Archives for June 2012

5 Things I Want to Do Before I Grow Old

I always love lists. If you happened to read my previous posts, you would notice a few of them in list form.  That said, I still have not written my bucket list. I fear that if I make one, I will be forever putting an item into the list.

Not having a bucket list welcomes a lot of possibilities.

 

Thanks to Anne for suggesting this meme to BC Bloggers. In this way, I will have a simple bucket list.

Here goes my list:

1. Travel.

Travel opens my mind to different cultures, people and places. It is best to travel when my feet can still walk miles without much complaints from my body.

2.  Read.

I hope that I have read as much as I can before I grow old and before the eyesight fails me.

  Source: bookriot.com via kat on Pinterest

 

3.  Never stop learning.

Right now I am fascinated with typography. I hope I can design my own font one day.  I might be interested in something else in the future. I hope new things will continue to fascinate me.  I hope to never become an expert at anything.  Einstein once said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

 

4.  I hope I will never forget this.

5. Ready to grow old.

I welcome growing old. As I step into each decade in my life, I feel that every decade is the best decade ever. I enjoyed my childhood, teenage years, young adult life and I am having a blast in my 30’s.  I am so looking forward to wonderful years ahead.

I wish I will be able to do this:

 

What is on your list?

The Tale of Two Hotels

Hotels are pretty expensive in Singapore. I was ready to book a hostel and share a room and bathroom with other tourists. Staying in a hostel sounds  fun. You get to meet fellow travelers. And based on the photos I have seen, hostel guests really have fun. However, my aunt was not too keen about sharing personal space with strangers.  She feared that something bad might happen us for which I quickly replied, “Singapore is a city of fines. They penalize people for acts as simple as chewing a gum or eating in a bus. Imagine their penalty for grave crimes. ” Nevertheless, I looked for hotel for us.

South East Asia Hotel is highly recommended by Filipino tourists in the two forums I frequent.  The advantage is that I do not have to pay in advance which is a plus point for a non-credit card user like me.  Room for 2 costs only SGD100 a night.  This is expensive than the hostel rate in Hong Kong so I looked for savings in other ways like sleeping in the airport and taking a bus trip at night.

All I had to do was e-mail the hotel and reserve a room. In less than two days, I got a reply and it was agreed upon that they will reserve the room for us as long as we arrive at the hotel before 9 AM on the date of our arrival.

I am a DIY traveler so bloopers are expected.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sotheysaytome/7058982879/

 

We walked quite far before realizing that there is a shorter route to the hotel. We entered the hotel through the adjacent vegetarian restaurant. HA!

I was wondering why there was no one manning the reception and the guy in the restaurant did not bother to accommodate us.  Good thing the lady in the reception noticed and called us.  The room was not yet ready so I just paid the fees and we left our bags with her while we set off to our itinerary for the day.

We were back in the evening and a different lady was in the reception so I informed her that I already paid for our room but I do not know what the room number is and that we also left our bags this morning. She gave us our key and told me to go to the other door to get our bags.  She opened the door and she was untying the strings on the luggage near the door which isn’t ours. I was quick to say, “These are not our bags.  Those are ours”, pointing to the bags near the table. So I walked to pick them up for which she sternly replied, “You stay in the door.” Oops, I might have trespassed into unauthorized area.  It was just two steps! Anyway, she handed me the bags. I asked her our room number since we do not know. She replied in the same stern voice, “Where is your key?”.  Then I saw the room number. Then, I asked again, “Where are the rooms? What floor?”. (Humirit pa ako!) She told me to look at the keys again.  Then,  I saw the number 4 before the room number. 4th floor.  Sorry po. Tao lang. 

Ignorance is bliss, they say. Bloopers kept on coming. When we arrived in our room, it was dark. There was a flashlight in my bag. It was locked so I searched for my bag’s keys to unlock. Using the flashlight, we were able to find the switch but the lights won’t turn on. I decided to go back to the reception area and braced myself for a little scolding from the unaccommodating receptionist.  I grabbed the keys and after I locked the door, I realized I grabbed my bag’s keys and not the room key. Argh. We were locked out. Oh my! I was prepared to be shouted at.  I had no choice.

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God heard my prayers because the unaccommodating receptionist was busy. Another person helped me. And I found out that we only have to do this on the box near the door for the lights to turn on. HA! Probinsiyana-moment!

The room size was just right.

Sorry about the mess. I was unpacking.

There was a water heater for the coffee and tea they provided.

There was also a hotel phone which I used to call my friends’ cellphones. When I checked out, I was only billed SGD0.20 for the calls. That’s around Php7 only!

Overall, the hotel experience was okay. I will book this hotel if I travel to Singapore again with people who want to stay in a hotel. Otherwise, I will try those fun hostels. 😀

The Casa Blanca Guest House Experience

Since this post says “The Tale of Two Hotels”,  here goes the other hotel story. Actually, this is not a hotel. It is a guest house- a house that is converted into a transient space.  We stayed overnight in Malacca and I picked this place because it has a room with an ensuite bathroom and it has  good ratings in Agoda.

