Comfort of Dalat

Dalat in Lamdong Province is unheard of among the many cities of Vietnam.  It was question marks all over when I was asked to go there for a workshop. All I know is that it gets pretty cold in the area. Reminds one of Baguio City.

Welcome to the middle of nowhere. Dalat City is still 30 minutes away.

On the way to the city

Pine trees are everywhere. Feels like you’re in Baguio.

As I was facing a personal low that time, it was also a difficult decision to proceed with the said travel. For some reason, I think, that being in Dalat helped me in dealing with the loss of my father. The place comforted me like a blanket in the cold night. It brought serenity and somehow, I felt so close to Jesus. Maybe it was the church that I see everytime I look at the window. Or the quiet streets and rains while I walk along the pine tree-lined sidewalks. All I know, Dalat will be a special place among the destinations I’ve been.

The Catholic Church from a far

Canal near the hotel

Hot pho in a cold night

Night time in Dalat

 

 

Basic Bangkok thru my viewfinder

Remember the line in Hangover 2, “She has taken them!”? She refers to Bangkok, them refers to the Hangover team. Well, it looks like she will take me once I get a fullblown Bangkok experience at the end of the month.

For the time being, I had to squeeze the quick Bangkok experience in between sessions, morning walks and the unpredictable rain. Yes, it rained when I was there yet it didn’t stop me to walk through the sights in the city of angels.

Off to Bangkok

who would have thought that i will be heading back to the thai capital less than a month from my big asean trip?

last minute instruction to attend a dialogue means last minute preparation, including purchasing a spinner for those official travels. hay naku, another deduction from my travel fund.

i remember my first trip to bkk – all i got to see were the airport, hotel and the closed mall across the street. that is what one gets when goin on a business trip!

and this time around, it would still be the case unless i can go out tonite or friday nite to catch the bangkok open! i heard nando verdasco is playing. sheesh!

at the moment, i am not so enjoying my bus ride to the international airport 🙂

Surviving San Vicente

San Vicente in Palawan used to be unheard of long time ago. That is, for someone like me who is always in search of the next great beach ala Boracay in the early 90s. Buzz was created after the Philippine edition of Survivor had its location in this part of the last frontier. Geez, what is so special about San Vicente?

Straight out of Chinese film. If one is so lucky to be taking the flight to San Vic, one will be so mesmerized with the view from above. And I am not talking about the islands for the Honda Bay island hopping nor the long stretch of white sand. San Vicente, for one, boasts of pristine old growth forests with almost intact forest cover. Greens and greens of large mountains welcome one on the right side of the plane. There is a portion, though, that towering rock mountains dominate the area -and a little fog and bluish hue, one can imagine Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi flying out of those large structures.

Up in the air

The 14-km beach. Unadulterated. Fine white sand and gentle waves touching the shore. Secluded. When we were up in the air (thanks to a 6-seater plane), a part of the beach can be seen from the left side window. It may look like a small stretch of beach from afar but it looked endless when one started walking from Km. 0 – that entrance with a cashew tree on the side. The area is good for skimboarding, I must say. Bring out the skim boards, peeps!

Last I heard, a number of well-known personalities own some parts of the beach. Hope they won’t fence their side of the beach so that everyone can enjoy the long patch of paradise.

Welcome to the VERY Long Beach

The 5 hour drive from Puerto Princesa. San Vicente is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Princesa City. The long winding and bumpy ride was even monickered as taking the “abortion road.” Yeah, it was the bumpy but everything is so worth it.

Discover the shores. One of Discovery Shores' project (rumor has it).

r

Ultimate beach lounging

Discovery of some shores.Table corals. Calm and crystal clear water. Secret beach. An area a couple of minutes from Port Barton is heaven with the beach all by yourself (until the developer eventually turns this into a tony hideaway). As for now, one can enjoy swimming with the fish, lying in the sand while counting the leaves of the beach tree or stare at nothing.

Not so stranded in Port Barton.

Port Barton is a famous drop off point for all island worshippers. It houses various types of accommodation – from the fan rooms to the A/C-ed version. And one can definitely not get hungry while in the area. One thing for sure, you won’t be bumping into a Pinoy tourist every ten steps walk on the beach. Yes, most visitors are from the colder countries. I must say, it is now our turn to see San Vicente. Way beyond the rewards, challenges and tribal councils.

The set of Survivor Philippines

A morning greeting after a 600-step climb in Caparii

No Words for Tawi Tawi

It is hard to fully describe the different islands of Tawi-Tawi. One has to experience the province to fully understand why Tawi-Tawi is the next best thing.

