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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nepal for Non-Trekkers

Undoubtedly, the first thing that comes to mind when people hear 'Nepal' is Mt. Everest. 

Sure, tourists from all over the world flock to Nepal mostly to climb the 'roof of the world', but did you know there's plenty of other activities for non-trekkers?



How to go to Nepal from The Philippines


First things first. There are no direct flights from Manila. 

The most economical way would be to book a flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur from any of the LCCs (low-cost carrier) then book another flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu.

Filipinos can get up to 30-day visa on arrival, and the process is very straightforward. You just need to fill out the visa application form, attach a passport-sized photo, line up at the visa on arrival counter, pay the $25.00 fee, and that's it!

KATHMANDU


It was almost midnight (thanks to our delayed flight) when we arrived in Kathmandu, so we didn't get to see the city until the following day.

First order of business was to visit the 3 famous Durbar Squares (plazas) of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

Maju Deval

The driver we hired decided to drop us off at Kathmandu Durbar Square despite being instructed to bring us to Bhaktapur first.

There were pilgrims spinning prayer wheels, vendors hawking their wares, rickshaws whizzing past people, taxis that kept honking like there's no tomorrow, and stray dogs and cows all coming in from every direction. There was so much going on, I was just overwhelmed. 

For a minute, I just stood there trying to take it all in. Kathmandu's chaos is like Manila's, Ho Chi Minh's, and Yangon's combined.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: Courtyard by Marriott Bali Seminyak

It was the last two days of my month-long Southeast Asia trip, and I've had the privilege of spending it at the newly-opened Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak

I traveled from Ubud, and despite being new, my taxi driver didn't have a hard time finding the hotel. It's located just a few minutes away from Seminyak Beach and high-end beach clubs, and a stone's throw away from restaurants, shops, ATMs and foreign exchange.

As if going through airport security, security officers and a K9 inspected the taxi thoroughly. Guests were also required to pass through a metal detector, and the bags, through the scanner. I noticed this is a standard in Marriott properties as guests' safety and security is of utmost importance.


Lobby

The cheerful staff welcomed me, and offered a welcome drink and cold towel. Check-in was quite a breeze too. 

By the way, if you're a Marriott Rewards member staying at selected Marriott properties, you can skip the queue by checking-in/out through the Marriott Mobile App. How cool is that?

Pool Bar
Didn't mind waiting because I had this view

I arrived earlier than the official check-in time, and had to wait a bit for the room to be ready. While waiting, Melinda, one of the front desk associates, chatted with me and shared some info about the hotel. We also talked briefly about my trip.

Immediately noticeable from the lobby is the Pool Bar. 

If you think the pool is small, well, think again. It's actually a three-tiered pool with a lagoon-shaped main pool in the middle, and a more shallow, almost wading pool-like part towards the end, which is perfect for kids.

I arrived on a very sunny day, and the pool was glistening. The bright blues looked so inviting it made me want to jump in.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Villa Maydou, Luang Prabang

When the tuktuk driver dropped me off at a temple, I thought he brought me to the wrong place. 

A group of Germans then approached the same tuktuk driver, so I asked them if I was indeed at Villa Maydou. They assured me I was in the right place, and pointed me towards the reception inside a two-story house with the numbers 1936 inscribed on the facade.

This signage was on the other side facing the road to Nam Khan Bridge.
The tuktuk driver dropped me off inside this temple's compound.

Tucked between a temple and the Nam Khan bridge, Villa Maydou is located in a quiet area a bit off from the city center

It's sort of a compound with 5  traditional Lao houses separated by lush gardens for privacy. 

I immediately fell in love with the ambience!
One of the 5 traditional Lao houses
Pathway to the restaurant