Kickass Reasons to Visit Singapore This Year

When it comes to Southeast Asia, there is so much choice to pick from in terms of countries. Obviously, you want to visit every single country because Asia is, well, Asia is Asia! But, for some, that isn’t possible. Not everyone can swan off for a year and take in the sights, sounds and tastes you know. If you are apart of this unlucky category, don’t worry because there is always a solution. In this case, the solution is to choose one country and go back to do the rest later in life. So, which one do you choose and why? The answer is Singapore and the why is spelled out below.

Asia City Singapore Building Hotelanlange HotelsImage Source Continue reading “Kickass Reasons to Visit Singapore This Year”

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.

My Top 5 ‘Buti na Lang!’ Moments When I Traveled Solo

As you can probably tell (or not) from the title of this blog post, Taglish ito because…why not? Gusto ko lang! Para maiba naman. There’s always a first time, pero limited edition lang ito kumbaga. Wow! haha

I remember nung nag-travel ako for 32 days nang solo, twice lang ata ako nakapag-Tagalog: when I met up with fellow travel blogger, Joshua, in Chiang Mai, and nung inampon ulit ako ni Riz when I went to KL. Hindi naman ako naubusan ng English pero nag-level up ang charade skills ko. :p
 
Anyway, ano nga ba ang ikkwento ko? Ahh, yung mga bagay na buti na lang ginawa ko nung bumyahe akong mag-isa. 

Kung inaakala mong ang post na ito ay isa sa mga ‘quit-your-job-and-travel-the-world’ posts, pwes, nagkakamali ka. Masyado nang gasgas yun. At sinasabi ko sa ‘yo, maganda lang yan pakinggan sa simula pero pag hindi ka na makabili ng kape sa Starbucks na dati eh inaaraw-araw mo, babalik ka rin sa corporate world. *evil laugh*

Review: Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa

Two nights of bunking with strangers at the hostel and I was already yearning for my own space, and space I got and so much more when I finally arrived at Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa.
Awang, Sheraton Mustika’s Public Relations Executive, picked me up from the hostel.
Photo from Starwood Hotels website
Our shuttle passed ‘under’ the grand ballroom, and we did a short ascent on a road lined by horse statues on both sides. It felt like entering an ancient city.
West Lobby

Continue reading “Review: Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa”

5 Itineraries to Help Kickstart Your Sourtheast Asian Adventure

Ever since I got back from my month-long Southeast Asian trip last August 2014, some friends have expressed their interest of doing the same, but don’t know exactly where to start.  

The thing is, when people ask me for my itinerary, I’m a bit hesitant to just give them what I used because it is customized according to MY traveling style. 
I found that it has changed over the years. I no longer feel the need to pack as many attractions as I can in day, and would prefer to pay more for convenience rather than sacrifice comfort for the sake of sticking to my budget. 

I also traveled solo, so my expenses were inevitably bigger than usual. And the only tickets I had pre-booked on sale were my Manila to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and Bali to Manila flights. The rest of the flights, I booked when I was already on the road.

I actually traveled for 32 days

Continue reading “5 Itineraries to Help Kickstart Your Sourtheast Asian Adventure”

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.
Wading pool with daybeds
I was given a room on the ‘upper ground floor’. Like most rooms, it has a private balcony overlooking the pools. Not satisfied with just a view of the pool? You may also book rooms with pool access.
The room may be modest in size, but the amenities are complete.
I love the clean lines and the freshness that the room exudes. It’s simple, but tastefully decorated.
 
The closet, though small, has ample space for your things. Bathrobes, slippers, and electronic safe are also found inside the closet.
The writing desk has a number of universal power outlets, and was easily my favorite spot. I spent most of my time here catching up with work. I just wish there was more space between the desk and the closest as it could be a nuisance sometimes.
The complimentary WiFi was fast, and didn’t require the usual annoying alphanumeric password. You just need to enter your room number, your last name, and voila!
Natural fibers were incorporated in some of the furnishings to somehow give the room a tropical vibe.

