My Birthday Trip Part 1 – Singapore

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This post is several months late, I know. I wasn’t decided whether to push through with it as I’d been to Singapore many times, but I figured, I love this place so much, it needs¬†to be posted. So here it is.

Singapore is one of my favorite places. It represents a lot of things in my life: family, independence, photography, design, fangirling, and a lot more. It was there that I really bloomed as a person, where my creative self shone through. It was there that I made some life-changing decisions which is why the place holds so much memories.

It’s impossible to go to Singapore without being all nostalgic and this trip was no exception. And sometimes, I feel like I go there just to bring back the memories. In December of 2013, when I was there for my sister’s wedding, I told myself I would revisit all the places that used to have meaning in my life: previous workplaces, malls I used to shop in, restaurants I used to eat, and houses I’d lived in. I didn’t get to do all that so I said I was gonna do it in my next visit.

Fast-forward to November of last year. I had chosen Singapore for my birthday trip (and Bali too, which I will be writing about in another post). I didn’t get to visit everything I wanted to visit, but I still had a good walk down memory lane. (WARNING: This post is image-heavy)

Reconnecting with old friends

Because I worked and lived in Singapore years ago, I have managed to accumulate a few friends there and I still see some of them whenever I’m in town.

My dinner dates, Farina and Saeedah.

A photo posted by Raia Ajihil (@raiaajihil) on

I worked with Farina and Saeedah before in ABN-AMRO. And I also met up with old high school and college classmates who had gone to Singapore to work there too.

With Karen, a friend from college
Singaporean Food

One of things I love about Singapore is their food! (Here’s a post of me gushing over Wang’s Kopi-C) Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of food pictures during this trip, but here are a couple:

My yummy dinner. Badoque Ribs. The serving was so huge! ūüėĪ

A photo posted by Raia Ajihil (@raiaajihil) on

Coffee break turned early dinner. Laksa set at Heavenly Wang. #cantresist A photo posted by Raia Ajihil (@raiaajihil) on

I enjoyed the food at Badoque and it’s just a short bus ride away from my brother’s place. I will certainly go back there in my next visit.

Walking and Running

Two months prior to booking a ticket, I had registered myself to the Great Eastern Women’s Run. It was my first run outside of the Philippines, and I blogged about it here. It was a fun experience, even though I walked like half the time!
One of the many things I like about SG is that it’s safe to walk outside no matter what the time. I think I developed my love for walking there. I would walk to and from coffee shops (5 km away), malls, everywhere! (Also, I hate taking the MRT at rush hour. TT_TT)

Photo-walk

I did a mini photo-walk right before I left. It was my last minute attempt to revisit my past. I went to the first place I took pictures of when I first got my DSLR camera 7 years ago. Here are some of the pictures I took:

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All pictures taken with my Fujifilm XF-1. It was a very tiring, nostalgic night, but I went home happy.

Shopping

I don’t shop much whenever I’m travelling, but given that this was my birthday trip, I think I maybe have splurged a little. I bought a moisturizer and a facial peeling gel at Adore, bought two matte lipsticks at MAC, several tops and a jacket in H&M, and several penssssssss, notebooks, and sketchbooks in Art Friend and Popular. I just couldn’t help myself! Art Friend is pen hoarder heaven!

Incoherent

I’m sorry if this post does not makes sense much. But I think I’ll wrap it up. I will be blogging about my Bali trip next!

– RA

Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014

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Last Sunday, I took part in Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014. It was a couple of months ago when I decided I would go to Singapore for a visit and while I was contemplating that, I searched for runs to be held anytime near my birthday and I found GEWR. I registered right away (didn’t even have a plane ticket then!).

It was my first ever out-of-the-country run and I was psyched! I promised myself I was gonna run the entire 5K this time. I know, I know, it’s just a short distance and I’ve registered to dozens of 5K runs before… but I’ve never completed¬†the entire 5K without stopping to walk.. =_=. And as much as I would like to tell you that I did what I promised, I can’t because it didn’t happen.¬†I didn’t train like I was supposed to because I was sick the entire time since I got to¬†SG and didn’t want to risk running everyday in rainy weather for fear of aggravating it.

Race Day

I was so scared to get lost while trying to get to¬†the event location so I purchased a shuttle bus ticket. It was a mistake because even though my run would start at 8am, I was in the location as early as 4:30am! TT_TT… There were no seats and I didn’t want to sit down on the floor (germaphobe alert! LOL). So I was standing up the whole time. Not to mention, I had walked a good 20 minutes to get to Sengkang station where the pickup location was. So, you could¬†pretty much say I had a decent warmup before the run. LOL, but my legs were hurting by the time I finished the 1st kilometer. D:

Experience

I had a few tearful moments during the entire event. For one, I was alone and I had nobody to talk to. Everybody else had a friend with them and were taking selfies or wefies or whatever you called them. I just felt like events like these needed to be experienced with someone. Second, it was just a happy moment participating in something like this outside of the Philippines, and in a place close to my heart. I couldn’t help but get nostalgic. Singapore gave me a lot of memories and all of them came rushing back as I was walking / running past the familiar places.

