Monday, September 24, 2012

A trip to Bintan Indonesia with Friends

Ofcourse, I was with my friends; obviously :)

We went to Bintan last weekend, so yeah my trips lately outside of Singapore has been hectic.  I had no major trips outside Singapore except when I had to go to Cebu, my hometown to visit my family.

Anyway, Bintan is really near to Singapore like it's a 45 minute-ferry ride.  Early dawn of Saturday, I received miss calls from Chritian as I have asked them to call me so I can wake up early as I did not trust my alarm (or perhaps myself).  Usually weekends for me is like holy when it comes to sleeping :)) I can wake up at noon.  That's how late I start my weekends.  Yup, to be on the ferry terminal at Tanah Merah early, I decided to take a cab.  I was planning to actually take the train but I felt I'll not be able to make it so I had to cough up 20 dollars for the cab.  I arrived at the terminal on time and my friends were already there, queuing for out tickets.  I met them in their queue and gave my passport after the small talk :)  I did not take my breakfast so I found this Killiney coffee house and there I ordered teh (tea with milk) and kaya toast (slice bread with kaya; a spread made of coconut).  My friends finished their checkin and stuff and we got our tickets. We queued to going to the immigration and all the security stuff and no later that 10 minutes, we found ourselves boarding the ferry and off we went to Bintan Indonesia :)

We had a villa for ourselves at Nirwana resorts.  It's a two storey house, with two big common rooms and a  master's bedroom.  It's somehow furnished. In fact one can cook their food there which was part of our plan.  When we arrived at the resort, it was actually about lunch time in the coming hour.  Since we had our packed lunch we just looked for a nice place to have lunch :)

At around 1PM we were able to check-in at our villa.

There were so many things to do.  After we have settled ourselves, our first activity was the ATV. Unfortunately, it was not available and they that it's going to be on the next day that they'll resume operations :(  So we just decided to bathe into beach.  Hmmm there was actually a Meta Man - it's a triathlon actually and to my surprise, Sen. Pia Cayetano; senator of the upper house of the Philippines, was joining the event.  Anyway, the afternoon was the start of the swimming competition which made our stay there different.  For most of us, it was our first time watching a live triathlon.  There were jelly fishes in their beach so it was not that fun actually and their sand is a bit muddy so it did not feel good because when you splash and swim it would turn a bit murky.  Anyway, we explored their beach on the other side and the view is nice but not as good as we had in the Philippines - sorry if I am comparing....  Anyway, I told my friends that I'd go to the pool :)  I spent like an hour or two at the pool just enjoying the scenery and cheering the triathletes.  They were in the marathon competition already and they happen to pass by near the infinity pool.  To my surprise, Sen. Pia Cayetano was there and so I can't help but cheer.  At around 4PM my friends joined me at the pool.  My friends wanted to go back to the villa and prepare for dinner but then I asked them to cheer for Sen. Cayetano and at around 5PM she had the 2nd round already and when she was near the pool side we were shouting, "Go Ms. Pia" - she did smile at us but I think she find it so strange :D
Well,  it was getting dark already and we had to go back to our villa so we can prepare for dinner.  I think I made a mistake in my timing simply because I was using the Singapore time.  Indonesia is 1 hour advance :P

After everyone was ready, we were headed to The Kelong restaurant.  We waited for the hotel service for a few minutes then off we went to the restaurant.  To our surprise we saw Senator Pia again and so we did cheer and blurted, "Go Ms. Pia! Mabuhay!".   Anyway, we arrived at the restaurant a bit hungry and the good thing was, the place was not crowded.  Getting our orders was fast and the guy serving our table was friendly and it felt we were not too rushed unlike in Singapore restaurants where the service is a bit rushed :))  The food was good and the service was quite good so after our heavy dinner, we tipped the guy 10 Singapore dollars.  There was nothing to do actually so we just decided to go back to our villa and had our karaoke.  My friends brought their portable karaoke :) As usual, it' fun singing with friends =))

We decided to check the beats from outside and it was actually the Meta Man challenge finish line.  I think the organizers party.  The triathletes has been active for the last 16 hours as shown in the finish line clock.  I was so amazed at how sporty these people are.  I even saw some athletes at their late forties as you can see in their whitish hair :D  It left an impression on me to be a bit sporty as well or simply put I have to be fit :P I stopped going to the gym actually and I have not been jogging and not even doing the dance exercise in our Xbox Kinect.   It was getting dark so we decided to go back to our hotel to sleep already;)

