Re/Discovering Cebu, one story at a time

Cathay to fly Hong Kong-Davao City route 4 times weekly

The Cathay Pacific Group today announced that its regional airline, Cathay Dragon, will launch a four-times-weekly service to Davao City from October 28. The new route, the only non-stop flight…

The Cathay Pacific Group today announced that its regional airline, Cathay Dragon, will launch a four-times-weekly service to Davao City from October 28. The new route, the only non-stop flight between Hong Kong and Davao City, will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Cathay Pacific Group has served the Philippines since 1946, Cathay Pacific’s inaugural year of operations. Davao City will be its fourth destination in the country, complementing existing services to Manila, Cebu and Clark.

Cathay Pacific Country Manager Philippines Rob Bradshaw said the new services reflect the group’s commitment to growing its reach, providing customers with more choice and options when connecting through the airlines’ hub to over 200 destinations in its network.

Cathay Davao-Hong Kong

PREMIUM EXPERIENCE. Cathay Pacific Country Manager Philippines Rob Bradshaw, in announcing the new services in Davao, said that “with our renowned signature service and convenient schedule, customers will be assured of a premium experience when they travel with us.” The photo shows Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the country that is located in Davao.

“We have a rich and robust history of serving the Philippines and we are thrilled today to grow our presence to Davao, our fourth destination in the country,” he said. “With our renowned signature service and convenient schedule, customers will be assured of a premium experience when they travel with us. Through the efficient and passenger friendly Hong Kong hub, the world is now one step closer to our customers in Mindanao.”

The flight schedule for the Hong Kong – Davao City (DVO) service starting October 28, 2018 is as follows:

Flight No. KA347 / HKG – DVO / Departure 1235, Arrival 1550 / Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays
Flight No. KA348 / DVO – HKG / Departure 1650, Arrival 2000 / Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays

Already this year, the Cathay Pacific Group has launched services to Nanning, Jinan and Brussels. Other new routes to take-off in 2018 include Dublin (June) and Washington (September), as well as seasonal services to Copenhagen (May) and Cape Town (November). (Press Release)

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My PayMaya experience: Sticking to a budget in Hong Kong

Luck had me traveling to Hong Kong twice this year, one for a trip long planned since last year, the other for a complimentary hotel stay that had to be…

Luck had me traveling to Hong Kong twice this year, one for a trip long planned since last year, the other for a complimentary hotel stay that had to be availed of by May.

onthego-icon Foreign trips cost money and I was traveling with women friends in a shopping mecca that is Hong Kong. For that second trip last June, I realized I needed to carefully watch how much I spend.

It wasn’t easy but I managed to create a budget and stick to it, thanks in large part to my PayMaya Visa app and card. The PayMaya app, which comes with a Visa card, is a prepaid digital payment solution created by PayMaya Philippines, Inc. – the digital financial unit of PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc.

Even before our trip, my PayMaya Visa app solved problems over how to pay for our AirBNB accommodations. Our apartment in the heart of Mong Kok was affordable but we ran up quite a total since our stay was for five nights. It would be an imposition to charge the whole amount to any of our credit cards so we each paid for our share and I deposited the amount in my PayMaya account and used it to pay for our stay.

PayMaya purchases

In Hong Kong, using PayMaya was easy breezy. I deposited my shopping budget for this trip in my PayMaya account and used my card to keep track of purchases. The PayMaya app gave me a real-time tally complete with the total cost in Hong Kong dollars and equivalent amount in Philippine peso plus my remaining balance.

One good thing about using PayMaya was that it pegged the conversion at the prevailing exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar against the Philippine peso for that particular period.

Almost all establishments in Hong Kong, from convenience stores like 7-Eleven and souvenir stalls even in faraway Ngong Ping Village in Hong Kong’s Lantau Island to big retail outlets in malls, accept credit cards and PayMaya as well, since it is set up like one. The only difference is you need to have money in your PayMaya account to pay for your purchases and not rack up credit.

Some shops even recognize my PayMaya Visa card for the prepaid payment facility that it is. While many required my signature on the receipt, a few like the Starbucks at the check-in area of Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 2 didn’t see the need for it.

PayMaya travel

TRAVEL WITH PAYMAYA. Using the PayMaya app and card, I was able to create a travel budget and stick to it in a recent trip with friends to Hong Kong.

Payment notifications

I started using my PayMaya in February this year and loved the convenience of topping up through the Cliq machine at 7-Eleven. I input my mobile number and load amount at the machine and out comes a slip of paper that the cashier can scan. Immediately after paying, I get notification through SMS that a particular amount has been loaded to my PayMaya account. The whole process takes from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the line at the counter.

