Of Beautiful Weddings, Family Reunions, and Sunset Limitations

The last time (also my first time) I was in Bohol was just last April.  I was with two of my college friends, we got left by our original flight to Cebu, our flight from Manila to Tagbilaran was delayed for two hours, and to top it all off, our luggage went to Cebu instead of Bohol — so go figure.  In fact, I wrote a very looong blog entry about it.  Hahaha!

And then last Friday, I was supposed to go to Bohol again for my cousin Brian‘s wedding…  I booked a flight with another cousin, Charlene, with her husband Ryan.

Thanks again, Ate Cha and Kuya Ry!!! 😀

So we arrived at the airport before lunch since our flight WAS SUPPOSED TO BE at 2PM.  But then again, it got delayed for two hours…  and then it eventually got cancelled.  CANCELLED!!!  To think that my first trip to Bohol was already jinxed!  How malas could I be? 😦

The Sunset Limitation Experience

The reason why our flight got cancelled was because of LIMITED SUNSET.  Tagbilaran’s runway isn’t equipped with lights and whatnot needed for a plane to land — hence, it’s not fit for night arrivals!  Okay, understood.  But as to why our flight got delayed in the first place, that still remains a mystery!  Kaloka diba?!

Luckily, our airline that time was Philippine Airlines (PAL).  So to turn our kamalasan into something good, our cancelled flight was exchanged for a new flight the following day — with a free overnight stay and buffet dinner at Diamond Hotel to boot!  Malas ba?  Well, hindi pala!!!  Wahahahaha!

It was then that Ate Cha, Kuya Ry, and I met the bride’s friends: Minnie and her husband Dao, and of course my roomie that night, Ate She! 🙂

my shared hotel room with Ate She

And since most of us are part of the bridal entourage (Ate She was in fact the Matron of Honor!), just imagine if we all didn’t make it to Bohol in time!  Whew.

making the most of our buffet dinner at Diamond Hotel – courtesy of PAL! 😉

Magrereklamo pa ba kami?  Even the transfers to the hotel and back to the airport were shouldered by the airline.  So really, THANKS PAL!!! 😀

Meet My Relatives

Of course, with weddings come family reunions!  ‘Nuff said. 😀 😀 😀

at the beach reception ♥

The Sanvictores Family

(photobooth photos courtesy of Artline)

with my young cousin from Sacramento, California – Katrina 🙂

The Sanvictoreses

with the California Girl again! Heehee. 😉

Miss Bridesmaid and The Newlyweds

This wedding was actually my fourth time to be a bridesmaid.  The first time was waaay back in high school (I think!) and I don’t even have a picture of that!  But after that, I made sure to document every dress I wore — just in case I collect 27 Dresses and be my very own Katherine Heigl!  Chos!

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!” (Patay tayo diyan! HA HA HA)

Anyway, back to the real reason why I was in Bohol in the first place!  Of course, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEWLYWEDS!!!

Michelle and Brian ♥♥♥ (photo courtesy of Artline)

I wish I took more photos!  But I was so caught up with all the happenings, so I’ll just rely on my relatives’ pictures when they finally upload them!  Haha!  But overall, I say Bri and Mich‘s wedding was a blast!  And that whole sky lantern thing at the end?  Totally epic!  As Katrina put it, “It’s just like the movie Tangled!”

Again, Bri and Mich…  Congratulations!

(photo courtesy of Artline)

May you live happily ever after! ♥

Sojourning in Cambodia

Four months ago, my sisters found out that there’s already a direct flight from Manila to Siem Reap via Cebu Pacific.  Prior to that, we already booked a trip to Vietnam…  but since I didn’t know that I’ll already be free from my work come May, I passed up the opportunity to go with them to Siem Reap since I have had limited leaves!  Ahem!

But I did resign this month, and now I have TIIIME!  *tumbling here*  So days before my sisters’ flight to Siem Reap, I decided to go with them.  Bad news?  It cost me a couple of bucks since there were no promo fares anymore!  Boo!  But good news?  I was finally going to Siem Reap, baby!  As simple as that. 😛

So I just got back from Siem Reap, Cambodia…  but where to start?

Okay, let’s start with Siem Reap’s airport. 🙂  For seasoned travelers, I bet you know the so-called “Banana Pancake Trail,” which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.  You can travel these three countries by bus, but since I’m not a big fan of looong bus rides, my best option is to ride planes — now that, I’m a big fan of!  Hahaha!  Anyway, Siem Reap’s airport was quite surprising (in a good way) considering that it’s a province.  It actually reminded me of a resort, and I can only wish that our local/provincial airports can be like it!

