Friday, February 27, 2009

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I was supposed to climb Mt Kinabalu with hubby. But due to the complications with my passport renewal, I got delayed. So we were not able to do the climb. It was a bit disappointing in my part knowing I did all the preparations needed in order to enjoy the climb.

It wasn't the right timing.

But still I had to go to Kota Kinabalu because my flight schedule was from Clarke - Kota Kinabalu and KK - KL.

Met my hubby, went for dinner at Dome in 1Borneo, met up with my blogger friend (now personal friend) Aggie and her husband for coffee at Old Town Coffee later that night.

The next day, we watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button movie by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. It was a good movie. Then hubby's doctor cousin came and took us around town. Saw the Filipino Market, Aussie Market, etc. We judt drove around because it was drizzling.

Then he took us to the First Beach Resort for coffee. We were chatting there til dusk... then we caught sight of a beautiful sunset... by the beach of Kota Kinabalu. Beautiful. My photo is not edited.. so it's showing the real color of sunset.

Here are more facts about Kota Kinabalu (source:

Kota Kinabalu (pronounced [ˈkɔtɑ kɪnɑbɑlʊ]), formerly Jesselton, is the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia. It is also the capital of the West Coast Division of Sabah. The city is located on the northwest coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea. The Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park lies on one side and Mount Kinabalu, which gave the city its name, is nearby. Kota Kinabalu proper has a population of 543,765, while the larger urban area has an estimated population of 700,000. It is the largest urban centre in Sabah and the sixth largest in Malaysia.

Kota Kinabalu is often known as K.K. within Malaysia and internationally. It is a major tourist destination and a popular gateway for travellers visiting Sabah and Borneo. Kinabalu National Park is located about 90 kilometres from the city and there are many tourist attractions in and around the city. Kota Kinabalu is also one of the major industrial and commercial centres of East Malaysia. These two factors combine to make Kota Kinabalu one of the fastest growing cities in Malaysia.

There so many things to do in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia:

1. You can climb Mt. Kinabalu
2. Visit Manukan Island
3. Visit Sutera Harbour Resort
4. Visit Tanjung Aru Beach
5. Go to Gaya Island Filipino Village
6. Do shopping at a Filipino Market
7. Do Borneo Trails Trekking

And a lot lot more.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Zambales: A Surprise

After being able to pass all the requirements to renew my passport, my sister Joy and I decided to visit my other sister, Jenie, who is now based in Zambales. They used to live in Pasay City... but decided to go back to her hubby's hometown in Candelaria, Zambales.

It was a surprise visit. You can imagine if a family member whom you haven't seen for 4 years just showed up in your doorstep. That's what we did. Showed up at her doorstep.

My shy niece, Sheila Joyce

My nephews (Jeriel Isaiah and Jan Evan)

Go figure. LOL.

Zambales was a nice province. I liked where my sister lived. It's quite remote... but not totally. And oh.. the beach was just a kilometer away. So we went to the beach and bought some freshly caught fish.... like the fish I saw when I was snorkeling in the beach of raya Island. They probably swam to the Philipines to be caught, grilled and eaten. LOL. kidding.

Anyways, we had grilled fish and kinilaw (a raw fish dish soaked in vinegar with onions, ginger, salt, chili, etc) for dinner that night.

The highlight of my Zambales trip was when we rented a videoke. Yes, we did... for 500 Pesos for 24 hours! I sang my heart out that day... which I never did in my whole life. Okay. I'm lying. I did... but only in the shower. Hehehe.

And because the house was too small for all of us to have party, we had videoke outside the house where you can sing and at the same time hear the dog howling... lol. and ducks quacking...

We stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights. Really had fun with my sister's family. We attended church there as well. It was an awesome trip, being able to spend time with my sisters.

More facts about Zambales: (source:

Zambales is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Iba. Zambales borders Pangasinan to the north, Tarlac and Pampanga to the east, and Bataan to the south. The province lies between the South China Sea and the Zambales Mountains. With a land area of 3,700 km, Zambales is the second largest among the seven provinces of Central Luzon. It has a population density of 170 people per square kilometer², one of the lowest in the country. The province is noted for its mangoes, which are abundant from January to April.

Zambales is served by the Subic Bay International Airport, which is located in Cubi Pt., Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales and part of Bataan province. Subic Bay Freeport Zone is host to many tourist attractions which include casinos, beach resorts, parks, beachside huts and cottages and historical artifacts.

Zambales hosts 173 kilometers of beaches, with coral reefs, dive spots, surfing areas, hotels and day-use beach huts. The province is approximately a 3 to 4 hour drive from Manila, though this can vary greatly with traffic.

The "Fiesta Poon Bato," (literal translation is Feast of the Sacred Stone) held in January, is a religious festival that attracts over half a million people each year. The festival venerates Ina Poon Bato (literal translation is Mother of the Sacred Stone) also known as Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage), the oldest known image of the Virgin Mother in Asia[citation needed]. The Barrio of Poon Bato located in the Town of Botolan, that is host to the image and the fiesta, was completely destroyed during the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The icon was saved and moved, along with the barrio inhabitants, to nearby Loob Bunga Resettlement Area.

