog and White beach is good. It also provides you a more decent accommodation in the Island. At around that price considering their facilities and that free breakfast just cuts the deal. Cleanliness is also exceptional and their wifi connection is excellent. Imagine having your own router in your room so that you don’t have to compete with others in connecting to the internet. With that I’d say that I’d highly recommend this Boracay Hostel



If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo



Sinagpa Backpackers Your True Escape In Boracay

Known to be one of the best islands in the world, Boracay can be a bit tiring after all the partying all night. But getting good accommodation in Boracay’s Station 1 area  at an affordable price is next to impossible. After extensively searching the entire Boracay inventory of Agoda.com one property stood out among them, it was Sinagpa backpackers.

Tucked at the northern end of Boracay’s Station 1, Sinagpa Backpackers joins other high end accommodations such as Punta Rosa, Boracay Terrace Resort and The Strand. The property’s beach access seem to be a semi private part of white beach’s stretch as it curves into a little cove like  area giving you a bit more privacy in you own little stretch of the beach.

What I Like Most About Sinagpa Backpackers

Being a backpacker at heart, my attention was quickly taken by Sinagpa Backpackers’ rating and price range. Being so near the high-end resorts around I was surprised with the price range that it was showing. I thought that it was too good to be true, so I checked the reviews and it was a real value for an accommodation having a 7.9 rating in Agoda.

Sinagpa Backpackers offer rooms that has a well equipped kitchenette. The utensils and kitchenware were all clean with the counter top sparkling clean. Since it is located on a non-commercial residential area of Boracay, I was able to buy food and other things from the store at normal non-bloated prices! Like how they would sell you things at your local sari-sari store. I bought 5 eggs at 8 pesos each and some oil so I can cook my scrambled eggs.

Digital nomads also do not have to worry about internet connection as the rooms has access to a decent WiFi connection. I was able to finish a lot of social media tasks and upload photos for the day to update people who follow me on social media.

I also enjoyed the soft bed and pillows that smelled really clean! It really made my sleep comfortable and I always wake up well rested. See it is important for me to get good sleep while I travel not only because it feels good waking up, but that also means that even if I sleep short I will feel energized and enjoy more hours of exploration in my destination.


Sinagpa Backpacker’s location is pretty good for those people who would like to experience a quieter Boracay without straying away from the vibrant scene of white beach. You may feel that the location is a bit far flung as you take Boracay’s road network. However, once you are settled station 1 and station 2 is just a good 10 minute walk via the soft powdery sands of white beach.

Boracay Hostel


I’d say that Sinagpa Backpackers offers something that only the high end market can afford most of the time. Sinagpa Backpackers offers the accessibility to Boracay’s finest sand at station 1 while locating you on a community that offers affordable commodities. That alone gives you a bang for your buck at Sinagpa Backpackers. But what most appeals to me is that the accommodation is located far enough from the crazy scene of white beach but still is accessible enough to reach the usual areas of activities. Because of its unique location you can enjoy some peace and quite moments by beach letting you commune with the sea, the sun and the wind.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

The Hot Springs Of Beitou

One of the best things that the Japanese colonizers has left in Taiwan is the Hot Springs or Onsen culture. Beitou, a district at the northern end of Taipei is where you’ll find the best onsens. Throughout the district you will find Onsens that range from a local hotspring just like the Lung Nai Tang to high end facilities. With so much choices, here are my favorite Hot Springs Of Beitou

XinBeitou Area

This area is the easier one to get to. Just take the Red MRT Line to Beitou station then change trains to the Branch line going to Xin Beitou. This area is the toursity part, but for a good reason. Here are some of the spots that you can check out while in XinBeitou.

Taipei Library

While the building exudes beauty by it self alone, it also sets an example as it is also a green building. you can come in and just wander around the facility

Address: No. 251,Guangming Rd,,Beitou District,,Taipei City,Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Sun-Mon (09:00-17:00), Tues-Sat (8:30-21:00), Closed on Holidays and first thursday of the month
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Hotsprings Museum

Know the history of how Taipei acquired the hot springs culture. The museum is house on a former bath house built during the Japanese era, when Taiwan was still its colony.

Address: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112 (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Tues-Sun (09:00 – 17:00), Closed on Mondays and National Holidays
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Long Nai Tang

The Long Nai Tang is the oldest still in operation public bath house in Taipei. The bath house traces its history back to the Japanese era when the colonizers introduced the Onsen culture to the Taiwanese people. Do not expect much with the facilities though. The public bath is as local as you can get. There are no lockers just some shelves where you can put your clothes in. The shower area is on one corner of thee bath house where you use a dipper to clean your self from the cold flowing spring water. There’s no separate wet and dry area where you can change, basically its just one space (about 25sqm) where you undress,clean and bathe. Though it lacks the glamorous facilities, its historic value as the oldest hot springs of  beitou sure makes up for it.

