Travelogue…

I literally broke a promise to myself about writing at least once a month in my blog. It’s been four long months since my last post. 😰 I’ve been so busy with my ordinary (work) and not so ordinary life (traveling). While I was away hibernating from writing in my blog, I was able to go out and explore. Yes, that means I traveled to near and far away places. My “itchy feet” was tired but very happy exploring new destinations this year. However, my wallet wasn’t very happy! 🀣

In June 2017, I went to my dream destination in Europe. It was literally a “dream come true”! What used to be a favorite daydreaming habit of exploring Rome, Florence and Venice in my mind became a reality! Italy is I guess in everyone’s bucket list. I am not an exception. What can I say? I fell in love with the country! Ten days is not enough to explore all the beautiful Italian places. I will write about my visit there soon. 😊

July 2017 made me do some traveling within the country (Cebu City, Philippines) and region (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). The first one is for pleasure. Visiting the city where I grew up and hanging out with friends. The second one was for work which is boring if you’re all alone.

August 2017 had me packing for a trip with the family to Taipei, Taiwan. It was a very quick weekend getaway. The country is practically our neighbor but was never in our destination list until they decided to let us travel visa free! πŸ˜‚ Surprisingly, I liked the place and will definitely go back someday because two days was too short. I can’t get enough of the delicious street food. The price is value for money!

I can’t wait to write about my travel escapades. So dear readers, just hang in there! New content coming up… 😊

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Travel Tips for Tokyo…

I have shared Japan travel tips in a previous post but let me add some more from our last trip to Tokyo in December. First stop was always the grocery since we need food supplies to fill up the refrigerator in the apartment we rented through Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). Remember, we are budget travelers and therefore cost efficiency is important. πŸ˜„

Tip: Prior to booking, make sure the place is near a grocery store. Some items are cheaper and choices are better than the convenience store.

Grocery store Comodi-IIda


Store entrance below street level

Mini Grocery in front of the apartment


Tip: Near closing time some of the meals are already discounted up to 50% off.  Grab some to eat at your rented place or hotel. 

Maki Sushi Plates at the Grocery Store


Different Kinds of Tea


You can find different kinds of Japanese green tea at the grocery store. I always buy a box or more to give away to relatives and friends. It’s always a gift that they appreciate. I personally liked the roasted green tea. 

Tip: Choose your location wisely. Always research before you book and ask the landlord about the area 😊 Is it quiet and safe? Near the train station?

We got an apartment in Bunkyo area which is a quiet part of Metropolitan Tokyo. The train station is 3 to 5 minutes away. There’s a shrine nearby and the Shin-edogawa Park is walking distance. Restaurants and food places are aplenty. The Catholic church is also a 10 minute walk away.

Winter time view while walking towards the park


The winter view at the park


Tip: Prior to finalizing your booking, check out the area for restaurants or food markets. What we did was to use google earth to view the area. Bunkyo had good restaurants near the train station street level exits.

Tempura Place

Ramen and Gyoza Place


The go to food place πŸ˜„ Yoshinoya!


Japanese Curry House


Korean Burger Joint Lotteria


Fast food are always a happy sight for when you’re weary and tired from walking around Metropolitan Tokyo. Especially if you’re with family with growing kids who seem to be always hungry! πŸ˜„

Tip: Drop by the convenience stores like Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11. They do have instant meals that they can heat for you. Kids love the chicken kaarage that can fill their little tummy plus it’s affordable. 

Chicken Kaarage at a convenience store


You will not get hungry anywhere in Japan. For as long as there’s a convenience store! You will not get thirsty either for there are numerous vendo machines! Plus some even offered chips and sandwiches. 

Japanese Custard Cake Stall


A must try Takoyaki in Akiba area


Don’t hesitate to try out the street food stalls selling snacks like Japanese Custard Cakes. It’s a favorite of my kids and filled their tummy while walking around. Aside from the Takoyaki, of course. πŸ˜„



xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Getting Around Japan…

It’s that time of the year again in this side of the world. It’s summer time and people are preparing to escape to somewhere cold or to the beach. My social media timeline is full of travels to one of my favorite destination — Japan! It’s spring time and always a good time to visit since it’s also the Sakura season. The bitter cold of winter is no more. The gardens will be so pretty and colorful. The shrines alive with the trees turning green again. Oh, how I miss the Land of the Rising Sun!πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅πŸ˜„

After numerous trips to Japan, we finally decided to use a card to easily use their train transportation when we visited last December. Since we find the JR Pass too expensive for a vacation in Tokyo area only, we opted to get the Pasmo Card. JR Pass is okay if you plan to go around Japan. Like traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka. But in my opinion it’s not a good deal if you will just stay in one city. You can get a Pasmo or Suica card at the airport.