In Cebu and the rest of the Philippines, I’m also notified by SMS every time I make a purchase of my remaining balance since my PayMaya account is tied to my mobile number.

If I had set my phone to roaming in Hong Kong, I would have gotten the same text messages. Since I didn’t, I just access this information by logging on to my PayMaya app.

As someone who belongs to a digital publishing startup that can work anywhere from co-working spaces to cafes and coffee shops, my PayMaya has also become a convenient way to track daily personal and work-related expenses.

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AirAsia offers low fares in seat sale

Travel to amazing destinations with AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale that gives travellers access to over a hundred local and international destinations across 22 countries. AirAsia, together with its long-haul,…

Travel to amazing destinations with AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale that gives travellers access to over a hundred local and international destinations across 22 countries.

AirAsia, together with its long-haul, low-cost affiliate carrier AirAsia X are offering three million promo seats for travel to popular local destinations like Kalibo, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban and Manila and international destinations like Korea, Malaysia, China, Macau, and Hong Kong.

air-asia-red-hot-sale

The airline’s seat sale starts at P1.00 base fare, excluding applicable taxes and fees. Booking period is from March 7 to 13, 2016 on www.airasia.com as well as AirAsia’s mobile site mobile.airasia.com. Travel period is from October 1, 2016 to May 22, 2017.

“This time around, we are pleased to offer three million promotional seats. Guests may grab this perfect opportunity to make advance travel plans and enjoy extra value for their money. We have introduced many new and undiscovered routes throughout the region and grabbing a promo seat is the best way to discover new destinations,” said AirAsia Group chief commercial officer Siegtraund Teh.

AirAsia X destinations

“Guests from around the region can take advantage of our Fly-Thru service to connect to many exciting AirAsia X destinations such as Auckland, Sapporo, Tokyo, Gold Coast, Sydney and more. In conjunction with this special promotion, AirAsia X’s Premium Flatbed to all AirAsia X destinations are also on sale,” he added.

AirAsia BIG members and AirAsia BIG Prepaid MasterCard cardholders can earn 1 AirAsia BIG points for every P28 spent while booking the promo seats on www.airasia.com. Bargain hunters can also save up to 50% and more when they book their hotel with promo seats on www.airasiago.com.

Philippines AirAsia Commercial head Gerard Peñaflor said, ”With AirAsia’s massive network in the whole of ASEAN and extending as far as India, Japan and China, we offer guests the convenience of connecting seamlessly and at the same time ensuring that they enjoy only the best quality service from us. Filipinos traveling from Manila, Cebu and Kalibo to Korea, China, Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong would be thrilled to know that Red Hot One-Peso seat sale also include these amazing destinations.”

Red Hot P1 Seat Sale

For added convenience, AirAsia strongly encourages guests to pre-book their baggage allowance at the time of flight booking to enjoy the lowest rate.

Alternatively, guests can use the “Manage My Booking” function to pre-book or add more baggage allowance at airasia.com up to four hours before the scheduled time of departure.

Keep updated with AirAsia’s latest promotions and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (AirAsiaPhilippines) and Instagram (@AirAsiaPH).

The Red Hot P1 Seat Sale is for base fare only and does not include airport taxes, fees and other optional services.

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Quiet corners and busy streets, cold mountain and hot tea: our Hong Kong of contradictions

There we were, frozen and shivering on a long line that snaked around a lonely bus stop in a cold mountain spot in Hong Kong, and there was no bus….

onthego-icon There we were, frozen and shivering on a long line that snaked around a lonely bus stop in a cold mountain spot in Hong Kong, and there was no bus. A digital sign gave a countdown of the 15-minute interval before the next one comes. It was an eternity of waiting.

A thick fog had descended on everything at the Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island’s Ngong Ping Plateau. It had worsened to the point that you couldn’t make out anything beyond a few meters.

The trees and vegetation, monastery temples, cafes and tea house, Big Buddha, and just about everything else were shrouded in a heavy mist. I could hear people talking nearby but I couldn’t see them. It took us a good 10 minutes to look for the bus stop when it was only around a hundred or so meters away from where we exited Po Lin.

At the long line for the bus that extended way beyond the waiting shed, the rain had changed from a drizzle to a torrent. The wintry chill had numbed my gloved hands and feet encased in socks and boots, and my nose felt like a hard slab on my face. It was so bitterly cold, we could see our every breath.

