Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sporty Singapore

When you visit places frequently, you have to find ways at seeing the place in a different light and since I came here with my running buddies, this is the time to explore the sporty side of Singapore.

 Universal Studios

First stop was a visit to Universal Studios, which is my second time this year.  Nothing much new here except for a Transformers ride coming out on December and that maybe something I may visit on my trip here next year.  It's always fun going to theme parks especially if you have two friends who'd brave the cyclone.  For me, I'm probably way past scaring myself to death with roller coaster rides though I did take the Mummy ride the last time I was here. Enjoyed a 4D adventure show plus a lot of photo opportunities here.

Singapore at Night

Had dinner with a friend at in City Hall area.  I liked the Pizza & Pasta combo we had. We also had a chance to appreciate the view from Esplanade. Singapore stays vibrant at night and people here probably have longer days as it seems common to be off work at past 8 pm. It was great looking at the bay side view overlooking the Singapore Flyer to Marina Bay Sands to Merlion Park and it's a bonus that I can take panoramic shots from my Camera.  Switched to Brotzeit at Somerset for half a liter of banana flavored beer before calling it a night.


ON Running Technology 

Spent the next day shopping for running shoes and accessories.We were lucky enough to see the new ON Cloud Runner in the first shop we visited.  Trying out the Cloud Runner, it was difficult to let it go even if it was just weeks away from getting launched in the Philippines.  You would immediately feel a cushioned insole on a lightweight shoes.  I am always torn between a cushioned shoes as I have some tendency to have higher-impact strides and a lightweight race shoes to be light for speed and comfort during actual races.  So it was the best of both worlds, a cushioned and lightweight shoes.  Given that I'm going for longer distance runs, I see the Cloud Runner as a good investment and seeing that the cloud technology effectively cushions each of your stride, it provides additional protection from running injuries and additional comfort for runs.

Singapore has a lot of running stores and it was a haven for runners like me but I'm in one of my stingy spells so aside from the shoes, I just bought calves sleeve and a lock lace to match the shoes.

And for the main course, my chance to run at a competitive road race in Singapore via Yellow Ribbon Run.  It's also the first time to run a distance lower than 10K since started doing 10K races last year.  I ended up running 6K run.  It was an uphill route under the scorching hot weather. I went for a speedy run with short walking breaks to catch my breath and I ended up finishing in the top 5%, 84th out of about 1700 runners.  Not bad for my first run on international grounds.

People, Food and Places

I always say that when it comes to Singapore, if you're out of places to visit,  it's always the people you get to appreciate. I do have a lot of friends here and just seeing them again or spending time with them makes a trip complete and you also get to meet and share a laughter or two with new people that makes you look forward to your next trip. There are foods I like in this area like the S$1 Ice Cream at Orchard, the street foods at Old Chang Kee and of course, we did have a great crab meal in Geylang, which was near our place of residence in Singapore at Aston Mansions.  I was able to enjoy the pool and the company of close friends here.

And just like that another trip to Merlion City is over.  I can't wait to get back here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lovin' La Bellarocca

Bellarocca has been on my must-visit list for about a year now so when I got an available schedule and a good deal a few months ago, I immediately grabbed it even without a concrete plan. I'm coming into Bellarocca with such a high expectation and a lot of excitement. I usually plan before a trip but this one says anything goes... let them surprise me.

Just 40 minutes from Manila and another 45 minutes land travel, we got to see a lush green island with Greek Santorini-inspired white structures situated alone in a middle of a body of water. Another 5 minutes ride via speedboat and we are now transported to the breath-taking island of Bellarocca welcomed by their ever-friendly staff.

We were housed in a Terraza which is a villa with two spacious bedrooms with its own bathroom and a dining area. It's just a few steps away from the clubhouse with a view overlooking the Marina, the Aqua Sports area and just in-front of Mt. Malindig which also houses their 9-hole golf course. It also has a nice sunset and sunrise view from the veranda area of the Terraza.

