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Cancelled Flights, Change of Priorities, A Realization and A Glimpse of the Future.

Cancelled Flights, Change of Priorities and A Realization.

I was very excited for 2020 and welcomed it with open arms during New Year’s celebration. I was on fire and I can already imagine all the travel I’ll have for the year – checking travel goals off the list one at a time. Destinations were marked and booked as early as 2019. Since this is a new decade, I thought I’d start big and my first tour is set in Tokyo with my family.

The trip to Tokyo has left me bankrupt if I should say (but my friends will not believe this lol). It was my most expensive tour to date but I saved up for it, so no worries right? 😀

Right after Tokyo, I was set for Masbate. It was such a paradise and I’d definitely come back here! This actually marked the first time I get to fly the drone and capture stunning photos which added more fuel to my fiery lust for travel.

Just few days apart from my trip to Masbate is a quick trip to Cagbalete Island together with my high school friends.

We had no idea that the trip to Cagbalete Island would be the last (for now). COVID-19 has entered the country and we were placed in a lockdown which of course restricted leisure travel.

We were setup to work-from-home and I’m feeling grateful that up until now we get to keep our jobs, thank you RealPage! Along with my family, friends, and officemates, we did rounds of relief operations to help our community. Again, my big thanks to all who donated for these efforts. 🙂

March, April, May and June were dedicated to traveling nearby provinces, mostly a quick weekend 2D1N trip to progress Project 81 which as of this writing is just at 25.61%. I also planned to go to Catanduanes by bus and ferry during the US Memorial Day Holiday back in May.

Most people get surprised by the fact that I haven’t been to Boracay lol. Sorry guys, it seems it’s not yet time for me to set foot on the paradise. My first cancelled flight for the year was bound to Boracay. Supposedly, backpacking Panay Island by entering in Boracay and then touring Antique, Roxas, and Iloilo by land (and a quick trip to Guimaras for the mango pizza of course) and then flying back to Manila from Iloilo.

I’m frequent in my province of Albay, I never really had the chance to visit the neighboring Sorsogon Province. August was dedicated for Sorsogon, mainly for the magical firefly watching and the Buhatan River Eco Adventure.

October is probably the one that hurts me the most. This is Siargao </3 Of all the local destinations set for 2020, Siargao is the one I’m most excited about. I have been wanting to go since 2017 when Echo starred in the movie dedicated for this surfing haven. I was planning to trace his footsteps in the movie lol

I still have tours lined up for November and December but most likely will be cancelled due to the restrictions imposed by the government for the fight against COVID19.

CHANGE OF PRIORITIES…

Being unable to travel for most of the year, I was able to save (forcefully lol). That said, I’ve been thinking of getting a home of my own – in preparation for starting a family. Lately, all I’ve been thinking were furniture and home improvement ideas. I kept imagining how my own house would look like. I believe this is the sign. Now that I’m able to save money for a house, I’ll have it prioritized. And before I forget, the baby of course 😛 I have always set aside these goals mainly because I just want to travel.

REALIZATION

Travel is life indeed, it makes me happy, it sets my soul on fire, it makes me alive… But I’m not getting any younger. Lately, I have been feeling that something is missing and when I ask myself, the answer I get is a family of my own. Funny how my high school teacher is now my niece’s teacher. That’s how much time I’ve missed. In a way, this pandemic has made me realize that this is the time to start and face the realities / challenges that’s ahead.

A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

How do you see yourself five years from now? I want to travel. For now, I’ll just focus on housing as my priority but once I get that done and everything is back to normal again, I’ll be back on tour. All flights were rebooked to 2021 so hopefully it is safer to travel by that time. Right now I’m into motorcycles but eventually when I save up enough for a car, I’ll get one and I’ll be like Noctis and the gang who travels the country with their car 😀

And I quote Utada Hikaru: “The future doesn’t scare me all” ❤

Camping at Lambingan Hills, Tanay, Rizal

Camping at Lambingan Hills

My friend Ruby’s quest to go camping at Cagbalete Island was called off due to our mishap of missing the boat thus we set another trip to fulfill her dream of camping – bonfire, marshmallows, coffee and friends.

After 8 months of lockdown, tourism gradually opened and we planned our next destination. Originally, we were supposed to go to Mt. Gulod but it was raining hard so our guide referred us to Lambingan Hills instead.

Lambingan Hills is located at Cayumbay, Tanay, Rizal which is around 2 hours away from Manila. We were picked up by a private van at 1PM and arrived around 3PM.

Upon arriving at the area, we were checked for temperature and listed our names and numbers for contact tracing. We waited for a few minutes for the rain to stop however we did not see it stopping anytime soon so we went to proceed with the climb.

Since it was raining hard, our trek going to Lambingan Hills was very challenging. Be very careful during the rainy season as the path gets slippery and muddy. If this was a sunny day I think it would only take 5-10 minutes to reach the top.

I lost track of the time since we moved up very slowly. There are kids here playing around and they helped us carry some of our things. Once you reach the signage, you are near the area.

We pitched our tent however it was raining hard with strong winds – Typhoon Quinta is fast approaching! The tent will not withstand the typhoon thus we rented a hut to keep us sheltered through the storm.

After setting up our hut, we went to take pictures.

We stayed in our hut throughout the night and just had coffee, snacks, played scrabble, talked about goals and future, listened to songs. It was a very fun night despite the bad weather. 🙂

Since our quest for camping and bonfire has been ruined by the typhoon, we will be setting another tour to get this fulfilled! 😀

Morning came but still Typhoon Quinta battering us with heavy rain and wind. My DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and Tecno Spark 5 Pro were tested by the rain as well. Despite all that, they are still working great! 🙂

We had our final picture at Lambingan Hills with their famous signage I ❤ Lambingan before going home.

