Albay Trip : Balay Cena Una

Visiting and experiencing Balay Cena Una at Daraga, Albay was quiet nostalgic in a sense of old Filipino style house.

Balay Cena Una
Balay Cena Una

Once you enter the house made into restaurant, you will travel back in time.

Wall Garden
Wall Garden
The reception area
The reception area
Open windows
Open windows

There were different collections of figurines and mini model type of bicycles and motorbikes.

Wall collection
Wall collection
Bicycle Collection
Bicycle Collection
Motor Collection
Motor Collection
Owl Collection
Owl Collection

As we go up the second floor of the house, there were lots of view and old things you can see.




I also found Sungka board, a traditional game in Philippines we play when we were young. It was a two player game which compose of 14 small holes and 2 big holes (as a home base of player).


Experience also the old style table setting.

Table setting
Table setting

But you must try their desserts specially cheesecake and the Mt. Mayon Chocolate Boulder.

Mayon Chocolate Boulder
Mayon Chocolate Boulder (PhP 65 only)

A view of the outskirt of Daraga from the window. You can also see the Mt. Mayon from the other Capiz style windows.

Glympse of the outside world
Glympse of the outside world

And it is just a phone call away from the present era of mobile phones.

It's just a phone call away
It’s just a phone call away

The food prices is around PhP 150 – PhP 300 which I think is affordable including the ambiance. We weren’t able to meet the chef when we visited the place.


Boracay once more

Heading back again to Boracay?

Remember some of my budget travel tips from Caticlan Airport:

  • Ride and fly by a propeller airplane
  • Register your name upon arrival.
Boracay Airport
Boracay Airport
  • Get a 5-minutes trip to Caticlan Jetty port by Tricycle Motor and book for a boat. Typical cost PhP25($0.60)/person  for Tricycle Motor minimum of 2 person and PhP50($1.10)/person fare for boat
Tricycle station in front of the airport
Tricycle station in front of the airport
  • Pay for environmental and admission fee PhP75($1.70)/person
  • Pay for terminal fee (separate window) PhP100($2.20)/person. Expect to pay on departure from Caticlan Jetty Port and when leaving the Boracay Island.
  • Enjoy 15 to 30 minute boat ride to Boracay Island
Ride the wave
Ride the wave
  • Typical cost of Tricycle Motor from the port around PhP50/person up to Station 1
  • Enjoy peaceful sunset at Station 1
  • Shop and dine in D’Mall. Tricycle ride cost PhP25/person
  • For some affordable meals, try Andok’s or Mang Inasal
  • Minimum allowance meal along White Beach is 200. It can go high depending on the food and location.
  • Tricycle ride to Puka Beach in Barangay Yapak (PhP50/person)
  • “Yapak” means barefoot in my own understanding
  • Bring a lot of sunblock if you don’t want to suffer the pain of summer but don’t hide from the sun.
  • Jog in the morning from Station 1 to Station 3 and back
  • Take a shot in Willy’s rock
Willy's Rock
Willy’s Rock
  • Enjoy the sand, sun and sea.
Boracay Sunset
Boracay Sunset

Seoul Trip 2013 : Bukchon Hanok Village to Departure

We woke up early to prepare for the 10 am Bukchon Hanok Village free guided walking tour and to prepare for the check-out as well.

We were able to have a breakfast at Angel-in-us Coffee Shop nearby.

Breakfast at Angel-In-Us
Breakfast at Angel-In-Us

We met our tour guide on Anguk Station Exit 3. You can get a free walking tourist guide from this site.

Bukchon Hanok Village

When visiting this Hanok Village please be aware that there are many private  residences in Bukchon so please be quiet and considerate.

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This district between Gyeongbokgung (Palace) and Changdeokgung (Palace) is packed with over 900 Korean traditional houses. Members of the royal family and noblemen lived here during Joseon Period. As it retains the city’s old appearance, it is a popular filming location for movies and TV dramas.

Be alert on photo spots along the way.

