Remarkable Taipei

Taiwan also known as the Republic of China did an awesome job when it decided to allow visa-free entry to Philippine citizens also known as Filipinos.  They must be reaping the benefits out from this imperative decision.

Because of the influx of Filipino tourists, vendors started learning Filipino words that would entice and charm Filipino shopaholics!  Taiwainese sellers can be heard saying “masarap” (Filipino word for delicious), “mura” (Filipino word for inexpensive) and “maganda” (Filipino word for attractive)

And because of the visa-free decision, I just had my third visit in a short span of 2 years to the super urbanized capital city Taipei.  My visit was not about business or work but because of tourism.  Thus, their visa-free entry decision for Filipinos has definitely boosted their tourism. 

happy gang at the airport! 
i love this shot! 
first timers jb, mj and willie 
getting not so confused at confucius temple 
taipei mrt is eons away in terms of efficiency and comfort as compared to the manila mrt

For me Taipei is an inexpensive alternative for Filipinos who want to travel abroad.  Instead of going for a short vacation to Hongkong, Osaka or Singapore, Filipinos can actually do a fun-filled weekend adventure in Taipei.  And that is what I just did with MJ, Willie and JB!

I was not surprised at how surprised MJ, Willie and JB was regarding how progressive, modern, civilized, ultra-clean, courteous and efficient Taipei was.  They told me that they were expecting Taipei to be just like to old, shabby and stinky Chinatown of Manila.  There were actually moments when these three colleagues ponder on what happened to their beloved Metro Manila that was definitely left behind in all aspects concerning tourism and urban living.

It was my third time, yet Taipei has consistently impressed me.  This only shows that my first two visits were not merely flukes of remarkable circumstances.  Taipei can therefore be concluded as one exciting and impressive city! 

serene…

MMM – masarap, mura, maganda! 

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Touched a Weeping Column and Met a Coequal Villain at Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern as a tourist spot at the tourist-infested Sultanahmet area of Istanbul seem to have always been overshadowed by the more grandeur, more magnificent and more historically ornate Sophia Hagia and the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque). All these three spots surrounding the Sultanahmet Square are within short walking distances only.

But the Basilica Cistern seem to have always been the last choice that tourists would go to if the 3 places to visit in Sultanahmet would be Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Cistern Basilica.  This is why it dawned in me that it would be smarter to start with the latter before heading to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.  Making the Basilica Cistern my first spot to visit would make me avoid the hordes of noisy and annoying tourists who later in the day would flock the underground treasure of a place after their respective visits to both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

still with puffy eyes… need to drag myself from bed…
eerie yet majestic
no wonder Istanbul does not have an underground train system… treasure lies beneath…

My temporary smartness actually paid off.  On the morning I visited, there was actually only one Caucasian and a family of four Chinese tourists inside the cistern.  The rest of the tourists that morning I suppose were at a long queue at the gates of both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Without seeing yet and not yet been overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Istanbul’s icons (Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque), I was able to fully grasp, value and appreciate the historical richness and structural splendor of the Basilica Cistern.  I was at awe as soon as my eyes were able to adopt to the underground darkness.

One mini-highlight was the Hen’s Eye column.  It is the only column of the site engraved with what looks like numerous eyes which appears to be weeping as dripping water from the ceiling runs down to this column.  The dripping water has left its mark over the years, turning this specific column into a medley of blue, brown and green hues.  The Hen’s Eye is also known as the weeping column which is said to be engraved in tribute to the thousands of slaves who died during the construction of the cistern.

weeping column
need to touch it

And since I had limited time to read about Basilica Cistern prior to going to Turkey, only when I reached the end of this ancient water reservoir was I surprised to realize that this place houses the head of my co-villain Medusa!  After giving some imaginary greetings and salutations to the giant Medusa heads, I never missed my chance of taking a photo with her.

