Breathless in Bayon!

Aug 30, 2014

If I have to choose only one place to go to in the whole of the Angkot Wat Heritage Complex, that would be heartbreaking and impossible. But if I really have to choose only one, I really can't.  But if I have to choose two, then Bayon would be definitely one of them.  It is just so grand and majestic! The most distinguishing features of Bayon Temple are the four smiling faces of Buddha on each of the towers.
Nose to nose with one of them, the silly tourist! The temple is at the exact center of the Angkor Thom and is not enclosed on any side.  It is perfect for picture taking from all vantage points!
There are said to be around 49 towers in the temple, each side carved with a face, but now only 37 remain.

There are various bas reliefs on the wall as well that contains scenes of  everyday life, or what appears to be dancing, festivals and others.
Aside from Angkor Wat, this is the grandest temple that I have seen in my visit.  The Bayon is said to be the last temple to be built in Angkor.
Can I just say one more time how grand and spectacular the Bayon temple is? If you really have only two places to go to in Siam Reap, never ever miss the Bayon!
Remember, this was my second visit and I was still awed at its beauty!

Preah Ngok

Aug 29, 2014

On our way to Bayon, we passed by this big Buddha statue.  I actually didn't know what it was called and just googled it now and found that its called Wat Preah Ngok. There were locals, or monks sitting there so we just took a photo from afar.

Wednesday Happy Thoughts

Aug 28, 2014

Happiness is:
1. Done with one paper (out of 5) for one subject (out of 3). Hahaha, small joys!
2. My hair is gorgeous, if I may say so myself, hehehe.
3. Almost done painting the room pink. Need to buy more paint.
4. Four boxes of Yellow cab pizza.
5. Watching movies on the tab is so convenient!
6. Yummy Pastel.
7. The kids doing great in their exams!
8. Re-reading Wonder. Still heartwarming.
9. Me-time.
10. Some peace, and a waiting game.

To see how this started and for credits on the image click here.

Royal Terraces: Terrace of the Elephants

The Terrace of the Elephants has the best view of the whole palace grounds and was where the King would view his army.  It is where parades and games are held. And I can imagine the grandeur of the celebration, just by standing there!
The pictures above were taken in February 2014, while the ones below were taken in February 2013.

Royal Terraces: Terrace of the Leper King

Aug 27, 2014

The Terrace of the Leper King, which is still inside the Royal Palace is a 25-meter long terrace where the statue is called the Leper King because he was said to have leprosy.
"The 25m (80' long) terrace is shaped like a redented "U". Its north, east, and south walls face outward, and are deeply carved with seated gods and goddesses. Within, and separated by a narrow trench, there is another set of walls, also carved. The inner walls were built first, but then started to collapse, at which point the outer walls were added.," according to this source
The carvings on the walls are just so grand! There are areas where they looked new and restored, and portions where they look old and mossy. 
The corridor was added so that visitors can view the relief on the first wall.  When it collapses, a second wall was built.  This was also believed to be a burial site.

The Pyramidal Phimeanakas

Aug 26, 2014

A three-tier pyramid inside the Royal Palace enclosure, Phimeanakas was a temple to behold.  Legend says the tower was once covered in gold. Can you imagine it? 
Phimeanakas means Celestial Palace and it was said that the King had to visit a celestial being at the tower every night or a disaster will befall his kingdom.

There were many stone blocks round the temple, which I think are still part of the reconstruction in the grounds.

Baphuon, Baffling Baphuon!

Aug 23, 2014

You know, there are really no words to describe the beauty and grandeur of these temples and Baphuon is no exception.  You just stand there, and you marvel at the ingenuity of the human mind (and the power of the king, of course) to create these things!

