Solo Travel in Singapore Part2

April 1st, 2015

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My flight back home will be at 2am the next day, therefore, I had a full day to roam around Singapore. What to do? I was longing to have a relaxing time, not in a spa but wandering around the city.

As soon as I woke up, I spent an incredible time at the rooftop of Hangout Hotel sipping coffee while waiting for the sun. I had this great view of Emily Hill, an imposing white house in a middle of modern buildings.

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My only “appointment” was my friend since high school, Nanette, who wanted to take me to Chinese Garden. Hangout Hotel receptionist told me, “It’s at the other side of the city.” but it’s ok, I wanted to see the residential side of Singapore if that’s what he wanted to tell me.

 

But first, go to Church. I spread my map on my bed and I randomly chose Church of Saints Peter and Paul on Queen Street. From my nearest station of Little India, off I went to Bras Basah.

A quiet street so to speak. Slow-paced walking, great for my blistered feet. Ouch! Saw different buildings like a calligraphy center and the Jacob Ballas Centre or The Jewish Welfare Board on Waterloo Street.

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Singapore Art Museum. Love that spot for coffee!

 

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And I found myself lost again. Blessed to spot the church’s spire( ? not sure if that’s the right term) and it was like my comet..I just walked and I finally found it.

It is currently under renovation. There are many buildings in Singapore that are currently being worked to preserve just like this 19th-century Catholic Church.

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I prayed the Holy Rosary at the temporary shelter within the church compound. Right across is still other side ( or I was at the back side earlier?!) of Singapore Art Museum. You can the admirable details of the building. Jotted the place on my list to places to visit in Singapore.

 

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After that, I went back to the station and took a long train ride to Choa Chu Kang, which is a residential enclave in Singapore. I was a little bit hungry when I made it to the busy station. After meeting with my friend, Nanette, we did some shopping – sale and sale! I forgot about my hunger. We bought Singaporean dishes for lunch.

Rows of tall residential buildings. I also spotted a baby train ( single-car train). A different sight in Singapore for visiting tourists!

 

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An hour after lunch, we went to Chinese Garden. It is free ( except for the Tortoise Museum)  and it is just outside the station – Chinese Garden Station.

It’s iconic pagoda was currently under repair but Mulan was waiting for me!

 

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At the Twin Pagoda. It is a very big garden. Just like Gardens by the Bay, I think you can spend half of your day here.

 

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Past and future..

 

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The last thing I expected to see in Singapore.. :) Good thing it went back to the pond in no time.

 

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There are several things to see and experience at Chinese Garden. They also have a Japanese Garden, but I had to leave before it gets dark to take a daytime shot of the Merlion.

This is along Boat Quay with a glimpse of the durian-inspired, Esplanade -Theatres on the Bay.

 

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Taking notes…”must visit this museum”.

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Spent some time at Merlion Park, I even spotted some monks. After I took all the photos I wanted, it was time to go back to the hotel and prepare for my trip back home.

I took the train from Little India Station to Changi Airport – 3 transfers. I was a little bit tired but it was a good experience so I can share them to you my dear readers and of course, for our next Singapore trip – hopefully!!

 

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Changi Airport….
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Hope to see you again Singapore! You are a lovely place and I can’t wait to spend some time with you with my kids. A must-visit, I should say!

Big thanks to my hotel partner – Hangout Hotel and Gardens by the Bay for the media pass.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask by leaving a comment. Thanks!

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Solo Travel in Singapore Part 1

March 31st, 2015

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Every woman, particularly moms should treasure ” me time”. What is more indulging than enjoying your own company traveling? If you have been planning on a solo trip, I personally suggest Singapore as your destination.

Traveling solo especially among women can be tough. It takes you out of your comfort zone and you have to tackle women’s natural tendencies to be worry warts.

 

 

I chose Singapore because I feel that it will be a good destination for my baby steps towards consistent solo travel. English is widely spoken and it is one of the most modern countries in the world. Like most parent, I want to relax and be comfortable all the time from transportation to customer service.

I arrived early in Singapore’s Changi Airport. The first thing I did was to check my e-mails in one of the many free internet stations at the airport to inform my family that I landed safely.