There are 8 known views of Bukchon so be alert on photo spots along the way.

Changdeokgung view
Panoramic view of Changdeokgung

Walk up the hill on Bukchon-gil from the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center and you will see a panoramic view of the Royal Palace of Changdeokgung behind an old stone wall.

The picturesque neighborhood of No.11 Gahoe-dong

The whole neighborhood of No. 11 Gahoe-dong has views of Korean-style Hanok houses. From here, you can see a number of workshops that enable you to experience traditional culture.

Gahoe-dong roofs
The hill, No.31 Gahoe-dong

From here, you can appreciate the whole area of No.31 Gahoe-dong in one glance. It is uphill and tiring but it still rewarding. The hill commands a line view of Lee Jungu’s house on the top of Bukchon, along with many tiled roofs.

Downhill Alley Gahoe-Dong
Downhill Alley Gahoe-Dong

The whole view of Seoul is spread out over the roof of traditional Hanok. This is one of the best walks in Bukchon affording views of the city of Seoul in a clear day.

Our guided walking tour took us around 1 and half hour since we need to prepare for our return flight back home.

Our energetic tour guide
Our energetic tour guide

We would like to extend our appreciation to our amazing and energetic tour guide, Chang Kyu Wan.

After that great walking tour, we ate at a restaurant within Bukchon Area then we shopped at Jongno-3-ga grocery store.

Lunch time!
Heavy lunch time!

We traveled back to the airport to catch our return flight to Manila.

IMG_7474  IMG_7475

It was a great trip and I still want to explore more of Seoul or maybe Pusan.

Until the next great trip…


Seoul Trip 2013 : Samseong to Han River

This may be the second to the last day of our tour but I still we want to enjoy and maximize the day. I also intend to have a longer sleeping time on our room and still the weather may not be a warm as the previous day. We knew that this day may be rainy compared to previous day. I was a bit cooler on a summer day due to light rain in the morning.

It was challenging morning to choose from what specific breakfast we wanna eat which is something not usual in the Philippines. We stumble upon this coffee shop.

Peggy Pie

Upon entering the shop, I think we were the first customers for the day. They offered sandwich, coffee, and special apple pie (yummy). The ambiance was great and cozy. The price was not too expensive since we manage to order the smaller size of sandwich.

Breakfast at Peggy Pie

After that energizing breakfast, we proceed to take the subway going to Samseong Area.


This is the largest exhibition venue with numerous exhibition halls, a convention center and meeting rooms. It was big place for us to explore but I think we feel not explore every floor until we reached the exposition area where we tried to explore the Green Energy Exposition.


We didn’t expect to have that event on our schedule of trip and we weren’t able to understand those green technology but I was interesting.


Way to the temple

At the back of Coex, we visit the Bongeunsa temple.

The temple was built in 794CE. During the Joseon Dynasty, it was the largest temple in Seoul, and the magnificent splendor of the old days still remains here.

Temple 1

The temple, where people can experience Buddhist culture in the center of the city, is highly popular among tourists.

Temple 2

We walk back to Samseong Station and travel to Gangnam Station.

One of Seoul’s most vibrant hot spots, the Gangnam Station area is filled with business offices as well as underground shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants and shops that are packed with people, day and night. We incorporate this to our itinerary due to recently made famous by the hit song, “Gangnam Style,” by Psy.

We did have a difficulty on looking a nice lunch at around 4pm. We are all hungry and craving for a nice food but unfortunately we ended up in KFC because most restaurant doesn’t provide menus with pictures and English translations.

Samsung Electronics @ Gangnam District

After the lunch, we go back to the Gangnam Station to explore the Samsung d’Light Exhibit on the 1st and 2nd floor of Samsung Electronics Building.

As a techie, we enjoy much on the Samsung innovations of different consumer products from mobile device to home appliances. We were amazed by how they showcase their history and change of the technology from past to near future. For all those gadget lovers, it is a must visit or just drop by on Samsung d’Light when you visit Gangnam Area.

