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Category: Travel

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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Taiwan’s Alishan: Scenic views, glorious sunrise, beautiful nature

Little slivers of light begin escaping from behind tall peaks until the whole mountain range gets bathed in the golden early morning rays of the famed Alishan sunrise in Chiayi…

Little slivers of light begin escaping from behind tall peaks until the whole mountain range gets bathed in the golden early morning rays of the famed Alishan sunrise in Chiayi County of Taiwan.

Soft waves of white that go on as far as the eyes can see decorate the hollows between mountaintops and form the sea of clouds that is another popular attraction in the Alishan National Scenic Area.

A vantage spot over 2,600 meters above sea level, way higher than the clouds in fact, is the best place to enjoy these two natural attractions.

Alishan Sunrise

GLORIOUS SUNRISE. Alishan offers a fantastic view of the sunrise.

It’s called the Chushan viewing point and getting there requires an intricate combination of transport services, including rail–regular or high speed, bus or taxi, and forest train.

You can take either the high-speed rail or regular train to Chiayi County and pick between bus and forest train to the mountain resort but do take note of the times since Alishan transport services have scheduling limitations. (READ: How to get to Alishan)

More photos of the Alishan sunrise

 

 

Alishan sunrise

Catching the glorious Alishan sunrise involves waking up in the wee hours to line up for the train to Chushan and do a bit of walking to the best viewing spots.

Many people will jostle for a space at the main viewing deck right at the Chushan stop but there are two other areas where you can watch the sunrise. The first will involve walking back for about five minutes from the train station while the other involves a forward and mostly uphill trek of around 15 minutes but the view is better and makes up for the slightly challenging climb.

If your main objective is to experience the sunrise and sea of clouds, you must make arrangements to stay overnight.

 

Hotel accommodations

Better yet, stay two nights or more. The Alishan National Scenic Area covers over 40,000 hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill trails, ponds and waterfalls, temples, as well as local restaurants and tea houses. One full day isn’t enough to enjoy the many attractions that this park and nature preserve has to offer.

Alishan Center

ALISHAN CENTER. This is the center of the township, the start of your nature trek and the station for the trains that lead to the sunrise viewing decks. The 711 you see in the photo is the bus stop and ticketing office.

The best hotels will be those close to the Alishan township center, located within Zhongzheng Village and the last stop of the bus from Chiayi.

It is from here, specifically Alishan station, that the Chushan line starts its twice daily morning trips for visitors clamoring to watch the sunrise. The forest recreation area, which serves as entrance to the park’s walking trails, as well as visitor and other facilities can also be found here.

Alishan food

DELICIOUS MEAL. We loved this deep-fried mushroom and oyster, stir-fried beef and green peppers and pork ball soup served in Shan Bin Restaurant at the village center.

Park attractions

I found the Alishan sunset, though not as well promoted, to be even more spectacular than the sunrise. It didn’t come up in my research into Alishan attractions and we learned about it quite by accident.

While following the trail to the sacred tree and Cihyun temple, we came upon a sign that said the sunset was best viewed from that vantage spot.

It was still early afternoon so we decided to continue exploring the park’s well-marked trails and just return to the area when it was time. It was overcast and I wasn’t hopeful about the sunset.

When the time came, however, the sun shone through and turned the heavens into warm shades of gold, orange, and red before disappearing beneath clouds and mountain peaks.

Alishan trail

NATURE TRAIL. Walking the trail at the Alishan park is an easy although at times challenging trek amidst beautiful vistas, fresh air and a peaceful space. During months when the cherry trees bloom, however, the area is packed with tourists.

Walking trails

The Alishan walking trails are well-marked and connected so you will always find your way back. They lead to interesting sights and structures — through bridges to temples, waterfalls, strange trees, and even to twin ponds with a sad story to tell.

The trails sometimes wind through a thicket of tall cypress trees but they always lead to the main road inside the Alishan forest recreation area so there is little chance of getting lost.

What you shouldn’t miss inside the recreation area are the Cihyun Temple, sacred tree (giant of a cypress), Big Sister Pond, Little Sister Pond, King Cherry, Zhouzhen Temple. The signs will point you to many more: three-generation tree, another that’s shaped like an elephant head, even cherry blossom trees.

The Alishan Sianglin Sacred Tree.

Mountain fare

All that walking will definitely make you hungry but Alishan has you covered. Almost all dining facilities within the township center serve the hotpot, a popular choice of visitors especially during the colder months from December to February.

We chanced upon a local restaurant just across the forest recreation area entrance that served delectable fare. One of the staff was very helpful and suggested some bestseller dishes: miso soup, deep fried mushrooms and oysters, stir-fried beef with bell peppers, diced chicken with peanuts and chili. Her choices were always spot on. The vegetables are grown in nearby farms so they’re always fresh.

Within the township’s business district, there were two 7-Eleven branches. They serve snacks and hot meals, too. Your food cravings are always satisfied, whatever time it is in Alishan.

Alishan is also known for its high mountain tea so don’t miss a cup or two at the local tea houses while you’re there. Better yet, bring some home with you. The next best thing to being in Alishan is reminiscing, and what better way to do it than in between sips of high mountain tea.

Alishan sunset

ALISHAN SUNSET. The sunset is as stunning as the sunrise and is best viewed on a deck near the Cihyun Temple.

———-

Do you want to fly to Taiwan? Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei route every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

More photos of Alishan

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Taipei trip highlights culture, food, nature

She beckoned to us from the shadows cast by the sculpted posts filled with symbolism the meaning of which now escapes me, there in that structure that represented religion in…

She beckoned to us from the shadows cast by the sculpted posts filled with symbolism the meaning of which now escapes me, there in that structure that represented religion in Taiwan.

“Come, come. I want to introduce you to some gods.” Or at least that is what I heard local guide Jane Fan told our group from Cebu that joined the AirAsia Taiwan trip amid the babel of languages that merged with worship sounds within the Longshan Temple in Taipei.

This religious structure in Taipei City’s Wanhua District is a rarity in that it is used by Tao and Buddhism followers, a fact that Jane shared with our small crew of mostly first-timers in Taiwan.

Amie Tea House Taiwan

AMIE TEA HOUSE. The restaurant it up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town.

Caught between the desire to linger in some areas and follow Jane’s pace, I did manage to catch some snippets of information about Longshan Temple in particular and worship in general in Taiwan.

