Pre Planning: 3 Days Before The Big Singapore Vacation

I have been fussing over our upcoming four-day Singapore Trip for the past few days… and I’m going crazy! I can’t afford to not do well this time because I’m going to travel with my sisters and my 7-year old Angelo. Suffice it to say, I’m going ga-ga on our itinerary and for the first time, researched about every little detail of our trip.

We’re leaving on Saturday already via Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark. I have summarized below the issues that I have been trying to solve by means of crazily mining the world wide web in search for credible answers and suggestions:

ON TRANSPORTATION:

1. How do we go to Clark (and vise versa)? – Philtranco Bus going there, and a rent-a-car going home. There’s a Bus terminal at the back of SM Megamall Building A that will take us to the airport for Php 300/head; Since our ETA Clark on Tuesday is at 7:45pm, we have no other choice but to rent a car. I got Leo’s Taxi’s cellphone number at the site of DMIA: I called him up and made an appointment for Php 2,500 (Clark to Mandaluyong).

Click this link for more options.

2. How do we move around the city? – I researched extensively on this because my son doesn’t like walking and long queues so if taking a cab or the bus is not that expensive, we’ll take it over the MRT. In the itinerary that I made below, I tried to be very realistic: taking the MRT in the morning when we still have energy; and just taking the cab going home because I’m anticipating that we’d all probably be so tired already from all the activities.

HOTEL AND ACCOMMODATION

I made reservations already months prior the trip. I chose South East Asia Hotel because of its location and affordability. Plus, I don’t have to make any downpayment. I have been to Singapore twice, but haven’t explored Bugis and Little India yet, and because the hotel is right there, we’d be able to explore the night market and squeeze in some shopping as well.

WHERE TO EAT?

I didn’t make any line-ups of restaurants that we will go to. Food tripping is not our priority and I’m sure we’ll eat at hawkers most of the time. But we’ll definitely eat at Bon Tong Kee! I feel in love with their Hainanese Chicken on those two times that I went there, and I’m sure my sisters will love their food too!

PLACES TO SEE

  • Universal Studios Singapore – this is the reason why we’re all excited to go! We’re lucky that USS has already been launched and that we’ll be able to enjoy it. The downside: entrance fee is sooooo expensive! Better be worth it!
  • Sentosa – I have been here, so probably we’ll just walk around, try the Luge and Skyride, and definitely see Songs of the Sea!
  • Singapore Zoo and Night Safari – I’ve heard mixed reviews particularly about the Night Safari. We’ll see…
  • Merlion, Singapore Flyer, Suntec, Esplanade – staple touristy thingy
  • Orchard Road, Lucky Plaza, Wisma Atria – Shopping!

RESOURCES

To know more about Singapore, I asked my friends and former officemates who are/have worked in Singapore. I also read pages and pages of online resources: blogs, forums, and websites. Of particular note are the following:

For those who are curious, herewith is the itinerary slash expense estimator that I did. Your comments are welcome!

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  Time Particulars Total Cost Cost per Person
        Adults Kid
DAY 1 7:00am Philtranco Bus Mla-Clk    1,200.00              300.00       300.00
    Travel Tax    5,870.00           1,620.00    1,010.00
    Airport fee    2,400.00              600.00       600.00
  12:20pm ETD CLK-SG      
  3:40pm ETA SG      
    Taxi Fare to SEA Hotel       858.00              214.50       214.50
  5:00pm Check in SEA Hotel 4d/3n)  11,682.00           2,920.50    2,920.50
  7:00pm MRT estimate to Esplanade       132.00                33.00        33.00
    Singapore Flyer, Merlion, Esplanade      
  9:00pm Suntec Lights Show, Dinner      
    Taxi estimate to Hotel       285.00                71.00        71.00
TOTAL      22,427.00           5,759.00    5,149.00
           
DAY 2 9:00am MRT to Rafles for Orchard       132.00                33.00        33.00
    Walk around Orchard, Wisma Atria, Lucky Plaza      
  1:00pm Singapore Attractions Express to Singapore Zoo       462.00              132.00        66.00
    Zoo and Night Safari with Tram    5,610.00           1,551.00       957.00
    Taxi to Hotel       789.03              197.25       197.25
TOTAL        6,993.03           1,913.25    1,253.25
           
DAY 3 9:00am MRT to Harbourfornt (Vivo City       211.20                52.80        52.80
    Sentosa Express       396.00                99.00        99.00
    Universal Studios    8,610.00           2,310.00    1,680.00
  8:40pm Sentosa – Songs of the Sea    1,400.00              350.00       350.00
    MRT to Hotel       211.20                52.80        52.80
TOTAL      10,010.00           2,864.60    2,030.00
           