 

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From the airport, I took an airport shuttle ( $9). The airport shuttle will bring you to your hotel; more convenient and way cheaper than taking a cab.

I arrived at 3am in my hotel, Hangout Hotel. After coffee, I slept for a few hours at the lounge area of this hotel. Much better for those arriving early in Singapore and waiting for the earliest bus to Malacca or in other destinations in nearby Malaysia.

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I woke up late than planned. Hangout Hotel is close to Little India Station hence, I checked out Little India. It was still early, all shops were closed. Well it was nice walking alone in an unfamiliar place after so many years! Guess, my life was a little bit sheltered.

From Little India Station, I began my crazy trip going to Malacca via Larkin Terminal ( Jahor Bahru). Here are links to my trip in Malacca:

Solo Trip to Malacca Part 1
Solo Trip to Malacca Part 2

 

I arrived in Singapore from Malacca at 8pm. I wanted to go out and enjoy some cocktails at Raffles Hotel as my older sister suggested ( it was my birthday), but I was too tired to go out. Or maybe I should blame the cozy interiors of my hotel room at Hangout. ;)

My view the very next day! Good morning Singapore!!

 

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My appointment was set at 1pm onwards, so I took the time just laying down in my cozy bed. I had a very hectic and long haul travel in Malacca, I thought I deserve to sleep in after breakfast.

At 11am, I went out and started by beautiful day in Singapore. I had lunch here – Hainanese Chicken Rice and oolong tea- sorry, I was shy to take photos. Spent only $5 for Hainanese Chicken Rice. Cheap!

 

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First stop was Gardens by the Bay. From Little India Station, I went to Bayfront Station. I took the train. Railway in Singapore is easy to navigate. If you want to save from your travel funds in Singapore, take the train!

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After walking and taking lifts, you will go out and see this iconic building.
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The sight of Marina Bay Sands will energize you especially when you are alone – hyper like a kid!

Hi there!

 

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I spent 4 hours at Gardens by the Bay because I had to meet a friend by 5:30pm, but I agree with what I have read online – set a full day for this attraction. If I had time, I would love to go back and explore the public gardens, see the Giant Groves at night.

I got a media pass from Gardens by the Bay ( thank you!) and got a chance to check out the paid attractions – Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, and the OCBC Skyway. I will write a separate post for Gardens by the Bay. Please stay tune!

The Falls at Cloud Forest – a soothing relief from the heat of the Singaporean sun! Totally major!

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I sort of belittled Gardens by the Bay because I am more into cultural and historical travel, but this is one brilliant place of interest. It blew my breath away and I kept saying, ” Wow” countless times! Never skip Gardens by the Bay when in Singapore!

The Flower Dome..I feel in love with dahlia flowers..fiery and lovely blooms.

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I was hesitant to try the Skyway because I felt dizzy when I tried the Cloud Walk at Cloud Forest. But heck, this is a rare opportunity so I braved myself and I’m glad I did! I know my sons will love to do the walk.

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I didn’t walk to the end. I have a severe case of fear of heights and I was scared I might drop my camera. After Gardens by the Bay, I went back to Bayfront Station and met my friend.

We had dinner at Marina Bay Sands Food Court. Very affordable and I enjoyed my friend treating me dinner. ;)

We had prawn noodles, carrot cake ( which is made of radish by the way), and oyster omelette.

 

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The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is classy and impressive. I will certainly check it out again. From retail therapy, The Shoppes mirrors outstanding architecture.

Next, we went to the Light and Water Show at the Event Plaza of Marina Bay Sands. This is one of the free attractions in Singapore, budget travelers will love to know this..

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Entitled, ” Wonder Full”, it has a story but I think most of the audience don’t get what the plot is all about. haha. The lights and the effects are impressive that you won’t care what is the story of the show.

After the show, we went to the dock for the river cruise.
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I want to try the river cruise during the day especially with my kids. I love this things to do in Singapore – no doubt, kid-friendly. Of course,  visit Merlion Park for the obligatory Merlion shot and this one..

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Lee Kuan Yew no doubt is proud of the nation he led and helped build. I love that Singapore is urbanized but not a concrete jungle. I have more photos and stories to share, please stay tune for the next part of my solo travel in Singapore!

Thanks for reading!

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Where to Stay in Malacca: Hangout Hotel @ Jonker

March 26th, 2015

 

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I’ve been mentioning Hangout Hotel in my previous posts. Hope you will find this Hangout Hotel review useful when looking for hotels to stay in Malacca.

In case you missed them, here are links to my previous Malacca trip blog posts related to this story:

My Solo Trip to Melaka Part1
My Solo Trip to Melaka Part2

With their tag line, “ No Frills, Just Fun“, Hangout belongs to the list of budget hotels in Malacca. Rest assured, you will never go short when it comes to location, safety, and service.

 

 

Location

 

As the cliché goes, ” Location is everything” and true, Hangout’s location makes a big difference when compared to other hotels in Malacca.

Literally on Jonker Street!

 

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If this is your first time in Malacca, staying in hotels in Malacca near Jonker Street is very important. Jonker Street is where all the food action happens  (read: food trip) and it is a few steps away from the cultural center of Malacca for visiting tourists – Dutch Square, Jalan Kuta, to name a few.

Because I got lost in Malacca and went to the “modern” side of the city, I saw few high-end hotels there. They look very good, but what’s the use if they are far from the main attractions of the city?

Travel tip: You don’t have to stay in luxurious hotels if your itinerary calls you to be out most of the day – all you need is safe and tidy room to spend the night.

This is another shot of the hotel taken from the side of the river while I was just wandering around the city.
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Hangout Hotel is the answer to where to stay in Melaka ( Malay for Malacca) with kids. Because it is close to the main attractions, you can take a break from your tour and rest in the hotel for a few minutes. I myself, kept on going back to the hotel – refilling my water bottle, leaving my loots I bought from Jonker or basically and sitting at patio area to hide from the sun.

Hangout Hotel is also close to the famous chicken rice ball place. The one where people line up? Yes, you can check if there is a line right outside the hotel patio. :)

 

Rooms

 

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I apologize to season travelers, I’m a little bit picky when it comes to budget hotel rooms. Maybe because I travel most of the time with my kids and if I do travel solo, I always ask, ” Can I stay here with my kids too?”

In my case, there is a difference between “clean” and “neat”. I had a twin-bed room during my stay at Hangout Hotel. The cool colors of its walls were therapeutic for someone who was traveling for almost 24 hours.

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You will also love the little touches of the hotel like these framed photographs of Old Malacca. Because Hangout Hotel is a converted building, the rooms are not spacious but not cramped either.

Its bathroom is adequate in both size and amenities.

 

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For a converted building, it is impressive that the hotel have installed an elevator. My room is located on the top floor – 4th floor. And this is my window view – the rooftop terrace.

 

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The Lookout Terrace

Nothing compares to the view you will get from their lookout terrace. When I arrived in Malacca, I spent almost an hour just enjoying this view with my coffee and listening to Malay call of prayer.

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You can literally hangout here. Too bad I was too tired that I slept early. Love their beds and the soothing lights. For someone who is not used to solo travel, I had a very good rest at the hotel.

The very next morning, these are just some of the views..tiled roofs of Jonker Street and temples.

 

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I was fascinated with the Chinese architecture of Malacca. This is also a good vintage spot for photographers.

 

Facilities and amenities

 

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Hangout Hotel @ Jonker, provides ample facilities. Wi-fi even in rooms and for those who need to use computers ( for travel writers like me), they have PC units at their LogOut Cyber Corner.

I love the all-day coffee and tea  at VegOut Lounge. They also have a microwave if you like to reheat food or make simple meals. Malacca is very hot and muggy, I saved from buying water since I just have to refill them.

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For breakfast, they offer toasts and jam with coffee. I’m totally fine with it. You don’t need a buffet breakfast when in Jonker. Go out and enjoy Malaccan food!

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Safety and Customer Service

 

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I like to emphasize how safe it is to stay in this hotel in Malacca. For a small hotel, it is impressive that they ensure that guests feel safe. The sliding door that connects the reception area to the lounge area requires a key-card. Thus, it is open 24/7 for hotel-guests only.

