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Category: Travel

Cebu Travel Catalogue International 2018: One-stop-shop for travel

Whether you’re planning a local trip or going to any country in the world, get great deals in airfare and tour packages to your chosen destination during the Cebu Travel…

Whether you’re planning a local trip or going to any country in the world, get great deals in airfare and tour packages to your chosen destination during the Cebu Travel Catalogue International (CTCI) 2018 from Jan. 26-28 at Ayala Center Cebu.

The Cebu Alliance of Tour Operation Specialists (CATOS) and Cebu Travel and Tours Association (CTTA) strengthened their alliance to bring about an exceptional three-day travel show that will serve as a one-stop-shop for travellers.

CATOS President Alice Queblatin said the cooperation between the two organizations have resulted in member agencies coming up with tour packages for inbound and outbound that are varied and affordable for the Cebu Travel Catalogue International.

“The expansion of the airport and opening of more routes by domestic and international airlines will make Cebu a top travel hub. With all these, we see the need to strengthen not just tourism products but also the collaboration among industry stakeholders. We want to make travel to and from Cebu a dynamic experience,” she added.

Cebu Travel Catalogue

TRAVEL DEALS. Organizers of the Cebu Travel Catalogue International old a press conference on the three-day travel show that will serve as a one-stop-shop for travellers.

Tour, airfare, cruise deals

Tour packages to any point in the globe, promo airfares for local and international destinations, and luxury cruise deals are among the products on offer during the travel fair, according to CTTA Auditor Aida Uy.

The different travel and tour agencies will also offer discounted supplemental services for visa and other travel needs.

Uy said that those who show up during the three-day event will get freebies and have a chance to win raffle prizes.

CATOS Vice President Marget Villarica said the Cebu Travel Catalogue International 2018 encourages Cebuanos to visit local places not just international destinations. The tourism offices of Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Visaya, Bohol, and Davao will also be present to provide information on travel to their respective areas.

With more domestic carriers opening new routes, it has become easier and more convenient to go from Cebu to such places as Batanes, El Nido, and Catanduanes, added CTTA Secretary Cookie Chan.

Popular destinations

For international destinations, Chan added, places with cool temperatures are popular with Philippine travellers during the Holy Week and summer break.

Travellers can expect fantastic deals on springtime travel to South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan when they book during the three-day travel fair. Jeju, which doesn’t require a visa from Filipinos, is also popular and tour packages to this South Korean destination on chartered flights will also be on offer.

CTTA Public Relations Officer Sheila Colmenares, who gave a rundown on the different activities during CTCI 2018, said there will be stage activities and entertainment shows. The travel fair will formally open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the first day, January 26.

BPI cardholders get the added advantage of booking airfare and tour packages under a zero percent interest three-month installment plan, according to CTTA Vice President Baby Dy.

CTTA President Alan Carvajal urged Cebuanos to take advantage of the exceptional offers by planning their 2018 trips during the Cebu Travel Catalogue International 2018 from January 26-28 at Ayala Center Cebu.

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AirAsia wins 2 awards at 2017 World Travel Awards

AirAsia has been named the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the 5th year in a row at the 2017 World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. AirAsia…

AirAsia has been named the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the 5th year in a row at the 2017 World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

AirAsia topped the category, having received the highest votes from travel professionals and industry players from around the world, beating Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Ryanair, easyJet, Jetstar Airways, Norwegian Air, West Air, flydubai, Air Arabia, flynas, kulula, Mango and fastjet.

Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passengers also won the inaugural World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award, ahead of the same 13 budget airlines.

The win builds on AirAsia’s success earlier this year when it secured WTA’s first-ever Asia’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award and in 2015, when it became the first ever low-cost carrier to win Asia’s Leading Cabin Crew, ahead of full-service carriers like Singapore Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific.

Digitalization journey

AirAsia Group Chief Commercial Officer Siegtraund Teh and AirAsia senior cabin crew Rosita Sulaiman accepted the awards at a gala ceremony held at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay in Vietnam.

Also present were AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Berhad independent non-executive director Dato’ Fam Lee Ee and AirAsia’s Vietnam joint venture partner Tran Trong Kien.

AirAsia World Travel Awards

AIRASIA AWARDS. AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (center, left) and AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun with the company’s awards.

“I am very proud to stand here today to receive our fifth WTA World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline award in as many years. I’ve always said we are the world’s true low-cost champion, and I’m thrilled to see I’m not the only one and the industry agrees with me. And we will only get better as we continue on our digitalization journey to better understand what our guests want and to make flying a richer, more enjoyable experience, as we continue to strive to provide world-class service at the lowest fares,” Fernandes said.

Best experience

“An airline is only as good as its people, and we have some of the best. Two years ago, we were named Asia’s Leading Cabin Crew by WTA, beating a field of full-service carriers. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength, winning the World’s Leading Inflight Service award in 2016, Asia’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew earlier this year and now, the first ever World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award by WTA. This shows our unwavering commitment to excellence and, as the world’s best low-cost carrier, we promise to continue delivering to our guests on board the best experience money can’t buy,” said AirAsia Group Cabin Crew Head Suhaila Hassan said.

The World Travel Awards is one of the most prestigious, comprehensive and sought-after awards program in the global and tourism industry.

Established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across key sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality industries, the World Travel Awards brand is now recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence. (Press Release)

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Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong 2017 highlights: Awards, big events, upgrades

From winning awards and hosting big events to undertaking upgrades, it has been a busy and memorable 2017 for the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong, which include the iconic Kowloon landmark…

From winning awards and hosting big events to undertaking upgrades, it has been a busy and memorable 2017 for the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong, which include the iconic Kowloon landmark Marco Polo Hongkong as well as newer facilities Gateway and Prince.

The three hotels were given the Merit Award at the 2017 HKMA Quality Award ceremony held on July 21, 2017, while the yearly event Marco Polo German Bierfest garnered the Gold Award for “Best Outdoor Events: Arts, Leisure and Entertainment” at the Marketing Events Awards 2017 organized by Marketing Magazine.

Marco Polo German Bierfest Award

ANOTHER AWARD. The Marco Polo German Bierfest was given the Gold Award for “Best Outdoor Events: Arts, Leisure and Entertainment” at the Marketing Events Awards 2017.

