Magical Landscapes: Spain, north of the plain

11 06 2014

A view from the backseat of a car of the landscape in the plains of the far north of Castile and León. The photograph was taken on a road trip around the north of Spain in late October 2011. The region is where some of the well-trodden pilgrim pathways of El Camino de Santiago  – the UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James, passes through, taking pilgrims on journey that is blessed with some truly magical landscapes as well as places en route that are a joy to discover.

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The pilgrimage, which dates back to 9th century A.D. sees pilgrims walking hundreds of kilometres (some routes do involve distances of as much as a thousand kilometres) along several routes leading to the sacred destination of Santiago de Compostela in the far northwest of Spain, the shortest of which is just over a hundred kilometres to venerate St. James (Santiago in Spanish) the Great – one of the twelve apostles. It is in a crypt in the city’s cathedral, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, that what is believed to be the relics of the saint, is housed.





My Shanghai Story: marketplace Shanghai

28 05 2014

I would probably be the last person to admit this, but hitting the places to shop at was one of several things that I did thoroughly enjoy about my recent visit to Shanghai.

Shanghai's does offer a wealth of opportunities for retail therapy.

Shanghai’s does offer a wealth of opportunities for retail therapy …

Shanghai does have some wonderful places to satisfy that urge to spend that Yuan in. And like me, if parting with the wad of currency notes isn’t as therapeutic as it might be for one of my blogger friends who was on the trip who did seek to fill that excess volume she did ensure she had in her choice of luggage; there are several destinations in the busy city’s retail scene that are worth a look at just for the opportunity they present to discover the Shanghai that lies behind the glossy veneer that the now ultramodern metropolis seems to want to wear.

Shopping at the brightly lit and trendy Nanjing Road.

… that goes beyond the glossy veneer of the modern metropolis that it does seem to want to wear (photograph is of the brightly lit and trendy Nanjing Road).

The bold excitement that the bright lights of Nanjing Road offers is a good place as any to start with for the would be shopper. While the experience provided by many of the shops along the famous street is perhaps replicated in many other Chinese cities, a stroll down Nanjing Road does provide the feel of what the Chinese idiom 人山人海 (literally mountains of people, sea of people) seems to well describe.

The more modern experience of Nanjing Road.

The modern experience of Nanjing Road and the sea of people.

There is also that huge and rather interesting food hall on Nanjing Road to wander into, the Shanghai First Foodmall (photographs). With its four floors of nothing but food ranging from snacks, traditional dried foods, and some quite exotic looking foodstuff, it certainly is worth a peek into.

Dried pieces of pork include rather bizarre looking pig heads at the Shanghai First Foodmall.

Dried pieces of pork include rather bizarre looking pig heads at the Shanghai First Foodmall.

The bazaars, such as the one by Yu Garden (photographs), are for me also worth wandering through, not so much for the shopping experience, but more for the life provided by the crowds of out-of-town folk who descend on it, as it is for the colour and sometimes bizarre sights that they do tend to provide.

Decorative items at a street bazaar.

Decorative items at a street bazaar.

Two places that did thoroughly fascinate me, within a stone’s throw of each other and in the heart of the city not far from Yu Garden, were the Dongtai Road Antiques Market and the Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market. It is in the rough-and-tumble of places such as these that I often find myself in on the road, seeking to discover a feel for a place beyond its main tourist sights, although admittedly, the two, especially the antiques market, does seem to wear a somewhat touristy face.

An antique reflected off an antique mirror in the sea of antiques at Dongtai Road Antiques Market.

An antique reflected off an antique mirror in the sea of antiques at Dongtai Road Antiques Market.

Dongtai Road Antiques Market (photographs), which sadly would not be around the next time I visit Shanghai – it will, I am told, be a victim of urbanisation and will make way for the next phase of the Xintiandi (新天地) development in July this year, is probably where you might find more junk and souvenirs rather than antiques. A walk by the market’s two streets centered on the crossroads of Dongtai and Liuhekou Road and lined with makeshift stalls with shops in the back, takes one past piles of old and mostly unserviceable goods such as tattered pieces of luggage, cameras, music instruments, sporting goods, implements in all shapes and sizes, dolls with western features, Mao and Soviet era memorabilia, along with replicas of terracotta warriors, tee-shirts, and other souvenir items.

Time is ticking on Dongtai Road Antiques Market - it will soon be a victim of urbanisation.

Time is ticking on Dongtai Road Antiques Market – it will soon be a victim of urbanisation.

It is across Xizhang South Road, which runs perpendicular to Liuhekou Road, that one is greeted not so much by the melody of birds, but by a cacophony of crickets. The huge fighting crickets, kept in baskets of woven rattan or plastic mesh, and also in clear containers of plastic, is one of several fascinating offerings of the Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market (photographs).

Baskets containing fighting crickets at the Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market.

Baskets containing fighting crickets at the Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market.

The market, possibly one of the last such markets in the city, also offers a range of other items as its mouthful of a name does suggest and strolling through its narrow passageways that takes one well  away from the Shanghai that never seems to slow down.

Birds on sale.

Birds on sale.


My Shanghai Adventure was made possible by Spring Airlines, China’s first Low Cost Carrier. Flights from Singapore to Shanghai were launched on 25 April 2014 . More information can be found on Spring Airline’s website. Do also look out for Spring’s special deals which are regularly posted on their website and also on their Facebook Page.

Previous My Shanghai Story posts:


Photographs

Dongtai Road Antiques Market

 

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Flower, Bird, Fish and Insect Market

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Nanjing Road and the Shanghai First Foodmall

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Bazaars near Yu Yuan

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The view out the window

26 05 2014

One reason to sit by the window on an aeroplane is the visual treat you do sometimes get from the air …

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(photographs taken on a flight into Bangkok)





My Shanghai Story: contrasting escapes from the tempests in teapots and more

11 05 2014

One of the fabulous things about Shanghai is that there is a great abundance of places not just to chill-out in, but also find the escape that does appear to elusive amongst the crowds and frenzy of its rather busy streets. Ranging from the many modern cafes and bars that are in keeping with the sophistication of contemporary Shanghai, bars that offer the best views in the city, to teahouses that offer a feel of the more traditional side of Shanghai, there are a great variety of places that offer a contrast in the experience of chilling-out in the city.

What the two full days of the Shanghai Adventure did provide was a chance to have a feel for some of the variety of experiences,  starting with the traditional and which also included an experience of the ‘high-life’ that the modern side of Shanghai does have to offer …


The Traditional

Set in a pavilion that in being surrounded by water to which one must negotiate a path of right angles on a bridge with nine corners is the Huxinting (湖心亭) Teahouse. Well protected from the unidirectionally inclined demons of the old world, it is where one does find an escape from the demons that now plague the new world.

Time seems to stand very still in the Huxinting Teahouse.

Time seems to stand very still in the Huxinting Teahouse.

In its interior, bathed in the earthy hues of its wooden walls, screens and furnishing, one finds a side of Shanghai that does seem forgotten in the city’s relentless march towards modernity.

The calm of its wooden interior.

The calm provided by its wooden interior.

The teahouse, now a veritable Shanghai institution, has been an occupant of the 16th century Ming Dynasty wooden pavilion for most of the time since it first occupied it in the mid 1800s. Despite the teahouse today being more of a destination for out-of-towners, it is over a pot of tea sitting by the window at one of its marble topped tables, that one does find that slice of a charming old world from which one can also observe the demons of the new that lie, at what does seem to be an arms length away, just across the crooked bridge.

Huxinting Teahouse and the nine-cornered bridge.

Huxinting Teahouse and the nine-cornered bridge.

A pot of tea starts off at around 60 yuan, and if you either have a preference for a caffeine free beverage or take joy in the sight of a dried flower coming seemingly alive whilst being infused in a clear glass teapot, flower teas are an option. Tea is also served with several bite-sized snacks, which include small tea-eggs made with quails’ eggs. And if you do decide to have a pot of tea, do keep a look out for a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, having tea – not in a manner she would be accustomed to, in the teahouse.

Pots of flower tea.

Pots of flower tea.

Watching the world go by at Huxinting.

Watching the world go by at Huxinting.

The interior.

The interior.

The early 'crowd'.

The early ‘crowd’.

The upper floor.

The upper floor.

A 'window seat'.

A ‘window seat’.

An employee of the teahouse.

An employee of the teahouse.

Serving tea.

A member of the teahouse’s staff serving tea.


The French Connection

An area of Shanghai that does have a huge appeal for me is  the former French Concession, with its wonderful works of architecture, its history and the atmosphere one does now find in and around many of its tree-lined streets. The French Concession does also have an abundance of establishments to dine in, as well as to chill-out in, from the cafes of Ferguson Lane, to several other street-side cafes and bistros, some set in gorgeous works of architecture dating from the Treaty Port era of Shanghai.

The street side cafes of the French Concession are great modern places to chill-out in.

Reflections on a cafe. The street side cafes of the French Concession are great modern places to chill-out in.

Rumors Coffee on Xingguo Road, promises a peek into the world of new Shanghai in its 'coffee culture'.

Rumors Coffee on Xingguo Road, promises a peek into the world of new Shanghai in its ‘coffee culture’.

Some of the bloggers on the Shanghai Adventure having a good time over coffee and cake.

Some of the bloggers on the Shanghai Adventure having a good time over coffee and cake.

A street side view.

A street side view.

Just next door to Rumors on Xingguo Road, a bistro that is said to offer some of the best cocktails in the city.

Just next door to Rumors on Xingguo Road, a bistro, Mardi Gras, that is said to offer some of the best cocktails in the city.

A room inside the Mardi Gras off Xingguo Road. The Mardi Gras occupies a Spanish-style villa, one of the magnificent examples of the rich architecture of the Treaty Port era of Shanghai.