Early morning, my friends were already cooking for breakfast.  Since there's a free breakfast for two because we had two extra beds, Christian and I took the free meal.  Mamul asked us to bring back some butter for the bread.   The breakfast served at Nirwana was quite good so I was full again. We took some butter and strawberry spreads. Then off we went back to our villa.  My friends were still eating and the German sausage I brought was really nice to look at so I had my hands on them.  They also prepared some spam so yeah I also devoured some.  After our breakfast, the first order of business was to go for an ATV ride.  Then the unexpected happened.  We were like being passed from one counter to the other just to get to their ATV and everyone was already exasperated because of the long walks.  For the last time, we demanded to the hotel staff to bring us to the correct place already. So they decided to give us a free ride going to the ATV venue.  Good thing we pushed through for the ATV for it was so fun.  The trails was really nice and a bit challenging.  Too bad, we only had few minutes left because we need to go back to Singapore early. With that, we only had 30 minutes ATV. But the whole thirty minutes was really fun.  I think I am going for an ATV adventure in Bintan in the near future.

After the ride, we went back to our villa.  We still have some few hours to prepare so some of us went to dip at the pool and some had the elephant and horse back riding activities. Me ? I went to the pool :D

One hour has passed and it was time to pack up.  It was rather fast to pack and we need to checkout from the resort at 1PM.  We waited for some few minutes to take the free bus ride going to the ferry terminal.

After some immigration stuff and some waiting, we boarded and off we went back to Singapore :)

I then realized I miss the wifi connection I had in Singapore.  Wireless internet at Nirwana is 30 Singapore dollars - quite expensive as most hotels nowadays are offering free wifi.  It was a fun experience but I think KL is more affordable and exciting if you want to have a vacation without the beach thing.  I think the beach part at Bintan is not that good as well so I think going to KL is more enjoyable.

Good night everyone and enjoy the weekdays?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Universal Studios Singapore with friends :)

Sunday morning, and MJ was calling out my name. Yeah she just finished her morning ritual while I was still slumbering in my bed with a snore ? 

My friends had to be at Vivo city around 9 to get the first tickets for USS and the metro will take us there at approximately 30 minutes.  I was a bit hungry so I ate my breakfast.  Ating was already waiting for us actually....

We arrived just on time and people were like going to the toilet and others were actually late too from the agreed time.  Some of us went hungry so we ate at Food Republic.  At around 10:15 maybe, everyone was at Food Republic and after some few minutes we started our journey to USS.  For most of us, it was our first time, so it made the whole adventure fun and exciting.

We rode the express train going to USS and when we got there, it was not that crowded.  The tickets were at 70 Singapore dollars but I used my Mastercard for our booking so we got a discount.  We even had this free admission tickets for the Maritime museum.

Our first challenge was to take the most heart-pounding ride which is the Cylon.  I have always been very scared of roller coasters and god the Cylon ride will my first and it's the toughest in USS.  I honestly felt numb and I know I had to be excited or worse scared but nada, I felt nothing....  MJ and Jason who were with me in the ride were all excited :)  Okay, the queue was not that long in fact when we arrived we just had to wait for a couple of minutes.  It is in fact a 90-second ride.  Then came our turn and yeah we were seated together hahaha and I began to feel uneasy.  I asked them that I be seated at the middle. Actually there were four seats per row.  When the clock ticked and the ride started everyone was like already laughing with no reason at all. The began an uphill climb of some few meters then a huge plunge.  All we could do was just shout.  Then came the 360 degrees flips and turns which sent our adrenaline to space then came the loudest screams as if it was our last minute on earth.  As I've said, it was 90 seconds right? Yet it felt the longest ride I had ever done.  After we finished the ride, we could have taken a second round but decided not to because there so many other attractions which we wanted to try. 

Our next ride was the Human, a less challenging roller coaster ride than that of the Cylon :D  Anyway, we enjoyed those two rides.  Marlyn, Rowena, Femilyn and Razel did not join us on that ride but our next one was a not scary one so they decided to join except for Razel - hehehehe :) 

There we found ourselves in the Mummy ride :) It is the Egyptian pyramid kind of replica and inside is the mini train ride.  It was quite interesting because it was like so dark and there were some surprises and the fire was real and you can really feel the heat blowing in our faces.  I got scared at the part where a mummy suddenly appeared on our sides with all the frightening sound.  The rest where just made excited by the twist and rapid turns of the ride.  It was quite interesting actually.  The next ride we took was the Transformers as in the movie.  Razel still could not join us but then the rest went into the Transformer ....  It was a 3D augment reality ride so it was so fascinating and interesting at the same time.  It's like you were in the middle of a battle field and you were riding in car being chased furiously by the Deceptecons; the villains in the movie.  The ride I should say was the most interesting of all and I like very much.... It's just that we wanted to try other things so we decided not to do our second round with Transformers. Anyway we were hungry so we ordered lunch and the meal was like 20Singapore dollars which is really expensive for a meal.  I think you will be wasting at least 100dollars in USS but if you shop just prepare more cash :)

