Monday, March 29, 2010

Heaven is a Person!

Recently Fridays have been one of my anticipated days, aside from the TGIF mode, I also got to attend the 'Sign of the Times' series @CCF. Though I just caught their last 2 sessions, it's more than enough to bless and encourage me plus an opportunity to invite my colleagues :) Thanked God for people behind these event and for the exceptional speakers whom God is continually using to touch other people's life.

Last Friday, March 26, we had an interesting topic entitled "The Promise" where Pastor Vince Burke gave us 5 points about heaven. He started the talk well explaining that death is definite! Statistics show that 1 out of 1 person die and no one comes out of this world alive. True though :D

1. Heaven is a Place

2. Heaven is a Person

3. Heaven is Permanent

4. Heaven is Perfect

5. Heaven is Free

One thing that really struck me is the phrase "Heaven is a Person" cause I never thought of heaven that way... all I knew before is, it's the future destination of people with personal relationship to Christ Jesus... a dwelling place of reward, rejoicing and worshiping God... where there is no more death, therefore no mourning; no more pain, no sorrow, no crying... what a perfect place to live :)

But now I realize that more than the great promises of heaven it is God who makes it the best place for His children. It is God's presence emanating in this land that makes it our eternal home

Finally, "Heaven is Free" all we need to do is accept Jesus as our personal Saviour and live our lives for His greater purposes. For Christians, the challenge is this, "Heaven is free, are we sharing it?"

Taal trek adventure @Tagaytay

We left Alabang at 9:30am, head off to Talisay, Batangas. Past 11 am, when we arrived at Taal Yatch Club, here we can securely leave our things and rent a boat that will bring us to the jump off point of the Taal trek. Boatride cost us P1800 (maximum of 5 persons), since we are 7 in a group we hired 2 boats.

At 11:40am, we started sailing in Taal lake with our tour guide Manong Rolly. From the boat you could see the commonly mistaken volcano cone in your right side. We reached the island after 30 minutes, went directly to the Registration booth for the P50/person tourist fee payment.


Horse terminal where you can rent for a horse(P350-P500) to bring you at the view deck.

We opted to do the trek by feet :D Exactly 12:30pm as we start our ascent to this 4-kilometer stretch, I could feel Mr. Sun beaming to us :| Aside from the humid air, the trail is dusty, with filthy smell of horse's poop. Make it worst everytime a horse catches up with you as it sweeps you with dust :|

There are also part of the slope which are difficult to climb and will require leg power and cardio strength.

Nevertheless, this 55 minute expedition is worth the effort once you reach the view deck on top. The crater perspective is breathtaking...



Refreshments were available but a bit pricey. Sodas and buco juice will cost you P50. There are also pasalubong centers along the nipa huts of the view deck area.





We enjoyed the spectacular crater view for about 30 minutes... then begin our hike down at 1:50pm. The descent is less exhausting, we got to enjoy the red rocks and took more pictures on our way down. It took us only 45 minutes back to the starting point, where we could finally say we prevailed! :D

Expenses:
boat ride - 1800.00 (maximum of 5 persons)
tourist fee - 50.00 / head
docking fee - 20.00 / boat
horse ride - 350.00 - 500.00 (optional)

Macau-Hongkong: An edutainment journey

Aside from savoring the tourist destinations of Macau and Hongkong, we also take pleasure in observing the people and their culture. As fascinating as our travel adventures were the experiences that we would never forget.

* Macau immigration officers have no facial expressions :| as if they're androids programmed to received your passport, check the departure slip, verify your picture, examine your face and mark your passport. And they do this for every single tourist going in and out their country. Boring!

* Hongkong restaurant's serves luke warm water and not cold water as we do here in the Philippines. Healthy living there :)

* Filipinos abroad are very warm people, they initiate small talk, welcomes you with a smile and are comfortable sharing their experiences. But what's hearth breaking is... most of the Filipinos that we met @Hong Kong are domestic helpers, don't get me wrong, I don't have anythings against helpers... in fact I recognize how they sacrifice for their family. What I meant here is, why can't our government send more professionals instead of domestic helpers? whew! this is going to be a long commentary, let's just move to my next point :D

* Macau and Hongkong airport are bustling even at night. You could see tons of foreigners lining up at immigrations to visit these countries. I envy them... I hope we could also strengthen our tourism and invite foreigners to see how beautiful our country is :D

* When you're abroad, you'd feel that language is really a communication barrier. We had an unforgettable and blooper experience at Macau while we checked in to our hostel. The owner can't understand English. When we asked her, she even mentioned "No English, no English" :D good luck to us. lols. We were able to resolve this when the owner took a paper and pen, wrote the word "room" and "available" then we all just nodded

Thursday, March 18, 2010

“STORED VALUE CARDS ARE TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE”

Are you familiar with this annoying sign?! If you're an MRT buddy, I'm sure you do, it has been days, even weeks that I've been seeing this post on MRT cashier windows. And what's more irritating is, in cases tickets are available(which rarely happens) MRT does not sell more than 1 stored value ticket per passenger, as if you will not pay for it.

