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Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Taste of Java in Yogyakarta

Nothing excites me more than exploring another country for the first time, so I made sure to include Indonesia in my month-long solo backpacking trip around Southeast Asia

My first stop was Yogyakarta (often called Jogjakarta or Jogja), a special administrative region in the island of Java. 

I arrived on a late afternoon flight from Kuala Lumpur via AirAsia, and took the Trans Jogja bus to EDU Hostel where I stayed for 2 nights. Sure, it wasn't the best accommodation, but for about $7.00 a night with breakfast, it's definitely value for money. 

The hostel also offers several day tours including, of course, tours to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.

Borobudur looking 'golden' shortly after sunrise

Together with 3 Brit girls, we booked the 'Beautiful Morning at Borobudur' tour thinking it includes sunrise viewing. We only realized the following day that we got a different tour because it was already past 5:00 am when we were picked up from the hostel lobby by the tour operator. It wasn't a big deal for me anyway. 

Even though the sun had already risen by the time we arrived, we could still feel a cool breeze as we walked along the park leading to the massive temple. 

I am always in awe whenever I visit an ancient temple. It's fascinating how people in the early days managed to build such majestic structures without modern technology and equipment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Destination: Dubai

Never did I imagine that I would go to Dubai for vacation. But because my friend and I scored ridiculously cheap roundtrip tickets - like, $30.00 cheap - last January 2015, we just had to go. :D


First things first. Filipinos need a visa to go to Dubai. Based from experience, we learned there are several ways to obtain a visa:

  • The easiest way is to have someone living and/or working in Dubai lodge your tourist visa application at a Dubai-based travel agency. We just sent scanned copies of our passports, passport-sized photo, and flight details. 
  • Some hotels can also 'sponsor' your stay and process the visa for you, but most of them require a security deposit of AED5,000 (around Php65,000!). To get the refund, you must send them a copy of your exit stamp upon your return to the Philippines.
  • Some Dubai-based travel agency can sponsor your visa if you don't have any family or friends in Dubai, but most of the time, you also have to avail of their hotel and/or tour package.
  • Lodge your visa application through a local (PH-based) travel agency. However, we found this very expensive. The visa fee can range from Php9,000.00 (e-visa) to Php12,000.00 (hard copy).
To avoid being offloaded, make sure you have the proper visa, lodging reservation/s, tour bookings etc. to prove that you really are just going there for leisure. 


As one would expect from flying long haul with a low cost carrier, we were confined in a very small plane with little or no legroom for 9 freaking hours. I probably suffered from gluteal amnesia, I wanted to find a chiropractor as soon as we landed.

Thankfully, the hotel we booked was less than 10 minutes away from the airport. I swear I could hear my spine thanking me as soon as I laid on the bed.

photos from Ibis Deira City Centre's Facebook page

This was our home for 7 nights and we didn't have a single problem. Location's unbeatable, too, in my opinion. It's just across Deira City Centre and Carrefour, and only a 3-minute walk to the Dubai metro. It's pretty safe even at night. One time we got back from Abu Dhabi at almost midnight and we still felt secure walking to our hotel.

The buffet breakfast's pretty modest, but decent. I think I actually miss it especially the pain au chocolat lol


Gold Souk, Textile Souk, and Spice Souk
Abra on Dubai Creek

Monday, April 4, 2016

Video: Dubai Vacation

While I'm still cooking up the blog post, here's a short video of what transpired during my Dubai vacation last September 2015.

UAE Trip 2015 from Kat Torres on Vimeo