From the inaccessible San Miguel Group of Islands (Bancauan and Bancorohan) to the best beach and pawikan heaven of Baguan to almost Malaysia Taganak to the  seaweed farms of Sitangkai and Sibuto, here are some of the reasons why it is worth visiting :

Seoul Redux

When I left Incheon on 13 October 2010, I didn’t imagine that I will be back to the same place a year and 2 weeks later. For me, it was that soon that I can still remember the route from the airport to Seoul.

Since this is an official trip (like the first one, albeit a very short one this time), I made a mental note to explore a bit of downtown Seoul every night after all the meetings and discussions. After all, I will be staying in fashion street a.k.a. Myeongdong.

I saw the sign

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by a representative of the Philippine consulate office and were brought to the VIP parking. VIP parking indeed since of all people I got to see up close in So. Korea —I saw Kim Yuna! The famous ice princess (she is actually treated like a princess in her country for the figure skating accolades she brought to So. Korea) in her really goodlooking Equus (a Hyundai luxury car). Even our driver commented that he had a picture taken with Yuna.

Since the trip to Incheon to Seoul is long, I had all the time to savor the scenes without taking photos. Who wants to see a shot of nudflats anyway? I ended up reminiscing bus trip I had a year ago sans the earth shattering “do you like me?”

It was autumn in South Korea and I was more prepared this time. Thicker jackets, check. Moisturizer, check. Body warming oil, check. Unfortunately, it was icy chilly that time of the year. And it wasn’t even snowing yet! Just imagine my real kilig to the bones moment when I stepped out of the car.

It was kinda late when we arrived but we had to eat something! Something Korean! We searched for 삼겁살 or samgyeopsal or thinly sliced pork grilled over coal and wrapped in lettuce or perilla then eaten with gochugang…in short, we ended up in a nonsmoking chicken restaurant. Yay for that. Alas, it was more of an all-poultry eatery. We had 삼겨당 or samgyetang, sweet and sour chicken and a duck dish. With all the banchans and these – it took us forever to eat half of what was served.

Poultry dish and banchans

The Daily Grind

Since we were billeted near our meeting venue, we had no choice but brave the super cold weather while walking in the underground street and across the main road occupied by Lotte. Dang, that Lotte! Ang laki-laki! Unlike in the Philippines that you’ll be perspiring within 5 minutes while threading your way to work, a morning walk in Seoul is trying to stay “cool” when your feeling cold. It sucks more when you meet some Seoulites drinking iced coffee. You got to be kidding me!

The same stuff is experienced after our meetings…but colder. One just can’t wait to get into the hotel room to layer up. Maybe I am not really built to stay in temperate countries. Let the sunshine in!

Touring Around

Being a lakwatsera has its advantages. For one – I am not afraid to get lost. Myeong-dong might be a tiny street but with all the alleys and people milling around, it can be overwhelming. Plus the fact that you can’t understand their language and it is night time, one can be wary to go places. Well, those don’t apply to me. I might not be a good map reader but I do remember landmarks (is this the Etude House we passed by earlier? or The Skin Food earlier was much bigger than this) and I am not afraid to ask. I know that my Korean is limited to ordering food and saying thank you but there is really no time for pride when you don’t know your way back to the hotel.

I might have a prob with my short term memory but when it comes to places, I do remember directions. It didn’t hurt that I’ve been to Namdaemun a year ago so going there wasn’t a problem since it was just a very long walk from Myeong-dong. My colleagues were amazed how I know the ins and outs of Shinshegae underground and the tiny alleys in Namdaemun-naku, kayo na ang mawala the first time! 

On our way to Namdaemun

The Goods

When you love beauty products, South Korea is the place to be. One alley can have more than 5 stores selling masks, nail polishes, B&B creams, etc. What is good about buying there is the freebies one can get. There are stores that even give you a box of cottons upon entering their stores. Just imagine what I got when I bought a pack of facial masks…I know, I got carried away with that stuff.

It might be a bit expensive to buy in department stores but one can get a quarter of the price in the night markets. And I am not talking about class AA types. I scoured the alleys to have my hands on a cool satchel for the Euro chic look. I even horded a few Bausch and Lomb contact lens solutions in travel bottles, thanks to 7-11!

In between kim (or nori) and green tea boxes, the ABC chocolate candy and Peppero sticks are must-haves. ABC is pure chocolate goodness at real cheap price and Peppero is of course–Peppero! Sticks covered with chocolate or almonds is heaven. My ultimate favorite, of course, is the iced canned coffee sold in 7-11, Family Mart and Watsons. Cheopo kaayo.

Hopefully, I can see all of Seoul leisurely one day with my chingus that are dying to practice their Hangeul. There are still a lot of places to see and I will definitely be their unofficial tour guide when they want to get lost in Seoul and beyond.