After lunch, we decided to try the Jurassic/Dinosaur ride.  It was not that challenging but definitely you'll get out wet.  Your friends can even pay for a water gun and shoot you for 50 cents.  After that, we tried the castle ala Shrek themed movie house which was also in 3D.  Well you will just be watching Shrek and Fiona in a movie in a very interactive manner because you will be sprayed and the benches will shake from time to time and when spiders come out, there will be some fun surprises....  quite interesting actually but if you want more adrenaline stuff, this does not suit you then.  After that, we went to ride the dragon roller coaster designed for kids so yeah it was not that challenging.  We even invited Rowena, whose also scared of roller coaster and we were shocked when there were scary parts - Rowena's definition of roller coaster scare. All we could say was we were behind her in her shouts for moral support.

We also watched the Monster rock, where some scary characters in movies will do some play kind of thing with music so it was really like a rock musical with mixed up story telling. We had fun watching the Phantom of the Opera character well because of the way the actor played the role :)  The next attraction we had was the replica of hollywood movie set.  It was really amazing how movies are made :)  Just imagine were like a live audience in a movie in the making.  We saw some thunderstorm and fire and also some boats slamming into the pier - where we actually observed in a standing position.  I really liked this part of the tour because it felt so real :D

It was getting dark. But we continued to explore the universal studios.  Ate something from here to there and did some shopping.  We also had some cam whoring =))

We got so tired and it was for real really dark, so we decided to go to Food Republic @ vivo to have our dinner :)

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the Universal Studios Singapore which was what that mattered on that day.  I would recommend this theme park for would be tourists together with friends and family ;)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A one night affair in Malaysia

MJ came to Singapore and part of our itinerary was to drop by at Kuala Lumpur :D

Yup2! We went to Malaysia via Jetstar on an early Friday morning.  It was a new scene for both of us.  I have been to Johore but KL was more of a city.  It was crowded actually :D  The queue at the immigration was really2 long with so many tourists from the middle east.  I think they love KL so much!  Anyway, we took the KL express and so were like hungry and we arrived at KL around 11 at the KL central.  We looked for a place to eat and we found KFC =)) and we had porridge and coffee.  Our plan was to first go to Batu caves before checking in at our hotel.  After that really quick meal, we went down, ask the information counter and we were able to find the counter where we can purchase our tickets.  KL's metro is quite good actually but very crowded comparable to that of Manila.  Singapore's metro is also crowded but it's so well ventilated.  Anyway, the ride to Batu caves was less than an hour and the train was spacious enough.

We reached the Batu caves excited and the entrance was free.  Batu cave is actually an Indian house of worship for what seems to be a monkey god.  Before you could reach the cave which was situated atop from a rocky mountain you need to climb the stairs of hundred steps.  This was quite an adventure and not for the weaker knees :D  When we reached the top most and entering the mouth of the cave, we were surprised that it's really huge and from the ceiling came some sprinkles of water from the mountain.  I was actually careful not to be hit in my eye or mouth as the place was really full of bats (obviously).  Did I mention the temple is place of worship for some monkey gods? Oh yeah, there were lots of real monkeys along the steps, be warned.  The place was a first time for us and there were some priests doing some rituals for the visitors.  MJ and I were curious what it was about so we tried to actually go inside the temple and the priest began to pray in a different language - I assumed it was a Hindu ritual in Tamil or maybe Hindi.  Anyway, we donated 10 ringgits and the priest gave us a milk and a candle to offer to the monkey god.  I did not get actually what was the ceremony so I just went along.  I think MJ was thinking the same thing :))