Again?

I will definitely do this again. My best friend Ellen wants to go to the StanChart run next year. I may come with her. Who knows? I might be running a half-marathon by then!

Food Trip: Cafe+

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Whenever I am in Luzon, I crash at my friend’s place in Baliuag, Bulacan. And since we both work from home, sometimes we feel the need to just go out and work somewhere else for a change of environment. The most obvious choice are coffee shops because 1. they have comfy chairs, 2. they almost always have wi-fi (although we always bring a portable wi-fi, it doesn’t hurt to have a back up in case the signal is weak), 3. they are more lenient to customers who stay for more than an hour, and 4. they have coffee!

We’ve always wanted to try Cafe+ so, when we had the opportunity, we took it, grabbed our laptops, and went on¬†a 10-minute or so drive to Plaridel. The place is cute, they don’t have comfy chairs though, and they could use a bigger parking space. But if you get there early enough or on a not-so-busy part of the day, you’ll be fine. And of course, there’s always public transportation. Since it is just by the road, it is also accessible to jeepneys and buses going to and from NLEX.

The place serves brunch, coffee, and desserts. This is their cute, hand-drawn menu (click for a larger view):

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The first time we went there, we ordered beignets, which was delish but we couldn’t finish it as the sandwiches were already so filling! Their sandwich orders come with a choice of a salad or fries on the side. We ordered both, and by the end of the meal, we decided the salad¬†was a much better option (especially if you’re looking to stay away from fried food). Besides, their Asian dressing was yummy!

Their store is open from 9am-10pm. Here’s their Facebook page just in case you want more information. Enjoy!

 

 

A Short Visit to La Union

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I have been to La Union twice, and on both instances, I never tried surfing. The first time, I was unprepared, and the second time, I was scared. But that is not to say I didn’t enjoy both trips, because I did. Oh boy, I certainly did.

I mentioned before on this post about Manila Ocean Park that I have water anxiety. And anybody who knows me real well or travels with me to beaches would know how much I get really scared when I go swimming in the beach. Somehow, in La Union, that is never the case for me.

Last summer, my friends and I decided to go on a road trip. Mara drove us all the way from Manila to La Union in her Ford Ranger. They were a great bunch, but I was, as always, a sleepy traveler and slept for most part of the drive. Teehee.

It took us about 6 hours to get to Hacienda Peter, where we stayed. We were blessed with cloudy weather, which made swimming so much more fun. I played in the water until my legs and knees hurt from trying to fight the waves.  Unfortunately though, it was a rather short trip. I was tired from all the swimming that I slept early that night. We went back to Manila the next day.

This place warrants another visit. Maybe before the year ends. Yes? Yes.

A Photo Walk in Zamboanga City

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I went to Paseo del Mar the other day to take some pictures. I’ve been holed up in my room ever since I got back¬†and I needed to just get a whiff of fresh Zamboanga City air for once. I took my Fujifilm XF-1 with me and took a few pictures. It was a rather short walk because it was nearing night-time. I just went to Fort Pilar and took a couple of shots along the way. I went back to Paseo del Mar after a few minutes to have dinner with my parents.

I’m thinking of doing more photo walks in the future. I get to travel often but I barely take pictures. Yeah, I’m just lazy like that.

Road Trip to Zamboanga del Norte

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We’ve wanted to go to Zamboanga del Norte for the longest time but we always, always chicken out because of fear. We weren’t familiar with the roads, we¬†had¬†never been there, except for my dad who went there when he was younger, almost 40 years ago. We absolutely had no idea what it was going to be like, save from a few horror stories we read and heard from the news.

When my sister vacationed here a month ago and we were looking for a place to go swim and have fun, we all decided to finally just do it. So, on Eidl Fitr, we packed our bags and headed to Dipolog Рno hotel reservations, no idea where to go and what to expect. All we had were ourselves, a bucket of Jollibee Chickenjoy, chichirya, the car, and the long road trip ahead of us.

While we still had our fears, no one really talked about it. We happily listened to one of the CDs I had burnt from months ago with all my favorite Frozen tracks and a bunch of other songs I liked. The CD was on loop the entire time. The whole trip took about 7 hours including a short stopover for a restroom break and to stretch our legs. We were surprised to see how the roads were a whole lot better than we initially thought. There were very few instances of isolation as the roads were always dotted with houses and farms which eased us a little bit and took our minds off our fears. After a few hours on the road, we began to feel comfortable and we started enjoying the ride and just took in the beautiful scenery of lush greens, the sea, and tall mountains. Zamboanga is such a beautiful place.

