Travel Diaries

Hi! I’m Your Wandering Girl

Let me reintroduce myself. This blog used to be called “The Places You Will Go”, yes — after that famous children’s book. It was a nice name, nostalgic and easy to recall…but definitely not unique. And definitely doesn’t give you an idea of who I am and why I am here.

Well, my first ever blog post for this site briefly explained why I am starting the blog. See it here. But here’s a summary: I am in love with going to different places and will not hesitate to find ways to go on a trip — in spite my meager budget. You see, in spite of my fondest dream of leaving everything and seeing the world on a whim, I don’t exactly have the money of a Hilton or a Vanderbilt. At best, I have a bank account where I keep all money for travel. I balance my bank account according to three items: every day expenses, emergency and savings fund and my travel fund.

This is the same reason why I decided to rename this blog, who has enjoyed your generosity for quite a while now. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on travel. I know that I have been too quiet for a long time–I can assure you, my fellow travel fiends, that each and every time was spent plotting various forms of escape from our mundane day-to-day life.

Still cheaply, and with less expenses as possible, of course. Show me the way to the free attraction and I will gladly try it out for you.

Hopefully, I will get to have more opportunities to travel or in Filipino street slang language, “Lakwatsa” this year. I have come to realize that I have spent much of my time plotting my trips on foreign countries, but less on local destinations. I wish to correct this oversight. You see, the Philippines have a lot of great places to offer. Though in all honesty, I can flat out tell you that the rest of Manila is a jungle. Please, get out of the capital and see the rest of our country if you can. It is marvelous, I promise you. Yes, not only the usual haunts like Boracay, Puerto Princesa or Cebu City. Discover unknown places like the nice beaches of Coron in Palawan, the Bantayan Island in Northern Cebu and the off the beaten track that is abundant in any of our 7,100 islands. You will find something you will truly enjoy, I assure you.

So, yes — nice meeting you again. Here’s wishing for more miles covered, for you and for me.

WANDERING GIRL

July 2007, on board a Sentosa Bus, Singapore

July 2007, on board a Sentosa Bus, Singapore

July 2008 -- With my baby brother and my baby sister, at Hong Kong Disneyland

July 2008 — With my baby brother and my baby sister, at Hong Kong Disneyland

January 2010. A belated honeymoon and first anniversary trip with the Hubby. At the steps of Hong Kong Museum of Modern Art, TST.

January 2010. A belated honeymoon and first anniversary trip with the Hubby. At the steps of Hong Kong Museum of Modern Art, TST.

July 2011... with the siblings and Hubby at the boardwalk going to Sentosa, Singapore

July 2011… with the siblings and Hubby at the boardwalk going to Sentosa, Singapore

March 2012 - In front of the Main Train Station. Busan, South Korea

March 2012 – In front of the Main Train Station. Busan, South Korea

March 2012 - Walking the winding path going to the N Seoul Tower. Mt. Namsan, Seoul, South Korea.

March 2012 – Walking the winding path going to the N Seoul Tower. Mt. Namsan, Seoul, South Korea.

October 2012 - Celebrating mum's birthday in Hong Kong

October 2012 – Celebrating mum’s birthday in Hong Kong

March 2013. Buying tickets for two to the Observation Deck, Taipei 101. Taipei, Taiwan

March 2013. Buying tickets for two to the Observation Deck, Taipei 101. Taipei, Taiwan

September 2013. Wandering through Gardens by the Bay and back in Singapore.

September 2013. Wandering through Gardens by the Bay and back in Singapore.

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Travel Diaries

How to build your own travel fund.

Now that the last traces of that amazing Hong Kong family weekend trip (read: the pictures have been posted, the story told countless times over; the remnants of the last pasalubong from KeeWah Bakery has been unwrapped and consumed) has finally faded, I go back again to a normal day where the most fun I had is the part where I plug this hideous speakers to my office PC and blast KPOP music to the whole office, much to the chagrin of the people on the cubicle next to mine.

This early, I wanted to book tickets to Taipei or go back to Seoul or finally push for that long dreamed about Japan sojourn.

Houston, we have a problem. My wallet is now empty and so is my bank account.

picture not my property

But travel we must.

I resolved to open a bank account just for traveling only. Something that I don’t have have to access for emergencies (like buying killer heels in the face of an important job interview), but something separate from OUR savings account intended for grown up stuff like bills, hospitalizations, unemployment and the quest for world peace.

Determined to build my travel nest egg, I started searching for net for some tips. While a lot of websites have been very helpful, I pretty much summarized the points here:

1. Identify where you’re going. Do your research The cost of airfare, lodging and general expense differ per country. By having an idea where you want to go, you get a basic idea how much you should save up for it and for how long. For example, I know that choosing KL, Malaysia will set me back around PHP40,000.00 inclusive of airfare and lodging — this is an easy feat if I want to save that amount. Opting to go to Japan is a different story altogether. Aside from expensive plan fares, I also have to think about visa application where a good, solid savings account is included as one of the requirements.

Having a time schedule or a chart showing the progress you’ve made will help too. You will be able to easily track the flow of money and see if you’re making progress against your goal.

2. Learn to give up your wants.And instead focus on your needs. Having a tall cup of frappucino daily is not a need. It’s a want. Imagine this, by giving up your designer coffee (PHP135.00 for tall cup x 30 days in a month), that’s PHP4,000 plus pesos savings in a month! You also don’t need to buy two colors of the same design. The usual “frazzled-stressed-day binge shopping?” — say goodbye to those. If you are annoyed, stay away from the malls or you’ll end buying stuff you’ll regret later. Buy what you need, not what’s cute. (<– I hope I'll be able to stay true to this!) Think of it this way, the money heading to this will go directly to your travel pot.

3. Lessen dining out Just because you’re saving and building your travel nest egg does not mean you’ll forever be consigned to brown bag lunches and Tuppeware’d bento boxes. Learn when to eat it and when to stay at the cubicle. The day after salary or when celebrating a special occasion is fine. Eating out or ordering in everyday is not.

4. If you can, find a way to earn extra. Money you earn from your part-time job, freelance work or consultancy job can always be split into three: travel fund, savings fund and spending money. This way, not only did you earn from part-time gigs but these jobs also contributed to both your savings and travel fund.

5. Learn to say “no” – you don’t have to be the girl who always says “yes” to everything: hanging out in a bar, shopping spree with friends, watching movies you don’t really like. You can choose the social activities where you’ll make an appearance and skip those that will either bore you or drive you comatose. Your friends will not abandon you just because you didn’t RSVP’d on their movie invite.

If you think that these advises are a bit too common, note that these are the things that I plan on doing myself. I already made a mock-up note in excel for the proposed Taipei or South Korean map and plans on starting my save up plan as early as today.

And oh, a word of caution. Please don not borrow money just for the purpose of traveling. Travel only when able, otherwise…there’s always Google Maps to temporary satiate your traveling woes.

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Hong Kong

Disneyland: Bringing out the child in all of us

For me, a trip to Hong Kong won’t be complete without visiting Hong Kong Disneyland. While I have been to Hong Kong thrice already, I still choose to go to Disneyland over Ocean Park all the time. I know I maybe missing out by insisting on going to Disneyland all the time but hey, the little kid in me is quite loyal to the Kingdom of the Mouse.

Entrance to a Magical Place

Of course, playtime in paradise does not mean that there won’t be small things that threaten to put a damp on your happy camper kiddie mode. Here are some of my tips to maximize your stay at Hong Kong Disneyland!

1. Buy your tickets ahead – there are many ways to secure your Disney tickets ahead of time. You can buy online through the Disney website, buy through recommended travel websites like AsiaTravel.com or choose to purchase your ticket through your hotel or guesthouses. During our planning, I insisted on buying our tickets ahead of time and even asked the guesthouse if they were selling Disney tickets.

