Travel Tales: Baler

travel-tales

Aside from La Union, Baler is another place that is great for surfing. I have only been to Baler twice, but I loved both of the experiences that I had. The first time I was there, we took a bus from Cubao straight to Baler. The second was during Christmas season. I would suggest to take a private car instead of taking the bus, as it is more convenient especially when going back to Manila. We found out that the last trip from Baler back to Manila leaves at around 10 in the morning. So, if you want more time on your hands, best to take a car with you, or maybe take one of those package tours.

Of course, everybody needs to have a photo here:

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Another touristy spot is the Balete Tree:

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We also dropped by the museum, which is right next to the Baler sign:

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Going to Ditumabo Falls is its own experience. It was really easy during the first time I went there, maybe because it was summer and there was no tide at all.

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Unfortunately, because of a typhoon, the rock with the sign was nowhere to be found when we were there last Christmas. Also, the trek was so much scarier since the water was pretty high and there were no bridges for crossing because of the recent typhoon. The locals even said that the day after Christmas (which was the day we were there) was the first day the Falls were opened to the public after almost a week of nonstop rain.

Because of the scary trek, this is the best photo I have of the falls, hahahha:

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Kita naman yung falls diba? Okay na yan, may ebidensya.

Aside from actually surfing, my other favorite Baler spot is the hanging bridge. It’s really scary for me, like suuper scary, but the view is fantastic. And, it makes for great photos, lol.

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I’m not really sure why I don’t have any photos of me failing at surfing, hahaha. I guess that means that I enjoyed? 😀

Not Really Busy, Just a Little Lazy

The biggest culprit of why it took me another long while to post is Pokemon Go. Hahaha. Yes, I downloaded it on the first day it went live in the Philippines and I dragged my siblings to come and walk around wherever we can to get as much Pokemons as possible, hahaha. My brother has been a fan ever since he was little, so he’s like our walking Pokedex, hehehe. My siblings and I have lunch dates during weekends just so we can go to a mall and get more Pokemons.:D But, just like any game, it can get boring too. I guess you really have to go to a LOT of places to get more monsters.

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I’m still stuck at level 21, but, I got to own a gym for a good 10 minutes, lol.

One good thing that’s coming out of the Pokemon hunting is that we keep on going to different malls around the metro and eat (of course).

We went to Megamall one weekend to check out Mac Center’s super sale plus catch Pokemons. It was a bit of a waste because it felt like the entire population of iPhone users went to the sale and there weren’t any new Pokemons there. Good thing the food at Ooma was great!

We also went to Greenbelt during the first weekend Pokemon hit big, where all malls I think has lure parties. Having late lunch while catching Pokemons, and some gelato after:

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Before, we used to always take a car anywhere we go. But now, the deal is to just walk so we can catch more and more Pokemons, hahaha. And so while walking, I finally got to see one of the famous “Why” around town.

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One thing I tried to do was be a little artsy. And so, I did this, and failed miserably:

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I didn’t even try finishing it!! Hahaha. Obviously, this recreational activity is so not for me.

While thinking of what to put in this post, I just finished watching the second season of Narcos. If you don’t know what it is, Google it! And watch it! It really is one of the best right now and it’s just 10 episodes per season so it’s not going to take up too much of your time! 😀

Last Sunday, my siblings and I finally got matching tattoos of our parents’ names. I never really thought that it would hurt as much as it did. I mean, it’s a tolerable kind of pain, but it is still painful. Newfound awesomeness to people with massive tattoos on their bodies!

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Our parents don’t know about this yet and we have no idea how they’re going to react so.. not really excited to go home this weekend. Hahahaha.

And of course, we ate after!

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2016 Holy Week

Last March, I initially thought that I’d be spending Holy Week at home. There were no plans to go anywhere, and I was actually looking forward to staying at home and doing nothing. Maybe join the Good Friday procession, but nothing else aside from that. I was also not planning on taking any leaves because we have clients in the office (I know, Holy Week, but we have to go to work, hehe). 2 weeks before Holy Week, my parents started talking about maybe going to Bicol or somewhere. Talk about no preparations, haha. Kaloka nanay ko. I told them we have clients and that I can only take a leave on Friday.

So last minute, we all decided to just go to La Union and do a side trip to Baguio. My parents, brother, together with my aunt’s family left early. They were in La Union at around 10 in the morning. My sister and I, on the other hand, left Makati at about that time. I guess the good thing about leaving on a Friday (instead of joining the holiday rush) was that there was no traffic whatsoever. We arrived at the hotel around 3pm, but decided to just sleep it out and wait for them to come back.