Samsung Tour

We don’t have much time because I plan to have a biking tour on Han River so we didn’t explore much on Gangnam Area and decided to head to Han River by subway from Gangnam Station to Express Bus Terminal Station.

Banpo Bridge over Han River

Mapping out the direction to the Banpo Bridge from the station is a bit confusing and upon exiting the station we felt that it will rain due to dark clouds. We manage to walk from station to Banpo Park for almost 20 minutes and some raindrops were almost falling. We arrive at the park hoping to wait for the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain during night time. Unfortunately, rain fell heavy and didn’t have brought umbrella with us. We can’t go back to the subway and we were figuring out how to back to the hotel by bus. I wasn’t good enough to travel by bus since we should be able to determine what bus number will go near our hotel area.

We walked under the nearby Banpo Bridge to look for the bus stop. Luckily, we met two Filipino men (Marcial and Peter) waiting also for the fountain to come carrying their DSLR Camera. We talked to them for help on figuring out how to go back by bus. They assist and accompany us to the other side of the bridge. While walking, we talked a lot about their lives in Korea and how they miss Philippines as well. Finally we arrived on the other side of the bridge where we found a taxi to take us to Myeongdong area.

Finally, we were back to Myeongdong area where we explore the Lotte Duty Free shop but we arrived almost closing time. We just bought some chips on grocery within the basement of the mall. We decided to buy cheap portable umbrellas since it still raining.

Myeongdong Dinner

We decided to go back to Myeongdong area to looking for the place for our dinner. It was a challenge for us to explore since it’s almost 9:30pm and still raining. Among the restaurants that we checked on the menu, we chose the Japanese restaurant on the 2nd floor of the building.

Japanese Dinner

We ended our day by walking back to our hotel from Myeongdong since I knew that it was near. This day may not full of pictures but full of experiences. 😀


Seoul Trip 2013 : Nami Island to Cheonggyecheon Stream

It was an exciting morning because this was the Nami Island trip. Last time we visited Seoul, we weren’t able to visit this island due to tight schedule.

We started our day with a nice breakfast on a nearby Lotteria fast food.

Lotteria breakfast

Travel to Nami Island

After the breakfast, we proceed to start the trip via train. We weren’t able to catch the 9:30 am shuttle bus directly to Nami Island. There is one Nami Island shuttle bus everyday near Tapgol Park that departs at 9;30 am which cost 7,500 Won.

From Jongno-3-ga station, we arrived at Cheongnyangni Station to travel to Gapyeong station.

Journey to Nami Island

We almost wait for an hour because it has an hour interval. We didn’t expect to be an express train. While we are on an express train going Gapyeong, we were charge 3,800 Won. We pay the given fare but the train conductor told us that we should not tap our T-Money card upon arrival on the station but request for an adjustment. We should do was tap out on Cheongnyangni station and purchase a separate express train ticket with a reserve seat. We were standing for the duration of the trip to Gapyeong.

Upon arrival on Gapyeong station, we did what the conductor told us and request for the assistance of purchasing return ticket to Cheongnyangni Station. In order to go to Gapyeong wharf, we need to take taxi. The taxi fare was around 2,500 Won. I think it still cheaper to travel by train and taxi compared to bus but considering the number of transfer, shuttle bus is more convenient.

Nami Island

Day 31

Finally we arrived at Gapyeong wharf where we need to pay for the Nami Island Admission which cost 8,000 Won for foreigners and ride on boat to transfer between wharf. You can also apply for a Visa entry if you want going back to the island multiple times. You will be considered as a Naminarian immigrant. You can also transfer between wharf via zip wire which I think is  much faster compared to a boat.

Day 32

We arrive on the lovely Nami island where a woman statue waiting for us on the port. Nami island became famous on the Winter Sonata Korean TV Series.

Day 33

We explore the area to look for restaurants where we can eat our lunch. Suddenly I saw a stall with a different kind of pillar. I was amaze because the pillars were made up of pile of books (very ingenious!).