Some of our Disney tickets bought ahead at City Econo Guesthouse

Think of the long line you will have to weather if you ended up buying your ticket while on site. Good thing if it’s a slow day, but who can tell? Especially on the number of tourist groups and school field trips usually scheduled within the day. Buying it ahead saves you time — time which can be sent lining up on attraction. Plus, if you are lucky, buying your tickets ahead can save you money. In our case, we were able to get our tickets for just HKD380 (original rates at HKD399). I might be just HKD19 saved, but it’s money that can be used if you want to eat or buy something inside the park later.

2. Get to the park early and leave late (or at least, after the fireworks show) – When we first visited Disney, we arrived at noon and ended up missing a lot of the park’s attractions. The long line in all of the rides and shows didn’t help either. This time, with mom and dad in tow, we arrived at the park at 10AM just in time for the park opening. And since we have our tickets ahead, we strolled immediately to the entrance and started lining up for attractions and photo opportunities with the Disney characters.

3. Never miss the fireworks show – For me, the Disney Fireworks Show at the end of the long day (usually happening at 8PM or 9PM – check your schedules) is one of the highlights of the whole visit. When I first watched it four years ago, I was crying by the time the final strains of “A Whole New World” faded. Well, guess who cried when she saw it again three weeks ago? Yep, crybabies represent! Aladdin was my favorite Disney cartoon growing up and somehow, the familiar strains never failed transport back in sixth grade where I always wanted to grow up like Jasmine and marry a guy who will invite me on “a magic carpet ride, and show me the world — yes, shining, shimmering, splendid of course!”

The magical castle, in all its glory

4. Get your Park Map and schedules – Usually located by the entrance and at the City Hall, the maps will help you plot your way around the park, while maximizing your time in order to see the rides an attractions of your choice. The schedule meanwhile indicates the time where the characters usually appear for photo op, as well as the show schedules. For me, one of the biggest time eaters is the photo op with characters, lining up usually takes a lot of time especially if we are talking about Mickey and Minnie Mouse here. Knowing when and where they appear saves you the time and energy of lining up.

TIP: Mickey and Minnie Mouse is usually found on the first gazebo that you will see upon entering the park.

5. FASTPASS – know it and use it to your advantage – Fast passes are tickets that will allow you to jump a line at a specific time period. They are usually found on attractions that has a lot of crowd and lining up usually takes 30-45 minutes, like the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. You can only use your Fast pass one at a time. To do so, you have to insert your ticket on a special fast pass machine which will print out your fast pass. You can only use your fast pass at the specified time period. The Disney Cast Member will advice you when to come back. In the meantime, you can see other shows and enjoy other attractions.

6. Try Dining in, even just once – I will not sugar coat it. For a budget traveler, everything inside Disneyland is EXPENSIVE. Mineral waters sell for like HKD20 while soda goes for HKD25. Bringing in of food is also prohibited except for snacks like a chocolate bar, candies or biscuits. If you are on a budget and keeping rehydrated is important to you, you can also bring in your mineral water bought outside and refill it in any of the refilling stations inside the park. (TIP: Water refilling stations are usually near the comfort room. Whenever there’s a comfort room, you can pretty much bet there’s a water fountain nearby.)

curry rice for only HKD46.

But even if you are on a tight budget, I would recommend to at least try one of the many dishes sold inside the park. We chose one of the food houses nearest Space Mountain and the food was to-die-for! Plus, at HKD46 per serving, it’s not as expensive compared to the other food choices inside the park. The servings are also huge! Will pretty much fill you up until late dinner where you have the option to splurge (read: eat at restos) or eat a light snack at the bakery over at Main Street and have a late dinner when you got home.

7. Patience at all times! – respect other people’s cultures and as much as possible try to be polite and patient, even if you think some people are rude. Nothing ruins the “magical vibe” more than a silly spat over standing in line!

8. Slather on SPF or bring an umbrella, especially if you are coming on a very hot day – It can be quite hot, especially when you are sitting on one of the curbs at Main Street waiting for the Afternoon Parade to start. Slather on SPF or bring an umbrella to avoid burning to a crisp. The parade can be quite long, and there are times when the giant floats stop moving to wait for the tail end to catch up. Skin cancer is not okay!

These balloons are pretty! They also sell for HKD150 each.

