Majestic India

It’s been two weeks since I flew with my friends to India. India is so beautiful I hope to come back soon. Most probably not during summer as it was scorching hot when we arrived. Perfect time to visit according to locals is from November until March but I can just imagine the influx of tourists.

I initially planned to go to India on my own but I have been traveling alone so much I wanted my friends to join me this time. I was lucky I have friends who were so eager to explore India with me.

For this trip, we were only able to visit two cities– Jaipur “The Pink City” and Agra. We hired a local guide on both cities as we felt it was generally more convenient than to hoof it on our own. If you need information on booking your own guide, please feel free to send me a message down the comments below. 🙂

I’ll be posting more photos than I usually do cause India was just amazing!

Here are some of my favorite photos from Agra:

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Beautiful Taj Mahal during sunrise


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Catching the sunrise at Taj Mahal.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Jaipur:

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Took this photo of my friend, Karla, inside the City Palace in Jaipur

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Took this photo of my friend, Giselle, at the Water Palace or Jal Mahal

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At the peacock gate of the City Palace

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Inside Amer Fort

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Checking out Panna Meena ka Kund. Historic stepwell and rain catchment on the way to Amer Fort

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At the Wind Palace or Hawa Mahal

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Down time with the camel

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Bargaining with the locals

I wish I took more photos in India. Everything was just postcard-worthy! I have to say traffic was chaotic but I think that’s part of India’s charm. If you have some photos from India, I would love to see them as well!!

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My Cape Town Trip Video

Been a while since I posted on this blog. That’s because I haven’t been traveling as I started with the new job when I got back from Cape Town. Anyway, just want to share this video I made after I came back from South Africa. Enjoy the clip!!!

Cape Town on a Budget and Some Tips!

Okay, since a lot of people have been asking. I am posting how I was able to spend only about 17,000PHP (just 341USD!!) in Cape Town. I also will be sharing some tips I picked up from the people  I met in Cape Town (both from locals and travellers). You can find my previous blog about Cape Town HERE.

For this trip, I initially allotted a budget of 40,000PHP (about 800USD) for the whole time I would be in Cape Town. So imagine, to my surprise, when I only spent 17,000PHP for this trip.

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Uber ride to Table Bay: 300PHP. This view: priceless

Airfare

Flying to Cape Town from Manila can be quite expensive so I suggest using the apps, Hopper and Skyscanner, when looking for cheap airfares.

Tips:

  • Subscribe to Qatar Airways’ mailing list and stay updated. They can give as much as 25% discount to any destination!
  • Fly around Apr-May as airfares are cheaper during the tail-end of Summer.
  • Do not fly in the summer from December to March (obvs!): too many tourists and expensive airfare.

Accommodation

I stayed at a hostel called 91 Loop for the whole time I was in Cape Town and only paid 3538PHP (70USD) for 4 nights! Pros: You get to meet like-minded people, you get to enjoy free breakfast and you get to gain new friends. Cons: No privacy (who cares? you will be out all the time anyways), no aircon (just book during the colder months), and you can’t snore too loud (I’m kidding).

Tips:

  • Stay at a hostel if you would want to meet people who share the same interest as you.
  • Airbnb is quite cheap as well. If I had to do it differently, I would’ve booked on Airbnb at Camps Bay if I were staying for 2 more days.
  • Book on Booking.com if you tend to be indecisive as they allow free cancellation and it gives you more flexibility.

Going Around Cape Town

Uber is very efficient and cheaper than taxis in Cape Town. I spent 1986PHP (40USD) for all of my Uber rides in Cape Town. That’s about 400PHP (8USD)/day!!!

Tips:

  • If you prefer riding the taxi, talk to the taxi driver and tell him the Uber rate. He’d be willing to lower his taxi fare once he learns the Uber rate. (Why would you rather ride a taxi though?)
  • The subway is a cheaper option but even the locals do not recommend it due to some security concerns. So proceed with caution!
  • You can rent a car for 3 days just for 2400PHP (50USD), just make sure to book it online. (I wish I did this!)

Food

Food in Cape Town can be cheap without having to compromise quality and quantity. The most expensive I spent was just at 2482PHP (50USD) for a 5-course meal paired with two glasses of wine. The least expensive lunch was at 461PHP (7USD). The portions were big and they were all yummy. But if you’re really on a shoestring budget, Mcdonalds in Cape Town is at 150PHP-200PHP (3-4USD).