Staff are not just friendly, there were very helpful. I think I abused one of their staff, Mr. Wong. haha. I appreciate all the local and inside information he gave me. Just perfect when you are writing an article about Malacca.

Guests can feel free to ask for recommendations. No, they are not the concierge type who gets commissions to every guest they bring to a restaurant. They will also recommend places based on the experiences of previous guests.

Thank you Hangout Hotel @ Jonker for making my Malacca trip hassle-free! Looking forward staying with you again!

For more information and rates, check out Hangout Hotel @ Jonker.

 

Hangout Hotel at Jonker

19 & 21 Lorong Hang Jebat,

75200 Melaka

Tel: +60-6-2828318

Fax: +60-6-2922318
enquiries_malacca@hangouthotels.com

www.hangouthotels.com

 

 

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RisingStarts Philippines: From Phone to Fame

March 21st, 2015

 

 

Samantha Hoberg

 

No doubt, singing is a natural talent to most Filipinos. It is natural for us to sing, thus, we set the bar high when it comes to choosing the next musical sensation.

This can also be seen with our love for singing competitions, one of them is TV5′s RisingStars Philippines. Now what makes this singing competition different from others and why you should tune in to TV5?

Here’s the catch! They change the game when in comes to auditions. You’ve heard it all, long lines, some hopefuls lining up at least 8 hours after traveling from their provinces just to go to Manila.

RisingStars Philippines provides a game-changing concept and a refreshing way to engage its audience through the staple of Filipino culture- the Karaoke. after searching through 20 cities from across the country, putting up booths in over 20 stops in major malls, barangays, and schools, and finding musically gifted individuals with the potential to become a star, they are still looking for more.

…Aside from booths, auditions were held at the comforts of others’ living rooms through RisingStars Philippines Mobile App. Available on Google Play store for Android phones, joining made easy and hassle-free, with no money or time spent in long lines and travelings.

In Iloilo, 12 singers were chosen among all those who auditioned and then asked to show their talent on stage last January 22. And from the group, 3 very talented Ilonggas were chosen.

RisingStars is about total package – not just your singing voice.

Mia Barbra Derilo 1

 

The girls went to Manila and competed with other finalists from different provinces in the country.

 

Trisha

 

 

Now it’s our time to support our lovely ladies!

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Who among these Ilonggas will compete to the top?

RisingStars Philippines airs until June 6 and hosted by Venus Raj and the multi-talented Ogie Alcasid.

Stay tune! The competition is not just about the contestants, you yourself can challenge the singers – these are just some of the things to look forward to!

RisingStars Philippines
TV5, every Saturday (10-11pm)
www.risingstars.ph

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Malaccan Memories: My Solo Trip to Melaka Part2

March 20th, 2015

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As promised, let’s continue reminiscing my Malacca trip. You can read my previous posts here:

 

Malaccan Memories: My Solo Trip to Melaka Part1
My First Solo Travel: Malacca and Singapore

 

Malacca is a touristy place. I can’t blame people for coming here,  both for culture and of course, food trip. If you want to experience Malacca, come here during weekdays though some shops close but it is ok.

And just like in any destination, you have to wake up early to capture good shots. I did wake up “early” but the sun doesn’t rise until almost 7am in Malaysia. As soon as darkness escaped Malacca, I was out ready to explore the city. Fun day starts!

 

Staying in hotels in Malacca like Hangout @ Jonker is a big advantage. I just walked out of the door, passed by Hard Rock Cafe and crossed Tan Kim Seng Bridge to Dutch Square.

Dutch Square was all mine!

 

 

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Took lots of photos with my Nikon DSLR and phone. There were only few locals at the square. The Malaccans I saw were heading for work as well as maintenance people to make sure top attractions in Malacca are in good shape before tourists come to flock.

Dutch Square is the cultural center of the city with its trademark red color, hence nicknamed by tourists as ” Red District”.

 

 

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It was my birthday and my main goal was to visit a Catholic church. Here is St. Francis Xavier Church. The saint came to Malacca and used this port city as his bastion in spreading the faith in the Orient.

 

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After praying the rosary, I went back toward Dutch Square and explored Malacca before tourists start coming.