A room inside the Mardi Gras off Xingguo Road. The Mardi Gras occupies a Spanish-style villa, one of the magnificent examples of the rich architecture of the Treaty Port era of Shanghai.


High Points

One of the must-dos in and around the area of Shanghai’s Bund has to be to elevate oneself to the roof tops of one of the high points, to take-in some of the best views one can possibly get of old and new Shanghai on both sides of the Huangpu. Perched on the roof (levels 32 and 33) of the Hyatt on the Bund’s West Tower, the Vue Bar, for a 100 yuan cover charge, provides just that – the best views not just from the glass protected interiors, but also an open wind swept terrace on level 33 at which you can literally chill in a very inviting whirlpool and feel quite literally, on top of the world,

The entrance to the Vue Bar.

The entrance to the Vue Bar.

Inside the Vue Bar.

Inside the Vue Bar.

Wine racks are part of the bar's decor.

Wine racks are part of the bar’s decor.

A whirlpool with a view. The open-air terrace at Level 33 of the Vue Bar.

A whirlpool with a view. The open-air terrace at Level 33 of the Vue Bar.

The view of Pudong that the Vue offers.

The view of Pudong that the Vue offers.

And a view of the Bund.

And a view of the Bund.

A view of the Waibaidu Bridge or Garden Bridge. The bridge is the first all-steel bridge and the only surviving example of a camelback truss bridge in China.

A view of the Waibaidu Bridge or Garden Bridge. The bridge is the first all-steel bridge and the only surviving example of a camelback truss bridge in China.

On top of the Hyatt and on top of the world.

Chilling-out on top of the Hyatt, and feeling on top of the world.


 

 





My Shanghai Story: the arrival of Spring

8 05 2014

The arrival of Spring, Spring Airlines that is, did spring me a pleasant surprise. That came in the form of an to, quite literally as it did turn out, soak Shanghai up over a weekend, the weekend that coincided with the launch of the Shanghai based Low Cost Carrier’s Shanghai to Singapore route.

The iconic former Normandie Apartments in the former French Concession of Shanghai - a pleasant Spring surprise that did await me.

A survivor from the treaty port era of Shanghai, the iconic former Normandie Apartments in the former French Concession of Shanghai – a Spring surprise that awaited me in Shanghai.

The launch of the route, coupled with the no-frills carrier’s attractive fares (overall, Spring’s fares are said to be some 30% below their competitors), does make Shanghai, just five hours away, a rather appealing destination for that short break away from Singapore.

The attractive fares it offers does put Spring Airlines on your mind when it comes to a trip to Shanghai.

The attractive fares it offers does put Spring Airlines on your mind when it comes to a trip to Shanghai.

Spring, which was founded in 2005 and operates a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft – one of the world’s youngest fleets, sells its tickets directly through their website and mobile apps. Flying over 50 routes, which are mostly domestic, it does have offer several international destinations in Japan, with the latest offering being Singapore.

A high-five to Spring.

A high-five to Spring.

More than any other city in China, Shanghai has a fascinating mix of the vestiges of what was a rather colourful past together with the emblems of its current renaissance driven by its position as the financial centre of a booming land of opportunity. Within easy reach of several other popular culturally rich destinations such as Suzhou and Hangzhou and several water towns, Shanghai does seem to have it all for the traveller, whether on a short break or on a lengthier trip. A big plus is the excellent public transport network does make travelling to many of its attractions quite a breeze. In its shops, cafés, and eateries, ranging from the trendy to the traditional, as well as its bazaars and markets, it does have an appeal for many especially so from Singapore.

On the Metro, a convenient means to move around the city.

On the Metro, a convenient means to move around the city.

Taxis, which are metered and are rather affordable, are also a good way to move around, although communication can sometimes be difficult, and many taxi drivers do often take tourists on a roundabout route.

Taxis, which are metered and are rather affordable, are also a good way to move around, although communication can sometimes be difficult, and many taxi drivers do often take tourists on a roundabout route.

I had two full days at my disposal. While that didn’t quite give me enough time to fully appreciate what the city and its environs did have to offer, the Shanghai I did see, even on what did turn out to be a rain soaked weekend, did have a huge appeal to both the photographer and the traveller in me.

Rain falling off the roof of Huxinting Teahouse.

Rain falling off the roof of Huxinting Teahouse.

The rain did bring an air of freshness and joy to the streets of Shanghai, offering an alternative perspective of Shanghai and its many sights from the umbrella painted pedestrian malls, vendors touting umbrellas at Metro station exits, to reflections of Shanghai’s famous lights colouring its nighttime streets.  The rain did not as well dampen any of what Shanghai is to me all about, a city rich in contrasts and with it contradictions in its mix of old and new, tradition and modernity, and in a heritage that tells us of the meeting of east and west, a meeting that has as much to do with the clash of civilisations as it has about the embrace the civilisations did also find themselves locked into.

The neon coloured glow of Century Square  along Nanjing Road in the rain.

The neon coloured glow of Century Square along Nanjing Road in the rain.

The traditional garden - the must-see Yu Garden in the Old City that dates back to the Ming Dynasty.

The traditional Suzhou style Chinese garden – the must-see Yu Garden in the Old City that dates back to the days of the Ming Dynasty.

A western style garden setting in Xujiahui Park with the building that was the former offices of the Pathé record company.

A western style garden setting in Xujiahui Park with the building that was the former offices of the Pathé (later EMI) record company.

The T'ou Sé Wé Museum, looks at the Jesuit run Orphanage that dates back to the 19th Century that is touted as the  cradle of western influenced modern Chinese arts and craft.

The T’ou Sé Wé Museum, looks at the Jesuit run Orphanage that dates back to the 19th Century. The orphanage is touted as the cradle of western influenced modern Chinese arts and craft – an example of the embrace of the civilisations.

The contrasts and contradictions that gives Shanghai its soul is indeed very much in evidence all around. It is in Shanghai that one can take as much pleasure from sipping tea in a traditional teahouse with centuries of history behind it, as in chilling out over a slice of cheesecake and a cup of espresso in one of the many hip cafés that line the streets of what is today a very Bohemian part of Shanghai in the former French Concession.

Ferguson Lane in the former French Concession and its modern cafes.

Ferguson Lane in the former French Concession with its modern cafés is one of the places to be seen.

Tea in the Huxinting Teahouse, which has a centuries old tradition.

Tea in the Huxinting Teahouse, which has a centuries old tradition.

The contradictions are very apparent in the tourist sites of the old city.

The contradictions are very apparent in the tourist sites of the old city.

The tree-line streets of the former French Concession does seem to transport you far away from China.

The tree-line streets of the former French Concession does seem to transport you far away from China.

The contrasts one will find does certainly not end in the places to chill-out at. From hairdressers, to eateries and places to shop at, sometimes just a few doors away from each other, to Shanghai’s public spaces; the collisions of time, cultures, and even ideologies, seemingly at odds with each other are very much in evidence. All of this does provide Shanghai with a rather unique flavour and one that for me is the Shanghai Story that the city did tell and it is this story I hope will come out in the posts on My Shanghai Adventure that will follow.

An old world hairdresser seemingly out of place in the now very chic former French Concession.

An old world hairdresser seemingly out of place in the now very chic former French Concession.

In contrast with shopping in less trendy settings at the Dongtai Road Antiques Market.

Shopping in the rough: Dongtai Road Antiques Market, which is full of atmosphere. Sadly, I am told the market will make way for redevelopment very soon.

Shopping at the brightly lit and trendy Nanjing Road.

In contrast, the the brightly lit Nanjing Road, provides a more sophisticated shopping experience.

Shanghai is a city that is comfortable with its many contrasts and contradictions.

Shanghai is a city that does seem at ease with its many contrasts and contradictions.


About Spring Airlines Shanghai to Singapore Route

Spring Airlines is China’s first and only low-cost airline, which was founded in 2005 by Spring Travel and has become a dominant player in the domestic travel market in China. Currently Spring Airlines offers flights on the Shanghai (Pudong Airport) to Singapore route three times a week. Each ticket comes with 15 kg baggage allowance (inclusive of cabin baggage). Do also look out for some of the really good travel deals Spring does also offer from time-to-time including a current offer for flights from Singapore (for travel up to 31 May 2014) that includes two nights free accommodation in a five-star hotel in Shanghai (more information including terms and conditions can be found on the Spring Airlines website).

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Spring Airlines has a huge online presence (in fact their website and mobile apps account for all of their ticket bookings), and besides their website, they can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and can also be contacted through Skype (id: springairlines001).

A view inside Spring's A320 passenger cabin.

A view inside Spring’s A320 passenger cabin (click to enlarge).


 





We did once enjoy getting hit by a ball

28 03 2014

This photograph, which was taken at a school yard during my wanderings to Kathmandu in Nepal in April 2011, takes me back to my own days in primary school some four decades ago, when children looked forward to the opportunities for physical activity and outdoor play that presented itself during recess time as well as before and after school hours. It didn’t matter then that we would be sweaty, our uniforms often bearing the marks left by balls or through falling during play. It was pure fun and a perfect way to interact.

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Many of the games we played in the expansive fields involved a good run around. Games such as “catching”, football, rounders were popular, as was the game that the photograph does remind me of, “hentam bola“, or as we did pronounce it, “hantam bola“.

Translated from Malay as “hit with (or by) a ball”, although grammatically not quite correct, the game involved a player, singled out as one who “pasang” – who initially would have drawn the short straw through a selection process that might have involved mini-games of chance (a common one used was “oh-bey-som“, similar to rock, paper, scissors).

Played in an open field, the objective of “hentam bola” for the “pasang” was to chase the other players (who would be trying to give the “pasang” a run around), and attempt to hit another player by throwing a ball with as much strength as one could muster. A successful hit would mean that the player hit would be the next to throw the ball. The ball we used was a small compressed air filled rubber ball, which could sometimes do some damage, not just to the players, but to glass panes in windows and doors.