The temple is still under construction, as is most the temples in the heritage site.  I think this was the temple that was torn apart, the stones marked, and then it was supposed to be reconstructed to save the temple.  But a war stopped this effort, and the puzzle that was Baphuon was only completed, or parts of it, in 2011.  Going up to the top is a challenge, but there are stairs to make this manageable. 
The temple, and the view from the top was really something! Can you picture how everything looked when it was newly built? I just can't! 
The clocks that litter the temple are those which still needs to be pieced together as the records were destroyed in the war. So piecing together the puzzle that is Baphuon continues to this day.   
Next stop: Phimeanakas

East Gate, Angkor Thom

Aug 22, 2014

We are now ready to enter the Angkor Thom, which literally means, Great City.  There are several gates going inside, and this is the East Gate.  Below are the super couple.
And below is the super blogger. 
And further below are the Superfriends.  

Chau Say Tevoda

Aug 21, 2014

After Ta Prohm, we proceeded to walk to another temple ruin called Chau Say Tevoda.  I was actually confused if it was Thomanon (which I found from reading on the internet is on the opposite side) but I saw that I took a picture of the signage for the restoration.
There is a serene quality to these ruins.  It was a relief to be inside them and imagine how people lived during this time!
Beautiful, isn't it?

I just realized this today!

Aug 20, 2014

It's as if they are not really interested in what you are saying.  They are actually just waiting for their turn to speak! And its sad.

Wednesday Happy Thoughts!

Happiness is:
1. Exam day today. It was QC holiday so my kids had more time to review.
2. Danniel's application for Phil Science HS has been filed. Test is on October 4. Crossing my fingers!
3. Not making the 500-calorie a day diet, but somehow making it below the 1,200-calorie mark.
4. Paksiw na pata. And that is the reason for #4, hehehe.
5. My Samsung tablet for the movie downloads.
6. Rebond deal at Metrodeal.  And the salon is just across my office!
7. My topic for my Strama class requirement was approved.  If only I can already finish it, hahaha.
8. Watching To Kill a Mockingbird and Psycho.  Too bad they don't make movies like them anymore!
9. Yvan Navy burger, as introduced by my son Drex.  Super spicy, but yummy.  We have a new favorite!
10.  Hugs, light kisses and snuggling. It's nice to be loved!

To see how this started and for credits on the image, click here.

The Untamed Beauty of Ta Prohm

Our first for the day was a visit to Ta Phrom, one of the temples where Banyan trees were left to grow.  You can find all the archaeological information on  Ta Prohm so many websites so just let me tell you how it felt to be there. During my first visit in 2012, the Angkor Wat being on my bucket list, I was so mesmerized. I was awed. I was speechless. It was beautiful!  There were huge Banyan trees whose giant roots were taking over the temples! Of course, restoration was ongoing but I can easily ignore the cranes, hahaha!
It was as beautiful during my second visit.  They made more headway in the restoration and reconstruction.  But there is still something to be said about beauty of ruins.  And of course, at the back of my mind, how many slaves were used to build these temples? Anyway, it was a different time and things were surely different back then. 
Oh, and this was where the Angelina Jolie-movie Tomb raider was shot. 

Day 2: Angkor World Heritage Tour

Aug 19, 2014

After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we left for the Angkor Wat Heritage Site on 2 tuktuks we rented for the whole day for $15 each.  We had our pictures taken and got our our one-day pass at $20 each.  The pass must be kept with you at all times as this will be checked upon your entry at each site.  I will dedicate one post each to the places at the Angkor World Heritage site that we visited:

East Gate of the Angkor Thom
South Gate of the Angkor Thom

Day 1: Arrival in Siam Reap, Cambodia

Aug 18, 2014

So I am finally going to write in detail about that 6-day visit to Cambodia and Vietnam last February 2014 with the Superfriends.  It has been long overdue, and I haven't even written about the first time I went there with my office mates back in 2012.  So anyway, we bought the tickets during the Cebu Pacific Piso Sale for the February 2014 travel early in 2013.  Then we bought our hotel accommodations thru Agoda some months before so we only had to budget for food, inland travels and souvenirs.

So on our Day 1, we arrived at around 10pm and our hotel accommodation came with a free hotel transfer. We were brought to The Unique Angkor Villa by two tuktuks. And then we turned in, eager for an early day at the temples.  We opted not to wake up early to see the sunrise because, hey, the sunrise in the Philippines are much more beautiful, hahaha!

Next post: Day 2: Visit at Angkot Wat


Aug 14, 2014

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.”  

I remember these words on the wall of our rented room when I was in college.  And reading it now brings back memories of struggles and perseverance.  And the knowledge that somehow, I have succeeded in life. What a nice thought to have.

Northern Hope Inn: Cheap Accommodation in El Nido

Aug 13, 2014

For our 4-days, 3-nights in El Nido, we opted to stay at Northern Hope Inn.  It was part of the package that we got from Northern Hope Tours.  We paid P800 a night for the room.  It was clean, and very basic, with just a bed, a small table aka patungan and a restroom without shower (just timba and tabo).

1. Cheap at only P800 per night
2. The caretaker, Ate Minda was very accommodating and helpful.
3. The inn is literally just a stone's-throw away from the beach where the boats for the tours are docked.
4. Very near restaurants and groceries.
5. With free wifi and hot water.

1. No power from 6am to 2pm. This didn't bother us too much since we were out on the tours from 9am to 4pm.
2. No TV. This didn't bother me as much as it did my husband. I have my books on my phone so I was okay with it. But since we couldn't get out much because of the rain, he had TV withdrawal symptoms, hahaha.
3. No hot shower. Since it was raining, it was so cold when we take a shower.

So, will I stay again at Northern Hope Inn if I were to come back to El Nido? Yes, if I were on a budget. But if I have more money for the trip, I will splurge a little and look for a room with TV, hahaha. Will I recommend it to friends? Yes, of coure if they are on a budget as well. But if not, there is no harm in looking for a much better accommodation.  Special mention to Ate Minda who was very, very nice in taking care of us.  

Bona's Chao Long

Aug 12, 2014

I have been to Puerto Princesa for 3 times already, but this was the first time that I was able to eat at Bona's Chaolong. We had 3 hours to kill before we need to be at the airport so we had lots of time to enjoy our food.  But it was so good we dove right in!

A chaolong is a vietnamese-style noodles which is either beef stew or buto-buto.  My husband had the beef stew and mine was the buto-buto.  We also had the french bread. And you know what, it was even better than any of the stews and soups we have tasted in Vietnam! I loved it! And it was cheap too.  I think I only paid P160 for everything.  I wanted more of the french bread, and writing this, I am craving for it now!

Day 3: El Nido, Island Hopping Tour B

Aug 11, 2014

After a rain-filled Tour A the day before, we were now ready for another island hopping day.  We were supposed to do the Tour C, but since it was raining heavily the night before, the Coast Guard did not allow them to go in open sea where most of the islands in Tour C are located.  So we were just happy that the tour was not cancelled, and Tour B it was.

Our first stop for the day was Pinagbuyutan Island.  No, the tour guide didn't know what the word means as well and he said it was probably an old word that people have not forgotten.  The island was beautiful beyond words! There was a lush greenery on the island, and coconut trees that sway with the strong winds. The water was clear and snorkeling, or just floating around was heaven!  Too bad it rained so hard.  You may notice that our photos are somehow blurred as the camera was inside a plastic, hehehe.
The rain was so strong here that one of the members of our tour was almost swept away.  She panicked and the boatmen had to throw her a life jacket. Hmm, that is why I have my life vest on, all of the time, hehehe.

Our next stop was at Cudugnon Cave. It was said to be an ancient burial ground of the first settlers in the island.  We went inside the cave in this small opening where you had to slide yourself slowly inside. It was fascinating.  I really can't stop but be awed at how wonderful nature works when left on its own.
We also had lunch on the island.  We had two grilled fish and grilled pork and the crabs.  We also had some cucumber and tomato salad and pineapple and watermelon.  It was a nice lunch as two of the members of our group were foreigners and they had lots of questions and good things to say about the Philippines and the Filipinos they worked with in Dubai.  

