Puerto Princesa Underground River

I’m probably one of the few people who don’t really mind not seeing Boracay–now please don’t throw tomatoes at me or something–but Palawan? I can’t not go to Palawan!

My friends and I went to Palawan at the same year the Underground River was officially listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.  The National Park it’s in is also listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Before getting to the National Park though, you have to ride a ferry at Sabang.  Boat rides can make me anxious, but the sea and the limestone mountains pleasantly distracted me.

The place was packed when we got to the entrance of the cave, and I took some pictures while waiting for our turn.

And then it was finally time to go in!

I regret not having a decent camera with me by the way.  I was at the mercy of my boatmates who had DSLRs with killer flash with them. My shots inside the cave look like frames from a James Bond opening sequence! >_<

I feel proud of these two shots though:

The ride through the river is about 45 minutes long. And I noticed by the way that the boatmen follow a script, even down to the jokes 😛

And then we finally got to the exit where we were greeted by the beach… and monkeys!

 

Advertisements

Chasing the Sun

The sun surely rises and sets every day, but no sunrise nor sunset is ever the same, is it?

Here’s a mini-collection of my favorite sun shots taken here and there over the years 🙂

Umeda Floating Garden Observatory and My Complicated Relationship with Heights

First time I learned of the floating garden observatory was from the Kansai Thru Pass model course.  “Garden” and “observatory” are so magnetic for me that I definitely marked this place as a must-see.  So on the last day of my Japan trip, Umeda Floating Garden was my second to the last stop.

The Sky Building is said to be one of the most famous landmarks of Umeda’s north district, but even getting out of Umeda Station from the right exit was really challenging despite the loads of signs everywhere.  But I kept telling myself to enjoy the place anyway; besides it’s a faaaaaar cry from our MRT stations here in Manila.  Just waaaay out.

CAM02917
Umeda Station – a spacious, oddly comforting maze

I also got help from local train station staff who handed me a small map going to the observatory.  The building turns out to be another 10 minutes worth of walking, which includes crossing a long underpass.  Challenge accepted!

I was greeted with this nice view a few steps after emerging from the underpass.  Then I finally got to the Sky Building.

CAM02929
The sidewalk is lined with gingko trees.  They’re pretty!

The Sky Building apparently hosts a lot of offices so I got a bit skeptic as to whether I was really at the right place.  I eventually found a sign leading to the observatory.  At the third floor of the building, I paid an entrance fee (JPY800 I think?) and then I rode the elevator.

And the elevator had a view. Of the city.  And it shows you the altitude, not the floor level.  Oh I’ve never been more terrified in my life.  There was no turning back.  So from 4F – 35F, I kept my eyes pretty much closed, so no pics and honestly, I don’t mind.

So I survived the first wave and I thought I could calm down.  Until I realized I had to ride this. mid. air. escalator.  For the second time that day, I asked myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”

IMG_6168
Hanging in mid-air, 4 storeys high. Terror in its solid form.

There was just me and another lady on the escalator.  When we finally reached  the 39th floor, she asked me if I was okay.  She could probably feel my nerves throughout the escalator ride of terror!

Stage 2 cleared; on to the prize!

Was I terrified of heights? I did on the climb.  Am I going back?  Absolutely!  Here’s why:

facilities_slider04_img01
Rumi Sky Walk, I’m coming back for you. (Image is from here.)

So, ’til then, 空中庭園!

 

When Nature Takes Selfies

When nature takes selfies especially on a still day, it’s twice as beautiful, it’s calming and it’s breathtaking.  No filters needed.  Reflections as spectacular as these surrounding the Angkor Wat temples are views you’ll never get tired of and certainly will never fail to recharge a tired soul trapped in a concrete jungle.

Without further ado, here is the scenery framing Angkor Wat.  May you find it as invigorating as I do.

Kumori Japanese Bakery: a Review

First things first:  why the gloomy name? 😐 (“kumori” means cloudy, that’s why.) But now that I got that out of the way, I’ll go ahead and with the star of this entry:  the pastries :3

In a quest to appease my sweet tooth, I scouted the newly opened restaurants at The Block after finishing today’s groceries.  Kumori kind of reminded me of Jipan, so I went in and checked out the pastries.  I stayed away from their salmon bonito pastry; I believe salmon is better paired with rice; and while their green apple pasty looked pretty, I turned my attention to their shelf with cheesecakes, pudding and most importantly, cake.

