Posts Tagged ‘must see’

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Winging it | El Nido 2019

October 31, 2019

It’s true when they say that the best laid plans are no plans at all. This very spontaneous trip for us first timers and I swear, I had so much fun!

Only high tides and good vibes!

Photo Set | El Nido

Day 1

Pretty sunrise outside my window.

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Woke up at 4am to catch my flight to Manila, transferred to Puerto Prinsesa, endured the grueling 5-hour van ride to El Nido, arrived at 8pm feeling nauseous and sick. Planned to just stay at the guesthouse we checked into because everyone was not feeling well but damn we needed to eat.

For budget travelers, we stayed at Sophia’s Beach Guesthouse in Corong-Corong, El Nido. It’s a beachfront accommodation, can accommodate families or groups, ours was a room good for four with free breakfast, free wifi, a/c and hot and cold shower. Quiet place just a few minutes away from the town center.

Decided to go to town to have dinner and maybe a few bottles to knock ourselves out. We went to Happiness Beach Bar for light food and some drinks. They serve a delicious variety of healthy vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food.

The manager also gave us free shots! After a few beers, we asked where most people go on Saturdays and they suggested Sava Bar or Pukka Bar. Yep, this was the plan of people who were feeling sick and wanted to stay in, lol.

Ended up in Pukka Bar and Pangolin, met a few friends and wasn’t really expecting to have so much fun!

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Went back to our accommodation at 3am, swam under the moonlight, and was locked out (hahaha).

Day 2

Pretty much lazed in bed half of the day, only time was forced to get up was to buy Jampong from the convenience store across the street, will be our best friend every morning for the next few days, so good for that “mild”hangover.

They say Corong-Corong has the best sunsets so in the afternoon, after we decided it was time to really get up, we went to Panorama Beach Club for happy hour. Actually, being our cheap selves, we brought a bottle of scotch we bought in Puerto Princesa and just paid for corkage, lol. We did buy pica pica.

Then this spectacular sunset.

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Bar hopped for a bit, checked Outpost just beside Panorma and Sava Beach Bar in El Nido town proper.

Day 3

Finally woke up early for our island hopping tour. We took Tour A, the popular one. It’s P1,200 per person inclusive of lunch and features 5 islands. You also have to pay for a P200 environmental fee and entrance to the Big or Small Lagoon.

So this is how El Nido town looks like in the morning, lol.

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Seven Commandos Beach

I love that the white sand here is fine and the water is not that salty, crystal clear too. Picturesque beach lined with coconut trees against the dramatic backdrop of limestone cliffs. There is a resort on the island, has quite a few stores and beach volleyball.

A little bit of history or maybe folklore, the beach got it’s name because of the 7 soldiers who got stranded on the island during WWII.

Big Lagoon

As they say, the highlight of Tour A — a wide stretch of emerald waters dotted with dark limestone cliffs. Such a beauty. We had to rent a kayak to go in. There’s also a hidden tunnel inside the lagoon.

Simizu Island (Shimizu Island)

The island was named after a Japanese diver who was trapped in an underwater tunnel while exploring the waters of El Nido. Tragic.

Anyhow, the island is a popular lunch spot. Good thing we arrived late so it was just us and another group on the beach, not that crowded. There were lots of monitor lizards and snakes too! Totally harmless, just don’t go near them.

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South Miniloc Island

One of the popular dive sites in El Nido, our fourth stop for some snorkeling. But the waves were quite strong and the water was too salty.

Secret Lagoon 

Our final stop for the tour.

The entrance to the lagoon was quite challenging, it was really rocky, like sharp rocky that you would definitely need aqua shoes. As you approach the cove, there is a small hole on the left that you’d have to crawl into that would lead you to the secret lagoon. It’s a hidden pool of water inside a limestone cliff.

And on the opposite side is just this surreal beach paradise scaled by towering limestone walls and dusty white sand. THIS was the highlight of my tour. I swear I could not stop saying how beautiful this place was.

Thank you Kuya Nathan and Kuya Blondie (guy far left) who lost 2 environmental fee receipts resulting to us leaving town to start the tour really late and baking us under the noon sun (hahaha). Good fun!

