Travel Diaries, Uncategorized

The best sneakers will take you places

I love shoes. No – the better¬†term would be, “I am crazy for shoes.”

I am the type of girl who can go on without gems or precious stones but I can never survive without a good shoe on my feet. On my social media accounts, I am the girl who post photos like these:

As you can see, I have a type when it comes to the shoes I wear: I love brogues and oxfords; and would favor¬†flat ones as opposed to heels (because I am a klutzo). I¬†don’t own any corporate shoes (i.e. the type best worn in the office) and would instead insist on wearing what I want¬†(regardless of the look – please note the gold beauties shown above¬†from Zalora) when I want it.

I am also a bit OC where I shop when it comes to footwear: it’s usually at H&M,¬†The Ramp or Forever 21; online — I am a disciple of Zalora and Lazada — but more of Zalora because they have really cool brogues in stock. I seldom buy shoes in any specialty shop or boutique unless I really have to.

My relationship with my shoes is best defined by one of my favorite sayings:¬†“The best¬†shoes will take you to the best places” (This is a line which I first heard while watching “Meteor Garden” — yes, the one with Dao Ming Zi and¬†¬†Shan Cai — and it stuck ever since) and I would like to believe it’s true.

Some of my best projects at work¬†was¬†effortlessly achieved while wearing some of my most wicked footwear.¬†Somehow,¬†knowing that I am wearing¬†any of my so-called “f*ck ’em” shoes gave me the¬†needed boost of confidence.¬†Unsurprisingly, the¬†best footwear was also with me¬†whenever I¬†travel to new places and discover new sights:

 

Unfortunately, the one time I tried to bring one of my prized Oxfords while on travel Рit ended in disaster.

waiting for the plane

My silver¬†Oxfords promptly disintegrated after I have used it going around Taipei last November, shredding also my feet to pieces in the process. What I need¬†actually, more than boots because it won’t be raining or snowing every time I travel, are good¬†sneakers that can take me places without compromising on style.

While visiting Seoul¬†two years ago, I became fixated on getting¬†New Balance shoes – preferably one¬†that is color Pink with¬†a lime¬†green “N” emblazoned on it. Blame it on seeing South Korean millennials–particularly¬†couples–wearing it just about any where. I see it in the train, at temples, while at castles and¬†most especially in the airport.¬†The men¬†usually¬†pair theirs with ankle-length pants, cardigan over button-down polos with a soft blazer completing the look ¬†while girls looked so cute wearing the adorable trainers¬†with their dresses, coat and black leggings or stockings.

A quick trip to ZALORA confirmed my suspicion that they have the best sneakers brands like New Balance available online. I immediately zeroed in on this pair:

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It’s so pretty¬†and stylish while looking undoubtedly comfortable¬†enough for long trips and¬†just walking around the city. I am actually considering getting one in time for my planned birthday¬†sojourn to Lego Land.

What¬†drew my attention to New Balance is the¬†ability to mix form and function,¬†producing¬†comfortable¬†pairs without sacrificing the pair. The price points are not prohibitive too — like the¬†pair above which retails for PHP2,995 only. It’s a great buy and a good investment¬†— especially if you are a traveler that loves to roam¬†around. Believe me, your feet will thank you.

 

 

 

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Change of Plans: Hello again, Taipei!

As mentioned, the Hubs and I were supposed to go to Osaka for February — but after assessing¬†his chances of getting a visa (Hubs work freelance), I decided that a better option is for him to get some stamps of his new¬†passport first before trying out¬†his luck in getting a Japanese visa. Since his old passport and his old travel stamps are not attached to the new one, I find it¬†more strategic¬†if he¬†can show his frequency of travel as support to¬†the Osaka trip.

Unlike me who can’t stay still in a year without going somewhere, the Hubs is contented staying in our room playing his RPG games and tabletop gaming pieces. So, when I suggested Taipei — I easily got his approval due to “one thing”

Confirmed!

Confirmed!

gw-rules-banner

…apparently,¬†the Warhammer fandom is alive and well in the city of Taipei.¬†In fact, the moment I confirmed our flight booking,¬†he has already managed to find and¬†communicate with one of the¬†gaming stores selling Warhammer merchandise.

You see, there is a way to getting my significant other to travel with me — and that is (bless him) through his hardcore nerd heart ūüôā

I have been to Taipei once in 2013 and is still raring to go back. Read some of my posts about Taipei here. There are still a lot of places that I have yet to see. Here’s my must-visit/must do places for November 2015.

Go on a morning hike at Elephant Mountain and see Taipei in all of its glory.

The view atop Elephant Mountain (photo not my property)

The view atop Elephant Mountain (photo not my property)

This view is really breath-taking. I am just looking at a photo but the vantage point is just so beautiful. Though the Hubs does not like hiking, he is always up to new¬†adventures. Anyway, I still have three months to convince him to don his hiking shoes and go up the mountains with me. It’ll be worth it.

Beitou (photo credit to owner)

Beitou (photo credit to owner)

Enjoy Beitou. I managed to squeeze in some time to go to Beitou the first time I was in Taiwan — however, my sister and I arrived too late and the paths leading to the hot springs were already closed. In my mind, I am already convinced to do this first thing in the morning and reserve the afternoon to another destination that I also have yet to see. The Hubs said that¬†he doesn’t like to spend the time but is¬†more than game to going around the sights with me.

The Tamsui Lovers Bridge (photo credit to owner)

The Tamsui Lovers Bridge (photo credit to owner)

Here’s another place that I didn’t get to enjoy since we were like contestants with the amazing race and just kept on running from once place to another during our 2013 visit. Good thing the¬†Hubs a more leisurely¬†pace traveling and is all about chilling and enjoying the moment.

The trip will also serve as an early wedding anniversary celebration for the Hubs and myself.¬†The trip is my way of¬†giving back to him for all the times he¬†has been a good sport and tolerated having a wife who can’t keep still. It’s also my way of making amends for the times I always left him whenever I leave to go somewhere.

One of the things we promised to each other this year is that we will work on experiencing new things together. The trip to Taipei is exactly just like that.

As always, mad researching commences again — from visa applications to new sights to see. Watch this space for new developments!

PS: Beautiful Taipei! I can’t wait to see you again!

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(Review) 2D1N in Casa Minerva Tagaytay – A dated but quiet vacation home in busy Tagaytay

For seven years now, me and my friends usually hie away to some quiet place to indulge in a bit of RnR and to bond — especially now that some of us are already working in other companies. Being the appointed “travel junkie” in the group, I was assigned to look for places to spend the usual 2D1N quick sojourn. The requirements were simple: near enough to Manila that we won’t spend much of the morning traveling; pool water must be cold (and not hot because the guys is fed up with the hot pool of past overnights); affordable and the place, while not grandiose, must be presentable and comfortable.

We actually looked for other places located in Laguna (water is too hot); Rizal (too near Manila) and Tagaytay until finally settling in to Casa Minerva after we saw in their website (http://www.tagaytayhouse4rent.com) that the place offers free WIFI. Yes, the promise that we won’t be cut off from the outside world sealed the decision.

Casa Minerva "Infinity Pool"

Casa Minerva “Infinity Pool”

Location
Casa Minerva is located at D. Cruzado Senior Extension Road, Barangay Guinhawa South, Tagaytay City.¬†It’s near Soto Grande and is located in the same lonely stretch of road as the Puzzle Mansion.

A bit of a trivia first, that particular stretch of road and area has been very uncomfortably familiar to¬†me and my group of friends since we have already stayed in one of the rest houses located in the area. Aside from the fact that the¬†vacation house we stayed in almost three¬†years ago was very old, we also had a lot of “interesting experience of the supernatural kind” during our stay. Hence, imagine our panic and our very nervous laughter when we found ourselves taking the very same route while looking for Casa Minerva. We had the¬†(almost comedic)¬†experience of getting lost on the lonely stretch of narrow road and¬†getting stuck on mud¬†in front of the same¬†legendary house with its familiar white gate. After one final push, we took a U-turn and found Casa Minerva a few blocks away from where we were.

Reserving a room 
Reserving a night’s stay in Casa Minerva is very easy and straight forward. You can either send them a message via their Facebook page¬†or contact them¬†via the contact details indicated in their website. Response is¬†fast, easy and professional. You will be instructed to deposit 50% of the total rate to their BDO account and send a copy of the deposit slip to their personal email address. Your reservation will be reflected on their website (under “Availability”) and also announced as status on their FB page. You will be sent a copy of the confirmation and booking form which you have to fill out and sent back to them.

Note:¬†Aside from the price of the stay, which is PHP12,500 (overnight is considered 2PM (check in) to 12NN (checkout)), you will be asked to pay for a PHP2,000 security deposit upon arrival. Should you also opt to check in¬†early, you will also be asked to pay PHP500/hour, depending on the availability of the¬†property. Your security deposit will be¬†returned to you¬†during your check out as soon as the property has been checked by Michael, the caretaker. This¬†doesn’t take too long.¬†

The property
We arrived at 12NN sharp and quickly inspected the property, carefully assigning rooms to our friends, some of which are still on their way.

Impressive and cosy living room on the 2nd floor

Impressive and cosy living room on the 2nd floor

Sitting area outside the living room

Sitting area outside the living room

Kitchen is efficient and complete with furniture and utensils -- but needs updating. Some cupboard are already dusty and needs a good cleaning

Kitchen is efficient and complete with furniture and utensils — but needs updating. Some cupboard are already dusty and needs a good
cleaning

ūüôā Thumbs-Up!
1. Kitchen  Рis well stocked and very efficient and has its own microwave, water heater, pots and pans and plates which can be used generously provided it will be cleaned afterwards. I have some recommendations below (under thumbs down).
2. Rooms are well appointed and clean. Aircon is very strong and in fact, room can get very cold at night. There’s an abundance of pillows and mattresses which can be used for the guests’ convenience.
3. Living room is very cosy and coaches are very comfortable. We loved this area of the resort.
4. Pool – Water temperature is cold (considering its Tagaytay), but pool is a bit shallow for our taste.
5. Restrooms – There are four rest rooms in the resort. The rest rooms are roomy and there’s always a covered shower area within the room. My only concern is that there are no rugs inside the restrooms so, it can get very slippery and muddy after too many people have taken a bath. Water pressure is also not too strong.
6. Good brand of customer service from the caretaker, Michael. Very efficient and accommodating.

House Rules!

House Rules!

ūüė¶ Thumbs down (Areas for Improvement)

1. There are some areas of the house that needed a bit of a touch-up due to signs of wear and tear. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful property but some areas are already showing its age. Nothing a good coat of paint and a little bit of carpentry won’t solve, though. The house is already beautiful — it just needs to be maintained.
2. The website says there will be hygiene kits placed in the bedroom. We did not find anything though.
3. WIFI can be spotty sometimes. All of us can’t get decent signal during lunch but this improved greatly by dinner. After which, download time is very fast.
4. I really wish we don’t have to pay PHP1 for a glass of water. I’ve been to many places and slept in a lot of guest houses and hostels, this is my first time to see a water dispenser with a coin slot.
5. Cell signal can be spotty at times — non-existent is you’re downstairs, wonky if you’re on the second floor. Not Casa Minerva’s fault, though. We should blame the telcos.

Would I recommend Casa Minerva to others?
Of course. It’s a nice place, right smack in a quiet neighborhood. However, rest houses are a dime-a-dozen in busy Tagaytay, so you might be able to find a better place, according to your liking. But if you want a place where you can bond with your family, friends or officemates without spending too much, Casa Minerva is for you.

Casa Minerva details:
D. Cruzado Senior Extension Road, Barangay Guinhawa South, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Philippines.  Inquiries? Call +63917-8450523, +63917-5845211 or  +63932-8800676.  Or send email to admin@tagaytayhouse4rent.com.

Disclaimer:
This is not a paid post. Me and my group of friends paid for our stay. This post is written with my own biases and opinion.

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Arigato! Mr. Roboto!

I hesitated writing about my impending Japan trip since I haven’t got a Visa secured yet.

Finally, I can say (out loud and in confidence) that I will be spending my birthday in Tokyo. I can’t believe that something I’ve been dreaming of since I was 18 will now be a reality. In less than three weeks, I will finally see the country that I have loved since I was a teenager: the land of Voltes V, Arashi, manga, harajuku, sushi, Fuji-san and of panty-vending machines!
Even now, a day after I have gotten the visa, I am still smiling.

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If you are from the Philippines, you will understand how hard it is to get a visa to amazing places like Japan, South Korea, Europe and even the US. I don’t blame the government of these countries for enacting strict visa rules. Unfortunately, there were some Filipinos who took advantage of the la visa system before and never returned to our country after their tour or trip abroad, choosing instead to seek employment there. What others see as a desperate chance to change their lives also spelled strict visa laws for us who want to just travel and explore the place.
I myself, am not rich — in fact, the lengths I went through just for this chance and opportunity is one for the books. Something I plan to share with everyone in another post just to prove that anyone can get a Japan visa as long as they follow the rules to a T. I have a lot of people to thank — for guiding me and accommodating me during the times when I was a wreck and trying to arrange my docs and finances.
Thank you for helping a young girl’s fondest wish came true.

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