Now I understand why Dan Brown has chosen this Byzantine-made murky, eerie and creepy expanse as the final site in one of his famous novels.  I truly marveled at the sheer engineering magnificence of creating such an expansive underground cavern below the colorful ancient city of Constantinople (now Istanbul).  I was so thankful that there were few tourists around for I really got to see, smell and digest the beauty and richness of the place.  It made my Medusa and Basilica Cistern visit such a very gratifying and enriching experience.

co-villainous
medusa!
the wicked tandem!

Nagkamustahan bigla kami ng gagang Medusa!

Overwhelmed & Wordless for the River Jordan & the Sea of Galilee

Two connected bodies of water that the Lord Jesus Christ has a significant involvement with when he was physically on earth are the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) and the River of Jordan.  I have been so blessed and fortunate enough to actually have seen, felt and experience these two sanctified bodies of water.

I must have done something beautiful in my past that I was so blessed with the opportunity to be in these divine places.  And since I am so overwhelmed and bowled over with this blessing and could not seem to describe in words how I actually felt, let me just post a number of photos during this divine trip and experience.

Sea of Galilee

selfie with my sister
selfie with my sister
feeling blessed
feeling blessed
dear jesus walked on this water...
dear jesus walked on this water…

Jordan River

a silent side of the jordan river...
a silent side of the jordan river…
baptised!!!
baptised!!!
no way will i miss the opportunity to at least dip my feet on this river where Jesus was baptised
no way will i miss the opportunity to at least dip my feet on this river where Jesus was baptised
happy!
happy!

In perness di kumulo ang tubig paghawak ko…

A Superstar Tropical Destination

El Nido was never in my bucket list.  It is because, before I was able to create mental notes about my bucket list, I have already been to this paradise of a place.  My recent trip to El Nido was not my first.  I was in this tropical paradise more than twenty years ago.  I remember during that particular trip, going to El Nido was even more difficult than how it is now.

it felt like owning the whole stretch of this beautiful beach paradise
it felt like owning the whole stretch of this beautiful beach paradise
cheers!
cheers!

Reaching and travelling now and then to El Nido is like reaching for the stars!  More than twenty years ago, underprivileged tourists like me could not afford to pay for a private plane that would bring me to El Nido.  Me and my friends had to travel first to Puerto Princesa and take a bumpy public transport (a huge non-air-conditioned truck transformed into a bus) that would pass through the never-seem-to-end super dusty dirt road for 12 long hours.  Now the easy, smooth and air-conditioned land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido (though still a lot of time) would only take about four to five hours.

What is so distinct about the El Nido tourists more than 20 years ago is that majority of them were foreigners.  Except me, local Filipino tourists then would comprise of either from (i) very rich families; (ii) corrupt political personalities; and, (iii) stylish showbiz superstars.  Now, it is so heartwarming to know that more local tourists from the middle class spectrum of society could already go and marveled at the beauty of El Nido.

beautiful
beautiful
big lagoon
big lagoon
twin beach
twin beach

Local tourists from rich families more than 20 years ago may have gone bankrupt; corrupt politicians more than 20 years ago may have been jailed or whose souls are now burning in hell; and, stylish showbiz superstars may have gone baduy (outmoded) and laos (obsolete) but the majestic beauty, charismatic energy and mesmeric attraction of El Nido remains the same.   Glad to know that El Nido continues to be the country’s superstar tropical destination!

peaceful and very relaxing
peaceful and very relaxing

Because of its splendid attractions, I have just revised my bucket list.  It is because I have included El Nido and that I have to experience all the marvelous sites that it has to offer.  Right now this paradise has four island hopping tours (A, B, C and D tours) plus the inland travels going to a fresh water falls and the Nacpan/Twin Beach.  This now gives me reason to return!

Ang ganda naman kasi.