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After the tour, we were famished and ate for a bit, rested for a bit then went to this full moon party at The Gardens in Nacpan. Was not really the greatest experience. The ticket was for P1,000: entrance, 1 free drink and free round trip shuttle service. The transfers were chaotic, with everyone pushing to get into the van that supposedly leaves every hour. Take note that it takes around more than 30 minutes to go to Nacpan and they only had a limited number of vans. They had to hire random ones just to accommodate. We left around 11pm and arrived at the venue quite late, I was expecting it to be like at the beach or something, it was not, just literally by the pool, lol. The music was not that great either. Like a jumble of rave, house, rnb, pop and budots. The 35 foot slide was kinda cool though. Wasted 1 grand, should’ve just went on that date instead, might’ve been much more fun, hahaha.

And this.

This is the effin highlight of my trip. Kept going back to that store behind Pukka bar.

Chaolong (Beef Stew)

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Day 4

Our last full day on the island. Spent the afternoon at Maremegmeg Beach Bar in Vanilla Beach.

Such beautiful sunsets.

Capped off the night at Havana Beach Bar with Mike and the Wolf and freakin 280 shot tequilas.

Day 5

Exhausted and home bound lol.

Thank you so much El Nido! I seriously enjoyed this super fun and spontaneous trip with the best girls!

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xx

DMV

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35th | Middle Earth

September 4, 2019

Photo set | Northern Island, New Zealand

I stopped celebrating my birthdays when I turned 20 for silly reasons most people wouldn’t really understand. Not that interesting so don’t be curious.

Every year, on my birthday, I leave and go on an adventure and for the last leg of this quarter life crisis, I went to Middle Earth. 12 days full of missed flights, stairs, bottles of wine, herds of cow, flocks of sheep, steak, steep trails, fish and chips, broken luggage, sorting baggage, magnificent views and loads of fun!

Flew Qantas. Flight from Manila was delayed so I missed my connecting flight and was stranded in Sydney airport for a few hours. Booked the next available flight to Auckland. Fortunately, my Wellington flight got moved to a later schedule so I did not miss it. Good thing there was also free booze on board, good enough compensation to the exhausting sprint I had to make to my connection only to arrive to a closed gate.

After 13 hours of flying…

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Arrived in Wellington, finally, to homemade burgers and local beer at my cousin’s house. Yes, my cousin and her husband make their own bread and patties!

Northern Island winter road trip

The places we went to on our 10-day road trip from Wellington to Auckland.

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My cousin and her husband cooking me up a feast at their new home and what a coincidence that a friend of mine from way back also lives in the same suburb as them! She saw my Instagram stories arriving in Wellington and messaged me. Chance meet up of course and she also brought me 3 bottles of wine haha!

Cape Palliser

Road to Cape Palliser, such picturesque views outside my window!

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We passed by some wild seals too! Stopped by the side of the road and took some pictures of these cuties. Careful enough not to get too close as some curious pups were growling at me haha.

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250 steep steps up to Cape Palliser lighthouse despite the really strong winds and without exercise since February…

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…knee-breaking climb to this amazing view!

Mount Victoria lookout

360-degree scenic views of Wellington. Always chasing sunsets.

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Te Papa Museum

Did not finish exploring and will need to go back!

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Weta Cave

When you love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you just have to visit this place. Home of the talented people behind these amazing conceptual designs and visual effects.

Martinborough – Poppies

Passed through this town going to Castlepoint. The town features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the village square.

We stopped here for late lunch and some wine tasting. I am not a wine person but this place is definitely a must go to. Wine and food, superb.

Castlepoint

This small beach-side town on the Wairarapa coast is just beautiful.

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Instagram husband

Dessert Road

Road crossing to Ruapehu district. Landscape of the Northern Island is so diverse. Majority of the road trip, all I see is lush green forests and cattle and sheep ranches. Then we come to this. Both sides covered with low scrublands and snow capped Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe as backgrounds.

Mount Ruapehu

It was snowing when we arrived and first snow fall experience for these kids in the 7 years they’ve been living in New Zealand haha! Pretty winter wonderland.

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Chateau Tongariro Hotel

Parked our car by the hotel. We took a bus up to Mount Ruapehu as the road was very slippery and we did not bring chains.

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Happy, wind-burnt and freezing faces!

Taupo

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Huka Falls

The Huka falls—largest falls in the Waikato river. The flow rate from the water drop of the falls could fill up 8 olympic size pools in roughly a minute. Amazeballs.

Wairakei Terraces

Relaxed in the silica enriched thermal pools as we were dead tired from all the walking and hiking. There is also a walk where you get to experience a recreated Maori settlement, said to have settled some 1,000 years ago, drawn by the thermal activity and the abundance of food. They believed that the hot pools contained healing powers and therapeutic benefits. Amazingly, the houses are so small and considering that most Moari are largely built people.