I went to the riverside. A very cool place to chill especially in the afternoon, but I love the feel of the joggers and locals doing their usual morning routines. Some were talking to me with a smile in Chinese :)

I think one of the best things to do in Malacca with kids is the Malacca River Cruise..

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The Melaka Malay Sultanate Water Wheel. Only a replica, yet a reminder of how flourishing international trade was in Malacca with 84 dialects and languages spoken.

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The Middleburg Bastion, complete with cannons. My kids, especially my eldest love cannons and yes, we often visit forts.

 

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The Crane, an important machine during 15ht-16th Century Malacca
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Beside The Crane is the Tourism Office of Malacca. If you need help, drop by. They are very friendly. Malacca’s tourism officer was the only person who knew right away that I’m from the Philippines. :)

It was already 11am  and I need to enjoy Malacca food. Off I went back to Jonker Street. Oh yes, I dropped by at my hotel, Hangout Hotel to refill my water bottle. haha.

My birthday lunch..Malacca’s famous chicken rice balls, roasted chicken and iced tea. I should have ordered roasted duck – very cheap.

 

 

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Then I took the time to shop for pasalubongs ( gifts and souvenirs). I love those trinkets at Jonker Gallery and food from Tan Kim Hock Product Center. I bought cookies, durian, and coconut dodol, and lots of coffee. They were so good that my own family consumed most of them – nothing left for friends. :(

I also tried the famous durian cendol – like halo-halo. I find it too sweet.

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I went back again to Hangout Hotel ( just adjacent) to leave my loot. Off I went to Cheng Ho Museum.

 

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Malacca is home to many museums, but with limited time, I chose my father’s favorite explorer – Cheng Ho. I will write a separate entry about Cheng Ho Museum. A must and I found myself tearing up with their impeccable display (only history buffs can relate. haha!).

After the museum, I went to Jalan Kota. It is lined with museums and top attractions of Malacca. The scourging sun was already punishing me so I took refuge to this shaded area with Malacca’s colorful beca ( trisikad, tuktuk or rickshaw). I even chatted with the drivers. Feeling local! :D

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And went to the end of the Jalan Kota – Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum. The structure is gorgeous! Inside, you will learn Malay culture, weapons, trade, costumes, and even a glimpse to the royal court.

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Beautiful place. Wish to stayed longer, but it was already 2 pm and I need to head back to Singapore.

Along the street is another famous attraction – A’Formosa or Porta de Santiago.

 

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and in front is the Proclamation of Independence Memorial.

 

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There are many attractions that I failed to visit like St. Paul’s Church Ruins, Stadthuys and many more. But that would serve as my next Malacca itinerary.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Related stories..

Old Mansions in Iloilo
Mantigue Island Camiguin

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Malaccan Memories: My Solo Trip to Melaka Part1

March 18th, 2015

 

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I’ve been planning my trip to Malacca or Melaka since August of 2014 and finally, I found myself sitting on a bus to Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. A lover of history, I can’t miss the opportunity to enjoy it for myself.

 

 

My trip was short and I vowed even before I left that I will be coming back. With limited time, I haven’t experienced the place fully. Still, I hope you’ll enjoy traveling back to Malacca with me.

I got lost – more than an hour to be exact- when I arrived, but good thing when you are traveling solo, you don’t argue with anyone but yourself. It was blessing in disguise because I saw the other side of the city.

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It may be a historical town in Malaysia,but it is also a very modern and progressive city.

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I was too tired and sticky that I took a taxi to my hotel, Hangout Hotel @ Jonker ( please wait for my review!). After freshening up, I took my time at Hangout’s Lookout Rooftop with this incredible view of Malacca River..

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Hearing the Malay call of prayer in such a beautiful and peaceful city, it was one of the best feelings I had. Traveling since 10pm the other night from Philippines to Singapore and then to Malacca, I deserved to chill like a villain that time.

Then I went out to explore the famous Jonker Street and enjoyed the architecture and friendly locals..

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What you’ll love about solo travel is that you don’t plan where you want to go – in my case. I just went where my feet led me even if it meant getting lost again and again but hey, it’s part of the adventure no matter how much of a cliche it may sound.

