Manila!, Reviews

Review: Z Hostel Makati is perfect for budget travelers with preference for comfort 

Disclosure: KamikazeeGirl was invited  by budget hostel Z Hostel Makati for an overnight stay during the onset of the holidays. This was my observation and full review. 

 
If you are a budget traveler like me who is always on the look out for cheap digs without sacrificing comfort, cleanliness or style, consider staying at the Z Hostel located in Don Pedro, Poblacion, Makati City. 


Check In 

Check in process is very straight forward, quick and easy. You can easily have reservations through the Z Hostel website or the many third party booking sites online. Upon check in, you will be given your key card, your towel and a bracelet with the RFID chip which you can use to purchase food and drinks within the hotel premises. 

   
    
 

I have stayed in a lot of hostels in HongKong, Singapore, Seoul, Busan and Tokyo, and I must say that it is only at Z Hostel Manila where I encountered the use of the RFID in purchasing beverages and meals within the hotel premises. 

The RFID at Z can be loaded and reloaded at the lobby and at the rooftop bar where guests usually unwind. 

Rooms and hotel premises 

Rooms at Z is no frills, basic, clean and secure. The ultimate must-haves when looking for a place to stay in. 

As for me, I have three non-negotiables: a locking door, a flushing rest room and a bug-free bed. Obviously, Z Hostel passed all these. 

A bed in any of the dorm rooms comes with its own night light, sufficient electrical outlets for charging of your devices, a pillow and a simple bed sheet. For valuables, each room also comes with lockers while guests are advised to bring their own lock and keys. 

One thing that Z Hostel can improve on is the availability of basic toiletries within the room. In Tokyo and Taipei, resort owners usually include a pair of dispensers in the common rest room: one for the shampoo/conditioner and one for the body wash. 

   


  

Rates begin at PHP899 for a bed on an All-Female Dorm while private rooms begin at PHP2,430 for a night’s stay. Z Hostel has mixed dorm rooms and female dorm rooms which can house 4,6 or 8 persons.

  

   
    

Dining In 

Z ZHostel  has a solid F&B line up, starting from their ground floor cafe where breakfast and most of the meals is commonly served.
   

For dinner,  I had the Beef Tapa which was served with a warm cup of fried rice and my favorite sunny side egg. 

For breakfast, I was directed to the  generous spread of the breakfast bar featuring congee, hard boiled egg slices, bread slices, two types of jams, eggs (cooked according to your preference), fruits, cereals and oatmeals plus juice, coffee or tea. 

  
You pay for your meals using the RFID on your wrist. Paying is very easy: the server will rally your meals on the hand held tablet with RFID capability; after the total amount to be paid is displayed, will you tap the RFID chip against the tablet where the cost of the  meal is immediately deducted and your remaining balance is displayed. 

   
 

As mentioned, you can also use the RFID when you pay for your drinks and bar chow at the rooftop bar. 

Ah – The Rooftop Bar which is already a legend in itself among Z Hostel fans. The Rooftop Bar, with its  laid back atmosphere and cheap drinks and chow is famous not only among guests but also among Makati’s gimmick crowd. 
   

Fellow travel junkies (L to R): KamikazeeGirl, Cao of Z Hostel, fellow bloggers Cindy and Rona and new friend and fellow back packer Rachelle of Australia


   
  

Z Hostel is the kind of place where travelers are encouraged to have fun and just relax, it encourages interaction and promotes nothing but cool vibes among its guests. Service is fast and friendly and each hotel staff seemed geared to provide customers with a nice and memorable stay. 

  
Find Z Hostel at 5660 Don Pedro Street, Makati City. They are also in Facebook: Z Hostel Philippines 

Standard
Manila!, Traveling on a Budget

Z Hostel: Stay here so you don’t have to rough it in Manila 

 I am currently spending the night here at Z Hostel, comfortably tucked inside Makati’s Poblacion district, a stones throw away from the Central Business District. 

   
I am staying in my capacity as a blogger, but as a budget traveler, this hostel has been in my radar since the first time I heard of it from blogger friends. The top marks in TripAdvisor and rave reviews doesn’t hurt either. 