Since this is a private tour, our expenses were a bit up. We were only 6 so the transpo cost is a bit expensive. Imagine having 18 pax with the old normal, transpo would only cost 222 pesos each roundtrip 😉 DIY budget would cost less than 1k.

That’s it for our Lambingan Hills story! 🙂

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Lost GCash Number? – Here’s What You Should Do.

 
 

I have registered in GCash just this year due to the lockdown where we can’t go to the Bayad Centers to pay our bills. GCash has been a very big help in accomplishing this task and I’m a very satisfied customer. I love how simple it is to use, how secure it is in cashing in and paying our bills.

I have been using my SMART number for years now and that was the number I used for GCash. Sadly, out of the blue, the SIM has lost signal and I wasn’t able to use it anymore in GCash where there’s still more than a thousand pesos credits. Since the due dates are coming near, I need to use GCash again to pay my bills but I can’t login.

According to the GCash Help Page: If you lost your SIM card or your mobile phone where your GCash account is registered, you will need to contact GCash Support immediately so we can temporarily suspend your GCash account for your safety. You may submit a ticket or call us at 2882 with the details of your concern.

I submitted a ticket explaining the problem where my registered GCash number has lost signal and I can’t access my account anymore. In less than 24 hours, a GCash Customer Support Agent has reached out to me.

I have two options: to create a new account using a new number or go to SMART to have a SIM replacement and retrieve the old number. The SMART Facebook customer service hasn’t been responding after multiple follow up attempts and going to their store would cost and very hassle.

I created a new account using my second SIM and went thru the process of getting fully verified.

Next step is getting the funds from the old account to the new one. Below are the needed details and I submitted it as soon as I received the email.

Success! Upon submitting the abovementioned details, my case has been endorsed for the Transfer of Funds. I was given 48 hours as turn-around time.

Just after 5 hours, I received the confirmation email that the Transfer of Funds has been successfully processed!

GCash Customer Support Team, thanks so much for the very prompt response and resolution to my case. Keep up the good work! 🙂

In case you lost your GCash registered number, don’t hesitate to contact GCash Customer Support Team and they’ll be more than happy to assist you 🙂

Cagbalete Island Itinerary 2D1N for less than 2k

Cagbalete Island

It was during our extended New Year’s Day celebration when my friend Ruby said one of her 2020 goals was to experience camping by the beach – marshmallows, bonfire, tent, waves, starry skies. Cagbalete Island comes to mind when considering a not expensive weekend trip on a white sand beach somewhere near Manila.

Below is our expenses during our Cagbalete Island experience.

EXPENSES PER PAX
BUS Manila – Lucena – Manila 514
VAN Lucena – Mauban – Lucena 130
BOAT Mauban Port – Sabang Port – Mauban Port 200
AC Room Accommodation (1000 / 5 pax) 200
Pansacola Beach Day Tour 200
Environmental Fee 50
Trike around Mauban 60
Foods and Baon 500
GRAND TOTAL 1854

To maximize this experience, the group should depart Manila by 2 or 3AM. Since some of us work the night shift, this is not possible. By leaving at 10AM, we could still catch up the last boat which departs at 4PM. We were at DLTB bus terminal few minutes before 10AM but the bus departed almost 12noon plus the traffic in EDSA which spelled our doom. Travel time is 3 to 4 hours and fare is 257 pesos.

We reached Lucena around 4PM and went for a quick toilet break before transferring to a van going to Mauban. We were at the tourism office few minutes past 5PM and we were told the last public boat departed at 4PM. Even private boats won’t be allowed by the Philippine Coast Guard to sail so we had no option but to stay in Mauban.

Sadly, we won’t be able to spend the night at the island. We then asked some locals for a resort where we can stay for the night. We were recommended to Lumberio’s Travelers Inn and we found a nice deal for 1000 pesos (divided by 5 = 200 each). There is a nearby barbeque-han and surprisingly, it only costs 15 pesos. I had 3 and a rice for just 55 pesos. Solved. We were up till 1AM drinking and going down the memory lane. I was awakened around 3AM by the heavy rain. It felt like there was a storm. I think it was a blessing in disguise since we planned to only have tent accommodation on the island. Thought it might be an unpleasant night with that rain.

Sunrise at Mauban, Quezon
Sunrise at Mauban, Quezon

We woke up 5AM for the sunrise and strolled around the beach. We checked out at around 7AM and then went back to Mauban town proper. We bought some groceries and lunch before heading back to the tourism office. At the tourism office, you will have to pay for the Environmental Fee of P50 as well as pay a down payment for your chosen resort. If you wish to contact specific resorts in Cagbalete Island, the numbers are posted below:

On your way to the boat, there are street vendors – don’t forget to try and eat Pancit Habhab which only costs P10.

Pancit Habhab
Pancit Habhab

TIP: Go for the public boat, it only costs 100 pesos per way. First trip is 10AM and last trip is 4PM. Be there atleast 30 minutes before departure since the boat leaves when it’s full. The fare is collected by the crew during the sail.

Cagbalete Island Itinerary

The boat departed earlier than the 10AM schedule because it has already reached the maximum passenger capacity. Travel time is around 45 minutes. We reached Sabang Port in Cagbalete Island and we were greeted by a staff from Pansacola Beach Resort and he assisted us with our belongings.