Pasmo Cards


We loaded Β₯10,000 in the adult cards and half of that amount for the kids 12yo and below. The card of the child was linked to an adult card. It can be personalized with your child’s name. The reason we chose Pasmo instead of Suica was because we can refund everything. πŸ˜„ Of course, some of the family members opted to retain the card as souvenirs or to be used for when we visit again.

Train Station going to Narita using Keisei


We used Keisei Electric Railway from Narita to Tokyo and back. Not the Skyliner but the normal train with lots of stops! If you aren’t in a hurry, you can save money by using the regular train. It will be 30 minutes longer but you can catch some sleep on the way to the city. 😊 If you are in a rush to get to the city, choose the Skyliner. It is more expensive though.

The Pasmo Card is not only for transportation but can be used to buy food at the convenience store or even in restaurants that accept it for payment. Even vendo machines accept it. Very convenient to have especially if you have children who are constantly hungry and a trip to Family Mart or Lawson to buy food is something that they enjoyed doing. My child lost her Pasmo Card with about Β₯3,500 remaining balance when we were in Akihabara. But it was linked to my card so we were able to retrieve the balance. We just reported it to the nearest train station and with a minimal fee we got a new card and the balance intact. The vacation wasn’t ruined!πŸ˜…

However, if you plan to move around Japan then you have to get the JR Pass. You will also have easier mobility and it will help to cut down on transportation cost. Check out www.jrailpass.com for more information. 

Getting around Tokyo and understanding their train network is tough. But with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the country is definitely preparing. With influx of tourists wanting to visit the country, most of the sites are tourist friendly. There are translations and menus in English. So different from the first time I visited Japan in 2008.

I know I should post more often. To be more active in my online journal. πŸ˜‚ I’m really sorry blog! You have been neglected but I hope I can find time to write some more… soon!πŸ˜„

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

The Love Month…

Time really flies so fast! We just celebrated Christmas and New Year not so long ago and here we are now in the month of love and romance. ❀️ 

February is probably the most “costly or expensive” month after December. Most especially for the men. πŸ˜„ This is the month when flowers have sky rocket high prices!πŸ˜‚ When restaurants are fully booked as well as the hotels and motels! 🀣 

Some say that Valentine’s Day is overrated. I don’t agree. Because we do need to celebrate love. It could be grand or simple but dating and spending time with your loved one on Valentine’s Day and rekindling the feelings you have for each other amid the chaos of one’s busy life is priceless. It’s a good time to remember why you fell in love in the first place. πŸ’– Kudos to those men who still spend so much money on flowers, chocolates and gifts. Even hardened and jaded women will probably turn soft as marshmallows to receive a flower or bouquet of flowers. Flowers and chocolates after all, never goes out of style!😍 

So, let me greet you dear readers a Happy Valentine’s Day! πŸ’πŸ’– May your day be extra special with your loved one… If you don’t have one yet, don’t despair. He or she is probably searching for you and haven’t found you yet! πŸ˜„ So open your eyes and heart to endless possibilities.

To the single ladies out there, here’s something for you!😜 

Who needs a Valentine when you’re wearing a Valentino? πŸ˜„πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ

Enjoy your celebration of love. ❀️ Til next time…


xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo


 

OlΓ  Macau…

A month ago we were in Macau for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary. As usual our plane tickets were booked in advance. Approximately nine months before the scheduled trip during one of Philippine Airlines (www.philippineairlines.com) seat sale. Bought an all-in round trip ticket for only USD 109 per person. At that time, the exchange rate to the dollar was still low so I saved quite a bit of money. πŸ˜„ If only I had known through a crystal ball that we were also bound for Hong Kong a week prior to the Macau trip, I could have save more money because we could have taken the ferry instead of flying in. 