I’ll be posting a more detailed post on my stay but already I am blown away by the chill laid back atmosphere – in fact, I am blogging this using my iPhone sprawled on the lobby couch along with other travelers. 

Laid back and chill = Z Hostel

This post will be all about the photos. I will be chilling in a while before I go back with the full post. 

 Meantime, here are some highlights: 

 
When you check in, you will be issued a key card (the flat, square thing) and an RFID card (the one lopped on the wrist). You can preload your RFID and use it to pay for your food at the cafe or your drinks at the rooftop bar. 

   
Paying what you eat is easy. You just place your RFID bracelet on the device. You can eat yo heart’s content without worrying on cash. 

Yum Tapa

 
  
After a hearty dinner, go up the rooftop bar and enjoy the clear Manila skies and the twinkling lights of Makati 

 

Or if you are a home girl like me who loves to chill while bundled in bed, you can always go to bed early – relax and melt the stress of going around by just laying on the thick bed, equipped with individual night lights and your own socket. 

    
  
 More on my Z Hostel adventure tomorrow. Right now, am gonna enjoy my bed. 

  
 

Standard
Manila!

Go Manila: Your Guide to the Urban Jungle that is Manila

Interested to visit the country’s capital but overwhelmed by the thought of navigating chaotic, crazy Manila?

Out of the country’s 7,100 islands and its many cities and municipalities spread out all through out the country, nothing evokes fear among tourists (and locals) alike than spending a day navigating through the many twists and turns of glorious Manila. From the narrow streets, one way thoroughfares and traffic gridlock, a day spent navigating the busy streets of Manila is not for the faint of heart.

10371940_645685018854591_1776305484889820044_n

(from the press release)

Envisioned for both local residents and tourists, Go Manila seeks to make life easy in an otherwise complicated Urban Jungle.

In a click of a button, you can have full access to real time Traffic Livestream, locate and contact Emergency Locations and Hotlines and discover the historic capital of the Philippines at the tip of your finger with easy access to popular tourist destinations, restaurants and nightspots.

Features :

  • TRAFFIC LIVESTREAM – Get instant and real time access to Manila’s major thoroughfares. Livestream will provide a link to the hundreds of high def CCTV’s installed in various parts of the Metro. Never get stuck in traffic again as these live feeds will provide you ample time to look for alternative route.
  • EMERGENCY LOCATIONS – No GPS and MAPS? No problem. Get the exact locations of Police Stations/Precincts, Hospitals/Clinics, Fire departments and other concerned agencies at the tip of your finger.
  • EMERGENCY HOTLINES – No need for complicated and outdated directories. One click and you get to access and call various police precincts, hospitals, fire departments and all other emergency/disaster related concerns.

It’s a virtual tourist guide and a handy companion for commuters and travelers alike. With Go Manila, everything comes easy!

This app is spearheaded by Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.

NOTE: All of the CCTV has a limit range only in the Philippines

Download This App Now!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=hs.app.gomanila

Like us on Facebook 
https://www.facebook.com/gomanila

Follow us on Twitter 
https://twitter.com/gomanilaph

Website
https://gomanila.ph

DISCLAIMER: KamikazeeGirl does not claim ownership of the facts and visuals presented on this post. For questions, please proceed to the Go!Manila website.

Standard
Manila!, Travel Tips

Love in the Time of No Pera (Or dating with barely a money in your pocket)

When the Hub and I were just dating both of us were just struggling fresh college grads that were either bumming around (him) or struggling to survive in their first writing job (me). Most of the time, we were broke and barely getting by. However, the strict (to non-existent) budget did not hamper us to spending a day together, discovering new sights and basically slowly getting to know each other’s quirks. The challenge then was to find ways to enjoys ourselves without putting more dent in our pockets.

For this post, I will teach you how to have a fun date with your loved one for less than PHP1,000 bucks. Let’s use the old City of Manila as our destination for this “cheapo date”.

Some more cheap ideas

Some more cheap ideas

I. Transportation
Don’t be afraid of taking the public transportation together.Who knows, it can strengthen your bond since if you are guy, you’ll have the opportunity to protect your girlfriend; and if you are a girl, you can show her that you’re not high maintenance and can kick it with him for spontaneous stuff.