Next, let’s talk about our Cambodian “home” for several days: Sojourn Boutique Villas. 🙂  One of the things I noticed when I first stepped on Sojourn was its eco-friendly ambience, reminiscent of one of my favorite local resorts in the Philippines — El Nido Resorts.

Anyway, upon arrival, we were greeted by their friendly and warm staff.  Plus, welcome food and drinks were served!  Panalo!!!

with Sojourn’s friendly and warm staff

It’s actually owned by an Australian couple, and “with only ten private villa rooms, Sojourn offers journeys of an entirely different nature.”  I also loved their “Book Bundle” concept wherein you can exchange your books for theirs.  Unique AND useful, indeed! 😉

And one of the good things about Sojourn is that it’s like a one-stop place for everything you need for your trip — including tours (click here)!  So yes, we availed of their Angkor Trekker – Private One Day Guided Tour, and our “tour” day pretty much looked like THIS:

Sunrise at Angkor Wat…

We were actually quite “unlucky” because it’s already the rainy season…

(kung saan ako’y biglang nakakita ng mukhang Prince William!  HA HA HA)

Grabe ang ngiti ko oh! =))

Hello there, guy with the green shirt! Kaya lang may kasamang blondie eh… Hayayayay.

Well, sabi ko naman mukhang Prince William…  “mukhang” being the operative word!  Wahahahaha!

breakfast…

my favorite was the Asian rice topped with a sunny-side up egg = yumm-eh!!!

the temples…

Wat Athvea

Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom
(Bayon Temple)

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm was where Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) kicked some butt in the movie “Tomb Raider.” 😀

The so-called “Lara Croft Tree”

After touring the temples, we went back to Sojourn to have aromatherapy massages at their in-house spa called Origins Spa.  By nighttime, we went back to the town center to eat a buffet dinner and watch a traditional apsara dance at Koulen II Restaurant.

Right after that, we went to a night market — where a bunch of sellers called me “lady” to get my attention and eventually buy their products!  Haha, feelingera! =))  But seriously, feel na feel ko ang pagiging “lady” dun!  Bukod sa puro may “royal” ang pangalan ng mga hotel,  ‘sang katutak na sapphires ang binebenta dun!  And as the Duchess of Cambridge‘s royal loyal follower, my eyes easily spotted lots of replicas of her engagement ring! @_@  Kung nalaman ko lang ng mas maaga na sa Cambodia lang pala makakabili nun, edi sana nakamura ako ng mga $20!  Harharhar.

Now you know where to buy a replica of THE royal ring!

Ooh, two more things to remember when in Siem Reap:

-the US Dollar ($) is widely used, so you don’t really have to think twice about foreign exchange; and
-the tuk-tuk is their sosyal version of our padyak!

riding a tuk-tuk!

Last but not the least, let’s go back to Origins Spa.  The day after our tour was our “relax day” because that was the time my sister decided to have another spa treatment!  The best news?  My sister “sponsored” my own spa treatment!  Heehee.  Kaya thanks talaga sa ate ko!  I love her to bits!!! ♥

Anyway, each treatment at Origins Spa includes a complimentary drink and footwash.  As for the main part, my sisters and I each had the Sojourn Signature Spa Package:

“The ultimate in pampering and the perfect way to complete your Sojourn experience.  We start with your choice of body scrub and wrap to cleanse and treat your skin.  While basking in your body wrap, enjoy a Kaffir Lime hair and scalp treatment.  After your body wrap, enjoy a refreshing drink and light spa treat in your garden oasis.
This is followed by a one-hour aromatherpy massage”

Define “bakasyon.” 😀 😀 😀

(shortly followed by merienda at the poolside!)

feasting on Khmer cuisine!!!

Overall, I can say that this Cambodian vacation I just had is one of my best vacations ever!  Kasi hindi lang puro sightseeing, may kasama ding “relaxing” part (a.k.a. spa treatments).  SERIOUSLY.

So babalik pa ba ako sa Siem Reap?  Aba naman, SIEM… pre!  And I hope that you get to experience a Cambodian vacation like this, too!  Kaya ano na...  tara? 😉

How To Be Miss Saigon*

*without starring in a musical! =))

(Feeling) Miss Saigon

Go to Vietnam.
Duh.  You really didn’t think that this is about ze musical, did you?  Well if you did, sorry to disappoint you!  We’re kinda going for the literal meaning of words here…  Besides, I don’t think anyone can replace the Lea Salonga!  NEVER!!!  *fangirl mode insert here*

Ms. Lea Salonga in “Miss Saigon” 😉

Anyway, one of the first things you’ll notice when you go to Vietnam is their public transportation — motorbikes/scooters!

Kung sa ‘Pinas, mga jeep ang hari ng lansangan, pwes sa Vietnam, ITO!!!