Samantha Poon, Director of Communications for Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong, said this demonstrates the commitment and dedication to quality at Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel. She provided updates during a dinner hosted by Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong for Cebu and Davao media and bloggers at the Blu Bar and Grill of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

The annual Quality Award by the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA) recognizes organizations from various fields of industry and business that have achieved outstanding performance and quality standards.

Marco Polo Hong Kong

MERIT AWARD. Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel were given the Merit Award at the 2017 HKMA Quality Award ceremony last July 21, 2017.

Marco Polo Bierfest

Now on its 26th year, the award-winning Marco Polo Bierfest kicked off last October 20 and will run until November 11. Celebrated in the outdoor area of Marco Polo Hongkong, against the breathtaking backdrop of Victoria Harbour, the event features partygoers dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndl while a German band plays folk and oompah tunes and hosts interactive and drinking games.

Marco Polo Bierfest

Marco Polo Bierfest

Guests get to enjoy authentic Bavarian dishes, including the best crispy pork knuckles in Hong Kong, and the finest German beers. Those who book a stay with any of the Marco Polo hotels via marcopolohotels.com within the Bierfest season get two complimentary tickets to the event through the Bed and Bierfest package.

To further extend the Bierfest spirit, hotel guests also receive in-room amenities Marco Polo German Bierfest 2017 special edition beer mugs (maximum two per room) and Erdinger beer (maximum two 500ml bottles per room).

Marco Polo Bierfest

BREATHTAKING VIEW. The Marco Polo Bierfest is celebrated in the outdoor area of Marco Polo Hongkong, against the breathtaking backdrop of Victoria Harbour.

 

Marco Polo Bierfest

Pretzel

 

Marco Polo Bierfest

MARCO POLO BIERFEST. Roast pork knuckle served with braised red cabbage and gratinated potato.

Hotel upgrades

As part of continued quality improvements, the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel also recently completed an extensive upgrade to its building facade.

Gateway Hotel, meanwhile, is set to unveil an entirely new Continental Club floor in the uppermost level. It will feature 21 well appointed guestrooms and suites that offer stunning views of Hong Kong’s dramatic skyline.

Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel_Harbour View Room

Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel_Harbour View Room.

The new Continental Club rooms will continue to reflect a sophisticated, stylish design and layout, enhanced with the latest technology for today’s modern travellers.

Continental Club guests enjoy a host of exclusive privileges, from daily complimentary breakfast to all-day coffee to tea service.

Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong Cebu dinner for Cebu, Davao media

Marco Polo Hong Kong

CEBU, DAVAO journalists and bloggers during the dinner at the Blu Bar and Grill of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

 

Marco Polo Hongkong

COMMITMENT TO QUALITY. Samantha Poon, Director of Communications for Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong, said the recent awards demonstrate the commitment and dedication to quality at Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel.

 

Marco Polo Hong Kong

HOTEL UPDATES. Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel provided updates during a dinner hosted for Cebu and Davao media and bloggers at the Blu Bar and Grill of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

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AirAsia’s Red Hot Sale is back; fly from as low as P17

Up to 5 million promotional seats are up for grabs in AirAsia Group’s Red Hot Seat Sale campaign. Book seats via airasia.com or the AirAsia mobile app from September 11…

Up to 5 million promotional seats are up for grabs in AirAsia Group’s Red Hot Seat Sale campaign.

Book seats via airasia.com or the AirAsia mobile app from September 11 to September 17, 2017 for travel between March 1 to November 21, 2018 to get fares from as low as P17 for flights from/to Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Bohol, Kalibo, Caticlan/Boracay, Tacloban and Iloilo.

Also up for grabs from as low as P1,290 are promotional flights to international destinations from the Philippines to Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Incheon/Seoul, Canton/Guangzhou, Shanghai, Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Add routes, increase frequencies

AirAsia Philippines CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “Now is the perfect opportunity for our loyal guests and Filipino travelers to connect from many places conveniently as we continuously add new routes and increase frequencies into our network. Exciting red hot deals await those who would like to travel overseas to over 120 destinations across all Asean countries, Asia, Australia and beyond.”

AirAsia is set to fly between Manila and Iloilo starting October 1 while direct flights between Davao and Kuala Lumpur will commence on December 21.

Promotional flights from the AirAsia group’s hub in Kuala Lumpur to Australia, Japan, Maldives and other destinations are also available.

AirAsia BIG loyalty program

BIG Members get to enjoy priority access and will be able to make bookings on airasia.com and redeem flights starting from 0 BIG Points, exclusively via the BIG Loyalty mobile app from September 10, 2017. It’s free to sign up as a BIG Member via airasia.com, airasiabig.com or BIG Loyalty mobile app to redeem promo flights during this promotion.

AirAsia Group Chief Commercial Officer Siegtraund Teh said, “AirAsia continues to grow with more flights to even more destinations, making travel easier. We want our valued guests to be able to take full advantage of our unparalleled frequency to new, exciting places, so it is our great pleasure to offer up to five million promo seats in our biggest campaign ever to help them on their way.”

For latest updates on promotions and activities, please follow AirAsia on Twitter and Facebook (Facebook.com/AirAsia).

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AirAsia launches MyCorporate, a suite of products for the business traveler

AirAsia has unveiled a bundle of products aimed at servicing the needs of the business traveler. The 3 bundles take into account the requirement of the traveler and the company…

AirAsia has unveiled a bundle of products aimed at servicing the needs of the business traveler. The 3 bundles take into account the requirement of the traveler and the company budget: Fare Only, Corporate Lite and Corporate Full Flex.

The Fare Only bundle only includes the air fare, with add-ons available for a fee.

The Corporate Lite bundle includes air fare, a complimentary meal, standard seat assignment and dedicated check-in counter. Guests can also change their flight once up to 24 hours before departure with no flight change fee.

Corporate bundles

The Corporate Full Flex bundle includes air fare, a complimentary meal, Hot Seat assignment, 20kg baggage allowance, dedicated check-in counter, XPress immigration, Xpress Baggage, Premium Red Lounge access (only for those departing from KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur), priority boarding, travel insurance (only applicable to flights departing from Malaysia and Thailand) and full flexibility with unlimited flight changes up to two hours before departure with no flight change fee.

AirAsia My Corporate

Corporate Full Flex guests will also be able to enjoy GoShow, an exclusive product allowing them to stand by on an earlier flight on the same day, to the same destination, with no added fees or fare charges.

Companies signed up to MyCorporate will have access to a convenient, easy-to-use online booking system and comprehensive reporting to keep track of corporate traveling expenses.

