Tuesday, November 05, 2013

My Awe-inspiring Changi Experience

It was Friday, 25thof October - the day that I expected to spend 17 hours inside Changi Airport in Singapore. Bored? Not at all since I got to utilize my time exploring all three terminals via the amazing sky train. My aircraft landed 35 minutes before midnight of 24th so after clearing the immigration, I proceeded to the nearest Left Baggage counter and checked my luggage in, which did cost me SG$4.30. I stayed at the Terminal 2 Arrival hall public area during the night, slept on the plastic benches with no pillow but only a scarf to keep me warm.

Morning did come fast which made me more excited to go around the terminals. And to make the story short, I took the sky train and I was able to spot the airport tower with the Crowne Plaza Hotel adjacent to it along with the airport highways emblazoned with thick mass of pink flowers. Click! Click! There were lots of stunning scenes to take photos of. I was privileged to witness the synchronized movement of the renowned Kinetic Rain, while the Slide@T3 was among the best spots in my list, yet too bad it was closed that day.

When I checked in for my next flight, I got more chance of seeing the Terminal 2 wonders which included the Sunflower Garden, the Orchid Garden and Koi Pond, together with the Cinema and Internet free stations. Awww, not much words to say - let the following photos explain how I really felt!

Awesome huh! Have you ever been to Changi?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Read Each Page and See the World is Wonderful!

While on my way to the great countdown to commence, let me play with some stuff that would somehow enlighten the day. Still, on the thought of my upcoming adventure, I have sorted things like what to wear, how many pair of shoes/flip flops to bring, do I need an umbrella, which sunglasses, extra tops, etc. Yesterday, I have booked my hotel and then I have started mapping my way through the public transpo, and even mapped the airports – where and which gate to the exit [and No, I am not excited!].

Well, Friday is over, it is now Saturday in the eastern hemisphere but today seems to be slow. Work, people, FB feeds, passing vehicles, and even the sun tend to collaborate for this slow-mo pacing – one of the best moments for a grand flashback! … Rewind to the late 1990’s when I first thought of seeing places outside my home country, and it seemed to be an impossible dream that I would never afford to get a taste of it. But, everything has changed a decade ago, and I am seeing now a clearer view of my dream turning into reality. I wasn’t born wealthy nor have other people to support me rather than working all out on my own, and with some help from my family. Yet, because I have been blessed to become a part of the booming online market portal, some almost five years ago [will turn 5 years on oDesk on the 25th - Congrats myself, and many thanks, oDesk!], the once “dream” to visit other places gradually spins and now making a concrete base. And yes, I am determined to go wherever the northern winds will take me!

I have heard and read tons of travel quotes, and now I am sharing this one …

Photo credits to St. Augustine

Indeed, the author of this verse made a brilliant comparison, acceptable and factual – if you only stick on one page, you will never appreciate a book. Hence, if you have great gratitude to the world and it’s Creator, go see and taste what it has to offer. Experience everything beyond borders. ‘Happy feet’ means happy traveling! :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

E-tickets Valid Via Mobile Devices

While a friend posted this on Facebook, I found it interesting to spread the news. So for my fellow travelers from the Philippines, you no longer need to make a hard copy of your e-tickets, but saving it on your electronic mobile devices will be enough to pass through the airport. Read more...

Happy flying everyone!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

World's Paramount Airport - I've Been There!

Six weeks more and it’s off I go!

While making slight preps for my upcoming jaunt, I make sure that all tickets [airline tickets and theme park admission tickets] are set and paid including hotel and tour reservations. I have talked to my host and all itineraries are laid and scheduled, picking up only the best places to see and great food to eat [so to make sure that I won’t miss anything that I would regret in my comeback]. But one issue has left me a dilemma lately – my primary airline rescheduled my flight so instead of a 5-hour stopover, I now have a whooping 17 hours of airport idleness prior to catching up on my next flight. But the good thing is that, I will be taking a break at the World’s Top Airport – the Changi Airport!

See more on SKYTRAX World Airport Awards

If you are a certified nomad, you would have heard the buzz about Changi – possibly from the news, travel blogs and advisories, or even from friends that have been there. As per the record, Changi grabbed the first place in 2012-2013 World’s Top 100 Airports by SKYTRAX. It is Asia’s major aviation hub connecting tons of flights daily to Australia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Europe, and North America, to name a few. With this, the Changi Group continues to provide all the comfort while one travels. Currently, there are three terminals that compose Changi – Terminal 1, 2, and 3, and an upcoming Terminal 4 is at watch as the administration has demolished the old Budget Airport. Skytrain is used to connect passengers going through and from all the terminals. Inside Changi is a generous selection of shops – designer’s brands, novelty, and restaurants while at the transit area are several gardens that truly ease everyone from a long and tiring flight. What’s amazing is that Changi also offers free rest areas, napping areas [with corresponding fee], transit hotels, cinemas, free WiFi, entertainment zone, and baggage counters. With all these, you can wisely make use of your time exploring inside and leave boredom during your connecting trips.

