Monday, June 18, 2018

When was the last time you felt human?

Last Friday I went to the booth of a well-known Filipino late-night radio program in Ortigas to witness the all the fun I’ve only been listening to for almost five years. (Gabi na, Umaga na! formerly known as Gabi na, Gising na!) I’ve been an avid listener of Papa Jackson (formerly Papa Jack) and Kuya Chico (formerly Chico Loco) since 2013 back when I was still doing/writing my thesis alone at night and had no one talk to or be with. Radio has been therapeutic for me for so many reasons and one of them is because it gives a sense of community. Anyone can tell their stories on air regardless of location, and there will always be someone listening to on the other side of the line, like a friend, like us, willing to give advice and a helping hand. I am amused by real stories of people and how they manage to fight their own battles. It humbles me to hear how life can be both difficult and beautiful in so many ways that I could never imagine, and I admire how one chooses to continue to live no matter how difficult the circumstances are. I used to be so reserved that I don’t let anyone know my true feelings, and you know what, it can be exhausting at times. Listening to radio, specifically Gabi na, Umaga na! gives me that kind of relief where I don’t feel so alone, especially at night, knowing that there is someone going thru the same thing as me; and even though I don’t say my struggles out loud, it almost feels like doing so by just listening to other people sharing their stories.

So when I finally witnessed how the program was run live, I felt warmth in my heart, both figuratively and literally. There were around 20 people at the booth when I arrived and surprisingly they were all just sitting at the couch listening to the caller and the DJs, with minimal usage of mobile phones. They were just so into it. At this era, when was the last time you were in a crowd with NO ONE glued to their phones? It was just a rare scenario for me to see, a busy young adult who is always beating the clock and doesn’t even have a whole hour for lunch. It was so rare that at that moment, I can say I felt so human. The feeling that we’re all just friends hanging out and listening to each other’s stories. The people there talk to each other randomly, they laugh together when the DJs make a joke, and they empathize with the caller. I’ve never felt so connected for a long time. This definitely is a day I will never forget.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Seoul Day 2: Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Grevin Museum, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Hanboknam, Alive Museum

Seoul, South Korea
Would you believe that I forgot to charge my camera for my Day 2 trip and only used my phone the entire day? Frustrating right? But anyway, I still enjoyed the busy itinerary for Seoul Day 2! We used the Discover Seoul Pass 48hr (DSP) today and the clock started ticking around 11:00am. Note that we accessed all destinations below FOR FREE with the pass. You can download the app and scan the QR code so you can monitor your time.


Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Location: Dongdaemun Station, Subway Line 1, Exit 7 / Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, Subway Line 2, 4 & 5, Exit 1



Our guesthouse is only a two-minute walk to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza so it was so convenient to go here. It is one of the monumental places in Seoul that showcases contemporary art. This is also the pickup place for Seoul DDP tour bus. The DDP tour bus is a hop-on hop-off tourist bus that will pass a number of attractions around Seoul, and if you have DSP like us, you'll experience this for free! It has an open upper deck so if the weather is good, you can do some sight-seeing with fresh air. Unfortunately for us, it was still winter with a bit of raining so we were not able to enjoy the upper deck that much.



Discover Seoul Pass: Time start!

Seoul DDP tour bus - map







Grevin Museum

Location: via Seoul DDP tour bus, drop off at Euljiro-1 (4th stop)



This museum is pretty well known for tourists. It is a four-storey building and that has LOTS of celebrity wax figures -- from famous politicians, to athletes, to movie stars, you name it! This place actually took most of our time today.

Quick tip: it is more realistic to take photos using your phone’s front cam / selfie cam.







Gyeongbokgung Palace & Guard Ceremony
Location: via Seoul DDP tour bus, drop off at Sejong Center for Performing Arts (6th stop)




This is one of the main palaces around Seoul, and probably the biggest of them all. It has numerous gates, temples and gardens, and I would consider this a walled city than a palace. The National Folk Museum is also beside it so we passed by after the tour. We probably would have enjoyed the tour during spring when everything is picturesque! If you plan to visit, make sure to get your guide map at the Ticketing booth so you will have a background of the palace’s history and the strategic locations of the pavilions.




Also, there is  a "changing of guards" ceremony at 10am and 2pm. We were able to witness it for only 10-15mins. Make sure to schedule your visit around  those times to maximize your experience. Take note that walking around the palace can be a bit tiring so I highly suggest wearing comfortable clothes.




