A year full of discoveries 2018

So its another year with plenty of trips being fulfilled. I have managed to tick off my hit-list it has been wonderful with plenty to write about. Last year (2017) I missed out a trip to Helsinki and Tallinn with the winter proving too expensive for me to finish the year off, however 2018 fulfilled this plan.

Below are just some of the places ive managed to visit, click on them to read some of my write-ups. Next year I already have plans to go to Cambodia, Turkey and Chamonix in France. Other places that are a possibility are Morocco, USA and a return to South America.

South American Trip

Sao Paulo, Mar 18First trip of the year and entering South America for the first time on a Brazil and Peru trip. The city was safer than I thought I used public transport and walked everywhere.
Lima, Mar 18 The Peruvian capital was a pleasure to visit, its museums were different to any other in the world.
Cusco, Mar 18 The city is beautiful, old churches and Incan ruins was out of this world. Be very careful when visiting this place as the high altitudes do affect people in different ways.
Ollantaytambo, Mar 18 One of the smallest but most beautiful places I have stayed. Me and my brother stayed next to a river with some of the best views of the surrounding river.
Aguas Calientes, Mar 18 The main stage for the world famed Machu Picchu, one of the best places I have been, truly majestic.
Rio De Janiero, Mar 18 As long as you’re extra careful Rio is a safe place to be, maybe a few money hustle form a few taxi drivers or vendors but other than those it is safe. Its scenery and beaches are some of the best in the world.

Wales Trip

Cardiff, Apr 18 A short weekend in the welsh capital, a place full of investment in order to establish it as a shopping haven.

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Philippines & Japan Trip

Manila, Jun 18 Its that time again where once a year I visit Philippines. A base to srelax before we head off to Japan.
Osaka, Jun 18 Our entry point in Japan, smaller than Tokyo but a metropolis nonetheless.
Kyoto, Jun 18 Beautifully preserved temples and religious places. Home of the world famed Geisha entertainers and the most cultural traditions preserved.
Tokyo, Jun 18 Last city visited in Japan, a beautiful busy metropolis. Very crowded and bustling 24 hours a day. Bright lights, most modern technology and cuisine were a huge plus for this city.

England Trip

Devon, Sep 18 A short weekend trip to the English country side, new attractions has been built in Ilfracombe attracted more tourists.

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Finland & Estonia Trip

Helsinki, Dec 18 The Finnish capital had little to offer in attractions however the beauty of the capital is its people, arts and history.
Rovaniemi, Dec 18 A true winter wonderland, the coldest place ive visited and the most magical place for families.
Tallinn, Dec 18 (post coming soon) Outstanding pagan churches, Medieval Castles and modern festive market. Spookiest place ive ever been to with many stories of haunted past on many building in the old town.

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Where to go in the Philippines?

Brief

Philippines is a very popular destination for different kinds of tourists, whether you are a backpacker, solo traveller, couple, family, young or old there is something the Philippines can offer.  Moreover the country has its more luxurious properties and places to visit whilst there are others which don’t need plenty of funds to enjoy.

Philippines has approximately 1,700 islands and islets, full of beautiful scenery and wildlife. There are also places built up like any modern metropolis around the world.

Below is a few ideas of where to go, depending on what type of a holiday or travel you are looking for. Click on the links (if available for galleries or blogs). This page will be updated regularly.

Where should I go?

Beaches: Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Boracay, Puerto Galera, Pangasinan, Bohol, Pagudpud, Baler, Siargao, Panglao Island, Camiguin

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Cultural: Vigan, Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod City, Sagada, Dumaguete, Iloilo City, Quezon City, Manila

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Religious: Manaoag, Antipolo, Novaliches, Quiapo , Cebu, Sagada, Iloilo City

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Party Goer/ Nightlife: Boracay, Makati, Taguig, Subic Bay, Angeles, Quezon Avenue, Cebu (Mango Avenue),

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Bargain/ Shopping: Makati, Manila, Quiapo, Cebu

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Adventurist/ Adrenaline Seeker: Cebu, Zamboanga, Laoag, Tagaytay, Baler, Cagayan De Oro, Pagudpud

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Couples retreat/ Honeymooners: Busuanga (Palawan), El Nido (Palawan), Coron (Palawan), Davao, Siargao, Panglao Island

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Families: Subic Bay, Cebu, Manila, Tagaytay, Baguio,

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Backpacker: Banaue, Cebu, Bohol, Palawan

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Luxurious: Davao, Palawan, Fort Bonifacio, Busuanga,

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Divers: Davao, Palawan, Cebu, Panglao Island

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Trekkers/ Hiker: Banaue, Camiguin, Cebu,

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Food: Tagaytay (for Bulalo), Cebu (for Lechon), Pampanga (For Sisig, Longanisa, Tocino), Dagupan (Milkfish),

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Metro Manila (Transports)

Transport

Transports in Manila can vary from the different regions. Modes of transportations include taxi, buses, trains, boats, pedicabs and the culturally famous tricycle and jeepneys. Whatever the mode you choose in Manila there will always be a big disadvantage, whether crowds, traffic, temperature or even safety.

The easiest way to get around is definitely by owning a car, with one you can get from point to point to a desired destination. However like I said there will always be the downsides, for a tourist to rent a car is dangerous and unrecommendable, drivers in Philippines are irresponsible. Counter flowing, speeding, beating the red light  are some of the many craziness in Philippine roads. There will also be no reliable structure to the roads, apart from worn out road markings, drivers seems to know some kind of make a lane rule, whereas a 3 lane highway could become a 5 lane highway ( just find space and take it). I do not advise tourists or newbies to drive in Manila, leave it to the locals.