Cagbalete Island Itinerary

Below is the map for Cagbalete Island as posted at the tourism office. If we had plenty of time, I would love to walk and explore the island up to Nilandingan Cove.

Cagbalete Island Itinerary

Pansacola Beach is 10 to 15minutes walk from Sabang Port. Since we won’t be staying for the night, we only paid 200 for the day tour. They said we can stay on the cottages and we got ourselves a nice one for free. The restrooms and shower rooms are clean and they have good supply of water.

Cagbalete Island boasts white sand beach and is a perfect weekend getaway from Manila. It is also child friendly specially during the low tide.

Our boat will depart at 3PM so our call time was at 230PM. We cleaned our table and then walked back to the port. It was a smooth sail and we safely arrived back to Mauban Port.

We went to buy some raw pancit habhab for pasalubong before hopping to the van bound for Lucena. We dropped by SM Lucena for our dinner at Buddy’s.

We boarded the Jam Liner bus bound for Cubao at 8PM and arrived 1130PM at their Kamias Terminal. I was asleep the whole ride. 😀

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How to Avail Travel Fund Option for Cebu Pacific Cancelled Flights

Cebu Pacific Air cancels flights due to bad weather condition, aircraft maintenance/servicing and recently due to the Philippine government’s directive to stop flights at NAIA to help minimize the spread of the corona virus (COVID-19)

You can avail of the Travel Fund option which can be used to pay for future flight booking. The travel fund is valid for 180 days or 6 months from the date of creation – plenty of time to score those seat sale. 😉

Let me guide you through the process on how to avail the travel fund.

Login to your account at https://www.cebupacificair.com/ and click Manage Booking.

Select the booking you wish to refund and click Manage.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

Select Buy Add-ons, Rebook or Cancel for Travel Fund and tick the checkbox for Cancel Flight.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

Scroll down to the bottom and hit Continue. A pop-up will appear, just click Continue.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

In the next screen, select which flight/s would you like to cancel. Tick the checkbox and hit Continue.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

A pop-up will appear stating that changes will be applied to all passengers, click Continue.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

You will now see the Cancel Summary screen, click Continue.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

It will then be processed and once successful, you will get a confirmation that the booking has been closed and placed in a Travel Fund.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

And we’re done! Easy right? 🙂

If you haven’t read yet, here is the terms and conditions for the Travel Fund.

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

Lastly, you can now use the Travel Fund when you book future flights. 🙂

Cebu Pacific Travel Fund

Hope it helps! 🙂

Backpacking Mainland SouthEast Asia – 3 Countries – 5 Cities – 8 Days for 19k

I don’t wanna crossover between this genre, that genre. Between you and I is where I wanna crossover, cross the line. I just wanna go further between here and there grow wiser… together you and I, we can cross all borders, you and I – Utada Hikaru sings on her Interlude. It was the most repeated song as we toured 3 of Mainland SouthEast Asia’s countries – Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand.

My girlfriend is a big fan of Thailand (mainly because of Mario Maurer’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love movie) so I was always eyeing for pisofare to Bangkok. I told her it is possible to go to other SouthEast Asian countries by land travel and we both decided to do this epic tour – excited and kinda scared at the same time.

EXPENSES 2 PAX PER PAX
Roundtrip Airfare with 20kg Baggage Allowance 5935 2967.5
Travel Tax 3240 1620
Mekong Delta Tour – Vietnam 954.66 477.33
Accommodation – Vietnam 3070.14 1535.07
Accommodation – Phnom Penh Cambodia 885.99 442.995
Accommodation – Siem Reap Cambodia 1791.7 895.85
Accommodation – Bangkok 2390.71 1195.355
Pocket Money 20000 10000
GRAND TOTAL 38268.2 19134.1

Always flying on Pisofare, I grabbed this Manila – Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok – Manila airfare for only 5935 for two – P2967.5 roundtrip inclusive of 20kg baggage allowance. Thank you Cebu Pacific Air as always! Keep those low fares coming! 🙂

Indochina Itinerary

Let’s fly!

DAY 1

Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Backpacking Indochina

We arrived at NAIA around 730PM for our 1030PM flight. We just breezed through the bag drop as well as the immigration process. This was probably the shortest international flight – just an hour or so of flying and I can already see the ground lol I didn’t even get the chance to sleep.

It was a smooth touchdown at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. After clearing the airport procedure, we checked the money changers and looked for the best rates. We exchanged just 50 USD and had more than a million VND. Outside the airport, there are guys offering taxi deals but we found it ridiculously expensive. We used Grab instead using the free airport wifi and found it way cheaper than what the guys were offering.

We then boarded the Grab car and it was about 45mins ride to District 1, where our hotel La Felix Hotel is located. We checked in and went outside to get something to eat.

Lights out.

DAY 2

Mekong Delta Tour
Bui Vien Walking Street

We woke up very early for the 9AM Mekong Delta Tour. Our stay includes free breakfast buffet so we took advantage of that before heading to The Sinh Tourist.

We availed of the Mekong Delta Tour for 438,000 VND – roughly 954.66 pesos for two – which makes it 477.33 pesos per person! You can book directly from their website.

Indochina Itinerary 2

The Sinh Tourist is located just few steps from La Felix Hotel. The staff assisted us and we didn’t have any problems with our tour booking. We then followed the other guests to the tour bus. There are vendors selling souvenirs and they can be very pushy – I was able to buy some ref magnets.