Anyway, after the ritual the priest took out some thread and then tied it to my left wrist then he was like murmuring about money and donation and saying 10 ringgit which was really funny because I did not understand what he meant.  He began pointing to the 10 ringgit and then tried to point to my wallet =)) So I took 1 ringgit and gave it to him or rather put it in his mini basket. I did some research and found out that the god was not a monkey as it is Murugan and it's from the Tamil people. A war god who defeated the demon.  So I guess the ritual the priest performed to me is some sort of a prayer to defeat the evils or maybe protection from evils.  Anyway, it was an interesting experience.  When reading about this god, there is a festival for this god and the devotees prepare themselves by eating some kind of vegetarian diet and abstaining from self indulgence so like they do some form of fasting and on the day of the feast they are into a trance state and they pierce their body with some spear or some metallic or wooden sticks.  I think I have seen this in National Geographic which seems really horrifying but to these people its like a devotion to their god and it's quite interesting.  In the Philippines which is mostly Catholic, during holy week, devotees re-enact what Christ did to save it's people buy having procession of penitence where they perform flagellation to the extent of crucifying themselves.  It's actually bloody and scary and seemed painful.  I haven't tried it and I don't want to try it....  Anyway, we descended from the temple after some photo ops and that made it scary as I can feel my knees shaking.  Did I say that there were 272 steps all in all ? Yes, it was a huge relief after we set our feet on the ground.  While taking pictures, there was this creature which suddenly grabbed my water bottle and it was scary.  It was another monkey incident of mine.  Therefore I conclude I don't like monkeys.... After the Batu caves, we went back to KL via their metro.

We arrived at KL central and we looked for the lrt to go to Bunkit Bintang which was where our hotel. We arrived at the station safe but really hungry so went inside the Berjaya mall I think and ate at their food court.  The serving was quite big and so our starving tummies were satisfied.  After that, we trekked the whole Bukit Bintang looking for our hotel. It's a two star so it's not that known.  We asked people around and they do not know what it was and they don't even know the address.  It was hot and crowded and MJs camera was dead! Yeah she accidentally lose her hold of the camera so like it fell when she was about to take a photo :(  Anyway, our last resort was to buy a map. We paid the map for like 10 ringgit and it was a huge one.  We went inside the mall and looked for a place to sit.  As we were scanning the map some lady approached us and she then asked if where we were from.  I just told her that we were kind of lost and we are from the Philippines. She was wearing this Muslim scarf around her head and she was inside the mall so we weren't scared at all.  Then she began to speak in Tagalog and so we were relieved and she helped us find our hotel :) which was so kind of her.  She was actually from Zamboanga and I think she has a stall in the mall. I was trying to connect to her by saying that she's Chavacanno, but then she's actually Tausug :) We thanked her a lot (said in Filipino) for helping us and we bade good-byes :)

We again began touring Bukit Bintang and viola our hotel was found.  We checked in and and after that, we slept =))  It was so tiring waking up in the early morn and trekking around looking for our hotel.  we set our alarm at around 6PM or something and off we went to KLCC to see the very famous Petronas tower.  We actually took the lrt and good think it was a walking distance.  The Petronas tower is a must visit I should say as it is really beautiful :)  We took lots of pictures and since it was dinner time, we decided to eat at KLCC. MJ loved the food in KL =))

After our Petronas adventure, we headed back to Bukit Bintang looking for some night life party but couldn't find a nice one.  We were supposed to meet a friend, a former colleague but he was actually admitted to the hospital so we cancelled.... Anyway, we couldn't find a nice spot so we decided to just call it a night.

The next day was our last day =)) We haven't shopped and I heard shopping in KL is also fun.  Anyway, MJ wanted to go back to Singapore by bus so we had to be at the mall earlier to book our tickets and fortunately we got an early schedule.  We decided to take a bus because we wanted to do some sight seeing but it seems that the sight seeing was not that interesting as all the way, we just see palm plantations.  What else to do was to sleep, good thing we had the lazy boy type chairs in the bus so it was really comfortable sleeping in this moving vehicle.  It was a long 6 hour journey....

We arrived in Singapore just on time to attend a birthday party in our flat and it's another feasting/celebration ;) And yeah, after the party, MJ and I went to Clarke Quay to party together with Janice :D

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cooking up in Singapore

I will always be with you my baby :)) I mean this blog.

Abandoning is not the right term, maybe a cool off.... But I am the weaker being or maybe the one who has lesser pride for coming back.

The past months have been really dragging :(  Yeah, it felt suffocating a bit.  But yeah I just had to find time to enjoy and thank God's angels for surrounding me with really really nice friends.