Aren't the MRT officials tired of seeing long passenger's queues and clamor day in and out the station. Are they blind not to see this obvious issue that burdens the commuters everyday.

MRT cashier reasoned out that some passenger doesn't make use of the bonus ride thus affecting the circulation of the tickets... what a lame explanation! it's not even worth to trouble most of the passengers to line up just to buy single journey tickets everytime they'll ride their out-dated trains. Hayz!

Ranting over. I don't see this "limiting" strategy solves the main problem, because this would bring passengers to panic and more likely hoard stored value tickets even more. A win-win scenario for me is: less passengers lining up at MRT cashiers to buy tickets, which means less work for the MRT employees as well. In order to do this, I've got some suggestions which I think is a feasible long term solution to our dilemma.

* MRT can produce cards that are reloadable, one card can be used by a passenger for life :D depending on his/her usage;
* Produce cards of higher denomination like 200 or 500

We can't just wait, stare or accept situation as it is. I hope the MRT officials will attend and act fast on this issue, because these thousands of passengers who pays for the maintenance and salaries of the MRT employees does not deserve such lousy service.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weekend blast!

Last weekend was a blast! Attended wedding of my elementary, high school buddy in Valenzuela on Saturday afternoon... Prepared and hosted the 2nd birthday party of my nephew in Marilao, Bulacan on Sunday...

Nevertheless, I found it fulfilling and grateful that i didn't missed both events.

For Allan's wedding, I'm so happy for this milestone of his life, and excited on the bigger things ahead of them with Anne. Yes it wouldn't be easy, but as long as they have each other I know it wouldn't be difficult. Hmmm, one thing I realized during this event... it inspired me to start writing my vows for my partner (wink, wink) sounds exciting :D

Ramiah's birthday on the other hand, was also a certified weekender party. We celebrated it not only with the family but with our relatives, friends and neighbors. I guess that makes it more fun. I also enjoyed hosting the kiddie party, though it was a kidnapped hosting... I'm glad it turned out well as the kids participated and enjoyed our games.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Macau: Heritage Walk

How to get there?
From Macau Ferry Terminal, you could take the Grand Lisboa Casino Free Shuttle and then walk (less than 15 minutes) to Senado Square.

Due to our limited time, we took a cab and rushed to Almeida Ribeiro, main street of Downtown Macau. The anticipated heritage walk started at the Senate Square/Largo do Senado, a UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Centre of Macau". The square is surfaced with Portuguese pavement in wave-pattern of blue and white stones. During our visit, Senate Square is in festive mood as it's decorated with colorful Chinese lanterns and display.


This area reminds me of our very own Vigan :)


Rambling around we were greeted with ancient architectures like Leal Senado building, Macau Museum and Old City walls, which is a small version of our Corregidor's battery herns. Of course, main attractions are the historical churches like St. Augustine's (Santo Agostinho), The Cathedral, St. Dominic's (Sao Domingo), and finally the great ruined fa├žade and staircase of the Mother of God - now popularly known as St. Paul (Sao Paulo).


66 stone steps will lead you to the intricate carvings on the facade with Jerusalem cross on top.

To complete your heritage walk, be sure not to miss the following must try of Macau:


Treat yourself with free beef jerky strips along the way...


Grab a bite of their famous macau egg tart at 5.00 patacas each.






Have a taste of the macau dai pai dongs(street foods) at 8.00 patacas per stick... oops be careful with the sauce it's flaming hot and spicy.


Buy your pasalubongs at San Malo =) Pick from their colorful delicacies, if you're good at bargaining, you'll get the best deal of your money.


Lastly shop for "I love Macau" shirt for 25.00 patacas.

Macau @Night

"Las Vegas of Asia" as they call it, Macau indeed is one of the most visited country in Asia. Their immigrations affirm... packed with more tourist than locals, whew! they even accommodated visitors in HK Residents/Macau Residents window just to speed up the line. Enough for that rant!

Now let's explore Macau! We landed Thursday, 9:45pm from our Cebu Pacific flight at Aeroporto Internacional de Macau, their airport proves that they were once a Portuguese colony. Makes me more excited on other influences Portuguese left in Macau aside from their airport.

