Happy New Year, Happy 2018…

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!πŸ₯‚πŸŽ‰

May all your dreams and aspirations in 2018 come true. My wish is that I could be more active in updating my travel blog. That I could write and share my travels and some other interesting things in cyberspace.

For the past three years, I welcomed the new year in a place I don’t call my home. The first two was in Japan and now I’m in the neighboring country, South Korea. They had an amazing fireworks and LED show in Lotte World Tower that we watched ftom the sidewalk. It was freezing but we braved the cold just to witness how the Koreans welcome the new year.

My tips if you are planning to experience seeing their fireworks display:

1. Bundled up especially if you aren’t used to the cold weather. Temperature drop is common in the middle of the night.

2. Eat your dinner on or before 8 p.m. Most restaurants in the area closed early.

3. Stay inside the mall while waiting to escape the cold. Lotte Mart is open and you can do some shopping if you like.

4. If you’re saving money and taking the train, buy the return ticket before you go out of the train station.

5. After the fireworks, rush to the nearest train station. The crowd is huge with all the Koreans and foreigners catching the late night train. Train will run until 1:35 a.m.

It was an experience to board the Seoul Metro earlier today with the mob of people trying to get in. It was wild but had fun even if we were squeezed silly. If you don’t want that kind of thing, you can probably take the bus or taxi back to your accommodations. If you have young children with you, I advise you take a taxi!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

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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

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

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


Shopping in Japan…

I don’t know why but a trip is never complete without purchasing something from the country you’ve visited. It can be shopping for souvenirs, trinkets, clothes, shoes or the local delicacies. Aside from sightseeing, it’s the most enjoyable part of every trip. Ha!ha!

First thing I look for is the nearest grocery store, supermarket or market whenever I go to a new place. They always say that Japan is an expensive place to go for a vacation or to shop. Yes, it is. No doubt about it. But, there are also places where you can get good deals or value for your money. These are my favorites:

1. OK Supermarket in Tokyo – there’s bound to be one around the neighborhood. Bought my grocery supply of Tonkatsu Sauce, Nissin Curry/Seafood Noodles, Japanese Curry Mix, Japanese Coffee & Green Tea, Kitkat Green Tea and other Japanese food stuff here. Back home, it’s too expensive so while in Japan grab the stuff that you want! I even bought Shiseido and Kose facial toners here because it’s cheaper than in Matsumoto Kiyoshi.

OK Grocery Store in Koto area

2. Don Quijote or simply called “Donki” – is a very popular store and a must-visit place for tourist if you can’t find a local grocery. I love this place. The stuff they sell is varied. Japanese goodies for everyone! You can even find designer items in one of their floors. In Osaka, you can find a big store in Dotonbori area. In Tokyo, we found one in Akihabara while there’s a newly opened one in Asakusa. My family went crazy and shopped like there’s no tomorrow. The kids loved the Kracie Pop & Cookin’ food products that they found in Donki.

To check out the nearest store from your location you can go to their website:

http://www.donki.com/index_en.php?&gn=en


Donki or Don Quijote in Dotonbori area

Don Quijote in Asakusa

Don Quijote in Asakusa

The kids went crazy over this Pop & Cookin' they found in Donki

The kids went crazy over this Pop & Cookin’ they found in Donki

3. Daiso – or the 99 Yen Store. So many cute stuff in this place. You can buy something to give out to friends, co-workers from this store. And some things for the home.

Daiso in Shinsaibashi area, Osaka

Daiso in Shinsaibashi area, Osaka

4. Uniqlo – one of my fave brands and the company also have the lower priced GU store. You can find a lot of stores in Osaka and Tokyo. There’s always reduced priced items somewhere in the store. That’s why I love this shop because even in my own country, you can find good deals. Plus, the quality is very good. Some items are cheaper in Japan so you might want to check it out.

To find a store near your location go to their website:

http://www.uniqlo.com/jp/

Uniqlo

5. Muji – some items are a bit pricey but I like the food stuff that they sell. Some of which we can’t find in the franchised store in our country. The kids also love to shop for their pens here coz that’s what they can afford from their budget. Ha!ha! I liked the shoes for my little one and I regret not buying more in different colors and a bigger size for when the feet gets bigger. We found one of the biggest Muji store in Namba, Osaka.

Muji and Takashimaya in the same area

Muji and Takashimaya in the same area

6. Yodobashi – I almost forgot to add this to the list. I’ve been to the stores in Umeda (Osaka), Kyoto and Akihabara (Tokyo) and I enjoyed all of my visits. πŸ™‚ The kids were amazed at the capsule stations or capsule vending machines. They couldn’t get enough and if you don’t remind them that there’s no more room in their luggage for other things, they won’t stop.

Kyoto-Yodobashi

Yodobashi Umeda

Capsule Station

Capsule Station

There are more stores to go in for your shopping needs. Seiyu in Tokyo and Foodium in Osaka are supermarkets worth checking out too. It’s not so obvious I have a thing for grocery, eh? πŸ™‚ BIC Camera is also a place that you may want to visit too. The one in Tokyo even has Uniqlo and GU inside. ABC Mart sells discounted shoes and Haruta loafers is really cheap.Β  Bought outfits from H&M in Osaka & Tokyo because it was on sale! Daimaru has a lot of nice stuff too but I only bought food which I can afford. Ha!ha!.. For some high end shopping, check out Mitsukoshi in Ginza district, Tokyo. We went in there to check out the store and bought french macarons in Laduree which is located on the second floor. I like the Laduree Cafe in Mitsukoshi better than the one in Harrods. πŸ™‚

Lastly, when in Tokyo you have to try and buy Tokyo Banana! I bought from their store in Oshiage, Sumida which you can’t miss if you plan to go to Tokyo Sky Tree.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo