Ilocos Norte, Philippines – December 2015

Ilocos Norte: Currimao-Paoay-Batac-Laoag-Pagudpud


To complete our Ilocos trip, we continued our travel up to the north. We stayed at Playa Tropical in Currimao, a Balinese themed resort.


After we have settled, we visited Paoay church with its Baroque architecture,


Marcos museum,

Paoay sand dunes


and the grand Fort Ilocandia.


Next day was spent exploring the Sinking bell tower,


Cape Bojeador light house,


Bangui windmills


And finally, Saud beach in Pagudpud.

Twas a very long drive…. But truly worth it! We love Ilocos! #morefuninthephilippines

Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines – December 2015

A luxurious hotel welcomed us when we arrived in Vigan… Hotel Luna. It’s a museum hotel which features paintings and sculptures from the who’s who of Philippine arts : BenCab, Napoleon Abueva, Ronald Ventura, Arturo Luz, Malang, Vicente Manansala, Federico Alcuaz, Guillermo Tolentino, and of course Juan Luna.
Just outside our hotel is our very own UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonder cities of the world, Calle Crisologo. It is one of the few Hispanic towns left in our country, well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine, Oriental and European designs.

Other places we visited by calesa are the ff: Bantay church and bell tower,


St. Paul’s Cathedral,


Plaza Salcedo,


Plaza Burgos,


Burgos and Crisologo museum,

and Baluarte.


We also sampled so much native delicacies such as bibingka, bolero, miki, empanada, longganisa and bagnet.


Another one ticked off our bucket list

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, Summer 2016

From NAIA Terminal 3 via Cebu Pacific, we arrived at the Puerto Princesa International Airport after about an hour from Metro Manila. We were picked up by our driver going to Astoria Palawan, our home for the next four (4) days.


Beach view



Our lunch upon arrival:






Halo halo



After a short rest, we swam, went kayaking, paddle boarding and biking.




Paddle board





We started our second day exploring one of the seven wonders of the world, The Puerto Princesa Underground River. Located in the Saint Paul mountain range, it’s the longest subterranean river in the planet accessible to man. The cave has a medley of stalactites, stalagmites, several large chambers, and lots of bats. A spiritual experience… We are truly awed by God’s creation.

IMG_0077IMG_0078IMG_0079IMG_0080After, we paddled along the mangrove forest, which serves as filter and keeps chemicals and mud from reaching the sea. It’s a dwelling place for other marine species and it’s a perfect location where fish lays its eggs.

IMG_0085On our third (3rd) day, we had our city tour covering the Crocodile farm,


Baker’s hill (bought delicious hopia monggo and other sweets),


Mitra’s farm,


Butterfly Eco-garden and Tribal Village(where we met the Palaw’ans introducing us to their culture),


Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral



and Plaza Cuartel.


Later at night, we went to Iwahig firefly watching tour (with star gazing).


On our fourth (4th) and last day, we just played and swam in the newly opened Palawan waterpark by Astoria.

IMG_0073IMG_0074IMG_0119Another summer fun adventure!

Tokyo (Japan) Spring Days 5 and 6, Mount Fuji and Disneyland- May 2016

On our 5th day in Tokyo, we went on a bus ride going to Gotemba Premium Outlet Store. We went here mainly to get a view of Mt. Fuji in all its splendor and it was beautiful!IMG_9865

We had a smooth bus ride from Shinjuku using the Odakyu bus.


We just walked, window shopped and ate at the Outlet mall.



We slept with all smiles on our faces because our destination the next day was Tokyo Disneyland!


Here are the attractions that we explored:
1.Monsters, Inc. Ride Go and Seek


Together with little Boo, and lots of monsters, including Sulley and Mike, We played hide-and-go-seek through the Monsters, Inc. offices and the streets of Monstropolis. Here, we used our flashlights to “find” the funny, hidden monsters.

2. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue


Here, we were in the middle of superb action in Star Wars movie in 3D!

3. Haunted Mansion


This  gothic mansion is haunted by 999 ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. We had a scary interaction with all of them as we explored its grounds and interiors.
4. Splash Mountain


A boat ride which took us to the world of Disney’s classic film, Song of the South. At the end of our journey, there was a 45-degree drop down and a 16-meter high waterfall. What a surprisingly wet experience!