The tour was from 9AM to 5PM and includes free lunch. Just a reminder, check your boat and tour-mates very carefully. We boarded the wrong boat and it was a shame cause the other tourists laughed at us lol.

We arrived back at District 1 around 5PM and went back to our hotel to freshen up. We then strolled around District 1 and found ourselves in Bui Vien Walking Street. It was a very busy street with tons of restaurants and street foods. We had dinner in one of the restaurants around here.

DAY 3

War Remnants Museum
Independence Palace (Reunification Palace)
Notredame Cathedral
Saigon Central Post Office
Opera House
District 1
Departure for Phnom Penh

It was raining hard the next day. We wrapped up for our departure to Phnom Penh before having our buffet breakfast. It was nice meeting fellow Filipinos during the elevator ride and who were also headed for the breakfast. We talked about itineraries and they were surprised that it’s possible to go to Cambodia and Thailand just by land travel.

Originally, we were supposed to have the Saigon Walking Tour but it was raining hard. We headed outside for some iced coffee. We were running out of time so we didn’t get too far from the hotel.  We checked out at 12PM for our 1PM ride to Phnom Penh. There are lots of tour operators near the hotel and we were offered transfer options, we picked the cheapest one to save a few dollars.

We reached Bavet, Cambodia in less than 2 hours of ride. We dropped off and queued for immigration process. We were asked to pay a few dollars but we told them Philippine Passport holders are visa-free in Cambodia. They stamped our passports and we walked our way to the exit. We waited for all other tourists and then continued the ride.

There are stop-overs during the ride for food and toilet break. Just in case you got a wrong timing, you can politely request the driver to pull over and he will stop at the next gas station.

We arrived at Cambodia’s capital around 6PM but we were greeted with heavy traffic that it took almost an hour to get to the drop point. We then boarded a tuktuk upon disembarking since it began raining again. We asked the driver to wait for us for a money changer and I had exchanged a few dollars for Cambodian Riel. We paid $3 for the tuktuk ride.

We checked in at Hotel Zing Phnom Penh and had our cold fried rice that we bought at the stop over as dinner. We weren’t able to go outside because the rain started pouring like there’s a storm.

DAY 4

Royal Palace
Central Market
Departure from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Pub Street
Angkor Night Market

Another rainy day. We were supposed to go to the Royal Palace but the rain stopped us. We just walked around the area and found ourselves in the Central Market. Lots of stores are still closed and we just ate noodles and iced coffee for breakfast.

We were picked up by the bus at 9AM for our trip to Siem Reap which would take roughly 6 hours. There were only 8 tourists on the bus and it was very very spacious. We had some stop overs for lunch and souvenirs.

We arrived at Siem Reap around 3PM and we boarded a tuktuk to our hotel. The driver offered us the tour for Angkor Wat for $20 dollars (1k pesos – 500 pesos each). It was not a bad deal so I grabbed it. If we were on a group of 4, it would only cost us just 250 each. 😉

The staff at Day Day Inn explained gave us tourist map as well as offered us some tours and transfers thus we booked our bus to Bangkok. We saw fellow Filipinos at the hotel and we invited them to join us on Angkor Wat Tour but they said they have a different itinerary the next day. We just shared the tuktuk ride together to Pub Street.

We had food trip at Pub Street and Angkor Night Market. I totally loved the Fried Ice Cream here. If you’re brave enough, you can try their exotic foods like snakes and spiders. We grabbed some drinks and fried rice from the restaurant and headed back to Day Day Inn. The pool was very inviting so we had night swimming together with the foreigners. It was nice talking to Europeans and Americans who are loving the SouthEast Asia. I invited them to visit The Philippines and they told us it was part of their tour.

Lights Out.

DAY 5

Angkor Wat
Ta Phrom
Bayon Temple
Pub Street

Backpacking Indochina

We woke up at 2AM for the 4AM call time. Our tuktuk driver arrived before 4AM and we then headed to Angkor Wat Tourism Office. There were so many tourist already lined up for the ticket. The ticket costs $37 each (1850 pesos) and then we headed to Angkor Wat. There are vendors before entering the temple and we bought some banh mi (not sure if it’s still called banh mi here in Cambodia hehe).

We were inside Angkor Wat just before the sunrise and it was priceless to see the sun shine the temple. All tourists flocked on the lake portion of the tower but we were already at the entrance lol. Their goal was get the post-card Angkor Wat picture. We explored every part of the temple and it felt like being thousands of years in the past.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants inside the Angkor Wat and it was funny because they are named from Hollywood. We ate at James Bond’s restaurant lol. There were also kids selling ref magnets and they can even speak Tagalog and they also accept the Philippine Peso. I bought some ref magnets and we also shopped for some Cambodian outfits.

We met our tuktuk driver waiting outside and we headed to the next temple called  Ta Phrom. Angelina Jolie’s first Tomb Raider was filmed here. I totally loved the big trees here, it felt like being in Final Fantasy IX. We bought some softdrinks outside because the sun was scorching hot and then off to the next stop called Bayon Temple.

The tuktuk driver offered us some more tours for $10 but since it was very very hot that afternoon, we decided to just go back to the hotel to swim. We woke up around 6PM and went back to Pub Street for some shakes and fried ice cream.

DAY 6

Departure from Siem Reap to Bangkok
Khao San Road

The hotel staff booked us our bus ticket to Bangkok during our check in. We prepared early and then we had a lite breakfast as we waited for the bus. The bus arrived before 8AM and it was almost full. We were seated at the last row.

It took roughly 3 hours to reach Poipet where the border and immigration control is located. We got off the bus and went to the immigration process. We were not asked to pay anything and the immigration officer just stamped our passport.