Needs of traveler, company

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said, “With our extensive network and frequency across the group, we have seen a rise in the number of those traveling for business on AirAsia. With the launch of MyCorporate, we believe we have a program that serves the needs of both the traveler and the company to further capture our share of this important segment.”

AirAsia Group Corporate Sales Head Barry Klipp said, “This is the next evolution for AirAsia corporate products. With MyCorporate, we are better able to offer the right product to our corporate client’s needs and budgets. Whether they require just a seat with no add-ons, a Lite product with basic benefits or if they wish to take advantage of our fully loaded product designed to make business travel more convenient and flexible, including our latest offering GoShow.” (Press Release)

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ITF 2017: Airfare, room promos, and other travel deals

Super seat sale by airline companies, resort and hotel room promos, tour packages, plus information on top Philippine places, the ongoing International Travel Festival (ITF) 2017 at Ayala Center Cebu…

Super seat sale by airline companies, resort and hotel room promos, tour packages, plus information on top Philippine places, the ongoing International Travel Festival (ITF) 2017 at Ayala Center Cebu has all you need to plan your trips for the rest of the year and even up to the middle of 2018.

SilkAir, Cathay Pacific, PAL, AirAsia, and EVA Air offer promo fares for travel to destinations throughout their routes.

ITF 2017

The tourism offices of the different provinces in the Philippines have booths at the ITF 2017 to answer questions about travel to their popular tourist spots.

The ITF, now its fourth year, is a platform to connect travelers with hotels, resorts, airline companies, and travel agencies.

Hotels and resorts that are participating in the travel event organized by MyEventology.Co include Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Montebello Villa Hotel, Amorita, Bellevue, Hennan, Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, and Bluewater resorts in Maribago, Sumilon, and Bohol among others.

ITF 2017 Cebu

Among the provinces that sent representatives to ITF in Ayala Center Cebu include Aklan, Camiguin, Negros Occidental, Palawan, Pampanga, Cebu, and La Union as well as the City Government of Zamboanga.

The ITF 2017, which started on July 14, will end this Sunday. With the promos being offered during the event, the ITF 2017 certainly has something to offer all kinds of travelers. (Article and photos by Rafelle Allego, UP MassCom Intern)

More photos of ITF 2017

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

ITF 2017 Cebu

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Discounted airline fares, tour packages offered in Grand Travel Bazaar

Plan your international trips out of Cebu with promo fares from top local and international airline companies available at the Grand Travel Bazaar that is ongoing at The Gallery in…

Plan your international trips out of Cebu with promo fares from top local and international airline companies available at the Grand Travel Bazaar that is ongoing at The Gallery in Ayala Center Cebu.

SilkAir and Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Korean Air, Emirates, and PAL offer seat sales to several destinations across the globe from July 7 up to July 9, 2017 at the BPI-exclusive travel event.

Grand Travel Bazaar Cebu

GRAND TRAVEL BAZAAR. The event is ongoing at The Gallery in Ayala Center Cebu until Sunday.

Southeast Asian countries

Economy class return fares to Southeast Asian countries on SilkAir and Singapore Airlines start from US$190 per person, for a minimum of two passengers booking tickets. Single ticket purchase for the same destination is slightly higher at US$240. The quoted fares include government taxes and surcharges but do not include the Philippine travel tax.

For travel to places in North Asia, including Fukuoka, Haneda, Narita, Osaka, and Nagoya in Japan, Incheon in Korea, and Hong Kong, promo fares range from US$230 to US$360.

Discounted fares to countries in West Asia and Africa, Southwest Pacific, and Europe as well as several US destinations are also available.

Grand Travel Bazaar Cebu

The Grand Travel Bazaar is exclusive to BPI Credit, Debit or Prepaid Cardholders. BPI cardholders may avail of the travel deals at zero percent interest rate for up to three months.

Exclusive to BPI cards

Cathay Pacific fares to Hong Kong start from US$75 for economy class but these do not include service and insurance charges and other taxes. Other destinations on sale include China, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, West and East Coast, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

Taipei flights out of Cebu on EVA Air start from US$195 while low season economy fares to US destinations range from US$648 for Los Angeles and Seattle to US$802 for Houston.

0% interest for 3 months

Top travel and tour agencies in Cebu are also selling discounted packages.

The Grand Travel Bazaar is exclusive to BPI Credit, Debit or Prepaid Cardholders. BPI cardholders may avail of the travel deals at zero percent interest rate for up to three months.

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ITF 2017: Travel deals to Philippine, international destinations up for grabs

A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival (ITF)…

A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival (ITF) 2017 from July 14-16 at Ayala Center Cebu.

Stephanie Villahermosa, ITF project director, said that over 80 exhibitors had already signed up for the travel event a day before its media launch last June 21.

They include hotels and resorts, tour and travel agencies, as well as local and international airline companies.

Seat sale

Cathay Pacific Cebu manager Catherine Sin said they will offer promo fares to destinations like Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand and super discounted rates to Southeast Asian countries, China, and Korea during ITF 2017.

International Travel Festival 2017

TRAVEL DEALS. A special section showcasing luxury resorts and a “super seat sale” by Cathay Pacific are just a few of the travel deals available in the upcoming International Travel Festival 2017 from July 14-16 at Ayala Center Cebu. Photo shows organizers, partners, and guests during the media launch.

During the travel event, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will offer a seat sale to domestic and international destinations as well. The company already has an ongoing seat sale for its recently started Cebu-Tagbilaran route starting at base fare of only P500 up until October 2017.

SilkAir, regional wing of Singapore Airlines, will also join ITF 2017 and offer low fares to various destinations.

Luxury resorts

Now on its fourth year, the travel show organized by MyEventology grows even bigger and will now include a special section featuring several luxury resorts throughout the country.

According to Villahermosa, these include Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, El Nido Resorts, Manila Hotel, and the Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa in Bohol.

She added that previous ITFs had enjoyed high foot traffic based on the official visitor count by Ayala Center Cebu to an average of 90,000 persons daily for the three-day event. Over a hundred exhibitors, including tourism offices of the different Philippine regions, signed up for ITF 2016.

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AirAsia starts new flights, connects Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Boracay, Clark

Philippines AirAsia launched new flights from Cebu to the Philippine summer destinations of Palawan and Boracay, celebrating the new routes with a seat sale that’s available for booking until April…

Philippines AirAsia launched new flights from Cebu to the Philippine summer destinations of Palawan and Boracay, celebrating the new routes with a seat sale that’s available for booking until April 30, 2017.