The "Mango Festival" is held in the provincial capital of Iba every April, and the "Domorokdok" (Sambal word for Dance) Festival is held each May in Botolan. These include street dancing, agricultural shows, competitions like sand castle building and "bikini open" beauty pageants.

The Capones Island in Barrio Pundaquit, located in the Town of San Antonio, is home to a Spanish Light House built during the 1800s.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tagaytay, Philippines

The last time I visited Tagaytay was 13 years ago when I was still working in Quezon City. We had a company outing then and we went to Batangas for swimming. We stopped by Tagaytay and watched the majestic view of Tagaytay on the way to Batangas. It was a spectacular experience, having seen the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano at Taal Lake.

Upong knowing I was gonna come to the Philippines for my passport renewal, I thought of planning on a short Tagaytay trip... But because of the complications with my passport renewal, I decided not to go.

Anyways, here's a bit of information (source: about Tagaytay, Taal Volcano, and Taal Lake:

Taal volcanol is reputed to be the world's smallest and yet most active of volcanoes. Thirty three eruptions have been recorded since 1572 at Taal, mostly on Volcano Island. The impacts of these eruptions were largely confined to the intracaldera area.

What accommodations are there in Tagaytay?

Like every tourist destination, you have high end and low end Hotel rooms and restaurants. Tagaytay is no exception when it comes to prices. For the backpackers and those on a tight budget there are a few hostels that go for around US$17 per night. At the high end of the market, there's the famous Days Inn chain and the Taal Vista Hotels with rack rates of US$100 and up per night.

Middle of the price range rooms go between $45 and $75 per night depending on whether or not you have a room that overlooks Taal. However for little more than the cost of a hostel, you can enjoy a deluxe hotel room with breathtaking views of Taal volcano. See the best kept secret below.

How to get to Tagaytay?

Tagaytay is about 60 km/37 miles south of Manila in the mountains of Cavite Province. From Manila's NAIA International Airport - Ninoy Aquino International Airport its about an hours drive. From the greater Metro Manila area, just about 90 minutes will get you there.

What are the things to do in Tagaytay?

Tagaytay City is truly the pearl of the Orient! It's the perfect place for leisure activities like picnics, horseback riding, camping and sightseeing. To say the views are breathtaking would be an understatement. Tagaytay offers Filipinos a quick and enjoyable getaway.

Tayo na sa Tagaytay... ughhh.. I hope.

My Ideal Island Vacation

I love taking personality quizzes. I do have fun taking them and when I get results, it's even more fun especially when the results are quite accurate. I have taken my travel personality test and now, I just took a quiz about my ideal island vacation. It's quite surprising. But will definitely try to plan a vacation in Fiji in the future.

Your Ideal Island Vacation is Fiji

On an island vacation, you prefer to get the full beach experience.

And for you, that means staying somewhere with few people and lots of beach.

With over 300 islands, you can find your own private spot in Fiji.

Relax by the crystal clear water, or venture off to find a waterfall.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Philippine's New Machine Readable Passport (MRP)

For those who don't know yet, the Philippines have already implemented a new passport system called MRP or Machine Readable Passport. That means our new passport is already electronics! We are indeed catching up.

So for those who need to renew their passports, these are the requirements if you're applying in a foreign country at Philippine Embassy:

  • Present old passport and submit photocopy of passport pages 1-4 and the pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival stamps.
  • Three (3) copies 1.77” x 1.37” new photos (colored with plain royal blue or dark blue background [matte paper preferred). Photo should show applicant in decent attire.
  • In case passport being renewed is brown or issued prior to 01 May 1995, submit any document with complete middle name.
  • For married women who chose to adopt surname of husband – Certified True Copy and photocopy of Marriage Contract issued by the National Statistics Office.
  • Complete Passport Application Form.
  • If applying by mail, pay with a Bank Draft payable to Philippine Embassy
How long does it take to process the new MRP?

If you're applying in a foreign country (Malaysia), you need to wait at least 30 days to collect your new passport. But take heart because they will only invalidate your old passport after getting your new passport.

However, if you're applying in Manila, Philippines, you can go to DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) in Pasay City.

If you are married to a foreigner and married in a foreign country, the requirements to renew passport is the same... except that you need to get the NSO copy of your marriage contract.

Where is the fastest NSO office to process the NSO copy of marriage certificate? There are many servilis offices but the one nearest to DFA office is in:

NSO Macapagal Branch
Ground Floor, Lifestyle Bldg. Hobbies of Asia
8 Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. Pasay City 1300
Tel # (02) 833-3780 / (02) 833-8842

You need to get two copies because DFA would need to take the original copy. And of course, the other original copy is for you to keep.

If you're applying in the Philippines, they have two kinds of processing:

1. Regular processing - the cost of the passport renewal is 500 Pesos only but you have to wait for 14 days to collect your passport.

2. Expedite processing - takes 7 working days and the cost of application is 750 Pesos.

It is very cheap in the Philippines.

