fbpx

Singapore Shiok!

I have been in and out of Singapore for some of my stay in Canon because it used to be our regional office. I never got to go around though because the days were primarily spent in meetings. Last year, I was fortunate to accompany five handsome Canon photographers *wink* for a trip sponsored by the tourism board of Singapore.
With Mark Floro, PJ Enriquez, Edwin Martinez, Jay Jallorina and Jo Avila.
Arrival at Singapore with our tour guides ūüôā

One of the places we visited was Sentosa, of course. This was at the S.E.A. Aquarium.

Photo by PJ Enriquez
At the S.E.A. Aquarium‚ĄĘ, you can observe more than 100,000 creatures from 800 species like sharks and sting rays. They are all swimming in 45 million litres of water!
One-day pass would cost you S$38 or a little over PHP1300 for adults. Operating hours can be found here.
I also visited one unassuming place, Yong Siak Street and there I found my little heaven. A bookstore called Books Actually!
I fell in love with the place instantly. Not only does it feature local authors, it also has a very creative feel.
Cute cookie brooch!!!
I love this so much!
And of course, I had to take some home. ūüôā
We also visited Gardens By The Bay. The photo below is a shot of the Supertree Grove. According to their website, these Supertrees have canopies with environmentally sustainable function such as harvesting solar energy to light the trees at night while others serve as air exhaust receptacles. To learn more about the Supertrees, click here.
Photo by PJ Enriquez.
Gardens By The Bay is located at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953. Check out ticket rates and how to get to the gardens here.
We also visited the MegaZip Adventure Park in Sentosa. I was caught unprepared. I thought we were just taking pictures around Sentosa. [Un]fortunately, we also had to ride the MegaZip.
According to their website, MegaZip is at 75 meters high, 450 meters long and heart pounding speeds of 60 KMPH.
I am not really frazzled by heights. In fact, I take every opportunity to ride ziplines because of the adrenaline rush it brings. Unfortunately, the shoes were not appropriate for the occasion.
I was just trying to look bored. Hahaha. But really, I was hanging on to my dear shoes.
From the jungle, I landed at Sentosa Beach. Haha.

For my last feature for this trip, I present to you my second most favorite destination on my list (after the bookstore, haha) РMarché 313@somerset!

Marché is a self-service Swiss restaurant that is supposed to mimic the warm and cozy ambiance of the Swiss Alps.

According to them, they shipped original Swiss chalets from the highland around Bern, Switzerland.
Sorry for the blurred photo.

March√© has a very wide selection of gastronomical offerings ranging from their own fresh bakes, salads, an open grill, pizza, anything you can think of! Each guest is given a card which you use to “purchase” your food at the different stations. You will surrender the card and pay at the end of your meal. Pretty awesome!

Creamiest mushroom soup ever!
 
And yes of course, the dessert that comes with coffee!

Burp! Marché 313@somerset is located at Level 1, Discovery Walk, 313 Orchard Road, Singapore 238895. You can check out their website here.

I stayed at Park Royal Pickering and I realllyyy loved the hotel. Unfortunately, I was only able to take very few photos of the hotel (my bad!). But just to show you how it looks like, I got some free to share photos from a Singaporean photographer, Erwin Soo to show you how beautiful this hotel is <3

By Erwin Soo.
(Flickr: LIME restaurant at Parkroyal on Pickering.)
[CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Erwin Soo.
(Flickr: Closer to nature than to stone.)
[CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
On the way to my room.
The roof deck.
My own lousy phone shot of the infinity pool at the roof deck.
Twin bed rooms cost S$290 or around PHP10,000.
Park Royal on Pickering is located at 3 Upper Pickering Street, Singapore 058289.
So there goes a little throw-back about my Singapore trip last year. To know more, visit Singapore Tourism Board’s website at www.yoursingapore.com. Shiok!
xx,
Balot
PS. According to urbandictionary.com, ‘Shiok’ is commonly used in Malaysia & Singapore […] it essentially is used to convey a feeling of sheer pleasure and happiness. For example, if you really enjoyed a particular dish, the way ‘shiok’ would be used is ‘Wow! This dish damn SHIOK, man!’.

How I Was Scammed in Beijing Airport



“Don’t be gullible, use life before it uses you. Understand there are no free lunches, and for every action you take, there’s a reaction.”¬†Sylvester Stallone

I know, I know! I feel so ignorant that I was scammed. But more than that, I felt sad that there is that harsh world of scammers. Husband always scolded me about this, always told me that I live in a fairy tale world. I received that comment with indignation. I don’t think I was stupid because I always believed in the utmost goodness of man.

This, however, just threw me off my belief and forced me to see others in great caution. At the end of the day, we should choose to protect ourselves in the first place.

Okay, so now to my story. Sorry, I got side-tracked haha —

I was on my way back to Manila from my four-day Beijing trip. I was early at the airport and was viewing the flight schedules when a man in a suit with an Air China nameplate approached me and in pre-school English and a lot of Mandarin, told me that he will assist me to the counter. Since I was too early, He said that I will be catered to a different front desk apart from where all the other passengers lined up. The counter was just beside the other Air China counters so I did not have any doubt that this was just some staff extending excellent customer service. Check-in was a breeze and I searched in the internet how much other people would usually tip. I did not see any reference. Since I was feeling pretty generous because of this extra mile (and I did not have smaller bills as well), I was planning to give him RMB100!

After checking in, he pointed to me the gate and asked me for RMB300! Is this guy effin’ crazy?! That is equivalent to PHP2,100 just for a tip his assistance? What the hell! He kept on egging me to give him more and I interjected and shouted what a lousy kind of an airline personnel he is. I told him I do not have any bills anymore. He kept on insisting until I raised my voice several notches higher, enough for other people to look at us. When I was drawing a little more attention, he left and said goodbye. Ugh!

I searched for Beijing scams and found out that there are sooooo many crazy scammers in China! So to give you a heads up and to those naive travelers like me, here is a list of those scams that I have found in other sites:

1. Top Scams in Beijing
2. Scams and the City
3. Comprehensive Scams from China-Mike

Hmm, this makes me all the more scared to go around. This has been my third time in Beijing and the past two visits had been okay since I had a colleague with me. This time around, I was alone, I did not look anything Chinese, can’t speak Mandarin (I truly regret not taking my classes seriously), so I was an easy target.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that it was all that I shelled out for a con artist. I am ever so glad that I was not part of any of those more serious ones that I cited above.

Lesson learned for RMB100. Hope you won’t fall into this trap and yeah, don’t trust a helping hand all the time.

xx,
Corporate Junkie

Turning Japanese

One good thing about what I do is I get to travel. I have been meaning to write about my Japan trip since I have set foot in the country two years ago although I was not really sure where to begin describing this beautiful place which I adored for a long time. 
 

Japan culture has always amazed me. I loved mangas, Japanese fashion, the language, the heritage — everything! I love Japanese brands, I work for a Japanese company, some people even mistake my last name as Japanese! Anyway, enough of the obsession!¬†

 
Discovery 1:  Japanese food. 
 
I have talked about the awesome ramen experience I had in Dazaifu in my previous post but it’s not only the noodles which would make you miss Japan. Everything is so pretty from the presentation to the taste — it’s so darn perfect!
 

Never encountered so many veggie sushi  and whatchamacallits in my whole life.

Never encountered so many veggie sushi  and whatchamacallits in my whole life.


The Japanese can define what fresh is.

The Japanese can define what fresh is.

 

Beef.

Beef.

 

More beef.

More beef.

 

Mouth-watering beef in a Korean BBQ way at Dragon Kalbi restaurant. (Only in Japan, it is better. Hahaha! -overheard from a local.)

Mouth-watering beef in a Korean BBQ way at Dragon Kalbi restaurant. (Only in Japan, it is better. Hahaha! -overheard from a local.)

 

Giant, sweet strawberries served fresh in Oita Prefecture.

Giant, sweet strawberries served fresh in Oita Prefecture.

Even the bentos look nice.

Even the bentos look nice.

Next stop, the few tourist spots I have been to. 
 
Discovery 2:  Dazaifu


I went to Dazaifu on my first Japan trip and it is located at the Fukuoka Prefecture. We went to one of their attraction sites which is the Komyosen-ji Temple. 


A really geometric Starbucks at Fukuoka. 

A really geometric Starbucks at Fukuoka. 


Kawaii stalls near the temple.

Kawaii stalls near the temple.


You would not believe this. Dorae-mon!

You would not believe this. Dorae-mon!


At the temple garden with Chonx.

At the temple garden with Chonx.


"Cleansing" yourself before you go inside the temple.

“Cleansing” yourself before you go inside the temple.


Temple entrance.

Temple entrance.

The temple is surrounded by lush gardens which is characteristic of most Japanese temples. It is full of people with a mixture of locals praying and some tourists taking a snapshot of this wonderful place. 


Discovery 3: Going around Tokyo. 

 
The most efficient way to go around Tokyo is through the subway since cabs are very expensive. Since I was only free for several hours, I chose to get tickets on a per destination basis however, this comes out fairly expensive as well. There is a “One Day Tokyo Combination” at Y1580 or roughly PHP700.
 
The routes look complicated even if they aren’t. All stations would have the directional signage however, most of them are in Japanese. There are some who can speak English though and the people are very friendly and eager to help. There are also some foreigners who approach you especially if they see that dazed look in your eyes already ^_^.
 

Running around the busy subway of Japan with their oh-so-efficient train system.

Running around the busy subway of Japan with their oh-so-efficient train system.

 

So this is where everyone is at.  Shinjuku Station at a non-rush hour.

So this is where everyone is at.   Shinjuku Station at a non-rush hour.

 

Organized stalls everywhere. I really wonder how  they can make their surroundings so clean!

Organized stalls everywhere. I really wonder how they can make their surroundings so clean!

 

Venturing to see cosplayers at Akihabara District. FAIL.

Venturing to see cosplayers at Akihabara District. FAIL.

 

At Harajuku District looking for cosplayers.  We didn't see a single soul. Boo-hoo!

At Harajuku District looking for cosplayers. We didn’t see a single soul. Boo-hoo!

 

Wolfgang Puck's resto at the Harajuku District.. 

Wolfgang Puck’s resto at the Harajuku District..¬†

Discovery 4: Oita Prefecture
 
From Tokyo to Oita, you need to take a short plane ride. Oita houses an expansive industry line-up from agriculture to food to housing factories to big Japanese companies like Canon.
 
 
Cute greeting material on the conveyor belt
at the Oita Airport.

 

Canon Oita Factory.

Canon Oita Factory.

 

Asagiri-kan. On top of the mountains.

Asagiri-kan. On top of the mountains.

 

 

Devil is in the details. Found in our room.

Devil is in the details. Found in our room.

 

 

Morning snow at the Oita mountains.

Morning snow at the Oita mountains.

 
We stayed at a private facility which exemplified the traditional Japanese way of living — from the food, to the tatamis, even my much-dreaded onsen!¬†

Traditionally, men and women bathed together at the onsen and sentŇć but single-sex bathing has become legalized as the norm since the opening of Japan to the West during the¬†Meiji period.¬†Mixed bathing¬†(ś∑∑śĶī¬†kon’yoku?)¬†persists at some special onsen in the rural areas of Japan, which usually also provide the option of separate “women-only” baths or different hours for the two sexes. Children of either sex may be seen in both the men’s and the women’s baths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onsen

Seriously?! Good thing, we were not so traditional. Our onsen experience had separate baths for men and women. Thank God. ^_^
 
Discovery 5: Yokohama
 
At our last stop, things got really busy in Yokohama. I was not able to go around the place except the malls near the hotel. 
 

The world's largest clock in a giant ferris wheel,  Cosmo Clock 21 at Yokohama.

The world’s largest clock in a giant ferris wheel,¬† Cosmo Clock 21 at Yokohama.


With Chonx. Pan Pacifico Yokohama.

With Chonx. Pan Pacifico Yokohama.

 

You would not want to miss this BBQ place. Dragon Kalbi located  at Landmark Plaza, Yokohama.

