Tuesday, December 12, 2017

'Paseo de Belen' Showcases Dagupeños' Creativity Through Colorful and Creative Nativity Scenes

I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem! (Luke 2: 10-11)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Dorsett Wanchai in Hong Kong is a Kid-Friendly Paradise

The hotel's Deluxe Family Quad Room.

During our final two days in Hong Kong, we stayed in a hotel that all the mommy bloggers in the world are gushing about because the staff always goes the extra mile to accommodate guests with little tots in tow. 

The Dorsett Wanchai Hong Kong (formerly known as Cosmopolitan Hotel) is the ultimate choice for group travelers and/or tourists traveling as a family. The hotel promises a pleasant experience despite having the lowest rates in town without ultimately having to sacrifice comfort, luxury, and accessibility.

The Dorsett Wanchai (formerly Cosmopolitan Hotel) in the distance.

The Dorsett Wanchai is just a stone's throw away from well-renowned tourist hotspots like the Happy Valley Race Course, the Hong Kong Racing Museum, Victoria Park, and Hong Kong's answer to Japan's kawaii cafes, the Hello Kitty Secret Garden.

The bus stop across the hotel is where Bus #40 (to Stanley Village) drops off and picks up passengers every 4 minutes to take directly to the beautiful Ocean Park. Should you wish to experience the cool, crisp air and the high-end shopping that Victoria Peak up in the mountains has to offer, there's another bus stop near the Dorsett where Bus #15 (to The Peak, Terminus) makes a stop every 12 minutes.

As a reference to its close proximity to Hong Kong's famed Happy Valley Race Track, the hotel's room numbers were superimposed on horse figurines!

Check-in was a breeze. The courteous receptionists just looked at our travel documents and reservation confirmation and, once satisfied, swiped my credit card for the security deposit and called for a bellboy to take us to the nineteenth floor-- all in a span of less than ten minutes!

The Dorsett's Deluxe Family Quad room as captured by my unprofessional photographer's lens.

Mini-bar, coffee, and tea maker.

What's inside the mini-bar?

Ironing board and flat iron, mini-safe, cotton robes, and indoor slippers.

The bathroom.

Our suite came with a bath tub!


When navigating in and around Hong Kong, a pocket wi-fi can be your best friend. The handheld comes free to use for Dorsett Wanchai guests.

When Dorsett Wanchai's hotel manager learned that I was traveling with a three-year old primadonna who celebrated her third birthday one day prior to our stay, he gave her two complimentary Dorsett Wanchai teddy bears instead of the usual one teddy along with the complimentary kiddie snack box and complimentary set of Johnson's baby care products! I didn't know who was more thrilled from all the gifts-- me or the little one.

In Dorsett Wanchai, everything is double the fun.

The complimentary kids' snack box. It has a milk drink, a packet of chips, a packet of sweets, and a box of chocolate balls inside.

Johnson's Baby Bath and Baby Shampoo for our little pampered princess.

One of the thrills that comes with being a child guest in Dorsett Wanchai is going "treasure hunting" inside the room. Playing on the fact that kids are naturally curious about opening drawers and peering inside nooks and crannies, the hotel staff hides "treasures"-- little packets of sweets and snacks-- where an exploring little tyke may find it. In my three-year old princess' case, she found one inside our side-table's drawer and another inside a corner of the closet.

Look at what my princess found inside one of the drawers! What a treat!

Should your little one get bored, Dorsett Wanchai also offers a mobile library service upon request (subject to availability). The management at Dorsett believes that empowering children to read at a very young age can make better our world's future, because is there a better way to cultivate fruit than to nourish the soil that binds the roots? 

A tisket, a tasket, the books are in a basket!
(Some pictures from other blogs show the mobile library in the likeness of a big two-tiered dollhouse in wheels filled with books.)

Reading together is a fun way to bond with your child!

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."

Our stay at the Dorsett Wanchai came with free breakfast buffet for four. The buffet is served daily in the Dining House on the second floor from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM. 

Bread station.

Fruits and vegetable salad station.

Cheese and dried fruit. The kitchen help need to replenish plates more quickly.

Juices and milk.

A table for cereals.

Grilled tomatoes and beef curry.

Chicken sausage and beef burger patties.

Scrambled eggs and Chinese-style sauteed vegetables.