We had lunch outside the building as we waited for other tourists. It was almost 2PM when we finally departed. There are some stop overs and I can’t help but eat the grilled pork again and again – it’s so good for just 10 baht.

Backpacking Indochina

We arrived around 7PM in Khao San Road – very busy tourist spot with lots of items and foods for sale. We looked for our hotel and checked in before heading back again to Khao San Road for dinner.

DAY 7

Bangkok City Tour

Our first stop is the Grand Palace, unfortunately, there seems to be a program and all of the students in Bangkok are there. My girlfriend was in a bad mood over this because this is her goal in Bangkok. We just walked around the city and found ourselves in Wat Mahathat.

A middle-aged guy offered to tour us around the temple and even took pictures of us (Thank you!). He told us that there’s free entrance at the Grand Palace at 2PM because it’s Buddha Day. Then he offered us a floating market boat which is 1000 baht one way and that would cost us 4000 baht (almost 8k pesos). He said it would be perfect to take the offer and we will be back right in time for the free entrance. It was an obvious scam and we told him we don’t have enough money because we already spent a lot in Vietnam and Cambodia. He got upset and sent us away from the temple.

We then crossed the Chao Phraya River which only costs 7 baht for two. We found ourselves in a new temple and then we feasted street foods and iced drinks.

Backpacking Indochina

DAY 8

Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Last day of this epic tour. I felt a bit sad and I wish we could extend.

We woke up very early since our flight is at 9AM, we should be at the airport at around 6AM. We booked a Grab to the airport since the bus is not yet scheduled to depart. We arrived with a very beautiful sunrise at the airport.

WOW, Suvarnabhumi International Airport is indeed the Pride of Thailand. I love this airport more than I love Narita and KIX (sorry Japan).

Backpacking Indochina

We boarded our scheduled flight and safely landed at NAIA Terminal 3.

It was such an amazing tour and I wish we could do it again, adding Laos on the itinerary. 🙂

Masbate 2D1N Itinerary for 4k

DIY Trip to Masbate

When it comes to Bicol, Masbate might be the one that is least visited mainly because of its distance from the mainland. As a Bicolano, I admit I haven’t been to Masbate. The Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary & Sandbar has recently caught my attention and for days I was itching to go. I finally get the chance to visit Masbate during a long weekend and wow it was such a paradise.

 

Cebu Pacific Air flies daily to Masbate however, we haven’t scored a PisoFare deal yet so we decided to go on a bus trip. I always take the bus to LA (Ligao, Albay) so I’m used to the long bus travel time. I thought we’d only have to add a couple of hours and we’re in Masbate so it was not a bad deal. Also, we haven’t experienced RORO so it was another reason to go on this epic adventure.

EXPENSES 2 PAX PER PAX
Cubao – Masbate 2500 1250
Pio Duran and Masbate Port Terminal Fee 120 60
Masbate – Cubao 2300 1150
Accommodation at GV Hotel 951.59 475.795
Boat + Environmental Fee in Buntod 640 320
Trike GV – Buntod – GV 100 50
Habal Habal GV- Mobo 60 30
Habal Habal Mobo – Mayong Payong – Mobo 250 125
Habal Habal Mobo – Mangrovetum 100 50
Mangrovetum Entrance Fee 30 15
Trike to GV 40 20
Trike to GV-Safehouse-GV 150 75
SafeHouse Entrance 40 20
Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner 700 350
GRAND TOTAL 7981.59 3990.795

For 4k, I think this is expensive lol. But this should only cost 3k if you could score Cebu Pacific’s PisoFare 😉

Bicol Isarog Transport has multiple trips throughout the day going to Masbate. You can book online at https://bicolisarog.com. In our case, we just walked-in at EDSA Cubao and bought tickets since it is not peak season yet. One way ticket costs 1250 pesos inclusive of the RORO fare. I think it’s a great deal just that travel time would eat up 16-17 hours.

Bicol Isarog EDSA Cubao Terminal
Bicol Isarog EDSA Cubao Terminal

We departed EDSA Cubao terminal at 2PM and arrived in Pio Duran Port 2AM the next day. We have to get off the bus, clear the security checks and pay the terminal fee at the port, and then finally get to the vessel. The RORO vessel departer at 3AM and we arrived in Masbate at 7AM. I thought I’d wait for the sunrise but then it rained and then I fell asleep. When I woke up, the vessel was already at the port lol.

GV Hotel Masbate
GV Hotel Masbate

We walked our way to GV Hotel which is located just a few blocks away from the port. The standard check-in is 2PM however, they allowed for early check-in at 7AM. Awesome right? 🙂

Since we had plenty of sleep from the long bus ride plus the smooth sailing RORO experience, we decided to go on tour already. We first grabbed a heavy breakfast and some baon before going hailing a trike to the port going to Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary & Sandbar.

We paid 500 pesos for the roundtrip boat transfer, 100 pesos for the entrance/cottage as well as 40 pesos for the environmental fee. That’s 640 pesos for two. The trip is only 10-15 minutes from the port and there’s only few human beings on the island. This is why I love off-peak seasons.

Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary & Sandbar is the highlight of this tour and looking at the drone shots, I fell in love with Masbate. I think Buntod can take on Maldives!

Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary & Sandbar
Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary & Sandbar

We stayed for 4 hours in the island and then went back to the hotel to freshen up and then we decided to go to Mayong Payong Mountain Peak next. We hailed a habal-habal to Mobo, Masbate and then another habal-habal going to the peak. It was a crazy trip going to this place but the view on top was worth it. If you’re going to Masbate, definitely add Mayong Payong to your itinerary.

