7 Steps for a #GUAM-azing (and Affordable) Vacation!

This is a long overdue post, so forgive me! In fact, it’s so long overdue, it’s even 30 lbs. ago — at least for me! Haha! Yaasss, friends! Meet my tamsy version — a.k.a. nung ako’y isa pang matabang sexy! Wahahahaha! But now you know that even if a lot of changes have occurred in my life in the past year, one of the things that remains consistent is my quest for adventure! Traveling will always be something I’ll do as much as I can, and I don’t need to explain myself to anyone about that. If someone couldn’t accept that, then #kthxbye! I’d rather be in the company of people who respects and understands the value of traveling (and my other values) than be surrounded by negatrons! Okay, dami ko na namang sinabiKaya nga WORDY eh! Mwahahahahaha!

ANYWAY, let’s get down to business.

When I first found out that Philippine budget airline, Cebu Pacific Air (CebPac), would be flying to Guam, United States of America (USA), I won’t deny that I got really excited! Haha! And guess what? When CebPac released their promo fares for MNL-GUM and back, I didn’t think twice and immediately scored round-trip tickets for less than Php8,000 (or around US$150 only!). Of course I was confident with that because I already had a US visa prior to booking my plane tickets, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to NOT purchase plane tickets if you don’t have any visa yet — and this applies to ALL countries that require Filipinos to have visas, not just the US.

Now that we’ve got that covered, here are some steps I suggest you do to make #GUAMazing not just a hashtag, but actually a reality! Hahaha! 😛


First, get a US visa.

Again, I’ll repeat, Guam is a territory of the USA. And for Filipinos, it’s not a surprise anymore that going to any US territory requires acquiring a US visa! So yes, if you want to go to Guam, you must first have a US visa — no exceptions! Please don’t believe any fake news concerning US visa applications. Trust me, if you don’t see it on any of the official pages/websites endorsed by the US Embassy, then it’s probably best to NOT treat any “news” as legit.

The complete step-by-step process on how to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa at US Embassy Manila can be found here! And NO, I WON’T ENTERTAIN FURTHER QUESTIONS CONCERNING US VISAS! My only answer would be, “GO TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE!” 😉

Second, book your flight/s.

As mentioned earlier, I booked via CebPac. I’m in no way affiliated with the aforementioned airline, but I really like flying CebPac despite its sometimes “infamous” reputation for delayed flights, etc. PEACE! Besides, it’s a Filipino-owned company, and I’m all for supporting Philippine businesses!!!

There are other airlines that fly to Guam, but of course that choice will be up to you already. I call this “different flights for different folks.” Basta, book your flight/s! Wahahahaha!


Third, stay at a budget hotel.

Since we’re talking about budget travel here, I’ll suggest staying at a three-star hotel or even a hostel. I haven’t tried couchsurfing or Airbnb-ing yet because I have trust issues (HA HA HA), so next to a luxury hotel, my fallback would be an affordable hotel!


My friends and I stayed at Oceanview Hotel and Residences (which is half-hotel, half condo! haha!), and I can say it wasn’t that bad. After all, we only used it to sleep, take a shower, the usual. And the shopping malls are just a stone’s throw away! Speaking of which…


Fourth, shop ’til you drop (or not!).

Guam is known as a shopping haven (or even heaven! haha) for shopaholics everywhere — whether you prefer designer brands or outlets! Of course if you’re on a budget, you’ll stick with the latter, and that’s what me and my friends did!

GPO was one of my favorite places when I was in Guam. I was able to buy a pair of brand-new Nine West boots for just a little over a thousand pesos! I was also able to score a Michael Kors sweater for less than a thousand pesos, too!!!

Before going to Guam, I was eyeing the Tory Burch fragrance for women but found it too expensive in Manila (around Php6,000 for a small bottle). When I went to Micronesia Mall in Guam, there was a Macy’s store, and you guessed it — I was able to buy the fragrance for a cheaper price!

one of the signs inside Micronesia Mall

one of the signs inside Micronesia Mall

This mall isn’t really for budget travelers (even if it’s supposed to be “duty free shopping”), but it was the closest to our hotel — and that’s where I was able to buy a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm! Heehee!

a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm with the traditional greeting "Hafa Adai!" (pronounced as "half a day")

a Guam-exclusive Pandora charm with the traditional greeting “Hafa Adai!” (pronounced as “half a day”)

Fifth, EAT.

Because CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM!!!

Because of the interiors (haha) and their platters (chicken, ribs, etc.)!!!