Beginning yesterday, April 22, AirAsia also resumed and added flights from Cebu to Davao. From Cebu, the airlines now flies twice daily to Davao and daily to Palawan and Boracay via Caticlan.

The first trip from Cebu to Davao left at 4:45 in the morning yesterday, Saturday, followed by the 12:10 p.m. to Caticlan and the 6:45 p.m. to Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

AirAsia new flights Cebu

NEW FLIGHTS. Captain Gomer Monreal (3rd from left), Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, and Ravishankar Saravu, Chief Commercial Adviser of GMR Megawide Cebu, and AirAsia crew members lead the launch of new AirAsia flights from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Cebu expansion

Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

He added that AirAsia already has a hub in Cebu and it was just a matter of opening new routes and increasing flights.

The first AirAsia flight from Davao for Cebu took off at 10:40 a.m., also on April 22, with Monreal as operating pilot. He was assisted by Captain Bernardino Perez and flight officer Leonardo Orendain.

AirAsia expansion Cebu

CEBU EXPANSION. Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

AirAsia seat sale

To celebrate the launch of its six new domestic flights, AirAsia offers promo fares from as low as P788, one way all-in, that’s up for grabs until April 30, 2017 at www.airasia.com. Travel time is between September 5, 2017 to February 8, 2018.

Philippines Airasia also opened daily flights from Davao to Boracay, thrice weekly flights to Palawan, and four weekly flights to Clark. The airline company also maintains daily flights between Manila and Davao.

AirAsia new flights Cebu

INAUGURAL FLIGHTS. The cake that was sliced to mark the new flights from Cebu.

The Davao-Clark route officially opened today, April 23, 2017.

AirAsia started operating thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights since March.

Facebook Live video of the event

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Travel light and in style with Hedgren Transit

It is the season for travel. Whether you’re on your way to bask under the Boracay sun, shop for bargains in Bangkok, enjoy the food and sights in Taiwan or…

It is the season for travel. Whether you’re on your way to bask under the Boracay sun, shop for bargains in Bangkok, enjoy the food and sights in Taiwan or experience Singapore, you need a light and durable travel companion.

If practical and light is your travel motto, Hedgren’s “Transit” carryon trolley rolls up to the challenge. This trolley’s integrated features will move you through security with ease and fit the overhead compartment of most airlines.

Hedgren Transit

The Hedgren Transit easy access (carry on) is ideal for your weekend getaways or business trips.

Transit conveys a subtle sophisticated edge that travelers have come to love. It has flat branded top and side carry handles that all match their case color.

Transit is light and durable. The contemporary hard shell cases are made from 100% virgin polycarbonate and feature Hedgren’s scratch-resistant DNA-grained pattern. That is what you call jet-setting with a style.

Hedgren Transit

Hedgren Transit comes with adjustable tie down strap to cinch down clothes and gears.

It also features a recessed ID tag so you can put your information but not display it too much to the public.

The easy access of the carry on is ideal for a weekend getaway or business trip.

More photos

Hedgren Transit

 

Hedgren Transit

 

Hedgren Transit

 

Hedgren Transit

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Safari to open in Carmen, Cebu this year

Wild animals like giraffes, lions, and tigers, an extensive number of birds, the latest rides, and even snow will be among the attractions of the 100-hectare park that will include…

Wild animals like giraffes, lions, and tigers, an extensive number of birds, the latest rides, and even snow will be among the attractions of the 100-hectare park that will include a safari in the highlands of Carmen, Cebu.

Michel J. Lhuillier, owner of the M. Lhuillier chain of pawnshops and ML Kwarta Padala remittance centers, said he wants everything completed before the park is opened to the public.

He plans to open by October or November 2017.

So glad to have seen these zebras…aren’t they beautiful? #haciendalhuiller #carmen#cebuph

A post shared by Arlene Damiles Buot (@dgorgeousp) on

Wow effect

“It is not yet ready. I want people to go there and say ‘Wow!’ It must always have that wow effect,” he added, correcting posts that came out on social media saying the safari had started operating last April.

Among the plans for the park will be an ice machine to let Cebuanos experience snow, Lhuillier said.

Carmen in Cebu is an hour away from Cebu City and Lhuillier said it would only take 15 minutes to go up to the area from the town center.

Safari animals

Lhuillier is flying in about 70 percent of the animals that will make up the zoo from Texas, the south of France, and Dubai, and they are set to arrive either on the 21st or 22nd of this month. It will feature some 60 kinds of animal species and an extensive aviary.

The safari is inspired by the Singapore Zoo and Lhuillier had people come in from the city state to help with the design and training of the crew that will man it.

“Even the people from Singapore say our safari is better than (the one in) Singapore,” he also said.

The entrance rate to the park will be P550 but this does not include the rides, which are the latest available and include the plunge, roller coaster, and a zip line.

Animal shows

The birds, which include vultures, flamingos, and several species, are being trained so they will take part in the animal shows that will be a regular feature at the park.

“When the training started, we had to use ropes but (they) don’t need that now. The birds can follow instructions like getting a bill of money from your hands and you have to feed them in return,” he said in an interview after the recent launch of the partnership between the Lhuillier group and what used to be the Calayan Medical Group Skincare and Aesthetic Center in Cebu.

He added that his property in Carmen, which he is turning into a theme park, has the same elevation as Tops in Cebu City and appears quite a different world with his horses, picket fences, and all those trees. Other park attractions include the Lhuillier gardens and orchid collection that go back 35 years.

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Promo fares for as low as P17 in AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale

AirAsia is giving away seats from as low as P17 in its first major promotional seat sale of the year. “We like to start the year with a bang and…

AirAsia is giving away seats from as low as P17 in its first major promotional seat sale of the year.

“We like to start the year with a bang and what better way to welcome summer than with new additional flights to Philippines’ best island destinations of Boracay and Palawan, and other equally stunning destinations across the country and abroad now up for grabs at promo fares,” said Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador.

AirAsia has announced its return to Clark with flights to Davao and Kalibo and expanded its Cebu hub to include flights to Davao, Boracay, and Palawan. From Davao, AirAsia will also fly to Boracay, Palawan, Clark, and Cebu starting April 22.

AirAsia destinations

The AirAsia Group which is the leading and largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried in Asia is also offering up to 3 million promotional seats to more than 120 destinations in Asia, Australia and New Zealand and the Middle East.