Since I have already mentioned about the best airport in the world, let me just revisit another huge aviation core in Asia – the Hong Kong International Airport which ranks as the 4th. Hong Kong International Airport is currently the world’s busiest cargo gateway and one of the world's busiest passenger airports. It is the home for the renowned Cathay Pacific, and the rest of Hong Kong and Asian airlines that cater flights to London, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, India, Osaka, Seoul, and more.

When I first stepped on the floor of Hong Kong International Airport, I felt especially different ambiance with the huge area topped with luxurious lounges, restrooms, interior finishes, and train that connects within the premises. Because the airport is enormous, expect some confusion and possible lost when you are a first-timer and are poor with directions. However, this technologically-advanced airport along with its congenial Immigration Officers made me revisited the city a year later.

As a traveler, I get to appreciate the airports that I got to set a foot on, and gladly, I’ve been to the best airport in the world, and will be there again in the near future. See you soon Changi!

Which airport have you been to? Share me your stories and photos.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Travel: What's Behind this Secret?

In less than two months I will be out again from my comfort zone – a stuff I’d love to do at least twice a year. And while browsing on my FB feeds today, a post caught my attention and I thought it’s interesting, and indeed it was. “50 Life Secrets and Tips” – not an unusual headline but it simply implies tons of things that one can do to become better in life. I am into God’s Word, the Bible and it is the greatest source of information about anything and everything in this world, but I can spare a second or two to make an extra reading about others’ ideas and thoughts.

I started my reading on the article and as I go down through, I got stumbled on one point. You may guess it correct – Travel! When my eyes got to read this single magical word my spirit just had to elevate as if there is something behind it. Not much special, the tip goes like this:

Travel. Frequent Flyer Master Anyone who has ever gone anywhere will tell you that traveling is one of the most exciting and life-changing activities that you can do. Observing a different culture will expand your mind while making you further appreciate the life you already live. This goes back to becoming an explorer: this world is your jungle so go explore! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a place you love so much that you decide to move. Imagine the positive repercussions a new environment could have on your life.

And here is a tease for my next get-away…

Can you guess where this at? Hint, hint!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

12 Years Later... Hello, Ilocos!

May 7-15, 2013 – Going back to the province where I was born and grew up sounded like there’s a huge surprise for me. Forget about the more than nine hours of travel [1 hour 15 minutes by plane + 8 hours by bus – I sure did get a butt sore!] and treat it like it’s my first time to see the place. I spent the whole day tracking my way to the north… drop off point – Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. It’s almost 11pm when I finally reached my mom’s house – oh home!

My adventure to the north started the next day since I had to take some rest and get to meet and talk to my old folks. The place which is a beachfront has changed big time. Cottages have been side by side and there’s no more freeway to the beach for a walk-in swimmer [you have to rent a cottage, silly!]. But the sunset remains to be superb while the highest church in town is standing still.

Okay, fast forward – the first itinerary was scheduled to be in Ilocos Norte: Batac, Laoag, Burgos, Pagudpod, Patapat – just name it and I’ve come across those towns while the highlight of the trip was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the giant Windmills, and Kapurpurawan (white) Rock Formations. A relaxing lunch was waiting at the nearby Hannah’s Blue Lagoon with giant lobsters and grilled fish as the main course. It could be another tiring day but everything was spectacular – the places, food, people [hosts], and the government-owned SUV for free ride!

The final sight-seeing spot was Vigan City. Twelve years ago, I recall that this was a humble remote town and it didn’t receive any special treatment from anyone, but now it got its boost as the local government has capitalized its Spanish heritage buildings that turned to be one of the hottest destinations in the north. It was a walk at night to remember as I spent it with my new Swiss friend. The Heritage Park is an amazing scenery with all that Spanish appeal. In addition, the dancing fountain is another attraction that both tourists and locals love to watch.