DAY 4 9:00am free time – Chinatown?      
  1:00pm check out Hotel      
    Taxi Fare to Airport       910.00              227.50       227.50
  4:20pm ETD SG      
  7:45pm ETA CLK      
    Taxi from Clk-Mla    2,500.00              625.00       625.00
TOTAL        3,410.00              852.50       852.50
           
           
    GRAND TOTAL  42,840.03          11,389.35    9,284.75
           
* translated to Peso based on Php33=SGD1 rate
* food and shopping allowance not included

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Rodic’s Never Fails to Bring Back Memories

This morning, while I was browsing the internet, I came accross this informative article on Spot.ph regarding their Top 10 carinderias in the city: 

http://www.spot.ph/2010/04/14/the-ultimate-in-cheap-n-cheerful-top-10-carinderias-in-the-city/5/

I haven’t even tried any of them (hehe), but I am a sucker for carinderia food. Haha! I even get more satisfaction with their cheap, and sometimes unhealthy viands than their more expensive “counterparts.” Hehe.

So what’s my favorite carinderia in the city? Definitely, Rodic’s. 🙂 I have been a regular customer of this quaint eatery inside the UP Shopping Center while I was still in college. I dined there as a freshman with my blockmates, during lunchbreaks with classmates, Saturdays after outreach activities with my orgmates, during presswork breaks with the Collegian staffers, with my (ex) boyfriend. Hahaha. Rodic’s should in one way or another, play an important part in a UP student’s life.

So everytime we see ourselves in UP (C is also an alumni :-]), we always make it a point to eat here. And you will always see us savoring these:

Hotsilog: This is our favorite hotdog of all time!
Tapsilog: Definitely, their bestseller. I've only seen this kind of tapa here. Reminds me of Breadtak's floss - another favorite. Hehe.

We’ll be in UP again on Saturday for the iBlog Summit! Lunch is going to be at Rodic’s again, for sure! 😉

What’s your Rodic’s story? 🙂

Our Girl’s Birthday Dinner at Chelsea

My sister Nini celebrated her 21st birthday yesterday over dinner at Chelsea Market and Cafe at Serendra. As you know, I recently won Php 1,000 worth of GCs in an online contest in femalenetwork.com. Ironically, that contest was about honoring the most important women who were able to make a big influence in our lives – and for me, that’s Nini.

At 16 years old, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. For more than two years, she endured the pains and sacrifices of her chemotherapy treatments. We thought we already lost her several times. But she fought the battle. And won! She’s now in remission from her illness, and is now back to her normal self. 🙂

How she survived the battle is a miracle for all of us. I was a witness to all of what she has to go through . But I guess her strong faith overpowered it all. And I’m proud of her. She made me believe in happy endings again.

Chelsea, our restaurant of choice, is a modern American restaurant just beside Mary Grace, another favorite of ours. We were with our pet dog Brix and had to sit in one of the tables outside, so we weren’t able to take pictures of the interiors. From the outside though, the place looks bright and happy. Looks more like a deli restaurant to me actually.

as appetizer, we were served free foccacia bread with a bulb of garlic. I like the ones being served at Italianni's though, but it's free so we're all happy! 🙂

Beer Battered Fish and Chips (Php 495) - comes with two big slabs of breaded fish and a handfull of fries. for me, the fish was too salty (though C says it's supposed to taste that way) and oily. the mayo dip kinda balances the taste though

The Classic Carbonara (Php 450) - loved the crunchy bacon bits and the flavorful sauce!

Seafood Linguini (Php 495) - we ordered another pasta because the waiter told us that their pasta servings are only good for two. t was too late when we realized that a pasta is good enough for the four of us. The seafood pasta is okay and nothing extraordinary though. I was shocked to see super big mussels though! I wish they'd have more seafood toppings still.
Five Cheese Pizza 10" (Php 495) - Didn't like this pizza as much. It looks good but wasn't able to meet my expectations after one bite.
Toblerone Torte (Php 310/slice) – It was supposed to be a surprise, but the staff wasn’t able to pull it off very well. I was expecting the waiters to sing a birthday song, instead, they just gave the cake to her. I specifically requested for a candle, so there. 🙂

All in all, ambience was very nice. The food was average though. And for the price, I think I was robbed. Hehehe. I will probably go back here again, to try the other food in the menu, in order for me to fully understand what the rave on Chelsea is about. 🙂

 

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINI!

Chelsea Market & Cafe
Foodparks by Raintree Inc.
Piazza Serendra
909-7011/9097012
Open daily: 11am-11pm

Jasmin by the Sea

This feature on Jasmin by the Sea will be my last post for our Camiguin Getaway last February. While I was doing my research regarding available accommodations in Camiguin, I came accross some good reviews for Jasmin by the Sea. Even Lonely Planet has some good words for this resort.