AirAsia’s seat sale from as low as P17.00 all-in promo fares are available for booking until March 19 for travel period from March 27 to June 1 for Clark-Kalibo; April 22 to June 5 for Cebu to Boracay and Davao; September 1 to June 1 for Manila to Cebu and Kalibo. This is one-way base fare excluding taxes and fees.

Promotional seats for international destinations are also available for booking via airasia.com with travel period from September 1 to June 5, 2018.

Awards

AirAsia was named World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the eighth year in a row and AirAsia X, the long haul affiliate of the group, won the World’s Best Low-Cost Premium Cabin and Premium Seat for the fourth straight year at 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

AirAsia was also awarded World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth consecutive year at the 2016 World Travel Awards, where it also beat a field of full-service carriers to become the first ever low-cost carrier to win World’s Leading Inflight Service.

For latest updates on promotions and activities, please follow AirAsia on Twitter (twitter.com/AirAsia) and Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia). (Press Release)

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Getting visa to Taiwan made simpler for Filipinos

Getting a visa to Taiwan used to be a tedious and expensive process for Philippine passport holders. What many don’t know, however, is that Taiwan has simplified its visa requirements…

Getting a visa to Taiwan used to be a tedious and expensive process for Philippine passport holders.

What many don’t know, however, is that Taiwan has simplified its visa requirements for Filipinos so we can easily enjoy the amazing mix of modernity, culture, and well-preserved nature that our closest neighbor in the north has to offer.

There are several ways by which Philippine passport holders may gain entry to Taiwan. It can be through a:

1) Visa-free certificate or travel authorization certificate

While getting a travel authorization certificate is the easiest way to go, Filipino travellers need to meet some criteria before they can be granted a visa exemption.

You will need to have any of the following documents issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States: 1) a valid resident or permanent resident card; 2) a valid entry visa (electronic visa included); or 3) a resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan.

Applicants who qualify for visa exemption can apply online here. https://niaspeedy.immigration.gov.tw/nia_southeast/

Filipinos who apply for a Republic of China (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate must also meet the following conditions:

  • Should have a passport with remaining validity of at least six months starting from the date of arrival in Taiwan
  • Possess an onward/return air or ferry ticket
  • Have never been employed as a blue-collar worker in Taiwan

The travel authorization certificate is free and allows multiple entries to Taiwan valid for 3 months with every stay lasting up to 30 days.

Taiwan E-visa

E-VISA. Applying for a Taiwan E-visa was quick, completing the form and paying for it took around 15 minutes, and we were notified of the approval of our e-visa application by email the very next day.

2) E-visa (Online visa)

If you don’t quality for an exemption, the next easiest thing will be to apply for an online visa. The application is done online through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines website.

This entails filling up an e-visa application form here and paying the fee of about P2,500 by credit card or other online payment methods like PayMaya.

Since we didn’t quality for a Taiwan travel certificate, my husband and I applied for an e-visa. It was quick, completing the Taiwan e-visa form and paying for it took around 15 minutes, and we were notified of the approval of our e-visa application by email the very next day.

For the e-visa, the form will ask for details like trip schedule, Taiwan address (can be address of your hotel or AirBNB accommodation), and name as well as contact number of your friend in Taiwan.

Implemented starting in October 2016, the simplified visa policy is cheaper and more convenient for those living outside of Manila since they don’t have to physically appear at TECO.

The e-visa applies to Taiwan visitors who want to go there for the following reasons: tourism, business, visiting relatives, attending international conference, participating in sport events.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office website

3) Regular visa stamped in passport

The regular visa applies as well to travellers going to Taiwan for the above mentioned reasons as well as for: white-collar employment/ investment/ internship/business training/ entrepreneurs/cooks; studying Chinese, seafarer; religious work; bachelor’s degree, master’s, and doctorate studies; minors under 20 who are joining their parents; Filipino nationals married to ROC nationals; joining spouse or parents holding a Taiwan alien residence certificate.

The requirements differ for the various travel purposes so make sure you have the correct list for your visitor or resident visa needs.

4) Simplified visa regulations for high-end tourist groups

The visa requirements are simplified as well for tour groups from the Philippines organized by travel agencies accredited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

For such groups, proof of occupation and supporting financial documents are waived.

Taiwan said the visa relaxing measures are intended to enhance travel between Taiwan and the Philippines and promote bilateral ties between the two countries.

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AirAsia expands Cebu network, offers promo fares to Boracay, Palawan, Davao

To help boost the country’s destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao, AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way,…

To help boost the country’s destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao, AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

The seat sale will be good for travel from April 22 to August 31, 2017 and also cover the reinstated Cebu-Davao-Cebu route as well as Davao-Clark flights.

Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, said the promotional seats are now available for booking at www.airasia.com and will run for one whole week starting Monday.

AirAsia new routes launch Cebu

NEW ROUTES, SUMMER PROMO. Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, leads the launching of new routes from Cebu. With him are Department of Tourism Central Visayas Director Catalino Chan III (left) and GMCAC Head of Airline Marketing Aines Librodo.

Starting April 22, AirAsia will have daily flights from Cebu to Boracay and Palawan and twice daily flights to Davao. From Davao, AirAsia will also fly thrice weekly to Boracay and Palawan and four times weekly to Clark.

AirAsia campaign

AirAsia also presented its latest destination campaign titled #ChasingWonders during the launching ceremonies held Monday, March 6, at Circa 1900 Casa Dos in Cebu City. It is intended to encourage travelers to visit and discover the many attractions of the Philippines.

Comendador said the Cebu and Davao routes, increased flight frequency to Kuala Lumpur from Cebu, as well as the Cebu-Taipei and Cebu-Singapore flights launched last year are in line with the vision of AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes to develop destinations outside of Manila and bring in tourists to the Philippines.

AirAsia promo fare

ALL-IN PROMO FARE. AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

Since 2001 when Philippines AirAsia was established, it has been the company’s dream to make air travel more affordable and accessible for Filipinos.

“With our newest routes, AirAsia would like to provide much-needed connections and tap into underserved markets, grow it, as there is definitely great tourism and business potentials in Visayas and Mindanao. We are thrilled to paint Cebu skied red,” he added.

