Friday, March 8, 2013

Six Safety Tips That I Should Remember: My Countdown to 10 Days In South Korea's my first time for a purely pleasure yet on budget trip on my own and gone are the perks of business class but less fun that official business trips provide.. 

one thing that I need to make sure -


six days to go and there are six safety tips that I should remember based from the posts of my two favorite bloggers: Christine of GrrrlTraveler and Aleah of Solitary Wanderer

1. Keep in touch with others every day! 
-  with facebook, instagram, skype, viber and emails as my medium to update my loved ones, especially my parents, i won't make them worry that much about my solo travel for the first time. as shared by aleah, i will be sharing my itinerary with the contact details of the places that i will be staying with to my parents. i also promised to contact them every day. :-)

2. Show confidence as you explore the place but also listen to your instincts.

- knowing about the place beforehand make it more easy to familiarize so just like what i did in 2010, i prepared all the details of my destinations. this somehow could prevent me from getting lost but i'm sure i can sense people who are safe to ask for help.  Of course, vigilance and being observant are the keys to be able to listen to your instincts.

3. Avoid dark streets at night.
 - it's basically a common sense. and for sure, i won't be staying late at night outside except for my scheduled night shopping in seoul.

4. Keep extra copies of documents and IDs
- i'd have all my IDs (Driver's, SSS) and Passport photocopied for extra copies if requested for my accommodation and save copies in my emails as well.  i have saved copies of my tickets in my ipad fileapp as well.

5. Keep safe my money (don't bring much cash for each day's trip)- since i'm going solo, the more i should keepsafe my money. might as well carry my ATM and credit card which I should coordinate with my bank to ensure I could use them in South Korea.

6. Have the FAITH!- i always lift up my safety to God (while driving, while flying up air, while at work, anywhere) and i'm sure i will still be in His Safe Hands as I explore more of the world on my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seven Shades of Winter: A Peek To My Sleeping Place in South Korea

Seven Days to Go... and I'll be sleeping in different places in South Korea

..i expect some adjustments, tossing around the bed just to get a good side to sleep but i'm sure i can have a good sleep at the end of each day with my fully loaded itinerary!

Finding Homey on My First 3 Days in Seoul : Four Seasons House

- On my first stop of the 10-day-South Korea Tour, I'll be staying in Four Seasons House in Seoul. A Homey stay run by a Korean family - fewer rooms than the usual hostel or backpackers place.  Booked the "Winter Room" just to go with my themed tour.:-)

Sleep where Backpackers Sleep: Jeju Hiking Inn

- My second stop will be at Jeju Island where I'll be celebrating my birthday! Booked for 3nights/3days, I choose to stay at a backpacker's inn. Though I'd be tagging my trolley with me and only a red backpack as my purse, I'd like to claim myself as "backpacker" in Jeju!
Will be staying in a single bed A type room and hopefully I could get one with a view of Jeju Port.

Experience Motel in Busan : Pusan Inn Motel

- For my third stop in South Korea, I originally booked with Toyoko Inn Hotel in Busan because of it's location - convenient access to Busan Station for my KTX ride back to Seoul.  It's quite expensive for a check-in of after 4PM. Fortunately, I accidentally browsed an office colleague's blog. She suggested Pusan Inn which is also near Busan Station and other nearby tourist destinations.  Lucky me, I saved half of Toyoko's price. 

I booked for a single bedroom type room
Splurge in Seoul: Seoul YMCA Hotel 

- And finally on my last stop (and back to Seoul), I will  splurge a little at YMCA located in Myeongdong.  I chose this location because of my final itinerary - shopping! But this one is sort of business with pleasure. :-)

these places may not my real abode but i'm looking forward for a pleasant stay and wonderful experience in South Korea.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Eight to Take It! K-Dramas Location Tour

e.i.g.h.t. DAYS t.o. GO

KTO has been successful in promoting K-drama filming locations - this is one of the touristy things to do in South Korea. As part of my countdown to my 10-day-solo trip to South Korea, i'd surely visit the location of my 8 favorite K-Dramas (some of which were aired in ABS-CBN). 

