22 January 2016

My 2015 Travels: #Thankful

My 2015 travels, local and abroad, has been truly blessed and I am very thankful for these opportunities. Not only was I exposed to different cultures but these experiences, or memories, will be deeply embedded in my mind and to be cherished every time I take a look back at my life's events.

So, here they are:



January 15 when Pope Francis landed in Manila for his official Papal visit. The days that he was here were proclaimed holidays and I was so thankful for that because I got the chance to see him and be one with everybody who wanted to do the same. The experience was physically trying, endured hours of walking and standing under the elements, but that did not deter a person whose heart and mind are set up for a big event. 

I stood up almost 3 hours along EspaƱa Avenue but did not see him so we transferred to another street where we heard that Pope Francis would pass by there. And we were not disappointed, we did see him. I teared up, together with a friend, and we felt so #blessed.
Viva Il Papa!



I have been to Cebu so many times but I always come back. There are so many things to do and so many places to explore. For this trip, 80% of the itinerary was a first for me: seeing the whale sharks ( I jumped in the water even if I was so scared), appreciating the beauty of the Kawasan and Mantayupan falls and finally trying the Edge Coaster Ride at the top of Crowne Plaza. It was all worth the body pain!
Big yet  gentle
Best efforts for a picture-worthy shot. Thanks to Beng's camera for these.
Kawasan Falls. The 20-minute trek was relaxing and the end point was so worth it. And the raft ride was amazing! The massage we got from the falls was hard but cool to experience.
The first falls of Mantayupan that measures at 98 meters.
The second falls that measures 14 meters.
The Edge Coaster!


Like what the song says, "..There's no place like Manila..I keep coming back to Manila". And one of the places that I always like to re-visit is Intramuros, with it's old world charm that speaks so much about our history and culture and at the same time, very serene and relaxing.



My second time but this time I have with me my family. I basically revisited the places that I have been to last 2012 but did so much more because I already had ideas what to add to the itinerary. It was so tiring due to all the foot activity but worth it.

Love this family photo taken by Disneyland's photographer, and without charge.
First time to ride the Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin where the flooring was clear and you can see everything down under. The first 5 minutes was great but the next 20 minutes were so foggy so it was zero visibility. But it was still a fun ride. 

Yup, there it is, the fog that enveloped the Ngong Ping Village so we were not able to see the TianTan Buddha. Not even its shadow.


My second time here but this time around, I was able to do a different itinerary compared to the first visit. For starters, we got a tour guide so we were able to see the top landmarks with a car in tow which was very convenient. And instead of going again to the Venetian Hotel, we went to the MGM Grand and the Wynn Hotel.  
You simply cannot miss the St. Paul Ruins
Lots of tourists!
At the MGM Grand
Macau nightscape



I am always fascinated with old churches and if I can only make a checklist of all those grand ones here in the Philippines, I would do so.
Finally revisited the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan. It has been more than 5 years since I last stepped foot here.
The historical Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. I was mesmerized, both with the indoor and outdoor design.


My first time in the US! And I spent 23 days here which was enough for me because I was able to spend quality time with relatives and saw a lot of sights too.

1. San Francisco, California

We flew in to San Francisco first and I was ecstatic to finally see the places that I have seen on movies and online only. I pinched myself several times to see if I was just dreaming but I was definitely not!
The Golden Gate Bridge. Was able to see it from both sides. I wish I had more time to walk along it's entire length just for the sheer experience of it.
The world's most crooked street, Lombard Street! 
This mosaic stairs was pure love! I've seen this online and I said to myself that if I got the chance to go to SFO, I will hunt this down. And I did! Even my relatives was not aware of this piece of attraction which made it more special.
At Union Square smack in the middle of downtown SFO.
It was near November when we went in the US so it was pumpkin season. We just passed by the patch and we just had to take a picture. 

2. Los Angeles, California

From NorCal, we took the long drive going to Los Angeles which is in SoCal. The drive took us around 9 hours because of a long traffic approaching LA. There are so many things to do and visit here. I did a lot of tourist-y stuff and my wanderlust of a soul sang happy tunes.
At the TCL Chinese Theater to see the hand and footprints of famous Hollywood stars. The Walk of Fame was fun too because you're in the hunt to look for the stars of your favorite actors.
A very hot day at the Universal Studios Hollywood. I spent a total of 12 hours here in one day. Whew! Tiring but fun.
Taken at a yacht club somewhere in Santa Monica or Venice Beach. I don't recall since I went here with high school friends and just having fun with all the catch-up stuff.
Hello, Disneyland Park! 
Had a whopping total of 14 rides done in a span of 8 hours. Have to thank my cousin Portia for navigating us successfully through the rides so we were not in line for too long. Thanks, Fast Pass too! 
At the Arts District in Downtown LA where almost every nook and cranny has awesome graffitis. Had a lot of photo ops here. 
LA is love!
And I finally saw the sign! 