Before heading to Hanboknam which is near the Bukchon Hanok Village, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant, about 5-min walk from the National Folk Museum. Based on our experience, it isn't that difficult to find places to eat as restaurants are just about everywhere. You don't have to worry! Also, contrary to popular belief, not all Korean dishes are spicy. As a matter of fact, most of them are tasty and fits a Filipino tongue. We didn't have much adjusting to do.




Hanboknam

Location: walking distance from Gyeongbokgung Palace, exit at the National Folk Museum. If travelling via subway, drop off at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2. Go straight for about 300m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village.



Our trip to Korea wouldn't be complete if we didn't try on Korea's traditional costume, Hanbok! This is a must! This is also included in DSP, so we enjoyed it for free. The staff also took good care of us. They helped us pick our costumes and explained the different types of costume based on political hierarchy. They also assisted in accessorizing and doing my hair.





Alive Museum

Location: walking distance from Hanboknam / Bukchon Hanok Village. If travelling via subway: Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 & 3 & 5), Exit 1. Walk for 310m and take right at Keumkang Store. Continue walking straight until you reach TonyMoly (Insa-dong Branch). The museum is on the right.



I was bit disappointed with this one mostly because I have high expectations of the place. I was expecting science-y props but it’s more on illusion paintings. Kids will probably enjoy this place, but for adults like us it was meh. I would say The Mind Museum in Manila is better.

Before heading home we had dinner around Insadong area -- it was full of lights even at night.



The N-Seoul Tower is actually part of today's itinerary, but we decided to just visit the tomorrow because our feet got so numb of all the walking lol! It was a tiring but fun day! The first 24hr of the Discover Seoul Pass has been used, let's look forward to more adventure on Day 3!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

My 24th birthday

Lingayen, Pangasinan, Philippines
Two months ago, my fiance and I purchased a club membership at El Puerto Marina Beach Resort & Spa. We've never been to the place and our parent's home provinces aren't even close to Pangasinan, but we still joined for the following reasons: It's inexpensive for starting couples like us; the payment options are flexible (if you defaulted they will not cut your membership, they will just postpone it); it's an RCI gold member, the home resort can be traveled by land, and it's a freakin waterpark beside the beach! We finally had the chance to check it out for the first time on my 24th birthday, and boy it didn't disappoint! We went there on a weekday (Wednesday-Thursday) so there weren't many people checked in. By the way, the guesthouses are a member-only so if you're planning on staying here, let me know! I can call in for you :) It's not that hard to find. Take the Urdaneta exit via TPLEx and waze it from there. Travel time is around 4-5hrs on a good day.




My photos won't do much justice on how beautiful the place is but let me summarize it for you. Basically there is a member-only area (beach resort) and there is a public area (Aquatica waterpark) in the whole El Puerto Marina Club. Meaning, if you just happened to pass by, you can still pay an entrance fee to the water park. But if you want to check-in, you need to use your or someone else's membership to do so.


The member-only beach resort has:
  • 2 pools (1 regular pool with a slide and 1 infinity pool with a bar)
  • 1 Jacuzzi
  • 4 areas for check-in, arranged from the cheapest rates: houses by the pond, standard rooms, 2-bedroom suites, and beach houses)
  • Spa
  • Nipa huts by the beach
  • Huge restaurant with stage events space



The open for public water park has:
  • 4 main pools (2 for kids, 1 wave pool, 1 slide pool)
  • 4 large slides for adults, 1 for kids
  • 1 Jacuzzi
  • 1 Rio Grande around the resort (under construction!)

And ofcourse, if you get tired of the pools, you can always swim at the Lingayen Gulf beach!



Day 1 - Enjoying Aquatica Marina and the sunset

The first thing we did after unpacking is ofcourse have lunch. They serve tasty food by the way. Sorry didn't get the chance to take a photo of the room. Aside from the fact that it got so messy in just like 5 -mins lol, I got a phone call from someone that made me a bit disoriented. Soon, once everything becomes official, I'll let you know! But for the meantime, we had Dinakdakan and Sinigang na Bangus for lunch.



The restaurant is actually huge, it has an events area and a stage. Perfect for teambuildings.



Next on the agenda is the infinity pool! I didn't know infinity pools are deep? Nevertheless I enjoyed jumping in and swimming! It has a bar attached to it so if you're planning on getting tipsy for the night, this pool is for you.




Before the day ended, we enjoyed the sunset by the beach :)





I forgot what this is called -- but we had a pseudo beefsteak chopseuy for dinner. This is their bestseller.