Hong Kong Po Lin Monastery

PO LIN MONASTERY. It was blanketed in freezing mist during our visit.

Big Buddha Po Lin Monastery

268 STEPS to the Big Buddha or the Tian Tan Buddha in the Po Lin Monastery at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. You could barely make out the giant statue in the mist.

Big Buddha Po Lin Monastery

TIAN TAN BUDDHA. The Big Buddha was built in 1993 and draws pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. We could barely make out the figure amidst the mist during our visit.

Chilly Ngong Ping

A German husband, with two kids in tow, was letting off steam at the bus stop. I didn’t understand his words but knew enough from his expression, side glances at his wife, and the reference to “Big Buddha” that he wasn’t pleased by the decision to go there. It was a painful trip even for people used to harsh winters.

Despite the agony of the numbing cold, I consider the Ngong Ping visit one of the highlights of our recent Hong Kong trip. The Po Lin Monastery is a common enough attraction in Hong Kong but the cold surge turned a humdrum experience into an extraordinary one.

Hong Kong Po Lin Monastery

PO LIN MONASTERY. In front one of the temples in the monastery.

Hong Kong Po Lin Monastery

MISTY MOUNTAIN. One of the statues at Po Lin Monastery.

As we went from temple to temple at Po Lin, stopped for hot tea and pastries and corn, checked out the shops at Ngong Ping village, climbed 268 steps to the Big Buddha, and stood at the long queue for the bus going down, with the harsh chill spreading on my skin and squeezing flesh and bone, there were times I feared my ability to withstand the cold.

But it is the experiences that bring us the greatest challenge that are also the most unforgettable. Still, the sight of the Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung, where we started the long trip by bus all the way up to Ngong Ping, provided me not just a little bit of relief.

Hong Kon Star Ferry

STAR FERRY TERMINAL. This is where you board the ferry that will take you to Hong Kong Central.

Hong Kong Star Ferry

HONG KONG ICON. The Star Ferry brings you to Hong Kong Central from the Tsim Sha Tsui district.

Hong Kong street markets

The rest of Hong Kong was tame by comparison. We didn’t follow a set itinerary but let the whim take us where it would.

Exploring Harbour City, Hong Kong’s largest mall, was a natural consequence of our stay at the Gateway Hotel of the Marco Polo chain of hotels in Hong Kong. From there, we stumbled upon the Clock Tower and Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade by accident.

We made the short ferry crossing between Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong Island once or twice, got lost a few times until we were able to work out the mass transit railway (MTR) system, and sampled restaurant and street food along the way. Tried the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan and Mido Cafe in Yau Ma Tei because they came highly recommended but we stumbled upon other local establishments that served tastier fare.

Temple Street Market Hong Kong

TEMPLE STREET. This part of Hong Kong turns into a night market after dusk and offers a wide range of products for the intrepid shopper: from trinkets such as ref magnets to clothes, cellphones and accessories, various electronic products, chopsticks, among a myriad of products.

Temple Street Night Market

LEATHER NOTEBOOKS on sale on the Temple Street Night Market.

Hong Kong Apliu street flea market

ELECTRONICS and other gadgets are on sale on the Ap Liu Street Market. This is where we finally found what we have long been looking for: a boom microphone that you can attach to cell phones.

STREET FOOD. Old school noodles on the street that sells the latest gadgets.

STREET FOOD. Old school noodles on the street that sells the latest gadgets.

Transferring to Dorsett in Mongkok brought us nearer to the famous Temple Street Night Market, Ladies’ Market, and electronics bargains on Ap Liu Street.

We didn’t always follow the natural order of tours. So many people lining up for the tram to Victoria Peak? We used the bus and just tried the Peak Tram on our way down.

Place of contradictions

Taking out the rigid preparations from the equation made our trip much more flexible. Getting lost was not always a bad thing.

It was out on the streets, on foot, that we discovered Hong Kong, and it wasn’t always the spotlessly clean and modern Admiralty, Central, and Soho or the Canton Road littered with global brands like Hermes and Prada. It wasn’t just Causeway Bay with its ode to retail heaven.

Hong Kong Victoria Peak

VICTORIA PEAK. This is where you can have the best view of Hong Kong.

Victoria Peak Tram Hong Kong

PEAK TRAM. This Victorian-era tram offers a scenic and exciting experience as you head to or from Victoria Peak. Lines, however, can be long and a better option, which we took, was to head to the peak by bus and ride the tram, by then with fewer passengers, on the way down from the peak.

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

ZOOLOGICAL AND BOTANICAL GARDENS. This is one of the must-visit places when in Hong Kong. This is at the entrance.

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

NATURE PANORAMA. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens is surrounded by large, lush, and colorful trees.

Hong Kong Botanical Garden

GREENHOUSE. One of the many types of flowers in the greenhouse inside the botanical garden.

Hong Kong was also about streets in Kowloon lined with stalls where whole pigs and roasted ducks hung on hooks while wonton or noodle soup simmered in pots. It was an avalanche of people rushing along Nathan Road or the railway stations.

Sometimes, it was a quiet corner made up of two or three old people sharing a friendly moment or a back alley turned momentarily into a soup kitchen.

A place is also about the people you experience it with. Our Hong Kong, that is Max’s and mine, was a contradiction of sorts: immaculate and stained, prosperous and broken, but always a hotbed of vigor and purpose.

Snapshots of Hong Kong

Mong Kok street market

A street market in the Mong Kok district.

Citygate Outlets Hong Kong

CHINESE NEW YEAR SALE. The Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung offered huge discounts as part of the Chinese New Year sale.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL. This Ferris Wheel dominates the view in this part of Central in Hong Kong.

Ti Ho Wan HongKong

TIM HO WAN. This renowned restaurant started out as a hole-in-the-wall eatery that grew into a food outlet featured in the Michelin guide.

Jardine House Hong Kong

WE LOVED the food (and its huge servings) in Deli and Wine in Jardine House in Central.

FRIED BUNS. These fried buns served by a newly opened small shop across the street from Gateway Hotel were yummy.

FRIED BUNS. These fried buns served by a newly opened small shop across the street from Gateway Hotel were yummy.

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Gateway Continental Club brings extra level of service to hotel guests

Travel to another country can be intimidating but our recent trip to Hong Kong was smooth all throughout, thanks in large part to a complimentary two-night stay at Gateway of the Marco Polo chain of hotels in Hong Kong.

onthego-icon Travel to another country can be intimidating but our recent trip to Hong Kong was smooth all throughout, thanks in large part to a complimentary two-night stay at Gateway of the Marco Polo chain of hotels in Hong Kong.

We took an early morning flight from Cebu and Gateway Hotel checked us in because our room was ready even if it was still 10 a.m.

Though we were willing to wait for the 2 p.m. check-in time, having access to your room early when you’re tired from waking up early to catch your flight and navigating the streets of a foreign country to get to your hotel is a big bonus.

Samantha Poon, Marco Polo Hotels-Hong Kong director of communications, told us beforehand in an email that we were being upgraded to a deluxe room at the Continental Club but we didn’t really know what that meant until we arrived.

Gateway exceptional service

The Continental Club of Gateway offers exceptional service and an extra level of convenience, with a host of benefits and privileges thrown in for good measure.

Our remarkable time in Hong Kong begins with a welcome fruit basket and complimentary drinks that we hardly had to time to finish when these were again replenished.

Gateway Continental Club Marco Polo Hong Kong

CONTINENTAL CLUB LOUNGE offers guests of Gateway Hotel of the Marco Polo chain complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktail, and all-day snacks and drinks.

 

Continental Club rooms and suites are located on the 14th to 16th floors of the hotel and have exclusive access to the Continental Club Lounge where there is complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktail, and all-day snacks and drinks.

For someone who is not very adventurous when it comes to food, I appreciated the mix of Western and local cuisine that we had access to at the lounge. When we were tired from all the walking and touring that we did, there was always the hotel food to perk us up.

Gateway Continental Club Marco Polo Hong Kong

Continental Club Lounge.

Gateway Continental Club

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Gateway Continental Club Lounge perks

Since our trip came at a time when we had to coordinate coverage of a big event back home, Gateway’s Continental Club Lounge was a life saver. Getting in touch with the team in Cebu from Hong Kong’s Gateway Hotel was easy with free and fast connectivity. The lounge was an ideal workspace, with plush furniture and unlimited drinks and coffee.

Even out in the streets of Hong Kong, we were really never out of touch. Gateway provides in each of its room a handy, a mobile phone that you can bring with you when you go exploring. It comes with free unlimited 3G mobile internet and you can turn into into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The phone also offers free unlimited calls to five countries including the Philippines, a city guide, and exclusive deals on tickets to attractions.

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Taking into account that this was Hong Kong, our deluxe room was surprisingly spacious and comfortable. Our window had a view of the harbor and other high-rise buildings in the vicinity of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Gateway is part of Harbour City, Hong Kong’s largest shopping complex, so you get easy access to such top global brands as Prada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Givenchy, Armani, Balenciaga, Chanel, Bvlgari, Tissot and the like.