8. A Gentleman's Dignity

Location: Hongdae Park

..there's a lot to do in hongdae - shopping, watch the street performers, blend with the younger crowd and perhaps some caricature

7. The First Shop of Coffee Prince
Poster from
Location:  Tiramisu Coffee Prince 

I'd visit one of the locations of the drama in Hongdae which is known as "Tiramisu Coffee Prince" and not the one at the uphill based on bloggers' experiences of too costly coffee and not so friendly staff.

Map to the original Coffee Prince and the other location setground
6. He's Beautiful

 Location: Myeongdong Cathedral

I am scheduled to attend the weekday mass in the Cathedral on my first day in South Korea.

5.  Boys Over Flowers

Location: Artinus Farmer's Table in Heyri Art Village

                                    This served as Shinwa High School's sophisticated cafe.

4.  Personal Taste

Location: Bukchon Hanok Village

3. Princess Hours
Location: Teddy Bear Museum, Jungmun Resort Complex, Jeju Island

2. Sungkyukwan Scandal
Location: Sungkyukwan University

Confucius Hall inside Sungkyukwan University
1. My Girl
Location: Jeju Island (Episode 1)

Seongsan Sunrise Peak
Will see if I can take a picture exactly the same with some scenes from these K-dramas. Good luck to me! :=) 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lucky Nine: My "A Must Do" List in South Korea

Nine days to go and I'll be off to South Korea for my 10 days solo travel.

I've been to South Korea in Year 2010 and had been to the places that I'd wanted to see before.  It was different because I was travelling then with my friends.  This time, I'd like to do some things alone.

Below are my bucket list of things to do, to see and to try in my 10 days in South Korea:

1. Biking at Hangang Park 
       - I really love to bike but don't have the time and the venue to do it here in Manila with my schedule at work and other activities during weekend - or just simply being lazy to do it!.  On my trip to Seoul, I'd like to experience how it is to bike along Hangang River. 

2. Ride an ATV or Scooter in Udo Island
     -  This is an island accessible via 15-minute ferry ride from Jeju.  You can stroll around the island thru ATV, Scooter or Bike. Depending on your preferential speed, you can tour the island in less than an hour.

3. Jjilmibang in Busan Hauendae Spa
     - Korean-style spa where people of all ages who freely and "shamelessly" roam around as if being naked in public is o.k.a.y! I'm not sure if I can do that but will see (there's a choice to loiter around with the set of shirt and shorts anyways.

4. Have my caricature at Hongdae Free Market
     - Hongdae's Free Market is the home for art students of Hongik University on Saturdays. I'll check if I can get my own caricature from a Korean art student. :)

5. Try the shortest "Olle Trail" in Jeju
     - Jeju is known for "Olle" or trails of different routes depending on your preference or rather physical strenght.  I'll check if I can handle the 3-hour-trail. Might as well have some warm-ups before the trip! :-)

6. Climb to the Fortress of Seoraksan National Park
     - I might take a cable car up but I think there are 800+ steps up to the top of Mt. Seoraksan.  However, my main aim is to see the unmelted snow at Mt. Seoraksan also known  as, "Snow Mountain".

7.  Have my afternoon tea at Insa-dong
     - Known as the most traditional village in Seoul where culture is preserved, I'd like to enter one of the boutiques and have my afternoon tea while observing the artwork of some artists, or people watching.

8. Wear hanbok at Myeongdong Tourist Center
     - KTO offers tourist the experience to wear Korea's hanbok. I might as well try it myself. 

9. Try the complete Korean meal
     - Though I'm not a fan of Korean cuisine, I might as well try one to complete my experience.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My 10-Day-Solitary-Travel to South Korea

Countdown to my 10-day-solo-travel to South Korea.. it's a nine-month project and been my dream to do - to travel S.O.L.O.