Tips:

  • If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, make sure they have free breakfast! I gorged on the fruit platter and yogurt every morning when I was staying at 91 Loop.
  • Do not be like me: I ate some expensive lunch in Cape Town but having said that, you still need to splurge a little on food and wine while in Cape Town.
  • If you’re staying at 91 Loop, they give 20% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks!

Activities I Did For Free in Cape Town

  1. Take a hike on a full moon up Lion’s Head and meet new friends.
  2. Walk along the beautiful Camps Bay Beach and get an accidental tan.
  3. Explore the suburbs of Blouberg and find playful seals along the shores.
  4. Explore Bo Kaap with a free walking tour.

Activities I Didn’t Do For Free

  1. Get a 2-day pass Citysightseeing Bus Tour and learn some facts about South Africa from the guided tour. 1,066PHP. (21USD)
  2. Relax at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and discover some African plants. 222PHP. (4USD)
  3. Go to Boulders Beach to see the penguins and enjoy the scenic route on the way to Cape of Good Hope. 2733PHP. (55USD)

I am happy that I did not go over my budget for this trip as I hate it when I’m limited with my activities because of my budget when travelling. Turns out that Cape Town is not that expensive. It’s even more expensive in Manila when I go out on a weekend.

Here is a photo of my expenses in Cape Town:

Cape Town Expenses

My expenses in Cape Town: 17,000PHP or 341$. (1USD=49.92PHP)

Last few tips:

  • Don’t drink too much alcohol when traveling.
  • Don’t buy cigarettes. This is good for your pocket and good for your health.
  • Bring enough clothes. As you can see, I was forced to buy 2 shirts from H&M because I ran out of clean clothes from traveling from Bangkok before coming to Cape Town.

If I have to follow my last few tips, I could have saved as much as 4,000PHP and would’ve spent only 13,000PHP for my whole trip!!!

Anyway, I hope I was able to share some useful tips and help you plan for your trip to Cape Town! It’s really an affordable trip if you just plan well.

Falling in Love with Cape Town

I cannot believe I am blogging about my trip to Cape Town right now. I still find it surreal that I was just in Cape Town a few days ago. A lot of people had asked me why I wanted to go to Cape Town and I always tell them it’s been on my bucket list for the obvious reason that it is a beautiful city– from Table Mountain to Cape Point. Lots of scenic spots to feast your eyes on! I haven’t met anyone who really wanna go to Cape Town so I decided to go there myself to meet people who share the same admiration to the Mother City!

My fascination with Cape Town started when I was watching an episode of Siba Mtongana’s cooking show Siba’s Table on Food Network way back. She is a South African chef who features South African culture and its food. I looked up Cape Town on that fateful day over the internet and discovered the many things I could do other than eat and drink which I seem to do a lot whenever I am outside the country.

For this trip, surprisingly, I did more than just eating and drinking. I initially prepared a 7-day itinerary for this trip but had to shorten it because I had to see Coldplay in Bangkok (the concert was great by the way!). Nonetheless compressing this trip to 4-days allowed me to prioritize the things I really wanted to do while I was in South Africa.

DAY 1: I arrived in Cape Town from a 20-hour trip from Bangkok with barely any sleep. I was planning to relax at the seaside mall, the V&A Waterfront, as it was some blocks away from where I was staying plus I had to rest. But the travel gods had other plans for me, I was joined by my roommates who were planning to hike Lion’s Head, watch for the sunset and drink beer by the moonlight. I couldn’t help but ask if I could join them as I did not have anyone to do Lion’s Head with. I’m glad I joined them on that day as I gained three new friends on my first day in Cape Town. Watching the sun set and the moon rose as the city lights flicker was simply amazing!

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Twelve Apostles as seen from Lion’s Head

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On top of Lion’s Head

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Moonrise over Cape Town

 

DAY 2: Bought a 2-day ticket to the Hop-On-Hop-Off Citysightseeing Cape Town Bus. I like this tour as it gave me options on what I really wanted to do and where I really wanted to go as I could just easily hop on and hop off from one place to another. For this tour, I decided to just go to Camps Bay and V&A Waterfront as I made a mistake of thinking that the bus would go to Boulders Beach (where you can find the penguins) and Cape of Good Hope. I had to book this tour for another day which I did on my last day in Cape Town.

