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Beijing Accommodation: Tiangui Hotel

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Tiangui Hotel is one of the recommended hotel to stay in Beijing according to Pinoyexchange forums on Beijing trips. It is a complete package hotel especially for those who are on tight-budget trip to Beijing. Find out why Tiangui Hotel is “complete package” on my pick list of hotels when visiting Beijing.

I’ve learned about Tiangui Hotel during my research on DIY trip to Beijing, China while reading on itineraries and travel stories at Pinoyexchange Forum website. I research about it over Google and Google maps in which I found out that was ideally located within the city center of Beijing.  Tiangui Hotel is in Doncheng District which is near Wangfujing – one of the hottest tourist spot in Beijing.

Tiangui Hotel front building.
Before I arrived in Beijing, I know that language barrier will be the main problem in checking to the hotel, so I already printed a Chinese version address of the hotel in which I presented to the taxi driver upon our arrival at the airport. The good driver politely drove us to Tiangui Hotel. My initial impression to the hotel was fair and building is quite old already. We went inside and true enough language barrier was our problem with the receptionist who was really non-English speaker. It took almost an hour and involve in drawings and charades before were able to score a room good for 3 person at 500RMB per night.

Tiangui Hotel has fair and decent rooms in their upper level building which I think were more expensive versus there lower ground rooms in which we got a room. Yes, Tiangui Hotel has underground floor in which they have more rooms being offered. Sounds creepy? But yes, they have and when they tour us to the rooms, I felt rooms here are better than those at the upper levels. Our room was decent and clean but has no windows or any opening to see daylight outside since it is a lower ground area. And with that, it feels quite like prisoner on a white room. The room seems to be recently painted and renovated as evident with clear white paintings on the wall and newly installed locks, cabinets and floor carpets.  The beds were fine with linens and blankets. Overall, the room for me was fine for a 3 night stay in Beijing with the exception of the bathroom. The restroom has no heater which was challenge for us since it was winter during our visit and the floor is flooding when filled with water as it doesn’t goes to the drainage right away. The restroom is not completely tiled which leave me an impression that the restroom is up for renovation or maintenance but due to unknown circumstances to us, it was left for fixing. The room that we rented was not yet completely renovated as evidence by the restroom problem we had but due to language barrier and to our insistence to stay at Tiangui Hotel we were accepted to the room. I already did not bother to look for other hotels because only Tiangui Hotel offered this cheap rate per night. We will only sleep there for 3 days and hotel room is not a big deal for me when on travel. This is also the reason why I don’t have a picture of our room at Tiangui Hotel.

Tiangui Hotel calling card in case you want to stay here.
Present this to the taxi driver and he'll drove you straight to the hotel. It is approximately 20 minutes away from the airport.
The staffs of Tiangui Hotel, though all completely non-English speakers were friendly and extremely helpful. One staff even cleaned the flooding water at our private restroom when we occupied it. My sister also became fond to the staffs of Tiangui Hotel that she got a souvenir photo with them on our last day in Beijing. I just hope some of them at least learn English now to cater for more foreign clients.

The friendly staffs of Tiangui Hotel on our departure day.
Despite of language barrier with the staffs and receptionists and restroom problem, I still recommend Tiangui Hotel when staying in Beijing for a travel trip. What I like about Tiangui Hotel is its proximity to all amenities and establishments that a budget tourist to China needed. Just around Dengshikuo Street where the hotel is situated are numerous establishments like souvenir shops, markets, stores, banks and restaurants. On its left side and on front across the street of the hotel, there’s a bank for currency exchange as only banks are authorize to exchange foreign moneys. Also there are many fast-food restaurants just near Tiangui Hotel. One of them is McDonald’s which is a walk away across the street and on it left side just a few walk is Weiduomei (a local bakery shop) and a convenience store. A one block walk from the hotel is the nearest subway station of Dengshikuo in which you can connect to other stations which has near places of interests. Tiangui Hotel is also just a 2 to 3 blocks walk to main Wangfujing district – one of the must-see places in Beijing when visiting the city. These are the reasons why I say Tiangui Hotel is a “complete package” for budget travelers to Beijing, China.

Tiangui Hotel
No.14 East Dengshi Lane, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, 100010.
Contact No: (+86) 010-51693899/010-65228168/010-51693888
Website: None


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Guimaras Accomodation: Raymen Beach Resort

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Raymen Beach Resort is located at the heart of tourism center of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras in Sitio Alubihod where the white sand Alubihod Beach is located. Alubihod, Nueva Valencia is 1 hour away from Jordan Port of the island. Traveler can reach the resort via a private hired tricycle or public jeepney from the port. Along the one hour travel to Nueva Valencia, you will pass thru the center town and capital of the province, Jordan and the endless mango plantations of Sibunag municipality. 

Enjoying the amenities of Raymen Beach Resort.
As you go nearer the resort, thick vegetation of low lying shrubs and endless coconut trees will greet your way. But do not be afraid, the scenery around Nueva Valencia is just like the other provincial scenes in the rest of the country. We arrived at 7 in the evening in the resort, so imagine the trees along the shadows of the dark road leading to Alubihod. As I’ve said do not fear, as nearer the resort there are lights already from the resorts and nearby small sari-sari stores (a sign of civilization for me, hehe…). We decided to take a dinner right away with an order of Pancit Molo from the resort’s own restaurant.  

We availed a PHP1,500 rate air-conditioned room good for 4 person. Our room was very clean and well-maintained including the private restroom. The room we had is also big enough to accommodate additional 2 more guests. But the beds were just good for 4 persons. We also had our own TV and we were provided with toiletries and towels. Raymen Beach Resort also offers non-aircon rooms in nipa hut style accommodation.