Day 34

We walk to the center of the island where we found some restaurants. We chose to have a nice korean lunch. We were able to get our order easily compared to other restaurant since some waiters were able to speak English. I really enjoy the Bulgogi and they ordered for a hot pot beef stew.

Once our stomach were full, we take a short rest and proceed to bike rental. Bike rental cost 5,000 Won for per head for an hour. We took a tandem bike while Chino chose a single bike. In an excitement I immediately bike around the area not knowing that Chino was not following us. We stopped at Dream Village area to wait for Chino. We use that time to take a picture around. That area was near to river and cottages where you can enjoy the beauty of the island.

Day 35

The biking tour was a bit short and we need to manage our time since we already bought a return ticket on train station. We return the bike 5-minutes earlier and realize that we were able to explore only half of the island. It is better to schedule your tour here for a whole day trip until the lights were illuminated. We walked back to wharf and wait for the transfer boat to arrive. We walked to taxi stand outside the parking area of Gapyeong wharf. We arrived 30 minutes earlier on the Gapyeong station and we were able to rest our tired feet.

Day 36

The journey back to the Jongno-3-ga station was a bit confusing. On Gapyeong station, we were mistakenly ride a local train which a minute earlier on the express train. We taught that it was the train but we just saw a regular seat for a local train. I manage to calculate the time the express train and local train met on their next common stop based on the Train mobile app. Luckily, the express train stopped right on the second stop of the local train and we immediately transfer to that train to claim our reserved seat. We were able to have the rest of the travel much faster compared to the regular train. On the exit to Jongno-3-ga station, we weren’t able to exit normally since we don’t tap in our card on Gapyeong station. We just have a ticket and transfer directly to another line. I decided to exit on the gate but are worried we might get caught by train staff. There was no help or assistance we can look for at that time so we proceed to go out explore the Insadong area.


Insadong was great for tourist who are looking for traditional korean handicrafts and souvenirs. We stroll around the area reminiscing the previous spots we visited. We decided to eat again to the korean restaurant where Jucyn and I ate from our previous tour in Insadong. The korean restaurant’s ambiance was some kind a fine dining restaurant. We order the special meat platter where you can wrap the meat on the lettuce leaf. We enjoyed the dinner we full stomach. I taught I wasn’t hungry but I still manage my stomach since we may be able burn that walking to the nearby stream of Cheonggyecheon.

Day 37

Jucyn suddenly stumble upon a bread with a whole egg inside and still fit on her stomach.


We walked again to the start of the Cheonggyecheon stream where you can find purple spiral shell as a marker. We rest for a while in the area while taking picture of the stream and some digitally projected arts on the walls of the stream. This is where we amaze on how artistic Korean was.

Day 38

This was the last stop of our trip today and managed to walk back to hotel with our tired feet.


Seoul Trip 2013 : City Hall to Dongdaemun

We decided to try the buffet breakfast on hotel which cost 10,000 Won available only from 7 am to 10 am. I filled my stomach with korean meat, vegetable and fruit to prepare us for another long day ahead.

WaterMark Wellfood Kitchen

After breakfast, we prepare ourselves and looking forward for this day.

City Hall

City Hall

Our first stop was Seoul City Hall and Seoul Plaza. You can reach this via City Hall Subway station. The Seoul Plaza is a lawn plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. There are people building tents in my assumption that there might have an event happening tonight. There are also students practicing the Gentleman dance of Psy. The Seoul City Hall compose of old and new building. The new building of city hall is an eco-friendly building with the world’s largest indoor green wall.

Deoksugung (Palace)

Just across the City Hall, we found out the start of the changing of guards parade in Deoksugung palace. Royal guard changing ceremonies is a regular event happening every 11:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 3:30 pm. It is closed every Monday.

Changing of Guards

The changing of guards happens in front of palace gate where the royal guards are wearing Hanbok, a traditional korean dress with vibrant colors.