Longshan Temple worship

In temples, you have to enter through the dragon path and exit through the tiger path. If you want to know why, I unfortunately missed that part. When you go up the temple steps, you have to do so with body bowed as a form of respect.

I lost count of how many deities are worshipped in Longshan but I learned there are halls or altars to the sea goddess Matsu, the gods of literature and war, matchmaking god, god of childbirth (with its hall filled with flower offerings), and the main temple goddess of mercy and compassion Guanyin.

Presidential Office Building

The Presidential Office Building. There are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public.

From our guide, I also found out that when Buddhism made its way from India to China during the Han Dynasty in the third century, Guanyin was male but the Han Chinese made her female because they believed this was more in keeping with the attributes of mercy and compassion.

The Taiwanese are descendants of the Han Chinese who followed Chiang Kai-shek when he retreated to Taiwan following the defeat of his Nationalist’s party by the Communist Party of China in 1949.

Jiufen Taiwan

JIUFEN. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight

Our trip was brief but we managed to go to as many places as humanly possible, thanks to our guide and to the early AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight schedule.

We left Cebu at 6:10 a.m. of November 25, 2016 on the Philippines AirAsia inaugural flight and arrived at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan 25 minutes ahead of schedule. That trip marked the start of AirAsia’s thrice weekly flights to Taipei from Cebu.

Arriving before 9 a.m. in Taiwan gave us almost a whole first day devoted to exploring the place that the Portuguese once named Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Golden Waterfall, Taiwan

The Golden Waterfall, where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

Taipei attractions

Before Longshan Temple, we checked out the Presidential Office Building from a vantage point across the street and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Since there are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public, we have to be content with admiring from afar this sprawling Baroque structure that, for all its western influence, seems fittingly at home in Chinese Taipei.

Travel is never complete without shopping or food so off we went to the Ximending Commercial District that reminded me somewhat of Cebu City’s Colon Street sans all the dirt and pickpockets.

What can I tell you about Ximending? It is long stretches of parallel and intersecting streets lined on both sides with small and big stalls, two-level stores, and malls selling everything from fruits and food to electronics and fashion retail of local and top brands. Some streets or at least the one I’ve walked on are cobbled and filled to the brim with shoppers, tourists, ambulant vendors, and the occasional stray vehicle.

Longshan Temple, Taiwan

LONGSHAN TEMPLE. Our group from Cebu at the entrance to Longshan Temple, a rarity since it is used by both Tao and Buddhism followers, our guide told us.

Taiwan eats

It was on a Ximending street where I had my first official encounter of the popular local delicacy stinky tofu. A pungent odor a mile away preceded this introduction and it was probably a good thing that we didn’t carry through with our dare to eat some and document our daring on Facebook Live no less.

First day lunch was at the highly acclaimed and original branch of the xiao long bao restaurant chain Din Tai Fung in Taipei. It only took us 40 minutes to get a table and we used the time wisely to get some milk tea from 50 Lan, reportedly one of the best sources of the drinks in the city.

Jane tried to provide as much variation in dining as she can in two days and brought us for dinner to a cavernous restaurant with its bizarre architecture and artwork. Artist Hsieh Li-shiang is the person behind the Five Cent Driftwood House concept.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Taiwan

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Jiufen attractions

The second day of our trip was spent food tasting in Jiufen. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

Today, the town is a maze of alleyways filled to the brim with shops and tourists. Local merchants sell food, souvenirs, clothes, bags, and whatnots.

Din Tai Fung Taiwan

DIN TAI FUNG. It took us 40 minutes to get a table at the original branch of this xiao long bao restaurant chain.

Food stalls usually have sample of their products in containers for tasting. Our guide had to caution us not to eat too much from the free samples as we were headed to lunch.

Despite Jane’s admonition, I was tempted to try out several items. My favorite food in Jiufen was the peanut and ice cream roll, which was a combination of two scoops of ice cream on a bed of grated peanut brittle that was garnished with coriander before being wrapped inside a spring roll. Heavenly!

xiao long bao

Xiao long bao in Din Tai Fung.

Skyline Tea House

Second day side trips include ones made to the Nanya Rock Formation, Bitou Cape, and Golden Waterfall where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

For lunch, we skipped the more popular Amie Tea House and took ours at the Skyline Tea House. We had a ready table so we didn’t have to wait.

From our perch, we had this unobstructed view of Amie and witnessed the restaurant light up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town. The pictures turned out perfectly, too.

50 Lan Taiwan

50 LAN. We were told that this shop serves one of the best milk teas in Taiwan.

Taipei 101

Our last big stop was Taipei 101 or the Taipei World Financial Center because one simply doesn’t miss out on this iconic skyscraper in the heart of the city.

I listened to my ears pop as we rode the pressurized elevator from the 5th floor to the Indoor Observatory at the 87th floor in a matter of 40 plus seconds. They dim the elevator so you can look up as constellations form out and shooting stars streak across the make-believe sky on the elevator ceiling.

There is so much to love in Taiwan and one visit is simply not enough. And that is why I’m returning this January on a Philippines AirAsia flight to Taipei. This time around, I intend to take my time.

Chiang Kai-shek replica

FIRST PRESIDENT. A wax replica of Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan’s first president.

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Travelogue: Meaningful experiences as Christmas gifts

With USJ-R Intern Shyn Canonigo Today’s young people prefer meaningful experiences over material possessions, and Travelogue by MyEventology makes it easier to grant them their wish this Christmas. Stephanie Villahermosa,…

With USJ-R Intern Shyn Canonigo

Today’s young people prefer meaningful experiences over material possessions, and Travelogue by MyEventology makes it easier to grant them their wish this Christmas.

Stephanie Villahermosa, MyEventology project director, said one good gift for millennials is that of travel.

“Material things will break, be forgotten, or become obsolete,” she cited, adding that beautiful memories last a lifetime.

Travelogue schedule

With MyEventology’s Travelogue, which is happening from December 16-18, 2016 at SM Seaside City Cebu, Christmas gifts can come in the form of airline tickets, hotel or resort stays, sunset and other cruises, wellness voucher, or even domestic and international tour packages, Villahermosa added.

Travelogue

GIFT OF TRAVEL. With Travelogue, you can give as Christmas gifts airline tickets, hotel or resort stays, sunset and other cruises, wellness voucher, or even domestic and international tour packages, said MyEventology project director Stephanie Villahermosa.

The three-day travel expo will have over 40 exhibitors showcasing the different attractions and destinations in the Philippines and other countries.

Bluewater Resorts, Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel, Kandaya Resort, Be Resorts, Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa are among the Travelogue exhibitors.