Air-con rooms of Raymen Beach Resort.
Air-con room building of Raymen Beach Resort.
But in case you change your mind, Raymen Beach Resort is squeezed in between of two other resorts and also shares the beach front of Alubihod Beach. Rico Beach Resort on the right side and Alobijod Cove Resort on the left side are the two other resort. But I would highly recommend Raymen Beach Resort over them as base on my observation and other accommodation review, Raymen has the best option and amenities for budget traveler like me. Maybe Rico has the advantage in terms of seascape scenery as their share of Alubihod Beach has rock formations which were perfect for photo opts. Guests of the resort can visit the rock formations without a fee and those who wished to visit the resort’s beach and the rock formations for the sake of pictures need to pay an entrance fee to Rico Beach Resort. Their share of Alubihod Beach is separated by buoys from the sand to the waters of the beach.

Welcome to Guimaras!
Open-huts for rent at Raymen Beach Resort.
Private lavatory and restroom in each aircon room.
Clean toilet and shower area in each private aircon room.
One of the beds of the double sharing room.
Free toiletries in each private aircon room.
I would say that the price rates at Raymen Beach Resort were affordable for budget tourist like me. Rooms are big enough for families or bardaka on vacation. I say the price worth the room amenities you will get this resort so I highly recommend this resort if you will stay at Alubihod. The staffs of Raymen Beach Resort were also friendly and accommodating to us especially when we inquire and avail of their island hopping tours of Guimaras islands. Raymen Beach Resort has own boat for rental island hooping tour. Their rate of PHP500 per hour and PHP100 for the succeeding hour is the same as the other bankeros who were offering island hopping of Guimaras. The itinerary of the islands is also the same with other bankeros plus Raymen’s boat has life floating jackets in case of emergency or for swimming.

Left side beach front of Rayment Beach Resort.
Right side beach front of Rayment Beach Resort.
 Yours truly at the white sand beach of Alibuhod.
Sights to see in the island hopping tours of Raymen Beach Resort.
Raymen Beach Resort's own boat for island hopping tours pictured at Turtle Island.
Alubihod Cove and the surrounding resorts with Raymen Beach Resort at the center. 
I would recommend to visitors of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras to stay here at Raymen Beach Resort. Accommodation is nice, clean and on-standard. Plus the front beach of Alubihod is gorgeous which the resort also cleans everyday from litters and dried leaves. A stay in Raymen Beach Resort will enable to you maximize also your budget for accommodation with its on-standard and complete facilities as well as amenities. My experience was beneficial to me which I was doing a DIY Guimaras-Concepcion, Iloilo during my 2012 visit to Guimaras.

Raymen Beach Resort
Sitio Alubihod, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
Contact No: PLDT: (63 33) 396-0248 or (63 33) 396-0252; Globelines: (63 33) 582-1456 or
(63 33) 582-1457; Cell. No. (63)9185207271 or (63)9275605107
E-mail: raymenbeachresort@yahoo.com
Facebook: facebook.com/raymenbeachresort


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Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine

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One of the most exciting parts of traveling around Beijing is tasting local food. But I’m not willing to go as far as tasting exotic local food of fried seashores, scorpions, starfishes and snakes in Wangfujing district. If you are adventurous enough to try and eat everything, then go ahead. But I think, it’s a must-try when a first-timer Beijing is trying eating the traditional Chinese cuisine of roasted Peking Duck.

Authentic Chinese cuisine.
Roasted Peking Duck is a famous duck dish from Beijing. Its origin and preparation dates back to the imperial era of China which by the way it started as a cuisine available only at the imperial kitchen for the imperial family only. What is unique about this roast duck cuisine is its preparation. Air is pumped under the skin of the meat to separate fat from skin. The duck is glazed by maltose syrup outside and left for a day to have a flavor. It is traditionally roasted in either closed over or hung oven which invented at imperial kitchens. After roasting, it is traditionally carved in front of the diners.

In Beijing, roasted Peking duck has been synonymous the Chinese cuisine as this cuisine has existed since the ancient times of China. Reading throughout all of the travel blogs about China, I learned that tasting this cuisine has always been included in their activity in Beijing. This made me curious on trying it when I had a chance to visit the city as most the bloggers says it’s a must-taste when in China. And that is also why I prioritize it in including this in my activity in the city as this was definitely a must-taste. I mean, I really saved enough money for a roasted Peking duck dinner since I heard it’s quite a pricey dinner for a budget traveler like me.


The art of slicing roasted Peking Duck right in front of you.
Crystal dumplings!
Pork balls with fried crackers.
One of the prominent restaurants that serve roasted Peking Duck is Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant which branches can be found throughout the city. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant’s history dates back to 1864 before it became a chain of restaurant specializing in duck cuisine. Other popular restaurants that also serve this cuisine as well as other Chinese cuisine were Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant and Bianyifang. We choose Quanjude, because of its popularity, many branches near our hotel and good dinner reviews about it.

We went to Quanjude’s Wangfujing branch. We were warmly welcome by receptionists wearing a traditional Chinese dress – qipao. We were then led to our table and proceed to order first the roasted Peking Duck. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant also serves other Chinese cuisine so we also tried Shrimp Crystal Dumpling and Deep fried pork balls. I thought that the roasted Peking duck dinner would only be an ordinary dinner of tasting authentic Chinese cuisine. But it turned out to be an exceptional experience of my visit to Beijing and China.

A slice of perfection - Roast peking duck meat.
The roasted Peking duck was shown to us on from our table on how it be will cut in a traditional way. I was impressed on how it was being prepared in front of us. It is carefully cut in calculated manner and prepared in a pattern-guided way. It only shows the preserved tradition of how roasted Peking duck is being prepared in fine dining Chinese restaurant-style.

When it was cut already, it was served to us by parts in three separate dishes - meaty part, back park which is mainly composed of fat and skin and head part. Then it is served with its garnishes on separate dishes - cucumber sticks, spring onions and sweet plum sauce. And they you have the pancake wrapper. I don’t know how to eat it which sends us to laugh over our dinner night with my travel mates. All of us we’re clueless on how to eat Peking duck! But the receptionist, were so kind to us knowing that we are tourists and shown to us on how to eat roasted Peking duck in a traditional way. The proper way to eat the roasted duck was putting a piece of the meat in the wrapper and put some raw vegetables like cucumber sticks and onion spring with it. Put a right amount plum sauce into it then wrap it close. Of course, we tried doing it after a sample made by the receptionist but I really had a hard time doing it using the chopsticks as I’m not really used to it. When we were tired of doing it, we funnily resorted to do it using our bare hands.

 Making a Peking Duck wrapped in pancake with spoon and fork instead of the traditional chopsticks! 
My first prepared Peking Duck wrapped in pancake with veggies and condiments... Whew!
The prepared pancake wrapped meat with condiments and flavors makes a texture in the mouth and bursting with plays of flavors while eating. But then I also tried eating the meat part of the roasted duck.  The roasted Peking duck is truly oily as what I read with other food reviewers but it was sweet, juicy and the taste is intact within the meat. The meat’s juiciness blends sweetly with the taste of its sugar roasted skin. I personally love this cuisine. For me, a taste of it is a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine!

The waiter then handed to me our Commemoration Card of Quanjude Roast Duck – a certification that we had a Peking duck at the restaurant with the code of the roast duck and seal that it passed the safety food standards of China. Much to my delight, it was an authentic proof that we had a Roasted Peking Duck dinner in Beijing! The card also functions as a postcard at the back and ready to be send anywhere in the world complete with a postal seal to let everyone know that you had the famous Peking Duck of China.

The Peking Duck dining experience!
The certificate that says we had an authentic roast Peking Duck experience!
A memorable birthday night dinner and last night in Beijing.
The roasted Peking duck dinner in Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant was an exceptional dining experience when in Beijing. It was a great experience for me as a first-time visitor of China and hunter for a taste of its authentic cuisines. It was an added discovery and appreciation of Chinese culture for me as a traveler. And it happened so timely on my visit since that dining experience was my birthday dinner night and last night in Beijing.


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*Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant - Wangfujing branch
No.9 Shuaifuyuan Hutong, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Opening hours: 1100H-1330H and 1630H-2000H.
Website: www.quanjude.com.cn

Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my birthday trip adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:
+Beijing - A Beguiling City
+Winter Sonata in China
+Roaming through Beijing
+One Spring Day in Beijing
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+A Dragon Hike to the Great Wall of China
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+Peking Duck: An Authentic Chinese Cuisine
+Wangfujing's Lively Street Life
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing


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Beijing's Architectural Wonders

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The city of Beijing is not just all about the historical sights to wander but also about modern and spectacular architectural wonders that has been part of its modernity as a city. The Egg, Water Cube and the famed Bird’s Nest became the popular names of these city's structures because of its spectacular architecture where it is likened. Visiting and getting a close encounter of these structures made me truly marvel to these works of architecture in Beijing.

Bird's Nest - Beijing's Architectural Wonders
The Egg
The building is National Center for Performing Arts that takes a very familiar form - an egg. The building is half oval in shape that seems its half is submerge in water since it is surrounded by an artificial lake. It is also important to inform or shall I shall an innovative way to know that the entrance to the building is through the underground artificial lake! From afar the building also looks like an alien spaceship that crash landed from a Hollywood movie scene because of its sharp contrast of its surrounding which were greenery of trees and houses.

The Egg or The Spaceship?
I can see the other half of the egg!
Designed by French architect Paul Andrew, the main building contains 3 performing venues - Opera House, Concert Hall and Theater. It covers an area of about 118,900 sq meters and the total area of the building is about 217,500 sq km. Symphonies, ballet, dance shows, dramas, operas and other kinds of performances are frequently staged here. It's sharp contrast to its surroundings with its oval exterior makes it very eye-catching and fondly called it, "The Egg."

Beautiful glow by sundown.
National Center for Performing Arts at night.
The surrounding facade of the park is free from any entrance fees. The park is very popular to local and foreign visitors because it is used mainly for jogging and strolling activities. It is also best spend an afternoon bonding or rest around the parks facades complete grass parks, flowering plants and trees. But entering the premises of the building will cost you CNY30 to CNY40 per person. Opera festival and musical performances has different fees. I'm just quite disappointed on my visit because The Egg is not fully lit up with lights just like what I saw in travel magazines I've read about it. But seeing it in front of me was quite an experience to remember.

Bird's Nest 
There were 43 new world records and 132 new Olympic records set at the 2008 Summer Olympics. And some of them happened in Bird's Nest or the National Stadium - the central venue of 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is situated in Olympic Green Village in Chaoyang District of Beijing. All of the atletics events of the 2008 Olympics were held here like track and field, football and discus throw. 

Bird's Nest on a cold afternoon visit.
Where world records were made and broken to surpass... The Bird's Nest.
The design of the building is so popular because it looks like a nest of a bird especially if viewed from above! The stadium took 5 years to be completed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and Chinese architect L Xinggang. The designers did not do any redundant disposals to the look of the stadium but just exposed the steel st'ructures entirely to make it look like in its most natural appearance. The cost of the stadium is said to be 33 million dollars.

The National Stadium is the main host of opening and closing ceremonies of 2008 Beijing Olympics.
I admire it in photos and in television, now my foot has set in Bird's Nest.
It was like a dream come true for me to see the Bird's Nest in my naked eye since I've been following the Beijing Olympics 4 years ago before my visit. Actually the stadium is also one of the reasons why I travel to China. I want to see the grandiose structure of Bird's Nest, face to face! And it was truly a marvelous work of architecture from Beijing. It was a massive building! How it was built like that was truly a work of wonder. And when it glows in fiery red at night, it made stunned to its architectural beauty. Bird's Nest is a must visit when in Beijing! 

2008 Beijing Olympics was memorable because of this architectural wonder.
Beijing 2008 Olympic marker.
After the games, the stadium became a popular tourist attraction of the city. Today it has the largest ski resort in urban Beijing now. There is no entrance around the stadium but entering the premises cost CNY50 per person. You can also visit the 2008 Beijing Olympics landmark beside it.

Water Cube
It also known as the National Aquatics Center but dubbed as "Water Cube" because of its exterior design that looks like water bubbles compressed together. It is located in the Olympic Park to the west of the National Stadium (Bird's Nest). The Water Cube is said to be constructed in 2003 and finished in early 2008 to be the host facility of swimming, diving and synchronized swimmings competition of 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Designed by Chinese and Australian, it is the first building in the world built upon "the soap bubble" theory, and sports a polyhedral steel-framed structure. The ETFE (the ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer) membrane insulates it. This advanced membrane structure is formed by 3,065 bubble-like pneumatic cushions of all sizes. It becomes the first large-scale public project coated with the membrane, and it also has set up a new world record for its massive deployment.

National Aquatics Center.
After the Olympic games, it was turned into various leisure and business-related function like The Watercube Waterpark, spa, bars and restaurants and other business sections. In 2022, it will be the venue of curling competitions during the Winter Olympic Games.

A closer look at the "soap bubbles" of Water Cube.
Beijing's architectural wonders at Olympic Park.
With all these architectural wonders of Beijing, it only shows that this city is unstoppable towards inventive ways of blending tradition with modernity. It proves its worthy in the center stage of one of the progressive cities in the world. And it truly it is! I couldn't agree more to its stature as one of the most wonderful cities in the world. These modern and marvelous architectures of Beijing calls the world to center its attention - to itself in the east, once more.


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*How to reach National Center for Performing Arts (The Egg)
Via subway, take Subway Line 1, get off at Tiananmen West Station and get out of the station from Exit C (southwest exit). There is an underground passageway to the building directly.

*How to reach Olympic Park
Bird's Nest and Water Cube is inside the Olympic Park. Via subway, take Subway Line 10 then to Beitucheng then switch to Subway Line 8 (Olympic special line). Get off at Olympic Sports Center Station then get out of the station on Exit B1 (northwest exit) or Exit B2 (northeast exit) and walk to the park.  

Beijing's Architectural Wonders is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my birthday trip adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:  
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+Wangfujing's Lively Street Life
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing 
+Airport Review: Beijing Capital International Airport


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Interviewed by The Soul Explorer

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Last, April 2016, I received an interview request by Marco of The Soul Explorer for his "Travel Blogger of the Month" feature to be published on his blog. And I gladly answer the interview questions which I found interesting and useful so that readers and travel-seekers would know more something about me. 

Now, I'm sharing the interview published here in my travel blog, so my readers may also have know more about me as the writer behind Going Places.

******

Hello guys! Today’s blog post is our next travel blogger of the month. He has been traveling since he was 7 years old.  Yes! You read it right! His mother brought him in her various trips abroad and many places. And since then, he became a travel addict.

I am glad to introduce our blogger of the month is, drum roll please… Ian, the author of Going Places.

Below are the travel tips and travel experiences from Ian.

Q and A with Pinoy Travel Freak
1. What is your purpose of travelling?

My purpose is mainly to live out my life motto of “travel is an experience of a lifetime”. Travel is an opportunity not just to go places but also a good way to experience the best of life can offer. Travelling is a better way for me to learn the realities of life, discover the cultures surrounding us and how beautiful our country is - which by the way; it is indeed more fun in the Philippines!

2. Do you travel solo? Couple? Or in a group?
I always travel in group because it is always fun with others and travel moments are best shared when you traveled with friends and loved ones. I haven’t experience travelling solo yet.

3. How often do you travel?

In a year, at least 5 to 8 times but the concentration of my travels is during Summer since the weather in the country is good for local travel. Summertime coincides not just the start of my travelling season but also my birthday trips as my birth month falls on the first month Summer which is March.

I fall in love with Camiguin on my Birthday Trip 2015.
4. What would be the best destinations for a solo traveler, for a couple, for a group or with family and friends?
I haven’t experience solo travelling but I can recommend 5 best destinations for a couple, for a group or with family and friends which I have been to.

a) Thailand – It is best for both first –timers and groups because Thailand is cheap and affordable yet a country very rich in places to see, food to taste and culture to experience.

b) Camiguin – You will fall in love with this island province because it’s gorgeous sceneries and quiet atmosphere are romantic and at the same time fun and exciting.

c) Vietnam – There so many things to see and to experience in Vietnam especially when you go out of its capital city. It is also very cheap to travel around Vietnam. No need to be a big spender because if you have enough money you can entirely travel and explore the whole country in 2 weeks!

d) Zambales – The beautiful coves of Zambales which mainly caters to campers is a great way to bond with family, friends and loved ones as bonfire by night let’s you share activities that don’t need so much gadgets to be entertain. Plus sceneries of mountain ranges and beaches are superb backdrops!

e) Albay – Adventurous at heart will surely love all the outdoor activities of the province. But if you prefer a relaxing and calming activity, simply admiring the beauty of Mayon Volcano will surely do satisfy you.

Best day-off ever until now... My day-off trip to Anilao, Mabini, Batangas.
5. Give at least 5 travel tips to our readers.
a) Research the place that you are going to visit by reading travel blogs and asking queries to the person who actually travelled on the place you want to visit. Research will help you a lot in budgeting, accommodation, itineraries, timetables and sites that are must-see in the place.

b) Take a time off from social media and connection to your urban life. You wouldn’t be able to savor to the fullest the new place and the new experience that is being expose to you if you keep on tweeting and posting a shout and check-in just to be keep everyone updated and be on the hashtag ATM mode.

c) Stay safe in anything you do in travel. Be aware of accident prone areas and activities that might cause injuries. And don’t touch any marine animal or corals when snorkeling. Be aware of poisonous marine animals that seemed harmless like jellyfish, sea urchin, lionfish and stone fish.

d) Be aware of the time! Always keep in mind that time is very essential in every aspect of travel. From flights, bus schedules, days of stay, frequency of transportations, weather changes up to distances of one place to another, time always play a vital role in travel.

e) Always check the weather to the place that you are visiting on your target date of travel because bad weather definitely spoils your once in a lifetime trip.

6. What are your 3 memorable travel destinations and why? (please do share your best photos)
a) Bohol – Aside from being my first time in Bohol and experiencing its haven of natural beauty, this destination was my first ever birthday trip in which I actually travelled on my birth date.  I have never been so happy than doing my one great passion in life on your special day!  It was an experience I will never forget! My birthday trip to Bohol also started my yearly tradition of having a yearly birthday trip on my birthday day.

b) Beijing, China
– It was a dream destination to me ever since it was announced as the host of 2008 Summer Olympics. It is not just a historical trip but it also let me appreciate China, the Chinese people and its rich culture. It is also a trip wherein I carefully planned a very hands-on and do-it-yourself style of travel which I successfully pull-off. I was able to do DIY trip to the Great Wall of China with only the help of printed guides and travel blogs sans language barrier. But what also makes it memorable is that my trip to China was one of my travels that I really work hard for it to happen. Imagine, I spend two years saving money to fund my trip to China!

c) Anilao, Mabini, Batangas – This is one of the destinations that I truly enjoyed group travel with friends. When my friends at work happened to have a schedule of same day-off, we didn’t let pass the chance to have a great bonding time by having a “best day-off ever” in Anilao! It was fun and memorable because on this trip we get a chance to know things about each other and about ourselves as well. What makes this destination memorable the most is we get a chance to establish a long lasting friendship in our circle. This is one of my trips that I truly experienced, the travel thought – “As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination”

On my Birthday Trip 2012, I climbed the Great Wall of China!
7. Who is your ideal traveler? Why?
My mom, Gloria C. Poral. Why? Because she is the true viajera at heart in our family. Since, I was 7 years-old, she already brought me on her various trips abroad and she has been to many places before I get into travel world. She introduce to me to the travel world at a young age! I think this was the reason why I grew up as a travel addict! But I admire her most for having always a thirst for adventure and for discovering the world around her.

I also looked up to Chyng Reyes of No spam, no virus, no kiddin!. Her travel photos are superb and travel tips are helpful. But I also love the way she tells her travel stories which were fun, adventurous and entertaining.

To the owner of Going Places, it is my privilege to feature a travel blogger like you. And, for that, I'd like to thank you for giving me a chance to let me share your tips and experiences through this site.

******

Marco, its a pleasure to be feature on your travel blog. I also enjoyed reading the interview again and again. Guys, do follow him too! Marco has nice a nice travel blog too... Click - The Soul Explorer.


b) Beijing, China – It was a dream destination to me ever since it was announced as the host of 2008 Summer Olympics. It is not just a historical trip but it also let me appreciate China, the Chinese people and its rich culture. It is also a trip wherein I carefully planned a very hands-on and do-it-yourself style of travel which I successfully pull-off. I was able to do DIY trip to the Great Wall of China with only the help of printed guides and travel blogs sans language barrier. But what also makes it memorable is that my trip to China was one of my travels that I really work hard for it to happen. Imagine, I spend two years saving money to fund my trip to China!
c) Anilao, Mabini, Batangas – This is one of the destinations that I truly enjoyed group travel with friends. When my friends at work happened to have a schedule of same day-off, we didn’t let pass the chance to have a great bonding time by having a “best day-off ever” in Anilao! It was fun and memorable because on this trip we get a chance to know things about each other and about ourselves as well. What makes this destination memorable the most is we get a chance to establish a long lasting friendship in our circle. This is one of my trips that I truly experienced, the travel thought – “As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination”
7. Who is your ideal traveler? Why?
My mom, Gloria C. Poral. Why? Because she is the true viajera at heart in our family. Since, I was 7 years-old, she already brought me on her various trips abroad and she has been to many places before I get into travel world. She introduce to me to the travel world at a young age! I think this was the reason why I grow up as a travel addict! But I admire her most for having always a thirst for adventure and for discovering the world around her.
I also looked up to Chyng Reyes of No spam, no virus, no kiddin!. Her travel photos are superb and travel tips are helpful. But I also love the way she tells her travel stories which were fun, adventurous and entertaining. 

To the owner of Going Places, it is my privilege to feature a travel blogger like you. And, for that, I'd like to thank you for giving me a chance to let me share your tips and experiences through this site.
- See more at: http://www.marcosoulexplorer.com/#sthash.2NBibCT6.dpuf
b) Beijing, China – It was a dream destination to me ever since it was announced as the host of 2008 Summer Olympics. It is not just a historical trip but it also let me appreciate China, the Chinese people and its rich culture. It is also a trip wherein I carefully planned a very hands-on and do-it-yourself style of travel which I successfully pull-off. I was able to do DIY trip to the Great Wall of China with only the help of printed guides and travel blogs sans language barrier. But what also makes it memorable is that my trip to China was one of my travels that I really work hard for it to happen. Imagine, I spend two years saving money to fund my trip to China!
c) Anilao, Mabini, Batangas – This is one of the destinations that I truly enjoyed group travel with friends. When my friends at work happened to have a schedule of same day-off, we didn’t let pass the chance to have a great bonding time by having a “best day-off ever” in Anilao! It was fun and memorable because on this trip we get a chance to know things about each other and about ourselves as well. What makes this destination memorable the most is we get a chance to establish a long lasting friendship in our circle. This is one of my trips that I truly experienced, the travel thought – “As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination”
7. Who is your ideal traveler? Why?
My mom, Gloria C. Poral. Why? Because she is the true viajera at heart in our family. Since, I was 7 years-old, she already brought me on her various trips abroad and she has been to many places before I get into travel world. She introduce to me to the travel world at a young age! I think this was the reason why I grow up as a travel addict! But I admire her most for having always a thirst for adventure and for discovering the world around her.
I also looked up to Chyng Reyes of No spam, no virus, no kiddin!. Her travel photos are superb and travel tips are helpful. But I also love the way she tells her travel stories which were fun, adventurous and entertaining. 

To the owner of Going Places, it is my privilege to feature a travel blogger like you. And, for that, I'd like to thank you for giving me a chance to let me share your tips and experiences through this site.
- See more at: http://www.marcosoulexplorer.com/#sthash.2NBibCT6.dpuf
b) Beijing, China – It was a dream destination to me ever since it was announced as the host of 2008 Summer Olympics. It is not just a historical trip but it also let me appreciate China, the Chinese people and its rich culture. It is also a trip wherein I carefully planned a very hands-on and do-it-yourself style of travel which I successfully pull-off. I was able to do DIY trip to the Great Wall of China with only the help of printed guides and travel blogs sans language barrier. But what also makes it memorable is that my trip to China was one of my travels that I really work hard for it to happen. Imagine, I spend two years saving money to fund my trip to China!
c) Anilao, Mabini, Batangas – This is one of the destinations that I truly enjoyed group travel with friends. When my friends at work happened to have a schedule of same day-off, we didn’t let pass the chance to have a great bonding time by having a “best day-off ever” in Anilao! It was fun and memorable because on this trip we get a chance to know things about each other and about ourselves as well. What makes this destination memorable the most is we get a chance to establish a long lasting friendship in our circle. This is one of my trips that I truly experienced, the travel thought – “As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination”
7. Who is your ideal traveler? Why?
My mom, Gloria C. Poral. Why? Because she is the true viajera at heart in our family. Since, I was 7 years-old, she already brought me on her various trips abroad and she has been to many places before I get into travel world. She introduce to me to the travel world at a young age! I think this was the reason why I grow up as a travel addict! But I admire her most for having always a thirst for adventure and for discovering the world around her.
I also looked up to Chyng Reyes of No spam, no virus, no kiddin!. Her travel photos are superb and travel tips are helpful. But I also love the way she tells her travel stories which were fun, adventurous and entertaining. 

To the owner of Going Places, it is my privilege to feature a travel blogger like you. And, for that, I'd like to thank you for giving me a chance to let me share your tips and experiences through this site.
- See more at: http://www.marcosoulexplorer.com/#sthash.2NBibCT6.dpuf
c) Vietnam – There so many things to see and to experience in Vietnam especially when you go out of its capital city. It is also very cheap to travel around Vietnam. No need to be a big spender because if you have enough money you can entirely travel and explore the whole country in 2 weeks!
d) Zambales – The beautiful coves of Zambales which mainly caters to campers is a great way to bond with family, friends and loved ones as bonfire by night let’s you share activities that don’t need so much gadgets to be entertain. Plus sceneries of mountain ranges and beaches are superb backdrops!
e) Albay – Adventurous at heart will surely love all the outdoor activities of the province. But if you prefer a relaxing and calming activity, simply admiring the beauty of Mayon Volcano will surely do satisfy you. 
5. Give at least 5 travel tips to our readers. 
a) Research the place that you are going to visit by reading travel blogs and asking queries to the person who actually travelled on the place you want to visit. Research will help you a lot in budgeting, accommodation, itineraries, timetables and sites that are must-see in the place.
b) Take a time off from social media and connection to your urban life. You wouldn’t be able to savor to the fullest the new place and the new experience that is being expose to you if you keep on tweeting and posting a shout and check-in just to be keep everyone updated and be on the hashtag ATM mode.
c) Stay safe in anything you do in travel. Be aware of accident prone areas and activities that might cause injuries. And don’t touch any marine animal or corals when snorkeling. Be aware of poisonous marine animals that seemed harmless like jellyfish, sea urchin, lionfish and stone fish.
d) Be aware of the time! Always keep in mind that time is very essential in every aspect of travel. From flights, bus schedules, days of stay, frequency of transportations, weather changes up to distances of one place to another, time always play a vital role in travel.
e) Always check the weather to the place that you are visiting on your target date of travel because bad weather definitely spoils your once in a lifetime trip.
6. What are your 3 memorable travel destinations and why? (please do share your best photos)
a) Bohol – Aside from being my first time in Bohol and experiencing its haven of natural beauty, this destination was my first ever birthday trip in which I actually travelled on my birth date.  I have never been so happy than doing my one great passion in life on your special day!  It was an experience I will never forget! My birthday trip to Bohol also started my yearly tradition of having a yearly birthday trip on my birthday day.
- See more at: http://www.marcosoulexplorer.com/#sthash.2NBibCT6.dpuf


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Fall in Love with Camiguin

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Who wouldn’t fall in love with the island born of fire? Pristine white sand beaches with majestic mountain backdrop… Marvelous beauty of nature from waterfalls to hot springs… Quiet, simple and laidback atmosphere of the island…  Camiguin’s fiery beauty will surely capture your heart!

Camiguin is one of the best kept paradise of Northern Mindanao. It is an island province of volcanic origin hence it is called “Island Born of Fire” and is situated off-coast of Balingoan Port of Misamis Oriental province. The port is the jump point to the province via an hour RORO vessel sea travel from the port. If you’re coming from capitol Manila, you must fly 1 hour and 30 minutes via plane to Cagayan de Oro then ride a shuttle to the city proper then travel to Agora Bus Terminal where buses with Butuan signboard will have a mandatory stop to Balingoan (pronounced as “Balingwan”) Bus Terminal. Bus travel is 2 hours to the bus terminal. The port is just a 5 minute walk on the street across the terminal which can also be reached via motorela (tricycle) if you are tired of walking and has baggage with you. 

Camiguin's gorgeous postcard-perfect view at Sunken Cemetery. 
I choose Camiguin not just as my next Summer 2015 destination but also as my birthday trip destination of 2015. And I’m glad to spend my birthday trip here since I heard so much good things about Camiguin as a travel destination! This trip wouldn’t be possible if not for Mr. Teddy Pabualan’s (www.pabualancottages-camiguin.blogspot.com/) tour services to the island. He offers complete tour and accommodation packages in Camiguin. His staff was early when we arrive in Benoni Port of Camiguin and right after fetching us, we started our island tour of Camiguin.

Approaching the "Island Born of Fire"
Welcome to Camiguin at Benoni Port.
My infatuation with Camiguin started in our destination in the island, the stunning Katibawasan Falls of Mambajao municipality. The falls is 250 feet tall cascading on a refreshing pool and cold water surrounded by ferns and shrubs. The waterfall is also surrounded by tall trees and green forests which makes it a stunning sight from various viewpoints of the place. Be careful on those mini ravines facing the viewpoints. What were distinctly charming to Katibawasan Falls are its thin cascades of water from the water source which seems to be nearing to be drought but on a closer look, the water has a very strong falling current enough to crash weak stones on its way. The falls is surrounded by picnic tables and benches maintained by the local government. It also has a clean toilet and bathroom in case you swam in the waterfalls’ pool.

We headed next to Catarman to see Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross. The sight is basically an old hill top mountain where in each slope there is a Station of the Cross scene depicted by statues. Hiking will be a challenge for couch potatoes if you want to finish the whole station of the cross but reaching the top is being on the top of a dormant volcano, hence it called Old Volcano. The site is very popular during Lenten Week. Almost right across this site is Guiob Church Ruins which is a 16th century church in Catarman destroyed when the Mt. Vulcan (the Old Volcano) erupted in 1871. All that is left in the church is the ruins which serves as a reminder how catastrophic was a volcanic eruption.

Fall in love with Katibawasan Falls.
The hot summer afternoon makes us long for a refreshing dip. So when we arrived in Sto. Nino Cold Springs, we weren’t able to resist its spring waters and swam into it to cool down our senses. The cold spring has really cold waters from natural spring that refreshes your weary body especially coming from a long hour of travel. I told my travel mates not to spend to long in Sto. Nino Cold Springs as there still other springs that we will visit in island tour of Camiguin. Unfortunately, Bura Soda Water Spring Pool which was famous for its distinct soda taste-like water is closed for maintenance that day. 

I personally asked to skip Sunken Cemetery as the next itinerary because it is better viewed by sunset.
The 2nd stop of around the island tour of Camiguin.
The ruins of Guiob Church with my best travel buddies!
Take a dip at Sto.Nino Cold Springs.
So we proceed to our next destination which is probably the famous landmark of Camiguin island. Catarman’s Sunken Cemetery is the iconic landmark of Camiguin due to its prominent huge cross that sits above a sunken cemetery that sink below sea level during the birth of a volcano. During this volcanic birth of Mt. Vulcan in 1871, some parts of Bonbon town subsided to the sea in which one of it was the now sunken cemetery of the town. The huge cross was placed in 1982 to commemorate the event and site of the sunken cemetery. Visitors can rent a boat to reach the huge cross to take a closer look at it. Today, Sunken Cemetery is not just an iconic landmark of the island but also a great snorkeling site in which a rich coral reef and marine life has grown to through the years.

The site faces the vast ocean view which was a perfect place during our visit as it was timely for sunset. It was my first time in that place to witness Camiguin Sunset! The shadowed huge cross of the Sunken Cemetery adds drama to the beauty of the sunset that was truly an astonishing moment to witness. I was totally in awe with Camiguin Sunset! And I think that was the point where I fall in love with Camiguin!

