Friday, January 28, 2011

Dumaguete for the frugal travelers: hotel for Php999 or less (good for 2 pax!)

Forget about Bethel Guest house. It has good location but too generic (and pricey!). Or Coco Grande--the sound of rats running on the ceiling is not on your bluelist! Or even Harold's Mansion where the restrooms are peppered with mildew!

Each time The Girlfriend pins down a visit to Dumaguete, I would hop around looking for nice and clean hotels days in advance. One hotel after the other, I'd ask for tariff and see the room for myself. I'd write a mental note about the plus and minus points for each property. What we look for in a hotel are: firstly, it should be within our budget (Php600 or less). Secondly, it's location. Last but not least, it must be clean, with aircon and with no musty smell. A distinct character the place evokes would be a plus! The works.

It was a sheer stroke of luck that we discovered one hotel during one of the busiest weeks of the university town. We came from a trip in Apo Island and headed-off to Duma to spend two nights. To our dismay, all the hotels were fully booked! With our backpacks, we hopped from block to block hoping to score any room. Nil!

scuba diving in Dauin Marine Sanctuary

photos courtesy: Alan A. Valencia
For hardcore divers, it won't come as a surprise to me if they pass up the opportunity to dive in Dauin and head-out to Apo Island instead. Dauin Marine Sanctuary is the low-key brother of Apo Island. No packets of fine white sandy beaches here and there or secluded coves and rustic villages. Just a boring stretch of gray and powdery coastline. You get the picture? It's not as exotic as Apo Island in so many ways.

What Dauin Marine Sanctuary lacks in tropical spank, it so well compensates for it's accessibility. And less crowded, too.  

 I fish my fins out of the sack. Squash whatever is left on the sunblock. Today, the colleagues and I will go scuba diving. For those who will get lucky, if there's any of us today, sea turtles and sea horses will have rare special appearances. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

India: Visa on Arrival for Filipinos (and Japanese, Singaporeans etc.)

Sometime early this month, I posted an announcement about tourist visa on arrival for Filipinos traveling to India. There were a lot of questions as to the points of entry where the said visa will be issued to validity and rates. Another concern was the Embassy of India in the Philippines was not aware of it yet. Probably, the news traveled the speed of light and caught the guys at the embassy like deer caught in headlights? hahaha

Anyway, here now is the official post I lifted from the Embassy of India. Read on.

Bureau of Immigration, India
Ministry of Home Affairs (Government of India)
Tourist Visa on Arrival
The foreign national of following Nine countries viz.
4.New Zealand5.Singapore6. Combodia
7. Vietnam8. Philippines9. Laos
can get a Tourist Visa on arrival with a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility (w.e.f 01.01.2010) by the Immigration officer at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata Airports and NOT in any other Immigration Check Posts(ICPs).

bluelist: 11 places to visit in 2011

2011 is now rolling on its third week! 

Today is 1-11-11 or January 11, 2011
An auspicious day, it appears to be!

For some reasons, probably a good year to set sail to distant shores. Don't ask me why.
So, today, i'll list down the 11 places I want to visit this year 2011 (domestic or otherwise).
It's eleven on eleven (11-on-11)!

11. Bali, Indonesia
I scored a dirt-cheap ticket (actually ZERO fares) to Bali and back during the airasia seat sale a year ago. So, early this year, I will immerse myself in the culture, architecture, local color and flavor of the island of the gods. Read: Ubud.

I really haven't thought long and hard about which new places to visit this year.
Plucking out from a jumbled list of places to visit floating inside my head, here they are:

10. Universal Studios Singapore. By default since I will be stopping by Singapore on my way to Bali
The rest, I still have to find good reasons why I should visit them (and more good reasons why I should save more to finance the trip!)

9.  India (less hassle na with visa-on-arrival for Pinoys)

8. France (tempting! with airasia's promo fares!)

7. Caramoan (travelers seem to be all agog about this island group)

6. Palawan (especially Culion, El Nido and Calauit)

5. Vigan (I have this thing about UNESCO World Heritage Sites)

4. xxx still thinking xxx
3. xxx do xxx
2. xxx do xxx
1. Tubbattaha! (surely will cost an arm and a leg and probably a lifetime!)

  Here's wishing in the year of the rabbit, prosperity will embrace me a hundred folds (and will be effing like rabbits)!

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year! New Office! and Salary Increase!

Girlfriend stormed the universe for me. I bet she is lakas since just a few hours earlier, her prayers (in my behalf) were answered! Good heavens! After what seemed like ages, finally, it's beginning to take shape.

But first, let me share that I have moved already to a new office. I can proudly say that I did the planning, design and execution of the whole space and all the stuff in it. Since the workplace espouses creativity, I want to achieve the same ambience like Noriter Cafe. Young. Creative. Wild but restraint. But with a meager budget, I had to make do with what was available. So, I got knick knacks here and there.

This is probably borne out of frustration to be an architect, furniture designer or to work in a multinational advertising agency! The closest I got was architectural drafting and below-the-line advertising.  

Meanwhile, I had a meeting with big boss earlier. After all the important matters were discussed, he floated the idea of a raise! Let's just say that I'm lucky to work for somebody who exceeds my expectations. He is actually well-known and highly respected back in his home country but remains low-key and humble.

So there. To make the story short, I'll get an increase (without having to negotiate for it). I just hope it will fall within what I've been expecting. (Hopefully with more dough, I'll have more savings this year for more travels and also to send younger sister to her final year in college.) I'd have to say that all my efforts paid off. And I heard from somewhere that big boss is actually going to give me and my colleague special gifts next week! I want a Vespa!

What a happy start of the year!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Embassy Update: India Announces Visa-on-Arrival for Philippine Nationals

With effect from 01 January 2011, the Government of India has introduced Tourist Visa-on-Arrival for bona fide tourists holding Philippine passports.

photo lifted from here >>>
The visa on arrival shall be granted by the Immigration Officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports and shall be valid for a maximum of 30 days, single entry. The Tourist Visa-on-Arrival shall be allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year with a minimum gap of two months between each visit. These visas are non-extendable and non convertible.

Monday, January 3, 2011

National Geographic's 20 best trips of 2011

Let's start the year with NatGeo's top pick for 2011! 

"Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary destination for your next vacation? Check out these 20 top trips, hand-picked by National Geographic Traveler editors as the best of 2011. 

Just click the destination for more...

Lonely Planet's Top 10 best value destinations for 2011

 The world's best on-a-shoestring-budget destinations. Good value for money! Get ready!!

"Worried that the economy might put a crimp in your travel plans next year? Never fear: travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Your currency may be depressed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be; there are still many destinations around the world that can be enjoyed on the cheap. If you let the global economic ups-and-downs work to your advantage, adopt some personal austerity measures in pricier destinations, and head towards up-and-coming destinations, you can stay on the road longer for less.
Fresh from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2011, we bring you this bargainous bounty of 10 budget-friendly destinations where you can get the most bang for your buck.