Gift of travel

Villahermosa said Travelogue, coined from travel in a catalogue, provides a lot of options for travel as a Christmas gift. Packages will be for travel on the peak months from January to June in 2017.

“How can you give someone the gift of travel and place it under a tree? Some tips: make sure the gift is open-dated and that it can be changed,” she said.

International destinations on sale during Travelogue will include tour packages to Taiwan, China, Dubai, Europe, and the Middle East from partner travel agencies.

SM Seaside PR Officer Jasmine Vailoces talks about the event that will be held in their mall.

SM Seaside PR Officer Jasmine Vailoces talks about the event that will be held in their mall.

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AirAsia launches new Cebu flights to Singapore, Taipei

AirAsia mounted earlier today its inaugural flights to Taipei and Singapore, marking an expansion that is seen to boost tourism and increase job opportunities, officials said. The new routes “herald…

AirAsia mounted earlier today its inaugural flights to Taipei and Singapore, marking an expansion that is seen to boost tourism and increase job opportunities, officials said.

The new routes “herald brighter and better opportunities for travel, business and tourism,” said Philippine AirAsia Director for Flight Operations Gomer Monreal. “It also means more job opportunities and more income for families.”

Monreal said during the launch at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) that air travel is “already a necessity” nowadays and the massive AirAsia network provides “true connectivity” in the region.

AirAsia Cebu Singapore Taipei

NEW ROUTES. Launching the new AirAsia routes to Singapore and Taipei are (from left) DOT 7 officer in charge Judy Gabato, Singapore Tourism Board area director Lael Loh, Philippines AirAsia Director for Flight Operations Gomer Monreal, GMCAC President Louis Ferrer and Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Harrison.

Drive tourism, investment

AirAsia launched today its thrice weekly (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) Cebu-Taipei route and 4 times weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) Cebu-Singapore route.

GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. President Louis Ferrer said new destinations “will drive inbound tourism and foreign investment and open up new markets that will boost trade.”

Lael Loh, Area Director of the Singapore Tourism Board, described the new Cebu-Singapore route as a historical milestone that “couldn’t come at a better time.” She described Philippines, especially Cebu, as an important market for her country.

Important market

Loh said the Philippines is the 7th biggest tourism market for Singapore. Cebu, she said, comes next to Manila in terms of market share. In 2015, over 650,000 Filipinos visited Singapore. Of the number, over 33,000 came from Cebu.

Loh said the new flights are timely because 2017 is a “very exciting year for Singapore.”

“For music lovers and Cebuanos are huge music lovers, we have a lot of blockbuster concerts and music festivals this coming 2017,” Loh said. She mentioned such acts as Coldplay, Guns N Roses, and Metallica who are scheduled to perform in Singapore.

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Taiwan cultural office lists top 5 reasons to visit in launch of Cebu-Taipei AirAsia route

With all that it can offer tourists, from food to culture to scenic spots, Taiwan is an ideal travel destination for Filipinos. Ma. Elaine V. Ramirez, executive assistant of the…

With all that it can offer tourists, from food to culture to scenic spots, Taiwan is an ideal travel destination for Filipinos.

Ma. Elaine V. Ramirez, executive assistant of the Press Division Director at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines, said during the recent launch of the AirAsia Cebu-Taipei route that it brings the two countries even closer together and adds one more good reason to go to Taiwan. Philippines AirAsia will start operating thrice weekly flights to Taipei from Cebu on November 25, 2016

“We would like to foster stronger ties with our southern neighboring countries, of which the Philippines is the closest,” she added.

The northern tip of the Philippines and the southernmost part of Taiwan are only 250 kilometers apart, she pointed out, adding that the Ivatans of Batanes and an indigenous group in Kaohsiung, Taiwan even share the same language.

According to her, aside from top ratings in safety, security, and civil liberties, the well-being of Taiwan citizens is comparatively high when measured against the indicators used by the OECD Better Life Index.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei

AIRASIA CEBU-TAIPEI ROUTE. Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador (3rd from right) leads the launch of the Cebu-Taipei route that will start operating thrice weekly on November 25. With him are Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang (4th from left), Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane, and Captain Gisela Bendong-Boniel (4th from right), who is also the mayor of Bien Unido town in Bohol.

Taiwan attractions

If this still does not convince you, here are additional reasons to book that flight to Taipei:

Diverse local food culture

Taiwan’s favorable climate and geographic location result in a bounty of fresh produce and seafood all year round. The people of Taiwan know their food, and have formed a dining culture that is uniquely Taiwanese through the merging of eastern and western elements in their dishes.

To truly experience Taiwanese life, visit the night market and try these local delicacies: stinky tofu, pig blood cake, oyster omelets, stewed pork rice, spicy duck blood, squid thick soup, and pepper buns. Other scrumptious fare include the Taiwanese stewed beef noodle soup and the world famous xialongbao (steamed soup dumpling).

Taiwan is also known as a tea paradise so don’t forget to indulge in such popular flavors as Wenshan Pouchong, Tung-ting Oolong, Tieguanyin, Hakka ground tea, and pearl milk tea.

CNN, Ramirez said, named Taiwan as world’s best food destination in 2015.

Shopping paradise

Taiwan is a haven for shopaholics, with its latest international fashion and luxury brands, boutique goods, premium quality local artisanal products, large-scale commercial districts, and internationally renowned night markets.

A growing creative and cultural industry in Taiwan has given rise to unique products crafted by dynamic local artists. Enjoy a wide range of local crafts at Taipei’s Dihua Street, Ximen’s Red House, Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park as well as Kaohsiung’s Pier-2 Art Center.

Great bargains may be grabbed at Taipei’s Ximending, Wufenpu or the commercial district behind Taipei Main Station, Taichung’s Yizhong Street and Fengjia Night Market, and Kaohsiung’s Sanduo Commercial District and Dream Mall.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei

FLY TO TAIPEI. AirAsia will fly 3 times a week to Taipei from Cebu starting on November 25.

Abundance of scenic spots

Taiwan’s high mountains and complex geological formations make for a diverse scenery that is sure to excite any nature lover. Its well-known peak Yushan or Mt. Jade rises 3,952 meters and is considered to be the the tallest mountain in Northeast Asia.

The Taiwanese are also blessed with spectacular landforms that range from sandy beaches, lagoons, and sandbars in the southwest coast; rocky shores, deep slopes, and narrow plains in the east coast; rocky headlands in the north coast; and coral reefs in the south coast. Its rich wildlife resources makes it a natural paradise for butterfly and bird watchers.

