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Philippines Day 4 - Manila City Tour Part 1 (Rizal Park)

Date of Visit: 23rd March 2012

Let's continue with my Philippines travelogue again. On the fourth day, we decided to utilise Abel's tour service again for a full day city tour around city of Manila. Yes, you still can wander by yourself without hiring any local tour guide but I doubt that you able to visit as many places and attractions like we did. As usual, before starting any tour, I will list down few of the places and attractions that I love to visit and sightseeing. Turns out our 12 hours city tour with Abel, we managed to visit 8 different destinations in a day. Here are the places we went and I decided blog them in different post instead of cramp everything into a post. 
  • Rizal Park
  • Intramuros
  • Fort Santiago
  • Manila Cathedral
  • Quiapo Market Manila
  • San Agustin Church
  • Casa Manila
  • American Cemetery and Memorial

So, in this post I will begin with Rizal Park, the first destination we visited. This park was a tribute to Philippine's national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, whom the park was named after. A lil bit history of Dr. Jose Rizal was he was a doctor, novelist, nationalist and reformist, who was executed on the charges of fomenting local rebellion against the Spanish government. If you wanna know more about this national hero, you can click here

Day 4 - Philippines Rizal Park 01
#1: Rizal Monument located in the middle of the park

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Goodbye 10 Days Trip & Burned 4 AirTickets

At this hour, I was supposed on board to Shenzhen, China to join a group of awesome travel bloggers for 10 days trip around China (Shenzhen, Guilin & Nanning) and Vietnam (Hanoi & Halong Bay) via overland but at the end, I had to cancel due to my own business and work commitment. Imagine that my 10 days leave successfully being approved by my big boss as well for my China visa application also has finally done but still, the trip had to be cancelled at the end. #heartpain

And of course, I am feeling freaking sad and depressed at this moment cause unable to join them in this wonderful and amazing travel adventures. Plus, among the places that going to visit, three are currently in my travel bucket list (check out my DT Travel page) - Guilin, Hanoi & Halong Bay. That's makes me more #heartpain. 

Shenzhen - Window of the World
Went Shenzhen before in year 2011 but would love to visit here again and visit Window of the World - where it houses vivid replicas of the world's wonders, historical heritages and famous scenic sites. 

Guilin is being known as Heaven on Earth and is considered the most beautiful city in China with its fantastic natural mountain and water scenery in the world.   

Nanning - Source
Nanning - a nice "little" town of in Guanxi province in southern China.

halong bay2_thuyen vang
Hanoi & Halong Bay, Vietnam - Source
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been listed as New 7 Wonders of Nature. Would really love to witness this myself especially the typical junk. 

This could be consider to be the very first time in my travel history I had to burn my tickets (well, I did burned one of my ticket before) but since ever I started to travel extensively from my Hong Kong trip back in 2010, I had never burned any tickets of mine until this one. Not just one or two airtickets, but I eventually burned 4 tickets that I bought earlier. I thought that I might got the chance to experience the new airline Malindo Air but looks like perhaps next time.

Ticket Burned

But then I believe "Him" The Almighty must be planning something bigger and better for me, perhaps. #prayharder. And this means since I ever back from my Cambodia, and also because this trip had been cancelled, I am not going to fly and travel anywhere until end of July. Not flying for more than 4 months, now my body seriously feeling itchy. Imagine for a travel junkie and jet setter who had been flying for almost every month - it's really a tough time for me.

P/S: To Helmi/John aka Kaki Berangan, thank you so much for letting me join you guys but unfortunately I unable to join at the end. I'm so sorry for the troublesome especially in the arrangement of the accommodation. 

Too Many Dreams, Too Many Destinations, Too Little Time & Money Seems to Be Insufficient. 
#truestory #quote
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Philippines Day 3 - SM Mall of Asia

Date of Visit: 22nd March 2012

On the third day, we decided for more free and less rush trip since we will spend a whole week in city of Manila itself. Plus we will be heading for another city tour with the local tour guide which recommended by my cousin on the next day. Therefore, we plan to do a lil shopping as Philippines is famous for the size of their shopping malls which few being listed as top 10 largest shopping in the world.