All I wanted to visit in the country was the Ruins of St. Paul’s since I’m not fond of the casinos except maybe for their interiors and entertainment. I was curious with Macau because of friends travel photos with the nice ruins in the background. I had to secretly buy the airline tickets and surprised the hubby after I got them. He wasn’t interested at all with Macau as a travel destination! πŸ˜… We booked a room at Sofitel Hotel at Ponte 16 (www.sofitel.com) which was in the Macau Peninsula and far away from Taipa/Cotai strip with its new casinos. Although a bit old but the hotel was in a good location and I guess they recently renovated as the room was nice and the bed was comfortable. It was only about 5-10 minutes walk to the Senado Square and another 5 minutes to the Ruins of St. Paul. I was happy I stayed in that area. 😊

Ruins of St. Paul’s


I can’t say I fell in love with Macau but surprisingly I liked the place. I wouldn’t mind going back and probably in the next trip I’ll bring along the kids and we’ll watch the dancing water show in City of Dreams. What is nice in Macau is you can save transportation money by riding the free shuttle buses of the hotels in Cotai strip like City of Dreams, Parisian, The Venetian, Galaxy etc. It was like a hop on, hop off thing but all for free! πŸ˜„ Too bad, Sofitel doesn’t offer free shuttle service from the airport and back. Instead of taking the taxi which will cost around MOP 70, we opted to ride the bus to Sofitel for MOP 4.20. Anyway, there’s a map and directions on what stop you’ll get off. I suggest taking this route if your hotel doesn’t have a free shuttle. Will also allow you to have a bit of a city tour since the bus has many stops around Cotai/Taipa and Macau Peninsula. On the way home, we further saved money by taking the free shuttle bus at the ferry terminal to Cotai strip then we took the free shuttle of City of Dreams to the airport. Sofitel only have free shuttle for guests arriving via the ferry. 

When we were exploring, I thought I was in Manila. Most of the hotel staff, security guards, sales person at the stores and even airport security personnel were Filipinos! πŸ˜‚ While walking around Senado Square, you can hear the chatter in my native language. It was like I’m in Manila’s China Town. πŸ˜„ If you’re hungry, don’t be shy and just grab the freebies of the pork jerky and biscuits along the way. Many shops will offer free taste of their product. By the time you find a restaurant you’re full already and will probably just order coffee! Maybe you can buy the egg tart for MOP 9 per piece to go with the coffee since I didn’t find a store that offered free taste of the egg tart. 😜

Free taste of the pork jerky


The weather was nice in early December. Just the right temperature to go walking around town. Some parts around the city center is hilly. I was happy I wore rubber shoes for a comfortable walk and the feet did not die. 😊 The two day trip was enough to explore Macau and their casinos. The Venetian was the most popular among the hotel casinos based on the number of people or visitors roaming around. It was suffocating actually. I enjoyed Studio City better. Just the right number of people and not too crowded. 

I saw a lot of tourists shopping in the shops inside the hotel casinos. But, Senado Square area has many shops too. There was an Esprit outlet shop and numerous stores selling shoes, bags, make ups etc. Of course Baleno, Bossini and Giordano shops are present. 😊 You can’t miss them since you’ll pass it on the way to the Ruins of St. Paul’s.

Macau has a charm of it’s own. I enjoyed my short stay. I didn’t plan to visit again after our trip but someday I will probably go back with the younglings. 

Hotel view of the peninsula


Pardon with the low quality photos. All of them were taken from my iPhone 6…

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo


Kampai to the Year 2017…

First, let me greet everyone (virtual visitors and friends) a Happy New Year! May all your aspirations for 2017 come true and abundant blessings bestowed to you and your family.

It’s now two years in a row that I welcomed the New Year in Japan. Last year, we were in Osaka and now in Tokyo. It’s dreadfully cold but I don’t mind even if I had colds and my nose became dry. Moisturizer was a big help but still it’s painful when you wipe your nose!πŸ˜‚ Celebrations in Japan to welcome the New Year is totally different from my home country. It’s quiet at midnight! πŸ˜„ 

To see a fireworks display we had to go to Odaiba area. The show started at 7 pm on Dec 31 (New Year’s Eve) and lasted for 10 mins. It was cool as there was even a Hello Kitty figure up in the sky. Too bad wasn’t able to capture it! 