I have made a quick video on our trip to Mayong Payong and it shows our struggle to get up there 🙂

We were supposed to watch sunset at Mayong Payong however the clouds turned dark and it rained. We decided to go back as soon as the rain stopped. Our habal-habal driver waited for us and then we asked if he could take us to Mangrovetum. He said they are only allowed within Mobo so we had to transfer to another habal-habal.

Mangrovetum is just 10-15 minutes away from our hotel and entrance is only 15 pesos. It is a nice park with lots of green. The visitors here are mostly lovers and there are romantic songs being played on the park speakers. This is also a nice place to watch sunset. Mangrovetum was still in Valentines Mode and we were waiting for the lights however the rain came again.

We hailed a trike outside Mangrovetum and asked to take us to SuTuKil however it was closed during our visit. What a shame! We just asked the driver to take us to Kaykay’s Sinangag. They offer delicious meals for very very affordable price plus it is just a few steps away from our hotel.

Masbate Itinerary
Kaykay’s Sinangag

Lights Out.

I woke up very early and went to the port so I could secure a bus ticket going to Manila. I first saw Raymond Transportation booking office and inquired. It seems there’s only one trip daily to Manila and that leaves at 12noon. I bought our tickets already so I could secure our seats. Supposedly, I planned to go to Ticao Island but it seems we don’t have enough time.

I bought some pandesal on my way back to GV. We had breakfast and then went to Masbate Cathedral which just a few steps away.

Masbate ItinerMasbate Itinerary Masbate Cathedralary Masbate Cathedral
Masbate Itinerary Masbate Cathedral

We then hailed a trike going to Safehouse where the famous I ❤ Masbate signage is located. This is located near the port going to Buntod. Ideally, you can go here right after your visit to Buntod 🙂 We asked the trike driver to just wait for us. The resort is under renovation but the owner allowed us to go inside. There’s a P20 entrance fee.

Masbate Itinerary
I ❤ Masbate

We then went to Masbate Public Market and bought some pastillas for pasalubong. We also had buko for just P20. Too bad we couldn’t find a ref magnet!!!

We went back to our hotel to packup and went to the port to catch our bus bound for Manila.

Masbate Itinerary

Masbate Rodeo Capital of the Philippines

Masbate,  you are such a paradise. Thank you! We will be back! 🙂

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Tokyo, Nikko, Yokohama, Japan – 9 Days for 25K

It was the spring of 2015 at Kansai International Airport when I first dreamed of bringing my family to Japan. Me and my friends were Manila-bound after our 5-day tour in Osaka and a family of 4 was seated behind us when the little boy started praying as the plane prepares for take off. The prayer goes like this : “Lord, thank you for giving us the opportunity to travel as a family. Keep us safe during our flight. Amen.” I imagined that family was mine.

With so much love for The Land of the Rising Sun, I knew I’ll keep coming back and I haven’t forgotten that dream of bringing my family to Japan for a vacation. Back in 2018, I had the chance to bring my mom for a 7-day tour in Tokyo – it was still incomplete as my nephew and niece were not with us. Fast forward to 2020 – my family’s first flight of the decade was bound for Tokyo, Japan. What makes the tour more special is having Boss Mona, my boss from previous company, also joining us on the tour.

BTW, if you want to know about how to be a sponsor for the Japan Tourist Visa, check out my guide here.

We all know that Japan is really expensive but I have been traveling DIY-style and keeping the damage as low as possible. Below is our family’s expenses during our trip to Tokyo.

EXPENSES FAMILY PER PAX
Roundtrip Airfare 18051.75 3610.35
Baggage Allowance 8144 1628.8
9D8N Accommodation 29689.66 5937.932
Pocket Money 60000 12000
Travel Tax 8100 1620
GRAND TOTAL 123985.4 24797.08

Airfare and accommodation were already paid in advance and I had almost a year to save up for the pocket money so I was prepared.

Hostel East57

Tickets were scored during Cebu Pacific’s Anniversary Seat Sale way back March 2019. I remember when payment did not push through and I encountered a time-out when I was booking. Within 24 hours, I received the itinerary through email which confirms the booking.

Tokyo Airfare

Taal Volcano awakened during the week of our departure which caused the shutdown of NAIA and flights were getting cancelled. Lucky for us, NAIA reopened and gradually resumed operations a day before our scheduled flight.

Tokyo, let’s go!!!

DAY 1

NAIA T3
Narita International Airport
Asakusabashi

Tokyo Itinerary

We arrived at NAIA less than 3 hours before our flight. Long queue for bag drop and immigration that we had to run to the boarding gate. We haven’t had the chance to have lunch at the airport so we just had snacks during the flight.

Tokyo Itinerary

We arrived at Narita International Airport past 7PM and there was a long and slow queue at the immigration. Our baggage were already arranged by the airport staff and handed to us when went to the claim our luggage. We met Boss Mona at the arrival hall and waited for her to exchange some Japanese Yen. My niece and nephew were greeted by the winter breeze and they seemed to enjoy it lol

Arrival in Japan

We boarded the last Keisei Limited Express Train bound for Asakusa and arrived almost 12 midnight. Good thing it was direct train which stops at Asakusabashi Station where our hostel is located. Had we need a transfer, we might miss the last train as it was already 12 midnight. We checked in fast at Hostel East57 and called it a day.