Rotorua

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu (Māori for sacred waters) is an active geothermal area by the Taupo volcanic zone, some 27 kilometers south of Rotorua.

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Lady Knox Geyser

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Champagne pool

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Devil’s Bath

Whakarewarewa Forest – The Redwoods

Magnificent stands of towering native and exotic trees in this beautiful forest.

Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)

Lake Tikitapu is also known as “Blue Lake” because of its gorgeous sapphire waters.

Rotorua Museum

This magnificent structure used to be an elegant spa retreat called the Bath House in 1908 and was later on converted into a museum and art gallery. Sadly, this beauty closed in 2016 for seismic strengthening and remains closed til now.

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August 6th, BIRTHDAY!

Matamata – Hobbiton

Where else to celebrate the last leg of my quarter life crisis but at the lush pastures of the Shire in Middle Earth?

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

I swear we went. They just did not allow us to take photos. According to our Maori guide, the glowworms are sensitive to light and sound which is why they prohibited use of cellphones and cameras and also, said gadgets are expensive and they do not want to be spelunking the caves just to retrieve these.

Grabbed some pictures from Google Images (maybe back when it was still allowed to take photos, I dunno).

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This stunning view is the Cathedral Cavern known for it’s awesome acoustics. Our guide even asked one from the group to sing. It’s been witness to many concerts and weddings too. Photo: Google Images

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We descended the cave and rode a boat in total cold blackness to see the glowworms. This picture is the closest I could find that best resembles what we saw. It was so cool! Like a trillion stars lining the ceiling of the grotto. Photo: Google Images

The only photos we were able to take — exit of the cave and the entrance to the souvenir shop.

What an awesome day! Ate truffle burgers and truffle fries for dinner, lazed at our Airbnb by the lake and downed 2 bottles of wine. Happy birthday to me!

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35th

Coromandel

Cathedral Cove

These familiar scene out of Narnia. Shorter way by boat, Longer way by hike. We took the latter. Even found a few blooms of Sakura. View was worth it.

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Hot Water Beach

An underground river of hot water flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean at this beach, thus it’s name. Visitors can dig large holes and soak in the thermal water.

Hamilton

Disney on Ice

Because we are never too old.

Auckland

Last stop for this trip. Met up with friends who are based here and was so happy they celebrated my birthday with Korean food and ramen!

SEA Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Killed time and went to the aquarium while waiting for our Korean dinner.

8 Colors of Korean Bbq Buffet Restaurant

Thank you for indulging my Korean obsession!

Sky Tower

It was really nice that the guy by the escalator going up the tower told us to check the skies first before deciding to pay more than $20 and just be disappointed. It was raining nonstop and was really cloudy. We did not go up. We went shopping instead lol.

Last day (huhuhu)

Breakfast at Kreem

Went shopping at Dress Smart and had dinner at Ramen Takara because it’s my last night and everybody knows how much I love ramen hahaha.

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Homebound

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Early morning flight to Sydney, had to leave some things as I was over-baggage (my quinoa and honey), arrived on time in Sydney but they closed one runway and had to stay inside the plane for an hour because no available tube to park. Sprinted (again) to transit and to my gate only to find that my flight was delayed. Seriously Qantas you need to sort your schedules and stop with the tight connections. My feet hurt from running around the airport.

Arrived around 10pm in Manila, stayed at my best friend’s place, was so exhausted fell asleep the moment I went to bed and was snoring. Went to church the next day (thank you LORD for my awesome vacation), had lunch at Soru (always) and flew home to Bacolod in the afternoon.

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And I feel like I’m still hungover.

Thank you to Krissy and Alvin for my room (haha) and for going on this trip with me, Micmic for seeing me in Wellington and bringing vino, Aubrey for meeting me in Auckland, Ching and Patrick for letting us stay at your ginormous place and Ilaine and Bambi for coming out for ramen and dessert. 12 days is tooooo short! I wish I was on vacation 24/7.

Photos from:

Krissy & Alvin of Knotting Wong Photography

My DJI Osmo Action camera (yes I switched from GoPro)

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Bye friend!

xx

DMV

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33 Yipee | Mt. Pinatubo

August 10, 2017

If everyone should know, my birthday falls on a month dubbed as tiempo muerto meaning dead time. August is that time of the year where your funds are low, harvest season is months away and skies are always gloomy. Chinese even believe it’s not the best time to move to a house, start a business or get married. I’m not Chinese though, but still..

