Here are some interior and architecture shots of Sheridan Resort & Spa in Sabang, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan I took for AsianTraveler Magazine Philippines. Sheridan is, to date, the largest beachfront resort in Sabang, popular for the Puerto Princesa Underground River which was listed in the New 7 Wonders of Nature a few years back.
Well, the world didn’t end and unfortunately, we still have credit card bills, among other things, to live with. But of course, there is also so much more to look forward to and as much to be thankful for. 2012 has been a great year for me, especially in travel (and for this, let me introduce you to my travel blog—Two2Travel). Owen and I compiled six of our favorite snapshots each and these are my picks.
Before this year closes, I’d like to say thank you to the Universe for putting together such an awesome year for me and the people I love, and yeah, for not letting this beautiful world of ours crumble into pieces. Coz we still have to see the rest of it.
My favorite moments from 2012
I took this photo at the outskirts of downtown Coron. Owen and I rented a scooter to retrace the road we passed by earlier going to the airport, seeing as everyone was on two wheels as well. It was an easy-breezy first day which didn’t prepare us for another motorcycle
misadventure on our third day. It was, to me, our best trip yet.
This is one feature I’m really excited about. Owen and I asked three of our favorite travel photographers for tips on how to improve travel photography for our readers at Two2Travel, and they gladly obliged!
Kindly click on THIS LINK to read the full story on Two2Travel. Feel free to share with your friends! Merry Christmas!
While on assignment for AsianTraveler Magazine in Cebu, we stayed at Hotel Elizabeth along Archbishop Reyes Avenue. But since our itinerary brought us to the highlands of the city, we were only able to sleep here on our first and last nights.
Like its sister hotel in Baguio, this one in Cebu—designed by Tessa Prieto-Valdes—has a cozy-clean vibe and is laden with murals and photos of Europe, from Santorini to The Colosseum.
You can’t ask for a better location as well—Ayala Center Cebu is right on the next block (or is it one block away?), near enough to go to by foot. More importantly, it’s right within the delivery area of Handuraw, that Cebuano pizza house I always try to visit whenever I am in Cebu.
Flora Cafe, the hotel’s restaurant, turned out to be our happy place. The hotel staff deserve special mention as they were ever kind and courteous to two ladies who barged in at 9 PM to have dinner until well past 11. As I always do whenever I am overcome by hunger and exhaustion, I order more than is sane considering I was going to sleep less than two hours after. In this case, it was the Mixed Seafood Delight that came in a surprisingly generous serving (or is it not meant for just one?). Two hours after, I managed to clamber out of the thick sauce, clams, and prawns alive and happy. I had ordered a blueberry cheesecake for good measure, but I had to take it up to my room to mull over the whole night because I was already too full.
Before this, on our first day, I remember ordering a tiger prawn dish that was also unbelievably big (work meant we had to rush, so no photos for posterity for this dish). Since I obviously love my seafood, anywhere that knows its seafood well deserves another visit if the wind ever blows me to Cebu another time.
Hotel Elizabeth is located along Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City. This is not a sponsored post.
Tune is another of those hotels that charge relatively cheap but offer above average rooms for guests. And it’s an especially convenient choice for those who are coming in and out of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), or simply Clark Airport, a little over 6 kilometers away.
And it’s also perfect for travelers who love their air-conditioning, hot-and-cold showers, and properly locked doors—
—which is why I like it (although I am a perfectly happy camper too).
The Tune franchise in the Philippines is under the global Tune Hotels Regional Services Sdn Bhd group of Malaysian mogul Tony Fernandes, who also owns AirAsia Inc. The Tune concept is the same limited service that LCCs like AirAsia are applying: they deliver the basics and offer a host of optional services. In Tune’s case, these include cable TV, WiFi, and even air-conditioning.
And it makes sense—I certainly wouldn’t pay for TV. WiFi is debatable, but I can live without it most of the time. Air-conditioning comes in 12-hour and 24-hour options—you can only take advantage of this one if you’re staying for 12 hours or less.