By the way,  my Agoda experience was a breeze. I have read of other people experiences- complaining about their unsuccessful bookings with Agoda. I was a bit apprehensive. However, we were only staying for one night so there was not much loss in my part. Luckily, I never experienced such an inconvenience. I was glad they accepted Paypal payments.  Because I had a pleasant experience with Agoda, I will book with Agoda again next time I’ll need a hotel.

We rang the doorbell and nice Chinese gentleman greeted us at the door. He knew we were arriving and showed us how to open the front door. It had an automatic lock system. A button near in the wall should be pressed before going outside so that the door will be opened. Along with the room key  was a card to use to open the front door. All we need to do was to press the card at the security box outside the door for it to open.  (Take that, SEA hotel!)

The room was spacious. I could do cartwheels inside (if only I still knew how).

I was not crazy about the bathroom design. That said, we were more than happy with this clean bathroom.

The host admitted that he knows little English. Excellent service makes up for incorrect grammar. Communication is shared understanding and I understood this sign well.

There is a self-service kitchen. Guest can help themselves with anything available here. For breakfast, I made coffee and got some bread here.

There was also a bike for rent in the porch.  Roaming around Malacca is more convenient with a bike, if only I re-learned how to ride one.

I will definitely recommend this guest house to friends.

Two type of accommodations, two different experiences, two enriched travelers.

10 Memorable Moments about our Singapore-Malaysia Trip

We only only had four and a half days to explore the two countries. Unlike the Hong Kong-Macau trip,  I only finished my itinerary two days before the trip. The forum thread for Singapore and Malaysia were not as thorough as the Hong Kong thread. Nevertheless, we were able to wing it.

Because we do not remember the days, we remember the moments.

Source: http://www.polyvore.com/

Thus, I have a list of the memorable moments in this trip.

1. Meeting friends. Two of my good friends live in Singapore so I made an effort to catch up with our lives. I also met my childhood playmate. I wish I met up with my grade school friends and my former boss but I did not have time. There is always a next time.  I got these presents from friends. I am so spoiled.

2. Staying at South East Asia Hotel.  I specifically chose this hotel because it was recommended by a number of Filipino tourists. Plus, they do not require payment for reservations. As long a we show up on the agreed time and date,  the room is reserved for us and only then are we asked to pay the room rate. The one manning the reception when we arrived was a nice lady. However, the lady in charge of the reception in the evening was unaccommodating. I will write more about this experience.  Nevertheless, it is easy to forget about that little incident because  of the hotel’s excellent location.  It is very accessible via the Bugis MRT.

It is near this tiangge area. Whenever we pass by this area, we would buy fruit juices sold at SGD1.  My favorite is the sugarcane juice.

The hotel is located on a pedestrian street so there is less noise from the sounds of vehicles.

It is located beside a Chinese temple so we had a restful sleep.

3.  Walking to Sentosa.  The last time I was in Singapore, we went to Sentosa via the cable car.

Can you see the cable cars?

This time, we used the boardwalk.

There is a walkalator so you won’t get tired of walking the one kilometer stretch. SGD1 will be charged at the end of the walk way. One can also ride the bus or the monorail (Sentosa Express).

4. Visiting the Universal Studios. Four years ago, this part of Sentosa was still under construction.

 I think we only spent 4 hours here because we skipped all the roller coasters like The Mummy ride…

… and Battlestar Gallactica.

Can you see their feet dangling in the air? They were shouting for dear life.

5. Sentosa beach area.  My aunt was too chicken to try the skyride, tiger tower or any other activity in Sentosa so we just visited the beach area.

Nothing spectacular. The Philippines has better beaches. However, it is worth noting that we reached the Southernmost point of Continental Asia.

We reached the area by crossing this hanging bridge.

6. Sunset at Marina Bay. We did not have the opportunity to take a touristy photograph near the Merlion because my aunt is already tired. I am happy with the sunset.

 The Louis Vuitton store in the area is on a unique structure. I cannot afford anything from that store so I am content with just this photograph.

7. A day with animals. We spent the morning at the bird park and we went to the zoo in the afternoon.

8. Comfortable bus ride to Malaysia. Bus seats are recliners with massage options. I have motion sickness when I travel by land. Even an hour-long bus ride can get me puking. I did not experience that in this trip. Thank you, God!

9. Visiting Malacca, Malaysia. The Dutch Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is Casa Blanca Guest House where we stayed.  This was booked through Agoda and I was happy about our accommodation here. I will review the place soon.

We love this egg-shaped ice cream on Jonker Street.

10. Getting lost around Petronas. The Petronas twin towers is a very imposing site in Kuala Lumpur. The area is so big that looking at the map with the Petronas tower as a reference point proves to be difficult.

We got lost trying to find this for the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tour.

Getting lost is tiring so we did not hop off the bus until we reached the shopping area the second time.  Most of my photos in the tour were taken from a tinted glass windows hence the blue hue in the photographs.

 What a trip!

Source: pinterest.com via Kris on Pinterest

P.S. I am not travel blogger so those who want our itinerary or have questions about this trip, just email me at admin [at] theunstressed.com or leave a comment. I do not have the itemized expenses. Roughly, we spent less than Php18K per person.