Then I found this lovely cafe – Calanthe Art Cafe, turns out they are one of the most popular dining places in Malacca. The staff are very helpful. They made me feel at ease. Yes, I still have that tiny mini feeling of anxiousness of being on the road by myself.

My dinner in Malacca – Laksa ( I chose Rice Vermicelli) and Very Koo Shake ( lemon, banana, yogurt, orange and English parsley).

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While enjoying the big serving of laksa ( it is god for 2-3 people), I felt dizzy – the feeling of the body giving up but your mind still wants to have fun. So I had to go back to the hotel and slept for 9 hours. It goes without saying I love my hotel in Malacca!

I woke up at 5:30 and I was amazed that it was pitch black! I remember that  in Singapore and Malaysia, the sun sets and rises later than in the Philippines. It was bright enough at 7:30, which is like 6am in the Philippines.

And off I went to the famous attraction of Malacca – Dutch Square!

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That’s it for now, ok? Let’s continue our travel story on my next blog post..

Thanks for reading!

 

Read my prelude to this solo travel series..

My First Solo Travel: Malacca and Singapore

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Cagayan de Oro for Mabuhay Magazine

March 17th, 2015

 

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I have been blogging about our Mindanao trip since January and I big part of it is that I was on assignment. My college friend sent me a private message while I was in Singapore with a photo of my kid. It was a snapshot of my article from Mabuhay Magazine’s March 2015 ( thanks girl for flying with PAL!:).

 

Here it is..

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This month’s issue is packed with itineraries from Cagayan de Oro to New York, celebrating PAL’s 74th anniversary and the return of their New York route.

If you happen to fly with PAL this month, hope you’ll check out my article and find it useful for your next vacation with the little ones. I included attractions and activities that are child-friendly and equally enjoyable.

Here are links to the hotels..

Seda Centrio

Camiguin Volcan Beach Eco Retreat and Dive Resort

Paras Beach Resort

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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My First Solo Travel: Malacca and Singapore

March 8th, 2015

 

 

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To be alone is one of the many things I miss. Yes, you read it right – I love being alone. My husband gave me one of the best birthday gifts ever – solo travel. My destinations – Malacca and Singapore.

I admit I felt anxious days before my trip but I did packed my bags and boarded the plane for Singapore. My flight was at 10pm and landed at 2am. First thing I noticed was the carpeted flooring of Changi Airport. Immigration was a breeze. I’m not in the Third World anymore!

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Took an airport shuttle for $9 to Hangout Hotel @ Mt. Emily ( near Orchard) to leave some of my things. For this trip, I was hosted by Hangout Hotels for both their Singapore and Malacca properties. If you plan to go to Malacca and Singapore, these hotels are highly recommended, same goes to those with early or late arrivals and departures. I’ll be writing separate posts for Hangout Hotels for you, please stay tune.

Farrah, the Pinay receptionist greeted me and told me to stay at the Second Floor with their lounge, coffee, and PC station. Checked some emails and slept – I woke up at 8am! A little bit late for my plan of leaving for Malacca at 6am, but I had a good rest. I washed up before going to the nearest station – Little India.

 

 

One of the things that excites me was the idea of taking trains again. Oh, the sounds of the trains…when I was in Japan, I would take trains for work. I love it. Long train rides gave me the chance to daydream.

I saved a lot of money by taking trains in Singapore. I even bought a $20 EZ-Link Card. From Little India Station, I changed to Dhoby Ghaut Station that took me to Kranji Station. Had a quick breakfast and got on a Causeway Bus to take me to Larkin Terminal in Malaysia.

It was an adventure! To be in 2 countries – Singapore and Malaysia in a single day with four currencies in my wallet namely, Philippine peso, Singaporean dollar, US dollar, and Malaysian Ringgit. From Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru (Malaysia), I took another bus to Malacca. I slept sporadically, waking up to these plantation views.

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I’ll blog a more detailed post on how to get to Malacca from Singapore and Vice Versa. Finally, after almost 3 hours from Larkin…..Malacca!!

 

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Malacca is a UNESCO Heritage Site and Malaysia’s top historical states. I have been dreaming of coming here and I finally did.