When the hub and I started dating, we used to take public transpo all the time going to our Manila haunt. I would recommend though that you wear comfy clothes and footwear since you’ll be walking all the time. Don’t forget to bring a cap or a bandanna to shield yourself from the sun.

A budget of around P40 per person for a return trip from Makati to Manila is good already. Our first destination for the day is in Intramuros and its environs. To go to Intramuros from Makati (JP Rizal), take the jeepney headed for Taft Avenue (Jeepneys with “Bukid” or “L Guinto” on the signboard all end up in Taft). Fare is about PHP8.50. At Taft Avenue, ride the jeep marked “City Hall”, “SM Manila”, “Divisoria” or “Quiapo” — all of these are passing by Intramuros.

credit goes to owner

credit goes to owner

You will alight at the jeepney stop in front of the Manila City Hall. Take the underpass going to Intramuros and walk straight to the entrance along Victoria Street.

credit to owner

credit to owner

II. A little bit of history and sightseeing
While in Intramuros, you can spend time looking at the ruins of the former walled city. There’s a lot to be learned about the cracked nooks and crannies of the former glorious Walled City. Intramuros (or “Within the Walls”) was the former capital and Seat of Power of the City of Manila during the Spanish Empire. If your other half is a history buff (like me!) they’ll get a kick out of reading the many plaques scattered along the walls telling the story behind the now-crumbling walls. For those who always slept during history class, the walls served as an amazing background to your selfies and “emo” shots which–of course–would look great in your Facebook walls.

From Muralla Street, walk left going to General Luna Street pass the Manila Bulletin building and the Department of Labor building; turn right to General Luna and you will be on your way to San Agustin Church and the San Agustin Church Museum.

The San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is now considered as a National Historical Landmark. (SOURCE)

credit to owner

credit to owner

Inside, take time to say your prayers and be amazed at the unique Baroque architecture of the church. While you’re at it, try searching for the resting place of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish navigator who founded the City of Cebu and was named the first Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies (which includes the Philippines, Guam and Marianas Islands). When Lopez de Legazpi died of heart failure in Manila in 1572, he was laid to rest inside the church.

But the best part is yet to come. Inside the San Agustin Church complex is the San Agustin Museum which shouldn’t be missed. Entrance fee is PHP100 per person but I guarantee you that it will be worth it. The opportunity to see artifacts and collections from hundreds of years ago. There is no time limit and you can take as long as you like admiring paintings, scupltures and the architecture of the church. Who knows, you might have a newly-found appreciation to our history. Flash photography is not allowed on the upper floors.

The hub and I went here a few years before, out on a whim. While the tall religious structures terrified me at first, there is a surreal feeling of walking along these century-old halls. You can’t help but wonder if you’ll be passing by Jose Rizal as he ponders the fate of the nation in the church’s many halls — for the record, if that happens, you have the option of running away, fast.

Let’s say you started the date at 9AM, by this time — you’ll be starving. If you’ll walk further along General Luna, you will find the Manila Cathedral and in front of it are the many fast food restaurants where you can have your lunch. But if you want to stay classy (you are on a date, after all) you can also try Ristorante Delle Mitre which is owned by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and is directly in front of the Manila Cathedral. Their rice toppings go for PHP118 per order while there are other more expensive items on the menu. There are also pastries, coffee, iced tea being offered so it all depends on your budget. (Their Facebook page here)

By the time you finish lunch, it’ll be mid noon and the sun will be shining at its brightest. You can head out and trace your steps going back to Muralla and then to City Hall and then to the airconed confines of SM Manila if you like. By then, you would have spent about PHP600 for the museum tour and the lunch, plus enough for round trip fares. You can either pass time window shopping or at the game arcade located at the mall’s 5th floor.

Or if you want from San Agustin Church you can ride the jeep going to Rizal Park where you can pass time on the park’s many gardens. Entrance for the Japanese Garden is very minimal and the strong shade of many trees can protect you from the stifling heat.

