Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Treats No. 10

Spicy Fresh Maguro Salad - Php200.00


Kimono Ken
Ground Level, North Wing
SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Metro Manila, Philippines

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Japan Now Visa-Free for ASEAN Countries!

Update: Sorry guys, but according to ABS-CBN News, Japan only granted visa exemptions to nationals of Thailand and Malaysia. Philippine and Vietnam passport holders may apply for multiple entry visa valid for up to three years through accredited travel agencies.


A Facebook friend of mine posted this link a while ago: Japan lifts visa requirement for ASEAN countries 

Now, am I dreaming or what?

According to World Bulletin's website, visa exemption will be effective starting July 1 for certain ASEAN countries namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines in celebration of the “40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.” Said exemption is valid for a 15-day visit only but for travelers who wish to stay longer, visa must be applied.

The Japanese government expects to attract 1 million South East Asian tourists this year and doubled by 2016 -- hopefully, myself included! *wink*

Cherry Blossom

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Bamboo Forest, Arashimaya

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

Kyoto, Japan

Tuna Sushi

All photos were grabbed from the National Geographic website.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Palawan Revisited: Crocodile Farm

This is actually my first time in Crocodile Farm since DB and I skipped the City Tour to make time for more food trip when we went to Palawan last year. 

Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center (formerly known as Crocodile Farm) serves as a sanctuary for the endangered Philippine Crocodile. A former student of my Professor made the arrangements prior to our trip so upon arrival, we were instructed to proceed to the main hall for the briefing along with other fellow tourists.

One would immediately notice the skeleton of a huge sea water crocodile in the enclosed glass chest with its dried skin hanging on the wall. I can't imagine how scary it must have been seeing it alive in person!

Skeleton of a Sperm Whale

After the briefing, we then proceeded to the Hatchling House where the center takes care of the baby crocs until they're old enough to join the older ones in the cage.

Visitors are reminded not to place their hands over the tanks as these babies sometimes leap from the basins! Using of flash while taking photos is also strictly prohibited so as not to agitate these small but dangerous creatures.

Further inside the center is a concrete cage that houses the older and bigger crocodiles. A metal path way was constructed over the cage so visitors can see all of the crocs they have in custody. Just be careful not to drop anything on the steel grating floor because no one in their right mind will go inside a cage with aggressive crocodiles such as these!

A staging area where you can hold a baby croc will greet you at the end of the crocodile den. There's a minimum fee that you have to pay to have your photo taken with it. Said fee is used by the center in conserving the animals they are taking care of.

Aside from crocodiles, Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center also houses other animals they've rescued and are now protecting like Philippine cockatoos, ostriches and bear cats. 

Ella, one of the center's bear cats, was not in the mood to socialize that day. No matter how enticing the banana she was being offered by her trainer, she just keeps running around and avoiding his effort of putting her on the platform.

I guess even animals have their "off days" and that day was Ella's.

A must-visit especially if you're traveling with kids and loves animals! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Treats No. 9

Shio Tan Tan Men - Php360.00


Ukokkei Ramen Ron
888 Gateway Plaza, 2126 Mabini St.
Malate, Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 516-5511

Friday, June 21, 2013

Palawan Revisited: Underground River Tour

Ever since I went back to school to pursue my Masters degree, my weekends are usually spent in school to attend classes or at home to finish reports and assignments. So when the chance to travel with the entire Management Accounting class to Palawan presented itself, I grabbed the opportunity even if it would mean that I would be the one to arrange it!

After a series of text messages and emails, the group finally agreed on the travel date and another couple of weeks of preparation -- the house we stayed in and the tours we had to arrange in advance, we finally step foot in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Hurray!

Since it was just a three-day trip, we tried to squeeze in as much tours as we possibly can. I contacted Sanctuary Tours (+639175911234) again because I was impressed with their service the last time I went to Palawan with DB (Read it here) and I wanted to make sure that our group would experience the same kind of hospitality and deluxe service we got from them.

First stop is the world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Mr. Ed Ahorro, owner of Sanctuary Tours was generous enough to give us a special rate of Php1200 per person for the Underground River Tour which includes land and boat transfers, permit and entrance fee, buffet lunch and guided tour.

Good thing we got the 0830H tour schedule so there's no queue in the registration and boat rides when we arrived. And for a moment, we had the place for ourselves that it felt like the Underground River was exclusive to us! *wink*

The group was divided into two boats and after what seemed like a never-ending group photo-op (FYI, not complaining here!), we finally boarded and the tour guide who was also the boatman started paddling towards the cave.