Fireworks at Decks in Odaiba


The giant Gundam is still in Diver City until March 2017 but since we had a photo taken on our previous trip, we didn’t bother to pose again. Shops closed early and at 9 pm we were on our way home to our rented Airbnb apartment (www.airbnb.com)  in Bunkyo area. 

I know I should write more about the recent trip/s but I got so tired from the cardio exercise a.k.a. walking that I think I will have to bid adieu for now. See you again soon when I post my Macau & Tokyo escapades!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

The Holiday Season…

It’s been a busy past few weeks. Although I traveled to Macau in early December after the recent Hong Kong trip, sad to say I have no time to write due to the holiday season. In our country, Christmas is a big thing. When the “ber” months kicked in, it’s already Christmas time!πŸ˜„ I’ve been busy preparing for the parties, last minute shopping for godchildren and packing for our next trip in two days time. 

Anyway, I want to greet my dear readers/visitors a very Merry Christmas! πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸΌπŸΎ I hope you enjoy the festivities and the food!

I will definitely post something about the Macau trip soon. For now, let me get some sleep first. πŸ˜‚ We just finished our Noche Buena meal and my tummy is so full. My waistline is getting bigger & bigger everyday. 😰

2016 Travel Photos


Lastly, I hope this season will bring us peace, love and harmony. I also want to thank my readers for dropping by. I hope I was able to help you. 

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Hello Hong Kong…

It’s been five long years since I’ve been to Hong Kong. It was one of my favorite destination for food and shopping in the past. When shopping there is still cheap. When the exchange rate is still 1 HKD = Php 3. πŸ˜„ Although it still has it’s charm, I think the decision to skip a visit to the city / country for a long time was a good decision. Mind you, I love the weather. I love how cosmopolitan it is. I love the city view and the neon lights at night (what’s left of it in Nathan Road). 

View of Hong Kong Island


But, what I don’t particularly appreciate or love which I “purposely” tried to forget when we booked our tickets for this quick weekend get away is the rudeness of some of the residents to tourists! 😰 They totally should learn politeness from the Japanese, welcoming and friendly smiles from the Philippines and probably they should practice patience for it is a virtue after all. πŸ˜… The snotty attitude should definitely go. I guess, going back to Hong Kong in the future will only be to transit from one destination to another via Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com)

Talking about Cathay Pacific, their service for short flights is a bit disappointing. You pay a bit more but the service is at par with budget airlines or low cost carrier. Not in league anymore with their contemporaries like Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) or even Philippine Airlines (www.philippineairlines.com) Is the airline deteriorating to that of a low cost carrier? Were they cost cutting so much that serving food is through a paper bag? 😱 Even the way they treated the passengers like ensuring immigration cards or health forms are given were not done. And I just booked a flight to Europe next year prior to this one without thinking or checking if the service is still at par with other airlines like Qatar and Etihad which offered great savings too. Let’s just hope that for long haul flights even if in economy class their service will improve. πŸ™πŸΌ

Anyway, let’s set aside my angst about the rudeness, the airline and just focus with my quick trip. We arrived late at night and we were supposed to take the taxi for HKD 250 to our AirBnB accommodations in Tsim Sha Tsui but we found out that going by bus was cheaper at HKD 33 per person. We still had our Octopus cards from our previous visit so we just loaded funds at a counter after we exited the arrival area. Kids fare for the bus ride to the city is 50% or HKD 16.50 which made our total bus fare go down further. Airport Express is expensive and we decided to use it on the way back to the airport for the flight home. It’s convenient especially if the airline have an in town check in at either the Kowloon or Hong Kong Station. We availed of the group of 4 train tickets at HKD 250 and added a child’s ticket at HKD 45. Our flight was at 10 pm but we checked in early around 12 noon so that we can still have time to explore the city for the rest of the day.

Airport Express Station in town check in



Airport Express train tickets


We were already familiar with Hong Kong as we’ve visited before but it’s still better to have google maps or waze to help us with our journey. So upon arrival at the airport we bought a SIM card with data good for 3 days at HKD 48. Good thing they have alternatives depending on how long you will stay in the city. Of course, the longer days you choose, the higher the cost!πŸ˜„

Our weekend was whirlwind. It was raining on our first day and didn’t get to visit Mongkok for some cheap shopping. I don’t know if it’s still cheap though because I think everything in Hong Kong is expensive!πŸ˜‚ We opted to eat and just did our cardio exercise through walking. πŸ˜„

We heard about Delicious Kitchen from a friend and decided to try it out. The pork rib was delicious! And surprisingly the restaurant’s attendants were kind and polite. I highly recommend trying this restaurant when in the city.

