Wednesday, December 28, 2011

HONGKONG: Reminiscing my Youth @ DISNEYLAND

The next day after arriving, we woke up quite late already at past 11 am. For breakfast, we toasted some bread, opened a can of corned beef  and a glass of orange juice  then off we took the MTR station which was about 4 corners from where we stayed. Got single journey tickets to Tung Chung Line, cost was about 11.25 HKD each. From Tung Chung changed to Disney Resort Line. When we came out of the train, I could feel the winter breeze passing by my face. Although it was very sunny , you could not feel the heat.  The BIG welcome sign made me giggle , that at last, I would see Mickey Mouse. Disneyland was built about 2005/ 2006 yet so the 3 times I went to HK, it was not there yet.

My mother on board the Disney train

Disney Parade
 Although the Disneyland Park was designed basically for children, you could see everyone young and old alike enjoying every ride as well as the ambiance. In there it was like reminiscing my younger days when we would go to Carnival and parks.

Monday, December 26, 2011

SINGAPORE: Second Attempt to board SILK-AIR bound to Cebu

Since I was very eager to go back home, I did not sleep the entire Sunday night. I just waited and kept on looking at the clock. When it was about 4 am, I woke up my aunt and sister. We went down, but there was no taxi. fortunately there was this restaurant nearby where we ate our dinner when we first arrived and the good old Indian man recognized us. He opened 24 hours. Asked us where we were going. when he learned we were heading to the airport, he said we could not catch a TAXI there. He called from his celfone and within 5 minutes a TAXI arrived. Well we thanked him and boarded the taxi. We arrived at the airport at about 435 am. Again we lined our baggage in the Check-in counter of Silk Air.
We were waiting and I was looking for the girl I talked yesterday. Unfortunately it was a different woman. Again, the same answer I got when I presented our tickets. We had to wait for the last passenger. WOW..THIS is HORRIFIC. When the last passenger checked-in, I was called. Again I was happy because back in my mind we could finally board. The sad news was, ONLY TWO PASSENGERS COULD BOARD. What about the other one, since there were THREE OF US. I told my sister and aunt if they were willing to go first...hahaha. The problem was , it was their first time to travel abroad. They were afraid they might get lost and in the immigration they might be interrogated. I told them there would be no problem since we were already returning home.Hesitant as they were, I understood, but what if I will go first? It would be worse. So I asked the lady in the counter about our situation. I even pleaded to accommodate us three even if I would just sit on the isle. She told us to decide since the gates were already closing. I told her we had to travel together. Whoahhhh....That time lady was more accommodating. She told us to take the 11 am Singapore Airlines via Manila then Manila to Cebu and  I asked how much was the fare, she said it was 300 USD each. OH WOWOWOWW...It was more expensive than out two way trip which was USD 265. She politely apologized that we would try the third time on Tuesday morning and for us to be boarded we had to take either the two first or me alone. WHOAAAAHH>>What a horrific experience....we had no choice, I called up Marissa informing that we were not boarded. She told us to go back to Potong Pasir and will try for Cebu Pacific.
We boarded again the taxi and it cost us almost 60 SGD.
     When we arrived in their apartment, my aunt and sister rested. They slept. Marissa and I went to Lucky Plaza. We went to this Filipino Travel agent. We asked if there was available flight in the evening. She said it was fully booked. But if we where willing to pay around Php 7500 each, she could get three tickets. Without any thinking , I said okay I would get it. Fortunately she accepted credit card. When she gave us the e-ticket I was relieved. Th flight was at 1200 midnight yet so we still had time. Went back to Potong Pasir and rested. 

At about 8 Pm we again took a TAXI bound to the airport. Did not know that Cebu Pacific was in Budget Terminal. We got off at the same terminal building for Silk Air. When I saw from the LED Display sign that it was in the Budget terminal,, I asked somebody and told us to go down and took the shuttle to the Budget terminal. It was really very hassle since we had plenty of bags. we waited for the shuttle to arrive. Boarded and there we were at the Budget terminal. It was very much different from the Terminal 2. Simple yet clean building. Many passengers were already queuing. Our initial flight was supposed to be at 1245 am, was delayed for about an hour. We arrived in Mactan International Airport at about past 545 am. After getting our checked-in baggage , boarded a TAXI and went straight to Pier 1 for a ferry to Tagbilaran City. Whoah.. It was indeed a very  cumbersome and learning travel experience.

Lesson Learned: Promo tickets are non -transferable, non-refundable. Check if tickets are confirmed ( although most airlines now do not issue unconfirmed tickets , also THERE IS NO FREE STUFF in Budget Airlines, even water ). Also if flight is past midnight, say, 00:50 Dec. 24, 2011, you should be in the airport at 10 pm Dec. 23. When we took the Cebu Pacific Air flight back to Cebu, there was this Filipino Family who overlooked their flight schedule. They came to the airport a day after their schedule. Check-in time, they were told to buy new tickets. The woman cried. There were 5 of them. Since it was boarding time, we just felt sorry for them. I felt pity to THEM because I know how expensive the ticket is if you buy it on the day you are leaving. In our case I was still grateful to Silk Air because after months of complaining, I was refunded the FULL AMOUNT OF UNUSED TICKET AND THE RE-BOOKING FEE. In fact they even wrote me a letter informing that next time I will take Silk Air , they will upgrade me to Business Class even if I but economy class. Well that was nice to hear. :)

SINGAPORE: A Tour to Teo Payoh, Little India and the taste of Prata

When we arrived back from the airport, we did not unpack our baggage. Steven invited us to go to Teo Payoh and  Little India. Since we had no choice but to try again the next day, we went with  him. And so it was Little India, Plenty of Indians, hahaha..Steven  brought us to one of his favorite resto and ordered Prata. Didn't know what was it. MY first time to hear such food. When it was served , twas like a pancake. The sauce, you can choose either Cheese, with meat etc and lots of CHILI. But Honestly, I loved it. My first time also to taste ICED MILK TEA.