If I have to pick what I really missed about our trip, I would have to say Gateway Hotel because it was the closest thing to home in that Chinese city that is Hong Kong.

Gateway Continental Club

WORKPLACE ON A VACATION. With fast connectivity, comfortable furniture and unlimited drinks and coffee, Gateway’s Continental Club Lounge is the best option for business travelers.

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SilkAir celebrates Singapore Airlines 50th year with Cebu seat sale, other perks

SilkAir celebrates the 50-year milestone of Singapore Airlines (SIA) with great fares and special perks for travel from the Philippines to over 50 destinations around the world. The regional wing of Singapore Airlines is set to hold the SilkAir Travel Fair from February 19-21, 2016 at Ayala Center Cebu with all-inclusive round trip promo fares starting from just US$150.

SilkAir celebrates the 50-year milestone of Singapore Airlines (SIA) with great fares and special perks for travel from the Philippines to over 50 destinations around the world.

The regional wing of Singapore Airlines is set to hold the SilkAir Travel Fair from February 19-21, 2016 at Ayala Center Cebu with all-inclusive round trip promo fares starting from just US$150.

“We are excited to bring our largest countrywide travel sale to our Filipino customers. Aside from the promotional fares, the perks we have lined up are not something you find in other travel fairs,” said SilkAir Philippines manager Garesh Perumal.

The seat sale is valid for purchase from February 1 to 29, 2016 at the SilkAir offices in Cebu, Davao, and Kalibo, Singapore Airlines offices in Manila, or during the travel fairs scheduled in Cebu and Manila, he added. Travel period is up to December 31, 2016.

SilkAir Travel Fair Cebu seat sale

LARGEST COUNTRYWIDE TRAVEL SALE. SilkAir Philippines manager Garesh Perumal (right) says the perks they are offering “are not something you find in other travel fairs.” With him is Julienne Irene Chiong of BPI.

 

SilkAir Cebu seat sale, SIA promo fares

All-in round trip Economy Class fares to Singapore are available from just US$150 and to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong from just US$200, according to SilkAir senior sales officer Kristine Aguilar-Lim.

SilkAir seat sale to Japan and Korea start from US$400, to Australia from US$600, to Europe at US$880, and to New Zealand and the US from only US$950 for Economy Class.

Aguilar said SIA continues to innovate so it can offer something new to passengers. This year, the airline welcomes its first A350 on July 27 which can also offer the Premium Economy Class to passengers.

Rolled out last year, the Premium Economy Class offers passengers a refreshed experience with its wider and plusher seats, she added. Promo fares on this class to passengers traveling to Delhi and Mumbai start from just US$1,200, to Sydney from just US$1,350, to Auckland from $US1,800, and to Europe and US from US$1,850.

Large flight network

SIA has also opened four times weekly flights to Canberra, Australia that connect to Wellington in New Zealand. According to Aguilar, they call this the Capital Express leg.

She added that the combined network of SilkAir and SIA reach over 100 cities around the world. From the Philippines, SilkAir and SIA fly passengers from Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, and Manila and connect them to a huge international network.

SIA has also expanded its reach in northern and central Europe and flies an extensive network of flights in the Southwest Pacific.

BPI special offer

For the travel fair in Cebu, SilkAir partnered with BPI to offer the zero percent special installment plan of up to six months and a minor add-on rate of .79 percent for those who opt for the nine to 36 months package.

Mae Ann Barcena, BPI Cards marketing manager, said selected cardholders may also avail themselves of a special offer that doubles their credit limit when they use their BPI cards during the travel fair.

On top of this, cardholders get US$50 back for the purchase of two tickets beyond Singapore or four tickets to Singapore for the same itinerary.

Travel fair perks

Other perks from SIA and SilkAir include a Singapore Explorer Pass that provides travelers access to over 20 different attractions, including the Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer, and a stopover holiday package for those traveling beyond Singapore. The package includes a one-night hotel accommodation, return airport transfers, and admission to popular attractions.

Customers bound for countries beyond Singapore can also redeem a complimentary SGD20 Changi Dollar Voucher that they can use in participating establishments at the Changi Airport.

The SilkAir and SIA promo fares come with a generous baggage allowance of 30 kilograms for Economy, 35 kg for Premium, and 40 kg for Business Class.

To book, visit the travel fairs or the SilkAir ticket offices in Cebu, Kalibo, Davao and SIA ticket office in Manila.

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