Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas is in the air at Universal Studios Japan. I got a chance to visit USJ this Christmas season and it was such an amazing experience. I had so much fun trying their Christmas offerings. USJ has prepared a number of shows, programs, and surprises especially available for its guests this festive holiday.

Photo Courtesy of Universal Studios Japan

USJ Holiday Tree
This year marks the last appearance of the famous and Guinness world record holder Christmas Tree of USJ. The tree has been awarded by Guinness World Records™ as having the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree (as of December 17, 2015, number of lights: 534,280). It is so fascinitating especially during night time when all its lights are fully illuminated. It's definitely something to look forward when you pay a visit to USJ this Chrismas season.

Santa's Magical Surprise
Santa's Magical Surprise is one of the shows that kids and kids at heart can enjoy in USJ. The show offers a lot of surprises that audience will surely cherish. It features different cartoon characters, dances, and musical plays.

Christmas Re-BOOOORN Parade
Christmas Re-BOOOORN is a parade of extravagant and colorful costumes where visitors can party in with world renowned cartoon characters.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Ride
After the Christmas Re-BOOOORN Parade we tried The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Ride, the world's best attraction and the first to win the world's best ride award for seven consecutive years. It's one of the must-rides when you visit USJ. It's a 4K3D ride so you will definitely have fun!

The Flying Dinosaur
Another ride we tried was the Flying Dinosaur. At any circumstances, I would have passed but I was already there so I did it. It was my first Roller Coaster experience and it was a helluva ride. I initially think I'm not gonna do it again but if I get another opportunity, I might actually. Hahaha!

The Gift of Angels III - The Voice of Angel
The Voice of Angel is an impressively beautiful show that will surely take your breath away. It's a grand farewell to the last appearance of USJ's legendary tree.

Dinner at Finnegan's Bar & Grill
At dinner, we tried Finnegan's Christmas Roast Beef Set. It includes a soup, a perfectly cooked steak with veggies on the side and a dessert. Finnegan's Bar & Grill is located in the New York area of Universal Studios Japan.

Food and Souvenir
During our trip to Universal Studios Japan, we managed to try different food items. We've tried Santa Minion buns, Minions pop corn, sweet potato churros and a lot more. We also did window shopping so we checked several interesting souvenir items from stores inside USJ.

The Universal Wonder Christmas event is until 9 January 2017. For more information, check out their event page.

How to go to Universal Studios Japan from the Philippines?

Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Philippines is one of those underrated travel destinations in South East Asia, but it is actually a gold mine of breathtaking beaches. With 7,107 islands, you’ll never run out of beaches. Here are our top 15 choices of Philippine Beaches you can spend your Christmas holiday.

Monday, December 5, 2016

It came as a surprise to me. I did not see it coming. I did not expect that I will be able to celebrate and experience Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan this year. It was a dream-come-true!

The Christmas season at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) has already started. Each shop in Hogsmeade village is decorated with elaborate ornaments and wreaths. Red, green, and gold decorations perfectly complement the snow-topped roofs, and the soft warm glow emanating from the magnificent Hogwarts castle sets the mood for the holiday season!

I was really amazed at how the whole experience was. When I entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I began to feel really excited about what's in store for us. The view from the entrance looks nice and colorful. The Christmas feels can be felt immediately once you enter the facility. I'd say, it was an amazing journey overall.

We roam around a bit then we had our early lunch at the Three Broomsticks restaurants and tried their new Christmas Platter along with the famous Butter Beer. We're still a little bit full from the buffet breakfast at the hotel but we managed to enjoy the platter of chicken, sausages, soup, and salad that was served to us. It tasted good and even better when partnered with butter beer. We ate all of them with gusto!

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the most popular ride at the WWoHP. It's a five-minute dark ride using state-of-the-art 4K technology in 3D. It was an amazing ride and it became my instant favorite. I love Harry Potter books and movies so I felt like I was in Hogwarts for real. Hahaha.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Night
The Christmas Tree at The Hogsmeade can transform as you wave your wand and cast spells. The light will illuminate as soon as you wave your wand and say Lumos. If you say Locomotor, the ornaments will move and dance with the holiday cheer. Harry Potter fanatics will definitely enjoy the experience.

