May 25, 2014

BATANES : Entranced by the Battered Islands

When friends would ask me what's my ultimate Philippine destination, my quick answer is always BATANES. I often received a quizzed look with that choice as if I need to expound further for them to understand and once I did, they'd refer to the place as the typhoon capital of the Philippines or even more confusing for some, they thought Bataan and Batanes are just the same. 

Where is Batanes?

To address the misconception, Batanes isn't hit by typhoon as often as they regard, in fact the place enjoys four seasons as opposed to the rest of the country's wet and dry season. However, precipitation occurs almost everyday throughout the year in different parts of the province. BATANES is located in the northernmost part of the country and as a result they've always been used as a reference point for all typhoons that enter the Philippine area.  Batanes is much nearer to Taiwan than to the northern tip of the Philippines. The smallest province in the country, both in terms of land area and population and a part of the region of Cagayan Valley. It has 10 islands, but only 3 are inhabited, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat.


BATANES

Getting to Batanes is a dream come true and with all expenses paid by someone who just happened to come across this blog and read the stuffs I wrote is like the heavens conspiring with him to have my wishes fulfilled (you're right, Mr Paulo Coelho! ). To my generous sponsor, I can't say thank you enough.

How that happened? Check it here.

And why BATANES?

I was completely mesmerized when I saw photos of picturesque rolling hills with livestock freely roaming around, breathtaking stretches of seascapes at every turn, stone houses that were built to defy the strongest typhoons, existence of the winter season, that unsinkable spirit of the Ivatans and the culture of honesty among its people speak volume why BATANES is my ultimate Philippine destination and why you should consider it in your travel bucket list too. The isolation from the main Philippine archipelago, separated by an endless stretch of surging water where the Pacific Ocean meets with the China Sea must have produced such admirable characteristics of the Ivatans who've successfully lived around the harsh conditions and limitations of an isolated province.

Also Related : My Bucket List

In BATANES finally!

It took me five years to finally tick off my Top 5 Must Visit Philippine Destination but the wait was well rewarded. A sudden jolt welcomed us, as we finally landed on the soils of Basco, Batanes on board a PAL EXPRESS turbo-prop aircraft as if waking my senses to remind me that this is no longer a dream, this is reality and making every moment count to savor and experience the beauty of this special place is now in order.
Batanes

Kindly stay tuned for my next post.The details of my 4-day Batanes adventure and some helpful tips for those planning a visit to this special place will follow very soon. 

Next > BATANES : Stunning South Batan on Day 1

May 11, 2014

BANGKOK Accommodation : LC ACCOMMODATIONS

LC is short for Linda Cargo Accommodations and that is where we stayed for 2 nights while in Bangkok. My sister happened to come across this accommodation while she was roaming Pratunam area during one of her earlier shopping visits in Bangkok and this Filipina lady who owns Linda Cargo Partnerships mentioned about her units for rent which she thought my sis would consider on her next visit.

Also related : Thailand : 2 Nights in Bangkok

The place is located at JULDIS Mansion in Pratunam Soi Petchburi 19. You have to locate first the Linda Cargo Partnership office which is just across Juldis Mansion and look for the contact person who will then accompany you to the rented unit at Juldis Mansion.


Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand


This is the office which is just across Juldis Mansion. That lady peeking in the photo is Ms Linda.
Below is the unit where we stayed. It can accommodate 4 pax and complete with basic amenities like cable tv, air-conditioning, ref, a small dining area, coffee and tea making facilities and kitchen utensils. Bathroom with hot/cold water and bathtub. They also have a strong wifi connection.

Also Related : Crossing Borders : Cambodia to Thailand


Linda Cargo Accommodation, Bangkok, Thailand

Linda Cargo Accommodation, Bangkok, Thailand

Linda Cargo Accommodation, Bangkok, Thailand

 
The place is clean, spacious and very private and for 1,200 bahts per night (or 300 baht per pax) we had a real good deal for money. 

Also Related : Our Indochina Itinerary

For more info and reservation, you can reach them at the following contact numbers.