Anyway, I joined the Singapore Alumni Association of CIT.  Spent a couple of gatherings with the alumni and had fun - specially the food.  I think I am having a bulging belly and I needed to exercise and for that, I regularly join my friends hiking Macritchie reservoir.  And I've got two very interesting encounters in those treks :)  One was I took out the m&m's from my handy bag since I noticed that there were no monkeys - Macritchie is a not so dense forest in Singapore which has a huge population of monkeys I suppose.  Yeah, I nibble a couple of almond coated chocs and suddenly a middle sized monkey jumped in front of me and to my surprise I threw the nips unto the monkey's face and put the other nips back into my bag.  I guess the monkey was also surprised of my hoarse voice as this monkey was not able to show its fangs.  The other incident was when I had a trek and was like so care free drinking my plus energy drink and as I took the bottle down on my left side there was this monkey suddenly jumped from behind grabbing the plus bottle and I was so horrified because it showed its fangs and next thing I knew was I shouted and threw away the bottle which actually worked because that monkey did not attack me.  It was horrible and my heart was beating to a chase... .  But don't get me wrong, I do not hate them :)) I guess next time I have to be very careful - part of which was my fault so it was all on me :P

Last Thursday, which was the Singapore National Day (Happy birthday Singapore, my 4th time... .) went out on a hiking session with my friends, I met some new friends I guess and they're pretty nice :)  I am a bit silent at first but I think I'll get noisy after I'll get to know them all... .

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I went to another friends' hide out to celebrate their first child's birth month wahahha I do not know what it's called :P  Yeah there was some singing and of course feasting some home cooked stuff :) All of the food we had were delicious and I got bloated and had a sudden urge to take comfort at the loo =))  for over eating .

For my next vacation, I'll be going back to Cebu (again) this coming October. This vacation will be all about birthdays :)  my brother's, my dad's and my cutie Theia, I hope she will not be scared of me anymore but yeah she's still a kid so I guess I'm an Ogre =))  I am also meeting my friend to push through with our planned charity organization helping some poor kids in our city - hopefully this works :D

Oh this coming September, MJ is visiting me in Singapore and we will surely have some fun!  I am uber excited I can puke =))

I have bought one of the greatest RPG - Diablo 3!

And I still get bored ... .

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cebu and Palawan :D

Well the longest vacation for the year was in Cebu and 5 days trip to Palawan.

I went to Cebu for my brother's university graduation :)  At last, he will be able to sustain himself and create some of his own adventures!

After some few days in Cebu, I went to Palawan with some of my closest friends from my university - Ate Mars and Jayka.

I was happy when I was in Cebu and I was amazed at how beautiful Palawan is.  The rock formations at El Nido were grand comparable beauty to that of Phuket.  Palawan is more pristine though :)

After Palawan, I spent some few days in Cebu and enjoyed the company of my family and friends.  Never mind the finances involved as the experience was priceless :D

This is quite long overdue same as other travel blog entries I had.  I am actually not sure of how to go through already about this blog.  At some point it felt boring, honestly... .  At some point I missed writing some personal accounts, great or utterly lame.   Maybe because of a lot of things that's going on inside my head right now, that I lost track of some of the things I want to do.  Anyway, this blog is not exclusive of the travels I made but rather those experiences I enjoyed and had managed to put a smile on my face ...

And for that, three weeks ago, I had my first dragon boat experience.  It was super fun and but then I had to be a bit disabled from the body aches I got :)  I was also following the Spartacus series - really gory which makes me sick but after a while I got used to all the blood and spilling organs.  I met old friends from Cebu here in Singapore.  Also visited my friend's house for some catching up - we played mah jong! lols :P

This week would have been another vacation for me.  I was booked to go to South Korea to visit Seoul, Jeju and Sorak mountain but then I had to cancel for some personal reasons - Mamul and Epoy enjoy your trip!

Lastly, I am actually in a dilemma of quitting or not from my job. Or maybe going back to the Philippines :(  Or going for an MBA?  This has bothered me for quite sometime already.  All I am asking for is God's guidance and blessing or wisdom... .  But yeah, I still have lots of financial obligations so, that will be a major factor in this decision which I'll be making. 

According to Francois Bacon, "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." Well the question right now, if I am that man he points out if not then I will first have to strive harder to be that wise folk :))  Just kidding!

I think I just need to stop over thinking and just believe in the Almighty that things will come at the right time and place.

Have a happy Saturday guys!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's day is ordinary

I did not celebrate the heart's day as they call it but then I can also say I did. Well, for another celebration, that is. Yes, I had a very bellytiful lunch with Mamul :) She told me that it was her gift for my birthday. I was so touched to be honest. She booked a buffet lunch at Mandarin Orchard.

Thanks Mamul for treating me in advance for my birthday! And because of that, I'll pray very hard for the approval of your vacation leave for South Korea :P

Here are the food we shared. And by the way, she's a very private person so I cannot show you her pic :D

She knows I like Japanese food ;) Arigat0 ....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Long over due

The Europe vacation that I had was quite too long to have come up in this site. Imagine I wrote it for what, 3 months ? I guess I was just busy doing a lot of things other than blogging.