The point of this post is that if we want to spend time with our loved ones, money shouldn’t really be a concern. There are a lot of free attractions within the city and everything is pretty much accessible–horrendous traffic be damned. What’s important is we discover new things and share new experiences together. After all, that’s the point of being in a relationship?


PS: I will try to look for our old photos inside the San Agustin Museum and update this post with the pics. It’s been a long time that I am now tempted to return to San Augustin and make new memories.

Standard
Manila!, Philippines, Travel News

Thrills, deals and a whole lot more at PTAA’s Travel Tour Expo 2013

For the second year in a row, I never failed to visit the staging of PTAA’s Travel Tour Expo, held from February 15 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center at the MOA Grounds in Pasay City.

While all my trips are D-I-Y and would prefer it to stay that way, the numerous promos and gimmicks offered by participants (airline copanies, embassies, travel offices of many countries and of course, travel agencies.)

I went during the 2nd day of the 3-day exhibit. It was 1PM and the exhibition wall was packed to the rafters, people were streaming endlessly – booking land tours (saw one going for just USD92 for a 3-day, 2-night land arrangement package), queuing for plane tickets (CebPac has the longest lines) and participating on some of the games and promotional activities offered by booths.

My cousin and I zeroed in immediately on the booth by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to get free HK maps and a pamphlets describing attractions, which will come handy when they visit this March. We also asked around for suitable land arrangements which they can use (they already have tickets), but truth be told — all arrangements seemed restrictive and not as cheap when you consider all the expenses in one go. Anyway, they came back again for the third day and decided to forego buying a land arrangement and ended with discounted Disney tickets instead.

While studying some of the brochures I got, I noticed an advert for a Tokyo trip going for almost USD1,000 – I keep thinking that maybe I should use that as a parameter on how much I should save if I really intend to go to Tokyo before my 35th birthday.

Here are some of the pictures:

?????????????????????

...indeed!!!

…indeed!!!

Big Bang premium item displayed at the Jeju Air Booth (selling USD888 for a 4 day, 3 night tour)

Big Bang premium item displayed at the Jeju Air Booth (selling USD888 for a 4 day, 3 night tour)

?????????????????????

The Japan Booth is swamped with people

The Japan Booth is swamped with people

obviously -- happy and excited!

obviously — happy and excited!

performers from Malaysia

performers from Malaysia

got a copy of maps and travel guides (SK, BKK, TPE, MNL)

got a copy of maps and travel guides (SK, BKK, TPE, MNL)

I’ll definitely attend the next one next year. Who knows, I might attend this time with Japan travel in mind and not just to get ideas on how much it will cost to go from point A to B.

Standard
Manila!

Celebrating the Year of the Water Snake at Manila Chinatown

As the Filipino-Chinese community marked the beginning of the Year of the Water Snake, I dragged the unsuspecting (and long-suffering) Hubby to a visit to Manila Chinatown, said to be the oldest Chinese community in the world today.

I have always been fascinated how our Fil-Chi’s celebrate the beginning of the New Year, awed by the dazzling colors of dragon dance, the amazing display of fireworks and the steep tradition and beliefs that come with it.

In our home, an abode of wide-eyed individuals with nary a drop of Chinese blood, Chinese New Year is always observed. We bought long-life noodles, completed our round fruits, bought sticky sweets and mum hung various lucky charms around the house. When midnight struck, we went out the house and watched our Chinese neighbors lighting up the sky with their colorful fireworks.

?????????????????????

Come Sunday morning, I dragged the Hubby to ChinaTown, known locally as Binondo. As expected, the streets were filled with people–locals and foreigners alike–who was there to catch the dragon dance, buy rice cakes and hopia from well-known Chinese deli shops and eat at the many restaurants dotting the area.

The Binondo Church dedicated to the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who is of Chinese descent

The Binondo Church dedicated to the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who is of Chinese descent

this street leads to the thick of the celebrations

this street leads to the thick of the celebrations

Lucky charms sold for PHP20 each

Lucky charms sold for PHP20 each

old school signage

old school signage

And then, I finally saw it – from afar, there was a burst of color, of gold silk swaying up and down to the beat. Meanwhile, a crowd has already gathered around it, touching the long “body” as the dragon moved, chasing the ball in the air.

