Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wanderlust: Catching Up

Hello everyone!

I am so sorry for the lack of posts. But if you are reading this, thank you for sticking through. :)

So let me begin with another travel post.

Me and my travel buddy, a.k.a. mom, decided to go on a short trip to Malaysia last year and we definitely had a blast exploring every nook and cranny of KL.

Basic Costs:
Round trip Airfare for two: 8,950 PhP via CebPac
Accommodation with Breakfast: 7,065 PhP for 3 nights at Le Apple Boutique Hotel via
Food: 200-500 PhP per meal/person (may vary)

We chose the hotel based on location and the accessibility to public transport, and Le Apple Boutique Hotel in KLCC delivered just that for the right price. Situated just beside the Petronas Twin Towers, it gave the perfect view of the towers from our window plus it was just a stone throw's away from the nearest train station.

Le Apple Boutique Hotel's lobby

Our first night was spent looking up at the majestic Petronas Twin Towers. Seeing it up close was truly a breathtaking moment for us.

Day 2 - Exploring Batu Caves

We decided to get up early the next day so that we can take the first train out to Batu Caves. We made our way to KL Sentral Station and bought 2 roundtrip tickets to Batu Caves and back. (4 MYR = Around 45 Php/person)

1) Slather on SUN BLOCK! (especially during mid-day)
2) Keep hydrated
3) I personally discourage bringing food because the monkeys will not hesitate to take it from you. YES THERE ARE MONKEYS!

Temple Cave

Got this lovely Mehndi near the cave. You can choose any design or have your artist do it freestyle. The price depends on the intricacy or detail of your chosen design.

This reminds me of that time when Henna tattoos were just starting to be a fad in Manila. I got mine at Glorietta, when Silver Works (If I remember correctly), offered Henna Tat services for one weekend only. I felt like the coolest elementary student back then because I was the first one to have a "tattoo" in school. It eventually washed off, a few weeks after.

Day 3 - Masjid Negara and Bukit Bintang

Since this was our last day in KL, we decided to visit the beautiful Masjid Negara or the National Mosque of Malaysia. It was really a spectacular sight. The friendly staff provided us with a Hijab and Abaya to wear, which was another first for us.

The main prayer hall

We only got to spend around 30 minutes in the Mosque and decided to head  to China Town and then to Bukit Bintang for some last-minute shopping.

I went crazy at Sephora

We really didn't get to buy anything (except for a few make-up items) which is somehow a miracle for me since I've always loved shopping. But since most of the shops in Bukit Bintang are also in sunny Manila, we opted not to spend a lot on shopping.

Originally, we planned to go to Genting Highlands, but a local advised us to just skip it because there was an on going renovation at that time and there wouldn't be anything much to see and do. All in all, I think a budget of  20K PhP each, inclusive of airfare, travel tax, accommodation, food, train fare, and a little shopping will definitely go a looooong way for a 4-day 3-night stay in KL.

<3 D.

Weapon of Choice:
GoPro Hero 3+ Black Ed
Iphone 5s

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Unboxing: Benefit's 2015 Advent Calendar - Party Poppers

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since my last blog post. I have no excuse whatsoever for my laziness but I am here to redeem myself with a haul entry. Another haul entry you say? It's not just another haul entry, it's a BENEFIT ADVENT CALENDAR entry. Ha!

What is a Benefit Advent Calendar?

It is basically a countdown 'til Christmas kind of thing in which there are 12 little compartments that holds 12 little benefit surprises. It should be 1 window per day but being the low EQ kid that I am and for your benefit (ehem!), I have decided to open everything all at once. Yeap!

Do they sell this every year?

Yes! It's a yearly thing. This one I got around mid-November.

Is it expensive?

Yes. BUT you will get more that what you paid for so it is worth every penny.

How much is it?

2,500 PHP

What's inside?

Window 1: Ooh La Lift
Window 2: Total Moisture
Window 3: High Beam
Window 4: Sugarbomb lipgloss
Window 5: They're Real Mascara
Window 6: Lollitint
Window 7: Porefessional
Window 8: Watt's Up
Window 9: Bad Gal Lash
Window 10: Hoola
Window 11: They're Real Remover
Window 12: Rockateur Blush

What makes it special?

IT'S A BOX FULL OF BENEFIT PRODUCTS!!! Oh and the box is musical too! Once you open the box, it has this nice musical surprise for you. Just like a musical birthday card. And let's talk about how cute that box is? Reminds me of Yayoi Kusama no?

So this latest haul made me all excited and I tried to vlog about it. But I somehow made a fool of myself in front of the camera so I scrapped the idea. HAHA. Anyway, you better head to your nearest Benefit boutique ASAP and get your hand on these before they sold out. 

<3 D.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Beyond the Border: A Quick Guide to the North and South Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

We travel to enjoy and collect wonderful memories and it doesn't hurt if we also immerse ourselves in some culture and learn about the history of another country right? The first time I traveled to South Korea, it was all about fun and kpop but this time around, my mother convinced me to visit the DMZ or the The Korean Demilitarized Zone. The DMZ serves as a de facto border between North and South Korea and has been the primary source of divide between the two countries for almost 62 years. I have always been fascinated with this place ever since I saw a documentary about it on Nat Geo and was keen on penning it on my "Places to visit before I die" list.