Because it’s a diner-style restaurant chain that’s not yet in the Philippines! HA HA HA

  • McDonald’s

Because of their McWrap! (That I wish will be available in Manila, too! huhu)

Sixth, explore…

If you were to choose only three destinations that could fit your limited itinerary, then I’d suggest you explore three out of the four following places:

It was raining when we went to the most popular tourist spot in Guam (hence the umbrella), but we still went because like I said, it’s a “must” when in Guam. Haha! There’s a legend behind Two Lovers Point (mala Romeo and Juliet ang peg!), and you can also have a great view of Guam’s waters (for a fee, though).


And yes, you won’t be able to miss these love locks, which have become a famous “tourist spot” in different parts of the world! ❤

  • Ritidian Beach

Next to El Nido, Palawan, Ritidian Beach probably has one of the clearest waters I’ve seen in my life so far!

Guam has a lot of World War II history, and this park is proof of that. There was an event when we visited, which explains the mini flags planted on the ground.

  • Chammoro Village

The Chammoro people are the natives of Guam, and visiting their village will give you a chance to learn about their culture and even buy some of their traditional products. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit it because of time constraints, but I heard that it’s an interesting thing to do when in Guam so I still included it here. Maybe I’ll visit it next time!

(Optional) Seventh, meet with and make new friends!

My travel buddies and I were fortunate enough to have some friends based in Guam, and this is the part where I’d like to express my gratitude to them for being amazing “hosts” while we were there!

To Kuya Nonie and Ate Nette, THANK YOU for bringing us to places in Guam that we wouldn’t have been able to go to if it weren’t for the two of you! Hanggang sa next #GUAMazing trip namin! Hehe!

To my long-time-no-see girl friend, Jian, kaloka! It took us almost half a decade to be reunited! And this post is so long overdue that you’re already based in Chicago, mainland USA! Hahaha! But yes, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to eat, drink, and be merry with me while in Guam! Alam naaa ‘pag nagpunta rin akong Chicago! Hahaha!

And after meeting with your long-time friends, you might even make a new one on the road! Jian and I were walking the streets of Guam when we met Alejandro! That “meeting” was a really funny story to tell, but then again, that’ll be just among us three. Haha! After all, one of the good things about traveling is the priceless memories you make, which no amount of money can ever buy. Pak! Ganern!!

with our new-found friend, Alejandro

with our new-found friend, Alejandro


Have you been to Guam?
Share your #GUAMazing story, too! 🙂

Travelers of The Month: North America According to Danica and Pia

For this month — the month of HEARTS (or hurts!  Chos!) —  I’ve prepared a very special feature.  Why?  Because I’m not just going to feature one traveler, but TWO travelers!  That’s right.  I’ll be featuring two of my college friends, Danica and Pia, who’ve been kind enough to share with us their adventures in North America respectively!

…with Danica. By the way, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! 😀

…with Pia. 😀

But before that, let’s get to know D and P first, shall we?  So, let’s get the ball rolling…

When do you think the “travel bug” has bitten you?

DANICA: My love for traveling started when I was really young.  I remember my mom would always bring me to Hong Kong with her when she was looking for a possible market for our recruitment business.  I remember then that I’d memorize MTR lanes and stops at a young age.  Also, my dad was very fond of mapping when we are traveling and so, that somehow made me love traveling and getting to THE destination.

Top- Canada; Center- London; Bottom from left- Hong Kong and Malaysia.

PIA: For many years, I’ve been surrounded with people who love to travel.  And since I was a little kid, with relatives and friends going in and out of town, I’ve always dreamed of traveling, riding airplanes, and exploring different types of food and cultures.  I actually labeled 2011 as my travel year, went to different awesome places in the country as much as I could, with my U.S. and Canada trips being the highlights of my travel year.

Canada (Top- Downtown Toronto; Bottom- trip to the Niagara Falls)

How many countries have you traveled to so far?

D: I’m not so sure.  The first few countries I visited when I was young were Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.  The family tours that followed were in Canada, a few countries in Europe, and then the U.S.

P: So far, I’ve been to only three countries [excluding the Philippines]: Hong Kong, the U.S., and Canada. I still have a long list of interesting countries to visit.  This month, I’ll be in Singapore with my friends — it’ll be my first time to go there and I’m very excited!

Do you travel with your family?  If so, how can you describe traveling with them?