3. Arizona

To finally saw a desert was a tick checked in my travel list. Yes!
The welcome weather was at 43 Celsius. You can see in my face that I wanted to get back to the car immediately, Welcome to Arizona!
My uncle told me that I should go hug a cactus, and I did! 
San Xavier Del Bac in Tucson, a historical Spanish church. It was built in the late 1700s which makes this the oldest European structure in Arizona. The inside was equally impressive with the outside facade. 
The Hoover Dam, a man-made modern wonder. How I wished I had the extra time to take the tour. Oh well, that is for next time, I guess. My mom said that the water level is very low compared to her last visit here. 
4. Las Vegas, Nevada

Hello, Sin City! Too bad my camera broke down here in Vegas but at least I have my sturdy cellphone to trust my memories with. 
Downtown Las Vegas. We stayed at the Fremont Hotel for 2 nights and it was surrounded by so many activities so it was such an experience. People dressed weirdly, doing stuff and some crazies and a lot of them just having the time of their lives.I hoped to try the zipline but I suddenly felt my penny-pinching self stop my hands from reaching inside the wallet because the trip length was rather short only.
Pawn Stars! I always watch this show.
We stayed at the Venetian for 2 nights and it was so cool! Located at a prime spot along The Strip, it was near a lot of other famous hotels.
I'm surrounded! Loving the Vegas vibe!
At the Mirage Hotel and casino where we had lunch buffet and filled our tummies to it's maximum. Haha. Well, we got to exercise after because we did long walks.
CRUISE (Catalina Island, California and Ensenada, Mexico)

This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip because it was my first time. I used to dream of this and it finally happened for 5 days and 4 nights. Great experience of all was the food where it was served buffet-style from breakfast, mid-day snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner and midnight snack. But what I liked most is the order-all-you-can come dinnertime and it was in a formal setting. We definitely got our money's worth. 

And of course, a lot of Kababayans are working there so it was nice to chat with them and they simply give the best customer service possible. 
Carnival Inspiration. 
At Ensenada, Mexico where I went off on my own, without my mom, aunt and uncle, to see the famous La Bufadora (The Blowhole). 
There it is! One of the biggest blowholes in the world. Top 2 if I'm not mistaken.
At the quaint town of Catalina Island, off the coast of California near San Diego. 
Our order-all-you-can dinner. We ordered like this for 4 nights. Food porn!


Well, not exactly a travel story but I included it because I walked very far just to go inside the Philippine Arena and on our way home, we walked for a solid hour. But it was very worth it because I am an AlDub fan and this was a big and historical event in Philippine television.
AlDubnation unite!
Early bird!
The last-minute ticket that paved way to my experience here. It was both work and play so I was happy for the opportunity.
There they are, Alden and Yaya Dub. We were seated a bit near the stage so my zoom-in powers here worked mighty fine.
55,000 strong!

Corregidor Island

Ticked off again from the travel checkist! I am always interested in history so this place was a must for me and it finally happened after more than 10 years. Spent a day and that was good enough for me. But next time, I must try the overnight experience.
Historical site. The Malinta Tunnel.
Ready to go in. Not exactly creepy for me at the beginning but when you get near the end where the other tunnels are, that's where it gave me some goosebumps.
The ruins of Corregidor. So glad to have finally seen it before nature destroys the pieces of history here.

Dubai, U.A.E.

Just when I thought I already had a great year in travel, I got blessed to go on another trip even if it was a business one. Dubai holds a lot of tourist spots that I really loved. I was able to go to a couple of them and I am just thankful that even though I got sick (Dengue manifested its symptoms while I was there, on my first day), I was still able to enjoy the sights and the ambiance.
The world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa. Splendid!
The Dubai Dancing Fountain swayed gracefully to the beat of the music. Equally beautiful like the dancing fountain of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
A man-made beach. 
At the Dubai Miracle Garden. All those flowers were a sight to behold. Who would've imagined that there is a glorious garden in a desert country. Only Dubai. 
My solo trip atop the Burj Khalifa. Selfies only for me here. There was no breeze or anything up top unlike Taipei 101 where the wind shook through our hair and clothes. 
Wonderful modern landscape.
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. I could not pass the chance to be here and paid 100 AED.
Was not feeling well already but I just told myself I could do it.
And last, the Burj Al Arab. So magnificent even from this distance. 

Again, I am #thankful. Now my challenge is to properly document these travels in a photobook so I can savor the experiences any time I would like to.

I hope 2016 would have a lot of travels too. I'm claiming it again. =)


Check out the other years of my travel life:

2014 Travels

2013 Travels

2012 Travels

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