Mr. Donald Duck

9. Remember that you don’t have to see all the attractions and the show. Choose only what you like! – Life is too short to spend wallowing on rides that bore you to death (I am talking about you, Slinky Dog!), no one will judge you if you insist on riding the Racer or Space Mountain four times! Remember, you are a kid — you play where you want to play! If you are in a group, you can agree to check out the rides you want and just meet up after a while on a designated spot. This works well of course, if you’re mobile phone is on roaming.

10. Don’t be a killjoy. It’s okay to be a kid, even for just one last time – No one’s gonna judge you if you happen to morph back into your ten year old self the moment you see Mickey or Minnie or Donald. Relive your childhood by enjoying the rides, eating the junk foods, gushing over Minnie’s dress and telling Mickey you love him! Ride the carousel if you want or sing along to the theme of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Golden Mickey if you wish. Believe and be swept away by the magic of 3D at Mickey’s Philharmagic Orchestra.

Lastly, if you feel like crying once the fireworks start dazzling the sky and the familiar refrains make your heart beat faster then ever, do it. Childhood is a wonderful thing where our worries are only limited according to our imagination.

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Hong Kong, Travel Diaries

Enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Hong Kong for PHP15,000

In one of my earlier posts about the Le Trip to HK with the Fam, I mentioned that I will include in this blog a breakdown of our expenses while in Hong Kong. I also posted a challenge to myself to keep the expenses down to Fifteen thousand pesos, inclusive of hotel and airfare (if possible).

There is a reason for this post. I have always been hounded by friends and colleagues that I seem to have the bank account of a Hilton due to my endless meanderings. Truth be told, I have zero savings following the trip to Seoul in March and I even wonder on my capability to go out of the country in spite a very limited budget. I always tell myself this is because of my ability to find cheap deals and even wrote about how to spend cheap and still get to see new places.

As a supplement to this piece, here’s the breakdown of our total expenses while in Hong Kong:

The total of our expenses in HK

Well, we pretty much kept the budget below PHP15,000.00 for the whole trip inclusive of lodging, meal for three days and entrance to some attractions. We also included the budget for groceries for late night snacks and the Octopus Card loaded for HKD150 on our first day and topped up with HKD30 on our third day.

We booked our tickets three months ahead via Cebu Pacific and was able to secure round trip tickets for six for just PHP24,000 or PHP4,000 per head, round trip. I don’t know if any of you had problems booking with Cebu Pacific using their online booking system, but we had to try a lot of times before we even get through the first step. Frustrated, we decided to call the Customer Service Hotline where a very patient agent handled our booking.

A month and a half prior to trip, we booked our lodging through City Econo Guesthouse (see my review here) which I found after searching online. Since October has always been a “conference month” for Hong Kong, majority of the hostels and guesthouses I inquired in were all fully booked. City Econo Guesthouse is a highly recommended lodging at Pinoy Exchange and while reviews are pretty scant online, I decided to take a risk and reserved online. You will not be required a deposit, except the commitment to confirm your booking three days before the trip.

STAYING IN NATHAN ROAD

Nathan Road and me

I’ve always been curious about Nathan Road, that long stretch, starting from the boundary between Kowloon and HK Island and known for its numerous guest houses, hustlers, high end stores and malls as well as a melting pot of various nationalities. I have always been curious on the allure of its curious lights and the incessant noise, the buses careening through it. The aging buildings, housing a collection of guesthouses, girly bars, vegetarian restaurants and acupuncture clinics, had the beauty of decay and life mixed together. In spite the curiosity, I always chose to be on the safe side and booked a room somewhere in HK Island — first in Northpoint and the next, in Wanchai. But for this trip, I insisted on staying in Tsim Sha Tsui, right at the heart of Nathan Road. I figured the parents will love the bright lights and the endless stream of people. I, of course, was right. Upon waking up, mum and dad would walk the long stretch and go around the block, enjoying the locals and the thrill of meeting an occasional Filipina.

enjoying the local color

Near the guesthouse was many shops, both those catering to Western tastes but more interestingly, the Chinese medicine shops, the curio places, an old hole in the wall selling dumplings and xiao long baos and vegetarian snacks and a bakery selling goodies that would shame even Bread Talk’s best creations. These, and the amazingly cheap wares available made this a very good choice.

ENJOYING CHEAP EATS

The Queen and I enjoying HK’s street foods

While it is understandable that we will look for the usual things we eat back home (McD’s, KFC and the like), we have to admit that one of the best things about traveling is tasting delicacies that never get to find in our various localities. In HK, the family and I feasted on various offerings found in Temple Street Night Market. We also walked along Nathan Road and found a family-run place selling to die for fruit shakes. (This is near Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station) Beside it was a small establishment selling yummy fried scallops and fish balls.

Take your pick! You will find this near the TST Police Station along Nathan Road

This establishment sells the best sea food. A standard meal for six can be had for HKD200 – inclusive of drinks and a humongous San Mig Light (for dad)

Yummy seafood!

You can pick your seafood of choice and they will cook it according to your specifications. In the Philippines, we also have restaurants offering this kind of service. We call it paluto.

This humongous meal can be had at HK Disneyland for only HKD46

If we will factor in our plane fare, our total expense will go up to PHP15,272.00. Since it was a family trip, we really didn’t indulge in shopping. In fact, on our last day, I just bought a new wallet for HKD50 (less than PHP300) plus a Bruce Lee t-shirt for me and the hubby. I also made a quick trip to Ikea Causeway Bay to get a gift to a friend getting married in December. It was also a conscious effort on my part not to spend as much since the priority for our parents to experience Hong Kong.

We were also able to see the places we wanted while ensuring that our elderly parents will get to experience the joy of Hong Kong. My parents, being children of older times when the Philippines struggled with poverty, were like kids in a toy store every time, especially when we brought them to Disneyland. It was truly worth it, the happiness in their faces while they line up to take their picture with Mickey and Minnie Mouse is truly priceless.

On my next post: Why Disneyland brings out the kid in all of us.

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Asia, Traveling on a Budget

Hong Kong for less than PHP15,000? Let the challenge begin!

Will be leaving for Hong Kong on Thursday for our first ever family trip.
After careful planning, checking and re-checking of itinerary, I managed to whittle down the budget (per pax!) for just PHP7,000.00 (roughly USD169). The budget already includes entrance to Disneyland, The Peak, Ngong Ping 360, food for 4 days, and payment for transportation via the Octopus card.

If we are to include contribution per person for the guesthouse and the unfortunate Philippine Travel Tax and terminal fee, I think we can make it. Of course, this does not include the plane fare which was purchased four months in advance from Cebu Pacific for only PH3,500 (return) per person (inclusive of fuel surcharge,etc)!

The ingredients for a successful budget trip usually include:

AFFORDABLE AIRLINE TICKETS FROM BUDGET AIRLINES

a reliable airline with affordable rates
(picture not mine)

I always ride JetStar or Cebu Pacific wherever I go, maybe because I always travel using heavily discounted tickets. So far, I had good experiences on both airlines. JetStar has efficient but slightly snobbish airline stewardess while CebPac has one of the nicest flight crews around yet their planes are a bit delayed. In spite these observations, I will gladly travel with both airlines any opportunity I get. Honestly, it is through budget fares that I manage to see countries I used to only dream about when I was young. Before, air travel gave a certain vibe that it was only for the managed class, but thanks to the rise of budget airlines, even ordinary people like me get to see new places and experience new culture. The rise of the budget airlines, I must say, also gave birth to the seasoned budget traveler.

CLEAN, SAFE AND RELIABLE HOSTELS AND GUESTHOUSES

a clean and safe place to sleep – double room from City Econo Guesthouse
(picture from City Econo Guesthouse website)

I love staying in boutique hotels, hostels and guesthouses.

In Singapore, I had very fond memories of South East Asia Hotel located in Bugis. The room is clean and comfortable and the free breakfast is filling. The aunties and uncles manning the counter are friendly and not aloof (as mentioned by some in TripAdvisor). And most of all, the room is dirt cheap. Of course, the hotel is old and has seen better days, but it is well maintained as much as a family-owned establishment can muster.

