Tag Archives: lakwatsa

My Week in Seoul in Photos (Days 67-71 of Project 365)

You do know that I have lots to tell you about Korea. How it was one of the best places I’ve been to. 

Granted, Seoul and Busan are beautiful places with nary any trash in sight (lots of cigarette butts though) and wide roads and amazing sights. 

But the best for me is discovering how kind and warm Koreans are. We have been saved from being utterly lost in the streets of Busan and Seoul by kind strangers who in spite the language barrier, helped with all their heart. They even called friends to check on directions and insisted on accompanying two lost people to wherever direction they might be going. 

I always thought that Koreans were a bunch of good looking people, apparently–their beauty go beyond the physical. Kamsahamnida and Saranghae, Korea!

 

Day 67

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Day 68

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Day 69

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Day 70

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Day 71

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First report from Busan!

in front of Busan Station

first dinner!

Just saying a quick “hi!” from freezing Busan! It’s cold but the place is all good. The people are very kind and always smiling, especially the guy who helped us find our way to Busan station.

Will post updates tomorrow when I take the KTX from Busan to Seoul. Until then, keep safe people!

If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be

leaping into the boyd...errrrr...i mean, void

Just when I thought I am not going due to too many reasons why not, something inside me snapped and said, “what the eff, you might as well try”.

I know it’s hard to even try going to where I want to go, due to the pressing need to have a visa, that I don’t have a ticket yet, that my bank account barely has anything in it, that there’s ten million things I need to do at the Grindhouse thus I cannot file for a vacation leave — but something inside me just kept saying that I needed this time to think and go soul searching.

Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed. Please pray for me.

Let’s ROK!

picture NOT my property

I have the opportunity to go to this place with my sister come March.
But, in order for me to do that — I have to buy my plane tickets AND apply for a visa cos this place requires a visa for Filipinos.

Friends know me as someone who is no nonsense when it comes to taking risks. I have gambled a lot in my life — both personal and professional. I’ve always believed that we won’t be able to achieve anything in this life if we don’t take risks.

I have been called a lot of names in the past: careless, gambler, worry-free, child-like and a risk-taker. And I rarely let what other people frigging think stop me from what I want to do. So what the freaking hell am I waiting for right?

The price of a freaking plane ticket, that’s what! Plane tickets in a budget airline cost PHP8,000 (that’s about 200USD) and I am just being paranoid that if I don’t get the visa then there goes my 200USD!

Also, I feel that it’s too irresponsible for me to even spend that kind of money for that “trip” when I am also despairing on how I will save money for my masteral tuition.

Anyway, let’s see. I am waiting for some kind of sign from Above for me to throw caution to the wind and Just Do It!

Manila Ocean Park: A great idea with poor execution

My family and I had great ideas for the past long weekend but my work obligations has made me the great vacation-pooper for the family.I spent pre-dawn Sunday being a first-class work slave, executing ideas for an event that is not my department’s doing.

Anyway, to make up for lost family bonding time, we all agreed to check out Manila Ocean Park, the local version of the one found in SG and HK. Suffice to say, we were very excited since this will be our first time to see the famous attraction.

Well at PHP600 a pop (PHP599 to be exact, includes trips to the Oceanarium, Magical Fountain Show and a hotdog and coke combo from local concessionaire Quik Bites) — the experience was a small, unexciting YEY at best.

Located at the back of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, the park cannot be faulted for trying its best to provide Manila denizens with the opportunity to come face-to-face with the wondrous creatures of the sea. In fact, the park also espouses proper care of the environment and appreciation of our seas and oceans, the natural habitat of the animals on display.

Indeed, it was an amazing idea and a lofty ambition that is mangled with poor execution.

Where shall we begin the griping?

1. The lack of organization. The ticket counter line was long and unorganized and no one from the crew stepped up to make it more manageable and less chaotic. There were four ticket counters that could have been maximized.

This problem with lines also became prevalent early evening when the park staff implemented one organized line for the Magical Fountain Show, then they themselves disregarded it when it was time to enter the exhibition area. In exact, they encouraged people to have a go even if there’s a line.

that's my little brother communicating with the fishes

2. Chaos and lack of great presentation skills – Tell me, if you are a paying customer, will you find it enticing to see things that are half-finished, or wires and steel bars jutting out of empty space. Will it be appealing for you to see half-finished places of the park?
I know it’s quite impossible to avoid repairs and all that, but maybe it’s better if places being serviced will be sealed off to public so that we don’t get to see them until they are ready.

3. Cleanliness issues – Quik, one of the concessionaires of Manila Ocean Park seriously lacks cleanliness training for their staff. Foods like uncooked burgers and hotdogs were exposed, the guy dispensing the food was putting them on dirty trays that I even had to point out that the tray was freaking dirty.

Quik Snax -- you have to improve on your cleanliness, buddy!

The food was a big disappointment — overpriced and dry, and without any semblance to real food at all. I am guessing our server was tired already because he was just plonking the food on the tray without any care if it will fall of or not. Siopao tastes worst than the one I used to buy for PHP5 at my old elementary school, the hotdog sandwich was passable though the bread was as dry as The Sahara — and the nachos! the nachos was dry and has lost its crisp, the cheese looked like cheese whiz mixed with hot water. The food was forgettable so if you have extra money I suggest you spend it at the other food shops inside Manila Ocean Park than face the same disappointment that we had.

mom and dad enjoying the sights

Let me be clear in stating that I write this not to discredit the Manila Ocean Park. In fact, I find its advocacy of bringing awareness on ocean and water conservation worthy of praise. It is with hope that readers find what I stated as constructive criticism and will push the management to improve on some of their weaker points.