However, if you're in Malaysia, the cost of passport renewal is RM192.50. I'm not sure how much it would cost to renew a passport in other countries. The photo studio that could take the right photo for passport, they say, is at Fotokem in Ampang. They are very strict with the photo requirements. So be sure to have the right photo, size, color before going to apply for a new passport.

I hope this one is helpful enough. I will add in more information here if I get new info.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Travel Safe

How to Travel safe with kids?

good quality car seats are important for traveling with kids. when my first child was born, we bought a brand new carseat for him, sponsored by a friend from the US. i was told to never buy a second hand car seats as we don’t know how the first owner handled it or whether it had been in a car accident already. but of course, when baby girl, my second child, came out and we desperately need to have a car seat for her, i looked up from e-bay for some secondhand ones. i found one which was fairly new, the baby barely used the car seat. and it was for a good price. i forgot the brand but i think it’s mothercare. you know if it’s mothercare, you would know it’s of good quality. in UK, you are not allowed to travel with kids without car seats. here in Malaysia, they haven’t imposed it yet. but when my family and i have a long-distance travel, we make sure to use car seats for both my kids. better be safe than be sorry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Bunch A Month

Ever since hubby (my boyfriend then) met me and decided I was the one for him, he started giving me a bunch of flowers a month. He used to give me flowers on the 22nd of each month because I said yes to him on the 22nd of April. But sometimes, it's a struggle to maintain the date coz he would be very busy. So I suggested he could give me flowers any time of the month. It's less pressure.

For seven (7) years, he had been giving me flowers a month... hmmm.. probbaly, he missed only a couple months when he was extra extra busy and I didn't wanna pressure him. But can you imagine how much money he spent just to give me flowers each month?

I wanted to stop him... but then again, he told me and it's his pleasure to always give me flower. This was a promise to himself even before we met that whoever God would give him as a wife, he would definitely show his love through giving of flowers every month, for the rest of his life.

He's quite romantic, my husband.

Now that I am here in the Philippines I don't mind if I don't get any coz it's very far for him to give. It's good if we have some florists like Flowers For Everyone which is based in Australia. It's good if we have that in the Philippines so hubby can buy online. Hmmm...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Importance of Family Activities

As a family, it is important to go for a break or getaway from time to time. It fosters bonding between members of the family. Fathers could be busy because of the nature of their jobs and gets few or no time alone for the family. Mothers could get very busy keeping the household together and yet not enough time to spend with kids and husbands. Children could get very busy playing or studying or by being with peers they spent less and less time with the parents. The very obvious solution is for each member of the family to pause in whatever they’re doing and go for a vacation just with family alone. How do we set family time and how often?

  • once a day - set aside one hour a day to talk. It could be around the table for a meal. Talk about the experiences you have had for that day.
  • once a week - set aside one day a week to be with the family. Usually, Sunday is the best time to do so. You may go to church for worship or go to a park, or go to a cinema. The possibilities are endless. We just started going to the cinema as a family. My boy is already almost 4 years old and my girl is almost 2 years old. Glad both of them did very well inside the cinema. We watched Wall-E. The first ever movie we watched in the cinema as a family
  • once a month - stay overnight somewhere else.
  • once a year - go for a 3-5 day vacation. There are a lot of holiday destinations available and you can check them online.

One of the best memories we have as a family is when we go for a break. We could do things together without interruptions. We could discover new things together. And the best of all, we could create a more special bond as a family.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Short Visit to the Philippines

When u decide to follow your dreams the entire universe conspires in your favour... - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
So I decided to pursue my dream to do a bit of traveling this year. I have been booking our tix online and just waiting for the dates to be able to go. However, there's one trip that I didn't plan but have to. My soon-to-be Philippine trip.
This is uncalled for. I didn't plan to... but I have to. I am going to the Philippines to renew my passport. I could do this in Malaysia, but since I don't have enough time to wait till I get my new passport (it takes about 30 days to process the new passport coz Philippines just implemented a new passport system - the machine readable passport, MRP) and my visa expires on the 25th of this month. I can't wait for 30 days because that would mean I would be overstaying here in Malaysia. I could apply for a special pass extension... but that would complicate things with my social visa in the future. So the best choice is to go back to the Philippines and renew my passport there.

Of course, I am happy to go back to the Philippines! And I have to maximize my stay there. Planner as I am, I have already a list of things to do while in the Philippines:

  1. Go to DFA office to renew my passport.
  2. Visit SM Mall of Asia. - Heard so much about it... I wanna see for myself. And do a bit of... wee bit of... shopping.
  3. Spend time with my sis Joy as she's going off to the US soon to join her husband.
  4. Visit my sister Jenie and her family in Zambales. It's been 4 years since I haven't seen them.
  5. Eat lechon baboy... the crispy lechon skin with a bit of fats underneath... goshy... *drooling*!
That's all, actually.

After I collect my passport, I am going to fly to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia to join my husband... and go for Mt Kinabalu expedition. I have been doing some training to be able to do and enjoy the climb. I already have a list of things to bring too. :D

How exciting can one's life get? Exciting as it may be, I'm still holding back a little coz I won't see my kids for two long weeks. Indeed, you can't have your piece of cake and eat it too, can you?


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