Among the shopping malls that being listed was SM City North EDSA and SM Mall of Asia. Between these two, SM Mall of Asia is the most closest to our lodging and we decided to visit this instead. From Friendly Guesthouse of Metro Manila, we took taxi cause one of my friends afraid to use jeepney and she felt more comfortable with taxi. Before embark to this mall, we were being approached by another Caucasian backpacker from Canada that he would like to car pool since he was alone. We instantly agreed cause at least the cost of sharing among of us will be lesser.

Travel Tips in Philippines
Before get into the taxi in Philippines, do ask the driver to use the meter. If they refuse to do so, find and wait for another taxi cause without using the meter, they tends to overcharge.

Day 3 - Philippines Mall of Asia 01
#1: Huge signage of SM Mall of Asia

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Philippines Day 2 - Tagaytay City & Taal Volcano

Date of Visit: 21st March 2012

Our real adventures in Philippines began on the second day because by the time we arrived on the first time (Philippines Day 1), it already late evening and we can't do much thing by that time. So on the second day itself, after discussed with my friends and also the local tour guide, we decided to go somewhere more further, which outskirt from the town. 

Tagaytay City, which an hour drive from city of Manila, it's the quickest and easier if you plan to escape from the heat and bustling big city. Tagaytay City is one of the country's most popular destinations among the the local and foreign tourists because of its dramatic scenery and cooler climate provided by its high altitude. One of the main highlighted in Tagaytay City would be Taal Volcano. 
Taal Volcano, is claimed to be the second most active volcano in Philippines and known as the smallest active volcano in the world. So, I did witness an active volcano in Indonesia back in year 2011 (post here) and now, it's my second time to witness another active volcano again right in front of my eyes. Taal Volcano is totally different from other active volcano cause it is a lake with a volcano with a lake within, and an island in the middle of that small lake. Ok, now I myself also kinda confusing.

Eventually there are many ways to get from Manila city to Tagaytay City and also Taal Volcano. But if you are travel alone, please be aware cause there are many scams around. If you wanna try this kind of adventures, you can check Foongpc's blog - The Cheapest Way To Visit Taal Volcano. Whereas for us, since a local tour guide was recommended by my cousin who went before me, he arranged everything for us except that we need to pay extra for the boat, admission fee and horse ride.The total damages that we paid for all these three (boat, admission fee and horse ride) were PH5,050 (approx. RM353).  

Day 2 - Philippines Taal Volcano 02
#1: 25 min outrigger traditional boat ride to the volcano that is within the lake.

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Philippines Day 1 - From Clark to Manila & Friendly Guesthouse

Date of Visit: 20th March 2012

Frankly speaking, Philippines has never in my travel bucket list nor neither popped up in my mind before. But there was once one of my secondary friends ever suggested to go Philippines and during AirAsia Big Sales back in year 2011, I just tried and had a look on the price and surprisingly return airfare from Kota Kinabalu to Philippines (Clark) cost RM45 per pax. Tell me now, how would you resist such an amazing offer right? Hence, I called up my secondary friends and there is goes, our journey to Philippines. 

We booked a 7 days trip to Philippines and we planned to cover on Boracay Island too. Unfortunately even AirAsia which happened to launch their new route from Clark to Kalibo early of last year for just return flight of RM27, but the travel period only started few days after the end of our Philippines trip. We totally booked our travel period on the wrong date! Of course, we felt kinda sad and plus, now AirAsia has terminated the direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to Philippines. No more direct flight via AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu unless you decide to fly with Cebu Pacific but I doubt it will be more cheaper than AirAsia.
AirAsia Clark - Kalibo (Boracay)
Print screen of AirAsia started to launch their route from Clark to Kalibu - Return flight for RM27 only

The flight duration from Kota Kinabalu to Philippines (Clark) took almost 2 hours. Oh well, AirAsia disembarked at this airport which located 2 hours away from Manila as it is mainly serves the low-cost carriers and thus, it has currently become a hub for AirAsia Philippines.
Day 1 - Philippines 01 Diosado Macapagal International Airport
#1: Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, the old name for Clark International Airport 

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Foodie Friday: Excapade Sushi @ Kuala Belait, Brunei Darussalam

Date of Visit: 12th January 2012

Right after I back from my Phuket trip last year, 3 days later I went to Brunei to attend my cousin's wedding with my family. We travelled by road and it was freaking long roadtrip which took more than 7 hours and had to go through 6 different immigration before reach the desired destination. It's kinda troublesome and exhausting journey but on the bright side for a part-time traveller like me, my passport was occupied with 2 pages of passport stamp for just 2 days short trip. I did blog about this before and if you haven't read before, check out this - 7 Hours Road Trip from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei.

Right after meeting up my cousin and the rest of my relatives upon reaching Kuala Belait, my daddy immediately brought us to Excapade Sushi, which is one of the famous Japanese chain restaurant in Brunei. He went before and he can't stop repeating telling that it is the best Japanese restaurant that he ever visited. You will be surprised that most Miri and eventhough KK people willing to cross the border just to satisfy their crave towards this Japanese cuisine in Brunei. Even most of my friends who went before also informed me that I shouldn't miss out Excapade if I have the chance to visit Brunei.

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 01
#1: One of Excapade Sushi's outlet in Kuala Belait

I'm not too sure how many of Excapade Sushi outletS around Brunei but the one we visited in Kuala Belait is located just nearby my cousin's house. It always fully occupied especially on weekend and during lunch time but we were kinda lucky mainly because we went on weekday and plus, it was before 6pm, which we arrived earlier for dinner time. Hence, no worry of long queue and long hour of waiting for seats. 

Ok, now let's us have #foodporn session, shall we?

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 02
#2: Salmon Sashimi - What can I say more about this? Delicious, thick and most importantly fresh.

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 03
#3: A small set of sushi with combination of tamago sushi, salmon sushi, kani maki and mini California maki.

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 03-1
#4: Mini California Maki (top) and Inari Sushi (bottom) - Both are my favourite & it's incredibly huge. Unable to fit into my mouth at one time.

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 04
#5: Tamago

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 05
#6: Tama Unagi Sushi

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 06
#7: Salmon Sashimi again but in smaller slice

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 07
#8: Tempura

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 08
#9: A bento set of Tori Katsu (fried chicken with breadcrumb)

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 09
#10: Vanilla Milk Shake

Excapade Sushi Kuala Belait 2012 10
#11: Dessert to end our late lunch - Mango Pudding with Chocolate Ice-cream

And you know what, we visited Excapade Sushi a year later which was 2 months ago but at the different outlet while waiting for our flight back to KK from Bangkok. We went the one in Gadong area (will blog about this in the future post). Seriously, if any of you ask me what will I recommend if visiting Brunei, I will definitely say "Visit any outlet of Excapade Sushi" cause not just their sushi and other meals which were so huge, fresh and serve in great quality but it's definitely worth every penny you pay. I was kinda forgot how much we paid during the first visit but for the second visit, the total damages was $170++ (roughly around RM425) for almost 20 people of us. Surprisingly cheap, right?

Excapade Sushi (Kuala Belait Branch) 
No 2, Block B,
Ground Floor, Bangunan Pg. Hj. Hashim,
Pg. Hj. Mohd. Jadid,
 Lot 7561, Jln. Jaya Negara,
Kuala Belait KA 1931, Brunei.
Opening Hours: Daily from 11am - 2.30pm and 5.30pm - 10pm

And this concluded as my final post for my 2012 Brunei travelogue. We didn't go for any sightseeing cause our main purpose was basically to attend my cousin's wedding. Plus, I stayed and studied in Brunei before when I was kinda very young and went most of the places around Brunei. Hence, my family didn't have the intention for another revisit. However, if you want to know more about Brunei, you can check Jeff's travel blog - click HERE
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