BANGKOK OFC
Linda - (08)98012733
Gina - (08)60038125

MANILA OFC
Abell - 09178054911
Janet - 09176333207

May 8, 2014

THAILAND : 2 Nights in BANGKOK

On to our last leg of the 3 country tour but just the 1st part of my backpacking INDOCHINA goal, Thailand proved that the "same same but different" statement remains true among these three Southeast Asian nations. They have similar features but distinct differences in such a way you'll easily recognize a Vietnamese, a Khmer and a Thai. They used the same herbs and ingredients in cooking but each taste is distinctly unique. If you ask me which food I enjoyed the most, I'd say Vietnam cuisine and if you want to know, who I find the nicest, certainly the Khmers.
Grand Palace, Bangkok

Since we only have 2 nights left of the 8 day Indochina tour we've planned, our itinerary in Thailand concentrated mostly in Bangkok. We temple hop around the city, indulged in gustatory debauchery of Thai cuisine and then went night shopping around Pratunam.

Also Read : INDOCHINA Itinerary

Grand Palace

Grand Palace was our 2nd stop from the Bangkok city tour we scheduled for the 2nd day. We hired a tuktuk ride for 100 bahts and he brought us first to this jewelry shop. We didn't mind since my cousin is really planning to buy some jewelry for her forthcoming birthday and she did. 

There's a dress code when you enter this impressive and massive complex and it's strictly enforced. However, if you are not appropriately dressed like me who is in sleeveless, there's this area near the entrance where you can borrow a piece of clothing with a corresponding deposit fee which is refundable once you return the item.
 
We didn't realize that checking out the whole place will probably take us 3 hours the least and we already informed ahead our tuktuk ride to pick us up after an hour. We decided to forgo the plan and just roam around the free area, took lots of photos and save the 500 bahts entrance fee for shopping later. We also grabbed some postcards and send them to friends right away.
 

Men in uniform warming up when they saw me aiming a shot on them :)

WAT PHO

Just adjacent to the Grand Palace, we headed to Wat Pho to witness the temple of the reclining Buddha. For 100 bahts you can go around the complex and see a thousand images of Buddha and marvel at the huge (160ft long) reclining Buddha.
160ft Reclining Buddha
it's so huge my camera's frame is not enough :)

I dropped some coins on these 108 bronze bowls hoping to bring me some  fortune.

Wat Pho Buddhas
more statues of Buddha

WAT PHO aside from being a Buddhist monastery is home to one of the earliest Thai massage schools that taught medicine and traditional Thai massage through murals and sculptures. On the walls you'll see diagrams like the photo below showing therapeutic points and energy pathways with medical inscriptions carved on the walls.

Also Read : How Much We Spent While In Indochina

GOLDEN BUDDHA

We wanted to see the world's largest solid gold statue of Buddha and for 40 bahts entrance fee, we had the chance. It is located at the temple of Wat Traimit, in the Chinatown district of Bangkok. The origin of the statue is uncertain but many believed it was made during the Sukhothai period between the 13th to 14th century. The 18 karat gold statue is estimated to be worth 250 million dollars.

The world's largest gold statue of Buddha

Wat Traimit, Golden Buddha
WAT TRAIMIT


MALL HOPPING

After seeing 3 temples, we can all hear our stomach growling. At 4:30pm, we asked to be dropped off at Isetan Mall where we planned to eat. The last time we ate was at 9am at the cute Hello Kitty inspired Mc Donalds.
Mc Donalds near where we stayed at Pratunam

Isetan mall, Bangkok

To satisfy our craving for something our taste buds are used to, we went to  Sizzler for an eat all you can pasta and salad with soup and desert included.




For less than 200 bahts the taste is surprisingly expensive. I have several servings of different kinds of salads and they're all good. We all agreed this is the best deal in town. Unfortunately they dont allow photo taking, so I have to stop and concentrate on eating which served me well, hahaha.

Afterwards, we walked to Big C Supermarket to buy homecoming gifts.
BIG C Supermarket

Traffic is very much Manila like
And then went bargain hunting at night.


STREET FOOD

Street food abound, go pick some of your liking. It got me interested to try that colorful jelly-fruity items at the bottom and the inside tasted like rice cakes.
Bangkok Street Food
Bangkok Street Food

We were all dying to get a Thai massage after a very tiring but productive day but we can't move our feet any further to go and check out those that were still open. Our beds were calling us and we have an early flight to catch and things to pack. We stayed at one unit of Juldis Mansion which is just walking distance from where we roamed during the night. You'll hear more of our affordable accommodation while in Bangkok, Thailand for 2 nights in my next post.

Now Read : Bangkok Accommodation - LC Accommodations

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