It is sad that the outdoors feature less in children’s play in Singapore these days, not just due to the gadget age, but also with open space at a premium – many schools have sacrificed parts of their great outdoors for the greater indoors in the form of sports halls and the opportunity for such outdoor play does seem to be greatly reduced.





Borobudur in the light of darkness

13 12 2013

It was in the semi-darkness of a rain washed December’s afternoon that I first set eyes on Borobudur. Even through the dreariness of the semi-darkness, it wasn’t difficult to be taken by the splendour of the temple built over a hill – one that has been described to be the world’s largest Buddhist sanctuary. There seemed also to be an air of mystery surrounding the temple, heightened perhaps by the mood the fast shifting clouds overhead provided in painting the elaborately decorated stepped structure with changing patterns of darkness and filtered light.

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There is certainly much mystery about the age ravaged pyramid shaped structure that rises on the Kedu Plain some 42 kilometres northwest of the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java. Thought to have been built in the 8th and 9th century (between 750 and 842), well before the famed temples of Angkor took shape, not much is understood as to the motivation for what must have been a monumental effort – its construction involved bringing in and working some 60,000 cubic metres of Mount Merapi stone (some 2 million pieces in all). Fiction does accompany fact, in the many stories we do hear of its construction today.

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Legend, as told by a seemingly well-informed guide, Budi, does have it that Borobudur was the work of giants – one lies asleep to protect the structure from destruction in the near distance. A glance across the plain in the direction of Budi’s finger reveals the Menoreh range, the ridge line of which does appear to trace the outline of a gigantic sleeping man which some accounts say is Gunadharma, who has also been attributed as the architect of the temple.

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Whether it has been through a divine hand, or due to the protection offered by the sleeping giant, the monument has, quite remarkably, stood for well over a thousand years. This, despite the fact that Borobudur does lie in the shadow of what has been Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, and also in an area in which earthquakes are not an infrequent occurrence.

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It is also equally remarkable, that we do today get to celebrate the wonder that is Borobudur. Abandoned as far back as the 11th century, it was subsequently forgotten as Islam spread across Java. For over eight centuries the abandoned temple was to lie crumbling and well hidden from sight. Buried not just in volcanic ash from Mount Merapi’s frequent eruptions, but also behind a wall of overgrown trees, it wasn’t until 1814 that the then Lieutenant Governor of Java, Sir Stamford Raffles, uncovered the long lost monument.

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The immense work of devotion sits on a base measuring 119 metres square over which the temple’s nine terraces rise – which takes the shape of a Mandala when viewed from above. The terraces, the first six are square and the three topmost ones are circular, are pathways around which a pilgrim circles on a journey of spiritual learning which takes the pilgrim around and upwards towards the summit. There are three levels on the journey the pilgrim takes, levels which correspond to the stages that the Bodhisattva must pass through in the journey to Enlightenment: Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu – the last being the stage when the soul departs from the body to unite with the gods in Nirvana.

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The path the pilgrim takes which provides a deeper understanding of how Nirvana can be achieved, would have been a rather long one. The journey involves a study of and reflection on reliefs which depict scenes which provide lessons in morality and spirituality, taking a pilgrim from the east on a clockwise path three times around each level. This would allow the study in sequence of three rows of reliefs on each of the two lower levels, Kamadhatu and Rupadhatu – one row lines the balustrade with another two lining the terrace’s inner walls, involving a total of 1460 reliefs (there are another 1212 panels of decorative reliefs).

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At the Arupadhatu level, the appearance of the three tiers which form it, departs from the relief heavy lower levels. Without the balustrades of the lower tiers, the level offers a magnificent view of the plain surrounding the temple, through the stupas arranged on each tier. There are 72 small stupas in all with a large stupa right in the centre which tops the structure. The smaller stupas are constructed with openings in them, through which the images of Buddhas can be seen and also touched. 32 are found around the edge of the lowermost of the top three terraces, followed 24 on the next tier and 16 on the topmost tier.

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One of the touristy things one can do is to join the popular sunrise or sunset tour organised by Manohara Hotel – the only hotel that is within the grounds of the temple (Manohara, which lies a short distance away from the temple, while not the best hotel around, is the place to stay if you do intend to visit Borobudur – rooms are taken up rather fast, and it will be best to book well ahead of your visit). This is highly recommended as you do get some rather stunning views against the colours painted by the rising or setting sun. Unfortunately the skies conspired not to allow me the pleasure of that, although I was able once again to capture the temple in a rather different mood.

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While I am not a very spiritual person, the visit to Borobudur did fill me with the sense of calm and perhaps a sense of contemplation – possibly in the same way it the sanctuary was to have imparted this to its pilgrims of a thousand years before. The visit did also fill me with a sense of awe for what could be achieved through the sheer determination of the human spirit – in erecting a monument of devotion, more so than gazing at the great cathedrals of Europe or the temples of Angkor have done. It is for this that I shall return one day to gaze once more at its splendour and perhaps walk the pilgrim path in search of the peace that comes with reaching its summit.

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Useful information on Borobudur:


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Luchtfoto van de Borobudur TMnr 10015636
An aerial view of Borobudur

(source: Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


More photographs of Borobudur and its reliefs

Borobudur by night as seen from the Manohara.

Borobudur by night as seen from the Manohara.

The sleeping giant in the distance lending protection to the temple.

The sleeping giant in the distance lending protection to the temple.

Reliefs lining a lower terrace,

Reliefs lining a lower terrace.

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The fair

11 12 2013

There’s nothing like an old fashioned fair to bring out the child in anyone.

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There's nothing like an old fashioned fairground ride to bring out the child in anyone.

There’s nothing like an old fashioned fairground ride to bring out the child in anyone.

Sadly, such fairs are now rarely seen in the country where I come from, Singapore, where distractions now come in the form of monstrous theme parks where fun does come at the cost of an arm, a leg and possibly a few spare parts. It was therefore nice to have stumbled upon one on my recent visit to Yogyakarta.

Refreshing to find rides which do not cost an arm, a leg and a few spare parts.

Refreshing to find rides which do not cost an arm, a leg and a few spare parts.

The fair and accompanying pasar malam (night market) I understand is one which makes an appearance from time to time, bringing life and colour to the large open space which is the Alun-alun Utara – just north of the kraton (Sultan’s palace). Offering, refreshingly perhaps, the simple pleasures of ferris wheels, swinging viking ships and manually propelled large merry-go-rounds; it provided good and simple fun as well as provided me with the opportunity to relive some forgotten moments of a past I would otherwise never have been able to go back to.

The manually propelled merry-go-round.

The manually propelled merry-go-round.

More photographs:

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Pasar Kranggan, Yogyakarta

8 12 2013

A visit to any Southeast Asian town or city is never complete without the experience of  a wet or traditional market. The market is often where the colour and life of a city can best be captured and I often enjoy a walk through one as I did on a recent trip to Yogyakarta in Central Java. One of the markets in Yogyakarta which does deserve a visit is Pasar Kranggan which can be found just down Jalan Pangeran Diponegoro from Tugu Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Monument).

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Globalisation in an ancient world

23 10 2013

The colours of Globalisation as seen in an ancient world – the Nepali city of Bhaktapur which dates back to the 9th Century. The city with its old squares and buildings is one which does otherwise take one far away from the modern world. It is also where an ancient festival, that of the Bisket Jatra, is celebrated every Nepali New Year in a way it might have been celebrated centuries before.

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The magic of O Cebreiro

11 10 2013

It was late on an autumn day at the tail end of a road trip with three friends which took me across the length of the varied landscapes of northern Spain that I found myself marvelling at this magical sight. The sight was of the gorgeous purple and orange hues painting the evening sky over the mountain top hamlet of O Cebreiro in Galicia in the far northwest of Spain.

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The village is one which on its own is a magical place – it is where in an stone church set amongst narrow cobblestone streets, stone village houses and thatch-roofed pallozas, a miraculous holy grail is kept. The village, located midway between the León and the the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, lies along the French route of El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James, a medieval pilgrimage route and comes at the end of a steep climb and is place to rest and reflect for many pilgrims.

The pilgrimage route, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, can involve pilgrims walking along entire lengths of several routes, some with starting points in the south of France over distances that typically are in excess of 700 kilometres.

The routes have long been a source of fascination to me – and I hope to have the opportunity to walk at least part of it one day.





Growing up too soon in Bangkok?

17 09 2013

A very young child “minding” a food stall at a market found along the busy Asok Montri Road (photograph taken in October 2011).

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Let’s do the Puka and a lot more!

1 09 2013

There is only one place in the world where you would want to do that Puka, and it is right on Boracay’s Puka Beach. Puka Beach, right at the northern tip of the island paradise is just so incredibly beautiful, that it would certainly have anyone doing what the three ladies, Valyn, Atsuko and Han Joo, are seen here doing – jumping for joy!

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Taking its name from the puka shells found there, the beach is in fact number 84 on CNN’s list of the 100 best beaches in the world. It is one of several parts of Travel + Leisure’s 2012 Best Island in the World I certainly did not get enough of during a magical trip to the island I made with nine other bloggers which came with the kind sponsorship of Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism that was organised by omy.sg.

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There is more on Puka Beach on three previous posts: It’s more fun hopping, skipping and jumping to and in Boracay!Life’s a Boracay Beach; and The irresistible urge to get wet in Boracay . Yes, it did leave a deep impression on me – but it isn’t just doing the Puka, that does have me determined to find my way back to the island.