From the airport, we took taxi that brought us to Macau Peninsula. Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge also known as Macau-Taipa Bridge is fascinating at night with Macau Tower on the side... wow! I'm bedazzled...

We stayed at Hotel Nam Tim, which is 2-3 minute walk to Macau casinos/hotels. First item in our itinerary! explore Macau @night. As grand as the Macau-Taipa Bridge is Grand Lisboa, strategically located in the heart of Macau. The architectural design of the building is mesmerizing, imagine a snake with its body twisted and its head straight up... Can't wait to enter the lobby which is also elegant and stylish. The levels where full of foreigners brave enough to take their chances in playing with the slot machines; casino games (craps and roulette) and card games (poker and blackjack).


We were WOWed by the fountain show in front of Wynn Hotel performing every hour.


By 12pm, we catched "The Golden Tree," an indoor lights and sound show depicting prosperity. I even saw Chinese audience dropping coins in the majestic tree.
I was able to capture this multimedia show with my cam :D watch how the ceiling with Chinese horoscope sculpture gently opens to uncover an abstract dancing lights. Lights eventually strips into two to reveal a grandiose chandelier. After this, the golden dome carefully opens displaying the 20-meter tall golden tree as it rotates and rises on the floor. The show ends by returning all items into its original position.
See from left to right...


Finally, another superb architecture is the MGM Grand. Where we felt spellbound by its majestic interiors.


To cap off, I could say experiencing Macau @night is the grandest adventure I ever had, so far ;)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hongkong: The Peak

How to get there?
From MTR Tsim Sha Tsui station, take Tsuen Wan Line, bound to Central. From Central station walk to Exit J2 leading to Chater Garden, (where Bank of China Tower is clearly visible adjacent to it is Cheung Kong Centre, between this two buildings is the Garden Road) turn right, cross Queen's Road Central and walk through the Garden Road where Peak Tram Lower Terminus is located.

The terminus is full of tourists piling up to buy tickets. We planned to avail their Return Peak Tram + Sky Pass Tickets (HK$56.00) but due to foggy weather the ticket officer advise that we'll not be able to see the overview of the city from the Sky Terrace, so they gave us Return Peak Tram tickets (HK$36.00) instead.



Though tram departs every 8-10 minutes to load and unload passengers, tourists bunch up in the waiting area. Above pictures (left-right) is an evidence of our enduring act of waiting...

Finally after almost 30 minutes, we found ourselves at the platform (still) waiting for the next tram for departure :D weee!

On your way to the top is a thrilling experience, where you could have a side view of the city lights and a neck breaking feeling while tram lift off the rail.

The Peak Tower

The Peak offers array of shops and restaurants to choose from.


You can also find Madame Tussauds on Level P1 of the tower where famous celebrities and icons come to life in wax figures. Admission is HK$160 for adults and HK$90 for children/seniors.



Though we were not able to savor the city overview at Sky Terrace, we had fun time strolling this 5 level tower and dining at Hongkong Day restaurant.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hongkong: Lantau Island

How to get there?
From MTR Tsim Sha Tsui station, take Tsuen Wan Line, alight at Lai King Station, an interchange station to Tung Chung Line, drop off at Tung Chung station and take Exit B. Bus Terminus going to Lantau is distance away from Exit B.

From here you have two options:
1. Lantau Bus - Lantau Day Pass cost HK$35.00, unlimited rides on all regular routes of New Lantao Buses on the same day.
2. Ngong Ping 360 cable car - Station just beside the bus terminus. Round trip cable car ride HK$107.00

We hop on Bus 23 bound to Ngong Ping Village, which is 30-45 minute drive from the Tung Chung Center.

Tian Tan "Giant" Buddha




Climb 268 steps to the world's tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Buddha, feel its majestic size of 34m high and have a breathtaking view of the island.

Lantau Trail

Have a leisure walk with a glimpse of nature on your way to Lantau Peak, the second highest peak in Hongkong which is 934 meters above sea level. Next to it is the Wisdom Path or the Heart Sutra Wood Inscription, an outdoor wooden version of the 260-word prayer on 38 wooden rectangular beams or obelisks. The beams are in the shape of a figure eight to represent infinity. The Heart Sutra is on the beams. Experience the art of Chinese calligraphy here.

Po Lin Monastery

Observe Chinese culture and religion in their temples and monasteries.

Tai O
From Ngong Ping bus terminus, we ride on Bus 21 servicing Tai O - Ngong Ping Route. 15-20 minute drive to the "Venice of Hongkong"

Discover peace and serenity in this humble fishing village where you can just sit, relax and watch the coast. Villagers could also take you to the waters by their motorboat where dolphins are commonly seen.

Indeed Lantau is an ultimate escape from the bustling city of Hongkong.