After my Europe vacation, I went to Cebu with some of my friends to attend a wedding. I also went with my office mates/friends to Jakarta to attend another wedding. Will I be attending weddings my entire life ? I'll never know :( The reason I love attending weddings is that, aside witnessing two happy people sharing their future together, I get to shop and buy clothes for myself :)) I'm not sure if it's the later which has more weight though - ooops just kidding.

Anyway, after all the parties I had attended to, I booked a last minute flight to Cebu. I guess with all the busy life I had here in Singapore, I just missed my family and our dog :D

Yeah, I brought a lot of chocolates....

When I arrived in Cebu, I dined with my family in some fancy restaurants. Actually, we have never been to these types of places before because money was not that easy to come by. Thank God I have a decent paying job now and I get to bring my family to nicer and fancier places in Cebu. I hope we can go to a nice vacation outside the country. But seriously, I still love my dad's bam-i (noodle cooked the Visayan way and prepared during special occasions). Though my dad travels a lot in nearby islands in the Philippines, but mostly it's about family stuff and we don't usually go with him. So yeah, I'd like to bring them somewhere out of the country ....

I also had a great time meeting my friends and spending some catching up with them. It's fun to see familiar faces whom you have shared some of your life's wonderful experiences. And so I thought I had to plan for my next vacation....

One big event was the Sinulog in Cebu but I had a limited vacation which was just a week and so I left my natal land without experiencing the grandest festival in whole Philippines. Anyway, I am hoping not to miss the next year's celebration....

After a week of celebrating life the way I felt and wanted celebrating it, here I am poking my Vaio over spilled thoughts and not knowing what to write next. It's actually nearing 1AM and I better have a good sleep for I shall conquer another day :D Ciao!!!

Oh happy valentines day to God, my family and friends :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Schengen visa, how to get one ?

Schengen visa is your ultimate ticket to the EU member countries. But how to get one? What are the hassles and yeah how to be prepared?

In Singapore where I am currently based, all EU member countries has their embassies. For us, we got our luck at the Spanish embassy. Well, to be honest, we had a bad luck at the Italian as well as the German embassies. It felt that they were not just compatible with what we had planned for. Simply put that our initial plan was to stay the longest at Germany but then our point of entry was Spain. At first we filed at the Italian embassy but then the officer noted that technically we are staying longer in Germany because of the number of nights aka sleeps we will be making. So our first try was a bust. Then we applied at the German embassy and it proved useless as the officer told us that we should apply at the first point of entry which was Spain and for that we were not served - poop busted again. We actually called up the Spanish embassy and made clear that our first of entry is Spain but then we will be staying longer in Germany so where do we have to apply? And the Spanish officer over the phone told us that it has to be Germany. But then we had no choice right? We have been there (hello German embassy) and we got a refusal from our application simply because of the first country of entry. Anyway, we have booked everything and it's frustrating on our part to back out. What we did was we rescheduled our hotel and train bookings and made Spain our still first point of entry and now the country where we will be staying long. Good thing we we were rather early filing for the visa because the approval or rejection will take 3-4 weeks if you are from the countries like the Philippines and Thailand. We went to the Spanish embassy and we were able to submit our application and we have to wait for 3-4 weeks to get our visa.

For those who are interested to know the requirements, here are the list:
1.) Schengen visa application form which you can download from the embassy's website or alternately here :
2.) Photo attached to the application form
3.) Passport - original and photocopy.
4.) Singapore Identification (for foreign professional/permanent resident)
5.) Flight reservation or booking which has to be roundtrip.
6.) Medical insurance worth 60K Euro
7.) Employment certificate which states the status, salary, position etc. your HR should know what to write.
8.) Financial guarantee - at least two bank accounts which showed transactions for the last three months
9.) Hotel reservation from all the countries which you will be visiting

That's it, if you have some clarification or specific inquiries then you are free to call the respective embassies :)

As a final advise, try to file a month earlier so you will have more time to prepare and they very key is proper planning. Take note that the French embassy has this website where you can reserve for an appointment and usually it's almost always filled all the time.

Good luck to would be travelers to Europe ;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Rome, our last day in Europe

The next day was our last day in Europe. Not a bit on a rush since there was one last planned excursion for the day. We actually woke up a bit late and finished up around 9AM because usually, we start our day at around 7 in the morning.