Universal Studios Japan Ticket Price

How to go to Universal Studios Japan from the Philippines?
Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Traveling abroad can be challenging at times. You get lost and sometimes you don't get to ask anyone due to language barrier. Last time I was in Japan, I explored Yamanashi and I found it really difficult to get around without an internet connection. Most of the people I talked to barely speak English so they weren't able to help me when I asked for directions to go to the Fruit Picking Farm. After that experience, I told myself I should rent a pocket wifi when I go back to Japan. So, I did,

I revisited Japan in autumn and I brought a Flytpack with me. FLYTPACK Travel WiFi is a personal wireless modem that connects any WiFi-enabled devices to the internet with a secure network connection. With Flytpack you get connected to 4G internet anywhere you are in Japan. It is pre-configured so it does not need complex installation. All you need to do is to turn in on, and voila, you will start getting a seamless internet connection.

I was hesitant at first especially with the speed. But, to my surprise it exceeded my expectations. It was fast and reliable. I shared it my my two friends and we're able to do live Facebook videos altogether. So it was really fast.

So, why choose flytpack?

Flytpack is Convenient to Use
As mentioned above, there's no need to configure the device, all you need to do is to turn it on. It's also easy to carry around. You can put it in your backpack, sling bag or even in your pocket like what I did. The battery lasts long. We started using it in the morning and it lasted until in the evening.

Flytpack is Affordable
For only P240 per day, you get to stay in touch with your friends and family at home and you'll be able to update your social media accounts anytime and anywhere. Check out rates for other countries: Flytpack Rental Rates.

Flytpack is Dependable
With Flytpack, you no longer need to chase for  internet connection at train stations, bus stops, and parks. You get connected everywhere. You can do google map anytime when you're lost or use google translate when you need to. It's a reliable internet service at very affordable rates!

So, what are you waiting for? Stay connected to the internet while in Japan or in United States, Europe, Canada, and Russia. Rent your FLYTPACK Travel WiFi now!

Friday, November 18, 2016

The diving industry is one of the growing tourist markets in the world with an estimated of 24 million Global Dive Population. In Asia, the Philippines is one of the preferred diving points with South Korea, US, Germany, Australia, and Hong Kong as the top five source markets.

Photo taken in one of the Samal Dive sites by National Geographic photographer, Zhang Fan.

“Davao has been identified as one of the emerging destinations for diving. Divers are adventurous market and constantly seek new dive sites to explore. With Hong Kong as our target for international connection in 2017, we aim to build our products for the Hong Kong tourist market and this includes diving,” according to DOT Assistant Secretary Eden David.

Divers, bloggers,travel agents from Hong Kong and Davao with DOT reps

“The DOT Secretary Wanda Teo has tasked our office to bring in top notch dive photographers to include national geographic and UNESCO Hong Kong Association to explore Samal and Talicud in a Fun Dive Safari,“ DOT Hong Kong Marketing representative market David Leung said. An exhibit at the international gateways in Hong Kong is being endeavoured to showcase the underwater photos taken from the Fun Dive Safari on November 14-17, 2016.

Photo taken in one of the Samal Dive sites by National Geographic photographer, Zhang Fan.

A total of 30 divers and underwater photographers of Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese, Australian, Korean and Malaysian nationals have dived various spots of Davao Gulf including Tagpopongan, Balet, Kaputian, Canibad, Liguid Island, among others, for fun diving experiences and to photograph the different underwater specifies. Known for its rich marine biodiversity, the islands of Davao Gulf is an excellent site for underwater macro photography especially with the superb visibility in the diving sites. The tourism industry has been banking on this growing tourism niche to position the region as a sports tourism hub.

DOT ASec Eden David with Davao and Hong Kong media and travel agents

Diving enthusiasts and macro underwater photographers Jerome Kim from Korea and Yorko Summer from Taiwan have so much admiration of the diving sites in Samal and Talicud. Kim is now based in the Philippines for the past 12 years and has been to many diving sites in the country. He said that there is a huge potential to attract divers around the world to come and dive in Samal. "Davao is one of the best macro diving points in the whole Philippines", Kim added".