I'd been to South Korea last May 2010 with my friends and since then I got fascinated of the beautiful country.  Many named it as Europe of Asia.  I've been longing to stay longer (either travel, work or "study") abroad (for independence) but haven't had the opportunity. Been to KL, Malaysia for two weeks alone for business trips but that was a different experience - I had my most preferential treatments from business class flight to the grandest accommodation and daily Mercedez service to the office - i wanted to do it on my own.  How will i survive, how will i mingle with the locals and tourists like me and how will i go whatever the circumstances are.

march 13,2013 - i will board the plane that will bring me to my chosen destination to travel solo - south korea!

Dotted my destinations in South Korea

As my 10-day countdown, here's my 10-day-itinerary:

Day 1 -  March 14
  • KBS Exhibition Hall - Working for the number 1 broadcasting company in the Philipppines, ABS-CBN, I want to experience how KBS conduct their studio tours. Perhaps, I could bring something to share with my colleagues in Studio Tours.
  •  Hello Kitty Cafe - I'm not a fan of a famous feline character but many of my friends are. How about having my brunch here?
  • Samcheongdong/Bukchon Hanok Village - I stayed my last night in a traditional house in May 2010 but was not able to tour around the village.  I read from some blogs that there are around 9 spots best for photo.
  • Insadong Ssamziegil - I'm fond of artsy stuff from pen, papers, clips, etc and Insadong is the best place to roam around.
  • Myeongdong Cathedral - I was not able to visit the church during my first visit to Seoul.  So on my solo travel, I will attend their afternoon service.
Day 2 - March 15
  • Seoraksan National Park - In 2010, I attempted to chase Spring in South Korea. This year I will chase Winter, the unmelted snow at the north of South Korea, Sokcho.  It's a 3-hour trip via bus from Seoul and might be a good chance to enjoy the scenery along the way.  I read that Seoraksan is known as Snow Mountain so I collected some winter gears and clothes and might try to hike as well.
Day 3 - March 16
  • Universities In Seoul - Saturday is Hongdae Free Market, it's near Hongik University. I plan to go back to school for graduate studies but haven't had the chance to find time. I'm curious what universities look like in Seoul plus want to observe how students are. So I will do some loitering in Sungkyukwan University and Ehwa Women's University.
  • Heyri Art Village and Province Village - It's 2-hour-bus-trip from Seoul and known as European Village.  I've been planning and saving for Europe Trip and a visit to this themed-like village might worth it!
Day 4 - March 17

It's my birthday! And I'm flying to Jeju Island - first stop is to hear mass at Seogwipo Church and then will tour the whole world at Soingook Theme Park!  Then I will eat at the famous black pork BBQ of Jeju with Korea's traditional seaweed soup for birthday's celeb.

Day 5 - March 18

It's Jungmun Tourist Complex Day and K-Drama Locations Tour! Will see the famous Teddy Bear Museum (of Princess Hours), Holland Windmill at Lotte Hotel (of Secret Garden),   Odolgae Rock (of Jumong) and Seeas Hotel ( of Boys Over Flowers) and many of the famous spots in Jungmun.

Day 6 - March 19

A day of adventure again for me! I will cross the ocean for a 15-minute ferry ride from Jeju to Udo Island where I can either see the whole island with a bike, scooter or ATV in just 2 hours!  Will definitely try their famous peanut ice cream.

Day 7 - March 20

It's Busan Day! Will be flying thru Air Busan from Jeju to Busan.  And the best way to see most of Busan? - Busan City Tour!

Day 8 - March 21

Hope to see the start of Spring at the Cherry Blossom province of South Korea - Jinhae! It will be a half-day tour as I'll be spending the afternoon for shopping at Nampo-Dong and in Guinness World Record's largest Department Store in the world, Shinsegae Centum City. 