Don’t forget to check out any or all of Taiwan’s eight national parks, each with their own distinct characteristic: among them the griotte formations and gorges at Takoro National Park, volcanic landforms in Taipei’s Yanming-Shan National Park, endemic fish species at Shei-pa National Park, ridges and peaks in Yushan National Park.

Taiwan’s natural scenery makes the bicycle the best way to explore Taiwan, said TECO director for press division Jerry Chang-An Chuang,

Modern transportation system

Nevertheless, added Ramirez, Taiwan has a modern and efficient public transportation system, allowing travelers to easily move across its many beautiful destinations.

Its two biggest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, have mass rapid transport systems. The high speed rail is complemented by local trains, buses, and taxis.

Rich culture and history

Taiwan boasts of a diverse mix of culture from a long list of inhabitants that has contributed to its unique local flavor.

Its 5,000 years of Chinese civilization can be relived through the National Palace Museum in Taipei, which hosts a staggering 650,000 artifacts from this chapter in its history.

Major cities are filled with ancient forts, temples, and preserved old streets and structures. Heritage structures worth a visit include the formerly prosperous commercial districts of Taipei’s Dihua Street and Wanhua District as well as Taichung’s Lukang and Tainan’s Anping. The Longshan Temple goes back 270 years while Lukang features well preserved old streets and buildings.

There are folk festivals and activities all throughout the year in Taiwan. Major events include the releasing of sky lanterns over Pingxi in New Taipei City and fireworks display in the Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival in Tainan.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei

MORE ROUTES OUT OF CEBU. Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador (center) says AirAsia will open more routes out of Cebu in the coming months. With him during the press conference are Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang (left) and Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane.

Major AirAsia hub

Aside from the Taipei flights that are scheduled to start in November, AirAsia plans to open more international routes out of Cebu in line with its plan to turn the island into a major hub of operations, said Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador.

The airline company’s vision to bring the millions of tourists going around Asia to the Philippines, he added.

AirAsia also recently announced the opening of flights to Singapore out of Cebu.

“AirAsia feels strongly about the development of cities outside of Metro Manila. It is pushing for tourism growth and promoting the Philippines across the ASEAN region,” he added.

To celebrate the new routes, AirAsia offered promo fares starting at P888 at airasia.com for flights to Taipei and Singapore out of Cebu.

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AirAsia opens direct Cebu-Singapore flights, offers P888 introductory fare

AirAsia announced it will operate direct flights from Cebu to Singapore starting November 25. To celebrate the launch of the route, AirAsia is offering promotional fares on airasia.com from as…

AirAsia announced it will operate direct flights from Cebu to Singapore starting November 25. To celebrate the launch of the route, AirAsia is offering promotional fares on airasia.com from as low as P888 for travel between November 25, 2016 and March 24, 2017. Promotional fares are up for grabs from today until October 23 only.

Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “The addition of the Cebu-Singapore route enables us to strengthen our Cebu hub and further connect Cebuanos to our Asean neighbors.”

Flight Schedule for Cebu – Singapore

Z2 7236
Cebu to Singapore / departs Cebu at 4:55 PM and arrives in Singapore at 8:30 PM / Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

Z2 7237
Singapore to Cebu / departs Singapore at 9:10 PM and arrives in Cebu at 12:55 AM / Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

airasia-singapore

Singapore Tourism Board area director for Philippines Lael Loh said, “The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) congratulates AirAsia on its newest destination milestone in the Philippines. We are excited by the opening of the new Cebu-Singapore route, which will provide more opportunities for Filipino travelers to discover, experience, and enjoy the multitude of offerings in the Lion City.”

AirAsia’s newest Cebu-Singapore announcement came two days after its executives led by its CEO Dexter Comendador with Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane and Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang arrived in Cebu last Wednesday to formally open the Cebu-Taipei route.

Comendador added, “Cebu is emerging as the fastest growing air hub outside Metro Manila and we are here to connect Cebu to Singapore, Taipei, Korea, Malaysia and onto to AirAsia Group’s massive network of over 120 destinations across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa while providing only the best quality service and products.”

Besides Singapore and Taipei, AirAsia announced earlier that it will also increase flights between Cebu and Kuala Lumpur from three to four times weekly effective 29 October. AirAsia also services direct flights from Cebu to Incheon (Seoul) in South Korea.

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). (Press Release)

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AirAsia starts Manila, Cebu flights to Taipei, offers promo fares from P888

AirAsia announced today, Sunday, that it will open direct flights to Taipei from Manila and Cebu starting next month. To celebrate the opening of the new routes, the airline offers…

AirAsia announced today, Sunday, that it will open direct flights to Taipei from Manila and Cebu starting next month.

To celebrate the opening of the new routes, the airline offers on airasia.com promo fares for as low as P888 out of Cebu and P1,488 out of Manila to Taipei for tickets bought until October 16, 2016.

The three times weekly Cebu-Taipei service will start on November 25 while the daily Manila-Taipei service will begin on November 21 this year. Travel period for the Taipei seat sale is from November 25, 2016 for Cebu and November 21, 2016 for Manila up to March 25, 2017.

“In anticipation of the influx of tourists and travellers to Taipei following the recent easing of visa rules for Filipinos, we are thrilled to announce that AirAsia is launching direct flights to Taipei from our hubs in Manila and Cebu this November with promo fares now available online and through our partner travel agents nationwide,” Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador said in a statement.

Taiwan Night Market

NIGHT MARKETS. Taipei has many night markets that have food kiosks, movie theaters, video arcades, shops, and karaoke stores. (Creative Commons photo by Tomas Fano)

Taiwan travel visa

Taiwan has made it easier for Filipinos, along with citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and India, to get a visa.

The Taiwan Economic Cultural Office (TECO) released a statement saying passport holders from the Philippines and several other countries are now eligible to apply online for a Taiwan travel authorization certificate free of charge.

The new policy applies as well to passport holders from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and those who are permanent residents of Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Schengen Agreement signatories, United Kingdom, and United States or hold a visa or a resident card from one of these countries that is either valid or expired within 10 years from the date of expected arrival in Taiwan.

More Kuala Lumpur flights

Earlier, AirAsia announced that it will add one daily flight between Manila and Kuala Lumpur starting October 30 on top of its current twice daily flights and increase flight frequency between Cebu and Kuala Lumpur from three to four times weekly effective October 29.