?????????????????????

?????????????????????

Go Xing Fa Cai!

Go Xing Fa Cai!

After extracting myself from the thick crowd, I made a detour to Bindondo Church and uttered my constant prayer. It was simply astounding: the pageantry happening outside the church gates and then the serenity inside the church as the faithful lighted candles, held on to statues and prayed, waiting for mass to begin.

?????????????????????

?????????????????????

The “field trip” ended in a dingy restaurant — the curtains faded and the table cloth patterned with round marks where the sauce bottles were once placed. As we sat, the waitress haphazardly plopped down the menu and left without a word. Service was intermittent and don’t expect your orders to arrive in one go, yet we had some of the best Chinese food in the metro.

We left with round tummies, vowing to do another field trip in this part of town.

Standard
Manila!

An awesome trip to the (Mind) Museum!

(NOTE: FIRST POSTED IN “THE ADVENTURES OF KAMIKAZEEGIRL”)

I love museums. Being the history buff that I am, there’s something about museums that I find blatantly creepy yet oddly comforting. I don’t know about you but I love the sweet smell of old clothes slowly disintegrating through time, the aged books and the little manuscripts bearing a past hero’s secret.

That is why history museums bring an old nostalgia each time I step foot, anywhere they may be. Sadly in Manila, there’s only a few historical museums and I pretty much seen almost all of them during elementary field trips.

Imagine my excitement when I started planning our activities for the media event (which turned out to be successful yet proved to be exhausting) and found out that we will be going to the newly-opened The Mind Museum, located in Burgos Circle Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, a nice developing commercial area a few minutes away from Makati City, the country’s business district.

The Mind Museum, is the first science museum of its scale and scope currently in the Philippines. With displays that entice students to learn on their own and through active questioning on the roving “mind movers” — the Mind Museum allows kids to play and learn from the impressive displays in the area. Currently, the museum accepts limited people in every three-hour time block, from 9AM to 12NN, 12NN to 3PM and 3PM to 6PM.

After reading some of the blogs about The Mind Museum, my attention definitely zeroed in on one distinct display:

Say hello to my new friend, Rexy!

I love dinosaurs! Being a history buff — it also follows that I am crazy about geology and paleontology. As long as it is featured on The History Channel and The National Geographic, you can be sure that I am also extremely interested.

Too small, in the grand scheme of things

Comparing both my shoe sizes against a single T-Rex footprint gave me an epiphany. (Yes, I find meaning during random times of the day): Sometimes, I worry too much about the little things. But when you actually look at it on a bigger perspective…my worries are too minuscule compared to the worries of the world. In this great universe, I am nothing but a speck of dust. Now, I am thinking of printing above photo and hanging it somewhere in my office cube so that I’ll always be reminded not to worry too much on small things.

Say hello to the crew!

This display, showing prehistoric men, is one of the interesting ones on its side of the museum. However, I was also freaked out taking this picture because of one thing:

Can you spell creepy?

Maybe I watched too many “Shutter” (Ananda Everingham!!!) reruns but I kept thinking that this lady will slowly turn its head to look directly at the lens while I was shooting her pictures. It didn’t help that we chose the last time block and were the only guys inside the museum by closing time. Anyway, after taking this picture, I immediately went over to the next gallery. Classic wuss, I know.

this looks like a cute and unique name for a blog

After looking at the third species of insect, I’ve began to lose interest. Maybe because science was never my strong subject even while I was studying and I was failing miserably in Chemistry. Finally, after another quick tour of the second floor, I called it quits and decided to just sit near the museum entrance to wait for my companions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen kids inside the museum and they were ecstatic, and simply loved everything they could get their hands into. Kids will love the interactive games and even the 4D film showing detailing the history of civilization.

The Mind Museum is not just a place to keep the kids entertained. It’s also an opportunity to teach kids that well, learning can also be fun.

The Mind Museum
www.themindmuseum.org
Entrance: PHP600 for adults; PHP450 for kids; PHP150 for public elementary school students

Standard