As I only had a few days to stay, I didn’t have more time to explore further north going east but another trip for the other side of the Philippines surely lies ahead. Hopes are up for this time to come! Farewell my hometown, until next time.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Throwback 2012: All-rush in Singapore

October 20-22, 2012 – After booking my plane tickets on mid-July I was then wound up for my next trip, destination – Singapore! I know it was a very short visit so I anticipated the itinerary to be hectic – thanks to my tour guide, my good friend, Adel who was very organized with our day-to-day schedule.
First stop was at the renowned Orchard Road, where the centre of commerce is, and where people from different walks of life merge. From Orchard I was brought to not only see but enter the lobby of the most famous building in the city, the Marina Bay Sands. Inside is a spectacular architecture of modern concept savored with shops of the most expensive brand names. The Casino is amongst the highlights of the structure, and I was privileged to go inside where complementary bottled water is everywhere!

Move on to the second day – a roam to the Resort World Sentosa! Took the hop-on hop-off tram, I went to see the beauty of Singapore’s coast featuring the Palawan and Siloso beach resorts. As I recall, the weather wasn’t wonderful that very day and so we got caught in the rain and off we headed to the Waterfront, just next to the Universal Studios. Hard Rock Café was very tempting where me and my buddy ended up eating our lunch at that spot. Shopping inside the café was also a one-of-a-kind experience for me – I got souvenir shirts and a cap for an amount that I do not want to learn how much the equivalent in Philippine currency. The rest of the day was spent in Vivo City and it was a shopping spree for the shopaholic me!

Last and final day – we arrived at the Marina Bay Sands Sky Park and enjoyed a fascinating view overlooking the city. What we missed was the guided tour to the infinity pool – my ultimate goal, but it was all okay, I was able to sneak at it and snapped some shots. After the sky-hopping activity, we took a walk with another grade school friend at the Sentosa Boardwalk and headed to the Universal Studios. We were there just on time so we took our stuff off and jumped in the most crucial rides – the Battlestar Galactica and the Revenge of the Mummy – all worth screaming rides! I walked around the theme park alone while my buddy took a rest that lead me to capture some good shots of the Far Far Away Land, the Madagascar, and the rest of the attractions. Of course, shopping is always part of the trip so here we go – souvenirs, yay!

My final hour in this lively city wasn’t over yet. I needed to web check-in so I can be at the airport even an hour before my flight, and to close the wonderful deal, we got free passes to the Singapore Flyer, courtesy of Uncle Noel – what an awesome night to be seeing the colorful lights of the tall and awe-inspiring buildings in the surroundings.
To sum it up, my Singapore short visit was as amazing as ever. I missed some great places such as the Gardens by the Bay, Clark Quay, Botanical Garden, and Merlion but overall it was a superb experience. Until next time, SG!

Some tips when visiting Singapore:
  • Try not to convert every SGD to PHP, you will end up not wanting to buy even a bottled water.
  • Go to big supermarkets and find the Cadbury chocolate bars, they are five times cheaper than those being sold at the Duty Free shop.
  • Prepare an EZ Link card for easier transportation mechanic, it works both on bus and train.
  • Never forget to load your camera with at least 4GB memory card, everything in SG is worth taking picture of.
  • Do not crave for a chewing gum especially when in public areas such as park, mall, and transpo if you don’t want to get caught and fined.
  • Always address the taxi driver with respect, call him "uncle" [as if you are kins lol].
  • Finally, no worries about pick-pockets, there is NONE in Singapura.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Throwback 2012: Hong Kong Revisited

March 25-28, 2012 - I was asked which is the best South East Asian destination – Hong Kong! Yes, like I said earlier, this is a wonderful city worth spending a vacation for. Hong Kong is tagged as the “Small Paris” because of the abundance of high-end European brands. It is the centre of commerce and shopping in Asia.

So, join me for the second time as I track another route that starts with Causeway Bay area. In Hong Kong Central, Causeway Bay is known as the focal point of expensive and famous designer brands such as Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Swarovski, to name a few. Just like Los Angeles in California, it has its own street shows that attract a crowd for curiosity and fun. One exciting experience to Causeway Bay is the largest transportation called the MTR that merges several routes and a huge number of commuters. As foreigners, me and my travel buddies were ignorant of the train system which ended up us being almost lost! Whew! Thanks to the kind-hearted Filipino couple who helped us made our way out.

Once again, Disneyland and Ocean Park were amongst the coolest destinations that I have revisited. It is indeed another great experience to explore the new additions of rides so I finally hopped on my first roller-coaster encounter at the Mine Train. In Disneyland, the Parachute Drop, the Slinky Dog Spin, and the Tea Cup ride were amazing plus a second round on the hair-raising-heart-pounding-throat-blowing Space Mountain!

On my last day on the Hong Kong soil, I was able to go through the streets surrounding Lang Ham Place. What another level of grandeur vacation has just gone in my life – so call it an adventure!