After a tour of the island, the first thing I tried was wind-surfing... wind surfing... wind surfing. We'll you really get a lot of tries on this one as you tend to fall most of the time from balancing the sail from the wind and the weight of lifting the sail. I did fall a lot but was able to have brief moments of balancing the sail so I'll take that along with the liters of sea water I swallowed from falling so often. We also got a chance at a dip in the sea and the nearby infinity pool in the area.

Next up was a taste of the food in the place. At first, you'd get intimidated by the prices but when you get to taste their various dishes, you'll realize it was well worth it. We never had a meal that we didn't like, didn't appreciate and didn't finish. It had a unique taste and had a lot of variety. My hats off to the Chef. Come to think of it, the price is not really that far from the regular lunch and dinners in Makati.

After all the luscious meals, now to burn it off with a early morning 5K run. I really reserved one of my training runs for this weekend and to do it in this environment. It was nice running here with the friendly staff and crew greeting you good morning every time you pass them. The weather was still cool and a bit drizzly and the uphill terrain was really challenging. I also crossed my 1,000 kilometer of training in this area. Running is always a nice way to explore places.

First time for my Mom and Tita at Kayak and Snorkling. The Kayak around the island was a real workout and it was a good way to see the island and a a chance to appreciate the various rock structures and terrains. The snorkling in the Marina area was also impressive with so many fishes and marine life in the area. They also have staffs to assist you in kayaking and snorkling. By the way, the wind-surfing, kayaking and snorkling are complimentary for guests and I was able to try it all.

I also had a few minutes at the Gym using the treadmill and doing some situps while awaiting my trip to the Golf Course. They also have a 9-hole golf course just across the island. I'm no golfer but I still went there for a photo opportunity and it had a splendid view overlooking Bellarocca and it's easily accessible via a few minutes in a speed boat and a short drive.

It's already quite a tiring day so had doze of watching DVD and also watching time to time people trying out the different water sports and so far It seems that everybody had the same experience I had at Wind Surfing. I think all-in-all I was able to use most of the facility and was able to make the most out of this trip. I am completely satisfied but even as I checked out and settled all my dues I was still in for another surprise. We were sent off by a rainbow... no, make that two rainbows and thus concludes my first date with Bella and I say first as I definitely would want to come back here and I know that's just me catching a good deal away once again. Time and again, you need to pamper yourself and people get the impression that Bellarocca is such a pricey place to visit but there are good deals that makes it in the same price range or even cheaper as other vacation spots and on a closing note, I'm practically jumping for joy and the I'm Lovin' La Bellarocca.

More photos...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Kong... Hong Kong...

There's a thing about Hone Kong that combines the rich cultural heritage it has and the new technologies that have arrived. I guess that's its signature, a country who knows who they are and adopts its culture towards the changing global landscapes. It also has been sort of a home, a comfort zone given that it's just a few hours away from the country and I get to spend some time with relatives.

I had the chance to exchange a weekend here to a weekend in Hong Kong since I had to use my earned miles before they expired and there it was a business class trip to HK. I'm out of places to visit in HK and fun now has been redefined to doing the things you like to do compared to packing your day trying to explore each attraction of the island. I'm gone to be a much easier and simpler person to please so four days spent just staying at home, attending my niece's party, shopping a bit, mass, a walk in the park and a trip to Ocean Park. I'm still stuck with the thought how can a very active red panda be related to the lazy giant panda but Ocean Park does provide you that mix that ranges from dolphin and seal shows, overwhelming aquariums, animal parks, hot air balloons and scary rides.

Of course, I could have so many variations from a weekend in Disney, to a cable car ride to the Golden Buddha, to appreciating the view at Victoria's Peak or navigating the city food tripping. That's Hong Kong's charm, it can give you so many alternatives from the old to the new, from the relaxing to the enchanting to the exciting and so on. It's so familiar yet it is so different and even though I've probably done those adventures, there's always a new unique experience that is worth exploring.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Universally Singapore

I'm now back with my Annual Singapore trip for work but in a country that's so known for their workaholic mindset, I managed to find some time to unwind and reconnect with friends based in the city state. I guess, that's one of the attractions that never fade, friends who have are now based in Singapore that you get a chance to meet once again.