Some tourists doing touristy stuff

How to visit the DMZ Border?

First of all, visiting the border doesn't come cheap. You will have to shell out at least 40,000-50,000 KRW (roughly 1,500-1,900+ PhP) for the DMZ border tour or 65,000 KRW (roughly 2,500++ Php) for the JSA tour or the Joint Security Area in Panmunjeom.

          You CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT just travel all the way to the border by yourself and think that you will easily just purchase a ticket and see the sights. You have to book a tour in order to get inside the DMZ. They don't allow walk-ins since safety is the primary concern here. You can easily book a tour from your hotel. Some hotels offer DMZ tour packages or they can book a tour for you.

2. Bring you PASSPORT
          This is very important! You will not be allowed to go to the border if you don't have your passport with you. South Koreans are not allowed to tour the border that is why they will have to verify your identity. My tour guide passed around a piece of paper where we wrote down our names and passport numbers, then a soldier boarded our bus and verified everything that we've written on that paper while holding our passports (opened in the ID page) beside our faces.

3. Dress Appropriately
          The dress code is for those who are visiting the Joint Security Area (JSA). No ripped jeans, no cropped tops, no sleeveless tops, no flip-flops etc. You get the picture...

This was taken from the observatory and as you can see I am all bundled up (and looking stupid).

4. Cameras are prohibited
          There are some areas in the border that prohibits the use of cameras. But they didn't say that cellular phones are not allowed so... ;) Just be careful not to be caught or shot. Whichever comes first.

5. You have a Heart Condition? Asthmatic? Claustrophobic?
          If you have one of those medical conditions or similar, I personally suggest that you sit the Infiltration tunnel tour out. We don't want anything bad to happen to you down there since it is a loooooong way down and a loooooong way up. The tunnel will get narrower and can get crowded so it's definitely a no no for claustrophobes.

And please don't roam around outside the designated trail. There are land mines everywhere!

The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel

This was our first stop on the DMZ tour. Our awesome tour guide CK which stands for Crazy Korean (his words, not mine), strategically placed this 1st on our itinerary to avoid the huge influx of tourists. You see, the tunnel runs 240 ft. below the ground, that's roughly 30 storeys high and it gets narrower and narrower towards the end. So this is definitely a smart call from CK since tourists arrive in huge bulks during mid-day.

Safety Helmets are a must!

We arrived early so we had the tunnel all to ourselves. You can just imagine the tunnel being crowded, 2 lines (one coming in, the other going out), with little air to breathe. Good thing they installed a ventilation system inside.

The 3rd infiltration tunnel was discovered in 1978 when a defector (A North Korean citizen who abandoned N. Korea) informed the South Korean military about it. They painted the insides of the tunnel black so that if ever they were discovered they can use the alibi of mining coals. This is the 3rd tunnel out of 4 that were discovered by the South Korean government. It is believed that there are at least 20 more that are not yet discovered. Talk about persistent! 

The end of the tunnel

The DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall

Part of the tour was a 10 minute documentary screening on the history of the DMZ. There were so many attempts by the North to infiltrate the South (like sending TONS of spies) but so far none of their plans succeeded. Let's just keep it that way shall we? 

CK and his yellow pants (lol) thoroughly explaining North Korea's failed attempts in invading the South. 

Dora Observatory

So this is where we could see North Korea up close, and what I have been waiting for personally. For only 500 Won, you can catch a glimpse of what North Korea looks like. Unfortunately, there was nothing much to see since their land is somehow bare as compared to their Southern counterpart. But if you have a keen sense of direction and and eagle eye to match, you may see a statue of Kim Il Sung from the observatory. I think it's in the far right side if I'm not mistaken.

How to distinguish North from South Korea:
South Korea - Lush Trees
North Korea - No Trees :(

Dorasan Station
A.K.A. The only railway station in South Korea connected to North Korea
Dorasan Station was one of the few attempts towards unification but unfortunately, North Korea decided to suspend the operations indefinitely. The station was used to transport raw materials to Kaesong Industrial park, a joint venture of North and South Korea. Today, the sole purpose of the station is for transporting tourists from Seoul to the DMZ which is kind of sad.

This train station opened last 2002. It is the last train stop of South Korea, and the first train stop of it's Northern counterpart. Unfortunately this $40 Million infrastructure was left to sit and rot... well not really rot since the station still looks brand spanking new even though it's over a decade old. Korea really knows how to take care of their stuff.

I think he kinda' looks like Psy.

Lunch: The Best Pork K-BBQ in Town
After our Half-day tour at the DMZ, CK took us to the best Pork K-BBQ this side of Seoul. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the restaurant. The only thing I know is that it is near City Hall. You should definitely order this thinly sliced pork with their Kimchi stew and seaweed rice. This is one of the reasons I'm itching to book a flight back to Korea. Yum!

I am not a history buff or anything like that, but going to this tour is one of the best decisions I've made in my 8-day stay in Korea. It feels great to get to know the country I love a little bit deeper beyond k-pop and k-dramas. When I go back I will definitely have to book the JSA tour, and I promise I will.

"End of Separation, Beginning of Unification"
I am still hoping that one day, these two divided countries would set aside their differences and unite as one again. It will definitely not be an easy task but one can dream right?

<3 D.

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