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Beyond doing the Puka and the incredible beaches (see: Life’s a Boracay Beach), well behind the screens (the beach sand screens that is) and certainly beyond what I did ramble on about in my series of posts, there are perhaps some of the best of and in Boracay that do also deserve a mention (it is a good enough excuse to use some previously un-posted photographs)! These include:


Best Selfie Spot

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Crystal Cove

(Fairways and Bluewater Resort)


Best Person to Pose with

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The Amazing Show


Best Spot to have that Ice Lolly

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Puka Beach


Best Practice on the Island

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The effort taken in keeping Boracay clean


Best Restaurant Decor

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The Indigo at Discovery Shores


Best Spot to get Fishy

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Possibly off Ariel’s Point


Best way to shelter from the rain

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Best Place to get caught in a Limbo

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The Amazing Show


Best Investment

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A waterproof bag or pouch

(Han Joo shows how not to use one)


Best Spot to Unleash that Caveperson in you

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Crystal Cove


Best In-Water Photo Spot

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Crystal Cove


Best Solo Jumpshot Spot

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Crystal Cove


Best Ways to get around

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On a tricycle taxi (or anything with a side car)


Best Places to Eat and Shop

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D’Mall


Best Way to get fruity

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On watermelons


It’s easy now to get to Boracay from Singapore with Tigerair Philippines flying direct and you can win a 5D/4N trip for two by voting either for me or if you see fit, the other nine bloggers at the Boracay Island Escapade Vote and Win Contest – do hurry as you have just 24 hours to do so – voting closes at 12 noon on 2 September 2013.

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My Posts on Boracay

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Hopping, skipping and jumping to Boracay Getting beach-y …
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That irresistible urge to get wet … More to Boracay than just getting wet …
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The Shangri-La – a slice of heaven … More heavenly places to stay at …

The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Depa

rtment of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:


Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade. Do cast a vote for me and stand a chance to win a trip 5D4N trip for 2 to Boracay at Boracay Island Escapade on omy.sg (you may cast one vote a day and voting ends at 12 pm on  2 September 2013).






Win a trip to paradise

25 08 2013


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Boracay, undoubtedly one of the beautiful parts of the world, is surely a place that everyone has to make a visit to in their lifetime. It is now just a hop, skip and jump from Singapore, with Tigerair Philippines operating three weekly flights direct from Singapore to Kalibo Airport. I was there very recently with nine other bloggers on a trip that was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Read about my take on Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Best Island of 2012 at omy.sg‘s Boracay Island Escapade and stand a chance to make your own way to Boracay by voting for me (or any of the nine other bloggers, if you do see fit) at the contest tab (click on this link). Voting can be done once a day until 12 noon on 2 September 2013.

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Puka Beach

Puka Beach

The view of the waters around Crystal Cove Island.

The view of the waters around Crystal Cove Island.

Water activities off Bulabog Beach include Helmet Diving ...

Water activities off Bulabog Beach include Helmet Diving …

Breathtaking Boracay is seemingly on the edge between heaven and earth.

Breathtaking Boracay is seemingly on the edge between heaven and earth.

Paradise Cove.

Paradise Cove.

White Beach Boracay - where much of the action takes place.

White Beach Boracay – where mcuh of the action takes place.

Posts on Boracay

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Hopping, skipping and jumping to Boracay Getting beach-y …
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That irresistible urge to get wet … More to Boracay than just getting wet …
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The Shangri-La – a slice of heaven … More heavenly places to stay at …

Getting there:


Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade. Do cast a vote for me and stand a chance to win a trip 5D4N trip for 2 to Boracay at Boracay Island Escapade on omy.sg (you may cast one vote a day and voting ends at 12 pm on  2 September 2013).





Heaven isn’t just one place on Boracay

21 08 2013

Heavenly places to stay at to have that complete experience of Boracay

[Do also visit my post on omy.sg's Boracay Island Escapade and also my set of posts at that same site.  Do also cast a vote for me and stand a chance to win a trip 5D4N trip for 2 to Boracay at Boracay Island Escapade on omy.sg (you may cast one vote a day and voting ends at 12 pm on  2 September 2013).]

Boracay has probably got everything for an island holiday. While its immense natural beauty alone will no doubt cast a spell on anyone who visits it, the island does boast of some truly wonderful places to stay at to provide a complete island holiday experience one from magical resorts which will take one’s breath away (such as the Shangri-La Boracay Spa and Resort which I last posted on) to places ideal for that beachfront party getaway.

Boracay has some accommodation which would make one want to run back from the beach to.

Boracay has some accommodation which would make one want to run back from the beach to.

Together with nine other bloggers on Tigerair Philippines inaugural flight from Singapore to Kalibo Airport in July, through the Philippine Department of Tourism, I got to have a look at some of them – all of which deserve consideration when planning a trip to the island paradise which was named as Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Island in 2012. The ones I did get the opportunity to look at or have an experience of are:

Boracay's Puka Beach.

Boracay’s Puka Beach – the island was named by Travel + Leisure Magazine as the World’s Best Island in 2012. 


Fairways and Bluewater Resort

A super gorgeous view of the exclusive coves at Fairways and Bluewater.

A magical view at Fairways and Bluewater.

One property that does also offer some magnificent and equally magical views is the Fairways and Bluewater Resort, where one of my favourite scenic spots on the island is. Located on the island’s northeast, it is spread over a 150 hectare site and deserves mention for its three very exclusive coves and its golf course – an 18-hole course which is the island’s only one (it is also where guests at Shangri-La head to for a game of golf).

Fairways and Bluewater features an 18-hole golf course.

Fairways and Bluewater features an 18-hole golf course.

We experienced great hospitality at the resort - with yam ice cream served after coming down the zipline.

We experienced great hospitality at the resort – with yam ice cream served after coming down the zipline.

Perhaps why Paradise Cove did seem like paradise.

Finding out why Paradise Cove in Fairways and Bluewater is indeed paradise.

Paradise Cove.

Paradise Cove.

Beyond golf and the pretty views, there is lots more on offer at the resort, including accommodation and a wide range of activities for the entire family. The activities range from ones in and on the azure waters fronting the resort’s white sandy beaches, to kid friendly ones, as well as activities that would appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure. These include All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rides, zipping high above the treeline on a zipline (the resort does have the longest and fastest zipline on the island) and ones that are less vigourous ones such as horse and segway rides on the beach. Water activities range from getting high or up to speed with jet-skis, speed boats, jet boats, banana boats and parasails as well as popular must-do activities such as island hopping, helmet diving, fly fishing and scuba diving.

There's a range of sea sports which will have a huge appeal to guests with a sense of adventure.

There’s a range of sea sports which will have a huge appeal to guests with a sense of adventure.

Bloggers who did have a very different sense of adventure.

Bloggers who did have a very different sense of adventure (not available of course to guests) on a tour of the resort’s facilities.

Christina with a new found friend.

Christina with a new found friend.

Atsuko horsing around.

Atsuko horsing around.

Valyn all geared up for the segway.

Valyn all geared up for the segway.

William on a horse.

William on a horse.

Lots also to do on and above the water.

Lots also to do on and above the water.

The Maris Spa at Fairways and Bluewater.

The Maris Spa at Fairways and Bluewater.

A look inside one of the spa's treatment rooms.

A look inside one of the spa’s treatment rooms.

A reflection of the beach on the windows of the spa's rooms.

A reflection of the beach on the windows of the spa’s rooms.

The resort’s accommodation ranges from comfortable family rooms to luxurious suites and villas – a total of 300 rooms are available. More information can be found at the resort’s website.

A bedroom in one of the resort's suites.

A bedroom in one of the resort’s suites.

Out on the terrace.

Out on the terrace.

Inside a suite.

Dining area inside a suite.

The Villa Catalina.

The Villa Catalina.

Another bedroom inside a suite.

Another bedroom inside a villa.

A lounge area inside a suite.

A lounge area inside the villa.


7Stones Boracay Suites

7Stones Suites at Bulabog Beach.

7Stones Suites at Bulabog Beach.

I have mentioned the 7Stones Boracay Suites previously as a choice of where I would stay on the island. While it does not come with the stand-out magical views of the Shangri-La and Fairways and Bluewater, its draw to me is its very convenient location. Located on a 4000 square metre plot at Bulabog Beach on the island’s east, the luxury boutique beachfront hotel, is sufficiently far enough from the hustle and bustle of White Beach where most of the action takes place, and yet close enough to it to quite easily get to its powdery white sands and the excitement it offers – being just a short tricycle taxi ride away. I also like the more personal feel it has on offer with only 28 rooms and suites, and its restaurant.

Bulabog Beach near 7Stones Suites.

Bulabog Beach near 7Stones Boracay Suites.

It was at the hotel’s restaurant, the 7th Note Café, where we did have lunch at on the second full day. The cut of premium Australian steak which was served with a huge prawn from the grill that we had was to me the stand-out culinary experience I had on the island! 7th Note Café is definitely a must eat at place if you do ever find yourself on Bulabog Beach.

Lunch at 7th Note Café.

Lunch at 7th Note Café.

Tropical fruit shake.

Tropical fruit shake.

Ice cream!

Ice cream!

Someone was naughty - fortunately Christina had already had lunch!

Someone was naughty – fortunately Christina had already had lunch!

Accommodation at 7Stones ranges from Superior Rooms to large suites with up to three bedrooms to accommodate a family of six. More information can be found at 7Stones’ website.

The children's swimming pool.

The children’s swimming pool.

A suite at 7Stones.

A suite at 7Stones.

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Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa

The resort we did put up at was the Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa, a beachfront property at White Beach’s Boat Station 2. It is perfectly placed, along with the next resort I will introduce, the Mandarin Boracay, to be close to where the bulk of the action in Boracay is as well as having the powdery white sands White Beach has a reputation for, right at its doorstep.

White Beach Boracay - where mcuh of the action takes place.