We had dinner at Halo-halo di Iloko – then decided to just go back to the hotel and sleep early – which is the main reason I do not have any photos, hahaha. There isn’t really a lot of things to see in La Union, since it really is more of a beach place, and my parents together with my cousins have already gone around LU, so the plan was to do a side trip in Baguio and spend the entire Saturday there.

First stop: BenCab Museum

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My cousins have never been to Baguio so after BenCab, we went to Burnham Park – one of Baguio’s most tourist-y place. We weren’t there to have a picnic or have a boat ride. We just went there for the heck of it, and lunch. Haha.

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Baguio will not be complete if you don’t try strawberry taho. And, I don’t remember the last time I had ice scramble so I made sure to buy one at a nearby stall. 😀

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Puto bumbong in March

Next we went to Mine’s View Park – another Baguio tourist trap. There really isn’t much to see you know. The place is really crowded (weekend + Holy Week + summer vacation) and the truth is, it doesn’t look like the people managing the place are taking great care of it. Anyway, there were succulent plants being sold everywhere for a very affordable price so we bought two to try and be adults (BTW, one of them looks like it’s about to die already).

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My mom’s ultimate goal for the day was to buy vegetables so the last stop was at the Strawberry Farms and buy about a week or two’s supply of veggies.

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We left Baguio just in time to have dinner back in LU. The next day, we dropped by Ma-Cho Temple (not much to see) and a statue of Christ the Redeemer.

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The only itinerary we have left was visit the grape vineyards – just to see what the heck the hype was.

Well, yeah, it was just the hype. But at least we all got to try picking grapes. 😀 All in all, still ended up being a great weekend with my crazy family!

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My Lasik Experience

For the past two weeks, my sister and I have been going back and forth to Shinagawa Lasik in Enterprise Tower here in Makati. A few weeks back, we saw a promo about the Lasik procedure being offered by Shinagawa for more than half of its advertised price. My mom had been bugging us to inquire and ask about the procedure and even telling us that she was willing to pay for all three of us just to make sure we get to see clearly again without having to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, hehe.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Their customer service isn’t one of the best. My siblings and I agree that other restaurants have better service than them. We were there the first time at around 1 in the afternoon. You would think that an initial screening to check if you qualify for the procedure or not will take a maximum of two hours – because that’s what most blogs would say. We went home at around 7pm. The initial screening started at around 2pm already. Don’t get me wrong, there really were a lot of tests. I mean you will have to go from one machine to another to check how your eyes are doing and how qualified you are for the procedure. Then, you are given a dilating solution 3x in the next 15 minutes (5 min. interval). The solution will take effect after an hour before another test is done on your eyes. Just a reminder, the dilating solution hurts. It’s a tolerable kind of pain but there will be a stinging sensation once they put it in your eyes. That’s going to happen three times by the way. And then you have to wait another hour afterwards. So my sister and I had lunch first before heading back, hoping it will be more quick afterwards. For whatever reason, we had to wait for a veeery long time after the solution was given and before the doctor checked the results and told us about our eyes being qualified. The entire day even happened twice because in my case, I had to go back for the dilating solution because I wear contact lenses. If you wear them and you have plans of having your eyes checked, you need to stop wearing them for at least 3 days. They say this is to make sure the tests are more accurate because there are residues in your eyes when wearing lenses.

We had our procedure scheduled at 2pm. Or that’s what we thought. My sister and I had brunch before leaving our place and even though we had been waiting the entire day during our first two check-ups, we both thought that as an expectation, there should be no delay when it comes to the actual lasik procedure itself. We were both so wrong. They called up our names at around 4pm to go to the waiting room. I thought that this will then be over by 5pm because the operation itself will take about 25 minutes. But no. At the waiting room, we literally waited for another 2 and a half more hours before we were actually led into the procedure room. It was already bad that you were there hungry and scared starting 2pm, then at the waiting room itself you had to wait for two more hours. According to the other patients in the room, some were there since 12noon. Really, I know that we paid for it at about half of the advertised price, but man, what we paid for still isn’t cheap. The least they can do is to provide updates every once in a while on what is actually happening instead of just making us wait, hungry and confused as to what’s taking it so long to start.