We were invited by Philippines AirAsia Inc. to stay a night at the Tune in Angeles City, Pampanga in March when we were about to cover its first flight to Davao the following day for AsianTraveler magazine.
Coming from Baguio, we were particularly exhausted from the five-hour transit and welcomed the prospect of resting right away. Thankfully, our room did not disappoint: the pillows deserve special mention, as they were exceptionally soft and rival only those I slept in in Boracay.
Save for space to walk around, there are ample amounts of everything, including a rainshower. The basics were covered—wall-mounted flatscreen (which we didn’t use, because we weren’t TV people); lamps; hot and cold shower; two single beds (although they also have rooms with double beds); and a wall-mounted table that’s perfect for writing or as an additional space for belongings. The room also had a wall-length mirror at the back which made the space look wider.
Like air tickets, room prices at Tune can vary each day. Prices go anywhere between P400 and P1,200. It has provided an online booking facility for this.
During our stay, a downstairs cafe was already under construction, so I hope it’s now operational as food had been our main problem then. Since there were no cafes nearby save for hotel restaurants that were unluckily closed when we got to the place, there isn’t any other option. For late-night travelers, this could be such a hassle. Unfortunately, food deliveries in fastfood chains are not allowed beyond 7 PM (if you’re a city, should you at least make deliveries available till 9 PM?).
The hotel also offers car transfers to Clark airport, and that’s going to set you back by P350.
Tune has other branches in Ermita, Makati, and Cebu. I haven’t tried theirs the last time I was in Cebu, but this one was quite satisfactory.
You may visit their website here.
(A) Dau Terminal (where most buses from north and south drop passengers)
(B) Tune Hotels, Angeles
(C) Clark International Airport
Any other budget-friendly but chic hotels you’ve stayed at? Please share in the comments box.
This photo was taken in the town of Tibiao in Antique in the Visayas. The river shown is used today for kayaking, something we didn’t get to try because of the bad weather.
When I took this photo I couldn’t wait to put in on Photoshop to play around with its colors. I tried shooting in Infrared once or twice in the past, but it’s far too technical for my taste. This false color post-process is more like me—instant.
It was a fairly simple thing to do—one stroke of genius from Nik Software’s Indian Summer, which I just had to adjust to give me the false color on the second photo. I was pretty much happy with the result.
What do you think?
Let’s face it: flying to Caticlan is so freaking expensive a one-way ticket costs half my sister’s yearly tuition. Kalibo is almost always the better choice for the average Pinoy flyer who wants to get to Boracay with a bit more money to spare for actual enjoyment rather than a plane ride that’s just two hours earlier–theoretically.
Which brings me to another way we average wanderers can reach Asia’s best beach and the world’s second: by ship.
Hours may be long, and the seasick among us may cringe at the thought, but this new traveling experience isn’t as bad as we stereotype sea travel to be (at least for me).
2Go Travel–a venture by Negros Navigation, Superferry, Cebu Ferries, and Supercat–started offering Batangas-Caticlan-Batangas trips only last March, and the vessels servicing this nine-hour route, I found out as I was aboard Cebu Ferry 3 one June weekday, were outfitted to outclass a typical seaborne bunk.
Let me count the ways why:
1. Above average sleeping quarters.
The ship provides four classes of accommodations, three of which are airconditioned: the Stateroom, the Cabin, and the Tourist (the Super Value Class, also their cheapest, is non-airconditioned).
We stayed in one of the cabins, which had two double bunks, accommodating up to four people at a time. It was my first time to ride a ship, and I must say I was impressed–the room looked and smelled clean. It also had everything I would normally expect from a hotel room–a private bathroom, flatscreen TV, table and chair, a cabinet, and yes, a large mirror. Of course, each room has four lifejackets as well.
I did sleep quite well, save for one or two instances I woke up feeling nauseous (sleeping while floating needed some getting used to, as did sleeping horizontally on a moving bus and spending 14 hours on a train, the latter I’m yet to write about).