You would not want to miss this BBQ place. Dragon Kalbi located  at Landmark Plaza, Yokohama.


Other Things to Remember

Most of the hotels would have your essentials already so it would be good if you pack light. There are a lot of convenience stores scattered around Japan as well so everything is accessible. Should you need internet connection all the time, there is a rental internet and mobile service at around Y5900 per week. I think this is more economical since roaming rates in Japan is incredulously high. You can check out this site for more details.

Do have your currencies exchanged at the airport since there are very few places around Japan where you can have them converted (except your hotels). 


So there you go, I hope you enjoyed a little Japanese treat! 

One day, I will be back there again. And I promise, I will find you, cosplayers! Until then!

Omikuji: Fortune on Paper

On a chilly afternoon of February, I visited the Sensouji Temple in Asakusa, Japan. Foreigners and locals alike flocked the temple. 

 
 
One thing that caught my eye was this — people swarmed the several stations which featured these wooden compartments.¬†
 
 
It was a “fortune box” which the Japanese called Omikuji!
 
 

Omikuji, according to Wikipedia, are random fortunes written on strips of paper. It is said that the fortune cookie was derived from this old Japanese tradition. 

 
Before you take your fortune, you are to donate 100 yen (approx. PHP49) and drop it in a donation box among these wooden compartments. Noone is there monitoring you so this is purely honesty system. 
 
After which, you pick up the wooden cylinder full of sticks inside. It has a small hole enough for one stick to come out when you shake it. You are to pray for your wish while you shake the cylinder several times. When a stick comes out, there is a marked character engraved on the stick. There will be a corresponding compartment with the same character as that engraved on the stick. That compartment holds your fortune!
 
Here’s mine:¬†
 
When spring comes, willows are in bud. Just like flowers bloom in old branches, something happy will come. There is still frost and snow, but brilliant happiness is in it. Your fortune is always good, never be destroyed. 
 
Your wishes will be realized. A sick person will recover. The lost article will be found. The person you are waiting will come but late. Building a new house and removal are good. Making a trip has no problem. Marriage and employment are all good. 
 
Oh, how I love my fortune. And yes, some of them are quite true. 

The Coron Island Tour Part II

Coron / Busuanga has become one of my earmarked vacation places. The crystal clear waters, the flourishing flora and fauna — it is really a great place to relax. I have previously blogged about the first part of our Coron Island Tour which happened on the second day of our trip. For the first part of this tour, please click here.

 
Our next stop was the seven islands known as the Siete Pecados. I have a vague memory of these islands; I remember back in 2000, when ship travel was still the more common way of transport from Bacolod to Manila, this was included in the route and I often counted these seven islands.
 
According to Andrew, our tour guide, Siete Pecados means seven sisters. Based on a legend, there were seven sisters who left home on a stormy night and were never found.  Their family seached and searched to no avail. One day, their parents prayed to the gods to let them see their daughters once again. Days after, these seven islands sprouted out of nowhere. 
 
So that’s how the story unfolded and became part of the local history.
 
Anyway, going back to the trip — the following pictures portray the seven islands. I wasn’t able to bring a camera with a lens that is wide enough to take a picture of all the seven islands together so please bear with me.
 

 
We stopped here for a moment and got a chance to swim with the fishes. This time around, it was a really pretty marine sight. These shots were taken by a Canon underwater camera РPowerShot D20.
Coron
 
After some minutes of snorkeling, we headed back to the town and dropped by Maquinit Hot Springs. I was actually very hesitant at first to take a dip because the water was extremely hot, but hey, since I was there already…
 
Unlike other hot springs I know, this one has a more “mellow” sulfuric smell. While my husband enjoyed his little hydrotherapy, I just stayed for a few minutes and got out because I could not stand the temperature.¬†
 
After this pit stop, we then visited the souvenir shop before heading back to the island We finished at around 4:30 PM. I haven’t bought anything from the souvenir shop though Edzel got himself some local cashew nuts to bring back to Manila.¬†
 
It was a very exciting and adventurous day. I wish I could have gone to the other places as well. In any case, it just makes me look forward to visit Coron once again. 
1 2