In Seoul, Zaza Backpackers is a good place to stay, especially when you want something that is in the middle of the action (Myeongdong) but is strategically located away from the noise. Affordable, safe and clean, Zaza Backapackers is located in a good neighborhood not far from Namsan Tower.

For this HK-trip, I am booked rooms at City Econo Guesthouse, located in Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. The guesthouse earned rave reviews on Filipino travel sites and well-recommended by Pinoy budget travelers. One of its owners, Ms. Jenny, is lauded for her kindness and efficiency. In a place like HK where finding an affordable place to sleep in is like finding a needle in a haystack, guesthouses like City Econo is heaven-sent for budget travelers like me.

EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

The efficient Hong Kong MTR (photo not my property)

The best way to know the city is to memorize its public transportation system. This is how we survived in HK, Singapore and Seoul. Always get a saved transportation card where you can always top-up the value. Learn how to read signs and navigate your way around the labyrinth beneath the city streets. It’s fun and an experience in itself.

CHEAP EATS

cheap eats in HK (photo not my property)

“Dai pai dongs”, “hawker centers” and cheap restaurants — look for the places where locals converge. My brother, on his first trip to the Lion City last year, simply couldn’t get enough of the 2SGD set meal which he finished in one sitting. He loved the explosion of flavors and the fact that it didn’t burn holes in his pocket.

Lastly, I really think that you should bring along a good sense of humor and a certain knack for adventure. It also helps when your companions are not kill-joy or too high maintenance, who preferred five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants.

I’ll give you a report once I get back if I am successful on this challenge. Will also upload my breakdown of expenses for the four-day trip.

Wish us luck!

..and oh, if you have tips on how I can stretch this budget (and the cheap places to eat in the TST-Nathan Road area), do drop me a note! Would love to try out your suggestions!

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Travel Diaries

My Travel Journals and I: All great journeys begin with a stroke of a pen

A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.
In my case, it’s with the simple stroke of a pen right after the tickets have been confirmed and a confirmation of flight has been forwarded to my email address.

I have always been the type of girl to search for the tiniest details each time I plan a quick get-away, whether where to sleep, stay or even exchange foreign currency. In our family, I was the type to plot a trip in MS Excel with grids dedicated to itinerary, budge and number of recommended hours for travel and commute.

Tedious as it may sound, I find simple joys in looking up attractions, interesting B&Bs, cheap accommodations and even the occasional to-die for restaurant where we can splurge and enjoy a great meal.

I’ve had three travel journals since 2007. The first one, a thick tome with cutesy shojo manga drawings and barely discernible English quotes, covered my trips from 2007-2009; the second one from 2010 to 2012 and latest one for an upcoming family trip to HK alone.

Two of my three journals. The first one (not pictured) contained copious notes about Singapore and HK. From the eyes of a first-time traveler.

My second notebook was a thick, black hard-bound rectangle notebook with the picture of a black cat on the cover. Inside was three sets of writing pads which was perfect for quick notes and easy reminders. This notebook served me so well when I went back to Singapore in 2011 and of course, during the Great Seoul Searching Trip.

travel journal

Notes on how to go around Busan, with foreign currency translated into pesos. Indicated was the cost of transportation via the airport bus from Gimhae International Airport to Busan Train Station (KRW5,000 = PHP189)

Finalizing the room reservations at Zaza Backpackers, Myeongdong, Seoul

I am currently using a small orange colored Moleskine-type notebook, with the words “WanderGrrrrrrl” drawn in front. I drew this one day during a really slow day at the office. Currently, this notebook contained notes and plans for an upcoming trip next week. The notebook also contained budgets, hostel choices and a few directions going from one attraction to another. At the back, I stapled a small copy of the MRT map in Hong Kong. While I know that maps will be easily available once we landed in Chep Lap Kok, the OC girl in me is happy and at peace with the fact that I have a map stapled at the back of my notebook.

