Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bali - Day 2 + an Unfortunate Event

On our second day itinerary, we planned getting all water activities we wanted. Namely, Parasailing, Banana Boat, Jet Ski, Fly Fish, Snorkeling, Glass Bottom Boat to Turtle Island + Intro Dive 1 X. We did para sailing first and it was a para sailing went wrong for me. The activity is supposed to take me one round but ended up three. They let you wear this silly red and blue colored gloves. Instructs you to look at the guy holding the flags. If we waves the red one, you have to pull the left wing of the parachute with your left hand on a red gloves and if its blue, use the right one.

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As I enjoyed the first two minutes when I ascend and glide, it was time for me to land. I did what was asked but when its time for me to pull a canopy wing, I just didn't find enough strength to pull it off. Went twice and I've still not landed. I felt fear already thinking why I couldn't pull it, I swear I had my left hand helping my right hand pull it off. I did it again on my third round and had a terrible drop on the water. The current was strong and I fell on a deep water. I drank a lot of seawater twice, I was horrified with the thought of getting drowned if the boat towing the parachute continues to drive off. The crew went swimming towards me helping me get out of the towing rope wrapped around my feet, my left aqua shoe even floated itself after the unfriendly land. 


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One of the staff pissed me off accusing me of not trying to pull the wing but I ended up apologizing as I know I do not have the right to be obnoxiously sarcastic. I got tired explaining for a couple of times that it was too hard for me to pull the wing! Each wing should've had the spring hook so it'll be easier to pull the parachute whichever way they wanted, just like the Thais did in Phuket. 

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I badly wanted to tell that guy who uttered the word "sh*t" in my face that I'm not an idiot to risk my life on a 100,000 rupiah worth of para sailing. Look I know where you're coming from but its not like its the first time it happened. I wasn't in my own country so I just ended the discussion with an apology. The other guys were sympathetic enough not to show rudeness.

My hands were trembling after that, I felt numb and powerless but after a few minutes we needed to finish the activities and had to go ride for a jet ski. I just tried to forget what happened and enjoyed all the water activities we booked.

At the end of the day, Jay and I just realized I had my adrenaline rushed most when I was at the top para sailing. I relived seeing my favorite view of the sea was fantastic and it was an adventure with a challenge I surpassed.

This is the video when I was up there. It's upside down because I held my Go Pro on a wrist strap.  Although you won't be seeing me crash and burn.


Tanjung Benoa Beach

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hotel Review - Alam Puri Art Museum Resort and Spa

Bali is a haven for surfers in Asia. As soon as we passed the airport, my husband and I realized how big the store apparels of surfing brands they have in there, they even outlets with big discounts! 


This is what we did on the day we first laid eyes of Bali. After we checked-in, we asked the driver who fetched us from the airport, whom I forgot the name (I'm sorry). He was very friendly and gives us a lot of information on everything we ask. Anyway, we asked him to take us to the stores and gladly we were able to check out 3 different buildings that caters brands like Quiksilver, Billabong, Reef, Hurley, Volcom, a few accessories from Dakine and Ripcurl. Volcom didn't look authentic though, the designs looked fake to me as well as the textures of the cloth, it was rough and threadbare.


It wasn't actually shopping when we only bought 4 pieces, right? Sorry, its all a good story, I didn't take my camera with me.


As I was saying, we checked-in late at the hotel. The hotel is located at the heart of Ubud. 

The front desk speaks good English. They're good listeners and they make sure they understood what you are trying to say before you leave.


My husband wanted this hotel because of its mini pool outside the room, they call this room a pool villa. The pool is about 3m-deep and a very nice place to soak in for an ultimate body relaxation. Aside from the mini pool, it has offered a big discount too, about 60% with a pretty much helpful reviews from previous customers. 


The hotel for me is a basic balinese-themed hotel. Located in the middle of nowhere. The land just beside the hotel are small rice terraces. The rooms are spacious and has a comfortable bed. The staff changes the towels and bedsheets everyday. Just one thing I didn't like about the room is the throw pillows they're putting on our bed whenever they clean the room. I hated the smell so bad, it smelled like an old cloth with decades of dust. For the 4 nights we stayed at the hotel, I had to literally throw the pillows on the floor. The air condition gives off a nice cold temperature but also has  noise that is tolerable.  

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We were served with fresh juice when we arrived and its the best drink we had in the island. They had mixed fruits served, right now it cannot fathom what fruits were in those glass since my mind was so busy telling my tongue that it beats all the fruit juices I have ever tasted. Not to exaggerate but the fruit juice is really the best. You can get it all free, provided you purchased breakfast on your check-in. The food, is okay. Small serving, but we only eat there during breakfast so, its not much to think of. You can choose from local food and American. Local ones is of Indonesian porridge, noodles and nasi goreng. While American is the usual served with bacon, egg and bread, their croissants are good too!

It goes very quite at night with the lights dimmed. The surrounding might be eerie for people who are not used to a country/province life. To us, it wasn't a problem at all. We enjoyed less people at the hotel since there's too much people outside already. A little bit or privacy won't hurt when you decide you dive in the pool at night time. 

The place is pollution free. Fresh air is in abundance and greenery is revealed once you're out.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

River Cruise, Bangkok

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Seeking for a nice dining experience on our last night in the city, I decided to get a river cruise package since my mother has been eager to experience one. The tour promises Thailand's 3 iconic sceneries to be seen while cruising: Chao Praya River, Bangkok's pride, its temples and the Ayutthaya, an ancient capital. 