Just to set the expectations here, the actual procedure is scary, for me. Maybe because the procedure room’s temperature is also really cold or I am just really scared with how it will all go down, hehe. They tape your eyelids and put something in it to make sure you don’t blink no matter how involuntarily it happens. Then your eyes are like washed (felt like a cold wave of water), I guess to sterilize it. Then they ask you to look into that green blinking dot and that’s when the operation starts. The blinking dot will disappear and you will not see anything anymore. The machine then gets taken out and you see the doctor scooping out or re-arranging something in your eye. The machine goes back to your eye and you will start smelling like something is burning – which might be the actual laser itself. Then it’s over. Repeat the same thing for the other eye. Please not that this is how I literally experienced it and I don’t really have any idea how or what the medical terms are or how long really each step takes. These are just based off on how I perceive them to be.

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Yes, the actual procedure does not hurt. But they never said that it will hurt afterwards. They give you a kit with drops to put in for the next 7 days together with glasses you are supposed to wear as long as you are awake for the next 7 days also. But let me just repeat, they never say anything about it actually hurting a good 30 minutes after the procedure is done.

My sister could barely open her eyes 30 minutes after her procedure (she went in first). I was still okay here. We had takeout for dinner and here is evidence on how stupid we looked like while eating.

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My brother is scheduled two weeks from now (contingency plan since we can’t be temporarily blind all together) and we asked him to turn off the lights because our eyes were hurting already. My sister could no longer open her eyes and they were hurting so bad she wanted to drink the pain reliever even without eating first. The tears were so involuntary – which according to one of the doctors said it was normal because once our eyes know that something is wrong (in this case it figured out the eyes were opened and lasered), it automatically produces tears to disinfect the eyes and provide nutrients and make sure it does not dry itself out.

Before sleeping, you have to put these patches in your eyes to make sure you don’t touch them while asleep. This again, you have to do for 7 days after the procedure. So imagine trying to fall asleep after the procedure with these in your hurting eyes with tears running down your face which you cannot wipe of, because you are wearing these. Bummer. Seriously, it was hurting like having sore eyes but 10x more painful. The good thing about it is it does not last long. The next day, my right eye still hurt a little but just a piercing every now and then. The great thing about it is that you can already feel the difference. I used to have to literally not see myself in the mirror when I wake up but everything was so clear without glasses!!! It was a different feeling waking up without glasses but still being able to see everything so clearly!!!

The day after the procedure, you need to have your eyes checked. I guess that is the most crucial to ensure everything will heal the proper way. The check-ups will be as follow: 1 day after, 7 days after, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and a year after. By the way, I guess Shinagawa is very consistent with making people wait because we were there before 11am just to be sure we were the early birds. We were actually the first two patients for check-up that day. Then my brother started with his own screening. We had lunch while waiting for his dilating solution to take effect. We were told the doctor will be in by 230pm but our names were called at around 4pm. So I guess you cant have everything? You get it for a cheaper rate but you need to have the patience for it? We actually inquired at American Eye Institute but their rate is much more higher than Shinagawa. So I guess the decision will really be up to you on which you prefer, to shell out money or to exercise patience? Haha. All in all, this was an experience and currently the number 1 on my list of the scariest thing to happen in my life, haha. At the end of it all, I’m happy. I’m so happy about really being able to see clearly!! ;D

Travel Tales: Taipei Day 3

Our flight back to Manila from Taipei will be at around 10 in the evening. So we still have an entire day to walk around the city. My sister’s friend, who is already working and residing in Taipei suggested that we go to Beitou. It’s a city about 45 minutes away from Taipei which is famous for hot springs. Since we didn’t really have any more itinerary for the day, we decided to try it out.

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Just a cute building on our way to get breakfast before heading over to Beitou.

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This is the facade of Beitou station. Another reason to love Taipei! ❤

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Once you cross the road after the station, you will see this map that will suggest different routes depending on the places you want to visit in the area. It’s not that difficult to go around since the spots are just walking distance from each other.

Our first stop is the Beitou Public Library. It’s free and anyone can come inside and have a look. It’s a very beautiful building I was actually surprised to know that it is actually a library. More surprising is how beautiful it looked inside as well. And that there really are people who come inside to read!!! My amazement is beyond words because I love to read books and it’s awesome to see people in this day and age still going to libraries to actually read!

Unfortunately these are the only photos I have of the inside because I found out a little late that cameras are not allowed. But yeah, that’s how beautiful it is.