Even if it was my second time already, the sight still gave me goosebumps (in a good way) and I sometimes find myself open-mouthed that seemed to be very dangerous when you're inside the Underground River! As our tour guide would say, "Kapag malamig ang tumulo, okay lang dahil tubig lang yan. Kapag mainit, bat poop!"

The tour took an hour with just the tour guide paddling and talking since all of us were left with awe and reverence with the stalagmite and stalactite formations we saw that resembles random things from vegetables to Manny Pacquiao's glove and the Last Supper.

A wonderful experience indeed!

Another boat ride took us back to Sabang Beach for the hearty buffet lunch also included in the package we availed through Sanctuary Tours.

Before going back to our temporary home in Palawan, our tour guide asked the group if we wanted to have our photos taken with the scenic view of the Karst Mountain Elephant Cave. Tourists are not yet allowed to go inside as the cave is still being explored and surveyed by experts so we just admired its beauty from a far.

Another caving site I look forward to go spelunking in the future!

Stay tuned for more posts on our Palawan Adventure!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ultimate Spa Experience at SPA La Mer


A word that best describes my mental and emotional state in the past few weeks. On normal circumstances, DB and I would usually spend the weekend in an out of town location to rest and renew our sore mind and body. But since it had been a busy time with work and school for me has started, we agreed on taking a staycation in the Metro last Independence Day holiday.

Since his work schedule is bound to change from time to time, our plan also needs to adapt to the time we had left for the day. So after having a very filling and delicious dinner at Miyabi Express in Pan Pacific Hotel, we proceeded to SPA La Mer in HK Sun Plaza along Macapagal Avenue for the much-needed and well-deserved massage and spa.

SPA La Mer, the newest and the most gorgeous spa in the city, opened its doors last March 14, 2013 to cater both Filipino and foreign markets. In fact, according to the very friendly Korean owner who attended to us personally, more and more Chinese and Korean tourists are visiting the spa as part of their itinerary in Manila. We even saw a couple of them when we arrived.

Now, let me validate the word gorgeous as an apt description of SPA La Mer.

Lovely chairs! Can I take one home? *wink*

Fresh roses everywhere!

I really felt like a Princess just by sitting there and waiting for our room to become available. Hot tea was served to us while the owner-couple explained the services they are currently offering. The voucher we bought through Metrodeal at Php749 per person treats us to an 80-minute full body Swedish or Shiatsu massage with Foot Bath in a private room.

But DB thought we deserve something more special so we paid an additional Php1500 (for the two of us) for the upgraded service package of an 80-minute Hot Stone Massage, Bubble Bath and use of the private room for three hours!

As I was checking out the place, the lady owner showed me their equally beautiful corridor with dried roses on the floor and ceiling. What a brilliant idea!

A good few minutes later, one of the staff asked us to remove our shoes and provided us with their reflexology massage slippers. After that, we were ushered to one of the private rooms and were told to change clothes as well.

It took me sometime before I was able to speak and finally blurt out, "Wow! This is a nice place!"

Except for the two massage beds, this could easily pass for a five-star hotel room!

Our ultimate Spa experience started off with a 5-minute foot massage then followed by a very relaxing and totally rejuvenating 80-minute Hot Stone massage. The smell of the lavender oil, the soothing background music and the expert hands of my therapist made doze off for almost the entire time! I don't usually like falling asleep while having a massage but the combination of those three factors made it so hard for me to stay awake!

Apparently, so is DB who's lying down on the bed beside me. *wink*

After the massage, we were given the privacy of the room for the finale of the night -- Bubble Bath! The soap, along with most of the products that they use here are imported from Korea.

Complimentary wine with biscuits and cheese were also given before our therapists left us.

We spent our time in the tub making sure the bubbles does not pop easily while talking about anything and everything under the sun! It was indeed a fun, delightful and relaxing night that DB and I sorely missed and have been dreaming of for quite a while now.

Thanks to SPA La Mer, our newfound haven is just a 10-minute drive away from work!

Note: From now until end of the month, there's a 30% discount being offered for all their services. So what are you waiting for? Go now and experience the ultimate indulgence for your mind and body and I assure you, it's worth every Peso!


SPA La Mer
8001 HK Sun Plaza, Macapagal Avenue
Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 551-1672 / 403-4205
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