D: Yes, it always feels good to travel with my family.  I always feel that we get closer after every trip that we have.  Also, we get to share more stories with our relatives when we get back.  For example, when we went to New York last May 2011, I got to hangout with my bestfriend from gradeschool and sharing stories with my brother (who was traveling with me then) when we went out for drinks made me feel good about the whole trip — it gave a sense of a sharing experience.  During that trip, I got a lot closer to my uncle as well.  He had the week off and booked a trip to New York with us.  He showed us around the city since it was our first time.

P: I travel mostly by myself or with my friends.  In my recent U.S. and Canada trips, I traveled alone.  I was on a total of eight flights.  Yes, it was tiring to carry around huge bags (not to mention not having someone to talk to while on the plane for hours!), but the excitement of getting out of the plane and being in a totally different place made everything so worth it.

What’s “traveling” for you?  How does it affect you?

D: Traveling has always been an exciting experience for me. I’m a very curious individual and I always love learning something new about something or someone.  Traveling has helped me understand better the different cultures and traditions we have and so, it has become something I always look forward to.

Danica‘s TRAVEL TIP: “Always, always travel light.  You can always buy things that you need, clothes in particular, in different destinations.  Plus, they can serve as souvenirs.”

P: For me, traveling’s something everyone should do while they’re still young.  Aside from escaping from your stressful day-to-day life, I believe it’s also a way of discovering how life is lived in other places.  Travel and be inspired!  Don’t pass up the chance to travel while you’re still young because when you get older, there may be a slimmer chance for you to do it.

Pia‘s TRAVEL TIP: “For all those jetsetter wannabes like me, when planning your next vacation, make sure you do some research first before going — for safety and security purposes — then leave everything else for adventure!”

♥♥♥

The U.S. of America According to Danica

Danica has been to the United States before, but her latest U.S. trip last May 2011 was actually her first time to visit both Hawaii and New York.  BUT it was Hawaii that has left a bigger impact on her.  She said, “Hawaii felt like an extension of my province — Ilocos Norte — since most of our relatives are there and I met a lot of people who speak Ilokano.  I got to encounter a lot of Filipinos in Hawaii, especially at Ala Moana’s food court — who were mostly Ilokano, too.

Ala Moana

“So far, I’ve been to California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), Texas, New York, and Hawaii.  Visiting the U.S. is always about visiting some of our relatives.  It’s just that lately, it has also been about visiting a few friends since we’re a bit ‘grown-ups’ now.”

Top- Hawaii; Bottom from left- California and New York.

When asked about the place in the U.S. that has left a big impact on her, Danica shared, “I will never forget my Hawaii trip last May 2011.  Saying that I had a great time’s an understatement.  My stay in the island lasted for a week, and choosing to stay at Kuhio Avenue was so worth it.  I crossed the street to get to the International Market Place, Waikiki Beach, and a stretch of awesome-ness!  Everything was just close to everything, and having to ride the bus wasn’t a pain in the ass compared to riding a bus in Manila.  The week-long trip was unforgettable, but I’ll share those that made it at the top of my list.

Waikiki Beach

“I guess one unforgettable experience I had would be the one over at Hanauma Bay.  It was a great day, the sun was up, and I was so ready to go snorkeling and see the reefs and fishes up close (imagine seeing Nemo and Dory), but it was such a struggle for me because it was low tide on that day!  I tried to swim and simply checked out the beautiful reefs and fishes.  At first, I was really freaking out because they were really close to my face and they’re slimy as f***!  Hahaha!  But eventually I got used to the ‘closeness.’  Right after my adventure, I saw that my legs were full of scratches and bruises.  Reefs are a bad idea when it’s low tide, but the view was just too breathtaking to miss!

Hanauma Bay

“I also enjoyed the Diamond Head trail, a two-mile hike involving steep, dusty, and dark-in-others trail that allowed me to see the beautiful view of O’ahu.

Diamond Head Trail

“And when it comes to food, I’m not hard to please.  I’ve always enjoyed In-N-Out, Cheesecake Factory, the Yardhouse, Panda Express, and Chipotle.”

Danica‘s TRAVEL TIP for those planning to visit the United States:

“When traveling in the U.S., well, sunblock is a must!  Nakakalinlang ang cold weather nila.”

Canada According to Pia

Pia‘s latest Canada trip was short and sweet.  She was also in the U.S. for a three-week vacation, and then she decided to spend a week with his brother and his family who are now living in Toronto.  She remembered, “I was able to make the most of it.  We went to different interesting places.”