“Cebu is an important hub for AirAsia and we are here to offer a reliable, award-winning, world-class service at low fares that every Cebuano deserves,”
Comendador added.

AirAsia will depart daily from Manila every 11:05 p.m and arrive in Taipei at 1:10 a.m. Return flight schedule is daily at 1:35-3:45 a.m.

The Cebu to Taipei flights is every Wednesday, from 6:35 to 9:25 a.m., and from 6:10 to 9:05 a.m. every Friday and Sunday. Return flights is 10:20 a.m.-1:10 p.m. every Wednesday, 10:10 a.m.-1:00 p.m. every Friday, and 10:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m. every Sunday.

Taipei attractions

New and returning visitors to Taipei can expect to experience warm local hospitality and enjoy some or all of its iconic attractions.

Here are the top destinations in or near Taipei:

Taipei 101. This is the icon of Taipei and the city’s most prominent centre. This ultra-modern structure has 101 floors of shopping heaven, conference venues, offices, restaurants, as well as outdoor and indoor observatories. The top of the tower offers a stunning and unobstructed view of Taipei.

Night markets. There is a plethora of night markets in Taipei but the most famous is the Shilin Night Market. Food lovers can scour the 539 food kiosks in the food court offering a wide selection of cuisine. Other attractions include movie theatres, video arcades, shops, and karaoke stores.

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Built as a memorial to the former president of the Republic of China, the hall and square is now the hub for cultural events. Within the vicinity are the National Concert Hall and National Theatre, which had housed performances by Yo-yo Ma, Vienna Boys Choir, and even the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Taroko Gorge. Just a two-hour train ride from Taipei is the Taroko National Park, where the gorge is located. Taroko Gorge is known for its magnificent natural beauty and abundant supply of marble. Visitors can explore nature and many natural sights, including the Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto, and Buluowan Village.

Wufenpu. Shopaholics will wander happily around Taipei’s main wholesale garment market, which sells the latest fashion trends at bargain basement prices. The shops are open daily from morning to midnight, and haggling is a skill that will take you far when you are roaming the streets of Wufenpu.

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Filipino travelers to Hong Kong get top deals from Marco Polo hotels

The Philippines is now the second biggest travel market in Hong Kong, and the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong gives Filipinos even more reasons to visit and enjoy this Chinese city….

The Philippines is now the second biggest travel market in Hong Kong, and the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong gives Filipinos even more reasons to visit and enjoy this Chinese city.

From room upgrades to shopping discounts and free ferry rides, Filipino travelers to Hong Kong enjoy a world of privileges from the Marco Polo Hongkong, Gateway, and Prince hotels.

Samantha Poon, Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong director of communications, said their in-room guests enjoy exclusive offers across 125 lifestyle outlets at Hong Kong’s largest and most diverse shopping complex Harbour City.

Marco Polo Hongkong

MARCO POLO HONGKONG. Fantastic view of Hong Kong from the Marco Polo Hongkong.

These include such top brands as Adidas, Bally, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, Diesel, Eslite, Kate Spade New York, Max Mara, Moschino, to name a few. What makes shopping easy for those staying at Marco Polo Hongkong, Gateway, or Prince is that the hotels form part of and have easy access to Harbour City. All Philippine tourists need to do is present their room key card at participating shops.

Star Ferry 4-day pass

Philippine Mastercard holders get additional privileges at the Marco Polo hotels in Hong Kong, starting with a complimentary Star Ferry four-day pass for two persons up until December 20, 2016. Filipino travelers who use their Mastercard credit cards to book a two-night stay at any of the Marco Polo hotels get to enjoy Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour through the Star Ferry ride.

According to Poon, the Star Ferry experience has been rated first of the “top 10 most exciting ferry rides” by the Society of American Travel Writers and cited for its value for money as well as being the most convenient way to undertake the ferry crossing.

Prince Hotel Hong Kong

PRINCE HOTEL.

For the same period, Mastercard holders also get the following complimentary privileges at the Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong

  • daily breakfast for two
  • room upgrade to the next category
  • extra bed for rooms with three guests
  • handy smartphone with unlimited 3G internet and unlimited local and international calls to 5 countries, including the Philippines
  • guaranteed late checkout until 2 p.m.
Gateway Hotel Hong Kong

GATEWAY HOTEL. The Continental Club in the Gateway Hotel in Hong Kong.

Free night promo

The three Marco Polo hotels in Hong Kong are also collaborating with three sister hotels in the Philippines — Marco Polo Ortigas, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, and Marco Polo Davao — to reward corporate clients and meeting planners across the four cities.

Clients who spend a minimum of HK$70,000 in Hong Kong, P200,000 in Cebu and Davao, and P250,000 in Manila for at least 15 rooms and a meeting or banquet earn a free night at any of the six Marco Polo hotels. Booking period for this promo is from August 14 to October 31, 2016 and stay period is from August 17, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

Gateway Hotel VideoDiscover contemporary cool in the fusion of stylish comfort of Gateway Hotel in the latest hotel video, which unveils an urban sanctuary in the epicentre of Tsim Sha Shui where incredibly spacious rooms with sleek and clean design elements showcases a residential feeling.

Posted by Gateway Hotel, Marco Polo Hotels on Sunday, October 27, 2013

The free stay can go up to two nights with breakfast for two persons depending on the qualifying revenue and is valid for one year from the date of the event.

Pool said the Marco Polo Hongkong is their biggest hotel, with more harbor view rooms while Gateway is more chic and modern. Prince, on the other hand, is better suited for families.

 

More photos

 

Be On Canton in Gateway Hotel is an al fresco dining terrace on Canton Road.

Be On Canton in Gateway Hotel.

 

Three on Canton in Gateway Hotel.

Three on Canton in Gateway Hotel.

 

Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Hongkong.

Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Hongkong.

 

Marco Polo Hongkong

The view from inside one of the rooms of Marco Polo Hongkong.

 

HONG KONG VIEW. The panoramic view from inside Marco Polo Hongkong.

HONG KONG VIEW. The panoramic view from inside Marco Polo Hongkong.

 

add@Prince

add@Prince. The restaurant inside Prince “is an urban bistro, café and the ultimate buffet destination.”

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Danasan Eco Adventure Park offers fun, extreme, and nature adventure

Two specks atop a steel tower hurtle downward, their screams reverberating around the mountain camp that is the Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City. As they near ground, the two friends’ shrieks turn to whoops of triumph and relief at having survived the 130-foot swing. It’s not as if they weren’t warned, though. The name Skydrop alone suggests it would be one, long fall.