Jasmin by the Sea is a very simple resort. They only have very few rooms and they seem to be the destination of choice of foreign tourists. What I like most about this resort is that it is located a few meters from the beach! I had a deep sleep with the sound of the giant waves as background “music.” 🙂

That's the magnificent view from the balcony of our room. That's how near the beach is from the rooms.

The Room

A peek at our fan room - with our own CR, double bed, a small lamp, and clothes cabinet

The Restaurant

Jasmin's located away from the city, so at night, we have no choice but eat dinner in their restaurant. It was blessing in disguise though, because they serve really good food! 🙂

[cincopa 10585917]

For a night’s stay, we paid Php 600. If you’re touring Camiguin and is looking for a cheaper but worthwhile resort to stay near the beach, then Jasmin by the Sea should be the right resort for you. 🙂

A Step-by-Step Guide to E-Passport Application for Minors

Angelo and I went to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Consular Office in Pasay City this morning, for his e-passport application. I decided not to avail of the travel agency services anymore and just try to do it ourselves since I thought they were able to organize the procedures already, hence it will be easier. While the whole process is still unorganized, the current system is much better than the old passport application process, I must say. We were able to complete all the steps in two-and-a-half hours.

I have summarized our experience for those parents who, like me, want to get passports for their kids.

STEP # 1: Get an appointment. They don’t allow walk-in applicants anymore so this is very important. There are two (2) ways to do this: first is by calling the DFA Passport Appointment System Hotline (02-737-1000), or go to their website at http://www.passport.com.ph/ and register online. I did the second option and I highly recommend it because it’s easy and more reliable.

Note: If you are running after a booked flight, better get a appointment as soon as possible. Slots are limited, and as early as mid-March, all slots until third week of April are full! Some slots do open though, so if you want an earlier schedule, you have to be very patient in checking from time to time the website or the hotline to check if slots are already available. (We were lucky we were able to get a slot today or else, we won’t be able to push thru with our Singapore trip on the 24th. :-S)

Before you will be given the chance to choose a slot, you will be asked first to fill up online your basic information, so better be ready. Then you will be given a form in PDF format with the information that you provided and the reference number. Be sure to save and print this document. It will be your only proof that you are scheduled on that day. You don’t need to wait for an acknowledgment email anymore.

STEP # 2: Prepare all the necessary documents. You will find the complete list here. In Angelo’s case, being a minor, here are the documents that I prepared, just to be sure that there won’t be any problems:

  • Birth Certificate in NSO paper
  • My passport and photocopy of front, pages 2&3, page with the last immigration stamp, and back page. For minors who won’t be travelling with their moms, they will have to submit additional requirements including a DSWD clearance
  • Angelo’s school Identification card
  • As supporting documents, I prepared his baptismal certificate and school records as well 

STEP # 3: On your appointment date, proceed to the DFA Consular Office located at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City. You must be at the DFA Consular Office 30 minutes before your scheduled time.

  • Entrance for new applicants is on Gate 2. From there, proceed to the Appointment System Counter (outside the main building, to your left upon entering the main gate) to retrieve your printed application form. This is similar to the form that was given to you during the online registration, it’s just that this was printed in long bond paper. You will have to fill it up and submit to the DFA officer inside the building.
  • After getting the form, you will line up again at the building’s main door. upon entering, you will be led to the counter that gives out queue numbers. You will be asked to sit while waiting for your numbes to be called (when we arrived, they were serving customer # 1534. Our number? 1850. yikes!). At the counter, I just gave the officer the documents but she just took Angelo’s original birth certificate  and photocopy of my passport. She also issued us a receipt.
  • After processing, you will proceed to the Passport Enrollment Section located at the 2nd Floor. Pay the applicable passport processing fees (Php 950 – regular processing for 20 working days and Php 1,200 – rush processing for 10 working days).
  • After payment, you will be given another queue number at the Encoding Section for data capturing. You will then have the option to claim the passport yourself or have the accredited couriers deliver your passport at your doorstep.

Notes:

  • To avoid the crowd, get the earliest possible schedule. I believe they open as early as 7:30am. The appointment system is like batch scheduling with an X number of people scheduled every 30 minutes or so. We were there 30 minutes before our 10am slot, but the place was still jampacked of people from earlier slots!
  • Make sure to photocopy all your documents before going there. There’s a photocopying center inside, and it costs Php 3 per page!
  • There’s no dress code but better to be in a decent attire especially that they will be taking a photo of you inside.

How to go there: In our case, we took the faster MRT. Got off Taft Avenue Station, rode a jeep with DFA signboard. We were dropped off somewhere (the landmark I remember was a gasoline station and NSO). From there, there are mini-jeepneys that will take you directly in front of the new DFA building.