So this is PRATA..It is like Pancake with no flavor. The flavor comes from the sauce that you like with lot and lots of chili. The spicier the sauce, the more you will want for more. Be sure you have plenty of water beside you...:)

After eating Prata in Teo Payoh, went to Little India. Did not take long there. Went sight seeing and shopping. Just walking for about 2 hours until we reached Singapore Botanical Gardens. Went inside, since it was past 7 pm it was almost dark. Just saw some of the BONSAI and art works.

After getting inside the Botanical Garden for about an hour, we were already hungry. We just walked to the nearest MTR station and enjoyed the facade of the buildings at night. Saw Mc Donalds and ate there. ( Since Steven is an Indian  never enters MC DONALDS ), in that case he went inside with us but did not eat anything nor drink. Realizing about it, I told them to hurry and went out. It took another 30 minutes to the nearest MTR Station. Went back to Potong Pasir and rested for the next day's second attempt to board the flight back home.

SINGAPORE: First Attempt in the Changi Airport to Board the Flight Back Home

Since our flight was about 8 in the morning, we decided to leave Potong Pasir at around 4- 430 am. We hailed a taxi. In Singapore they have different charges for daytime and  nightime. Aside from the usual charge, they will ask you for overtime charge from 12 midnight to 6 in the morning. I forgot how much was the additional. I
remembered I paid around 70- 80 SGD to the airport.
Went directly to the check in counter of Silk Air. The counter opened at 530. We were the first on line. When they opened for check in, I gave them our e-tickets. The Singaporean girl told me we had no confirmation yet. But i told her  I had arranged it already when we were still in Cebu bound for Singapore and in fact I showed to her that we paid the re-validation fee od USD 120 for the 3 of us. She insisted that we did not have confirmation and we had to wait if there would be vacant seats to accommodate us (it was a fully booked flight ).  OH WTF, I told her we had to be back home since we had office on Monday and I had to attend a very important meeting. Many passengers where already queuing. after an hour I went back again and asked if we could be boarded, she said we had to wait until the last passenger would check-in. ..This could not be.....
I asked if they could re-schedule our flight via Singapore to Manila thru Singapore Airlines and they said No because Singapore airlines was different. We just waited until there were no more passengers , ( deep inside I already had premonitions that we could not get to that flight) I approached again the counter. the lady told me "Oh why were you late in approaching me when the gates were already closing"; Oh, son of a gun, we were just beside the counter why did she not call us. She told us to just come back the next day and try again if there would be available seats. What the F..k... We had no choice. Went to Philippine Airlines Office in Terminal 2 and asked for available flight, still it was fully booked.
It was about 930 am we decided to go back to Potong Pasir and tried our luck again the next day. Since Steven was in the apartment because it was Sunday, he offered to take us to Little India.

The lesson I learned from that Singapore trip was: If buying ticket from a travel agency, make sure it is CONFIRMED. The dates when leaving and date of return. Never try being wait-listed especially if you are traveling out of the country. It could be very costly and tiresome. From that experience, now every time I travel  I already book tickets on-line. Also you should scrutinize your ticket especially if trabel time is past midnight. I will elaborate that later on our 3rd and last attempt..hahahhaa, so there was still a 2nd attempt.


After a very tiring Friday  walk, we were to scheduled to meet our cousin in SUNTEC PLAZA. Did not know where will he take us to that day.
Went to Suntec Plaza at about 9 am. He arrived around 930.  He brought us near to the EXIT GATE of the left side of the Building. It was a Tour Agency. What came to my mind was he was either going to bring us to Johor Bahru or to Batam Indonesia since I told him I wanted to go there for cheap shopping.
We went to the counter and got 3 tickets he reserved yesterday. It was DUCK TOUR. On my first impression , it was something like he would be taking us to a bird sanctuary where there were plenty of ducks.
He led us outside where tourists were waiting also. A very long queue. Then one by one about 3 colorful buses arrived painted with yellow and red. The top part was open. A big sign DUCK TOUR was on it. Really had no idea where we were heading. When the conductor said it was boarding time, we got up on the bus. Our cousin told us he would wait in the cafe nearby. The tour would take about an hour. When everyone was boarded, a tour guide explained about the tour. Told us some safety measures. Later did I know that the bus was an amphibian bus. IT COULD ALSO FLOAT IN WATER.As we were traversing the major roads of Singapore, a guide would tell us some of the significant places and events. Until we reached near Marina Bay, a sloped portion of the docking are, the bus rolled down. Some had shouted because we were heading to the river. When the two front tires of the bus touched the waters, we floated. We could hear that the bus driver changed the speed of the engine. So we just enjoyed the view of Marina Bay.
 In Suntec Plaza, forn the tickets to the Tour

 On board the amphibian bus
 A view from the bus

 The Singapore Flyer ( It was not yet operational when we were there,only  about a month after )

 Merlion, a view from the Bay

 The Sands was still under construction that time

 The tour guide
 Rowers by the bay

 Condo units by the bay

After the duck tour, we met again our cousin and had taken  late lunch. Went again for some late shopping and roam around the Orchard road. At about 8 pm we went back to Potong Pasir. Our flight would be 8 in the morning Easter Sunday. We packed and rested.