Address: No. 244 Guāngmíng Road, Běitóu District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: NT$90 (Adults), NT$50 (Children)

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Ketagalan Culture Center

Know more about Taiwan’s aborigines, Taiwan’s first inhabitants. Entrance is free for the museum but no photos are allowed to be taken. The museum hosts a large inventory of aborigine dresses, artifacts as well as historical and educational materials where you can learn about the peoples origins and culture.

Address:  No. 3-1, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: Free

Note: Photographs not allowed inside

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Thermal Valley (Hell Valley)

Like a scene reminding you about that hot place where souls are punished is how the Beitou Thermal Valley got its nickname Hell Valley.  The park showcases the process of how Beitou gets its therapeutic hot spring waters that feeds to the hot springs of beitou.


Hot Springs Of Beitou

Puji Temple

A Japanese era temple, Puji Temple has survived the years making it a rare example of Japanese Buddhism

Mankewu Ramen

A must try when in Beitou, Man Ke Wu Ramen (Lamian in Taiwanese) are prepared using hot spring water that makes it special. Price ranges around NT$ 110 -200.

Address: 110 Wenquan Rd, Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC)
Hours: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm Tuesdays to Sunday

Xinyi Road Area

Hot Spring Area

Most of the mid-range hot springs resorts are located in this area. The resorts are built around the sulfuric hot springs where the therapeutic waters are sourced from. Price range from this are varies from 200 – around 500 NT

Sakuraoka Hot Springs

Aside from Lung Nai Tang, The Sakuroka Hot Springs resort is the other hot spring resort that I have tried so far. Sorry I don’t have any personal photos of it because I forgot to take a photo when there was still light. Then, it was dark already when I got out because I really enjoyed soaking in their hot tubs.

Yes, you are required to be naked while taking a bath. I strongly suggest you try it, you’ll bathe together with families of fathers and sons for me and mothers and daughters for girls. You’ll feel relieved in the sense that you’ll realize that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about bathing together in public.

I promise to make a proper review of the place when I get back to Taipei. This is a good one though.

Hot springs of beitou

Other Spas that I recommend

Emperor Hot Springs – Better than Sakuraoka Hot Springs as per reviews.

There are gay spas so please ask the reception if they are one. I mistakenly got into one, there are no signs like the LGBT flag on their doors and reception. I just kept an open mind. They were all behave…. it was way too early for the rush hour people to come in anyway… hahaha!

Suggested Itinerary

You can go around the Beitou tourist area first and visit the museums and eat ramen for lunch then later in the after noon you can go to the hotsprings and enjoy the therapeutic waters of the hot springs of Beitou.

How To Get To The Hot Springs of Beitou

To get to Xin Beitou, just take the Red Line MRT the change platforms to the branch line going to Xin Beitou. If you want to go straight to the Onsens, just take the red line and get off at Shipai Station. Get on a 509 Bus and get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down the street. Fare from Shipai Station is NT$15



Free Things To Do In Hong Kong

Just recently Hong Kong has been listed as the world’s most expensive city. Despite this label for Asia’s World City, Hong Kong still proves to be one of the favorite destinations for Filipinos. Aside from its visa free entry policy for Filipinos Hong Kong is just 2 Hours from the Philippines capital city of Manila.

When visiting Hong Kong, visitors will surely have no shortage of places to visit and activities to do. However, stretching your dollar can be a challenge if you want to squeeze more into your day and experience more of Hong Kong. Fret no more though, we’ve come up with the top free tourist

Avenue Of Stars

Walk across a concrete board walk above the waters of Victoria Harbor and see Hong Kong’s tributes to its past and present brightest stars. The promenade was built in the 1980’s, by 2004 the same promenade around the New World Centre was developed into what we now know as the Avenue of Stars.

Hong Kong


Hong Kong

Chi Lin Nunnery

Built in 1934 and renovated in 1990, the Chi Lin Nunnery is wooden temple complex that features a series of temple hall and deity statues. The Buddhist temple complex is found at Diamond Hill in Kowloon

Hong Kong

Nan Lian Garden

Just right across the Chi Lin Nunnery is the Nan Lian Garden. A well kept public park one can find himself relaxing in this lush garden filled with amazing flora and sculpture. The garden was built in Tang Dynasty style hence the ancient feel of the entire place.