5. Big Thunder Mountain


A train ride up the mountain where we careened at high speed through the old, abandoned gold mine. What a thrill!

6. Pirates of the Carribean


As we rode on a boat, we lived through the adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow, where cannonballs flew and splashed into the sea. We truly enjoyed the rough voices of pirates shouting as we sail through the Carribean.

7. Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall

Of course, nothing beats  warm, hearty sweets and treats after our exciting ans thrilling experience in Disneyland. We ate here at the Royal banquet and felt like royalties as we feasted on steaks, veggies and delectable pastries. Thank you Tokyo Disneyland for a whimsical last day in Tokyo!

Tokyo (Japan) Spring, Day 4 – May 2016

Today, we had our “breakfast buffet” at The Tsukiji Fish Market. Located in the central Tokyo, it is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables. We weren’t able to witness the tuna auction, but we were able to sample the fresh produce in the outer market.


At 9 a.m., we had tuna sashimi,


tuna sushi at 9:15 a.m.,


giant fresh oyster and  giant grilled scallop at 9:45 a.m.,


strawberry daifuku at 10 a.m.,


assorted yakitori at 10:15 a.m.,


fresh uni at 10:30 a.m.,


grilled crabmeat in miso sauce and grilled gindara at 11 a.m.,

and strawberry ice cream at 11:15 a.m.


What a feast!!!

Next stop was Asakusa.


Upon exiting the train station, we walked through the streets going to Nakamise, a shopping street where we saw a variety of local snacks and souvenirs.

At its end  is Asakusa’s  main attraction, Sensoji. A very popular Buddhist temple, built in the 7th century.

After lunch, we headed to futuristic Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay.

IMG_9818Here, we saw Gundam in Diver City Tokyo Plaza,


and explored the high-tech Toyota Mega Web.

We also strolled along the Venus Fort.


Indeed, a fun day today with the old and new Tokyo.

Tokyo (Japan) Spring Day 3 – May 2016

With our pretty Japanese guide Itsuko, we braved the rains  today. We started our tour at the Tokyo Main Station.

From the station, we walked going to theTokyo Imperial Palace and the gardens surrounding the Chiyoda ward. This is the former site of Edo Castle, with vast gardens surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo. It is the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family.

We continued our stroll through the double bridge, then headed straight to Ginza, which is the high fashion center of the city and contains many upscale shops and restaurants.


In the afternoon, our daughter Issa got her time to look through the 6 floors of Sekaido art store.


We then ended our beautiful day in Shake shack Meiji Jingu gaien.


Tokyo (Japan) Spring Days 1 and 2, May 2016

Our Tokyo trip last May 2016 was very enjoyable and fun, especially for our kids, since we traveled with their cousins. We arrived early afternoon and went straight to a local ramen house in Shinjuku. We ordered gyozas, ramen and tsukemen. All were so yummy!


The weather was really nice at this time of the year. Cloudy at 16C, that’s why we opt to walk going to Harajuku, a trendy place full of shops and eateries where youth pop culture rules.


Here, we ate yummy crepes,

IMG_9751Custard cream Taiyaki,

IMG_9755and Takoyaki.


On our 2nd day, we started our morning walking along the streets of vibrant Tokyo. We went first to Hanazono-Jinja Shrine, a shinto shrine in Shinjuku.


Second stop was Tokyo Government Building, where we experienced eating in their office cafeteria and looking at a bird’s eye view of the city for free.

Third stop was Shibuya, one of the most colorful and busy districts in Tokyo, packed with all kinds of shops and restaurants.

IMG_9762Here, we met Hachiko.


Our afternoon was spent strolling along Yoyogi park,


Meiji shrine, another Shinto shrine,


and snacking on Luke’s lobster roll,


Pablo cheesecake,


And Croissant Taiyaki.


With our hearts and belly full of beautiful Tokyo, we slept full of dreams, excited to explore more of this beautiful city.

Hanoi, Vietnam 2016

This trip was a rare one for our family since only me and my husband were the only ones who traveled to Hanoi. We arrived at 3 a.m. in the legendary Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel. Located in the heart of the french quarter, this hotel is very luxurious with its french colonial and neo-classical design. We had an easy check-in and a breakfast trolly welcomed us in the lobby.