White Beach Boracay in front of the Boracay Regency.

The Boracay Regency is also one which is very well equipped, offering guests of its 285 rooms a range of facilities which include three very nice swimming pools – all conveniently located to serve each of its three wings. It does offer some wonderful places to dine at including a café right on the beach – the  Seabreeze Café which by night transforms itself into a spectacle with its live band and dancing cooks. Another place to have a meal at which has a very pleasant setting is Christina’s which offers a mix of Filipino and Italian cuisine – it was where we did enjoy our breakfasts at.

The Boracay Regency.

The Boracay Regency.

The stairway to heaven - from the beachside Boracay Regency to the beach at Boat Station 2.

The stairway to heaven – from the beachside Boracay Regency to the beach at Boat Station 2.

Christina's.

Christina’s.

Breakfast at Christina's.

Breakfast at Christina’s.

Accommodation at the Regency ranges from twin bedded Superior Rooms to larger suites and once again, more information can be obtained at the resort’s website.

The three bedded Deluxe Room at the Boracay Regency.

The three bedded Deluxe Room at the Boracay Regency.

Inside the Deluxe Room.

Inside the Deluxe Room.

The balcony of the Deluxe Room.

The balcony of the Deluxe Room.

The Boracay Regency.

The Boracay Regency.

One of the three swimming pools.

One of the three swimming pools.


Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel

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The Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel is another one which is very conveniently located at White Beach’s Boat Station 2, being just a stone’s throw from the Regency. Besides being close to the action, it is very close to D’Mall which is probably the best place to do a bit of shopping in Boracay. Being smaller than the Regency with 52 rooms, it does offer a more personal setting. There’s also a great place to dine at in Don Vito, the hotel’s highly rated Italian restaurant with its offerings of a fresh catch from the sea and the opportunity to also dine on the beach in the evenings.

The Boracay Mandarin's Swimming Pool.

The Boracay Mandarin’s Swimming Pool.

The Boracay Mandarin.

The Boracay Mandarin.

Accommodation ranges from Deluxe Rooms with beds for three to larger rooms and suites. We got to have a look at one of its very nice suites – the Penthouse Suite, perfect for a romantic getaway.

The suites are perfect for a romantic getaway.

The suites are perfect for a romantic getaway.

A King-sized canopy bed.

A King-sized canopy bed.

Inside the suite.

Inside the suite.

The separate bath area.

The separate bath area.

More information can also be found on the hotel’s website.

The entrance to Don Vito.

The entrance to Don Vito.


Discovery Shores Boracay

Discovery Shores.

Discovery Shores.

The last property we did visit, Discovery Shores Boracay Island, is also one which did leave a sizable impression on me. Our introduction to the resort, which is highly regarded being in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s list of World’s Best Hotels, was through dinner on our last evening. Also on the Small Luxury Hotels of the World Collection, its location is without a doubt one of the resort’s key selling points being on the beach right at the top end of White Beach’s Boat Station 1, where the beach is at its widest.

The Indigo at Discovery Shores.

The Indigo at Discovery Shores.

The swimming pool at Discovery Shores.

The swimming pool at Discovery Shores.

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The resort’s 88 rooms (all suites) are all ones to drool over and range from 40 to 45 square metre Junior Suites to Premier One and Two Bedroom Loft Suites of up to 120 square metres in area – some equipped with a Jacuzzi on the balcony. The balconies are ones which do offer wonderful views of the sea – even in the dark of night when we did get to see it. More information can be found on the resort’s website.

The nighttime view from Discovery Shores.

The nighttime view from Discovery Shores.

Through the bedroom window of one of the suites.

Through the window of one of the suites.

Inside the suite.

Inside the suite.

A bedroom inside a suite.

A bedroom inside a suite.

Inside a suite.

Inside a suite.

A bedroom in a loft suite.

A bedroom in a suite.

Inside one of the loft suites.

Inside one of the loft suites.

Another view inside a loft suite.

Another view inside a loft suite.

A view from the loft.

A view from the loft.

Another view from the loft.

Another view from the loft.

The balcony of one of the loft suites.

The balcony of one of the loft suites.


The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:


Location information:


Accommodation mentioned in this post:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade. Do cast a vote for me and stand a chance to win a trip 5D4N trip for 2 to Boracay at Boracay Island Escapade on omy.sg (you may cast one vote a day and voting ends at 12 pm on  2 September 2013).






Finding that slice of heaven in heaven

18 08 2013

The Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa

[Boracay Island Escapade]

Sitting seemingly at the edge of where Earth and Heaven seem to merge, Boracay also plays host to some amazing resorts which will certainly remove any doubts that you are indeed in paradise.

Breathtaking oracay is seemingly on the edge between heaven and earth.

Breathtaking oracay is seemingly on the edge between heaven and earth.

One resort which would surely take anyone over that edge, if it does exist in Boracay, has to be the Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa. Opened in 2009, the resort is set in a vast 12 hectare very exclusive site rising on the hill slopes of the quiet but breathtaking northwest corner of the island, just around the corner from Puka Beach. With two stretches of exclusive beaches measuring a total of 350 metres in length at Punta Bunga and Banyugan, it offers wonderfully spectacular views of the sea – that does take a lot more than one’s breath away, from some of its hill top villas set in lush tropical gardens.

The lobby.

The lobby.

The resort is one which I did get the opportunity to drool over with my new found blogger friends and does have me dreaming of what is a dream places to stay at in a dream destination. Offering some 219 rooms and villas – it is the villas that I did see that did leave a huge impression on me – and from the reactions of the others, on my companions too.

The poolside.

The poolside.

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While we did not get to see the resorts much sought after Treehouse Villas which at right at the summit of the resort’s heights, a very private and perhaps ideal spot to have that romantic getaway, we did get to see the Loft Villas which are perched on what the brochure describes as “the forested hillside and thriving foliage in the aptly named Tanawin (vista) area of the Resort”. The brochure also describes the Loft Villas as “providing a homey atmosphere that measure 216 square meters, with the master’s bedroom on one level and a living room with a pantry on the other. A lap pool beckons guests for a relaxing dip, and those who opt to stay-in can dine al fresco at their very own gazebo”.

The view from the Loft Villa.

The view from the Loft Villa.

What the Loft Villa does have to offer, has to be its stand-out view to wake up to, its bedroom on the upper floor opening up to a view to-die-for. If that isn’t enough – the pool with an infinity edge on the lower level overlooks that same heavenly view – certainly one I won’t ever be able to get enough of.

The infinity edge of the pool and the view beyond it.

The infinity edge of the pool and the view beyond it.

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Besides the Loft Villa, we did also get to see a one bedroom Pool Villa and a two bedroom Villa Balani, both of which are set in a private garden and equipped with private lap pool, a pergola for outdoor dining, an outdoor shower, and a daybed for relaxation – said to be ideal for a family vacation.

The one bedroom Pool Villa

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The two bedroom Villa Balani

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The villas would probably have the effect on anyone of not wanting to leave the resort – not that there is ever a need to with the resort offering a host of activities to interest all age groups, plus the fantastic dining options available with its eight bars and restaurants, one of which we had the pleasure of having a late lunch on a eventful last full day on the island at – the Cielo poolside restaurant. Its offerings – especially of its pizzas and pastas, are ones which were very well appreciated, especially the steak pizza and lobster pizza ! Certainly fare which does complete any experience in a slice of Heaven in Heaven.

Offerings at Cielo

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About the Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa

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Location

Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa is a lush natural sanctuary located on a hillside overlooking the ocean at the northern tip of Boracay Island. The secluded resort features 350 metres of immaculate beachfront and 12 hectares of abundant gardens. From Manila, it is just a short 45-minute flight to the island’s Caticlan Airport and a further 15-minute combined sea and land transfer.

Accommodation

Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa comprises 219 elegant and spacious guestrooms and villas, each characterised by a fusion of contemporary and indigenous designs. All rooms feature private balconies with impressive views that can be enjoyed from cosy daybeds. The resort’s unique tree houses have outdoor Jacuzzis and every villa provides a private pool, butler service and a luxurious 108 square metres of space.

For more information, do visit Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s website.


The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:

Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade.






High and mostly dry in Boracay

12 08 2013

Staying high and mostly dry in Boracay

[Boracay Island Escapade]

Having found my paradise on the first full day on the beaches and getting wet in blue waters of Boracay, I would probably have been quite happy just taking the sun, the sand and the sea in, over the two more full days we were to have on the island. After all, it isn’t often that I am lucky enough to find myself in heaven on earth. However, I must say that no trip to the island would be complete without an experience of some of what we did get to do over the two remaining days that did go beyond just satisfying that urge to get really wet in Boracay.

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At the top of the list of activities has to be the so called sunset cruise we took on the paraw in the late afternoon of the second day in the seas off White Beach’s boat station 3. Rocked by the gentle motions of the sail powered double outrigger Visayan boats, the cruise is a great way to spend half an hour relaxing over the waters, bathed in the late afternoon sunshine and fanned by the gentle breeze. The paraws do take up to six or seven passengers, who are provided with lifejackets.

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While from afar, the paraws do not look like something which passengers could be comfortable on, the experience certainly was very comfortable – netting secured between two beams attached to the outriggers on either side of the boat allow for comfortable seating – as well as a place where one could spread out horizontally.

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Next on my list is something for the pseudo thrill seeker I do admit to being to – cliff diving. This is done not exactly from the edge of a cliff, but from the end of a cantilevered plank extending well beyond the cliff face. It does give one the feeling of ‘walking the plank’ and while I do know some of my fellow bloggers on the trip did have some misgivings about the dive, it was something I was glad to have had the experience of and I did thoroughly have fun doing it.

Walking the plank at Ariel's Point.

Walking the plank at Ariel’s Point.

