Travel blogger ka ba? Sure.
How I wish I could make fun of travel bloggers but there are those who are really hardcore about it. And when you see their posts, it’s like, “Jesus, umuwi ka naman minsan!” Career talaga.
Any horse, I just want to post another update and the least I can think of is a travel compilation. Mind you, though, this is going to get a little boring at times. I just finished compiling the list of places we did this year and sadly, I may have to include Star City just to fill the page. Panalo.
Starting the year at Richmonde Hotel
2014-New Year’s Day
We are a hotel-staycation type of family. And because we’re so over firecrackers and fireworks (as in overly scared), we just see to it that we’re somewhere high enough to have a panoramic view of all the putukan action. We were lucky enough to get a corner room on the fronting-Megamall side, so we got to see the Chinese-Greenhills fireworks competition of whose-business-did-best-this-year.
Richmonde Hotel is quite old. You can easily tell by the condition of the carpets and upholstery of sofas and chairs. But overall, I guess it’s doing quite well for its age. Besides, four words more than make up for its minor shortcomings: heated indoor fucking pool.
Another good thing about Richmonde is you need not take your car out until checkout. You can walk to Megamall and Shang and buy anything you need or might need; there are also 7-Elevens, Family Marts, Mini Stops left and right.
For two nights on a two-queen room we spent about 10 grand which is really good (considering the dates).
Star City — oh, yes
So nakakahiya. You know what? Who cares. Prior to this we haven’t actually been to the place—I’m sure I have as a child, but I really can’t remember. Star City is an okay place that you should go to once and get over with.
Two things that stuck with me on this trip: the Ferris wheel and the artificial snow thing (Snow World). However, the artificial snow thing, that is something else. As for the Ferris wheel, there’s nothing really special about it but I think I remember it because of the view—bay area Manila—which no other local Ferris wheel offers.
Okay, let me tell you something about Snow World. It’s
painfully brutally cold. Duh? No, you know nothing (John Snow!?). It should not be considered an attraction. It’s a fucking torture chamber. Yung sipon mo ba naman maging yelo. Saka yung anak ko, mangiyak-ngiyak na. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but still. Look, I like cold—I’m aircon royalty, hello—and I have a high tolerance for it, but this is a different monster. Although sorry ha, I’ve never experienced real snow kasi.
Buena Vista Park and Country Club, Talisay, Batangas
This is one of those places no one will ever go to unless they’re from the area, or at least know someone who is. Case in point: the place is close to my wife’s family’s place in Batangas called Cale. It is quite a shame, though, because the place is neat and provides a great view of Taal. It’s just not close enough to Taal—or anything else, for that matter—to be a side trip. It reminds me a bit of Punta Fuego, but with much less houses.
We went there to celebrate the 85th birthday of the head lola of my wife’s family.
Paradizoo, help me make a stand
On our baby’s birthday, we wanted to go to Fun Farm at Santa Elena (as per the recommendation of my idol blogger and hot mama crush). They were booked crazy—I guess from all the mileage they got from blogs and stuff—so we had to find something else. Hence, Paradizoo.
Paradizoo is a small zoo-cum-farm in Tagaytay. It’s close to the usual places and is very doable in half a day, so you can do that and visit whichever other Tagaytay attraction your heart desires after. It may be a small farm but do take the guided kalabaw tour anyway and spare yourself the walking exercise.
I wish I can remember more things about this place but it’s freaking nine months already. Oh, there’s a small entrance fee and you can buy stuff like fresh goat’s milk.
Visiting Boracay as a tatay
Finally, a peaceful Boracay—one where there’s absolutely no pressure to go out at night and party. The only trade-off? The having to carry the baby. Yes, our daughter is at this weird age where she’s heavy but not too heavy to be carried, and walks but is a little too slow. So, being that I was with 4 girls, punctuality is not high on the priority list. Now, imagine rushing from our hotel in station 2 to the boat docks on station 1 just make it to our 10:30 AM island hopping tour. Tanggal-kamay fun.
I want to mention two things about this Boracay trip: the annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic and helmet diving. The other events and/or places, well, they’re non-blogables.
That annoying Astoria Boracay marketing tactic
Do you guys know what I’m talking about here? I’m sure many have been harassed by these people. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter one of their marketing soldiers even before you ride the boat at the Caticlan Jetty Port. By the time you arrive at your hotel—especially if there’s some beachfront walking involved—you would’ve encountered at least 2-3 more of these Astoria people.
What they do to lure people to bite is to provide a free buffet meal. No strings attached, just a free meal. Imagine that. But because people are not necessarily dumb, it’s quite obvious that there’s a catch to it. If and when you accept the invitation—and you will—you up your defenses and promise yourself that you won’t give in to whatever they’re selling. And because you’re already a tad bit annoyed, you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m gonna teach these people a lesson and waste their time and food.”
So you come to the buffet. A bit fancy; hotel style. Lots of food, the works. You eat with your peeps. For their troubles of filling your stomachs, you agree to listen to a short presentation. Keyword: short. Well, guess what? You just wasted 4 hours of your time. Yup, it’s fucking that long. That’s if you have no plans of buying anyway. Show some interest and it will get longer. If you bought, I’m sure you have wads of cash lying around and I won’t judge you.
Have you guys heard of Club Ultima? Same banana. Free hotel accommodation if you agree to hear out their presentation. What they’re selling are memberships to their exclusive hotel club; you use this membership to gain access and get discounts to hotels around the world which they have tie-ups with. These clubs are usually backed by some mildly successful hotel chain—e.g. Crown Regency for Club Ultima, and Astoria chain for whatever-the-fuck-club-name these Boracay people are part of. Truth be told, it’s probably a good deal. Heck, if people the likes of Manny Pacquiao are members, then thorough financial analyses must’ve happened. Har, har.
Helmet diving — I’m scurred
I’m not chicken when it comes to adventurous things. To tell you the truth, I did not hesitate one bit during the planning stages of this activity (I must’ve even pushed for it). My wife’s usually the one who’s reluctant to try these things and I’m the one who’s, “Sus.”
Look, it’s not scary. It’s just a bit uncomfortable. Way too uncomfortable. Helmet diving is having a super heavy helmet on you which acts as your personal air bubble under the sea. The idea is that this helmet is so heavy that it stays upright all the time and will not topple over, hence will not be filled with water. Because if it does, you die. Simple as that. Nah, you actually just go down maybe 20, 30 feet tops so there’s plenty of time to swim up to safety.
If you’re ears are sensitive, do not try this ever. The pressure will destroy your eardrums in no time. I exaggerate.
Now, for some reason, I could not keep my helmet perfectly upright. It wanted to lean forwards, which put tremendous pressure on my neck. I couldn’t enjoy the underwater scenic showcase. By the way, the guide divers there will also ask you to take the helmet off for 2-3 seconds for a photo op. If you’re with a sweetheart, they will even ask you to do a helmets-off underwater smooch photo op. Fucking baduy. But, we did it anyway. No wonder my wife enjoyed this activity a little too much.
That’s it. This trip was a bit short—3 full days—but wasn’t bitin by any measure. See, if you stay sober enough to be able to wake up early in the morning, you’ll be able to do lots more.
Once again, once I start blogging, I can’t stop blogging. I’m gonna have to cut this here because I don’t want to go past 1,500 words (which no one really has the attention span for anyway). Abangan ang part two.