DAY 2

Shibuya Scramble Square
Hachiko Statue
Harajuku
Meiji Shrine
Akihabara

Hostel East57

Alarm was set for 7AM and met for the free breakfast at the hostel. First stop was Shibuya and we got kinda lost lol. The last time I was there, Shibuya Scramble was not yet built so we were going into circles into the new building. We saw a Family Mart where we had a quick bite. We finally managed to get to the most famous crossing in the world as well as visit Hachiko Memorial Statue.

Tokyo Itinerary

Shibuya Crossing

We then headed to Harajuku were lots of items are on sale. I bought my mom a bag and scarf. The sales ladies were amazed as I lip-synched BoA’s Dakishimeru song haha. Don’t forget to eat crepe here and also check out the chocolates on sale. We walked to Laforet where we looked for the Sailor Moon Store. Last stop for the area was Meiji Shrine before heading to Akihabara.

Tokyo Itinerary

My nephew was hungry again and I told him I know a place in Akihabara. We then went to Akiba Yodobashi’s 8th Floor where we ate ramen and fried chicken. Boss Mona went to shop at BIC Camera for some anime merch while my nephew and niece played Nintendo Switch demo games. We dropped by Donki which is just around the street before going home.

Tokyo Itinerary

DAY 3

Disneyland
Disneysea
Tokyo Tower
Zozoji Temple
Roppongi

Sounds like a very big day with Disney Land and Disney Sea on the itinerary lol. My nephew and niece did not totally care about entering the amusement parks so it’s a good thing so I won’t have to spend more. We just enjoyed the outside scenes and ate lunch at the food court.

Next stop is the Tokyo Tower where we checked the Mugiwara Store as well as the anime store on the second floor. We did not purchase the Tokyo Tower pass and opted to go to the nearby Zozoji Temple instead.

Tokyo Itinerary

My nephew was hungry and I know a place near Kamiyacho Station with good food at very affordable price. We had a heavy late lunch and then walked to Roppongi. We spent a lot of time in Donki and bought pasalubong before going home 😀

DAY 4

Nikko
Kinugawa Onsen
Tobu Nikko

It was raining the next day in Tokyo. We had our usual free breakfast before heading to Asakusa Station to buy our Nikko Pass. We only bought the 2-Day World Heritage Pass since the 4-Day Nikko All Access Pass is expensive and going back to Tokyo would mean forfeiting the pass. We opted to ride the local trains since riding the limited express train would cost more.

Tokyo Itinerary

The train guy was very generous to write us a guide where to transfer stations. We were on the train almost all day and when we finally stopped at Kinugawa Onsen Station we thought we could see the snow but sadly there’s none. We checked the area for a bit and had lunch.

Tokyo Itinerary

We then rode the train bound for Tobu Nikko but we got confused because it went backwards – we thought it was a wrong train. We dropped by to the next station and the lady said it was a correct train and the next one would be in 45 minutes. The lady was kind enough to let us enter the museum cause it was blistering cold outside (1 degree).

We finally got to Tobu Nikko but it was already past 4PM and it has gotten dark. Sadly the tourist information was already closed so we didn’t get to ride the free tour bus. We explored the area for a bit and had dinner before going back to Tokyo.

I would say it was a failed mission since we did not get to see the shrines and not even a drop of snow lol. But it was fun – the train ride itself was a treat. Definitely going back to Nikko.

DAY 5

Senso-ji Temple
Asakusa
Pokemon Mega Center Tokyo
Odaiba
Gundam Statue
Asakusa

We woke up late the next day and even missed our free breakfast. My mom was frozen from Nikko’s zero degrees and opted not to join us because she was tired – plus she’s been to those places. We went to Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa and it was crazy filled with lots of tourists. Starting from Asakusa Station up to the temple, it felt like there’s a procession going due to the overwhelming number of tourists. We checked the nearby shopping malls and also Donki. My nephew was already in a bad mood because he is hungry – luckily, we found a nice restaurant with cheap meals so we had lunch there.

Tokyo Itinerary

Next stop was the Pokemon Mega Center in Ikebukuro. It was also filled with lots of people and the queue to the store was just crazy we decided to skip it. Also there’s the new Pokemon Go Team Lab and Pokemon Cafe as well as Mugiwara Store – check those if you wish to buy merch.

Tokyo Itinerary

Last stop for the day was Odaiba where the real-life size Gundam is standing. I’m always amazed by the Yurikamome Line’s fully automated train but sadly we didn’t get the front seat cause there’s a lot of tourists. We then walked to see the Statue of Liberty but it is being renovated. I told my nephew we are in New York and he bought it lol. We continued to walk to Aqua City and there’s the new JUMP Shop with so many anime merch. We continued to walk to Odaiba Kaihinkoen Station where a nearby grocery is located. We bought some groceries before heading home.

We went back to Asakusa for dinner and went to Donki to finalize Boss Mona’s pasalubong.

DAY 6

Yokohama
Nissan Gallery Global Headquarters
Minato Mirai
Queen’s Square
Yokohama Arena

Tokyo Itinerary

Boss Mona’s flight back to Manila is scheduled for this day – I felt kinda sad because it felt different – like the group would be incomplete and I wish we’d all go home together.

We had breakfast and we went to Asakusabashi Station to accompany Boss Mona to the train bound for Narita Airport. We parted ways and we then went to Shinagawa Station to catch a train bound for Yokohama.

Tokyo Itinerary

Originally, we planned to go back to Nikko if only the Nikko Pass was valid for coming back but sadly going back to Tokyo forfeits the pass. Knowing that we could only use the Nikko Pass once – we decided to go to Yokohama since we haven’t been there.