Our first stop was lunch consisting of Bún  Chá with fried seafood roll (Obama combo) at Bún Chá Huong Lien.  This is a noodle soup topped with vegetables and grilled barbequed pork. A party in a bowl!


Dessert was Cá phé naú and cót dúa càphê at Cong Càphê,


and macaroons, tiramisu and eclair at L’ Epicerie du Metropole.


After a quick nap, we had a rainy stroll at the Hoan Kiem Lake,


and Ngoc son temple, which was built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty.


Afterwards, we “snacked” on  Banh my/pho sot vang and pho bo at Huyen Dung restaurant.


Dinner was Cá thang long, pork skewers and fried spring rolls at Chaca Cá Cuong restaurant.


We capped off our night with an egg coffee at Giang cafe.


A clear day welcomed us on our 2nd day  in Hanoi. We were early birds at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum… And it was a surreal experience.


We then visited the yellow Ho Chi Minh presidential palace,


his residence and his stilt house,


Ho Chi Minh museum


and the one-pillar pagoda.


Next, we explored The Temple of Literature and National University, which is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars.


Next stop was Hoa Lo prison,which was used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.


Lunch was at Wrap n’ roll where we had pho and various types of spring rolls.


In the afternoon, snacks were mixed meat and bbqed chicken Banh mi at Banh mi 25 and iced coffee at Highlands coffee.


Late in the afternoon, we watched the very entertaining Thang Long water puppet show,


and we joined the Legend Metropole’s Path of History tour where we went to the bunkers built during the civil war.


Though our trip was short, we were able to maximize the rich culture and food haven that is Hanoi!


The kids and the “kid-in-us” are all waiting for this day… Universal Studios Japan! We’re flying high in this blissful place!


1. Jaws – based on the film with the same title, we were aboard a boat cruising through Amity Harbor. Here, we experienced a harrowing chase between the craft and a very determined great white shark.


2. Jurassic Park – The Ride – A water cruise where we journeyed through a jungle featuring all the dinosaur species. Out of nowhere, we chanced upon the ominous “restricted area” of Jurassic Park, where they keep the dangerous ones. Suddenly, a T. rex appeared before us where it exposed its sharp teeth before we plunged in a pitch-black 85-foot drop.


3. Backdraft – a show where we learned how pyrotechnic effects were created. We witnessed exploding oil drums, gushing pillars of fire, encroaching walls of flame, and  hot blasts.


4.  The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride 4K3D – as riders, we became reporters into the world of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man. We rode the Daily Bugle vehicle known as the “Scoop” and we witnessed how the evil Sinister Syndicate  captured the Statue of Liberty with an anti-gravity gun. This evil group is made up of many famous Spider-Man villains, including Doctor Octopus, Scream, Electro, Hydro-Man, and the Hobgoblin.


5. Terminator 2: 3-D – A super-3D movie where we witnessed The battle for the future between humans and cyborgs.


6. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – 4K3D – as we explored Hogwarts, we were thrown in a scenic dark ride. Here we journeyed through the  Hogwarts castle. We had an encounter with the Whomping Willow and a horde of Dementors, and plunged in the middle of  a Quidditch match.


7. Flight of the Hippogriff – A junior roller coaster ride, we went on a test flight of the Hippogriff over the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid’s Hut. Here, we had a full aerial view of The Wizarding World and experienced drops, dips and turns around Hogwarts Grounds.


We were in this grand place Christmas time. A very happy place, indeed, to celebrate our holidays.


Balesin Island, Quezon Province, Philippines (2016)

Despite the rainy weather in Metro Manila, we were very lucky that Mr. Sun welcomed us in the Island of Balesin.

IMG_1771IMG_1778IMG_1782A unique, members-only, leisure get-away, it’s a 25 minute plane ride from Metro Manila.

It has seven-themed villages, namely, Balesin,  which is Filipino-themed,









St. Tropez,


Costa Del Sol,


and Toscana.


Each recreating the getaway destination it represents.

The most exclusive amongst them is the Balesin Royal Villa, designed as fusion of the best of Asian royal heritage and blended it into something wholly original.


We had a magical time in this island. Indeed, a must-visit patch of paradise in the Philippines.