The famous Jonker Walk..

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Malacca or Melaka is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and Europeans ( Dutch and Portuguese). It is also a famous weekend destination for many Singaporeans.

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I spent overnight in Malacca and took a 3:30pm bus back to Singapore the next day.

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Arrived in Singapore around 8pm and took a taxi to my hotel – the only time I took a taxi in Singapore. Dani of Hangout Hotel @ Mt. Emily ( Singapore) pumped my energy back when she greeted me, ” Happy Birthday!!”. I had dinner at the bus stop en route to Singapore and with the hotel’s cozy interior, I just fell asleep after my shower.

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After breakfast, I explored the vicinity starting with Mt. Emily Park. Why do people think that Singapore is just one concrete jungle?

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I also went to Little India, which is a few minutes away from my hotel on foot. It was early and few shops were opened. Little India reminded me of my friend who is practicing Hare Krishna.  Went back to the hotel to sleep and explored the city after lunch.

I spent 5 hours at Gardens by the Bay. I got a Media Pass that let me explored all paid attractions – Conservatories ( Flower Dome and Cloud Forest) and OCBC Skywalk. Gardens by Bay shouldn’t be missed when visiting Singapore.

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After Gardens by the Bay, I met up with my dear friend Nanette. Funny how we took the old-school way to meet up – no phone calls. We just set the time and place – Bayfront Station at 5pm. Because she’s my friend since we were 13, I easily spotted her running towards me some 20 meters away. hahaa.

We had dinner at Marina Bay Sands and checked out some shops. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is lovely that I decided to just skip Orchard and Bugis for the rest of the trip.

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Nanette completed my very productive day in Singapore with the Light Show and River Cruise. Say hi to Nanette!

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I love the river cruise with its audio tour – very informative and plenty of trivias. I would love to have a daytime river cruise too! We passed by main attractions in the city center like Boat Quay, Clark Quay and Civic Center.

We ended our cruise at Merlion Park, ate ice cream wafer for $1.20 and walked toward Raffles Place Station – just like high school girls! I arrived at the hotel at 11:30 pm, sweating from all the walk but it was one lovely day.

The next day, I looked for a church and went to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. It was under repair and there is a temporary structure for the faithfuls. Actually, many of the attractions were being repaired. It’s totally fine. I met up with Nanette again and after lunch and shopping, we went to the Chinese Garden.

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Parted ways with Nanette and her well-behaved son at Jurong East station and I went back to Merlion Park to get more shots of the area. Spent some time sitting along Boat Quay, Civic Center and did some people watching. Enjoyed my Chinese Rice and Chicken BBQ with iced Milo at Selera Restaurant close to my hotel before preparing myself for my 2am flight back home. Again, I took the train from Little India Station all the way to Changi Airport. I still have a $4 credit on my EZ-Link Card. Big savings!

I intentionally skipped some must-sees in Singapore. I want to savor every moment and just enjoy the place. Or maybe I’m just confident that I’ll be coming back to Singapore.

I can’t count the number of people I asked for directions. Traveling solo is blissful. I really don’t have  formal itineraries for both Malacca and Singapore, totally different when I’m traveling with my family. It was a good break for me, to just walk and stop whenever I feel like.

You get lost but it’s part of the adventure. At first you feel a little bit scared or nervous ( for those who are not intrepid travelers like me) but sooner, you won’t realize that you feel like a local walking along the streets wearing a half-smile on your face.

Till next time! Selamat Singapore and Malacca!

 

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Rafael’s

February 18th, 2015

 

 

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It’s been a while since I posted a restaurant feature. Just to take a short break from my Mindanao series, here is one of the newest restaurants in the city – Rafael’s.

Brought by Chef Rafael ” Tibong” Jardeleza II, it is a new addition to the growing number dining places sprouting in the city of Iloilo. Located in Alta Tierra Village ( from the Parish Church, turn left), it’s just one sikad ride from our house!

 

 

 

 

Relaxing ambiance gives a strong impression. Casual and enjoyable dining with your family and friends.

 

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This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and I’m looking forward enjoying cozy dinners here..

 
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Chef Tibong conceptualized everything. Repurposing old items always catches my attention.