Well, we were planning to go to the Vatican museum. We were going to see all of Vatican's glorious masterpieces. We commuted through train still and arrived at the station a bit drenched of Rome's summer. Don't be mistaken, the sun was not that scorching.... Well we arrived at the queuing area and there was a huge crowd. The servicing at the queue is quite fast so we went inside so unharmed and less sweat.

Our main target was the Sistine Chapel and so we had to walk a mile long I guess. It was a pleasure walk though seeing the different paintings, sculptures and some iconic epitaph of the Romans. The chapel was located at the far end and so we needed to walk a bit faster.

We arrived at the chapel and it was hugely packed. And seriously, no picture taking, and silence must be observed. Well, as human as we are, there are those who are so undisciplined and took pictures and the guards had to apprehend them. Since the place is crowded, you will hear from time to time some hushes and the guards will make it worse by shouting, "silence please". But yeah, the alfresco was really amazing. Imagine all the formidable forces of Italian renaissance joining forces with Michaelangelo. I would say Michaelangelo's "The Last Judgement" is really amazing. Sigh again, we were not allowed to take pictures. Well, consider this that camera flashes will destroy the paintings in due time so yeah we have to respect their rules.

After the tour at the chapel we were heading out. There will still many displays at the exit hallway. I was using my iphone most of the time because it was really handy. It was another long walk actually and we had to take a good pace because it was already lunch time.

We dined out at a nearby restaurant and I had tortellinis and some of my friends had other kinds of pastas. It was a huge meal as I have said they've got really huge servings.

After satisfying lunch, we headed back to our hostel, packed up, took the train going to the airport and viola, we were taking the Qatar Airways' 747 plane bound for Doha then to Singapore.

And that my friend was the most expensive travel I had(good luck to my savings {cough2x}) . Yet, it was the most amazing vacation I took and words and even photos are still not enough to describe the whole journey. I am planning to actually visit other countries in Europe and hopefully I win the lottery!!!

Ooops, some of the photos were in my external hard drive and I left it in Cebu when I had my new year vacation :(

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Euro tour : Venice and Rome :)

From Paris, we went to Venice!

We arrived early in the morning. There was an Italian guy who rode with us. He's Andrea and he works in a bar and at the same time studied to become a cop. We asked him what to try in Venice and he suggested we try the Spritz and ofcourse the pastas.

We alighted at a wrong station, in fact we had to stop at the next station. So we waited for Kay and Elaine as they went to the counter to get another train tickets going to Venezia.

We arrived at Venice rather fast and the ride was smooth. The sun was bright and the sky was blue - very relaxing to start the day. We looked for our hotel and it was just a few meters walking distance from the station. Since we arrived too early, we left our luggage at the hotel's store room and we decided to look for a restaurant where we could eat. There were a lot of choices but we were particular for a place which has a wireless connection for the internet - it's the only way for us to upload our pics you see. We found one near the church and the fun part was there was a procession of bride and groom obviously for their wedding. The street was filled with lots of tourists taking pictures at everything fascinating and the well the famous masks of Venice were all over the place. We sat and ordered food. I had a spaghetti bolognese and God it was so good, thank you ;) We ordered Spritz and it had the strong one and it was really strong. I got a bit tipsy. Since there was free wifi, we had to browse and update our facebook. After the sumptuous breakfast, we decided to go back to our hotel, and prepare for our day trip. We cannot allow to waste time here because we will be staying just overnight :)

After we had our keys and stuff in order inside our rooms, we decided to go to the Plaza San Marco. It was a few minutes ride of the water taxi. The sun was blazing which I loved. I really like Mr. Sunshine and the tan will just be very perfect. Anyway, we reached San Marco and it was really crowded. Well obviously the gondolas were parked everywhere, and so it never escaped our cameras. We just had fun watching stuff sold by vendors and really nice masks and shirts. Before we decided to buy or anything, we just explored the place together. It felt like walking my entire life but it was fun though seriously tiring. I would recommend you to really wear a good pair of shoes.

We got tired of all the walking and hungry at that so we decided to dine. Their serving was huge and I had the pasta with squid ink. After that, the girls bought some HardRock stuff. I'm not a fan of the shirts so I did not have one with me. Anyway, the highlight of the long walks was to witness the sunset and it was really beautiful. Leme-leme an application in my iphone is really helful in making my photos a bit dramatic.

After the long walks and all, we decided to go back to our hotel room and some of us wanted to still check out some stuff so there we strolled the nearby streets and alleyways in our hotel. Peter went to our room first to take a rest while the girls went somewhere while I stayed outside just people watching. I have with me some book so I read at the same time. It was getting dark outside so I decided to walk around. I saw Kay and other girls coming so I caught up with them. We decided to leave our belongings and look for some place to dine :D

Then we called it a day!