During the afternoon and evening, the Dining House reverts back to being Dorsett Wanchai's Chinese/Seafood Restaurant. Taking pride in serving only the freshest seafood, there are rows upon rows of glass tanks where customers can just pinpoint what they want served to their table.

My sweetheart probably wants to play with them more than have them buttered with garlic and chili.

Are these sea cucumbers?

Clams are surprisingly cute and stretchy!

Overall, we had a wonderful time at the Dorsett Wanchai and would like to stay again if we were to return to Hong Kong with a much older (but still little) travel-savvy baby girl. The service and the warm, hospitable staff were the best! 

Friday, November 10, 2017

There's an Addictive New Role-Playing Game for Travel and Food Enthusiasts (Like Me!)

Move over, Pokemon Go!

I came across Chef Wars when I opened my App Store and saw it as the Featured Game of the Day. With the promise of being "a food and cooking RPG (role-playing game)" with "over 900 recipes to discover" and "over 500 different towns to explore", I could not resist sacrificing my three-year old niece's Playfirst app (much to her chagrin) just to make more room in my phone for a 116.9 mB app.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Spending the Last Few Days of Summer at the World-Famous Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort

The stunningly-beautiful infinity pool at Villa Escudero.

I'm not usually one to visit an attraction that I've already gone to in the past unless (1) some part of it was revamped in a major way, or (2) it was designated as a place where I need to go to celebrate something. In the case of my second visit to Villa Escudero, it was for both aforementioned reasons: their swimming pools were newly-renovated and my father booked us a room for Fathers' Day.

And so, we drove to Tiaong, Quezon province in the middle of June for a family staycation where we expected to be free from the stresses that came with living in a generation where dogs eat dogs.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

[In Photos] Japan's Tsukiji Fish Market: The World's Largest

I love you, King Crab. Now come into my tummy!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Three of Baguio City's Most Popular Ukay-ukay Hotspots

Shelves full of pre-loved (and some brand new) sneakers and boots from an ukay-ukay in Bayanihan, Baguio City.

Before the year 2017 ends, by God's will, I might be traveling to somewhere with negative temperatures.

While I'm all consumed with the excitement of flying off to my third G7 country after Canada and Japan, 'til a few weeks ago I was plastered with worry about what I should wear to keep my fingers and toes attached to my hands and feet and where I could shop for them. Just as I resigned myself to making orders for winter boots and ski apparel from online shops, my mom presented her brilliant idea of staying for a few nights in Baguio to scout all the ukay-ukay establishments within the city. 

And if there's any place in the Philippines where ukay-ukay shopping is a pleasant experience because of the constantly cool climate and the wide variety of items for sale, it's gotta be the Summer Capital, Baguio City.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Experiencing Santorini in Bolinao at Sundowners Vacation Villas

The balcony of Couples Marina 1.

Have you ever dreamed of spending your idle days in an island wherein hundreds upon thousands of specks of magenta-colored bougainvillea are accentuated by blue-capped cliff-side white buildings, with the commanding view of a teal-tinted crystal ocean surrounding a beautifully-shaped caldera? If Greece is where your soul yearns to stay but you find yourself tied to the Philippines by the many complicated things that come with being an adult, there's nothing to worry about. Recently, tons of local resorts are starting to emulate the signature appearance that made world-famous the pristine island of Santorini-- and in Pangasinan, the most famous among these resorts is Sundowners.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The 7 Things That I Miss the Most About Japan

Delicious takoyaki (octopus balls) from a food stall in Ueno Park.

As of the time of writing, it's been five months since my family and I concluded our twelve-day vacation in Tokyo, Japan, but the euphoria from having explored our ultimate dream destination did not decrease the slightest. It's all we ever talk about at home. We made a slideshow out of the 3, 600+ pictures and 10+ videos that we shot in Japan which my mom fondly plays everyday; and sometimes, we find ourselves daydreaming about the most surreal twelve days of our lives so far.

With my heart continuing to yearn for the Land of the Rising Sun, I've listed the top seven things from that country that I miss the most.

Optional: Jump to:
Page 2: Japanese food and street fare, Japanese food markets called depachikas, and the extensive and exceptionally-efficient railway transportation system.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reliving the Spanish Era in 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!