Of course there’s the usual coffee and tea making facility, mini bar, and complimentary bottled water that were replenished daily.

The bathroom was spotless and very spacious – almost half the size of the room, actually.
It has a separate toilet and bath, and the bath is fitted with a rainshower head, which is always a plus point in my book.
Toiletries, grooming kit, and towels were aplenty, and were replenished/replaced daily.
Buffet breakfast is served at Seminyak Kitchen which has a casual and cafe-like feel.
They serve fresh salads, cold cuts, cereals, eggs, noodles, and Indonesian and Western fare among others. My favorites are the freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit juices, and ice cream. And, get this, they serve breakfast all day!
Seminyak Kitchen
Since I have an early morning flight back to Manila, I decided to pre-arrange the airport service with the hotel. And when the front desk staff found out that I need to check out by 5:00 am and wouldn’t make it to the buffet breakfast, they made sure I’ll have a breakfast box ready when I check out. They filled it with Danish pastries and bottles of fruit pastries. It was a really sweet and thoughtful gesture that I have never experienced anywhere else. 🙂
Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak successfully blends the comfort and security of a hotel, the playful yet relaxed ambience of a resort, and the personalized service of a bed and breakfast.
What it lacks in Balinese design, it makes up for in Balinese hospitality.
It was definitely a sweet ending to my trip.

 

K

 
 
Jalan Camplung Tanduk No 103 SP,
Dhyana Pura, Seminyak, Bali, 80361 Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 8499 600

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 offf 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 ambiance.
One of the 5 traditional Lao houses
Pathway to the restaurant
Lovely seating area near the reception
Bikes guests can use free of charge
I arrived earlier than the check-in time so I had to wait until the room was ready. While waiting, I was served freshly-squeezed pineapple juice.
My room was on the second floor
My own veranda
 
I was booked in a pool view room, which is part of 2 new additional buildings.
 
I had a veranda with couch and plush pillows where I had – as the name implies – a view of the saltwater swimming pool.
 


Double doors and windows with elegant French cremone bolts added a bit of flair to the rustic room. 

Dark wood flooring, cream-colored walls, and jewel tone accents adorn the room.
 
I enjoyed walking around barefoot (even though there were slippers provided), but the creaking sound of the wooden flooring made me worried that I might be disturbing the guests downstairs.
 
The bed was decked in beautiful Laotian tapestry.


The room was spacious with high ceiling, and plenty of windows which allow for natural light into the room.
The usual amenities are present like flat screen TV with cable channels, air conditioning unit, telephone, cabinet, and personal refrigerator. 
There’s also a working desk with enough power outlets for your electronics.
The WiFi can be unreliable — abysmal, to be honest (as is mostly the case in Luang Prabang), but it wasn’t really a big deal for me at the time because I just wanted to relax after traveling for 2 days on a slowboat.

I had to use the AEE camera just to get a whole shot of the bathroom because it was a tad small. I wish they made it bigger given the large size of the room.


The tub doubles as the shower space. And even though there’s a shower curtain, the water from the shower inevitably splashes onto it, and eventually spills on the floor. 

Other than that, the room was fine for me. 

You can only hear the sound of crickets at night.
They serve a good breakfast set, too, which consists of eggs, ham, a bread basket with spreads, fresh fruits (in season), coffee, and fresh fruit juice.

L: Lemon Butter Chicken for dinner (room service); R: breakfast set
The Laotian staff are courteous and nice, but you have to be patient when making some requests because of their limited English proficiency.

Overall, I would recommend Villa Maydou for travelers looking for a relaxing stay in Luang Prabang.

K

~~ I was hosted by Villa Maydou for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~
 
 
Ban Meuna – Luang Prabang
Lao PDR
Tel: +856 7125 4601-04
Facebook: Villa Maydou