This notebook is small and compact and can easily fit my pocket or small day bag. I think this one is perfect when my very dysfunctional-ly funny, but dearly beloved family (mum and dad included!) takes the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui for the very first time.

If you will notice in the pictures, there are tabs highlighting the sections: one section was allocated for our first day plans, another one is for the second day and so on and so forth. Each section contains commute, budget and itinerary as well as some recommended side trips like a trip to Ikea, etc.

I am now down on my last twenty pages and I am sure that before this trip draws to a close, I will again be breaking out a new notebook to serve me on future trips both locally and outside the country.

In this day and age where everything can be found in just a few clicks in our smartphones and iPADs, you might ask me why bother writing it all down in paper.

I don’t know, but for me — there’s a certain “order into things” whenever I summarize all the information out there and write them (in order). It gives me the sweet sense that I am going somewhere and that I have truly prepared for it. The same notebook serves as a reminder of the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve enjoyed and the “not-so-much”. The writings, no matter how hurried or out of place some of them may seem, hold a certain gravitas and memory. After a few months or so, you will look back and remember that great food you have somewhere on the backstreets of the city; or the number of the hostel you booked online and forgot about.

People buy keepsakes of their adventures, I tend to write them down. To me, all great journeys-good and bad memories-begin with a single stroke of a pen.

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Asia, Hong Kong

A planned trip back to the Fragrant Harbor (My Hong Kong Diaries)

Picture from The Hong Kong Tourism Board website

I am currently arranging for an upcoming trip to Hong Kong and possibly, Macau this coming October.
I have been to the city twice, with my brother and sister as a pre-wedding get-away in 2008 and with the dear hubby in 2009 during our first overseas trip as husband and wife.

We are going back as a treat to our elderly parents, especially our mum who will be celebrating her 59th birthday during the trip. The upcoming trip is also our pop’s first trip out of the country. He is already 61 years old and we wanted him to experience traveling while he is still strong enough to do so. When he was 59 years old, we treated him to Bantayan Island in Cebu, and made him experience air travel for the first time. It was so priceless, like treating a kid to a candy store. Last year, my sister and I realized that we have been traveling too much in the last few years but we weren’t able to bring our parents who have yet to experience what it’s like being in a foreign country. So, we harassed them to get their papers in order in order to acquire passports. After a few months of searching for a trip for everyone, we finally settled with Hong Kong, especially since mum and pops would love to see Disneyland.

For the upcoming trip, we’ve decided to stay at City Econo Guesthouse in Nathan Road, based on the glowing reviews posted over Trip Advisor and the HK forum at PEX. Again, this is not the Hong Kong Peninsula, but we just wanted a place where we can dump all of stuff and crash peacefully/safely at night. I already arranged our stay and confirmed our reservation with the kind and efficient owner who did not collect a down payment for the stay but instead advised me to re-confirm our stay three days prior to the trip. I booked one quadruple room for HKD700 per night and one double room for HKD400 per night — cheap considering October is conference season for HK and all hotels/guesthouses gets filled up quickly.

I have yet to finalize our itinerary, but for the 4D 3N stay — we figured we’ll go to the time and tested tourist areas which my parents would love: Disneyland, the Avenue of Stars, Victoria Peak and Ngong Ping 360. Yes, we’ve been to these places before, but again this trip is not for us but for our mom and dad who would be seeing all these for the first time.

Well, HK Disneyland has always been a favorite. I love that place so much, like I was a kid once again and have managed to forgot (even for a while) all my grown up worries. (How’s this for super dork? I cried during the Fireworks Display)

HK Disneyland, 2008 (with the Queen and the little bro)

I am also trying to keep the cost down, considering that I don’t want my mom and dad to get overwhelmed with the expenses of traveling. While my sister and I will be spending for the plane fare and the hotel accommodations, I don’t want them to think that traveling is expensive. I pretty much have everything figured out: the transportation (we are taking the A21 bus to and from the airport), the budget per day, the itinerary for the three days (though we are still considering going to Macau) as well as the eateries we will check out while we were there.

Hopefully, I’ll have everything set by the end of August or first week of September. You know how OC I get when it comes to traveling.

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