After lunch, we then proceeded to visit Snake Island.  We docked in the shallow waters, which was supposed to be a sand bar during summer.  We climbed to the viewing deck, and from there, we can see how the sandbar forms a letter S between one island and the nearby mangrove area.  The view from the viewing deck was amazing! The tour guide also showed us the pitcher plant that grows on the hill.  It was still raining heavily so we were only able to take some pictures but we love how beautiful the island is and how clear and warm the water is.

After Snake Island, we were supposed go the Cathedral Cave but by this time, the rain was already too heavy and the sky getting too dark. Our boatmen told us asked us if we want to proceed to the next destination but it will be very wavy as we will be going against the strong current.  So we all decided to just head back as it was already past 3pm and we had enough of being wet and cold the whole day, hahaha.

So my husband asked me, since we have been to Puerto Princesa, Underground River, Honda Bay, Coron and now finally El Nido, if I will ever again plan a trip to Palawan and I said yes, for Tour C, hahaha! Oh yes, Palawan is so beautiful and it is one of the best places in the Phillipines that I have been tom and I am sure to be back again!

Wednesday Happy Thoughts!

Aug 6, 2014

Happiness is:
1. That El Nido trip. Yeah, the happiness lingers!
2. The Guardians of the Galaxy movie treat last week by Nuffnang and Kitkat and Ehms.
3. The trolley bag that I won at the raffle. Its red and its niceeeee!
4. Re-reading the Mockingjay trilogy.
5. Cuddling. and more cuddling in this cold weather.
6. Watching Other Woman with my husband.  To funny for me, too bad for him, hahahah!
7. I saw the sun today! Hope the weather improves during the weekend.
8. Cheese ice cream.
9. Our car is working fine now, and we didn't have to bring it to the shop. Hubby is learning! Woot, woot!
10. Hot pandesal.

To see how this started and for credits on the image, click here.

Day 2: El Nido Island Hopping Tour A

So, it was raining very hard the night before but by 9am, we were ready to go island hopping! Our boatman and his crew, and our tour guide Marvin , together with 4 other people on the tour make up our group. 

First stop of the island hopping tour was the Big Lagoon.  Well, it was actually not a 'stop' because the boat didn't stop, hahaha but just circled around the lagoon and gave us a lot time of to take pictures! The place was beautiful and set us in a very good mood since the rain stopped for a while.

Next stop was Simizu Island.  According to Marvin, Simizu was a Japanese diver who drowned in one of the underwater caves when they were still mapping them, and so the cave was named after him.  The rock formation was beautiful, and the sand was white.  The water was very clear and perfect for snorkeling.   

We also stayed at Simizu for our lunch so we had a lot of time enjoying the island.  For the 6 of us, we had one big grilled snapper, stuffed and grilled squid, grilled pork and crabs.  There was also a vegetable salad, with the I love El Nido design made by our tour guide (can you see it?) and watermelon and pineapple. 
The ladies from Mindanao didn't eat the pork and the others were allergic to crabs so I had so much to eat, hahahah! It was a great lunch and all I wanted was to sleep afterwards.

Our next stop was the Small Lagoon.  The boat docked outside the opening and we swam (or floated, in may case, hahaha).  Parts of the lagoon were really deep, as deep as 27 meters! I didn't care, I had my life vest with me, hahaha.  I also had lots of fun snorkeling and just looking at the dark and deep water below. Too bad, I didn't have a waterproof camera.
Our last stop for the day was the Papaya Island.  We were supposed to visit the 7 Commando beach, which was just beside Papaya island but the current was strong and docking the boat would be difficult.  According to our guide, there used to be an access between the two beach, a 5-minute walk on the forest, but the owners of the island are not on good terms so it was blocked.  7 Commando beach is just by that boulder on the picture below. The sand on the beach was so fine, finer than the sand in Boracay!!! We also spent the afternoon just floating on the water while the others played beach volleyball with the guide and boatmen.  We were lucky to have the beach almost to ourselves, save for the Manong who was selling snacks, as well as coffee. 
The Secret Lagoon was supposed to be part of Tour A but it was not accessible due to the high tide.  We left Papaya Island a little before 4pm and we were happy to call it a day!

