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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reliving the Spanish Era at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bataan

Old Heritage Houses standing on the edge of a canal in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

There's something fascinating about old architecture.

I remember writing a 300-word essay explaining my stand on a question that went, "Should old heritage buildings be kept as they are or demolished to give way for progress?" It sounded like it was an easy question  wherein any immediate opinion could easily be formed, but it was not.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Naked and Proud! Soaking in the Hot Springs of Oedo Onsen Monogatari

The facade of Oedo Onsen Monogatari-- a spa lover's paradise! Image from GaijinPot.

As the days of our 12-day pleasure trip to Tokyo slowly dwindled to a close, I found myself ticking off items in my "Must-Do in Tokyo" list just to make sure that I didn't miss anything significant. 
  • Theme parks: Check, check, check, and double-check.
  • Shop for anime figurines in Akihabara: Check (and bill, please).
  • Witness the tuna auction at a local fish market: No check, since we were informed too late that we needed an advanced reservation for that. This item goes into another itinerary for another time.
  • Taste staple Japanese street food which include but are not limited to: takoyaki, ramen, okonomiyaki, karaage, yakisoba, and yakiniku: Checkity-check check.
(Related post: These Tokyo Metropolitan Gardens offer relaxation amidst beauty!)
(Related post: Acquisition of your very own Japanese Tourist Visa made easyFind out how!)

I have more activities in mind that I wanted to accomplish that I've organized in tiers. From the second tier and above, the items in my dream itinerary are mainly comprised of more localized, non-touristy experiences that will give me a more intimate feel of Japan which I swear I WILL accomplish some other time in the near future. My heart welled up with an overwhelming sense of fulfillment as I realized that-- except for the tuna auction-- I've gone and done all of my Tier One "Must-Do" activities. As I reread my list, however, I saw to my horror that there was one un-ticked item in the one-foot long sheet of paper.
  • Bathe proud and naked in a Japanese onsen (hot spring) house: No check mark here yet.
I immediately grabbed my best spa-buddy, food-buddy, and travel-buddy to explain the horrendous situation and just as I expected, she was all up for it even at 7:30 in the evening! That's my mom for you!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Visiting The Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa Gardens for a Side of Culture and Relaxation!

The tulip garden at the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens in Tokyo, Japan.

Most people think of Tokyo as a densely-populated, high-intensity city. It's easy to imagine hundreds upon thousands of Japanese rushing up and down the streets in every hour of the day, busy queuing outside restaurants and stores, or briskly walking or urgently running to catch their train or bus. But let me tell you this: there are places found in the gigantic, bustling metropolis where there are little to no people and visitors looking for retreat can enjoy the temporary delusion of being far away from the city while physically still being smack-dab in the middle of it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Meeting Hello Kitty and Friends at Sanrio Puroland in Tama, Japan!

 
The facade of Sanrio Puroland, Hello Kitty's official theme park in Tokyo, Japan.

No matter how old I get, Hello Kitty will always have a special place in my heart.

I remember when I used to live in Quezon City in Manila as a child. Hello Kitty was as big of a fad back then as it still is now. All of my female classmates then were decked out in Hello Kitty merchandise from head to toe. After school, I'd head to a certain mall in Cubao just to visit Gift Gate, which was a licensed retailer for Sanrio merchandise. I remember going through racks and shelves full of Hello Kitty goodness. To the five-year old me, it was kawaii heaven. To the maid who always accompanied me there, it was not. I remember coaxing her to buy me stuff that I want but definitely don't need, such as Kiki and Lala watches, Hello Kitty lunch boxes, bright pink My Melody tee-shirts, and a whole lot more. She'd always tell me how my mom wouldn't allow it, as they were too expensive. Not usually one to argue, I'd leave the matter at that yet would make it a point to come back the next afternoon just to make sure that nobody had bought them yet.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

[Throwback Post] The Canada Day Festivities in Vancouver, B.C.!


Watching the Canada Day Parade (July 2014) at Burrard Street, Vancouver.

I'm very fond of traveling. Obviously.

I'm the type of person who, when feeling idle and having nothing better to do, looks back at my collection of travel photos and memorabilia and with my favorite beat mix playing in the background and a cup of tea in one hand. It's funny how I remember each trip vividly as if it only happened yesterday but always forget where I put my phone five seconds ago. For me, each place has a unique reason that makes me want to either selectively remember or forget it. Each place holds a distinct memory that I could play like a video in my head anytime I want; and unavoidably, each place evokes different kinds of feelings within me whenever those videos play.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dining with the Posh Monsters of Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku, Tokyo

The Mushroom Disco area of Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku, Tokyo. Image from Spoon and Tamago.

When the word "MONSTER" is mentioned, my three-year old princess' immediate response is a somewhat unique and isolated process of its own kind. She instantly freezes with her mouth agape for three seconds, drops whatever she is holding, hesitates for a few nanoseconds before her flight response activates. She runs screaming to the nearest caregiver (usually me) for comfort or to the nearest blanket where she hides like a cute little kitten threatened with a bath. I point out that Mike and Sully from one of her favorite Pixar film are monsters. She points at the empty wall behind me and quietly whispers "A monster. Wearing white."

Either she's learned the art of trolling people back or she has an active third eye. I pray to God it's the former. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spending the Day as a Strawhat Pirate at the ONE PIECE Tokyo Tower Theme Park

A part of the Mugiwara Crew Banquet at the Landing Port, Tokyo Tower One Piece. Image from this link.

Imagine living in a world where the ultimate dream for most people is to be able to sail under the vast blue sky with bits of swashbuckling adventure on the side. Think of the proposition that there exists a world where the ocean so greatly divides the lands that much of the world is left unexplored. Imagine a world not run by any technological advances but is instead driven by the people's magnanimous love for the need to satisfy their natural curiosity about the world and its unsolved mysteries. Wouldn't it be nice to set sail in an alternate universe where the romantic call of the ocean is all the fad? While this kind of dream is far from becoming reality, the experience is within reach via boob tube.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Explore Japan! A Pinoy's Step-by-step Guide in Applying for a Tourist Visa to Japan

Aaah, Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun. The birthplace of technology, innovation, and all things "kawaii".

As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, I visited Japan from April 2-14, 2017 with my family as a tourist. Prior to our arrival, we planned every detail of our itinerary meticulously. If there was one aspect in our planning stage that nearly caused us to suffer from short-term neurosis, it's probably our nerve-wracking application for our Tourist Visas.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Startling Contrast Between Pink and Grey! The Vivid Sakura At The Yanaka Cemetery

The pink sakura brighten up an otherwise solemn cemetery.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Taste of Vietnamese at the Lucky Bà ngoại's Kitchen #9 Vietnamese Street Food Restaurant!


The "Bahn mi" (Php 110.00), a traditional Vietnamese sandwich. Marinated pork cutlets together with onions, dressing and other vegetables are stuffed inside a crispy, toasted bun. Only at Lucky Bà ngoại's.

Friday, March 31, 2017

15 Things To Do in Davao City for First-Time Tourists (Like Me!)

The "Fruitasan Mo" fruits market at Bangkerohan, Davao City.

"All roads lead to Davao City."

While Davao City in Davao del Sur has always been one of the Philippines' most iconic tourist destinations, its new-found popularity and sudden projection to the spotlight can be credited to the country's most powerful man as of present-- His Excellency, President Rodrigo Roa-Duterte who hails from said province. The largest city in the world in terms of land area, Davao City has always been famous for its low cost of living, public safety, cleanliness, and orderliness, and its export-quality production of fruits and  seafood. 
Copyright © 2015 Travel Hard, Hannah!