Two specks atop a steel tower hurtle downward, their screams reverberating around the mountain camp that is the Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City.

As they near ground, the two friends’ shrieks turn to whoops of triumph and relief at having survived the 130-foot swing. It’s not as if they weren’t warned, though. The name Skydrop alone suggests it would be one, long fall.

If you think trekking along a mountain trail to reach the falls is too tame, you can rappel down the flowing water or cross it in a Tyrolean traverse.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City

ATV RIDE. Danasan’s ATV ride takes you on a winding trail that are muddy and challenging in some parts.

 

You’ve visited far too many caves? Gone spelunking a few times too many? Why not up the challenge? The caves in Danasan will have you slither like a snake in some narrow parts and swim in others and are clearly not for the faint-hearted.

Extreme adventure

When it comes to extreme activities, the Danasan Eco Adventure Park has a lot to choose from.

Aside from the Skydrop, there’s the Twin Tower Adventure. You climb 60 or 120 feet up one tower, cross to the other in a high cable traverse, and rappel down the other side. This is one activity that’s sure to get your pulse racing and your heartbeat pounding.

The park, which has already developed 135 of its total 167 hectares land area, hosts waterfalls and caves. Getting to these park attractions requires riding on a modified tractor as it makes its way through a bumpy and winding dirt road on the mountainside.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park Twin Tower Adventure

TWIN TOWER ADVENTURE. Among the attractions in Danasan Eco Adventure Park is this Twin Tower Adventure where you traverse a high cable installation.

 

In Danasan, you go down not up to get to the last in a series of three waterfalls. The first waterfalls is a 10-minute walk from where the tractor ride ends. A few minutes of navigating the dry part of the riverbed will bring you to the top of the second falls. You can choose to get to the bottom through the steps carved on the hill beside it or rappel down the flowing water. The second falls also offer the Tyrolean traverse, which you accomplish by using your arms and legs to move on the high rope.

Spelunking in Danasan means donning a life vest as you go exploring; the cave is half-filled with water from the river system that connects to the waterfalls and provides the community’s supply as well. The more advance spelunkers try out a cave where they have to slide prone through a very narrow gap.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park waterfalls

WATERFALLS. There are three waterfalls you can walk to in Danasan.

 

Recreational activities

Don’t worry if you’re only after moderate fun and enjoyment, the Danasan Eco Adventure Park has something for you, too. There’s horseback riding, waterfalls trek, ATV ride, wakeboarding, rope course, or go karts.

There’s also a rope course where you get to overcome obstacles and challenges from high above ground. You can choose to do your wakeboarding in the beginner’s lake or the one for advance riders.

The park’s zipline is only a 440-meter ride and you get the added experience of going back to the starting point on horseback.

Recreational activities like volleyball, baseball, tennis, and board games are also available.

 

Danasan Eco Adventure Park crispy pata

CRISPY PATA. For lunch, we had this delicious and crunchy crispy pata.

Danasan rates

The rate for many of the extreme to moderate adventure offerings in Danasan is an affordable P380 per person.

It also has the following packages:

Barkada Package I is for a group of not less than 10, costs P1,200 per person, and already includes the entrance fee to the park, two adventure activities, lunch, and roundtrip shuttle service.

Barkada Package II is for a group of not less than eight, costs P2,350 per person, and includes overnight stay in an air-conditioned room, entrance fee, roundtrip shuttle service, and four adventure activities.

Day Use Package is P1,750 per person and includes the entrance fee, four adventure activities, use of swimming pool, and roundtrip shuttle service.

A one day pass is P1,400 per head and includes four adventure tickets.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park pool

SWIMMING POOL. The park has its own pool.

 

Park accommodations

There are varied accommodations available at the adventure park. Six air-conditioned rooms called Caida are good for four to eight persons, another six air-conditioned rooms called Mahogany good for three persons, six non-airconditioned Kawayans rooms good for three persons, as well as three dormitory type rooms that are good for 10, 14, and 26 people.

Room rates range from P1,200 (for smaller non-aircon) to P8,300 (for non-aircon dormitories) and P2,500 to P4,800 for air-conditioned rooms. Park administrator Crisanto Atamosa said they currently offer a 40 percent discount on rooms.

Danasan Eco Adventure Park rooms

ROOM PACKAGES. Danasan has various room packages with various free offerings.

 

Getting to Danasan Eco Adventure Park

The barangay of Danasan is so far off into the mountains that it’s nearer the town of Asturias than the Danao City center. According to Atamosa, it’s 27 kilometers or an hour by car to the Danasan Eco Adventure Park from City Hall. The park provides shuttle services from Parkmall in Mandaue City or the Danao City fish port to Danasan.

For booking or inquiries, call the Danasan Eco Adventure Park at: +6332 239 5654 or +63917 301 3171 or +63922 865 5779 or +63925 500 7803 (tap on numbers to call on your phone).

Danasan Eco Adventure Park cave

SPELUNKING in Danasan means donning a life vest as you go exploring; the cave is half-filled with water from the river system that connects to the waterfalls and provides the community’s supply as well.

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Aloguinsan features Bojo River, The Farmhouse, Hermit’s Cove tours

A small town located on the western seaboard of Cebu, Aloguinsan is gaining renown for its nature tours that advocate sustainable and responsible tourism. One of the notable activities for town visitors is a downstream ride on a small baroto (wooden boat) along the Bojo River as fishermen guide point out mangrove and other flora as well as bird species.

A small town located on the western seaboard of Cebu, Aloguinsan is gaining renown for its nature tours that advocate sustainable and responsible tourism.

One of the notable activities for town visitors is a downstream ride on a small baroto (wooden boat) along the Bojo River as fishermen guide point out mangrove and other flora as well as bird species.

Aside from the river cruise, the town also offers a culinary treat at its organic farm and exploration of a cove that was once home to a hermit more than a hundred years ago.

The town, which faces the island of Negros, is 72 kilometers via Toledo and 58 kilometers via Carcar from Cebu City. It is reachable by vans for hire or buses via Toledo City. Those with their own transport may take the Carcar City or Toledo City route going to Aloguinsan.

NATURE RESERVE. The Bojo River Nature Reserve covers an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora. (Photo by Boboi Costas)

NATURE RESERVE. The Bojo River Nature Reserve covers an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora. (Photo by Boboi Costas)

 

The Bojo River Village Tour

Just two kilometers from the town center of Aloguinsan is a village of local fishers and their families. They protect the Bojo River Nature Reserve, an area that includes the 1.4 kilometer-long Bojo River Nature Reserve and the surrounding environment that serves as home to 61 bird species and remarkable native flora.

The community manages the Bojo River Village Tour, which involves a ride downriver as a fisherman guide point out mangrove and bird species along the riverbank.

A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape.

Aside from the river cruise with its corresponding orientation and short lecture on mangroves and wildlife, the Bojo River Village Tour includes an ancient send-off ritual performed by a village medicine man, a mat-weaving demonstration, and a buffet lunch.

If guests request it, the community — which has organized into the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS) — can also run bird-watching tours and stage a special cultural performance with the river providing a stunning backdrop.

Green Culinary Adventure at The Farmhouse

Still in Aloguinsan, a group of local farmers has enthusiastically adopted natural farming methods to be able to produce food organically.

At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences.

It is one exciting, flavorful, and trend-setting culinary experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Aloguinsan Farmhouse

THE FARMHOUSE. At the Farmhouse, good health and sustainable living practices are raised to a new level. The restaurant uses locally grown ingredients to prepare traditional dishes that draw on Spanish and Chinese influences. (Photo by Boboi Costas)

 

This culinary adventure tour includes a walk around the vegetable farm, livestock area, chicken coop, vermiculture and tilapia pond. Guests are treated to a demonstration of how the puso (rice cooked in diamond-shaped containers made of palm leaves) is made.

Want to bring some of those fresh vegetables in season home? You get to harvest what you need through pick and pay.

The tour, which is managed by the Cultural Heritage for Aloguinsan Tourism (CHAT), ends with a mouth-watering buffet lunch.

Exploring The Hermit’s Cove

Guests can also choose to relax in a secluded cove where a hermit once made his home more than a hundred years ago. With its fine white sand and swaying palms and crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful marine life, it’s not difficult to see why he picked this bit of paradise.

Today, a community of fishermen and their families call the Baybay Cove in Kantabogon home. They celebrate through songs and stories the hermit’s exploits and extraordinary life.

Only five minutes by motorized banca from the town center, a tour of this tropical destination includes snorkelling with a local guide at the underwater garden within the 18-hectare marine protected area.

Be amazed at the majestic myriad of fishes, corals, and marine turtles that are plentiful in the area. If you’re lucky, you just might get to see some whale sharks.

Lunch is an authentic fisherman’s fare prepared the ancient Filipino seafarer’s way. Witness as well the community’s old fishing rituals and techniques and its traditional arts, and participate in handicraft-making.

Tour itineraries and structure vary, depending on weather and tide. The tour is being managed by the Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (KEA).

Aloguinsan Bojo River cruise

TREK. A 400-meter long boardwalk that cuts across the mangrove forest provides the option of going on a trek along the river. The bamboo boardwalk connects to a 150-step natural trail carved on a hillside that leads to a gazebo overlooking the river landscape. (Photo by Boboi Costas)

 

Aloguinsan eco-tour rates

Walk-in package is P400 per head and includes river cruise and swimming.

The full tour package is P650 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch along the Bojo River, snacks at The Farmhouse, handicraft demo, river cruise, and swimming.

A student package is P850 per head for a minimum of five persons. This includes a welcome lei, welcome drinks, lunch at The Farmhouse, snacks along the Bojo River, handicraft demo, river cruise, swimming, and a tour of heritage sites such as the baluarte (heritage park), old stone church, and parola.

Interested in any of these tours? For booking or inquiries, call the Tourism Office at (+6332) 469-9041, Rudney at 0905-913 3055, Jamaia at 0922-658 0094 or 0949-375 8978, or Jerry at 0917-730 9757. It is recommended that guests book at least two days ahead. You can also contact the community through their Facebook page.

Getting to Aloguinsan

There are several transport services from Cebu City to Aloguinsan, including a van for hire, rent-a-car, and bus, going to Toledo City. You can also bring your own transport and take the Toledo City or Carcar City routes. Travel time is around two hours.

Where to stay

The accommodations in Aloguinsan are in or near the town center. These include:

Almaxi’s Apartelle
0910-429 9687

Lunhaw Resort
Call: 0920-118 3050 or 0922-395 7519

You may also want to experience homestay accommodation of which the town has plenty to offer.

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Swim in blue seas, zip or dive from a cliff in Funtastic Island Medellin

Funtastic Island is part of Gibitngil, an island-barangay gifted with sparkling waters, vast coral reefs, long stretch of sand beaches, a picturesque sand bar and rock formations reminiscent of those in Coron, Palawan.

Three hours of land trip plus another 15 minutes of boat ride take a traveler from Cebu City to Funtastic Island in the town of Medellin in northern Cebu.

Funtastic Island is part of Gibitngil, an island-barangay gifted with sparkling waters, vast coral reefs, long stretch of sand beaches, a picturesque sand bar and rock formations reminiscent of those in Coron, Palawan.

Aside from the natural sceneries, Funtastic Island also boasts of several activities for the thrill-seekers such as a cliff-to-rock zipline, kayaking and snorkeling.

But the most challenging that the island offers is the 40-foot cliff diving platform, hailed Adventure of the Year for 2014 by ABS-CBN’s local magazine show MagTV.

The attraction, whose development is part of the town’s efforts to step up its tourism initiatives, has been attracting hundreds of local and foreign tourists, making Medellin one of the Department of Tourism’s top 10 most visited municipalities in Central Visayas for two years now.

Funtastic Island Medellin

GREAT VIEW. Funtastic Island is part of Gibitngil, an island-barangay gifted with sparkling waters, vast coral reefs, long stretch of sand beaches, a picturesque sand bar and rock formations. (Photo provided by Medellin local government)

Getting there

If you’re coming from Cebu City, take a bus for Kawit, Medellin at the North Bus Terminal in the North Reclamation Area. To avoid the metro traffic, it’s highly advised that you travel early in the morning. The ride, which costs P135, should take you to Kawit in more or less three and a half hours.

Travel time is much shorter for those who travel by private vehicle.

Kawit is a barangay that sits on the east coast. As soon as you arrive in Kawit’s public market, you only have to walk a few meters to the coast where pump boats wait to ferry passengers to Funtastic Island.

Rates may vary, depending on the size of the boat and the number of passengers being ferried, but town officials earlier announced that a boat operator should not charge more than P1,500 for a back-and-forth ride, good for at most 10 people. It should take around 15 minutes to cross to Funtastic Island from the mainland.