The initial plan was to share the driving task between dad and myself. But knowing my father, he would not let me drive on unfamiliar roads so he took on the responsibility and drove us all the way to Dipolog — he didn’t even eat, except for a couple of ginger sweets! The least I could do was turn on my phone’s GPS so we could follow Google Maps.

I searched for a hotel in Dipolog and found D’Hotel. We got there by following the GPS voice prompts (I love technology!). We checked-in, settled ourselves, ate, and then slept until the next day.

The next day was our trip to Dapitan City and our destination was Dakak Beach Resort. We ate breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and then went on the short drive to Dapitan City. If you guys don’t know yet, Dakak was like the Boracay in the late 80’s¬†and early 90’s. No, it wasn’t the party scene that is Boracay today, but it was a popular destination of the rich and the famous, as it was the first 5-star resort in Mindanao.¬†(You can read more about their history here – http://dakakresort.com/about-us/.

We went home the next day, and this time we made a much longer stopover to eat at Jollibee in Ipil. It was cloudy and the weather was great, not too warm.

All in all, I think I’ve¬†enjoyed this trip even though it was a rather short one. At least now I can say I’ve been to Dakak, one Philippine beach scratched off my list. – RA

 

So, yeah. I got kinda distracted…

It has been three weeks since I arrived in Manila and a lot of things have happened. This blog post is an attempt to give you an update.

First. I didn’t complete VEDA! Argh. It was certainly a challenge especially since uploading was slow due to internet problems. And I very rarely had the time, nor the energy to actually film and upload one. But still, I think I did great for a first-timer. I will certainly do better in August.

Second. My boss went to Manila, we got together, and even celebrated his birthday in Tagaytay. We ate at a restaurant called Pamana, tried the ferris wheel at Sky Ranch, and had coffee in Bag of Beans.

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Teammates

Continue reading

That time I went to Singapore and fell in love with Kopi C

I visited Singapore in January to spend New Year’s with my family, and to attend my sister’s wedding. Singapore is my most visited foreign country. I’ve worked there before and my brother and my younger sister are permanent residents there. So it was naturally one of the more obvious options whenever my parents and I are looking to go on a holiday.

Singapore and I, we have a love-hate relationship. When I was working there, i hated it half the time (okay, maybe more than half). The MRT was always crowded, the malls were always crowded, everything was expensive, etc. And yet, this time when I visited, all I could remember were the good things (mostly food, teehee).  Continue reading

Doing an airport tour of some sorts…

Not really.

Tomorrow, I’m flying over to CDO to attend Rey and KC’s wedding. (I took their engagement pictures in Singapore last year.) I booked a direct flight from Zamboanga City but CebuPacific changed my flight from direct to connecting. So, my trip will be like ZAM – CEB – CDO, and then CDO – MNL – ZAM. I’m kinda scared and intimidated by the number of check-in counters I have to go through. Or is that even how it works? And how about my prepaid baggage allowance? Does it apply to all flights? TT_TT I’ve never had a local connecting flight, ever. Daig ko pa ang maga-abroad! Continue reading

Nostalgia Manila

Yesterday, I went to NBI to file a clearance application for my sister who is abroad. I initially was going to take the car, but changed my mind the last minute as I figured it was better taking public transportation from Bulacan as I wasn’t too familiar with the roads.

The travel included a bus ride from Baliuag to 5th Avenue, an LRT ride from 5th Avenue to UN. It had been a long time since I last took the LRT and it brought about a feeling of nostalgia that took me to my early childhood days. It was quite fitting as I am soon leaving Manila to reside in Zamboanga (yes, my trip to Baguio didn’t push through for reasons I will tell you about in another post, maybe).

A great part of my childhood was spent in Manila. I was schooled in Malate Catholic School and my family owned a Money Changer / Gift Shop business situated in Ermita, Manila. I remember taking the jeepney from school to go to our shop so that we could all go home together – by we, I mean my siblings and Mom and Dad. It was kind of like my favorite part of the day.

My LRT ride yesterday brought me back there and to my early years of college (I graduated from Ateneo de Zamboanga, but had two years of AB Mass Comm credit from UE Recto). It was sad as it seemed not too long ago when I roamed the streets of Recto as a college student. I was awkward, bright, and full of life. God, I feel old. TT_TT

Looking from out the window of the train car, I could see the shabbiness of Manila – old houses and dilapidated buildings. It was as if I was watching scenes from an indie film. Maynila may look dirty, its buildings and streets old, but somehow, I wasn’t turned off. It was my home for a few years and no matter how much the place grew older every time I visited, it still felt like the same place I saw with bright-eyed wonder from years before.

Maybe when I go to pick up my sister’s clearance, I can take pictures. Or maybe not. Either way, I will always remember Maynila.