Hong Kong


Lady Market

walk through this expansive market place that comes alive specially at night. The Lady’s Market got its name from the women merchandise that are mostly sold ranging from cosmetics accessories and trinkets. There are also good food finds around that market where you can experience authentic Hong Kong style cuisines.

Hong Kong

Noon Day Gun

Every noon time this huge gun is fired facing the Causeway Bay. The gun is actually privately  owned by the multinational giant Jardine Matheson hence, a Jardine employee has the honor. This ritual traces its origin way back in the 1860’s ironically as a penalty. During those times everytime Jardine’s  tai-pan arrives the company would fire the gun as a salute. However, a new comer British naval officer got annoyed of it and penalized the Jardine Matheson company by ordering it of firing the gun for all eternity! Jardine however up to this day has kept its side of the deal.

Hong Kong

Central Plaza Sky Deck

One of the best views of Hong Kong is actually offered for free. Find your selves at the Central Plaza sky deck where you can get an unobstructed view of Hong Kong for free. Best part of it is that not a lot of people know about this !

Hong Kong

Central Mid Level Escalator

Declared as the world’s longest escalator, The Central Mid Level escalator connects the lower part of Central to the upper part through the steep hill side via a series of 20 escalator and inclined walkalator. Total travel time from the lower part to the top of the escalators is about 20 minutes.

Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple

The Man Mo Temple is a tribute to the God of Literature and God of War. It is said that many have flocked to this temple since the 1800’s to pray for their studies. People offer coiled up incense and hang them up in front of the altar for their prayers.

hong kong

Hong Kong Museum Of History

The museum offers some free galleries showcasing 400 million years of history that includes artifacts, ethnography and other natural histories about Hong Kong and South China.

hong kong

Symphony Of Lights

Back at the Avenue of Stars, a free nightly show comes to life as soon as the clock strikes 7. The entire Hong Kong island becomes a big stage as its famous skyline dances with lights to the beat of a common music.



Hong Kong Park

Take a break from the chaotic city scene of Hong Kong without going to the country side. The Hong Kong park offers respite for those who need to breath a little. The park is located just right off of the Hong Kong Zoo


If you need more information about Hong Kong you can check out this Free Travel Guide and Itinerary to help you plan your trip.

Oras Falls Tabaco City’s Hidden Gem

One of the things that I love about Tabaco City is how close the nature it is. Just several minutes away from the down town one can find himself surrounded by nature at the heart of an abundant forest. There’s no need to hike so much though to find Tabaco City’s hidden gem because just a few minutes of walking from the jump off point you will find the Oras Falls.


Oras Falls

Unlike the better known Vera falls, Oras Falls enjoys a bit more relaxed environment as it doesn’t get flooded much with tourists. I also love in particular the multi level small cascades at the food of the falls where the water runs downhill. You can just sit on one of the boulders and feel the water rushing through your body giving you some kind of whole body massage effect.

I really enjoyed my time spent in Oras Falls. It’s a great thing to find places like this that doesn’t take much effort to see natures beauty. Not that I don’t like hiking, but sometimes if you just want to escape the toxicity of your city life it helps going to places like these where you can commune with nature at whim.

Oras Falls

How To Get To Oras Falls

The easiest and most convenient way to get to the falls’ jump-off point is to rent a tricycle from the city proper. Alternatively one may take a jeepney from the city and get off at Brgy. Oras and then take a tricycle to the jump-off point. From there it only takes about 10 minutes or less on foot (depending on your hiking skills) to get to the falls.

For more information please contact the Tabaco City Tourism Office you can also check out Celineism’s detailed post about this destination

Tabaco is a fourth class city in the province of Albay. The best way to reach the city is by taking a 60 minute plane ride to Legazpi City  Airport, its nearest airport then a bus to the city’s downtown. You can also take a 12 hour bus from Manila that takes you directly to the city. 


Tabaco City’s Tabak Festival

With a confused mind I was on a bus bound to Bicol to a city called Tabaco. I was one of the the bloggers that the city invited to witness the Tabak Festival. I was battling in my mind why would the city celebrate Tabak instead of Tabaco which is a type of plant used to make cigars. Anyways, I just slept on the bus on a 12 hour journey from Manila. Well, at least I tried to sleep.

As soon as the light came in, I was greeted by this majestic view. Something that I’ve only seen on books until that day, The Mayon volcano. I was truly blessed as Mayon showed it self clearly that day, as if he was welcoming me to Bicol. I’ve heard of friends who spent days even up to a week at a time and never got to see the glorious Mayon in its entirety. With that I am grateful. Not bad for a welcome for a Bicol virgin like me.