Now, we go to the positive:

i love this shark cos he was smiling!
not smiling...but amazing nontheless!

The park clearly state “No Flash Photography” — so you can expect the crowd NOT to effing follow the rules and use flashes when they take their pictures, effectively distressing the fishes.

My countrymen never fail to depress the hell out of me: they don’t follow rules, they leave their garbage just about anywhere they hell please (i.e. the disposable rain coats were disposed everywhere but the garbage bins) and promptly walked out of the Amazing Fountain Show performers even if the show isn’t over yet (the performers were doing their danged best to perform in spite the inclement weather the best that we can afford them is the courtesy of not leaving while the credits are ongoing and they are bowing to the audience). The fact that some people can be careless, uncaring, law-breaking morons depresses the hell out of me. Why do I even share the same citizenship with morons such as these?

Anyway, in spite the endless litany of complaints, I had fun spending time with the folks and the hubby and my two sibs. The fountain show saved the park trip for us since it was amusing and the lights show was amazing.

I noticed that there was a lot of new attractions or facilities being built –I hope that when–or if I come back, The Manila Ocean Park is better than ever. And I know and believe that the park is capable of evolving for the better.

Setting my sights on….. Taiwan

Out from nowhere, I suddenly started researching facts and things on how I can go to Taiwan.

you're next on the list

Isla Formosa ("beautiful island")

Where do I begin…? I REALLY THINK I NEEDED TO GO — as in, I need to experience a place where I wont be hearing English too much (I know it’ll be a hassle going around, but think about the adventure it’ll present!) and I need to go someplace where I haven’t been, eating food that I haven’t got to experience for two years worth of travel.

Right now, I am trying to rack my brains of reasons why I should go. Let me see?

1. Taiwan is the home of the 2nd tallest building in the world – with nice architecture and background story to boot (you know like how the building moves according to the strongest winds, or adjust to the earthquakes that plagued Taiwan)

2. Taipei looks a lot like Tokyo — especially the Xi Men (!!!!) area. Obviously, I’ve already done my research. Trusty Mr. Google said that apart from the numerous permutations of the Chinese (and the Taiwanese ethnic language), the Taiwanese are more adept on the JAPANESE language than the English language. So apparently–when people started getting confused with the language barrier, the Taiwanese will bust out first the Nihon tongue rather than the Queen’s Language.

3. The culture and history – saw a lot of great architecture and history and I am already fascinated.

4. Cherry Blossoms and 6 Degree Temperature during the winter season – Traveling with my husband required us to experience below 10 degree temp since the Hubby thrived on the cold

…and more importantly:

5. METEOR GARDEN TOUR GALORE – how can I forget THE ONE that started my fascination with anything East Asian? This series, up to this day, remains my favorite version of the Hana Yori Dango lore (with HYD – Japan a super close second). Yeah, the succeeding versions (*cough*South Korea*cough*) has better costumes and styling and waaay bigger budget — but for me, this is the version with the most heart. Who can forget the enormous pineapple hairstyle of Jerry Yan (according to lore, the production crew had to resort to the pineapple hairstyle cos Jerry Yan looked awful in curly hair) or the scene where Shan Cai had to run after the bus? I could go on and on…

Anyway, the obvious challenge for me is getting that damned Taiwanese visa tho I was informed that it’s easy as long as you have complete information–especially your form 2316 and the employment certificate which basically assures Taiwan that you are going back to the Philippines. I also need to breathe life to my bank account–which was sorely depleted by the SG trip. My guess is I would to have at least 60-80k on my bank account covering me and the Hubby.

But I already made a separate folder for Taiwan on Momo’s desktop along with a grid plotting how much I will need to save per payday in order to come up with a starter account for me and the Hubby. I swear to God.

…I am getting ahead of myself, especially since I have a HongKong trip to plan for the end of the year. The sis and I are bringing mum and dad on their first overseas trip.

Imagine the beating that my bank account and wallet will be having due to these plans currently in place.

But hell yeah–give me a year and a half–I AM GOING TO TAIWAN!

Guess who’s going to SG?

The universe is nice to me today. Even if I had to kill myself working earlier, I am finally rewarded with the best possible gift ever:

This trip has been in the offing for more than a year already, thanks to JetStar Airways Easter Sale, I am finally going back to this island nation that I have come to love so much. I am going with the Hubby, the Queen and the baby brother (who we booked without consent). It would have been a very great trip if only mom and dad can join but they don’t have their passports yet. Maybe next year? My target is to make them spend their 33rd wedding anniversary at HK Disneyland. With God’s support and kindness, this will be possible.

Hey, you might want to check it out and book a flight. Trips to SG are selling as low as USD38 one way! I was so happy seeing the really nice price that I harassed the Queen to book with us. And the Queen, being an avid traveler, is simply very happy just to do the booking. Check out JetStar’s Easter sale, I think the sale will last until the 11th of April, and good for travel until November.

I don’t have to spell out here that I have very important reasons why I want to be in SG this July. Let’s just say that I have my reasons. But right now, all I can think of is the fun that we’ll have visiting Universal Studios Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands and even Sentosa. The Hubby and the baby brother has yet to see the beauty of Singapore and they’re gonna see it right in the middle of the Great Singapore Sale (27 May – 24 July).

I am so excited that I am already doing my research, with my own travel notebook already at hand. Thank you Lord, I am alive again.