After the ceremony, you can take pictures with guards and even wear hanbok for free.


Afterwards, we proceed to explore the palace. The entrance fee is 1,000 Won per person.

The Deoksugung palace was first built as a royal residence, but it became a palace when the king stayed there after the Japanese invasion in 1592. (A bit of history by the way)


You can see also inside a modern buildings which is the National Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly known as Seokjojeon).

Myeongdong Noodle Restaurant

Outside the palace, we decided to have the lunch break at nearby Myeondong Noodle Restaurant. It was crowded at that time but we were able to find a table for us. We thought that place was famous. We tried to look on the menu and order other people. I was become interested on the noodle while Chino interested to try the order of the other people near our table.

IMG_7014 IMG_7013

After ordering we found out that it was cold, a cold noodle. It was my first time to eat cold noodle but spicy. The coldness balance the spicyness of the noodle soup makes it delicious. The other white noodle is really a soy based noodle soup. Jucyn luckily chooses the super spicy pork topped rice. She wasn’t able to eat here food and just enjoy the dumplings and maki. After the experience in cold noodle and spicy food, we had a dessert on Dunkin Donut (Mr. Donut) to ease the after taste of the noodle.

Jeongdong-gil tour

Continuing our tour, I tried to lead them on a walking tour on Jeongdong-gil.

Seoul Museum of Art

Stone wall road encircling the Deoksugung Palace is a beautiful place for a walking tour with tall trees lining the street and an ancient stone wall. We encounter the museum while walking along the stone-wall.

Seoul Museum of Art

Entrance Fee : Free
Open Hours: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (closed every Monday)

Seoul Museum of Art holds the exhibitions of such world famous masters as Changall, Matisse and Picasso each year, as well as contemporary artwork by Korean and foreign artists.

Yongsan Station

Back to City Hall Station, we travel to Yongsan Station to explore the I’Park Mall.  The Yongsan station was big station similar to Seoul Station were many intercity railways stop here. We explore the I’Park Mall knowing it was a largest electronic shopping mall in Seoul. It was really big and full of camera. We were overwhelm by the number of stores selling a lot different DSLRs and Digicam on the first two floors. There are other shops on different level which are the home entertainment section, and mobile section.


After we exhaust our eye shopping, we decided to go to War Memorial of Korea which is really not part of my itinerary but it was a-must visit museum when you visit South Korea.

The way to War Memorial of Korea

We figured out that we have to walk to other subway station which is Sinyongsan in order to go Samgakji where the War Memorial of Korea is just a 5 min walk from that station.


War Memorial of Korea

Finally, we arrived on the big area of War Memorial of Korea. We take a break on nearby food court within the museum grounds. I checked the open hours of  the museum over the internet and I found out this.

Entrance Fee : Free
Open hours : 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

We arrived there at around 5:00 pm and finished our snack break at around 5:30 pm. Knowing that museum was going to close in a while we still manage to explore the inside. It was short tour but we still want more. There were interesting stories about the old whole country of Korea before the war.

War Memorial of Korea

I can say, you must pay a visit to the museum. If I were to go back to Seoul I will visit here with a tour guide to here the stories of the old Korea and Korean War.

War machines

Wait there’s more!

Outside the museum ground, there were war vehicles you are now being part of the exhibit in the museum. I guess these are the war machines really being used during war. I was amazed how big and heavy those tanks, canons, and fighter planes.

Day 26

It was now 7:00 pm and we need to decided where to eat for dinner. We go back to Samgakji station to travel to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station.


We finally arrive on our last stop for the day which is Dongdaemun. Dongdaemun Market  is now a fashion town packed with large and small retail and wholesale shopping malls as well as clothing material store. We found out that you can shop here anytime between and through the night till early morning.

Korean style barbeque dinner

Day 27

Chino decide to have an experience on Korean barbeque and Dongdaemun provides many restaurant to choose from. It is for you to decide where to eat. Chino treat us with a great and delicious dinner. (Thanks Chino!)