A photo of Pia with her brother Marvin, sister-in-law Emily, and niece Mara taken inside the Eaton Center, downtown Toronto.

The Niagara Falls: “One of the most beautiful and breathtaking views I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Standing right in front of it was like standing in front of a 4D painting, complete with cool mist spraying all over my face.”

She was also lucky to have witnessed the annual Santa Claus Parade, a tradition which started in 1905.

“I’ve always thought dinosaur fossils only exist in movies like ‘Jurassic Park,’ but I actually saw real ones in ROM or Royal Ontario Museum – a museum of world culture and natural history.”

Canon Theatre – a historic film and play theatre built in the 1920’s.

“One of the major tourist destinations in Canada, the CN Tower, is one of the world’s tallest structures ever built.”

“My ‘chocolate tower.’ This photo was taken in a restaurant called 360, inside the CN tower. It’s a fine-dining restaurant that literally revolves to offer a great 360 view of Toronto – 1,515 feet above the ground! To those planning to visit Toronto, make sure you don’t miss this place.”

“Tourists, like me, dared to stand on the glass floors.”

“Tim Horton’s is Canada’s version of Starbucks. There’s one in every corner. I was able to try their biscuits (so good!) and of course, their ever-famous French Vanilla.”

Pia‘s TRAVEL TIP for those planning to visit Canada:

“If you’re planning to visit Canada, make sure you’re prepared for the cold weather.  I went there during the fall and I wore layers of clothes.”

“Here’s a photo of me and my niece inside the subway. It’s much easier to go around by taking the bus and the train than driving your own car.”

♥♥♥

When all has been TRAVELED TO and done, the “travel bug” will still keep on “bugging” you!  That’s why Danica and Pia have other dream destinations…

D: My next dream destinations are Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  I’d like to check out Australia and New Zealand for job opportunities, really.  But I’m very much curious about the pure adrenaline drive people are crazy about (bungee jumping, paragliding, and sky diving).  With Japan, basically, I want to see the cherry blossoms and an ice bar.

P: I don’t have a particular dream destination as of yet.  I’m just inspired by my friends and their experiences in different places in the Philippines and in other countries.

And that wraps up North America according to my two friends Danica and Pia! 😀  How about you?  What’s your DREAM DESTINATION?

Well, I think you can agree with Danica first for next month, I’ll be featuring my next continent: OCEANIA (or AUSTRALIA).  See you again on the 12th of March!!!

Keep calm and travel on. 😉


This post is brought to you by The Lady’s 2012 Blog Project.

Also, check out January’s featured traveler
Traveler of The Month: Minnie And Her Latin American Adventure.

Five Countries in One (Family) Day :D

One of my sisters works for one of the country’s top real estate companies, Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) 😉  And last Friday, September 30, 2011, my family and I were able to “visit” China, India, Spain, Vietnam, and The United States of America as ALI celebrated their 23rd Anniversary at the World Trade Center Manila entitled, “Around the World in One Day (ALI Family Day)” 😀

The passport 🙂

The airport 🙂

yours truly

The entire thing was so “karirna kulang na lang ay maging totohanan na!  Hahaha!  Anyway, for each booth, there were several things you could do: create some arts and crafts, eat a food family platter, try the photo booth, etc.  PLUS the performances!  I especially loved the U.S.A. performance because I was able to watch the killer moves of The UP Pep Squad!  Niiice!

China

The stage

The dragon dance performance

India

henna tattoo

Spain

Spanish Visa kuno! Haha!

Too bad I wasn’t able to take a photo of the Spanish booth, but I can remember that they served lots and lots of ENSAYMADA there!  Yuuum!

Vietnam

The United States of America

posing beside my new friend, The Statue of Liberty! 😛

…and a special performance by this year’s UAAP Cheerdance Competition Champion, The University of the Philippines’ Pep Squad! 😉

AND…

The U.K. may not be included, but Mr. Bean was present and I sure didn’t forget about my friend (Union) Jack!  My golly, it’s like he’s following me wherever I go!  Not that I’m complaining, thank you very much. 😀

with Mr. Bean! Hahaha!

(Union) Jack and I, we're ThisClose! 😛

"Long live the Queen!"

More “tourist-y” and kakulitan shots:

But at the end of the day, of course nothing beats being with THY family, and bonding over one satisfying meal!  Awww!

The Chiong Girls ♥

family ♥

BONUS: Here are some pictures of my niece Lila during our family dinner — at isa lang ang masasabi ko: DEFINE HAPPINESS! 😀

😀 😀 😀