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Camps Bay Beach

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12 Apostles peeking behind the hotel and cafes along Camps Bay

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V&A Waterfront

I also went to Blaauwberg with my three new friends that day as I arrived at the hostel pretty early from my day tour. Blaauwberg is a suburb in Cape Town with an awesome view of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. We decided to get dinner there. On our way to the restaurant, we walked along the shores of Blaauwberg and met some seals along the way which I thought were drowning dogs at first. Had a closer look and they were actually seals. We had the best African braii food and cocktails that night at an African restaurant called Moyo.

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Table Mountain and Lion’s Head as seen from Blaauwberg

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My friends along the shores of Blauuwberg

 

DAY 3: I decided to dedicate a whole day of drinking for the wine route tour of the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus but I included a short trip at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden as it was too early to drink wine at 11AM. After that short stroll at the garden, I had a 5-course meal at Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constance. It is a restaurant located at the Beau Constantia Wine Farm. It was actually really random that I went to that restaurant as I just wanted to do some wine tasting. I was a little hungry and decided to get a table for myself instead to treat myself to a good meal and good wine. Being a wine newbie, I asked the waiter for her recommendations. I had a Cecily for my starters and an Aidan for my main dishes. I was not able to take a photo of all the food I ate as I was enjoying everything– the view, the food and the wine. Also, I may had been a little bit tipsy and forgot to take photos.

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Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

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Canopy walkway at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

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View of the Beau Constantia wine farm at Chef’s Warehouse

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Bone Marrow Risotto at Chef’s Warehouse

 

DAY 4: I booked a half-day tour to Simon’s Town where Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope can be found. This tour was supposed to go to Muizenberg (where the colorful beach houses are) but we finished a little late and had no time to drop by that area. While waiting for my ride to Cape of Good Hope, I decided to drop by Bo Kaap and take some photos of the colorful neighborhood. It is the historical center of Cape Malay Culture in Cape Town. After that, I joined a tour and drove to Boulders Beach, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. The view above Cape Point was breathtaking and it was the perfect way to end my trip in Cape Town.

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Colorful houses at Bo-Kaap

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Cute penguins at Boulders Beach

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Cape of Good Hope and a rainbow

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Awesome view at Cape Point

Such a short trip to Cape Town but I fell in love so easily with the city. I was not able to go on top of Table Mountain but that’s one reason why I need to go back to Cape Town. I cannot wait to go back. I don’t think I can ever get over this city’s beauty! Truly mesmerizing!!!

P.S. If you have questions about the itinerary, need information or anything about this trip, please feel free to post them on the comments! 😉

Back at it Again

I cannot believe I have not posted in such a long time. I did some traveling in between Oct 2014 until today but nothing really worthy of posting as I only went to Hong Kong twice and Japan for the second time which I obviously wrote about on this blog previously.

I am currently preparing for a major trip in April which I cannot wait to write about. It will either be in Cape Town or Morocco. I still have yet to finalize!!! But nevertheless, I cannot wait to write about my travels again. It’s been so long. This hiatus should be worth it!

Taking Over Tokyo

First of all, I need to come up with a more creative title on my next post! But to be honest, I can’t seem to find a more appropriate title for my travel posts as I feel like I’m literally taking over every country I go to. Or so I thought. Aaaanyway, my goal for this year is to visit a new city every quarter and boy did we reach our goal! Tokyo is the last country for the last quarter and it was a blast! I cannot wait to go back!

This could be a lengthy post but I will make it as short as possible. And I’m posting more pictures.So….

Here we go:

I’m all about museums, parks, and cafes whenever I go out of the country. I don’t shop a lot as there are far better things you can do when you travel without having to spend so much that can also help you nourish your soul. The intangible things are priceless. Always remember that. 🙂

This is me at the busiest intersection on Earth!

This is me at the busiest intersection on Earth!- Shibuya, Tokyo

First things first, you cannot miss the famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. If you feel like having a Scarlett Johansson moment in Tokyo,then you should visit the busiest intersection on Earth! You can easily access this from Shibuya station of course.

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South Pond- Yoyogi Park

If you feel like getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city, you can easily escape the Tokyo metropolis as the city has a lot of parks you can go to whenever you feel like having a zen moment. Yoyogi Park is just a 20 minute walk from Shibuya, and on your way there, you will pass by Omotesando where you can check out all the luxury brand outlets. You may also pass by Harajuku and join the university students there eating their crepes.