I hopped off the at Tabaco City bus stop and was fetched by Verna our ever caring tour coordinator. After checking in I was introduced to Dave of silverbackpacker.com  who’s also my room mate for the next few days. Celine of Celineism.com on the other hand arrived the day after.

The Festival Origin

The Tabak Festival celebrates the city’s renowned craft of making the Tabak, a type of sword used mostly by farmers to cut through shrubs and other plants to clear a field or just plainly cut open a fresh coconut. The city formulated the festival to celebrate annually the its cityhood in 2003 just a year after it was granted such status.


The festival focuses on the Tabak’s culture and its people’s daily lives. It aims to celebrate the spirit of the city’s community caring for each other and living harmoniously. Fittingly, the city hashtagged #cityoflove during the festivities and yes, you can see love all around. You can feel that more than competing with each other contenders enjoy and show their best for the love of their city.

The Festivities

Focusing on its residents’ daily living the festivities include boat racing, pedicab race, coconut husking and beauty pageants. The week long festivities are then capped with the Tabak Festival grand parade.

 Boats waiting for the race to start


 Pedicab Race Finishers waiting for the rest of the pack


LGU night performers



 Mutya ng Tabakla Candidates

Related Article: Mutya ng Tabakla Queens


 Rock Tabak Concert


 Mayor Krisel enjoying the night with senior citizens during the seniors night


 Live band for the city’s senior citizens


 Mutya ng Tabak Candidates

During the LGU night w had a chance to chat with Mayor Krisel and asked about the city’s name. It was really difficult to focus on her story. looking at such beautiful and intelligent mayor (yeeeee kakakilig hahaha) telling a story??? Hahahaha! Anyways, She told the story of how the city came to be known at Tabaco City. Once upon a time…. Kidding! According to a fable (not kidding now) there’s this heroine who fought with a Tabak. She was caught off guard without her Tabak, she commanded her offspring “Anak ang Tabak Ko!” (son hand me my Tabak) hence Tabak Ko which later evolved to Tabaco. According to the good mayor, there’s not even a single Tabaco plantation n the city.

To be honest, the Tabak Festival isn’t as big as many of the famous festivals in the country. What’s special about this though is that it celebrates humanity. That we need each other, care for your neighbor. there are very few festivals that celebrates this side of us being humans. Many celebrate saints history but very few celebrate who we are and who we should be. I think it is a good thing to visit Tabaco City and experience the Tabak Festival and see for your selves how people take care of each other in Bicol’s City of Love.

Read more about the Tabak Festival from Celineism and Silverbackpacker

The Tale of Two Tabacos

Tabak Festival Fun Games


Hong Kong In Photographs

I could be the worst blogger there is. A few years back,  I had the chance to travel with my dad to Hong Kong, and I don’t have the right words to describe that trip. So here I am telling you that very story of our trip to Hong Kong In Photographs


On board our Cebu Pacific flight to Hong Kong, Dad’s first time abroad!

>>> See Story Of My Dad’s First Time Abroad<<<




First meal in a typical restaurant within our hotel’s block


Disneyland Day! Sorry the kid in me can’t just let this pass. It has been almost a decade since I last experience Disneyland in Anaheim at this point.




Disney’s magic never fails me.


Tea Cups anyone?


Strolling along the Avenue of Stars



Busy streets of Kowloon


Crossing the harbor to Centeral Hong Kong


Streets of Central Hong Kong


The view from The Peak


Goodnight and good bye Hong Kong till we meet again


Beitou: Bathing Nude In Sakuraoka Hot Springs

One of the activities that I look forward every time I visit Taiwan is a visit to one of their Hot Springs. The Beitou district of Taipei is heaven for hot springs junkies like me and if you are comfortable bathing nude in public you will absolutely enjoy this activity.

On my second time in Taipei, I went out of my way hunting for this particular spa; The Sakuraoka Hot Springs Spa. I knew about this hot springs facility way back but couldn’t find it. So this time I made sure to find it and experience the spa. I was really interested by their website where they show that can see the Taipei 101 and a good view of the forest while dipping in their hot tubs.

So i got off at the XinBeitou MRT terminal and started to look for the place. Maps.Me seem not to be working so I tried to use Google Maps. Both couldn’t find the address so I keyed the name of the place instead. It worked! But….. the map threw the pin on an off road destination in the mountains. I checked if it was walk-able but it’s just too far, and the incline could be too taxing. So I hailed a cab.

Finally, I got to the Spa.