I always have a hard time planning what to do on my birthday because what I usually want can’t be done during this time of the year BUT I always end up spontaneously doing something fun. 😄

So anyway, me, my sister and her husband booked a flight to Manila for the weekend to celebrate my birthday and since I like to hike every once in a while, I signed us up for a Tinipak River trip with Jeron Travel. So timely that we will be in Manila during the trip and I’ve always wanted to visit the place.

Day 1 | August 3

Since I’m with Chinese people, dimsum and congee in Binondo and of course can’t miss Masuki’s mami, yum!

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After that feast, we went to Banawe to my BIL‘s friend’s store to buy us some car parts to bring back to Bacolod then chill for a bit and from there we were talking about if he wanted to join us in our Tinipak River tour. Last thing I know, we booked a trip to Mt. Pinatubo for tomorrow.

For this year’s birthday, the original plan was to go to Masungi Georeserve but they have a minimum number of people per group and it was only three of us. If we wanted to pursue, we have to pay for the minimum number of people so it was quite expensive. Next option was Mt. Pinatubo but a couple of tour operators I inquired with do not book tours from July to mid October because of the rainy season. They wouldn’t want to risk because bad weather would mean sudden landslides and flash flood so those two were off the list. Tinipak was a blessing and I was like–I get to do something cool for my birthday this year.

While we were talking about Tinipak and other plans, Pinatubo came up and RC, my BIL’s friend’s secretary said that she knows someone who could give us a tour. I was like I’m game, is everyone else game? And wow, they all said yes. 😂Lucky me! Imagine, Pinatubo and Tinipak back to back! So we parted ways, got things prepared for the hike and slept early.

Note: These people haven’t exercised for a long time and it would be my sister’s first time to hike in her entire existence. 😂

Day 2 | August 4

Left for Capas, Tarlac around 3:30 am, stopped by 7/11 for coffee and Mcdonald’s for breakfast then headed off to Tito Danny’s place.

Registered at their tourism office, signed a waiver and off we go.

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Trek to the Pinatubo crater consist of an estimated 1 hour jeep ride and 2 hour hike.

And the views were just awesome!

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There is an aeta community living in the area, they usually watch cattle of ranchers who bring them there to feed. Our guide, Kuya Ricky, told us that some Koreans have set up a church and school to help them out.

After the more than 1 hour jeep ride, we start the 7km hike to the crater.

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Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, making it the 2nd largest eruption of the 20th century. The eruption produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, giant mud-flows, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles up. Volcanologists said that this eruption had a worldwide impact and has caused global temperatures to drop temporarily.

Trail up the crater was lahar covered, soft and rocky (lahar is a mix of volcanic ash and rocky fragments) and mountain walls showed traces of landslides. I remember slipping a couple of times because it was raining. Crazy weather because well, it’s rainy season. One minute it’s scorching sunny (yes we got sunburnt) and next thing you know, it’s pouring.

This was our first stop. There is a little hut of an aeta family and they sell food, drinks and souvenirs. I asked Kuya Ricky what they do, if the children even go to school since I notice a lot of little kids running around. Our guide said they are different from the aeta community we passed earlier with whom the Koreans helped out, these ones usually harvest wild bananas to sell. They sell really cheap and since Mt. Pinatubo has become a tourist spot, they set up their little tiangge where hikers/tourists could rest and buy food, drinks and souvenirs. Other than that, they live a very routinary life. They wake up, sit, laze or play around, sleep. They don’t have electricity. I’m not sure if they have support from their local government. There’s an ongoing dispute between the locals and the military from what I’ve heard.

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This was our second stop. They set up portalets and cottages where you could rest. From this point, it’s just 20 minutes to the crater.

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My buddies brought with them a ton of food hahaha. Like literally too much for a day hike, can’t go hungry. I was even joking to sell some at the crater since everything costs a hundred bucks.

The trail up isn’t lahar covered anymore, more of river streams.

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Just some of the flora we passed along. I didn’t really see many flowers.

Then steps to the crater, not sure how many steps there were.

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Then this.

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Pictures just can’t do justice to what my eyes saw. It was magical even if it was raining. What more on a clear day?

You can actually go down to the crater but you are not allowed to swim. Wanted to go down but the fog was setting in and they advised against it because it might start pouring and we could get stranded.

I was so happy that I got to hike up a volcano on my birthday weekend! Been wanting to since last year hahaha. And so happy everyone was game despite the crazy weather.

* We paid P2,000 per person for the Mt. Pinatubo trek, that’s already inclusive of the Jeep rental, guide and permits.