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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Museum

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Observation Deck- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Museum

I rushed my way to Shinjuku from Yoyogi to check out the observation deck in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Museum. Just in time for the golden hour, I was able to check out the city beaming in rich sunset colors!

Drinking in Shinjuku

Drinking in Shinjuku with Gill and Marcel

We met a friend in Tokyo, Marcel, who showed us around Shibuya and Shinjuku that night. Okay, I learned from another friend in Tokyo that I was holding a cooking sake in this picture and that you’re not supposed to drink it. Anyway, I chugged it down and I was buzzed that night! Marcel, I’ll make you drink cooking wine when I see you!!! Kidding!

The next days were basically spent strolling around parks and museums. Here are some of the places I went to:

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Rainy afternoon in Nerima

Nerima was our home for a week in Tokyo. It’s a quiet and quaint suburb in Tokyo. Although I don’t recommend for anyone to stay here if as it’s quite far from Shibuya and Shinjuku and the rest of the places I wanted to go to. Stay in Shinjuku cause it’s pretty much near everything!

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Asakusa – Tokyo’s old capital

We checked out Asakusa, the old capital of Tokyo. Not far from the station is Meiji shrine and Tokyo Sky Tree. Way too many tourists in the area so, naturally, I wanted to go home after 30 minutes of walking around. But then, what better way to experience a new city but to become a tourist! Not sure if that makes sense, but whatever.

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Shinjuku in the day

Spent the entire day in Shinjuku to shop. My friends got an Instax for themselves while I stayed the whole day in the cafe practicing the art of doing nothing. That’s a better way of saying I’m broke and I could care less about shopping!

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Roppongi Hills

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Maman-Spider by Louois Bogeouis in Mori Art Museum

Easily found my favorite spot in Roppongi Hills. You will find here the Art Triangle Roppongi which are: The National Art Center-Tokyo, The Suntory Museum of Art and Mori Art Museum. Shame that I only got to check out Mori Art Museum as the National Art Center and Suntory were both closed. I’m definitely sad I didn’t get to check out most of the museums in Tokyo but looking at the bright side, that leaves me with a lot of museum to check out and that gives me more reason for me to come back! Oh, I also saw Bill Murray in Roppongi Hills. He’s in Lost in Translation which was set in Tokyo! How random is that!!! Haha.

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Tonkatsu fix in Butagumi

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Ramen fix somewhere in Shibuya

Lastly, you can’t have the full Tokyo experience if you don’t try authentic Japanese food cooked by Japanese chefs on Japanese pots serve in Japanese-wares (if there’s such)! I wish I had more time and I wish I had more money to check out the Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo! There are plenty of Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo and it’s such a waste not to dine in at least one. 😦

Tokyo was a blast and it’s easily on top of my best trips this year! I’m glad I was able to do this trip and I know I will never run out of reasons to come back to Tokyo!

Sayonara!

– Belg

Taking Over Seoul

Wow. So it has been a long hiatus as I haven’t been traveling lately. I got back from Seoul a week ago and if there is one thing I learned about this trip is that it is still important to prepare a laundry list of places you want to check out no matter how spontaneous your trip is!

Seoul was totally unplanned although I challenged myself this year to visit a city once every quarter and so far, I am on track. I was in Hong Kong in February; Saigon, Angkor Wat and Bangkok in April, Seoul in August, and, if my trip pushes through, Tokyo in October!

Chandeokgung Palace

Chandeokgung Palace

Changedeokgung Palace

Changedeokgung Palace

As much as I dislike doing touristy stuff when I’m out of town, I had no choice but to do be touristy as I am traveling with my friends and we did not have any itinerary. However, I did enjoy Changedeokgung Palace as I am a sucker for architectures that hold significance in history.

Hongdae District

Hongdae District

Definitely loved staying around Hongdae district as it is a University district so there were a lot of cheap pubs and cafes around. Also, Hongdae is basically a good location as it is just two transfers away from Myeongdong, the shopping district.

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I was gonna hoof it solo on my last day in Seoul as I wanted to check out the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul and the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. I was only able to check out the latter as I was crunching for time as it was my last day but I am glad that my friends were able to visit Leeum with me.

I am definitely coming back to Seoul. I am glad that this trip built my tolerance on Soju and understanding Subway lines. That should prolly help me prepare more for my trip to Japan next month. That should be my last trip for 2014 and I plan to make it as memorable as my Bangkok trip last year!!!