Travel with your fellow misses.
Traveling with family is always special.  Traveling with friends is another kind of special.  But when you travel with both your family and friends…  what more could you ask for? 🙂

Yep!  I traveled with two of my sisters and three of my college friends!  In good company, indeed!!! 😀

Be the best tourist that you can be (i.e. tour the place for at least EIGHT HOURS!).
Thank the heavens we went to Ho Chi Minh (formerly called Saigon).  Why?  Well obviously, if we went to Hanoi (the capital of Vietnam, btw!), I might as well use “Ms. Hanoi” in my title!  Haha!  Anyway, tama na nga ang pilosopohan.  Time for some major sightseeing!!!

We availed of Buffalo Tours‘ Full Day Ho Chi Minh City Tour:

“A holiday in Vietnam is not complete without a tour of Ho Chi Minh City.  Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the city is still frequently referred to, is Vietnam’s largest city.  It is a fast-paced metropolis full of contrasts, with street vendors selling fruit and vegetables next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques.  Amazingly, the city’s history dates back only 300 years.  For quality Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon tours, Buffalo Tours has you covered.”

The Reunification Palace

“This is one of the most important buildings in the city.  Here on April 30th 1975 the ‘American War’ officially ended when tank number 843 of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through the gates of what was, at the time the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam.”

Binh Tay Market

“The name ‘Cho Lon’ can be roughly translated as ‘Big market.’  Although the whole district lives up to its name, a visit to this market really drives the point home.  Selling everything from hats to dried squid, you are sure to enjoy a walk through the maze of stalls in this bustling market.”

Chinatown

What’s in a NAME? Hahaha!

Lacquer factory/showroom

In this factory, I finally found the perfect artwork to put in my room!  Spell happiness!!!

Dong Khoi Street, the Opera House, and the Peoples’ Committee Building

“Built in 1897 by French architect Ferret Eugene, the 800 seat Opera House was used as the home of the Lower House Assembly of South Vietnam after 1956.  It was not until 1975 that it was again used for performances.  The structure was restored in 1995.  The Opera House is located on the historical Dong Khoi Street which is home to many boutiques and fine restaurants.  Just around the corner are the iconic Rex hotel and the beautiful Peoples’ Committee Building.”

The War Remnants Museum

“Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, this is a poignant display of the futility of war.  Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching, dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict.  The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks, and cannons captured from the American military machine.”

The Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office

“Built between 1877 and 1883, this is one of the best examples of classical French colonial architecture.  Remarkably, every stone used in its creation was shipped from France to Vietnam.  Her two forty metre towers, topped with iron spires, still dominate the city’s skyline.  The Old Post Office is another example of French colonial architecture and is also the country’s largest post office.”

Eat the Vietnamese way.
Va-va-Vietnam!  Ang sarap-sarap ng pagkain!  Ang mura-mura paaa!  I swear,  EVERYTHING you eat in Vietnam is guaranteed to make you satisfied!  Gastronomic with a capital G!  And don’t even get me started with ze famous Vietnamese Coffee!!! @_@

 From my hotel breakfast…

nilalakong tinapay…

our city tour lunch…

ready for our Vietnamese lunch!!!

PHO!  PHO!!  PHO!!!

 down to their Vietnamese coffee!

Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4!

ANG SARAAAP TALAGAAA!

Arm yourself with your MATH SKILLS.
Who wants to be a MILLIONAIRE?  Well, your wish can be granted in Vietnam!  The đồng (or VND) actually has A LOT of denominations…  with mind-blowing figures!  And since math hates me as much as I hate it, I kind of got dizzy whenever I had to pay for some things that caught my eye!  Hahaha!

just look at all those ZEROOOES…

But don’t get excited too much!  According to Wikipedia, “the đồng currently ranks as the second least valuable currency in terms of exchange rate.”  When we were in Vietnam, US$100 was around 2,840,000+ đồng.  “Around” being the operative word.

Still, ang astig lang ng usapan minsan ‘pag tinanong ka kung magkano ang nabili mo tapos ang sagot mo,  “Mga 1 million LANG!”  Kalurkey much!!!

Fall in love with an American soldier.
THIS… I still have YET to try!  Now if this really happened, you could finally call me The Lucky One!  *cough*Zac Efron*cough*  ‘Wag lang sanang blue eyes nga, tapos cross-eyed naman!  Wahahahaha!  Naging choosy pa eh noh?!

And that’s how you can be MISS SAIGON (The Lady‘s version): Go to Vietnam.  Travel with your fellow misses.  Be the best tourist that you can be.  Eat the Vietnamese way.  Arm yourself with your math skills.  (See if you can) fall in love with an American soldier.

To my travel mates, did I miss anything?
If so, then sound off in the comments section below!  Peace out! 😛