2. Chic common spaces.
Those who may have qualms about traveling by sea may be swayed by the vibrant, chic interiors of this hotel. You have to hand it to them really–as a roll-on, roll-off vessel that transports cargo trucks at the same time, they could simply have opted for dank interiors that remind you of hospitals.
Instead, the lobby has cushioned chairs and three gigantic flatscreen TV sets all around. It looked the way any decent hotel should, and that’s saying something considering what we sometimes have to pay for in other places.
The lounge, on a mezzanine no less, offers spectacular views from outside. The ship’s cafe–which serves full meals–was done in the same tasteful touch as the other spaces in the hotel.
You can also enjoy cocktails at the bar, which is located at an open deck one level above the cafe. An in-house band plays every night, and lounge chairs are also provided. Between that and enjoying the quiet of your room, I believe the nine-hour cruise to Caticlan would pass by without a hitch.
3.Great value for money.
2Go’s rates offer great value since a fare computation includes both the cruise fare and the accommodation, and the cheapest one goes for about P460.
To book a Batangas-Caticlan trip, you can use their online booking engine (http://travel.2go.com.ph/) in the same way you would book a flight.
It does offer group packages for at least 10 persons. A cabin-type accommodation would cost P2,100 round trip per person during the lean season (from March 1 to 21 and June 16 to November 15, 2012), and P2,700 during the peak season (March 22 to June 15, and November 16 to December 15, 2012).
4. Best for families and groups of friends.
The accommodation types would naturally compel you to bring in the rest of the gang for some nine or so hours of whiling the time away, alternating between cocktails and TV and plain old staycation. And since 2Go’s group rates are very competitive, provided you have more time than cash to spare, it offers a fairly good deal for families who’ve been wanting to go on that Boracay trip but have been continually thwarted by prohibitive airline rates. Its facilities certainly make group travel the norm rather than the exception, although going solo might not be that bad too.
5. Different take on slow travel.
There may be just two types of people who would go for this cruise: those who are after the value for money, and those who are after the travel itself. Sure, the nine-hour transit, plus the almost two-hour travel from Manila to Batangas, would eat up so much time others wouldn’t even want to hear any of it. But for those who can, regardless of the reason, it’s simply another way to travel. The sheer novelty of it all is so appealing you just have to go for it.
DIRECTIONS FROM METRO MANILA (CUBAO) TO BATANGAS PORT
View Larger Map
BUT THE DESTINATION ISN’T BORACAY:
A hike to seven waterfalls
A cruise along the cleanest river in the country + a crocodile love triangle
Riding a canoe that won’t please anyone who couldn’t swim
This trip was hosted by Kairosolutions & 2Go Travel. Thanks for reading!
There are many reasons why you should not go for Isarog’s sleeper bus to Bicol, or any other bus for that matter.
Between a 10-hour butt-numbing ride inside a freezing cold bus and a 45-minute flight that almost always costs just as much, taking road trips isn’t always comfortable (and let’s not even get to the snoring bus seatmate from hell part).
But as it happens—and as this blog post’s title would suggest—here are some reasons why you should, even just for one time, try giving your butts some break.
But before anything else, an important note to the reader: I am NOT connected in any way to the bus line. This post is an honest review of my experience with their sleeper bus in April 2012, which I’m sharing with you in the hope of helping you. I did not receive any remuneration for this post from anybody and I paid for my bus ticket in full.
1. Wide beds.
Taking this ride might have been the closest I got to a first-class plane cabin, although they don’t serve Dom Perignons here [see what does]. The beds–all 20 of them–are wide enough for two of me to fit in, which is just about the widest I needed for a proper snooze. They’re done in camel-colored faux leather and can be reclined–a much better bargain than pillows. Your bunk is all the space you will get, so you can either place your bags at the end of your bed or at a small gap below the headrest.
2. No seatmates!
Although this doesn’t guarantee you won’t be hearing snoring episodes from your neighbors, you’re still well away from everyone else and all the possible noise they produce. Each bunk also has a curtain for more peace and privacy, and you’ll have your individual light should you wish to read during the trip.