Day 9 - March 22

It's another travel experience! Will take the most fastest train from Busan to Seoul - KTX!
I'm fond of train travel and this will be the best!  Will splurge a little in my accommodation at YMCA which is located at the vicinity in Myeongdong for my shopping spree!  It's time to buy all those pre-orders.  It's business with pleasure day!

Day 10, March 23

Wrapping up my 10-day trip with relaxing tour along  Hangang Park and perhaps - more shopping???

There you countdown to the B.I.G. Day!!

My Twelve Highlights of Year 2012

The Year 2012 is all about the three most important treasures of my life - Family, Career and Friends.  Started the year with a new job, gained new friends, reunited with the old, traveled to the new and old places here and abroad and more bonding trips with my family.

With much better outlook in life focusing more on the positives and just brushing off the negatives, I learned to be resilient and put all my trust to God and blessings have kept on coming (aside from gaining weight). (",)With all these great things, I am grateful to our Good Lord for guiding me and being with me all these years.

As I look forward to the surprises that 2013 will bring more to my life, here's my list for my 12 highlights of Year 2012.

1. New Job for 2012

01.12.2012 - I stamped this date as the last day of my five years and eleven months graveyard-to-chaotic-work shift job.  It was a big decision to make as I let go a much fancier pay/post yet much stressful life, free travel abroad (UK to be specific) and  the 6-digit-bonus to embark to my new job at Kapamilya Network.  
01.16.2012 - I joined the Kapamilya network where I discovered how my hobby has become my job! Akin myself to my namesake St. Clare who is known as the saint of TV, I think I've been watching TV since I was born, especially the Kapamilya Network. It was more interesting to find out that I know more of the shows and the programs of the network than my colleagues who have been working in the network years more.  So this is how a job can be fun!  Everything has been interesting and I continue to enjoy learning. 

2. Watched ABS-CBN 4 Live Shows

I proclaimed myself as the most loyal viewer of ABS-CBN since pre-school so being a Kapamilya employee gave me easy access to my favorite ABS-CBN Live Shows.  I won five passes to It's Showtime, able to join Studio Tours twice, watched the 2nd and 3rd episodes of Sarah G Live and saw  how it was hard for artists and people in the production to be working continuously for live and taped episodes.  I got the privilege to watch Gandang Gabi Vice with just a Kapamilya ID hanging on my neck when Gino, Del and Chico, hosts of RX 93.1 The Morning Rush guested on Vice Ganda's show. Finally, I just said it as a joke that I'll resign if I won't be able to watch ASAP 2012 live before my first anniversary but Mel got the passes for me. With that, I made a self-imposed bond with the Kapamilya Network.

And of course, I got every chance to have pictures with my favorite Kapamilya Stars.
with the beautiful stars of Philippine showbusiness

3. I celebrated my birthday in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

I only had one travel abroad in Year 2012 but filled with many memories and reunions. It was tiring, sleepless yet enjoyable check-in/out of the airports (NAIA 3,KL LCCT, Penang International Airport and Changi Airport) for six times in just 50 hrs.  I found out how a day is enough to spend in a laid back Penang, Malaysia. Then, I experienced how to travel on my own in Kuala Lumpur (I gone there thrice but on business trips).  KL Trip was more of catching up with former work colleagues based in KL and I realized how friendship can stay even though I switched jobs. Then, I spent the first 6 hours of my birthday in KL and then the rest of the day in Singapore.  I blew two birthday candles - at KL Sentral courtesy of Prem and at Singapore courtesy of Joy. Both new acquaintances that became my new friends.  It was also a short-planned reunion with college classmates Gen and Jen as we got fascinated at the crowded Orchard Fashion event and had our humble drinking session along Singapore River while enjoying the sounds of the sophisticated bars nearby for free.

4. Bonding Trips with my Family and Loved Relatives

Year 2012 was the year of making up for the lost time for my family because of my non-base-Philippine work schedule and holidays.  With PH holidays, it gave me more flexible time to spent it with my family and had more time travelling with them.  It was our first time to be together and spent the Holy Week in our home in the province.  Then, I took my cousins, nieces, nephews and aunts to some historical places in Manila like Manila Zoo, National Museuma nd Rizal Park.  In early December, we spent our pre-Christmas celebration with our closest relative in Subic.  I cannot bargain the genuine happy faces of my family and relatives together.