Super Superlative Angkor Wat

Hail to the gods, kings and deities!!! Stunningly beautiful Angkor Wat is such a magnificent temple.  It is the primary reason why I and my sister went to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

angkor wat
angkor wat

I know that there have been a lot of tired expressions uttered and written about this beautiful place.  But now that I have personally been there, I now understand why people only have handsome things to say about this temple complex.  It definitely needs to be added to every adventurer’s bucket list. It was quite thrilling to see the temple for the first time.  Good thing we purchased our tickets late in the afternoon for the following day’s entrance because we were allowed access and get a glimpse of Angkor Wat and assess what’s ahead the following day.

inside the temple
yummy inside the temple

Angkor Wat definitely was not a letdown.  The immensity of this temple is simply outstanding.  It is so magnificent you would actually believe that it was built out from divine inspiration. It was fantastic!  Here’s a few of my photos and see how enchanting this part of our world is…

stunning!!!
stunning!!!
lucky tourists...
lucky tourists…
exceptional!!!
exceptional!!!
had fun touring with my sister...
had fun touring with my sister…
this is my latest fb cover photo... aylavet...
this is my latest fb cover photo… aylavet…

Ang ganda ‘no…

Possible Consequences of the Newly Unveiled Philippine Tourism Slogan – It’s More Fun In The Philippines

Since the Philippines has started to guilelessly emphasize its tourist destinations to be “more” fun as compared to other destinations in the planet, the tourism bureau, ministries and departments of other countries will definitely contemplate and strategize on challenging the slogan recently unveiled by the country’s Department of Tourism.

If you are to put yourself into the shoes of tourism executives of other countries, would you just sit down and buy this blunt claim and proclamation of the Philippines?  Definitely not.  Having more than five or ten times the budget of the Philippine tourism department, you being a tourism executive of your country will never allow such claim and will definitely carry out ways and strategies to prove the Philippines wrong.  A case in point, the United States of America, without spending a dime released a travel advisory discouraging its citizens to travel to the southern part of the Philippines two days after the controversial slogan was unveiled.

If you are a proud and loyal inhabitant of another country, would you allow the citizens of the Philippines to claim that they’re having more fun in their place than yours? Definitely not.  You would not even think or plan of going there (in the Philippines) so that tourist arrival would not improve and prove that such claim is wrong.  Or worst, you would travel to the Philippines – have yourself easily be subjected to holda-fun, kidna-fun or carna-fun – and with a breeze can announce that the slogan is a wrong claim and say that your home country is more fun.

If you are a Filipino travelling outside the Philippines, you would definitely meet the locals.  In such meeting circumstance, you would tell them that you are a tourist from the Philippines.  At some point you would try to encourage the locals – in support for the Philippine tourism – to visit the Philippines.  But when you would be asked why should they go here, would you say “It’s more fun in the Philippines”?  Definitely not.  This will only show that you are somewhat not enjoying your travel in their country and would rather be in the Philippines.  Thus, two possible things will happen to you.  You would be either brought by these locals to their worst and most boring places because of your arrogance or you would be taken to their most exciting venues and events for you to have the best time of your life to prove to you that the Philippine tourism department’s slogan is wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, Philippines is fun.  But I guess I need more convincing to be swayed by this new slogan…

Hala! Paano na?

Fun Philippines

“More” is defined as being greater in quantity, measure or degree.  This word entails a person to compare, match and equate at least two elements so as to conclude which is of greater quantity, measure or degree.

This is the very word that seems to bother me with the newly launched tourism slogan of the country – It’s more fun in the Philippines.  The word “more” in the slogan would tend to drive the tourist to compare the country with other tourist destinations which for me need not be.  I being a tourist in some points in my life cannot compare the sights and experiences of other destinations for these places and their events possess distinct and unique qualities.

Thus, one should never say that a certain destination like the Philippines is “more” fun than the others.  For me, only immature tourists would compare one destination and his experiences to that of other places and events on the planet.

It is indeed and no doubt fun and interesting to travel, see and experience the Philippines but personally I need not compare or match it to other tourist destinations.  I am proud of the Philippines but comparing and saying there’s more fun here seems a bit juvenile. Sorry but due to the word “more”, it created a speckle of reservations on me concerning the new slogan if I would totally welcome and help justify such pronouncement about my country.

It could have been better if the Tourism Department just simply say “Fun Philippines”.  It’s simple, uncomplicated, non-pretentious and undemanding.  Yet, it’s classy, refined and world-class in thought.

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