6 Reasons Why I was Able to Afford a Singapore-Malaysia Trip

I went to Singapore and Malaysia last week. I made a little goal last year that I should travel to at least one foreign destination and at least one Philippine destination every year.  Thanks to promo fares, this little goal of mine is achievable.  Beyond the promo fare, the reality of having to spend Philippine-earned money in a foreign soil proves to be a challenge. I am budget traveler.  I cannot afford luxuries. Thus, I find ways to spend as little as possible.

Here are ways I employ to afford a trip abroad:

1. Advanced booking.  Promo fares are cheap because they are booked in advance. The downside: they are non-transferable, non-refundable, non-rebookable. The upside: there is no backing out. I got my June tickets as early as November last year.

The roundtrip ticket for 2 to Singapore from Manila  only costs Php 4,700++.

2.  Sleeping at airports. Our flight to Singapore arrived at 11:55PM.  To save on hotel costs, I told my aunt that we should sleep on the airport.  Many people sleep on airports. According to this website, Singapore’s Changi is the best airport for sleeping in 2011. Well, I got excited with this idea only to find out that the cool amenities are inside the transit area which can only be accessed after the immigration counter.  This means I need to have a ticket that flies out of Changi to be able to access the cool sleeping areas.  Still, I stuck to my sleeping-in-the-airport plan. We hit these chairs in the arrival area.

3.  Traveling light. Because I do not want to earn my 15 minutes of fame by berating an airport personnel for losing my luggage, I travel light. Light travelers also save a few hundreds of pesos form their ticket cost.  Pang-value meal na rin yung ma-save. Traveling light prevents me from shopping.

3. Free meals! I have friends in Singapore that I wanted to meet. They were generous enough to pay for our yummy meals. Below is our lunch at Din Tai Fung. My friend picked up the tab. Another friend treated us to breakfast and another one to dinner.  Thanks, Gail, Maea and Jill!

4. Efficient Public Transportation. These Asian cities have a very efficient public transportation system. We used the MRT and buses to get around.

5. Bringing food.  We brought instant noodles, biscuits, candies and coffee  in case we get hungry. My aunt  is not adventurous with food so looking for a familiar dish can be difficult.


6. Walking around. I like walking. It makes me feel like I am one with the locals. It is easier to find my way by walking. It is a form of exercise at the same time.  However, I traveled with a 67-year-old. I often forget that important fact. Movement was a little slower when traveling with a senior citizen. I got dagger stares whenever my navigational skills failed me. HA!

6 Things I Learned This Week

I always wish that there are more than 24 hours a day.  I have a lot of pending things to do before leaving for vacation. I have only three days left do them all. Despite the tight schedule, I learned lots of things this week.

1. Online loading

I discovered that I can load my phone through BDO’s online banking system.. I enrolled my mobile phone number and immediately tried their service. I got  the amount even before I logged out of the system. It was fast and instantaneous. I hope I won’t abuse this feature.

2. Cheaper printer ink

I have not used my printer in almost a year. I try to go paperless as much as I can. It is eco-friendly and budget-friendly. However, I need to print tickets and itinerary for the trip. My printer ink costs Php700. I already tried the refillable kind and it does not work for me. I ended up spending more. So I went to my favorite computer shop to buy my ink. The owner introduced me to a budget-friendly version: still an original ink but at a cheaper price.  Nice move, HP!

My ink at P440 with original labels and all!

It only costs P440. The shop owner told me that it prints lighter than the P700 version which I do not mind because I always use “draft-mode” when I print to save ink. I think it prints pretty good. I do not see the difference between this and my old HP ink.  I am happy with my savings! 3. Cafe Mocha

I learned that I can have a more delicious and richer cup of instant coffee if I mix coffee and milo.This kept me awake while I worked. 4. First day of school

It has been a long time since I graduated from school and the only school-aged person in the house just got back from vacation so the frenzy of shopping for school supplies was out of our radar. We did not realize it until we were walking in the sidewalk of our small town and we literally bumped into people. I could hear my personal bubble space bursting.  hehe! My aunt wanted to buy a bag for the our trip so off to the weekend ukay-ukay street bazaar we went. She did not find the bag she wanted. 🙁

5. I really, really love the friends that I have

Nah, I knew this a long, long time ago. Thefriends that I have from childhood, grade school, high school, college, work and others I met along the way, I treasure them. This week’s frenzy made me remember this thought. We got an exciting news from one friend that it triggered 2,500+ chat messages (and counting!).

Source: goo.gl via kat on Pinterest

 

I think my friends and I will be like these two in the future. HA!

Source: Uploaded by user via kat on Pinterest

 

6. Unconditional Parenting

A friend wrote a lovely letter to her husband about the joy of parenting. She and her husband have an unconventional way of parenting and it worked well with their kids. I wish I can post her letter here but  I think it deserves a place in parenting magazines. Maybe I should convince her to blog. 😀

It has been a full week and I have another full week ahead!

 

Happiness!

Source: pinpal.in via Kathline on Pinterest