Delicious Kitchen


Delicious Kitchen menu


Pork Rib rice topping


Walking is good for the heart and so this trip was all about walking around the city with some MRT rides in between and eating. The weather was nice except when it rained. One food stop was Pizza Express which is not yet franchised in our country as of this writing. And because we were so hungry, I only had one photo of the pasta and no photos of the pizza! πŸ˜… But, the food was really good. There’s one in the airport so if you missed it in the city, try it there! 

Pizza Express


Pizza Express’ Carbonara


Although the trip was very short, we were still able to bond together as a family. Discovered some places we’ve never been to before and took pictures like the usual tourists. πŸ˜„ Eventhough our feet were tired after all the walking, we still managed to smile for the camera!😜

Til next my post…

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

A Short Trip to Vietnam…

I got lucky and was sent for a very quick business trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam a few weeks ago. I was excited because I’ve never been there before. A new place to visit will get anyone excited or afraid. πŸ˜„ Good thing, I was born with an itchy feet and so I cannot wait to explore the place.. after work, of course! πŸ˜… Forgive me but the photos were mostly taken at night. 

Vietnam is a developing country and I know I shouldn’t expect too much. But, Ho Chi Minh City has it’s own charm. I was lucky to stay in Caravelle Hotel located in District 1. It’s just a few steps from their Opera House and walking distance to places I wanted to see. 

The Opera House


The Opera House with a Lamborghini HuracΓ‘n parked in the side street


I was a bit afraid though because my Vietnamese colleagues warned me to be extra careful as there are petty criminals on the street. I was advised to take off my necklace and not to use my phone outside. Just to be safe I guess since I saw policemen around the area. Seeing them around calmed my nerves. And besides, there were a lot of tourists walking around too!😊 

A short walk from the hotel brought me to one of their famous landmark which is the Notre Dame Cathedral. Too bad I wasn’t able to go inside the cathedral to light a candle or say a little prayer. πŸ™πŸΌ It would have been nice to see the inside of the church but was there on a weekday and it was closed.

Notre Dame Cathedral at night

Notre Dame Cathedral with the Statue of the Virgin Mary

Beside the church is the Saigon Post Office. FYI, I also collect stamps among the other things I collect (ha!ha!) so a post office definitely interested me. But it was already closed when I got there so the quest to buy a souvenir mint stamp did not materialize. πŸ˜„

Saigon Post Office


The busiest area at night was probably the Ho Chi Minh City Hall square where the statue of Uncle Ho stand tall. A lot of people were at the square. Tourists mingling with the locals. The city hall building as with most of the buildings around was French Colonial architecture and beautiful.

Ho Chi Minh Statue with the City Hall at the background


What scared me most while walking around though were the motorbikes! I haven’t seen so many on the streets before. Bangkok, Thailand have their share but I think nothing beats Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in my opinion. Crossing the street was a big challenge for me. And I thought we had a lot of motorcycles / motorbikes in the Philippines. The Vietnamese were simply natural in that transportation. 😰 I pity those driving a car. The taxi drivers were honking like crazy but the motorbikes just went cruising without a care in the world. Criss crossing streets, turning without an ounce of fear for incoming traffic! I’ll probably die of a heart attack or stress related disease if I have to drive a car in the streets of Vietnam. πŸ˜‚

Ho Chi Minh City Hall Square at night

I wasn’t able to go to their famous Ben Thanh Market although it’s only about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. I got lazy already and a little bit afraid to venture out there on my own. Maybe, next time. ☺️

What made me happy on the way to the office and back to the hotel was to see in different locations our good ol’ Jollibee! πŸ˜‹ We exported the “jolly bee”. 🐝

Jollibee in Ho Chi Minh City

I liked Vietnam. Reminds me of some of my country’s cities before modernization came in. They still have a long way to go but the trains and highways are in the works already. I just hope they will preserve their buildings to mingle the old with the new. 

I have more stories to tell and some tips but it will have to be for next time… πŸ˜‰

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo