Monday, September 16, 2013

Puerto Princesa, Palawan: Explore the City of the Last Frontier

"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."

One of my travel must-do is to strike out Palawan from my bucket list. This year, I'll have a back-to-back trip to the renowned beautiful island of Palawan. First off from the list is the island's capital city, PUERTO PRINCESA. My sister and I had a super duper busy schedule at work. Nevertheless, we didn't cuckoo nor back out at the last minute, but instead we excitedly hopped on to the plane despite that we only had 4-hours sleep on the night before our morning flight.

It's not difficult to get there to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Airliners in the Philippines offer frequent flights to Palawan. Upon arriving at the airport, you may take a motor cab or hire a van. Be sure to inquire too from the hotel/guest house, where you are staying, whether they offer a pick-up/drop-off service to the airport. 
Puerto Princesa is a tourist hub, as such finding a good accomodation is easy breezy. There's a lot of hotels and guest houses in this city. In our case, we have booked our stay at Ysabelle Mansion
Address: 214 Abad Santos Extension, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Phone: (048) 723-0992
This is very near the airport, but far away from the city's main road. I find the guest house a bit far for comfort to go back after a late night out. 
If you are looking for a dining experience in Puerto Princesa; then, there's Kalui and Itoy's Specialty Coffee Shop. These shops have a wonderful ambiance, but if you are looking for  a really good food; then, this is not the place to be in my opinion. If you are on a budget, just head on over to the regular and known fast food shops like Jollibee or Chowking. 

Until now, I can still distinctly remember the delicious baguette from my Vietnam-Cambodia travel. So when I hear that Puerto Princesa also have "hole-in-the-wall" restaurants run by Vietnamese-Filipino nationals, my Palawan trip cannot end without having a good fill of Vietnamese noodles and baguette. One that is quite near to the place we stayed is Bona's Chaolong. It is a "carenderia" style restaurant that is neatly tucked in the middle of the city's residential area. The baguette cannot be at par from the authentic one in Vietnam, but it is not that bad either. To get there, just hire a motor cab and tell "manong" driver to take you to Manalo Street. 
Many say Palawan can be conquered at least in 3 individual trips: Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron. After my Puerto Princesa trip, I think Puerto Princesa and El Nido can be hit in one travel for 5 days. 
Don't forget to get yourself some cashew nuts. Yum at affordable prices. 
City tour: Baker Hill, Crocolandia, Mitra Farm, local shops, etc. 
Bay Walk at night 


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Vigan, A Blast from the Past

I don't collect souvenirs, instead I collect memories captured in photographs.

It was an arduous and sleepless long drive from Manila - Baguio - Vigan, but when our party arrived at early dawn, all I looked forward to was a roof above my head and a good bed to lull myself to sleep even just for a couple of hours. I was glad that we arrived at Vigan's historic block where the neighborhood was so quite; saw the narrow, dark, and haunting alleyways; plus the cobble stoned "calle" and the faint light that illuminated from the street lamp made me feel like I was transported to a scene in one of the pages in El Filibusterismo or Noli Me Tangere. Here's another photo diary from my Beyond the Lenses 

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Baguio Tales

"Once you have traveled the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers of the mind."

I once had a Multiply account; it was in that account that I had a lot of travel photos courtesy to my trusty "point and shoot" camera. I was worried when Multiply announced that they would decommission the "blog" feature. I was afraid to loose all my photos, as such I painstakingly downloaded each album to ensure I had everything and securely backed up the files to an external hard drive. 

Before ArtsyBelle Images, there was Beyond the Lenses. Here's a photo diary tribute to the Northern Luzon road trip with my aunt, cousin, and best friend. It was an experience I'll never forget.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Exploring the Ancient World of Cambodia

"Go at least once a year to a place you have never been before."

My sister and I had seen and heard a lot about the ancient world of Cambodia. The famous Angkor Wat was in our bucket list as one of our must see places. Luckily, we had availed of a plane ticket to Ho Chi Minh (HCH), Vietnam at a reasonable rate. As such, a bus trip to Siem Reap Cambodia was intentionally planned as part of the travel itinerary despite that it would be a 13 hour bus ride and we knew that my sister would suffer from her motion-sickness syndrome. We had to grab the opportunity while we were already at the "neighborhood" of sorts. 

Book a bus ride in the Mekong Express Limousine Bus ( from HCH to Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh, I suggest an overnight stay to explore the capital of Cambodia. You may request for your hotel/guest house to book you in a round trip bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. In our case, we stayed at Fancy Guest House. The owner is accomodating enough to secure us a bus ticket. 
Bou Savy Guest House 
#261 Road No. 6 Taphul Village, Svaydangkum Commune, Siem Reap, Cambodia 
(855)12-898-627 or 12-369-900
Just The Facts: 
>>Budget, Homestay
>>Situated at the inner section of the city, away from the bustling main road. Getting a tuk-tuk ride is not a problem because the guest house have tuk-tuks on standby 24 hours.
>>Comes with free breakfast. Don't miss to order the baguette. It's yummy. If you must leave somewhere early in the morning and has no time for breakfast, you may give the service crew a head notice for a to-go breakfast
>>You may request for assistance to hire a van and book a Day Tour to Angkor Archaeological Park. 
Angkor Archaeological Park 
>>Book a day, 2-days, or 3-days tour. My suggestion is a 2 or 3 days tour. The park is so big, you can't get it done within a day. 
>>Get a certified guide. The guide can give you valuable knowledge and see more meaning beyond what the eye can see on the pile of bricks and stones. We hired Mr. Khem Piseth (he calls himself Jerry). He spoke good English, albeit on the serious side :) but we really appreciated all the information and tips he had imparted to us. Email him at or
>>Have a day to explore the park by bike. There are Rent a Bike shops in the area. I wish we have done this on our third day of the tour. 
Apsara Shows
Night Market
>>Ask your travel guide where to eat while exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park
>>It's not difficult to find some good food in Siem Reap. This town is a tourist spot, you'll find a wide range of restaurants from local to Western fast foods (like McDonalds).
>>Apsara Dinner Show at Amazon Angkor Restaurant
>>Wear comfortable clothing and shoes to protect you from humidity, dust, and from all the walking.
>>Purchase lots of bottled water at a grocery store. Place them in the van (if you have one). This will save you a lot of US dollars while exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park. 
>>Bored during a bus ride? Don't be, prepare your camera all the time and enjoy the countryside sights: the stilt houses, the rice fields, the young children playing, the moto-cabs, etc. Books, magazines, or mobile games also come handy to keep you busy. If you are lucky, your bus may also have a free wifi so you can stay connected to the internet.
Angkor Night Market
Old Market, Pokambor Street 63


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