 

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Now let’s go to the food. Rafael’s serves supreme Ilonggo dishes and that means, many of them are Spanish- inspired – my favorite cuisine.

We started with Lengua con Setas y Oliva – ” stewed ox tongue in Rafael’s roasted tomato sauce with chorizo Pamplano, mushrooms, and olives”.

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I don’t eat lengua because it seems like I’m French kissing a cattle ( seriously!) but I love this dish. My friends also dined here and they liked Rafael’s lengua – even if they don’t normally eat ox tongue. Therefore, it goes without saying that this is must-try when dining at Rafael’s.

For pasta, we had Rafael’s Special – “ a stew type pasta loaded with meat and sausage in roasted tomato sauce“.

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And then we had, Ribs ni Tibs – ” the famous and best-seller of Chef Rafael’s pork shoulder ribs in special hickory sauce“.
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Chef Tibong shared that the shoulder part is meatier, thus, more savory especially when paired with his special sauce.

 

And finally for dessert, Japanese cheesecake.

 
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We paired our dishes with the family’s own, Mariposa Iced-Tea.

 
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A relaxing place to enjoy family meals or hanging out with your friends over food, away from the usual city noise, drop by at Rafael’s in Phase 2, Alta Tierra Village, Jaro,Iloilo City.

 

 

 

More dining stories for you..

Claude’s Le Cafe de Ville

Terrazza Balay nga Kawayan, Guimaras

Could this be the best Piaya?

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Paras Beach Resort, Camiguin Island

February 6th, 2015

 
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Where do most travelers stay in Camiguin?

They stay at Paras Beach Resort! I think Paras is one of the first resorts and hotels in Camiguin. I have stayed here twice – my first visit in Camiguin 7 years ago and last Christmas vacation with my family.

Paras is a big resort and has many rooms from budget-friendly dorm rooms to their suites. I recommend Paras Beach Resort if you are traveling with a group or with your family.

Because we were a group of 6 – my 2 kids, my husband, and my parents- we needed 2 rooms just like what we had at Seda Centrio. And I’m very glad Paras Beach Resort also offers a Family Loft. No need to book 2 rooms. Savings.

I don’t have descent room photos (the challenge when you travel with kids), so I have to borrow these photos from this wonderful resort in Camiguin. This accommodation has a staircase the leads to a loft with a king-sized bed.

 

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Photo from Paras Beach Resort

 

 

The ground floor actually has 3 beds with this pull-out bed – giving the family loft a total of 4 beds! Perfect for big groups.

 

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Photo from Paras Beach Resort

 

 

Our room opens to this big space for  the kids to run around and the older ones to enjoy their afternoon coffee.
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Camiguin will fill up your days with activities and the resort has many ways for you to enjoy some downtime.

 

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Enjoy the sun by the pool..
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Plenty of space for guests to hang out. During our stay, I worked here while my kids enjoyed the hammock and made flower bracelets for me from these santan blooms.
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Before we go to their facilities, here is their receiving area.
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A view of their in-house restaurant though I prefer dining in their cottages and enjoy al-fresco dining.
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Their shop – very helpful when my son lost his slippers in White Island.
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The resort has many entertainment options for guests.

 

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The bar

 

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I guess the best thing about Paras Beach Resort is its proximity to White Island. We signed up for their White Island tour for Php450 ( roundtrip)

 

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If it is your first time in Camiguin, I think you should book your stay at Paras Beach Resort. The resort is the typical resort that you often see in most cities along with their complete amenities. Some resorts in Camiguin, though I love them, may not be very suitable for some guests.

Paras Beach Resort rates starts at Php803 only! For rooms, rates, and reservations,

Paras Beach Resort

Mambajao, Camiguin

Philippines

Telephone: +63 (88) 3879008
Telefax: +63 (88) 3879117
Mobile: +63 9177152285
parasbeachresort@gmail.com

www.parasbeachresort.com

Stayed here twice and I’m satisfied. Have you been here? Share you experience!

 

 

 

 

 

More hotels for you

Seda Centrio in Cagayan de Oro City

Camiguin Volcan Beach Eco Retreat and Dive Resort

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