I was beyond joy when I found out each bunk had an electric outlet (thank God for people who think of everything!). I was able to charge my already dying phone, which managed to stay alive long enough until our third day in Calaguas [see Calaguas posts here] a far-off island in Bicol that had no outlets and phone signal.
This is pretty obvious, but hey, you don’t get that in all 10-hour bus routes here in the country.
I’ve always despised bus rides for the long hours I spent in them, barely able to sleep and do anything productive in my waking hours. But this one gave me a good seven-hour shuteye, although moving along with it on a horizontal position needed some getting used to at first. It’s a bit on the steep side though compared with other bus trips to Bicol–P1,200 for the lower bunk and P1,000 for the upper bunk from Manila (Cubao) to Naga. But I was more than happy to have slept through the trip–something most probably impossible if we took the regular airconditioned buses, which charge half as much. And besides, we really needed all the rest we could get, because a really long day had been waiting for us.
- The upper bunk could get a bit colder during the trip than the lower bunk for obvious reasons.
- They don’t provide blankets, so bring a sarong or jacket.
- Reserve your tickets in advance as there are only 20 slots in the bus, and they count in the passengers coming from their Pasay terminal too. You may call their Cubao ticketing office (located at the Araneta Bus Terminal) at +6329133551.
- Payments are also required at their ticketing office before 5 PM on your day of departure (which we found very inconvenient, but whatever). The bus departs daily from the Araneta Bus Terminal in Cubao at 9 PM. You need to be there 30 minutes before your ETD.
- And yes, no WiFi.
UPDATE (September 9, 2012): Isarog has set up a Twitter account and is regularly posting schedules & other updates. Follow them: @BICOLISAROG
They have a new website too: http://www.bicolisarogtransport.com
Check out their Facebook page for more info. This is not a sponsored post.
The budget hotel is fittingly the center of the whole budget travel universe. It is, at least, in mine. Compared with food, a place to stay the night is a lot less flexible and is therefore a bigger concern for me than the day’s next meal.
And then there’s also the boutique hotel—a league entirely its own—with its specialized design concepts aiming to appeal to those who cannot quite afford the Marriotts and the Marco Polos. Coming at slightly lower prices than five-stars, however, most boutiques today aren’t even on my list (P3,500 per night is already ostentatious in my books, and will buy me three medium-sized drybags or an underwater camera case instead).
But who says good things don’t come to cheapskates such as myself?
Call me easy to please, but this hotel isn’t only affordable; it also looks way cooler than other wannabes offering the same rates.
And it isn’t even trying too hard. The concept behind Cebu-based Islands Stay Hotels is so simple and straightforward you’d wonder why there are a few of it around.
Done in a modern and refreshing white-orange-apple green palette, Islands demands an average of P800 per person per night.* While this isn’t exactly dirt cheap (dirt cheap is around P300 for dorm-type accommodations), it nevertheless gives great value for money.
There are no swimming pools, spas, gyms, and all other excesses guests rarely use but end up paying for anyway in other hotels. There is no buffet breakfast either, though the Mactan branch where we stayed did have a famous Cebu chain serving lechon (the province’s popular roast suckling pig) as early as 9 AM.
The modern amenities are basic but far from bare. Roomy and airy, the Large room we stayed at could comfortably accommodate four people. Electric outlets are everywhere (we all hate hotels that don’t let us plug in, don’t we?), and you won’t be bothered by the absence of running water or hot and cold shower either.
Most hotels commanding similar prices make you feel you’re cheap because you can afford only their drab rooms. And this is exactly what I love about the Islands concept: it’s a close call to boutique accommodations without the hefty price tag, upping the ante for value hotels. It’s showing its competitors that a little bit of imagination goes a long way—and that potential guests do notice.
*Small rooms go for P850 for a single occupant, while Large rooms are priced at P1650 for every two occupants, with P300 on top for every extra person. Children 12 and below stay for free. Bookings made a month before get 15 percent slashed from published rates.
Islands has two branches in Cebu—one in Mactan, a stone’s throw from the airport; and another in downtown Cebu, just across Ayala Center.
Islands Stay Hotels
This is not a sponsored post.