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The beautiful Beitou Public Library

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We followed one of the trails and right in the middle of it all is this beautiful forest-like park that follows a river, which means another opportunity for my sister and I to pose, hahaha. I don’t know about you guys but I always find it fun to pose for photos when in a place where people do not know a thing about you. 😀

Our next stop was their museum, but, it was closed because it was a Monday. Just beside the museum is their public hot spring, but we didn’t really have any plans of trying it out, because (1) we didn’t know and even if we do, (2) the weather was really very summer-y last October that we were there and it might feel torture to actually try it out with that kind of weather.

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Best thing about the hot spring is that they sell these!

Just a few blocks after the hot springs is Beitou’s Thermal Valley, which unfortunately is closed as well because: Monday. Yeah, Taipei is no stranger to Monday blues as well. Just kidding, haha.

Since it was getting really hot and we still have time, we headed off to Daan Park back in Taipei City, which according to them is the largest out of all Taipei.

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There’s this tiny and cute coffee shop right in front of Daan Park (besides Subway). It was more of curiosity with it’s cuteness that made us buy coffee before heading inside the park.

These are some of the things you will see that I believe is part of the train station before going out to see the park. Seriously, Taipei knows how to do urban planning and how to really make sure their train stations are efficient and beautiful at the same time. I kept on wishing we have these as well. Hay. One can keep on dreaming and hoping!

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The thing I love about Daan Park is that there is a lake in the middle of the park with turtles, birds, fishes and much more living in harmony with each other (naks!). There weren’t a lot of people when we got there but maybe because it was early in the afternoon and it was a Monday. After the park, we headed back to our place and just walked around since we realized that there were so many bookstores near the hotel that we were staying at. These bookstores offer different stuff, from medical books, to magazines, to coloring books and journals. So we just wasted time there until it was time to leave and head back to the airport.

And with that, I am going to end my Taipei travel tale with this post below:

Travel Tales: Rahoe Night Market

I would probably have to say that my favorite part of my trip to Taipei are the night markets. Obviously, Taipei is really known for their night markets and the tons of street and cheap but delicious food you can try on almost a daily basis. So after visiting some temples and taking a bit of a rest, we headed off to Rahoe Night Market – which according to the ever-reliable Internet world, is one of their most popular and has more street food option compared to its other counterparts.

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It was a pleasant surprise when we got there because I was so overwhelmed with soo much fooood! Like it was more than double of what we’ve seen in Shilin Market the night before! We literally tried as much food as we can!

(Warning: food photos up ahead)

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We tried cuttlefish, fried crabs, barbecued squid, grilled beef, barbecue chicken, dried fruits, milk tea, fried mushrooms and soo much more food!

I guess the great thing about it is that everything we bought tasted great and was all really cheap!!

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Look at those silly smiling faces so full of great Taiwanese street food!! 😀

Last but not the least, my siblings and I have sort of a tradition to always try out the convenience store ice creams in another country. Because we all know 7-11s and Family Marts in other countries sell so much more quirky and really good and affordable food and yes, ice cream!

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My only regret was that we didn’t have much time to visit more of the night markets that Taiwan has. So if you love food like me and my family, I seriously suggest that you go and include Taipei as one of your future destinations.

Travel Tales: Taipei Day 2

If our first day was all about halls and parks, our second day was spent mostly on Buddhist temples. Again, majority of these places have stations built near them so it’s really very easy to go from one tourist spot to another.

And since we got back at our hotel a little late last night after the night market, we started our day at around 10 in the morning and had breakfast at this little take-out sushi place near the train station.

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Our first stop was Confucius Temple which is one of the most famous in their city.

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Like what I said, I love Taipei. And here is the view from the station going to the temple.

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Cute little Confucius figurines waiting to greet you at the entrance. 😀

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Another day, another #ootd worthy wall. #HaveyTaipei #KeepingUpWithTheArrezas 📷 by the brother.

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Aside from the beautiful temple, the place also has a lot of OOTD-worthy spots and walls like so, hahaha.

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Next stop was Longshan and Baoan Temples, which are just walking distance from the first temple. BTW, try to look for stamp pads when visiting temples or even train stations. They have a lot of different designs for each temple so make sure you at least have a piece or two of blank paper for souvenir. 🙂

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So after some temple-running, we explored the area around the temples and saw this little street near a school that looks more like a Sunday wet and dry market. While walking, we saw a small milk tea shop that serves really cheap and really huge milk tea – milk tea that’s bigger than my face. Seriously! And so of course we had to try it!

We walked for a few more blocks and looked for a place to have (another) late lunch. The building also has a grocery shop so we decided to look around and check it out before heading back to the hotel to get some rest before heading on to another night market for dinner!