I ended up with three items to go: their signature Hanjuku Cheesecake; Choco Marshmallow Yakigashi; and Sakusaku Chocolate Cake.

In terms of portion, I’d say it’s filling enough for me; price, reasonable, and the taste, a big hit for the cheese cake.  So when craving for not-so-sweet sweets, Kumori is one bakeshop worth checking out.

A Look Back: ONE OK ROCK Start Walking the World Tour (2012)

Writing about ONE OK ROCK today because it’s Taka‘s birthday^^

A popular conversation starter among fan groups run along these lines:

“What was the first song you heard from (insert band/ artist/ pop culture trash name here)?”

“Who introduced you to them?”

“What made you start liking them?”

Funny how with ONE OK ROCK, my answer to these three questions is either “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” or “I’m not really sure.” But hey, by the time they did their Asian tour last 2012, I already liked them enough to fly to Singapore to see them.

It would also be my first time in Singapore and I met my friend there so we could watch the concert together.

ONE OK ROCK’s gig was held in SCAPE Warehouse, located near Orchard Road.  I’d say SCAPE is an edgy mall geared to attract the youth, a rather fitting venue for ONE OK ROCK’s concert.  The venue’s indoor and pretty small compared to the crowds they attract now (I’ll write about their gig here in Manila!!! one of these days), but that just meant their energy reverberated even more!

So, a here’s quick recount of that concert in a few pictures:

Set list:  1. CODA 2. LOST AND FOUND 3. Never Let This Go 4. 皆無 5. Re:make 6. 世間知らずの宇宙飛行士 7. アンサイズニア 8. Mr.現代Speaker 9. Liar 10.Wherever you are 11.C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. 12.Let’s take it someday 13.NO SCARED 14.恋ノアイボウ心ノクピド 15.完全感覚Dreamer Encore: 1.じぶんROCK 2.内秘心書

ONE OK ROCK has certainly come a long way since (Manila included ❤ ❤ ) and it’s great to see them keep their place in the international scene.  Looking forward to more of their gigs both elsewhere and here back home!

Where to Stay in Osaka – Recommendations

I’ve always booked hotels through Agoda, and out of maybe 10 stays, I was just happy with two of them.  Wasn’t really lucky with room assignments!

When I was preparing for my Japan trip, I had this mindset that finding reasonably priced hotel accommodations would be extra-challenging.  Aside from that, I wanted to stay in a Japanese-style room (yeah, I could have tried looking for a ryokan, but my budget wouldn’t be able to handle it ^^; ).

So that’s how I ended up signing for Airbnb.  Found a Japanese-style private room which the host promises to be in a convenient location–and convenient it is! True enough, it’s just a 5-min walk from Sakai Station, and 10 mins away from Namba.  Plus the host, Asami, and her family were really nice 🙂

The room costs about USD35 per night; compare that the hotel room I rented for my first night in Japan which cost USD92! (Though the hotel room was a good deal too; got a free upgrade and was assigned a corner room.)

So here are a couple of pics of the room I stayed in:

Interested?  Check out the room details here.  And if you haven’t signed up yet with Airbnb but would like to, click this link to get free travel credit 🙂

 

As for the hotel I stayed in, it’s Star Gate Hotel Kansai Airport.  I had to stay here for a night because I arrived in Osaka in the evening.

Yes, the geek in me got drawn to it mostly because of its name 😛 but other than that, the terms were reasonable; you reserve online and pay in cash on the day that you arrive.  There’s a free shuttle going to the airport; it boasts a view of Osaka Bay, and it’s located right across a popular shopping outlet, Rinku Town.  I don’t have pics of my room itself, but what I do have are what my view was:

So there, two options for you to consider when stopping by Osaka, and certainly are highly recommended accommodations 🙂

Nature Photography Challenge, Day 7

El Nido, Palawan

I think it’s only fitting to cap this challenge by featuring one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I’m amazed at how the local government is able to responsibly handle tourism in the islands.  In fact, they are proposing to close some islands this year to rehabilitate the corals, and they will be opening other sites.

I went here with my friends way back in 2012, and I only had my phone with me so the pictures aren’t as good.  I’d sure want to go back here though no matter what!

Nature Photography Challenge, Day 6

Cats =(^.^)=

I’m very much fond of cats, and they’re one of my favorite subjects when I’m wandering about.

Here are some of my favorite shots. Enjoy!