Monday, September 30, 2013

Bantayan Island: Day 1 - Birthday at the Beach

I just love Cebu Pacific Air! One morning in March, my sister and I were checking out seat sale for domestic flights; forgot the occasion, but they did have Php10 seat sale. I have not been to many provinces in Visayas, so I asked my sister to accompany me to Cebu, she said yes of course! So for my 29th birthday, I celebrated away from home for the first time.

My sister usually helps me with the itinerary, but this time, she said that I should take charge since it is my birthday trip anyway. I did, it was easy. I've heard from friends that Cebu City is just like Manila, so I skipped the city tour part. There is this place in Cebu, the Bantayan Island, that I've been hearing so many raves about, that's where I wanted to spend my birthday.

I did my research on Bantayan Island, and I found really helpful travel blog sites:
Getting There, Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat.

Originally, our flight to Cebu was at 4:55 AM, but I received an email from Cebu Pacific Air informing me that our flight has been moved to 3:25 AM. Landed at Mactan International Aport less than an hour later. My birthday destination was still 4 hours away, so being rescheduled was just perfect.

From the airport, we took a cab (NOT the yellow, airport taxi) to the North Bus Terminal (Php150). At the bus terminal, look for the Hagnaya signage and take the yellow Ceres bus. Boarded the aircon bus (Php160) since it will be a 3 hour road trip to Hagnaya Pier.

The 3 hour bus ride was spent for catching some Zs. After a while, it started feeling like we were on the road for too long so I asked the conductor if we were there yet, but he said "Ay malayo pa!" When we were finally at the port, I was just sooooo happy! My birthday at the beach was about to start!

From Hagnaya Pier, Island Shipping Corporation's RoRo, will be your ride to paradise. This 1 hour ferry trip (Php170) felt really longer than it should, maybe because I felt like we were really near, yet so far.

We rode a tricycle (20/person) to Abaniko Beach Resort, along Alice Beach. Accommodation was at it's cheapest (Php900/night) since September isn't peak season. Joy, the owner gave us Bungalow #1, a fan room with 2 single beds and our own bathroom. I really liked our home away from home. Everything was fairly clean. The best part was Bungalow #1 was just 15-20 steps away from the beach. Abaniko is right beside the very famous Anika Beach Resort.
Home away from home.

AH! The island, the beach! I seriously CANNOT believe my eyes! It was such beauty I saw. I'm so psyched that I get to celebrate my birthday and relax in this paradise.
Celebrating my 29th with Ate. :)

After basking in the sun, we finally felt the hunger. A friend who's been to Bantayan strongly recommended Tristan's pizza. It's at the other side of the port, but my sister and I decided that it would be fun to walk along the shore. I thought we'd never find Tristan's! I was starting to regret our decision to walk when we finally found it. We ordered 1 Mexican style pizza and I just loved it! The crust soft but it also has a crunch to it and the cheese was delicious. Perfect birthday lunch! We had leftovers and they were still delish after two days. Hahah! :))
Mexican pizza at Tristan's.
Tristan's Beach Resort is located @ Sugar Beach.

We took the same route going back to Abaniko. I wasn't able to go to the beach this summer, so I really didn't mind the heat and the long walk. I was actually expecting tan lines. ;)
Getting kisses from the sun.
Ate enjoying her fresh buko juice.

Bantayan Island really has it's own charm. No camera can't not capture it's beauty. I even got some real amazing shots from my GHD toy camera. 

I cannot be any happier. Spending my birthday in a laid back town, in a beautiful, far away island; away from the city is something that I can get used to. Happy birthday to me, indeed. :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 5: Seoul Mate: Dongdaemun, Namdaemun and Myeongdong

By this time, I've become really really at home in Seoul. After a tiring day traveling from Seoul to Osan and back, we've decided to stay close to home. Market day for us! Taking pictures feel so touristy, hence photo shortage in this post. :P

First stop was Dongdaemun Market, a shopper's haven, so we thought it would be ours too. But it caters more to wholesale shoppers. Most products here like clothes, are sold in bulk and would be too expensive if you'd get just one. Cheap buys for re-sellers. We were able to buy cheaper I love Korea shirts at one of the street stalls. What I noticed here was most stall owners weren't so nice to customers. Touching their products would easily tick them off and say things that doesn't sound Korean. Which made me realize that many of them aren't locals.
To Dongdaemun Shopping Complex.

Since we set foot in Korea, we haven't seen a mall till we went to Dongdaemun. But this mall, Doota was not open until 7pm, so we missed the chance to go window shopping.

This part of Dongdaemun became my favorite. I was happy in an instant when we came across these bookstores that sell used books at bargain price. My sister was able to buy a hard bound, dual language (English and Korean) and illustrated Little Prince book for only KRW2000.

We also got to try street food for the first time. Didn't have time for breakfast, so at around 1PM, we were already starving. Tried this food stall at Dongdaemun. They sell tteokbokki, fish cakes and mini kimbap. Delicious, affordable and very clean too!

You'll also find the Seoul Heunginjumin or the Seoul Gate. We didn't cross the street to get closer to the gate. I don't recall why we didn't, and it sure is another reason why I should go back to Seoul: to get a closer look at the Seoul Gate. Hahah!
Front view of the gate.
Side view of the Seoul Gate.
Pedestrian crossing.
And oh! We also took our time taking photos of the Cheonggyecheon Stream. This part of the stream in Dongdaemun has a very nice pathway where locals and tourists alike can just explore.

Next stop was Namdaemun Market. We were able to buy pasalubong here, lots of pasalubong! The market was clean and organized. My sister needed to buy some trail mix nuts and dried cranberry and the sellers were really helpful and even offered taste test. I bought a box of my favorite sunflower seed coated with chocolate for only KRW12,000!

After pasalubong shopping, we headed back to our guesthouse to drop off our purchases and to clean up a little. Last place to shop was Myeongdong again. More than the stores, I really just love how busy this place is at night.
How cool is this building? ;)
I won't leave Seoul without finding ARTBOX. Most cutesy stationery I've received during my stint as an ESL teacher were from ARTBOX, so I had to see the shop for myself. I tell you, I was not disappointed with what I saw! :D

Shopping could be tiring too. So since it's our last night in Seoul, we went back to the guesthouse a little bit earlier that we usually do. Time to pack our bags and get ready for the journey home.