5. Being a self-proclaimed travel organizer, I made one for my Nanay & Tatay for their first trip together to Bohol

For my Tatay's birthday last March 2012, I & my sister, Aileen, arranged a vacation for our parents in Bohol.  With my lifetime membership from Travel & Leisure, I got some discounts for travel package inclusive of airport transfers, countryside and city tour, buffet lunch on cruise Loboc River and overnight accommodation with buffet breakfast at Dumaluan Beach Resort.  They enjoyed the tour so much that my mother spent Php1,000 for the pictures on-site of tourist spots (though they have my digicam of which I had to give them instructions how to use it). She said she wanted to get the printed photos right away and not just to keep looking at it on the computers.  True enough, when I visited home in Bacolod, their pictures of Tatay are everywhere in the house - with the Snake, with tarsiers, on the cruise of Loboc and somewhat like pre-nup photos in Chocolate Hills.

6. Got to feel one of my dream destinations, Santorini, in Bellarocca!

There's a saying that practice makes one perfect! For me, in travelling, themed-like destination is also like a gateway to dream destination.  Santorini in Greece has always been a dream for me, how picturesque for the blueish of the ocean and the sky blend with the white stoned houses - perfect place of solitude and beauty.  Just like with my collection of variety of stuffs of Eiffel Tower (from stickers, clips, Ipad case, notepads, etc), I've been chasing this dream as well.

7. I discovered the beauty of Davao and it's richness in History

Without an inclination to join this trip because of my new job, I finally said yes at last minute.  Davao trip was a discovery for me! From my closest to the sea accommodation in Pearl Farm Resort to another visit to my Geography and History class as we went around different tourist destinations in Davao, from the colorful and vibrant festivities of Kadayawan Festivals to our share of scary folklore experience in Samal Island, I'd say, "It's More Fun in the Philippines!"

anywhere in Davao City

Kadayawan Festival
anywhere in Samal Island

8. My Bravest Adventure (so far) - Giant Waterslide in Samal Island

Amidst the heart ailment (which I don't take seriously!), I unleashed my fears again and took bunch of my powerful confidence and slide towards the open sea! It was worth the risk and the excitement!!

Samal's Giant Slide (the first in Asia) that drops you to the sea!

9. I spent one day in 15th Century

With my ever reliable travel buddies, getting best deals are like peanuts (a Filipino cliche!)So easy! Got a good deal to spend a weekend at the promising Bataan. Staying at Casa Las Filipinas de Azucar is like spending a day in Spanish era.  This is like putting the 15th century in a setting ground surrounded by the 2oth century beautified mountains and ocean - where different heritage, culture and tradition meet with the new centuries people in one place! The most memorable thing of this trip was how five ladies got the courage to drive the curvest of the roads as we go along the route to Subic with only GPS on hand! Who needs a man at that moment?! LoL!

10.  Year 2012 is like a new leaf for me - I met new friends, gained more and I played a mentor to some. 

I always find it fascinating meeting new people and knowing more about them.  It's more wonderful if they become my friends.  Also, with my new role now, I'm more excited to mentor these young professionals with eyes full of eagerness to learn new things!  I pray to God that I can be an effective instrument for them as they work for their dreams too.  Inspiring them is more than enough.

11.  This year I got more blog entries than ever - I'd say I get back my life then.

My new job gave me back my other passion in life such as writing - this is my true definition of work-life balance.  

12. And, I got Lance!

This is my motivating trophy to be always at my best!

As I start 2013 with a solitary travel to Korea for 10-days, I am looking forward to a new learnings, new discoveries and new experiences.

Thank you Dear God for all the blessings and being with me.. ALL THE TIME!