The next day was we went to see the glass factories at Murano. They actually call the glass as Murano glass. We went to there through the taxi cab and it was interesting coz they showed us how it was made. Oh my the glass masterpieces were expensive. It was scary to even touch them or transport them or anything. After the tour, we wanted to eat but then there was no restaurant so we decided to go back to the plaza and stroll again until we found a place to eat. It was another pasta adventure. So yeah, after that we strolled and strolled. My feet ached. There was one moment that we just took a seat at a corner. Wahhahaha. Honestly, Venice was more expensive than any other city we just visited and I think there was not much other things to do. Staying there for two one night and two days was good enough :)

We left Venice at around 9pm and the couchette we had a a first class so the train ride was really great. It was the first time that I was able to sleep really well on a couchette. Darn the trip to Rome was rather short like 6 hours....

Rome we were on the next day and it was a bit cold in the morning of 7.

From the Eurail station, we took the mrt and from there began walk. Our hostel according to the map was a walking distance actually from the MRT. But we got lost (a bit) and just asked some people around and good thing we found our hostel. It was too early and the attendant was not really expecting us to be there on time. So yeah we had to ring the attendant before we can settle. There was an old elevator system in that building which was interesting and a bit scary if you'd entertain some of your imagination that seriously. Anyway, we had a light breakfast, we paid the owner whom we thought as the attendant and viola we were able to use our rooms. If my memory served me right the room which would be for Peter and I was still occupied till 10 am was still being used so we had to park our things at the girls' room. Since we have to visit some interesting places in Rome, we had to start to wash up and prepare.

After everyone had their turns in freshening up, we decided to start our excursion. Our first stop was the Colosseum. Their train station was convenient in fact the ancient structure was a walking distance .... We took the group tour of the Colosseum. Even though the queue was discouraging, it did not stop us from enjoying the tour. Well, sad to note that the Italian tour guide was heavily accented and that proved really a bit annoying when she began explaining things. Anyway, after the group tour, we were allowed to explore the whole structure and it was fun taking pictures. It's indeed a wonderful experience.

Our next stop was to visit the ruins of the Palatine Hill. It was a walking distance from the Colosseum but we couldn't find the entrance, in short we got lost. We had to turn back and head to the opposite direction and from there found ourselves at the right entrance. It was fun walking and climbing up the hill. The ruins were amazing. I was walking the paths of the gladiators again. Well officially, the first one was at the Colosseum :) At the top of the hill there was a spring water, so we tried it and it was really fresh. I managed to fill my water bottle twice as I finished the first one. The 500ml of water bottle is actually expensive as it can range from a euro to 3. Anyway, we went up to the hill top a good view actually and there was a museum. We did not get inside and just waited for the girls there who were using the loo. After that, we decided to descend and our next stop would be the St. Peter's Basilica. We took the MRT then alighted at the nearest station. It was another long walk and our tummy were calling us of the hunger. So we decided to stop at a restaurant and ate to our hearts content. After that, we also bought some ice cream ala Rome. The servings were huge just to remind you guys. After that, we continued walking to the Basilica. It was my first time to see the Swiss guards and they looked like clowns because of their colorful costume during that time. Anyway, the entrance of the Basilica grounds was amazing. All the huge pillars lining up with all the Catholic Saints on top. We took some pictures and all. Then we decided to get inside the Basilica itself. Wearing of shorts and sleeveless is not allowed in this holy place and since Bud (our Thai friend) was wearing sleeveless, she could not have entered the heart of the Basilica but the good thing was, we had scarves to cover her.

When we got inside the Basilica the feeling was really great. It's really spirited and holy. I had this unexplained happiness and feeling of peace.

After the Basilica tour, we got out of the place and saw this small post and gift shop. We entered and bought some stuff. I bought two nice rosaries for my aunts in Cebu who are really devout Catholics.

After we had a great tour at the Basilica, we then decided to look for another Bernini masterpiece the fountain of Trevi. We saw one but it was not really the fountain we were looking for but it was a replica but still made by Bernini. Then we had to ask for directions again and after some few minutes of walking we found the real one. It was so crowded and all we could do was appreciate the beautiful fountain. The lights, the water splashing, the sculpture was really beautiful. I think it's one of the most beautiful fountain I saw in my life. The girls where busy throwing coins for their wishes (a bit superstitious). After the fountain trail we decided to call it a night and we headed back to our hostel.