Tokyo Itinerary

No plans really – it’s just a date for two. We dropped off at Yokohama Station and followed the signs to Minato Mirai. We bought some chicken at the station and then we ate them at Starbucks while having their new Valentine drink. We stumbled upon the Nissan Gallery Global Headquarters and we were welcomed even though we were not there to buy a car – it was nice to see their presentation/demo and we’re free to take pics even inside the cars.

Nissan Global Headquarters Yokohama Starbucks

We continued to walk to Minato Mirai and there were lots of major company HQs – Docomo, Shiseido, Fuji Xerox, Sony to name a few. The roads and parks were all filled with trees and I can only imagine how it’d looked like during sakura season.

We entered Queen’s Square mall and explored a bit. Next to it is a themepark called CosmoWorld as well as the nearby Cup Noodles Museum. We did not enter those since there’s lots of people.

Tokyo Itinerary

We had lunch at the nearby Yokohama World Porters. I got sleepy and took a nap at the bench lol. We then walked to Sakuragicho Station – mainly because of the 5 Centimeters Per Second theme song called One More Time, One More Chance.

Tokyo Itinerary

We boarded the train bound for Shin-Yokohama Station where the Yokohama Arena is located. I just wanted to reminisce Utada Hikaru’s 2010 Wild Life concert which was held here. We then had dinner at Cubic Plaza before going home.

DAY 7

Ueno Park
Ueno Zoo
Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo Itinerary

This is the day my nephew and niece have been waiting for. They did not really care about Disneyland and DisneySea – just the zoo and they’re good to go. My nephew even wore his triceratops costume for this day!

We had our usual sandwich and orange juice for breakfast and headed to Ueno Station. We saw some affordable bento just outside the station and bought some. We immediately spotted Ueno Park where lots of people are relaxing and having a bite. We ate here as well before heading to Ueno Zoo. The zoo offers free entrance to kids so this is really a great alternative to Disneyland lol

We spent most of the day here as well as Ueno Park. We then went to Tokyo Station where we ate dinner. We explored outside a bit and stumbled upon the Tokyo International Forum – a venue for BoA’s The Face Tour as well as Xmas Live 2010. It was crazy going home because it was rush hour.

It was a bit early and my nephew is still hungry so we had pizza party as well as few shots.

DAY 8

Rikugi-en Garden
Nezu Shrine
Ebisu
Shibuya Crossing

It was a fine sunny day and perfect for exploring some gardens and shrines. We went to Rikugien Garden at Komagome but seeing how the trees are frozen, we opted not to enter and decided to come back on an autumn or spring season. We found a good place to eat so we had lunch.

Next stop was Nezu Shrine. We boarded the wrong train so we went back to Komagome Station so we won’t be charged XD. We reached Nezu Shrine where there was an injured kid. They asked me if I have band aid and hey, I have it! Lucky you guys! 🙂 I have never been to Kyoto but being in Nezu Shrine gave me that vermilion torii feels in Kyoto.

Tokyo Itinerary

We went back to Asakusabashi and saw some luggage for sale. I bought one because I have so many Donki pasalubong.  We then headed to Ebisu to meet our Japanese friend and she treated us to a snack-all-you-can bar. We walked to Shibuya Crossing and it was crazier at night.

Shibuya Hikarie

DAY 9

Narita International Airport
NAIA

Narita

Alarm set at 5AM to do final preparation. We had our final breakfast at the hostel and said goodbye to their crew who treated us so well during our 9 day stay in Tokyo. We boarded the Keisei Express bound for Narita International Airport and had quick lunch. We used up all our Suica money on Family Mart to buy quick bites and more pasalubong.

TIPID TIPS

Tokyo Itinerary

Buy Pasalubong at Don Quijote stores. They are tax free for foreigners with 5k yen and above purchase. We have been to their Akihabara, Roppongi, and Asakusa branches.

Tokyo Pasalubong
This is a small luggage I bought purely for the pasalubong 😀

Find cheap restaurants and eat there – they are usually fully packed so they are not hard to find 😉

Tokyo Cheap Restaurant

Use up all your Suica credits on Family Mart at Narita International Airport – you can use the credits and top up yen in case the card gets insufficient funds.

Utilize free entrance/passes for kids – example is the Ueno Zoo where kids can enter for free. 🙂

Enjoy Tokyo and if you have more time, have a side trip to Nikko and Yokohama! ❤

Narita Airport to Tokyo by Bus

Tokyo can be overwhelming to most travelers specially for those first timers in this mega city. I was one of those intimidated just by looking at the subway network so I chose to ride the bus to at least narrow down the area.

As three of us are first timers in Tokyo and we are carrying big luggage each, we opted to travel by bus for budget and convenience.

Narita to Tokyo by Bus

For just 1000 yen, one can travel from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station by bus. You can buy this directly from their booth located at the arrival area.

Narita to Tokyo by Bus

Buses are easily found outside the arrival area. Follow the signs leading there.

Narita to Tokyo by Bus

A detailed bus guide, be sure not to miss the last one.

Narita to Tokyo by Bus

There are lots of bays in the airport so check which bay your bus is designated.

Narita to Tokyo by Bus

Here is our bus, our luggage were placed in the compartment and we seated comfortably inside as we travel to Tokyo. Travel time is approximately 1 hour (depends on traffic conditions) and there’s wifi and security camera.

It will stop at Tokyo Station where you can then board a train to your home station.

That’s it. I hope it helps. 🙂