The location for this activity, Ariel’s Point, is actually not on Boracay itself but an hour’s boat ride south to the north-western Panay – the island Kalibo Airport is on. Getting from the boat to the dive location does make it a bit of a challenge – we did have to swim across in deep water and depending on the sea conditions, climb onto a suspended ladder or onto a rock ledge, I thought it was very much part of the adventure.

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Being something that is done from a height – it is probably not something that would appeal to everyone, but if you are game, I do recommend it – if you are willing to fork out the PHP 1600 it does cost to do it (which includes the boat ride over). The planks are arranged at several heights starting from 5 metres to as high as 15 metres. It is probably important to land as vertically as possible as landing incorrectly can be quite painful.

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Another thing that might be worth doing, taking some breathtaking views (whilst not screaming) of the hilly areas of northern Boracay and the seas below it, is the zipline. There are two to choose from, one from Mount Luho, the highest point on Boracay and the other from the Zipline Boracay at Fairways and Bluewater Resort – said to be the longest and fastest zipline on the island. It was the latter we did try – certainly much more thrilling than the flying foxes I attempted as a boy scout in my younger days.

Skipping down a zipline at Fairways and Bluewater.

Skipping down a zipline at Fairways and Bluewater.

Speaking of Mount Luho – it again is somewhere worth going up to, not least for the views you do get up there, especially of the Bulabog Beach area and beyond. A great way to go up is on an All-Terrain Vehicle, or ATV. Except for the initial stretch of dirt road, most of the ascent is on wide paved roads and from the parking area at the top, it is a short climb up to the summit where the zipline is,  and also where you will find several caged birds. A lookout point gives the wonderful views I mention.

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Another thing that can be done on Mount Luho, although I won’t recommend it is rolling down a slope in a Zorb, filled with a little bit of water, into a pool at the bottom. I didn’t attempt to do this as I didn’t really fancy rolling down a slope in an uncontrolled fashion – and with a few reporting bruised limbs, swallowed water and a wardrobe malfunction – it might be something to think twice about before doing.

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If you are looking for unusual evening entertainment – in the form of a cabaret type show, there is the Boracay edition of the Amazing Show. The show, at 7 pm and 9 pm each evening, features very pretty dancers performing entertaining dance sequences which range from traditional dances at the start to more contemporary routines – the pretty dancers all being men! The show does seem to be especially popular with the Korean and Japanese tourists and do beware – it does include some interaction with the audience.  You can also pose with the performers at the end of the one hour show – for which tipping is expected.

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With the entire cast of the Amazing Show.

With the entire cast of the Amazing Show.

Last but not least, Boracay does also feature some very nice spas – one that some of us did visit was the Mandala Spa (see website for price list) – reputedly one of the best in Boracay, and one which pledges to plant a tree for every spa treatment booked. The verdicts from the bulk of the bloggers who did have a massage were quite positive. It is perhaps the experience for which makes the spa well worth a visit to – it is set amid lush greenery and the treatments carried out in a villa-like setting to the sound of crickets and in our case, the soothing pitter-patter of rain falling on the thatched roofs of the villas – which certainly made the experience more special – an experience which does make Boracay a much more complete as a destination than it just being a beach.

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Information on activities mentioned in this post:

  • Paraw Sail : PHP 1500 per paraw (good for 6 – 7 persons)
  • Cliff Diving (with Boat Transfer) : PHP 1600 per head (minimum age 18 years)
  • Zorb: PHP 400 per person
  • ATV: PHP 800 per person
  • Zipline: PHP 700 per person (at Fairways and Bluewater Resort)

The above activities can be reserved through Marsman Travel email: reservations@marsmandrysdale.com, Telephone: +632 8880228.

(Prices are provided only as a guide and are subject to variations and change)


The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:

Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade.






The irresistible urge to get wet

11 08 2013

How best to get wet in the inviting waters of Boracay

[Boracay Island Escapade]

One thing that is irresistible being in Boracay, is urge to get wet. And, the invitation from its enticing blue waters does make any resistance one intends to offer quite futile – there being so many ways there is to do so that go beyond just diving in.

Happiness is getting wet in Boracay!

Happiness is getting wet in Boracay!

The enticing waters of Boracay is an invitation for anyone to jump right in.

The enticing waters of Boracay is an invitation for anyone to jump right in.

Together with nine other bloggers sponsored by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism to mark the inaugural Tigerair Singapore to Kalibo flight, I did get to discover some of the wonderful ways to get acquainted with the emerald blue waters of Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Best Island destination of 2012, which include both in and on water activities.

Christina jumping into the inviting crystal clear blue waters.

Christina certainly did not need a second invitation.

Right at the top of the list of must-do in-water activities has to be helmet diving, the helmet being a heavy fibreglass shell with a clear visor – heavy to be able to rest on a person’s shoulders. A constant supply of pressurised air from the surface through a hose into the helmet allows the wearer to breath normally, also keeps the water out, exhausting through the opened bottom. While this does not allow the mobility that scuba diving or even snorkelling does, it does allow the wearer to walk on the sea bed under several metres of water – a wonderful way especially for those who have not had the opportunity to take up scuba diving, to get a view of Boracay’s underwater world.

The waters off Bulabog Beach where the helmet diving activity is carried out.

The waters off Bulabog Beach where the helmet diving activity is carried out.

Just before the descent. A helmet will be placed over the person diving with a certified scuba diver on hand to lend assistance.

Just before the descent. A helmet will be placed over the person diving with a certified scuba diver on hand to lend assistance.

What the fish!

What the fish!

Getting acquainted with the fishies during the helmet dive.

Getting acquainted with the fishies during the helmet dive.

Descending into the underwater world from the pontoon platform we were transported to was done via a ladder and once the heavy helmet is placed on top of your head (it weighs 30 kg in air and less in water because of its buoyancy), the descent is assisted by a certified scuba diver, the instructions of whom it is important to follow (it is also important to listen to the safety briefing prior to the dive which does provide necessary instructions as well as what hand signals do mean and when to use them). Dives are done in groups and once down, the 15 minute dive allows not just an opportunity to interact with those in your group, but also to take a few photographs and interact with the fish (a piece of bread would be given to each person to feed the fish).

Water activities off Bulabog Beach include Helmet Diving ...

Helmet Diving.

The view from the bottom.

The view from the bottom.

Melissa underwater.

Melissa underwater.

The helmet dive, which everyone certainly enjoyed, was part of the activities planned on our first morning in Boracay which also included the opportunity for us to snorkel in the beautifully clear waters and ride on a banana boat – all of which took place around the reef off Bulabog Beach (do refer to my previous post on Boracay’s beaches). This was followed by an island hopping adventure (which the snorkelling activity was actually a part of) and lunch at Tambisaan Beach – all which was an excellent way to get to know the island resort. While I did not particularly look forward to the banana boat, the ride was certainly something which did surprise me – not so much for the speed at which it was towed by the speed boat, but for the wonderful views we go from the boat of the rugged coastline along the northern eastern side of the island.

On the Banana Boat.

On the Banana Boat.

And riding on a Banana Boat.

Riding the Banana Boat.

Great views from the Banana Boat.

Great views from the Banana Boat.

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Snorkelling is something I will never pass up the opportunity to do. It does offer a great way of seeing the coral reef below. While it would probably have been nice to see the coral below close-up, the spot we found ourselves at was perhaps a little too deep to do that. Still it was an excellent way to say hello to (or maybe in my case, scare) the colourful little fishies in the water.

Valyn snorkelling.

Valyn snorkeling.

William and Melissa with snorkels.

William and Melissa with snorkels.

The view below.

The view below.

The highlight of the day’s activities for me was the island-hopping adventure which took us first southeast to Crystal Cove Island, a small two hectare island situated where the Tabon Strait between Boracay and Panay joins the Sibuyan Sea. The island is an adventure in itself on which one can walk along it rocky coastline, take in some really magnificent views of the shallow waters that surround it, as well as explore two caves, the westward facing one of which offers a very inviting place to have a dip in at its seaward end – which certainly was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for those of us who did want to squeeze through a tiny opening and venture in. The island does play host to both visitors as well as campers, and interestingly, can also be rented for private functions. More information on it is available at its website.

A Ninja Girl jump at Crystal Cove Island.

The Ninja Girl jump at Crystal Cove Island.

Crystal Cove Island.

Crystal Cove Island.

Cave exploring on Crystal Cove Island.

Cave exploring on Crystal Cove Island.

The first cave we explored.

The first cave we explored.

The view of the waters around Crystal Cove Island.

The view of the waters around Crystal Cove Island.

Another view.

Another view.

On Crystal Cove Island looking east towards the Sibuyan Sea.

On Crystal Cove Island looking east towards the Sibuyan Sea.

The view out from the seaward opening of the second cave.

The view out from the seaward opening of the second cave.

Going for a dip outside the opening of the second cave.

Going for a dip outside the opening of the second cave.

From Crystal Cove Island on which we spent about one and a half hours on, it was time to head over to Tambisaan Beach, on the south-eastern coast of Boracay, our seafood picnic lunch stop. On the table for lunch was a buffet, along with Chilli Crab and huge and succulent grilled prawns which was brought to the table – in a beach side cafe like setting.

Tambisaan Beach.

Tambisaan Beach.

Juicy prawns - part of a seafood picnic lunch at Tambisaan Beach.

Juicy prawns – part of a seafood picnic lunch at Tambisaan Beach.

And chilli crabs!

And chilli crabs!

The waters off Tambisaan Beach.

The waters off Tambisaan Beach.

Pushing off from Tambisaan Beach.

Pushing off from Tambisaan Beach.

Crocodile Island seen just after leaving Tambisaan - shaped like a crocodile.

Crocodile Island seen just after leaving Tambisaan – shaped like a crocodile.