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Globe and Mabuhay Miles give free SIMs to PAL passengers

The International Business Group of Globe Telecom partnered with Mabuhay Miles to make it easier for balikbayans, OFWs, and travelers to get in touch with their loved ones when they…

The International Business Group of Globe Telecom partnered with Mabuhay Miles to make it easier for balikbayans, OFWs, and travelers to get in touch with their loved ones when they reach the Philippines via free Traveler SIM cards distributed to passengers on PAL’s international flights to Manila.

“We continuously strive to serve the needs of our dear OFWs, balikbayans and tourists. Through the partnership with Mabuhay Miles, we have created an avenue where our customers are able to enjoy their homecoming by means of instant communication as soon as they land,” said Nikko Acosta, Senior Vice President of the International Business Group of Globe Telecom.

Unlimited calls

Since December 14, 2016, the Traveler SIM has been distributed to passengers on PAL international flights for free. As a bonus, customers can avail themselves of unlimited calls to Globe and TM mobiles, 20 all-net SMS and 15MB mobile data valid for one day.

“Through this partnership with Globe, we are very happy to give our Mabuhay Miles customers a more enriching in-flight experience by making them feel we are making their trip to the Philippines more rewarding,” said Kevin Hartigan-Go, PAL VP for Ancillary Business Unit. “As of today, we have supplied hundreds of thousands of PAL passengers with free SIM cards and we cannot wait to give to more!” Hartigan-Go added.

Mabuhay Miles will give 500 bonus miles when Traveler SIM customers register or update their membership information. (Press Release)

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AirAsia’s e-boarding pass now available in all domestic flights

Enjoy the comfort of checking-in and boarding flights using your smartphones with AirAsia’s e-boarding pass now available in all domestic flights in the Philippines. AirAsia’s “E-Boarding Pass” is a paperless…

Enjoy the comfort of checking-in and boarding flights using your smartphones with AirAsia’s e-boarding pass now available in all domestic flights in the Philippines.

AirAsia’s “E-Boarding Pass” is a paperless boarding pass that allows guests without check-in-baggage to proceed straight to the boarding gate without having to queue at the check-in counter or desk at the airport.

Guests with check-in-baggage, however, are required to proceed to bag drop counter first before going to the boarding gate.

Investing in technology

Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “We are constantly investing in technology to make flying easier, more enjoyable, and comfortable for our guests. With the expected surge of travelers this summer, e-boarding pass will significantly reduce time spent queueing at airport counters.”

To enjoy this convenience, guests have to download the AirAsia Mobile App in their smartphones and use this application to check-in and receive their e-boarding pass in their mobile phones. Upon boarding, guests will use their mobile phones to show their e-boarding pass instead of the traditional paper tickets.

Scan e-boarding pass

At the boarding gate, AirAsia’s guest service personnel will verify guests’ identity and scan their e-boarding pass. Guests may then proceed to the aircraft. Guests are required to present their e-boarding pass to the cabin crew before boarding the aircraft.

E-Boarding pass is available on all AirAsia domestic flights departing from airports in Manila’s NAIA Terminal 4, Cebu, Kalibo, Davao, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran in the Philippines. It is limited to one guest in one booking only and is currently unavailable for international flights and Fly-Thru bookings or those with multiple flights.

AirAsia offers several flights to and from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Tagbilaran/Bohol, Boracay (via Caticlan and Kalibo), and Tacloban. Flights from Cebu to Palawan, Boracay/Caticlan, Davao and Davao to Clark, Cebu, Boracay/Caticlan, and Palawan will commence on April 22.

Find out more about AirAsia’s new products and exciting promotional fares at Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsiaPhilippines) and Twitter(twitter.com/AirAsiaPh). (Press Release)

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On offer at Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Cultural experience, shopping discounts, iPhone 7 incentive

A guided walking tour, discounts at over 100 Harbour City retail and dining shops, and an iPhone 7 incentive for group bookings are just some of the offers up for…

A guided walking tour, discounts at over 100 Harbour City retail and dining shops, and an iPhone 7 incentive for group bookings are just some of the offers up for grabs at luxury hotel Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong.

Travellers get to experience Tsim Sha Tsui’s forgotten sights, untold stories, and iconic community people through the Cultural Heritage Package that the hotel is offering throughout 2017.

Examples of these historic sites include the city’s oldest military facility, the first Catholic church on Kowloon peninsula, the primary school attended by kung fu master Bruce Lee, and buildings that have received UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage awards.

Harbour view from Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong

 

Sonny Ang, Kowloon Shangri-La director of sales and marketing, said Hong Kong has more to offer than just food, shopping, or nightlife.

Cultural Heritage Package

Tsim Sha Tsui alone is a land of legends that brims with fascinating places and stories, and Kowloon Shangri-La wants to share this side of the district with its guests.

As the very first hotel to open in the reclaimed Tsim Sha Tsui East, the hotel pioneers a project to unearth spots off the beaten paths and interesting facts about the area that have been lost through the centuries.

Kowloon Shangri-La is the first hotel to open in the reclaimed Tsim Sha Tsui East.

Priced from HK$3,800 (US$488), Shangri-La’s heritage package already includes accommodation for two persons, Horizon Club privileges, a three-hour guided tour, and a special edition of the commemorative book The Hidden Gems that features selected examples of Tsim Sha Tsui’s cultural heritage. The package requires a minimum two-night stay at the hotel.

“We are extremely pleased to pioneer this project and design a walking tour for our guests as part of our hotel’s 35th anniversary celebrations. Not only does this project let us help them uncover Tsim Sha Tsui’s cultural heritage, which might have escaped their eyes in previous trips to Hong Kong, but also gives us a chance to work with people from different walks of life within the community,” said Ulf Bremer, general manager of Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong.

Main dining hall of Shang Palace, which has 2 Michelin stars.

 

Shopping discounts, offers

Hong Kong is synonymous with shopping and the hotel makes this activity more pleasurable for guests through a partnership with two nearby mega retail conglomerates – T Galleria by DFS, Hong Kong, TSTE store on Mody Road and Harbour City on Canton Road.

The Kowloon Shangri-La key card gives guests access to over 150 shopping and dining offers at Harbour City or a HK$100 gift certificate from T-Galleria.

T-Galleria by DFS is only steps away from the hotel, which also provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to the mega shopping complex that is Harbour City. These offers are valid until December 31, 2017.

MEDIA BRIEFING. Sonny Ang, Kowloon Shangri-La director of sales and marketing, said Hong Kong has more to offer than just food, shopping, or nightlife.