Funtastic Island Medellin

ZIPLINE FROM A CLIFF. A cliff-to-rock zipline is one of the activities offered to thrill-seekers by the Funtastic Island in Medellin. (Photo provided by the Medellin local government)

What to do in Funtastic Island, Medellin

Welcome to the island! As soon as you step down the boat, you have to pay the P10 entrance fee. Cottage rental ranges from P100 to P250. There is no corkage for food and drinks. A grill area is also provided, free of charge. Now, here are the things that you can do to make your stay worthwhile:

1. Swim, swim, swim

A lot of travelers relish at the sight of the island’s unadulterated seawaters fit for a swim. Funtastic Island’s beachfront is not that wide, but there is much room for kids and those afraid of depths to still enjoy the water. Make sure to bring your goggles to see the fish underneath.

2. Go a little extreme

You may zip your way from the top of the cliff down to a rock just near the cottages. Cost: P50. Unlike many ziplines, this one is unique because all you see when you look down is water. There’s no point getting scared of falling…even if you don’t know how to swim, you are fully equipped with a life jacket.

Kayaking services are also available at P150 per hour rental charge on equipment.

Funtastic Island Medellin

Ride a kayak in Funtastic Island Medellin. (Photo provided by Medellin local government)

Cliff diving

But if you want to up the ante, you should do the famous cliff diving. Climb your way 40 feet to the topmost part of the rock, stand on the suspended platform and get ready for the big splash. This could be a little discomforting to those who have fears and heart problems but the experience is all worth it. For beginners, make sure you have a soft landing, okay?

3. Take an island trek

If there’s more time to hang around, there’s a road that cuts through the island and takes you to the heart of it. It’s an inhabited island so the trek should not be that spooky.

You are expected to find sibuyas plantation within the island, as well as little villages. If you’re lucky enough, you may chance upon fishermen who just came from their trade and buy the fresh catch from them at cheaper prices.

Funtastic Island Medellin

Medellin is one of the Department of Tourism’s top 10 most visited municipalities in Central Visayas for two years now.

Standing on the elevated part of the island also allows you to witness the beautiful sunset.

For bookings and inquiries, you may contact the local government of Medellin at 09176236248 (tap on number to call on your phone), 09328667661, 4362031 and 4362959.

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Camping out on Basdako beach in Moalboal

Sand is not the most comfortable of beds but our weekend camp-out on White Beach or Basdako in Moalboal, Cebu had its benefits. It was cheap as a tent cost…

Sand is not the most comfortable of beds but our weekend camp-out on White Beach or Basdako in Moalboal, Cebu had its benefits.

It was cheap as a tent cost only P500 to rent, afforded us a front seat to a spectacular view of the night sky, and gave us first crack at the morning sea.

What’s even better was that all of us, kids in our party included, had a lot of fun.

Moalboal White Beach

Moalboal’s Basdako or White Beach is a long stretch of coast covered with fine white sand. It hosts a lot of cottages and resorts that offer a range of accommodations, from spartan to luxurious.

In our previous trips to Basdako in Barangay Saavedra, Moalboal, Cebu, we stayed in resorts like Hale Manna and Barefoot so it was our first camp-out experience on the beach.

CAMPING ON THE BEACH. You can rent tents for P500 a night and camp out in Basdako or White Beach in Moalboal. (Photo by Max Limpag)

CAMPING ON THE BEACH. You can rent tents for P500 a night and camp out in Basdako or White Beach in Moalboal. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Since our party of seven adults, four teenagers, and eight children travelled on a weekend to Moalboal with no prior reservation for a room, we went directly to White Beach to find somewhere to stay for the night.

Moalboal town center

The 100-kilometer drive to the Cebu town from Lapu-Lapu City took us close to three hours, including a short time spent at Molave Milk Station in Barili to stretch our legs.

From the Moalboal town center, we proceeded another six kilometers to Basdako. Along the way, we stopped by a barangay outpost to pay a P5 charge for each person in our party, small kids included.

Upon arriving at a public area of White Beach, where the cottages are located, the adults in our party had to pay P10 each and a parking fee of P60 for both vehicles.

Austere accomodation

We were able to get a cottage for only P1,200 but it was austere at most. It had one medium-sized bed, a fan, and a comfort room but it was not clean. You had to buy water for your toilet and shower needs at P25 per container.

What we did was use the common toilets and shower rooms for a fee per use.

Since we couldn’t fit in the room, some us decided to rent tents. We saw some group with their tents already up and thought it would be a great idea to sleep out under the stars.

WHITE BEACH. Basdako in Moalboal is one of the best white sand beach coastlines in Cebu. This one's at the public beach area. (Photo by Max Limpag)

WHITE BEACH. Basdako in Moalboal is one of the best white sand beach coastlines in Cebu. This one’s at the public beach area. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Camping out on the beach

My husband and I and our two kids decided a tent would be fun so camped out we did. All the sleeping bags were taken so we made do with oversized beach scarves and towels.

Down on the sand with only the tent and thin piece of cloth between you is not the most comfortable of arrangements but we still managed to get a good night’s sleep after a wonderful swim in the warm sea.

We had a lot of company on the beach in the huge number of tents put up. Others lay down on mats in the open.

Starry sky

While we were grilling our dinner on the beachfront, there was a power outage. Locals say the outages are common but they only last an hour or so.

It happened while we were cooking so there were exclamations of exasperation.

One of the children silenced us by saying ‘look’ and pointing at the sky. Up there, with the electricity out, is a black sky twinkling with a million stars and it was the most beautiful sight we’ve seen in a long time.

Getting there

You can choose to drive or commute by bus to Moalboal. Buses leave for the southwestern town of Cebu several times daily from the South Bus Terminal in Cebu City.

Bus fare is a little over a hundred pesos. Passengers pay a fee of five pesos each at the terminal.

If you have time, take a side trip to Barangay Matutinao in Badian. It is one town farther away and home of the popular Kawasan Falls.

Moalboal's Basdako or White Beach is a long stretch of coast covered with fine white sand. It hosts a lot of cottages and resorts that offer a range of accommodations, from spartan to luxurious.

Moalboal’s Basdako or White Beach is a long stretch of coast covered with fine white sand. It hosts a lot of cottages and resorts that offer a range of accommodations, from spartan to luxurious. (Photo by Max Limpag)

5 Comments on Camping out on Basdako beach in Moalboal

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