The hour long lunch was followed by a long boat ride which took us along the eastern length of Boracay from south to north in about half an hour, a ride which did give us some remarkable view of the island. The view as we approached the next intended stop, Puka Beach, was certainly one that I took great delight in.

Bats seen perched on trees along the eastern coast of Boracay.

Bats seen perched on trees along the eastern coast of Boracay.

Rocky cliff face along the eastern coast.

Rocky cliff face along the eastern coast.

A beach on the north-eastern coast.

A beach on the north-eastern coast.

Puka Beach in my opinion has to be right at the top of anyone’s list of must-see sights on Boracay (see my previous post: It’s more fun hopping skipping and jumping to and in Boracay). Right at the top edge of the island, it does seem as if it is the ends of the earth one is at, and where heaven perhaps begins. The feeling one gets standing on its beach is a simply magical one, from which one gets some of the best picture perfect views there are seem too many of on Boracay. Its quiet and isolation does give one a sense of being lost in paradise, as one takes it all in standing on the unspoilt beach and gazing across the azure waters that lay just beyond it.

The approach to Puka Beach.

The approach to Puka Beach.

A view of Puka Beach from the sea.

A view of Puka Beach from the sea.

Paradise on earth - Puka Beach.

Paradise on earth – Puka Beach.

Puka Beach, Boracay.

Puka Beach, Boracay.

A huge jump for joy at Puka Beach.

Leaping for joy at Puka Beach.

On the beach, I did not need a second invitation to jump right into the seemingly magical waters, as did many of the bloggers. I would, if I could, have spent the whole day at Puka Beach, just for the magic spell it seemed to have weaved around me, and also to help me reconnect with youth that’s long been lost, when the beach like this might have been what I would have lived for.

No one really needed a second invitation to get really wet in the inviting waters of Puka Beach.

No one really needed a second invitation to get really wet in the inviting waters of Puka Beach.

The hour on Puka Beach was certainly one I will not forget, not least for the leaping beauties I was in the company with. Back on the boat, it was now time to head back to White Beach, the boat taking a route around the northern tip and over to the western side of the island and passing some of the very exclusive cliff side hotel property found in the island’s northwest. This included a wondrous view of the Boracay Shangri-la with some of its very private loft villas, which do command some of the best views to wake up to on the island, perched high on the cliffs. Before we knew it we found ourselves back at White Beach. It was at Boat Station 3 we did find ourselves at, half an hour or so after leaving Puka Beach, greeted by the colourful sails the the many paraw double outrigger boats found at the station. It is from Station 1 where one boards the paraws for a sunset cruise – another must do activity. It wasn’t however for us to do that afternoon – we were to head back to the Regency to prepare for what turned out to be an amazing evening.

The along the northwestern coast of Boracay.

The along the northwestern coast of Boracay.

The beach at Shangri-la Boracay.

The beach at Shangri-la Boracay.

Paraws at White Beach's Boat Station 3.

Paraws at Boat Station 3 greeted our arrival back at White Beach.

Another view of the Boat Station 3.

Another view of the Boat Station 3.


Information on activities mentioned in this post:

  • Island hopping with lunch: PHP 1500 per head
  • Helmet dive: PHP 800 per person (minimum age 8 years – and must be able to bear weight of helmet in water)
  • Banana boat – 250 per person

The above activities can be reserved through Marsman Travel email: reservations@marsmandrysdale.com, Telephone: +632 8880228.

(Prices are provided only as a guide and are subject to variations and change)


The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:

Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade.






Life’s a Boracay Beach

8 08 2013

What to get beachy about on Boracay

It’s been almost three weeks since I got back from a truly enjoyable escapade with nine other bloggers to the resort island of Boracay in the Philippines. The island, set in a picture perfect world surrounded by gorgeously beautiful emerald blue waters, is one which has left a huge impression on me. It is also one which I certainly count as one in my list of magical places I have been fortunate enough to visit, and one which should really be in anyone’s bucket list of must-visit places in one’s lifetime.

A great to be for a beach bum - lying flat on a paraw..

A great to be for a beach bum – lying flat on a paraw..

Life's a beach on Boracay - any time of the day.

Life’s a beach on Boracay – any time of the day.

Sunrise at Bulabog Beach.

Sunrise at Bulabog Beach.

Of the many experiences the island does offer, it is probably the beach that is first and foremost on the mind of anyone who has made a visit. The beaches on Boracay come to live in many different ways throughout the day – and night and visiting them has awakened that long dormant beach bum in me.

Sunset at White Beach.

Sunset at White Beach.

The beach which should probably be mention first has to be White Beach. Four kilometres of the finest white sand, it is has been described as the “Mother of All Beaches”. The beach which is divided into three boat stations, is perhaps an obvious choice to base oneself, being where the “action” on Boracay is centred around, including the nightlife Boracay is also well known for. White Beach is also where much shopping and beachside entertainment and dining is to be found and is certainly the place to be as well as a place to be seen at. Facing west, the beach is also an obvious place to catch the sunsets Boracay is famous for from.

Lots of beach side entertainment can be found at White Beach.

Lots of beach side entertainment can be found at White Beach.

White Beach Boracay - where mcuh of the action takes place.

White Beach – the mother of all Boracay beaches, seen at Boat Station 2..

Dancing to the sea breeze at Seabreeze, the beach side cafe of the Boracay Regency.

Dancing to the sea breeze at Seabreeze, the beach side cafe of the Boracay Regency.

Lots of dining options at Boat Station 2.

Lots of dining options at White Beach.

Catch of the day.

Catch of the day.

The numerical order of boat stations the beach is sub-divided into does also provide an indication of the regard with which each section is held. The top end of the beach is where Boat Station 1 can be found. It is the most exclusive and also widest part of the beach where some of the more upscale resorts which spill directly out to the beach are – including the very exclusive Discovery Shores, which we were to visit on our last evening there.

White Beach at Boat Station 1 by night.

White Beach at Boat Station 1 by night.

The very exclusive Discovery Shores at Boat Station 1.

The very exclusive Discovery Shores at Boat Station 1.

A fire dancer performing at Discovery Shores.

A fire dancer performing at Discovery Shores.

The nighttime view from Discovery Shores.

The nighttime view from Discovery Shores.

The top section is also where the much celebrated Jonah’s Fruitshake and Snack Bar can be found – a must visit for any one in Boracay with a craving for milkshakes packed with real fruit – and if you like, a shot of additional flavouring taking the form of rum!

Jonah's - an institution of sorts in Boracay.

Jonah’s – an institution of sorts in Boracay.

Fruit-full milkshakes - served in a bottle.

Fruit-full milkshakes – served in a bottle.

The section where we did find ourselves at was at Boat Station 2. This is where there is a mix of accommodation types including the Boracay Regency where we stayed at, and the Boracay Mandarin we were dined at and visited on the third evening. Station 2 is also where most of the beach side action is to be found, and where D’Mall – a favourite tourist shopping spot can be found. D’Mall is also where the Hobbit House, with its rather interesting crew of “hobbits” – pint sized staff, can be found.

The stairway to heaven - from the beachside Boracay Regency to the beach at Boat Station 2.

The stairway to heaven – from the beachside Boracay Regency to the beach at Boat Station 2.

A ferris wheel at D'Mall.

A ferris wheel at D’Mall.

A sandwich shop at D'Mall.

A sandwich shop at D’Mall.

Christina doing her souvenir shopping at D'Mall.

Christina did her souvenir shopping at D’Mall.

As did Atsuko.

As did Atsuko.

The nightlife scene at Boat Station 2.

The nightlife scene at Boat Station 2.

Some of the gang shopping by the beachside at Boat Station 2.

Some of the gang shopping by the beachside at Boat Station 2.

Having fun in the rain at Boat Station 2.

Having fun in the rain at Boat Station 2.

Hobbit House at D'Mall.

Hobbit House at D’Mall.

By the beach side at Boat Station 2.

By the beach side at Boat Station 2.

The southernmost section of White Beach, or Boat Station 3, is said to have the most relaxed of atmospheres – and again where a mix of both budget as well as luxury accommodation can be found. It is also where the beach is gaily decorated by the blue and white sails of the paraws – the double outrigger boats of the Visayas – the group of islands surrounding the Visayan Sea of which Boracay and Panay belongs to. It is from station 3 that the paraw cruises depart – an excellent way to spend a late afternoon.

White Beach at Boat Station 3.

White Beach at Boat Station 3.

Another view of the Boat Station 3.

Another view of the Boat Station 3.

Paraw Cruising from Boat Station 3.

Paraw Cruising from Boat Station 3.

While White Beach does perhaps have the finest of sands and is an excellent place to have a dip in the sea in or sip a cocktail by the beach under a parasol at, it can get rather crowded and if you do want to look for a nice quiet but publicly accessible beach which takes you away from it all and on which you can feel that you are indeed in paradise, than Puka Beach has to be it. Much about the beach can be found in my previous post – in which I thought it deserved mention as being one of two of my favourite spots on the island.

Puka Beach.

Puka Beach.

If it is privacy and exclusivity you are looking for, the island does also offer the visitor a choice several very exclusive resorts, all with private and exclusive beaches. Two which come to mind are the Fairways and Bluewater Resort and the Shangri-la Boracay. The former is where Paradise Cove (the other favourite spot I previously mentioned) as well as two exclusive coves are located and where it is possible to ride a segway or mount a horse to have a feel of one of its wonderful beaches. It is also possible to have a ride on a glass bottomed boat on Paradise Cove to have a top down view into its crystal clear waters. The natural platform beneath the rock arch found at Paradise Cove is also one which the Shangri-la has been permitted to land its guests on.

Paradise Cove.

Paradise Cove.

On the segway on the beach at Fairways and Bluewater Resort.

Catherine on the segway on the beach at Fairways and Bluewater Resort.