 

iPhone 7 incentive

For Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) bookers, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong has quite an offer.

Organizers of group bookings of 25 or more guestrooms for a minimum two-night stay accompanied by two days of meeting made as of March 31, 2017 for stays until September 10, 2017 get a 32GB iPhone 7 as incentive. A minimum accommodation spending of HK$150,000 before the 10 per cent service charge is required for this offer.

For more details about this offer, they may contact the hotel’s convention and incentive sales team at (852) 2733 8789 or e-mail ian.tan@shangri-la.com.

Harbour view suite.

 

Warm hospitality

Situated along the waterfront and right in the hub of a commercial-cum-shopping district, with major transportation in proximity, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong features 688 guestrooms with a floor-to-ceiling window commanding harbour or city views, as well as seven sophisticated and award-winning restaurants, bar and lounge.

What sets it apart from other luxury hotels is the special kind of warmth that is inherent in Kowloon Shangri-La’s culture of hospitality, added Bremer.

Patsy Chan, hotel director for communications, said a pioneer worker of the hotel had gotten so close to returning guests, he had to be made lobby ambassador so he would be among the first to welcome them back. This staff was even invited to an event at the palace of a Southeast Asian king.

Cafe Kool

 

Kowloon Shangri-La facilities

Kowloon Shangri-La also has 15 versatile function rooms, including a 5,800-square feet pillar-free Grand Ballroom. The function rooms are all installed with the latest audio-visual equipment and can accommodate a boardroom meeting of as small as 10 to a conference of 750 people. Additionally, the fully equipped Health Club and the 24-hour business centre address physical fitness and office needs.

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 98 hotels under the Shangri-La brand with a room inventory of over 40,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services. Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

St. Andrew's Church Hong Kong

St. Andrew’s Church is part of the hotel’s cultural heritage tour.

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Philippines AirAsia opens flights to Boracay, Palawan from Cebu and Davao

AirAsia is flying to 7 brand new destinations across the Philippines this summer, opening Cebu and Davao flights to Boracay through Caticlan and Palawan starting on April 22, 2017. Starting…

AirAsia is flying to 7 brand new destinations across the Philippines this summer, opening Cebu and Davao flights to Boracay through Caticlan and Palawan starting on April 22, 2017.

Starting on the same date, Philippines AirAsia will also reinstate its Cebu-Davao-Cebu flights and start flying from Davao to Clark.

“It’s an exciting time to spend summer vacations in the Philippines with AirAsia’s awesome connectivity travelers now have easy access to the country’s amazing beaches, gorgeous natural wonders, and majestic eco-tourism attractions via Cebu, Clark, and Davao,” said Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer.

AirAsia Cebu, Davao, Boracay, Palawan

Cebu, Boracay, Palawan, Davao

AirAsia will fly from Cebu to Boracay and Palawan daily while flights to Davao are scheduled twice daily. From Davao, AirAsia is also offering daily flights to Boracay, thrice weekly flights to Palawan, and four flights weekly to Clark.

“We feel strongly about supporting the growth and development of cities outside Metro Manila by providing more options and added convenience for travelers to fly to their desired destinations without going to the main airport in Manila,” Comendador added.

Keep up-to-date with AirAsia’s latest promotion and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsiaPhilippines), Instagram (@AirAsiaPh), and on Viber public chat (@AirAsiaPh).

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Have app, will order turkey rice

I had my first taste of Taiwanese milk tea at a shop in a train station on our way to the remote township of Alishan. My wife and I headed…

I had my first taste of Taiwanese milk tea at a shop in a train station on our way to the remote township of Alishan. My wife and I headed straight to the station from the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to catch the train to Chiayi in time for the last bus to Alishan.

We had time for snacks since the train was still several minutes away and proceeded to check out the food stalls at the station. There were no English signs. Unlike other destinations, English isn’t as widely used in Taiwan, whether written or spoken.

It was then that we used the Google Translate app that we downloaded prior to our trip.

The app translates in real-time and via phone camera text such as those you find in billboards, menus, and other documents. Real-time translation works in several languages, including Chinese. Apart from real-time translation, you can also choose to take a photo of the sign or document and highlight the text you want translated.

Google Translate app

REAL-TIME TRANSLATION. Reading instructions at a bus terminal using the Google Translate app.

Real-time translation

We used it to understand the signs on the different shops in that train station in Taipei. We confirmed that what looked to be pesto bread indeed was. We also used it to choose from the different varieties of milk tea sold in one shop of the station that was manned by a young shopkeeper who barely knew a word in English. In real time, Google Translate unmasked the Chinese characters in the menu of teas: honey plum, pearl pudding, vermicelli.

We then typed “less sugar” in the app and flashed its automated Chinese translation to the shopkeeper. He nodded in understanding and said “3?” We were puzzled at first until we realized they had a numeric scale for the sweetness of drinks.

Machine translation via web interfaces isn’t new. Among the first was the now defunct Babel fish by AltaVista, which is also now defunct. The initial attempts at automated machine translation were inaccurate and even outright funny. There’s a sign for what is apparently a toilet for persons with disabilities with an English translation of “special for deformed.”

But what really stuck on my mind was a restaurant banner that I found in Hong Kong that listed its menu. Below a photo of a delicious-looking chicken dish was the phrase “saliva chicken.” I wasn’t using Google Translate then so I wasn’t able to confirm the translation at that time. I had half a mind to go local and go inside to try it. I chickened out. I later learned that the closer translation should have been “mouth-watering chicken,” a famous Sichuan dish.

Google Translate

MILK TEA. There were only a few words in English in the food stalls in the train station on our way to Chiayi City in Taiwan.

Google Translate on mobile

In our Taiwan trip, Google Translate was of great help fathoming the signs all around us. We used it to check and double check bus schedules and directions. It wasn’t totally accurate, often you have to figure out the bits and pieces of words and phrases, but it was good enough to get by.

Dr. Raymund Bontol used it in a recent family trip to Japan and found it indispensable. He also uses it for online shopping in sites without English translations. And in an ultimate vote of confidence, Bontol also uses it to communicate with Korean patients.

Google Translate

REAL TIME. The app deciphered in real time our milk tea options.

What makes Google Translate very useful is that it’s mobile. Its Android and iOS apps aren’t pared down version of the website service – these are actually more powerful iterations with its mobility and capability to use the camera. If you download the available language packs, translations are faster and can be done even without an internet connection.