The interiors are okay nothing grand but gives you a sense of Japanese influence to it. I approached the counter asked for admission.

Entrance Fee: NT$ 200 (Monday – Friday), NT$ 250 (Holidays, Friday night till Sunday)
Towel Fee: NT$ 50 (you can bring your own)
Visit Duration: Unlimited

One of their staff walked me to the bathing area. I then undressed and kept my clothes in a shelve, of course I’ve got no photos of the wet area, I mean people are naked… duh! LOL!

The Men’s area has two pools. One has water jets that are really relaxing. The wet area isn’t that huge so it can be crowded specially on weekends and holidays so always check first before you commit. That applies to any spa that you go to. Their second pool in the men’s wet area is the hot tub, and when I say hot -it really is hot. It takes some time to adjust to the pool’s temperature, but once you get comfortable it’s just gonna be heaven.

 photo from sakuraoka website

How to get to Sakuraoka Hot Springs

  1. Take the MRT and get off at the Shipai Station in the red line.
  2. Take any of the buses 508, 535, 536 or 612
  3. Get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down Lane 300 take the road down hill on where the road forks. The spa is on the right side.
  4. Fare is NT$ 15

You can always take a cab either from Shipai or Xin Beitou station, costs around NT$ 150.


For someone comfortable in public bathing like me, this was one of the best that I’ve experience, comparing to what I’ve experienced around Asia (note: haven’t been to Japan though). Soaking for hours while staring at the forest with the Taipei 101 emerging like its one of the trees there was just relaxing. Honestly, I’ve never felt so much peace of mind ever than how I’ve had while I soak in the tub. It felt like it was just me, the tub and nature communing. Not a single negative thought came across my head.

I’ve also heard that there’s another Hot Spring spa in the area that’s better (there’s actually a lot of hot spring spa in that area including a gay spa so be careful if you don’t want to end up in one like me, LOL!) called Emperor Spa. But that’s for another visit. If you haven’t done public bathing the japanese way, I strongly suggest you do. You’ll appreciate your body a lot more and it will feel very liberating. It will make you think, why have I been embarrassed on doing this; there’s nothing to it really!




Batanes Itinerary And Travel Guide

Batanes still remains one of if not the most dreamed of destination in the country. The northern most province of the Philippines, Batanes’ next door neighbor is already Taiwan. For years Batanes has been far from an average person’s reach, not just beacause of its distance but because of the amount involved just to get there. However, over the past couple of years Batanes has become a bit more affordable. From the usual 16,000 – 20,000 peso airfares before, airlines now offer deals aroudn 3,000 pesos and sometimes even cheaper. Now that we have an opportunity to explore Batanes, let’s go and check out what are the things we can do in this beautiful Island with this simeple Batanes Itinerary

Getting There

There are two airlines that fly from Manila and one Tuguegarao namely, Philippine Airlines, Skyjet and SkyPasada. Fly time is about 1.25 Hrs from Manila.

Batanes Itinerary


Getting Around Basco, Sabtang and Itbayat (The three major islands of the province) can be challenging. There are/is a jeep that goes around Basco at certain times mainly to transport people from the town to the pier. Be sure to ask your hotel/inn/homestay staff about the schedule so you wont miss it. I was told during my stay that I should catch it at the town exit at around 6:30 AM but it came around 7nish. Other than that you’d either have to walk, rent a bike or a motorbike to go around. I rented a bicycle to roam around the island on my own instead of joining tours. You’d have to really adventurous though if you want to go that way. The roads are challenging to pedal as most of them are up hill and you be on the road as darkness falls. There rarely are street lights in the outskirts of Basco.


Where To Stay

Contrary to common beliefs, accommodation in Batanes is affordable. You can find home stays, inns and hometels in Basco for your home base. I for example stayed in Time Travel Lodge for just about 500 pesos a night (this was back in 2014 – please check with the property for current rates). The property was near the airport, which is good in a way. However, it becomes a challenge if you frequent the town center where most of the activities are. See Basco lies on a slope, with the Airport at the top of the hill and the pier on the other end. See what I mean? But if it hills dosn’t bother you, say your like from SanFo that shouldn’t be an issue. If you can get a room some where near the pier, the better.

Batanes Itinerary

Where To Eat 

There are a few restaurants that we tried a few that we can recommend are Pension Ivatan for their Ivatan Platter so that you can try all Ivatan food that you can! There’s also Shanedel’s serving standard menus like continiental breakfast and tapsis. One must try though in Batanes are its lobsters and Coconut Crabs. Coconut crabs can be a bit on the expensive side because it is hard to find in the forests, but lobsters here are the cheapest that you can find.