Taxi on the other hand is safer, as you relax enjoy the aircon whilst getting through the traffic, whilst letting someone else do the driving. However locating a taxi could be a job in itself, unlike London where a taxi driver would love a passenger, Manila are more likely to turn a passenger away (depending on where you want to go, and how busy it is). After finding  a taxi be careful by drivers who love to cheat and take as much money as possible, meters could be tapped or they may ask for extras because of traffic or distance. Majority of taxis are good and is the most advisable mode of transport in the Philippines, a ride from Heathrow to London by taxi could cost £50 whilst the same distance in Philippines would be in the region of £5-£10 equivalent.

Railways called the MRT/ LRT (don’t know what they stand for) are definatly the quickest way of transport in Metro Manila. The MRT Starts in North EDSA and ends in Taft Avenue a short commute away from the airport in Manila (basically following the EDSA highway). Tickets are cheap at about 12 -45 pesos or 20- 70 pence. MRT/LRT can get very crowded at peek times and thieves do roam around stations, however I do not feel this should discourage tourists to try it.

Tricycles are more of a local type of transport. They never travel more than a mile away from their base/ station. It is like a shopping district to village type of transport, like corner shop to home equivalent in London. Fares vary from distance although usually 15 pesos per person. Sometimes a tricycle can be shared making it cheaper as locals share the fare. I don’t see a lot of foreigners use this mode of transportation as like I said this is usually for Locals with huge amounts of shopping from groceries or markets.

Pedicabs like tricycles are a local mode of transportation. Difference being that instead of a motorbike stuck to a cabin, pedicabs is a pushbike stuck to a cabin. It has the same approach as the tricycle but more cheaper, these can be found at the poorer parts of the city. I believe Pedicabs are for the poor, I have never seen tourists use these, however what do I know.

And finally the Jeepneys, the leftover American military vehicles culturally used as buses. There is never the same looking jeepney as they all have their own independent image, as their owners cover their vehicles in bright colourful artworks. Unlike the ordinary buses around the world Jeepneys can be boarded wherever in the jeepneys journey, you can also get off at anytime by saying “para” which means stop. There is no need for bus stops, this may be the argument for being dangerous or creating traffic. Jeepneys are an interesting but uncomfortable way of travelling, it may be hot, smokey, wet (when raining), crowded and even dangerous at times. However rightly so this mode of transportation still seems to be popular for tourism.

There are many more modes of transportation, like FXs, Boats however these are only in limited areas and are not usually well known.

Metro Manila.

Type : City Break
Best Date : November – January
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Shopping, Bars, Sightseeing
Points of Interest: Dependent of Region

BRIEF

I start off with introducing Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the region I could say is home away from home. Don’t get confused by “Metro Manila” and “Manila“, Metro Manila is a region consisting of 17 cities one of them being Manila itself.

Metro Manila is a large region which consists of 17 cities, the capital being Manila, largest and most populated  Quezon City then others being Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Las Pinas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Pasay, Pateros and finally Taguig.

As you read my blog, you’ll notice ill be writing a lot about Quezon City where I lived, grew up and where my family home is. However just recently I have managed to buy myself a one bedroom high rise apartment (locally known as a condo unit) in Mandaluyong for my yearly holidays. However Quezon City will always be home, other region in Metro Manila I’d mention are Makati, Taguig which are the richer areas and lastly Manila itself being the capital and the most tourist attracted. All areas are similar but different in their own stature, differences are visible through buildings, roads and local laws, the people can also be different in behaviour. Whatever the differences all regions are all connected, the EDSA highway, bus and rail transports connect Metro Manila as one big city.

The Place

Id like to say I’m no longer a tourist in Metro Manila, although locals would say otherwise. In Philippines, it doesn’t matter if you are Filipino, if you do not know the street-smarts, then you are as good as a newbie to the country. Philippines like other 3rd world countries would be very difficult for any Foreigner to travel in, that’s why knowing someone when you travel to Philippines is important for safety.

When any tourist travels to the Philippines you would more or less likely arrive in Manila although Cebu is getting more and more popular with major airlines to arrive in. The Airport formally known as the “Ninoy Aquino International Airport” (NAIA) is just minutes away from where tourists would want to go. Hotels, Casinos, Ocean Park, Star City, Mall of Asia, Rizal Park, Cultural  Museums and Churches can be found within 30 minutes from the airport (not considering the famous Filipino traffic).

Taguig and Makati are the more richer areas, where tourists will feel more confident and safe to roam around. Bonifacio Global City and SM Aura in Taguig is a shopping district that foreigners will feel at home. It has the more modern structure and architecture in the Philippines and is safer due to security being on another level as armed guards are more present here than anywhere else.

Upper class clubbing is also here in Taguig, Valkyrie club, Revel, The Pool Club Palace, Prive, Haze and Raven are some of the well known clubs there. If clubbing here is what you want, prepare yourself to spend in the region of Php 10,000 to Php30,000, £160 to £320.

Makati on the other hand has more of the high rise business districts, here you can find offices of international businesses and local corporations. Makati is the financial centre of the Philippines. You can find the upper class shops in Greenbelt malls, shops such as Prada, Armani, Chanel, Montblanc and many alike reside in this class mall, Glorietta Mall which is a little bit cheaper is right beside, so there is something for the filthy rich and also for the middle class.

All around Metro Manila there is different things to see from region to region. Manila, Taguig and Makati are where I believe tourists stay and roam. However I have always told everyone I recommended going to Philippines to stay in Metro Manila only for 3-7 days, there is more to see in Philippines if you go out of town and onto the different islands and beaches.

Metro Manila (Transport) continues in another page (Click here)