Day 2 - Strolling around and getting sunkissed

The next day we didn't do much but just strolled around and got tanned by swimming at 12noon lol. We were the only ones at the beach. Why is this place so underrated? But I love its exclusivity, don't get me wrong!







Who is this pretentious woman? lol



Today, I turn 24. I could not be any more thankful for all the blessings I've been given. A couple of years ago,  I was ungrateful, always questioning why am I even still alive. I've struggled with extreme anxiety and anorexia, my close friends can testify to that. Everything started to make sense when I had faith. I am not just thankful for today, but I am beyond grateful to have been given the gift to live. For as long as I breathe, I will never take advantage of it again. For those who are like my past self,  let me be the living example that when you feel that you are at your darkest moment and can no longer move forward, TRUST ME, HANG IN THERE. You are stronger than you think. Sooner than later, you will learn to love the world WITH YOURSELF IN IT. :)

Read my letter to my younger self here »






With love,
Anne.









Some videos you may like:




Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seoul Day 1: Ewha University, National Museum, Dragon Hill Spa

Seoul, South Korea
My first day in Korea is one of the best days of my life. Ever since I was a teenager I've always dreamt of visiting that beautiful country, and when I finally did, I am overwhelmed with emotions that I can't explain. And to think that I am travelling with my bestfriend-fiance, it makes it even more special. In this blog series I will share with you my awesome one week vacation to Seoul, South Korea 😊


BEFORE THE TRIP

If you will be visiting Korea too, based on our experience, here are some of the essential things you need to take note of.

  • Weather - bring proper clothes according to the season. In our case we went around end of winter so we brought coats and boots. Never underestimate weather in Seoul! Though I think ALL guesthouses in Korea have heating, touring the city in the wrong clothes can get extremely uncomfortable. I have the Weather app on my phone so I can manage my expectations for the day and see forecasts as well.
  • Transportation - if you are on a budget like us, it's definitely cheaper if you will navigate the city using the subway. Download the Subway app on your smartphone. This will come in really handy for you as the metro system in Seoul is pretty complex. Also take note that the subway is open only until midnight, so if you will be touring later than that, better familiarize yourself with the bus system or take a cab.
  • Language - in case you get lost, it will be a challenge to communicate because not all people you pass by can speak english. Though tourist information centers are just about everywhere, it’s better to download a Korean translator app or study a little bit of the language for your survival!
  • Discover Seoul Pass - I'm not sure why I don't see this often in blogs but I highly recommend getting this pass if you are a first time traveller to Korea! It's an initiative from the government to boost tourism. For a price, you'll get either a 24hr or 48hr pass to the listed tourist attractions FOR FREE. You can also get discounts in numerous establishments and your pass will serve as your T-money or octopus/oyster card. How convenient is that?! You can visit their website for more info www.discoverseoulpass.com


THE ITINERARY

We arrived around 11:30pm Seoul time (1hr difference from MNL btw) so we had to take the Airport train as fast as we could from Incheon to Seoul station before midnight. Good thing I familiarized my self around the area using google maps so we didn't really have a hard time locating our guesthouse. We took the Blue bus to from Seoul station to DDP. We arrived at Seoul Dalbit DDP Guesthouse around 2am. I highly recommend this place. It's relatively cheap but the service is superb, the place is clean, and the staff are friendly! Plus you get a free breakfast too! You may check out the photos here www.booking.com/hotel/kr/gom-hostel-dongdaemun.html


Since we spent half of Day 1 sleeping, so our itinerary isn't jampacked. Our first stop is Ewha Woman's University. It is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and is well known for its architecture. I envy those who go this school! There was a part of me that wondered, what if I was born as a different person and actually experienced attending this school?

Location: Line 2 (Green) Ewha station, exit 2 or 3. Walk straight for 10 minutes.








This area is also considered the university belt so there are lots of cheap finds including streetfood!



Next stop: Seoul National Museum. It showcases Korean culture and heritage. I'm not a big fan of museums but I enjoyed this one! 😊

Location: Ichon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4 & Gyeongui-Jungang Line), Exit 2. - The subway station is connected to the museum via an underpass called Bakmulgwan Nadeul-gil or Moving Museum.









Finally, last in the itinerary is a Jimjjilbang or a Korean bath house. I must say, if you're travelling to Korea, you should not miss this one out. Dragon Hill has good reviews and is easily accessible to tourists. It's just right beside Yongsan station.

Location: From Yongsan Station. Take the Exit No.1 from KTX Station or Yongsan Subway Station (Line No.1) and walk for about one minute.




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