Batanes Itinerary

What To Do

Top 2 things to do in Batanes are sight seeing and food trippin’. I think we covered the later earlier so let’s check out what is there to see in Batanes.

Like I mentioned, Batanes is composed of three main islands; Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. The most convenient way to see everything is by booking a tour with tour companies like BISUMI. Last time I check they are offering a 5,000 peso tour for three days covering both islands inclusive of food and fees!

I on the other hand opted to bring a map and bike! the bike cost me about 200-300 pesos for the entire day and a gazillion calories! That made me soooo happy! hahahaha~!

I don’t have much words to describe Batanes so heeeere’s some scenery porn… ugh… that doesn’t sound right… hahaha

Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary

Batanes Itinerary



Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary


Batanes Itinerary

Honestly I dont think that gave Batanes any justice. You.Just.Have.To.See.It.Yourself.


The Batanes itinerary should be fairly easy.

Day 1: Arrive, rent bike or join tour, Ivatan feast at Pension Ivatan

Day 2 South Batan Tour, Casa Napoli (Dinner)

Day 3 Sabtang Tour, Shanedels (Dinner)

Day 4 Depart Batanes

>>> Download Detailed Itinerary<<<

Note that you can extend your stay in Batanes and that you don’t have to do everything to quick. See Batanes is more than a sight seeing destination. You need to immerse and feel how peaceful and different this place it from the rest of the country. Not just with geography but with its people. You can also go father and break your limits by going to Itbayat, the farthest of all livable islands. It will take you about four to five hours of travel via Falowa through the rough open waters of the Pacific Ocean.


Food: Best Kong Rou Fan In Taipei

Aimlessly wandering around an unfamiliar city can lead you to wonderful discoveries, that much I can attest to how wonderful Taipei is. It was a little past 12 in the afternoon when I decided to step out of my hostel and brave the impeding rain brought by the dark clouds over Taipei.

I’ve downloaded an offline map of Taipei but I really wanted to get lost, this time intentionally. I walked around a couple of blocks further going towards the streets that I’ve never gone through away from where I was staying. The streets in Taipei are a bit kind of dreamy for me. They offer a safe space to leisurely glide your feet one after the other while wandering around an unfamiliar block, something that is hardly seen in my home country.

Kong Rou Fan

Several minutes into walking, I saw this small shop in a cross street right in front of a temple. Keeping in mind that golden food rule, “Go where there is a line” I crossed the street and started inspecting their menu. I think I made my self a little too obvious that I didn’t knew how to order when a group of students came up to me and help.

I ordered this rice wrapped braised chicken by pointing to another table’s plates. I broke the triangular molded rice to reveal the chicken inside which apparently was mixed with spices and peanut. It was something so familiar but different. The play of texture of the dish really made me enjoy savoring every bite.

Kong Rou Fan

A middle aged guy sitting on the same table started conversing with me, asking me from where I was and how long have I been in Taiwan. But what struck me the most was when he asked me how did I found the place. He said in broken English that the place is some sort of a secret from tourist and that only locals know that this is where the best Kong Rou Fan is. He insisted that I should try the dish. Convinced enough I walked up to the shop’s front and ordered my self a Kong Rou Fan.

Kong Rou Fan

Kong Rou Fan

Kong Rou Fan is a slow cooked sweet pork topped on rice and served with pickled cucumber on the side. For someone who doesn’t like un-fried pork fat, this dish actually is excellent. Why? I could eat the fatty part without being irked! As soon as the pork fat lands on my mouth it starts to completely melt! It was heavenly! The meat part was also so tender that it just breaks down as soon as you taste it. Very minimal chewing was needed for this meat, just savor it. Kong Rou Fan

I am really happy that I intentionally got my self lost around the area. If I didn’t push my self in exploring beyond what are written on blogs and books I would have not tasted Taipei’s best Kong Rou Fan.  I highly recommend hunting this food store down the streets of Ximending. Not only do they serve the best Kong Rou Fan but all of their dishes are actually great. I really feel that this spot will give you a great idea of how locals eat like if you are into learning cultures. Besides one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through their food right? So chow down!

P.S. I don’t know the name of the restaurant but its the one on the top photo, right side of the Suzuki signage.

一甲子餐飲 (Pinyin: Yī jiǎzǐ cānyǐn)- As per google maps
Address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Kangding Road, 79號



Travel Vloggers You Should Follow 2017

YouTube has taken some sort of place in our instincts that when we try to search or learn something new we turn to YouTube almost instantaneously. I for one usually try to find inspiration in YouTube when I want to travel. It’s a very good place to check out what to do, what to expect and find out the how to’s of what you need to know when traveling. Let’s just say…. it’s the video counter part of Google. They’re owned by the same company anyway. So Here’ye! here’ye!