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The tour also includes a car that will take us from and to the hotel so nothing to worry about if you have your folks with you. My father even refused to tag along since his legs was in pain again. We managed to talk him out of it, he took his meds and believing it was just a 2-hour cruise, plus the waiting time that only took us half an hour. Good thing, he enjoyed a time well spent over a dinner and the nice places of this attraction.

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You need to go through a mall and at the back end, whereas a facade can be seen. This is where you will see people crowding over a waiting line to be seated at their respective boats or should they call it, a modern luxury cruiser. I thought it was only one boat catering the tourist attraction. I just found out that a couple of companies offers the same dining activity at night. 

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The river isn't that clean but I don't think I remember a bad smell in the surrounding. There were water spinach-like leaves with stems in the water. A few plastics that was thrown over and the water is of the same color as of Manila's baywalk. 
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We just watched over people roaming around until our boat parked at a designated loading area. It was the last destination for our tour guide so she waited for us until we get into the boat and bid goodbye. 

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We were greeted by staffs as we stepped through the upper deck of the boat. The tables were arranged nicely in clean white cloth with a also a white linen on top. Seemed like a fancy dinner table you see in the movies, only a little bit crowded. We were served with a bubblegum blue colored drinks, it tasted good though. Extra charge will be applied to anything you order out of the table like liquors; real wine, beer, and scotch. The variety of food served was overwhelming. They all tasted good, I just don't eat the curry.

The cruise went all well, seeing the attractions we passed by was relaxing. They even have a band playing while you eat. The singer was a Filipina guessing by the accent when she speaks good English. Two hours passed, and we found ourselves back in the car on our way to the hotel.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hotel Review - Chatrium Residence and Hotel, Bangkok

I am now an official Agoda fan. It's the first place I look when I needed a place to stay in a local and foreign destination. You will definitely love tons of choices from 5-star to recommended ones in here. I am not affiliated with Agoda, I just registered and signed in. I would definitely recommend it though.


The place I chose to check-in was a condominium/hotel. 4.5 stars. Chatrium has 4 buildings If I remember it right. Quite far from the crowded city but it sure was peaceful. The 9th floor gave us an exquisite landscape view. We had 2 rooms adjacent to each other since I have failed to get adjoining rooms. The rooms are large and have comfy beds with clean sheets everyday. Since this is also a condo type rooms, the rooms is equipped with a refrigerator, electric kettle, kitchen and some cooking utensils.

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Complete amenities, swimming pool, gym, bar, restaurant and the best breakfast buffet I had so far in a hotel. They cater various kinds from oatmeal, fruits, pastries and even local foods such as noodles and soups. 



My research found the hotel was just 10 minutes away from the skytrain but since I'm with my folks, we can't be on a commute. The hotel staffs are okay, not too friendly but are approachable and speaks good English.


I am more hesitant to take photos outdoors especially if there's people around. As a result, there's no way I'm seeing things in the view finder in symmetry and there's always no better angle. I know sometimes, I just need a deep breath and just take it. These photos expresses this manner and I am not happy with it. Vignetting is also very bad, I was still using the the DX format lens on an FX DSLR. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Floating Market, Bangkok Thailand


We had a detour before going to the market. We checked the place out but we weren't keen enough for an elephant ride. I felt sympathy with the elephants when I saw them, they all had the same expression, seeing them in chains while being fed by the owners in a cage with a sign Pay 50-100Baht for a picture. The only thing nice in this picture is how cute is the elephant being the big smallest one.


You always find something good to eat in one place, its not worth visiting if there isn't anything good to eat. One of the things I love in Thailand is food. My favorite, pad thai! We tried pad thai at the Chatrium Hotel which has a very decent presentation. Second was from the vendors in the floating market. We had a local noodles that looks like the ones in Vietnam restaurant Po Hoa, minced meet noodles. My Mom isn't a type of trying anything that looks edible. She just ate mangosteen when we were at the market. 

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I won't forget about the coconut ice cream. It tasted so good. Its the first time I tried the flavor and I am so glad I did. There isn't a coconut flavored ice cream in the Phils, is there? The only thing I can remember has coconut in it is macapuno which I never dared tasted. I got so indulged with the taste that I bought another one, it is served in a baby coco shell with coco meat, plus the ice cream on top along with a plastic spoon. 


They say this is not the same floating market as it was before, but if you are curious you might still want to check out the traditional way of Thais for selling fruits and vegetables in the market. The first thing you will notice in the market is the over crowded stores selling various kinds of souvenirs in the market, you'll find as much as anything you can imagine from coin purse, t-shirts, wallets, bags, figurines, wooden chairs, even carved woods which you can put in a display in your house. My mom was so overwhelmed buying a couple of sets of the porcelain decorated tea cups. I bought 2 sets of coin purse for pasalubong. Just remember not to buy on the first store when you alight your vehicle. They price double what you can get compared to the ones at the end of the market, so try to save a little energy for the haggle.

The floating market is a tour we already bought tickets from the airport. I'm not sure if you can get the ride from there directly but its probable. The ride wasn't any different from an ordinary boat ride, the only difference is you pass by more houses rather than rocks, water and pure mountains when you go island hopping. Don't expect emerald waters here. These are canals you are riding on top of a boat. The place is over crowded with sellers and almost seemed like not a thriving market any more.

these are soaps.