To end our day, we walk to next station which is the Dongdaemun station where you can find the Heunginjimun (Gate) and back to our hotel.


Seoul Trip 2013 : Hongdae to N-Seoul Tower

I did not expect the day was a bit warm Saturday morning for our official first day tour.

Outside Sutton Hotel

The Sutton Hotel where we stayed is located just in front of the famous Cheonggyecheon (Stream). The nearby subway stations are Euljiro-3-ga and Jongno-3-ga Station.

We walked to Euljiro-3-ga station to go to our first stop which is the Hongik University (Hongdae Area) since based on my research a free market is being held here every Saturday afternoon.

hongik location

We also decided to have the breakfast on the area. It was a bit difficult choosing where to eat because of spicy food and noodle might be serve to us. Even if I practice some Korean phrases, I still have difficulty pronouncing it properly.


The restaurant we chose was a bit japanese cuisine and we managed to eat properly over the challenge of pointing our choice of food over the pictures around. We prefer to order the food based on pictures and some sign languages just to be understood. Our food cost around 6,000 Won each. By the way, I budget our daily meals on 10,000 Won per meal per person on our itinerary.


After the breakfast, we are now ready to explore the Trick Eye Museum. Trick Eye Museum is just nearby Hongik University.

Trick Eye Museum


Entrance Fee: 13,000 Won (for adults) and 11,000 Won (for under 18)
Open Hours: Open everyday from 9 am to 9 pm
Location: 2nd basement floor of the Homi-hwabang building

Tricked Eye

Exploring and capturing every picture may took you 2 hours or more. You will really become part of the art. It is as if the picture move out of the frame. It’s for you to wonder and enjoy the different optical illusion canvas from walls to floors.

Hongik University Free Market

Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: Every Saturdays 1pm to 6pm

Hongik Free Market

It was called free market wherein students may sell their different arts and crafts on a nearby Children Park.

Hello Kitty Cafe

Hello Kitty Cafe

Stopped by for a coffee break where Jucyn really wants to have a visit in a Hello Kitty Coffee Shop.


After the coffee break, we decided to go to  Myeongdong are because we do not have Korean money and no money exchange open in Hongdae Area. This is not part of my itinerary but I guess we have to adjust and shop around.

IMG_6886  IMG_6887


We are trying to wait for the sunset before going to N-Seoul Tower but I since it is summer and the sun is still up, we walked from Myeongdong to Nandaemun since it was just one station away.

Nandaemun Food Trip

Nandaemun is famous for it’s wet and dry market. You can also buy souvenirs and other items. Since it wasn’t my first time hear, I think I’ll just taste the street food here.

After we explore the things around Nandaemun, we walked back to Namsan Park. The way to Namsan Park is located between Nandaemun and Myeondong Area.

It was a enjoyable yet tiring. Really our feet was getting angry on us.

The Walk Way to Namsan Park

To get to the top of Namsan Park, we ride on Namsan Oreumi which is an outdoor inclined elevator for free.

Travel tip: Take subway line 4 to Myeongdong Station (exit 4). Walk straight towards the Hoehyeon intersection. The Namsan Oreumi is located at the entrance of Namsan Tunnel #3 (near the Hoehyeong 119 Safety Center).

We have to ride again to  the Namsan Cable car after Namsan Oreumi ride to reach the top of Namsan Park. The round trip of Namsam Cable car cost 8,000 Won.

N-Seoul Tower and Bear Museum

Entrance Fee for Observatory and Bear Museum cost 14,000 Won.

Finally we reached the our last destination for the day, the N-Seoul Tower Observatory and Bear Museum.

Teddy Bear Museum

N-Seoul Tower

Expect to wait on the long line of people going up to the observatory. We almost took an hour or two waiting for our opportunity to ride up to the observatory on a “super” fast elevator.

That’s all for our first day, we will surely sleep like a log. Hopefully we can wake up early for out second day tour.