Sam and Audrey

Sam and Audrey are probably one of the few bloggers that I’ve followed through from their blogs and now with their vlogs in YouTube. The channel shows the married couple’s journey throughout the world. They use to teach English in South Korea before calling it quits and travel more of the globe!

Christian Le Blanc

Hailing from Canada, Christian left Canada to become an exchange student in Thailand where Laura, his girlfriend joined him March that same year. After graduating a few months later the Christian decided to travel Asia and started documenting his journey in YouTube. When his channel started picking up, Christian decided to quit his job and focus on his travel vlogs.

Aly (PsychoTraveller)

My go to vlog when I get bored. Aly just rambles a lot throughout her vlogs and I loooove it! Hahahaha. The thing that I like about Aly’s vlog is that she doesn’t just go from one place to another and just film then move one. Aly does it better, she lives in those countries for as long as she can! I love how she tries to immerse through the culture and learn more about the people. Oh, and yes she is totally funny!!!! Hahahaha!


Brendan Van son

My favorite travel vlogger of all! Brendan “Max” Van Son. I discovered this guy when one of his vlogs came up as one of the suggestions on YouTube. He was traveling the Philippines back then with the money he won from Las Vegas and has challenged him self to sustain his trip with only that money.

Why I like this guy much? Well more than a travel vlogger, Bredan primarily is a travel photographer. Basically living the life I want to live. Hahahaha! I actually didn’t knew that it is possible that somebody actually lives the life the I see my self living. I specially like his episode where he teaches people how to make it possible and how his finances as a travel photographer is doing via Mr. Jigglefoot – the income octopus.

So there you go. These are my Top Travel Vloggers You Should Follow this year. These are my personal favorites, so if your favorite travel vlogger isn’t on the list, tell us on the comment section so we can check them out. Who knows maybe I’d like them too!

Cebu Pacific Piso Fare September 1 – March 15, 2018

The Philippines largest low cost carrier, CebuPacific Airlines just launched their latest PISO FARE offering!

For as low as 452.12 pesos customers can book flights to selected destinations with travel dates starting September 1, 2017 until March 2018.  Perfect for those early planners and backpackers who loves going on trips at a very low cost.

Where To Book

Check out their website to book your flights at CebuPacificAir.Com

Travel Guide: How To Get To Taipei From The Airport

So just landed in the Taoyuan Internation Airport and you are ready to explore Taiwan. But then there you are standing in the arrivals area, over whelmed on all of the Chinese characters you see. Inside your head you are lightly freaking out asking your self How to do you get to Taipei from the Airport?

Thankfully, going to Taipei from the Airport has been more convenient over the past few years. The buses bound to Taipei that will drop you off at the Taipei Main Station is now operating 24 hours. The Airport railway link on the other hand has been recently opened after a few year of construction.

Best Way To Get To Taipei From The Airport

Honestly, it depends on your situation. Here’s what I recommend.


If you do not  trust your skills in taking public transport, you can always take the cab. However, I can assure you taking the bus and the Airport MRT is really easy. I also recommend that you take the cab if you have several bags with you and you are solo traveling. Yeah… I know people who travel with several bags for a three night trip. Believe me! Hahaha! It would also be more comfortable to take the cab from the airport instead of the bus. The cost shouldn’t be that much if you have friends to split the fare with you. A cab ride from the airport to Taipei main station should cost you around 900 – 1000 NT$  

Get To Taipei From The Airport photo by  koadmunkee used under CC Licence

Get To Taipei From The Airportphoto by  spencer341b used under CC Lisence


The most cost effective of all types of transportation. it only costs around NT$ 125 to get to Taipei from the airport which is really cheap comparing it from taking the train and more over to taking the cab. If you are arriving anytime between 12AM till 6AM, the bus would probably the best choice for you as the Airport MRT will not operate until 6AM. Some of the buses have luggage areas at front for small bags while you can always put big bags in the compartments on the side of the bus.


photo by   lyng883 used under CC Licence

Airport MRT

After several years of construction, the Aiport MRT is finally open. I was lucky enough to try the Aiport link on its first month of operation as the fares are still discounted. Regular fare from the Airport to the Taipei Main Station costs about NT$160. The train is fast and clean (buses tend to have a bit of a smell sometimes -just like everywhere). Only draw back that I think it has are its seats. The coaches have regular plastic seats instead of comfy cushioned ones.