Reward! This place was featured in Rated K so we decided to try it out. Sisig did not disappoint.

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Day 3 | August 5

We missed our Tinipak trip the next day because everyone was sore and feverish. Sorry! ✌️✌️✌️ We roadtripped instead to Tagaytay, had breakfast at Breakfast and coffee at Starbucks, the one on Calamba Rd.

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All homemade.

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That mandatory Taal volcano photo. Would’ve gone volcano hopping if weather wasn’t bad haha! 😂

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Foggy view but at least they spelled my name right (because the barista asked how it is spelled 😂).

Stopped by the Marcos Mansion for some buko juice on the way back. It’s actually become a sort of bike rest stop.

Then for dinner, thank you Arnold and Christine for my salubong feast! 😂😂😂

No plans are the best plans. Thanks for an awesome birthday weekend!

Day 4 | August 6

Flew home for my birthday. Had lunch with the most important people, blew my candle and spent the rest of the day lazing around with my boys. 😊

 

xx

 

DMV

 

 

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Hong Kong 2017 | Summer break

April 4, 2017

I’ve read somewhere that family vacations are “happiness anchors” for kids until they grow up, banking on treasured memories and bonding moments. Instead of spending so much on gadgets and expensive toys and since March was a month of so many celebrations (Joaquin’s birthday, his and Miguel’s transition to 7th grade and Juancho’s moving up from toddler class), we decided to take the kids out for a treat. So Oceanpark and Disneyland it is.

Day 1 | Take off

Early flight to Manila and the kids were very much behaved, thank you. Got our Rame Nagi fix and free donuts because the light was on.

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Left Manila for HK around 5ish in the afternoon (flight was delayed), took the A21 bus to Mongkok, met with the AirBnb person and had late dinner nearby.

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Touchdown! Kids seem happy (lol).

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Day 2 | Ocean Park

Early start and noodle breakfast.

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There’s a train line going directly to Ocean Park and Disneyland, how convenient.

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Curious little kids.

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My little adventurero 🙂

Kids’ new friends.

Transferring to watch the Dolphin and Seal show, picturesque view from the cable car.

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And the big kids off to go on the big kids’ rides.

This view to cap off the whole day event. It was overwhelming to see the kids have so much fun.

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Victoria Peak

We headed to Victoria Peak after to catch the sunset and well, was in for a surprise.

No we did not take the tram because the line was like 10 years long. We took a taxi instead and it was much cheaper, $49HKD vs. $88HKD and more than an hour of waiting to board the tram.

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Entrance to the Sky tower costs $32HKD, kids half the price. Can’t really remember (haha).

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It was a case of expectation vs. reality. The place was overly crowded.

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On the way down the sky tower, there was an area where you could take 3D photos. This was not the Trick Eye Museum, the museum was on the other side and had a $100HKD entrance. This one was for free.

Day 3 | Disneyland

Off to the happiest place on earth!

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Cinderella’s Castle

Pretty flowers all around!

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Choochoo train that takes you on a tour around Disneyland.

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Everything is exaggeratedly overpriced in Disneyland (rice costs $18HKD!) but when Juancho passed by a souvenir shop with the entrance displaying Tsum Tsum toys and was like super excited when he saw it, well, I just couldn’t break his heart.

And his reaction? Well, there are just some things money couldn’t buy.

I find that Disneyland is more for small kids, the rides and attractions in general, although the older kids (including us) did enjoy the experience.

Day 4 | Free day

Harbour City

Roamed around Tsim sha tsui, shopped a bit and lunched on some Canton Dim Sum Expert chicken and pork buns. The siomai was also good but no photos because it was gone in an instant.

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Caught up with my friend Reg and treated us to some Korean dinner. Thanks Reggie! My treat in June (haha).

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Mongkok

The place where we were staying was right where Ladies Market is and just around the corner was sneaker street. So, off we went to hunt for some cheap shoes and buy some pasalubongs before they close. Some stores close round 11pm.

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Street food…street food…street food!

Day 5 | Homebound

Flying all day, tiring week but with the wide smiles on the kids’ faces and the endless laughter makes it all worth it.

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Flowers at the airport

Goodbye Hong Kong!

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Hello Manila!

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and hello Bacolod! Home finally!

Starting a new family tradition. Til the next summer trip!

Oh, by the way, we got our Disney and Ocean Park tickets on Klook. They sell much cheaper than the tickets sold on the official sites and when you get to the park, you don’t have to wait in line.

 

DMV

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