Camiguin Sunset at the Sunken Cemetery.  This is famous landmark of the "Island Born of Fire", called because of its volcanic origin.
The beauty of Camiguin will stay with me forever.
With our weary bodies and aching joints from a whole day of travel, we need a refreshing dip again. And it was timely for our next destination, the Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort located at the foot of Hibok-Hibok Volcano in Mambajao municipality. The spring resort is a hot spring of fresh sulfuric flowing water with pools of various degrees of heat to enjoy.  The 33 degree pool is enjoyable enough but the 40 degree pool is a challenge. The resort has complete facilities of rooms, cottages, restrooms and showers for visitor’s amenities to stay. But the best thing in experiencing Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort was the sulfuric water’s therapeutic effect. A dip there has definitely soothed and relieved my body pain from a whole day of travel!

A whole day of travel deserves a whole evening of hot spring dipping!
The trio takes a dip at Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort.
Sumpteous meal and big servings at Rocky's Resto, Mambajao, Camiguin.
Camiguin Sunrise.
 The following morning, we started as early as 5 am to experience sunrise viewing at the famed island destination of Camiguin; the beautiful White Island. It is a 5 minute banca (boat) ride from the shores of Mambajao. We arrived in the island just in time for the marvelous Camiguin Sunrise. But as the sunrise unfolds, comes also one of the most stunning views from White Island – the imposing view of Mount Hibok-hibok and Mount Vulcan in the backdrop of main island Camiguin. I was stunned by this marvelous scenery that I only experience in Camiguin!

In Panorama: Fall in Love with Camiguin from White Island.
Unforgettable Camiguin scenery from White Island.
Play in White Island.
Fall in love with Camiguin!
White Island is definitely the place to be every Summer!
The trio takes Camiguin.
Let your Summer have a story in Camiguin...
White Island is actually an uninhabited sandbar offshore of Mambajao. This 1.4 kilometer sandbar is said to be horseshoe shaped but the tides constantly resizes and reshapes its exact form. I wandered around with my travel buddies to explore the rest of the sandbar. We found a good spot to photo opt and a good spot for snorkeling. I saw a lionfish, colorful fishes and a sea slug! While some opted to do sun bathing in its kilometer wide white sand space, I opted to swim again and again in its cyan-colored waters! There are no trees or shades in the island as it is composed solely of white sands so it is best to visit it in the morning. I bet you’ll get fried and toasted if you visit it at noon!

Breakfast at Pabualan Cottages. Danggit na pusit completed the breakfast!
Teddy Pabualan's mini-jeep is our service throughout the island.
Last day in Camiguin!
Goodbye Camiguin...
But the imposing scenery of Camiguin island with the back-drop of Mount Hibok-hibok and Mount Vulcan from White Island is arresting and enthralling sight. I fall in love in Camiguin again. Awe in the beautiful sight of volcanoes, we have to return to the shore to eat breakfast and blow my blow my birthday cake to celebrate my birthday in Camiguin. I bought danggit na pusit (sun-dried squids) for pasalubong because it made my satisfying breakfast that day. And don’t forget to bring home the famous Vjandep’s pastel (buns with filling that originated from Camiguin) and lazones (fruit that is widely grown in the island) – the best and original pasalubong from Camiguin! With a heavy heart from infatuation with the island, we then leave Benoni Port and bid goodbye to the volcanic island. The “Island Born of Fire” surely captured my fiery heart. Its alluring beauty will stay with me forever.


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*How reach Camiguin
From Laguindingan Airport arrival exit, look for LAX Shuttle booth. Fare to Cagayan de Oro proper is 150PHP per head. Head right away to shuttle booth as LAX Shuttle easily gets filled up and waiting for the next shuttle will have to be filled by the next flight and will consume your travel time to Camiguin. Shuttle has designated drop-off and to be drop-off at Agora Bus Terminal. Travel time is 1 hour. 
At Agora Bus Terminal ride a bus or van that passes or stops at Balingoan Bus Terminal. Balingoan is pronounced as Balingwan. Avoid the non-aircon bus which has many stops. Fare is 150PHP per person and travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. At Balingoan Bus Terminal, cross the street and walk towards the port. If have many luggages, motorela is availabe to ride to the port. At Balingoan Port, ride a RORO vessel to Camiguin's Benoni Port. Travel time is 1 hour and fare is 180PHP per person and does not include the terminal fee.
Upon returning to Cagayan de Oro, follow the same process. If you have a stop at Cagayan de Oro, LAX Shuttle Terminal is in Centrio Mall's Capt.V. Roa Entrance. Fare is 199PHP per person and travel time is almost 2 hours. 
LAX Shuttle Contact No: 0917-7101529 and 0925-8100529
Facebook Page: LAX Shuttle FB Page

*Teddy Pabualan's Camiguin Tour Services
Contact no: 0917-5219391(Globe)/0939-2440521 (Smart)
Email: teddypabualan@gmail.com
Website: www.pabualancottages-camiguin.blogspot.com/

*Fees in Camiguin (as of March 2015)
Around the island tour of Camiguin exclude entrance fees to its destination, here are the following entrance fees to the stops: 
Katibawasan Falls – 20PHP
Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross – 5PHP
Guiob Church Ruins – no fee
Sto. Nino Cold Springs – 25PHP
Sunken Cemetery – no fee but boating to get to the huge cross has a fee.
Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort – 35PHP

Fall in Love with Camiguin is 3rd of my Summer 2015 travel trip and 1st of my Birthday Trip 2015 that happened last March 16-18, 2015. I would like to thank Ca of Adventurous Feet and Chyng Reyes of No Spam, no virus, no kiddin! for serving as my travel guide blog in traveling to Camiguin.  


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