Get To Taipei From The Airport

You will be arriving at the new A1 Terminal or the Airport Terminal of the Taipei Main Station. From there you can transfer to which ever line you need to be in to get to your destination.

Get To Taipei From The Airport

The Taipei Main Station is massive so don’t be shy to ask around. I for one still gets lost even if I’ve used the station several times. Be patient and be ready for an adventure! LOL!

We hope that this guide has helped you in some way. If you know any other way to efficiently get to Taipei from the airport, please let us know in the comment section.


Singapore Hotel: Marina Bay Sands

As a backpacker, you know that I am not a big fan of luxury accommodations. So when the opportunity came to experience the hotel at no cost (thanks to my cousin – so pretty 😉 ) I jumped into it right away. The Marina Bay Sands, located in Marina Bay in Singapore, is an integrated resort touted to be the most expensive in the country. The property is not only famous for offering 5 star service. The building it self has become a tourist attraction as its top shows to be shaped as a big ship.

Marian Bay Sands

While the Marina Bay Sands hotel also has a massive shopping mall and casino. The main draw for non gambling tourists is actually the ship shaped roof deck of the hotel.  The roof deck allows people see Singapore from a bird’s point of view during the day and a crazy party spot at night. While the viewing deck and the roof deck club is a great spot, people actually check-in in the Marina Bay Sands because of its unbelievably beautiful infinity pool.

What I Like About The Marina Bay Sands

The Rooms

Obviously, the Marina Bay Sands exudes luxury throughout the hotel. The rooms are spacious and offers a great view of  either the Gardens by the bay or a gorgeous view of the city.  The room that we got at first was the Grand Club Room thinking that it was on the higher floors. The room was spacious at 79 sqm with a stunning view of the Gardens By The Bay. However, since we were looking for a room at the higher floors at tower three we asked to be relocated. Why? Tower three has the access to the Infinity pool and it would be more convenient to access the pool from the higher floors. We made a mistake of booking the Grand Club Room assuming it would be on higher floors. We thought so because it was more expensive, well lesson learned. Thankfully the hotel was easy to deal with.

marina bay sands


The Infinity Pool

One, if not the biggest draw for people to stay in the Marina Bay Sands is the Infinity Pool. It stands to be the worlds largest rooftop infinity pool there is. Honestly, I never imagined my self seeing this awesome view from the pool. Like I said I am not a fan of paying so much, yet still the rooftop infinity pool was something to experience at least once in a lifetime. Yeah, you can call me lucky.

The Infinity pool faces the beautiful Singapore skyline. Since check in time was at 3 PM we only got to catch the sunset and it was beautiful. The pool may be a bit crowded that day since it was a weekend but the view was still mesmerizing. We enjoyed the sun while lounging on the sun beds until sunset.

Marina Bay Sands


marina bay sands

The Location

The Marina Bay Sands is very accessible. In fact, it is directly connected to one of the MRT Stations. It’s that convenient! The hotel is also just across the Gardens By The Bay so I just crossed the street and I was there! The Merlion and the famous Singapore skyline is also just a short walk away from the hotel passing by the Science Museum and Esplanade and through the iconic Helix Bridge.

What I Didn’t Like About The Marina Bay Sands

Thinking that the Marina Bay Sands is one of the most expensive hotels in Singapore, I was quite surprised about their pool. Why? Well, the pool is freaking cold!!! Yep the infinity pool is not heated. I had to brave the cold water on sunset. Your body will eventually adapt, of course but it could have been a way more comfortable if it was heated!

Another thing that I felt off about the hotel is when we checked in. Checking-in an expensive hotel should feel classy and sophisticated. But when we checked in at the Marina Bay Sands, it felt like we were in a Mall! The interior felt too stiff that even the high ceilings didn’t compensate the feel that I was looking for. The staff wasn’t actually that bad, but I feel that they could be a bit more polite and warmer. Just saying that I’ve experience better hospitality before.

What I Think About The Marina Bay Sands

If you can afford it go ahead it is worthwhile experience. Sitting at the roof deck under the Sun in the morning and watching the Sunset at night was awesome. But if you feel that you’d actually spend this into something more and stretch it further I’d say skip it. What I am just trying to say is that do it only if you really like it. I don’t have strong recommendation like it should be a must do, that your Singapore experience will be incomplete without it. But then it would be like a cherry to your icing if you do. If you have around a hundred USD and couple more friends to split the cost with and you want it, go push for it!


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Got a different experience with the Marina Bay Sands? Leave your story at the comment section, let us know!