Next post:
Day 3: El Nido Island Hopping Tour B

El Nido On A Budget: 4Days and 3 Nights Expenses

Aug 5, 2014

I think before I continue with my posts on our very recent El Nido trip, I should give you a list of how much we actually spent on this trip, so below is the list.  

It came out to P16,657.68 including airfare bought during the Piso Sale and including the pasalubong. If without pasalubong, it will amount to just about P7,800 per person.  This is such a great budget trip! I bought some snacks already such as cup noodles and some chips on our baggage but we still ended up buying more since we love snacking.  Our dinner didn't cost that much except for the last night because we only eat in carinderia's except on our last night when we dined by the beach.  Since there were only 2 of us, we also didn't spend too much on social drinking and we just opted to buy and drink in our room. Besides, the rain was pouring and it was much fun to hang out in our room. 

If we were with our usual set of friends, maybe we would have each spent maybe P1,500 more on food, but we will spend less on accommodation because it will be a shared cost (we paid P2,400 for 3 nights).  But that would still be below P10,000 per person.

I really consider this a very successful budget travel because I never thought that I can go to El Nido on such a small budget, considering that there were only two of us. And this is El Nido, where rates at luxury resorts are at P24,000 a night, on a low season like July.  And with the view below, this was a steal!

Touchdown, El Nido!

Aug 4, 2014

We arrived in El Nido after more than 6 hours of travel from the Puerto Princesa airport.  The van made several stops: one for a DENR checkpoint on mangoes, another for restroom break and then for lunch.  We were in El Nido at around 4:30pm and we checked in at Northern Hope Inn (I will make a separate post on this).  After putting down our bags and changing to more comfortable clothes, we went out to see a glimpse of El Nido. 

Just like Coron,  El Nido is just a small, very laid-back town.  The whole town can easily be roamed around on foot, and there was no shortage of sari-sari stores and food establishments.  The short stretch of beach was littered with small boats and resorts and people who like us, were roaming on the beach for some photo ops.  It was so peaceful and so breathtakingly beautiful!

Too bad it rained heavily on our first night so we didn't get a chance to walk around more.  We went back to our lodging and decided to just go out once more for dinner once the rain stopped.  We went into town and ate at one of the carinderias there that caters to both locals and tourists. 

#KITKATBreakMovement Movie Screening: Guardians of the Galaxy

Aug 1, 2014

Last night, my friend Ehms and I went to Glorietta to claim her tickets for the screening of the Guardians of the Galaxy which she won  from the #KitKatBreakMovement contest.  She also won the other contest that night but we were just supposed to watch at Greenbelt.  Unfortunately, after the registration and while waiting for the food and the movie, her husband called to say that he didn't have to stay for overtime and so she left me to go to Shangri-La to meet him. Anyway, her loss was my gain, hahahaha!

The movie was great.  It was funny and hilarious! I enjoyed it immensely and I was laughing the whole time. But the best part of the program was after the movie screening.  They gave out the loot bags including the personalized shirt for Ehms (her real name's Merdinein, a mouthful, I know, hehehe) and the pack for the plus 1.  Yehey! Love KitKat!
But the better part of the best part was when my ticket was called for having won at the electronic raffle.  And I won a KitKat trolley bag!  I love it to bits the moment I saw it and I immediately think of our trip to Singapore and Malaysia early next year where I can use it!  I wanted to jump up and down, but I just made do with taking pictures and smiling widely.  Did I say how I love it!!!

So I would like to thank Ehms, Nuffnang and KitKat for the wonderful movie experience, the great food from NYFD and the my super-duper cute trolley bag! I had so much fun! 


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