Atsuko horsing around at Fairways and Bluewater.

Atsuko horsing around at Fairways and Bluewater.

The Boracay Shangri-la on the northwest of the island around the corner from Puka Beach is has got to be the place to stay at – if you are looking in the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity with its many private villas, some arranged on the hill slope offering simply stunning views of the Tablas Strait. It has a very exclusive stretch of its own beach, Bayungan Beach, but if one is putting up in one of the three private villas we did get to see, who then needs a private beach?

The beach at Shangri-la Boracay.

The exclusive beach at Boracay Shangri-la.

Besides the beaches already mentioned, there were a few more I did see. Two we did see as part of an island hopping boat ride were the ones at Crystal Cove Island and Tambisaan Beach where we were to have lunch at. Another was east facing Bulabog Beach, less attractive as a beach goes compared to White Beach or Puka Beach, but off which much of the sea sports and activities Boracay is also famous for, does take place. The sports one can participate in include kite boarding and windsurfing – best done from November to April. With a reef fround offshore, it is in the protected waters off Bulabog Beach where some of the recommended activities associated with Boracay such as helmet diving, snorkelling and on-water sports can be done (I will devote another post to the on and in-water activities we did do).

Tambisaan Beach.

Tambisaan Beach.

The gang at Bulabog.

The gang at Bulabog.

What's on offer at Bulabog.

What’s on offer at Bulabog.

Water activities off Bulabog Beach include Helmet Diving ...

Water activities off Bulabog Beach include Helmet Diving …

And riding on a Banana Boat.

And riding on a Banana Boat.

Bulabog, across the island at its narrowest point from White Beach’s Station 2, is also where the 7Stones Boracay Suites – probably my choice of where to stay, is to be found at. It was where we did have lunch at on the second full day in Boracay (the third on our itinerary), at the 7th Note Café – best known for its barbecues – where we did have the best meal during our stay in Boracay at. Why it would be a choice of where to stay for me is its location – which is close enough to the action, but yet far away enough from the hustle and bustle of White Beach – and perhaps the small size of the resort. And if it is the fine sand beach I want to head to, White Beach is only a short tricycle taxi ride away – which does make it “more fun in the Philippines”.

Bulabog Beach near 7Stones Suites.

Bulabog Beach near 7Stones Suites.

A tricycle taxi.

A tricycle taxi.

7Stones Suites at Bulabog Beach.

7Stones Suites at Bulabog Beach.

Bulabog Beach.

Boats at Bulabog Beach.


The trip to Boracay was made possible by Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism. Tigerair now flies direct to Kalibo Airport – for more information on flights to Kalibo, do visit http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.

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Getting there:

Location information:


This is a repost of my post on Boracay Island Escapade.






It’s more fun hopping, skipping and jumping to and in Boracay!

2 08 2013

I am so going back to Boracay!  Back from a most wonderful of breaks to what is Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Island destination of 2012 and in my books the best beach destination I have until now visited, there certainly isn’t anything that is going to get in the way of me going back there.

White Beach Boracay - where much of the action takes place.

White Beach Boracay – where much of the action takes place. Boracay was named as Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Best Beach destination for 2012.

Boracay, an island which lies off the north western tip of Panay, a larger land mass south of Manila, is certainly blessed much to marvel at. With its many coves lined with white sandy palm fringed beaches, and some adorned with coastal rock formations, the already beautiful views in and around the island are made even more picture postcard like by the wonderfully clear emerald blue waters which surround the island – any photograph of it must certainly entice anyone looking at it to want to head straight to Boracay!

Puka Beach, Boracay.

Puka Beach, Boracay.

My visit to Boracay, which must count as a godsend, was possible through Tigerair Philippines and the Philippine Department of Tourism, who generously sponsored the trip together with nine other bloggers. While the company of the group of fun-loving bloggers did make the trip even more enjoyable, it was in discovering what Boracay did have to offer that was to leave the greatest impressions. And, I must say that Boracay does have a lot more to it than just lazing by its white sands, sipping a drink under a parasol whilst listening to the gentle lapping of its gorgeous blue waters.

A paraw off White Beach.

A paraw off White Beach.

The trip did begin with much fanfare – not so much for the delusions some bloggers did have about the fame that followed them, but because it was done in conjunction with Tigerair Philippines inaugural flight from Singapore to Kalibo on 18 July 2013. The flight was certainly one which carried a lot of significance, as with Tigerair flying to what is the gateway to Boracay three times a week from Singapore, the island paradise of Boracay, is as I was told, only “a hop, skip and jump” away. This does make it a lot more convenient getting to the island, and no longer would it be necessary for a transit through either Cebu or Manila, which does save up to 5 hours of travel time which even with must surely still be worth the while getting to Boracay.

Tigerair Philippines VP for Commercial Joey Laurente (left in a Barong) cuts the ribbon together with Lim ChingKiat, Changi Airport Group SVP for Market Development. Witnessing the event is Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Minda Cruz.

At the gate before the inaugural flight: Tigerair Philippines VP for Commercial Joey Laurente (left in a barong) cuts the ribbon together with Lim ChingKiat, Changi Airport Group SVP for Market Development. Witnessing the event is Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Minda Cruz.

Flying over Kalibo.

Flying over Kalibo.

Welcoming the passengers at Kalibo - Mardi Gras style dancers.

Welcoming the passengers at Kalibo – Mardi Gras style dancers.

All through the 5 day, 4 night trip which involved three full days of fun on the island, it did seem like all the bloggers wanted to do was to take hopping, skipping and jumping almost literally. We were hopping onto tricycle cabs, onto horses, boats and segways; skipping along its beaches, down hillsides and into some of the gorgeous resort properties the island has to offer, and jumping off everywhere – from its many beaches and even from a cliff! And, who could really blame us!

Hopping on a paraw for a sunset cruise.

Hopping on a paraw for a sunset cruise.

A Ninja Girl jump at Crystal Cove Island.

A Ninja Girl jump at Crystal Cove Island.

Christina jumping into the inviting crystal clear blue waters.

Christina jumping into the inviting crystal clear blue waters.

Jumping off a cliff.

William jumping off a cliff.

Skipping along Puka Beach.

Skipping along Puka Beach.

It wasn’t however the hopping, skipping and jumping that was for me the best part of the trip, nor was it as some might think being in the company of some really gorgeous bloggers, but just being there to immerse myself in the island’s immense beauty, which seemed to leap out at me at every corner in.  It is for this that I am determined to head right back.

A huge jump for joy at Puka Beach.

A huge jump for joy at Puka Beach.

Of the many beautiful spots, two places did leave a huge impression on me. The first we were to visit, the remote (and much less visited) and very picturesque Puka Beach, lies at the northern tip of the island. Named after the puka shells which are found there and which does make its sands a little coarser, it is in fact on CNN’s list of the 100 best beaches in the world (see #84). The best way to approach the beach is by boat – so as to be able to take what is a remarkable view you do get of it on the approach from the sea. The beach was where in fact  a lot of the jumping took place. I did jump too – straight into its inviting blue waters.

More jumping at Puka Beach.

More jumping at Puka Beach.

The approach to Puka Beach.

The approach to Puka Beach.

A view of Puka Beach from the sea.

A view of Puka Beach from the sea.

Puka Beach.

Puka Beach.

More of Puka Beach.

More of Puka Beach.

A view of the beach.

A view of the beach.

The second spot I was very much taken by, is one we did have to skip down a hillside on a zipline for, overlooking the very aptly named “Paradise Cove”.  The spot is one located within the 150 hectare Fairways & Bluewater Resort located at the Northeastern part of the island. The resort, besides having an 18 hole golf course – the only course on the island, does offer accommodation as well as a host of other activities including the zipline, as well as horseback riding, riding on a segway, a cruise around Paradise Cove on a glass bottom boat, amongst other things.

Valyn attempting to jump fully clothed at Fairways  and Bluewater Resort.

Valyn attempting to jump fully clothed at Fairways and Bluewater Resort.

Skipping down a zipline at Fairways and Bluewater.

Skipping down a zipline at Fairways and Bluewater.

A super gorgeous view of the exclusive coves at Fairways and Bluewater.

A super gorgeous view of the exclusive coves at Fairways and Bluewater.

Paradise Cove.

Paradise Cove.

The beauty of the island is one I certainly can never get enough of and it is for this and having found a piece of paradise on the island, that does have me wishing I didn’t have, as I mentioned to a few in Boracay, to ever go back. But since I did have to, it does make me want to get back at the earliest possible instance!

Perhaps why Paradise Cove did seem like paradise.

Perhaps why Paradise Cove did seem like paradise.


About Tigerair Philippines Singapore to Kalibo route:

Tigerair Philippines flies direct from Singapore to Kalibo three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays (from 16 August to 25 October 2013, this will be extended to four weekly flights, on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). The flight which takes some 3 hours and 40 minutes bring passengers to the fiesta capital Kalibo, which is two hours by road to Caticlan Port at the northern tip of the island of Panay, from which all it takes is a 15 minute boat ride over to Boracay.

Passengers booking the flight can arrange for a transfer to Boracay through the Tiger Transfer program which has been initiated by Tigerair Philippines initiated. By paying a nominal fee of 500 pesos or its currency equivalent, tourists landing in Kalibo can conveniently get to Boracay. The 500 pesos fee transfers the passengers from Kalibo International Airport, to a shuttle service which will take them all the way to the jetty port. The jetty port allows Tiger Transfer guests to have an exclusive lane leading to their ferry boat for maximum convenience. As soon as they land on the shores of Boracay, another land transfer service is waiting to take the guests to their hotel of choice.

For more information on Tigerair Philippines, go to http://www.Tigerair.com/ph/en/.


This is a repost of my main post on Boracay Island Escapade.








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