Photo by: Jerome Kim

The Fun Dive Safari is among the various activities organized by the tourism department to promote the region as a diving destination. Last October, DOT Regional Office XI conducted Underwater Photography Spotters Training for advanced open water divers in Davao which is aimed to better assist underwater photographers and provide economic opportunities for local divers. 

In 2017 a Mindanao Dive Congress will be held in Davao to feature the various dive sites of the island and sessions on macro photography and marine life conservation efforts shall be discussed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I finally did it. I conquered the Philippines (well, sort of). I completed visiting all the 81 provinces in the Philippines. I know it's not too much and it's been done by many travelers already but the self-fulfillment is phenomenal. 

Inked by Apo Whang-Od. The tattoo signifies a traveler. The three dots is her signature.

I started this personal project of exploring the Philippines in 2013 when I traveled around the the country for 50 days (See PHL50 : Backpacking Around the Philippines in 50 Days). But, for some reasons I stopped and it was only last month that I decided to continue the project. I was stuck in my 69th for over a year and I thought it's the right time to fulfill this little dream. 

It was challenging at first as the provinces left are far from each other and some are supposed to be connected geographically but not in terms of road networks. 

I started with Sulu to complete the Mindanao provinces then went to Capiz after. I went home for a while and continued my journey about a week later.

Hello to my 71st! The province of #Capiz. Yung wala kang karapatang magreklamo sa kinalabasan ng larawan kasi nakisuyo ka lang sa mga dumadaang lokal. Hahaha

I took the bus from Davao to Southern Leyte. It was a grueling 25 hours of land travel before I reached my 72nd, the province of Biliran which was also the last province I visited in the Visayas. 

Hello to my 72nd. The island is all mine. Wala pati ang caretaker. Ikaw, kelan ka ba mapapasaakin? Hahaha 

I continued my journey to Luzon and got stranded in Bulan, Sorsogon due to typhoon #LawinPH. When the gail warning was lifted, I visited Masbate then Catanduanes, Marinduque, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro and Tarlac. 

Hello to my 73rd - the island province of #Masbate. It was a challenging journey but I made it here safely. Booked this resort through #airbnb and so far so good. 

The angels brought me here. Hello to my 76th - the province of Oriental Mindoro. Thanks Zerg Montero Capapas for recommending this place. Iikot na tayo sa Mindoro sa susunod kong balik. 

Hello to my 74th - the island province of #Catanduanes. This is what I missed yesterday. Just what I needed to unwind and destress today. Mas maganda daw sa Binurong Point kaso wala na akong energy. Hahaha. Tuloy ang labaaaan! 

Chasing sunset in my 77th - the province of Occidental Mindoro. 

Walang ATV so I went biking here in my 78th - the province of #Tarlac

At first, I wasn't really sure which province should be my last. With the help of some friends, I finally decided to make Kalinga as my final destination. So, together with my friend Allen, I visited Abra and Apayao as my 79th and 80th respectively. 

Isang makulimlim na hapon mula sa aking ika pitumpu't siyam - ang lalawigan ng Abra.

I am almost done with my project #PHL81. Isang push nalang. Hahaha. Today, we went caving in my 80th - the province of #Apayao.

Then, we traveled hundreds of kilometers to reach Buscalan to have the highlight of my 81st province. I met the oldest mambabatok in the Philippines and got myself inked. It was extraordinary. I felt honored to be inked by Apo Whang Od. She's adorable. I witnessed the other side of her. She's funny and witty.  I think she's great and she deserves to be awarded as a National Artist. I have so much respect for her. She's such a wonderful woman.

Getting inked by Apo Whang-Od together is one of the best bonding experiences travel buddies can have. Thanks Albert for joining me in my quest to visit all the 81 provinces in the Philippines. Congratulations din for achieving the same goal. You are one of my inspirations along with Harly, Mervin and other travelers who unlocked the same achievement.#EscapeManila #PHL81 #DreamItPossible 81/81

It was a great decision to end my journey in Kalinga. It was one of the best trips ever. I totally enjoyed every bit of time I had in Buscalan. Congratulations to me, achievement unlocked!

***Photos in Abra, Apayao and Kalinga were taken by Albert Realto. Follow him on instagram at @albertowz. Thank you, Allen for being a great travel buddy!