Nail-a-Holics Nail Salon and Spa

After the painful stripping at Forever Flawless, I went to the nearby Nail-a-Holics Nail Salon and Spa for my mani-pedi, still part of my pamper-me-sunday. 🙂

That was my first time to try a nail spa as I always go to the nearest salon if I want to get my nails done.

The interior design is amazing. I love the aquamarine walls and the light-colored uber comfortable-looking seats. The place was packed but I was lucky to be seated in one of the gazebo-style seats. Apparently, they were implementing a new house rule that day: that a dedicated attendant will be assigned each customer. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing though. 🙂

I was asked to choose which color of nail polish I prefer before my attendant, Ailyn, started cleaning my nails. They have regular brands and Orly (which is imported), and she was kind enough to paint my nails with each of my chosen colors before I made a decision. I chose the gold nail polish (which goes very well with my Michael Antonio shoes. hehe).

Service is really very good. I felt like a princess while I was there. The manager would always ask the customers if they need anything. They give us pillows and magazines, and makes sure that everyone is comfortable. My attendant would always ask me to check her work before she proceeds with the next step. I was pretty satisfied.

However, I’m slightly uncomfortable with the price of their service. For a simple mani-pedi session, I paid Php 440 (Php 180 for the mani, Php 220 for the pedi, and Php 40 for the imported nail polish). For half the price, I could get the same effect in the local salon. Oh well, that’s what you pay for the ambience. 🙂

Forever Flawless Face and Body Center

It’s very seldom that I’m home alone without nothing to do on a Sunday. If you’re a mom, you know what I mean. 🙂

So last Sunday (and it’s Easter!), I was at a lost on what to do because Angelo’s vacationing in the province and C has to attend a family reunion somewhere in Rizal. I thought I could last the whole day just watching TV at home. Midway in watching ASAP XV in channel 2 though, I was super bored already, so I decided to go out and just pamper myself.

I went to SM Megamall  to look for a waxing center. I’m hairy, and since it’s summer already, I need to have my legs waxed (I don’t want to shave ’em already because I get chicken skin – and it’s not so good to look at). I have been eyeing Forever Flawless Face and Body Center for a long time already, so I decided to give it a try.

After a short registration at the counter (they asked me to fill up some forms and sign some waivers), I was asked to wait for a few minutes at the reception area. Then Ate Amy, my attendant, led me to a small room. On the way there, we passed by the area where they perform facial procedures.

Compared to my past experiences, I noticed that Ate Amy paid so much attention to details. She was also always asking me if I’m feeling okay during the whole session, which I appreciate. After about 3o minutes of painful stripping, she applied lotion antibiotics on my legs to lessen the redness of my skin.

The price was, for me, was reasonable. For the full-leg wax, I paid Php 880 and for Underarms, they charged Php 280. I will definitely be a regular customer here. Even save money for the laser hair removal perhaps? 🙂

DIY Personal Retreat

I have decided to devote the whole day of Holy Friday for some serious soul searching somewhere in Tagaytay, as part of the design-it-yourself retreat activity I’ve come across in femalenetwork.com. It was perfect timing actually, because recently, I’ve been feeling restless and feel that I need some quiet time to organize myself, my goals, and my life.

This decision brought along aseries of “firsts” for me – first time to go on a retreat, first time to spend the holy week (actually just one day of the whole week) away from my family (if you are from a typical Filipino family, this time of the year is time for some serious family bonding), and first time to give time for myself away from the people that normally surrounds me.

So how does a DIY retreat work? I lifted the following guidelines from femalenetwork.com:

The Crossroads Retreat
Perfect For:

Those points of transition in your life or your career, when you feel like you need to choose between two (or more!) different opportunities for growth.

Questions to Consider in Your Journal:

– If you had all the money you would ever need and you knew that there was no chance in the world that you would fail… which choice would you make?

– When you look at your choices and you look ahead five years from now, which version of your life has the power to inspire you more?

You Know Your Retreat Is Going Well When:

You are able to distinguish between “warning signs” and “normal fear.” Whenever we encounter an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and really grow, we all experience a moment of fear. Many people interpret this fear as an inner warning not to continue. Learn to recognize the difference by digging underneath that fear: if you find “excitement” and “future strength” underneath it, then you’re on the right track. But if you find a persistent sense of “something not being right,” then simply review your choices, clear your mind, and start again.

photo from blogs.pitch.com

There’s actually another typre of retreat mentioned in the article, called: The Heart-Healing Retreat. This is perfect for people undergoing times of longing and loneliness—whether in a relationship, are considering ending one, are currently recovering from the loss of one, or have been single for some time. I am generally happy and contented with C, and is very grateful for everything that we have been thru in almost a year that we have been together, so I think I’ll focus more on the first part.

Have a blessed week everyone!

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