When we were in Chiayi waiting for the train back to Taipei, we had some time for lunch. We decided to look for a specialty of the region: turkey rice. Google Maps took us in a circuitous route to nowhere and, in exasperation, we finally stopped at a non-descript eatery near the station. There was a huge turkey in front of the counter. As with many Chinese restaurants abroad, you order by filling up a slip. By scanning the slip and then double-checking by asking the person at the counter, we managed to get our bowls of turkey rice.

Peek into the future

While useful right now, Google Translate offers a peek at a future of instant machine translation. Google says the app can do spoken translation. I haven’t tried it yet.

It would have been useful in Ximending when I ordered for breakfast a wrap of vegetables and some meat from a street stall. The woman preparing the dish asked me a question in rapid Chinese. The only word I caught was “chicken.”

“Yes, chicken,” I told her.

“Ah, chicken,” she said, “kruk kuk kuk kuk kuk.”

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How to get to Alishan in Taiwan

There is a wide range of options for getting to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan. The first step will be to get to Chiayi City in the southwest…

There is a wide range of options for getting to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan.

The first step will be to get to Chiayi City in the southwest from wherever you are in Taiwan. This provincial city is the base of public transport services that ply the Alishan route.

Do take note that while it is easy enough to get to Chiayi City, the journey onwards to Alishan has scheduling limitations.

Taiwan gateways

International travelers make their way to Taiwan through two gateways: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in the north and Kaohsiung International Airport in the south.

The airport in Kaohsiung is nearer Chiayi and is the better pick for those who have this option. We entered Taiwan through the airport in Taoyuan because there are no direct flights from Mactan, Cebu to Kaohsiung.

Philippine AirAsia Cebu-Taipei

OFF TO TAIWAN. Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei direct route thrice weekly.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flights

We took advantage of the thrice weekly Cebu-Taipei flights that Philippines AirAsia launched in the later part of 2016. The good thing about AirAsia’s flight schedule was that it left Cebu at 6:10 am and arrived 30 minutes ahead of the arrival time of 9:10 a.m. Our early arrival gave us time to pick the slower regular train and still make it to the last bus schedule for Alishan from Chiayi.

It took us over six hours to make our way to Alishan from the Taoyuan airport using the regular train. The bus from the airport to the Taoyuan train station took 30 minutes. Train from Taoyuan to Chiayi was about 3 hours and the bus to Alishan took another 3 hours.

Alishan’s spectacular sunrise and sunset and well-preserved nature park more than made up for long journey.

Alishan Taiwan train

TRAVEL IN COMFORT. You ride a cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. If there are no more seats, you will be informed by the ticket counter so you can pick another schedule. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. In the photo is a bento snack, which others recommend you try. It was good, not really exceptional.

Regular train

Using a combination of bus and regular (express, mountain line) train, Chiayi is just about an hour and a half from Kaohsiung airport and three hours and a half away from Taoyuan airport. Train (express, mountain line) fare to Chiayi is NTD245 from the Kaohsiung and NTD532 from Taoyuan stations.

This is cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. If there are no seats available on the train schedule you want, they will inform you at the ticket counter so you can pick another time.

If you are very sure of your travel timetable, you can book tickets at the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) website. One advantage of taking the regular train is that the station for Alishan buses is just right outside.

If you’re starting from the Taoyuan airport, there is a shuttle bus that leaves for the Taoyuan train station from the airport at regular intervals. Bus fare is around NTD30.

Alishan Taiwan Chiayi City

The train stops at the Chiayi City station.

High speed rail

An alternative to the regular train is the high speed rail, which cuts travel time to Chiayi by two-thirds. The fare, or course, is more expensive: around NTD400 from Zouying station in Kaohsiung and around NTD900 from Taoyuan station in Taoyuan City.

Booking your tickets early can get you as much as 35 percent off on the fare. Early bird discounts are given on tickets booked from 5 to 28 days before the use date.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) is quicker but you still have to hop on a bus or take a cab from the Chiayi railway station to the Chiayi TRA station. The distance is about a 30-minute bus ride.

Buses that ply the Alishan route start their journey from a small station just outside the Chiayi stop of the TRA train.

TERMINAL. The terminal at Chiayi for buses heading to Alishan. Those older folks will try to have you take their vans, just decline them.

Getting to Alishan

Visitors have three options in getting to Alishan from Chiayi: combination of forest train and bus, bus only, and cab.

Forest train to Fenqihu

Of all three, the forest train is a highly recommended mode of transport. The Alishan train is comfortable and offers scenic views of Chiayi County but it makes only one trip daily on weekdays and twice on weekends and holidays to Alishan. The train leaves Chiayi at 9 a.m. and arrives in Fenqihu at 11:20 a.m. The tickets get sold out early so book in advance.

Alishan

TOLL GATE. This is where you pay the entrance fee for Alishan National Scenic Area.

Fenqihu to Alishan

From Fenqihu, you will need to take a bus to the Alishan National Scenic Area. Since the train arrives at 11:10 am on weekdays and 12:20 pm on weekends and holidays, people who take the forest train to Alishan get a few hours to explore Fenqihu before the 2:40 pm bus to the mountain resort arrives.

If you want to leave earlier than 2:40 p.m., get on the bus Shizhao, which is 20 minutes from Fenqihu, and change to the one for Alishan.

Direct bus to Alishan

If you can’t make it to the early train to Fenqihu, there are direct buses from Chiayi to Alishan. The first and last trips from Chiayi happen at 6:10 am and 2:10 pm. Fare is NTD230 for adults and NTD115 for children.

At the bus station outside of the Chiayi train stop, a few elderly women will try to talk you into taking a van for Alishan. Outside of the forest train, the bus is the next best transport to the mountain resort. If, however, you fail to make it to the last trip at 2:10 pm, they definitely would come in handy.

Chiayi to Alishan

Chiayi train station.

Cab to Alishan

A cab from Chiayi to Alishan is another option for travellers. It costs around NTD2,000-2,500 for a maximum of four persons travelling together.

Entrance fee

Shortly before reaching the Alishan National Scenic Area, the bus stops at a toll gate where passengers are asked to disembark and pay the NTD150 entrance fee to the park.

Alsihan in Taiwan

YOU’VE ARRIVED. Chiayi to Alishan buses park and drop off passengers in front of this 7-11 outlet in the township center. This is also where you buy bus tickets on your way back to Chiayi.

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