With the fast-track development in the city-state, there's always something new to visit or to do from a walk in Skypark in the Marina Bay Sands (a bit pricey) to mall hoping in City Hall and Orchard to enjoying chicken rice in food courts or the S$1 ice cream that I love to eat to the shifting MRT lanes to shopping like crazy and to a kid-for-a-day adventure at Universal Studios. I did look forward to Universal Studios this year as I missed my chance last year due to sold-out tickets. It was fun getting to see the characters you watch in animated flicks and hop from one show to another and try out some rides in between.

I also was able to run in Singapore streets and it was very run friendly as you can run in parks or wide sidewalks in complexes or just about anywhere but you just have the hit the roads early in the morning or late at night as the it's a bit hotter in this area. I really look forward to this visits I get in Singapore more on the people I get to meet and all the places to visits are just all added attractions.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chilling in the Bora Sun

I had my time in the Bora Sun after about 2 years from being away from the fine white sands of this Island. While the previous visits was spent on adventures, this trip was just spent to chill and relax.

It's a real change in my frenetic pace to just go on with my day with no time pressure and do what you want at the spur of the moment or at your preferred pace. It was fun just lounging around at the beach front, taking a leisurely walk along the island, listening to good music with good company, food tripping, alcohol overload, island hopping, beachside massage, sunset viewing, tattoos, parties and just being amazed by the throngs of people moving around the island and the best part about it you are not bounded by time.

Boracay has its extreme sides... a serene side during the day with all the adventures and the relaxing beach front experience and party like no tomorrow side during the night which can cater to a variety of crowd. It was a great weekend with the only downside being that I'm now burnt and roasted but who cares It's summer time and I getting burned by the Bora sun is in the order of priorities at this time of year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Viewing the Golden Sunset

Went to join the Company Outing in Golden Sunset Resort after a crowded 10K run and a over 3 hours drive to Calatagan, Batangas. It does not help that there's not much indication how far the place is and does not even direct you when you are in the actual street already but all bad first impression aside, we were able to find the place.

The place is like a much simpler Villa Escudero, complete with the cultural shows. It holds several pools, spa, videoke, outdoor museum, butterfly sanctuary and several acres of fishponds but what sets the distinction is that when it is sunset time, it does own a splendid view of the Golden Sun as it crosses into the night. Fishing was a unique experience even if after all the attempts I just managed to catch one (Oh well, you can't have them all), The 2-hour Indulgence Massage at the pond was relaxing with the fresh breeze as an added feature. The rooms were comfy, food abundant and the amenities are reasonably priced and overall it was a nice rest and relaxation breather.

The grass is dry and looks like the summer heat has taken its toll in maintaining the lush-green look. Oh well, forget the green grass, just jump into the blue pool. It's summer time and there is no other place I'd rather be spending it than in the Ph various islands. More travel tales to come definitely...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fun Under the Sea in Coron

It's not yet the season of vacations yet I couldn't pass up on this one. A trip to Coron has always had me interested from the stories I heard and from the pictures I saw so had to see it for myself this time around.

The place is such a dive and snorkeling haven with islets, coral gardens, sunken boat and submarine sites with a very rich diversity of its marine life. Then you have the interesting lakes lagoons with it's own features and stories... Kayangan Lake with the picturesque view and cave adventure... The Mystical Barracuda Lake with the interesting tale on how it got its name... and Twin lagoons which intersects on a towering rock partition. There's those fine white sand beaches that is still so pristine where you can relax by the 'duyan' covered by mangroves and just feel the sea breeze.

Most of the fun, you have it by the waters but the town also has its mountains to climb. We were able to take a view of the whole place in Mt. Tapyas after a 700+ steps climb and as an additional reward, we got to see the sun rise that morning. When you get to visit a place like Coron, you get to realize that nature in its simplest form is such a magnificent site.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Wasn't able to take an early flight out of Taipei so had to spend my weekend here and that includes my weekend running chores. So I decided to run in Taipei Botanical Garden after 20 minutes walk to MRT, 3 stops later and another 15 minutes walk was finally out running.
It was a cool experience or rather I should say cold being the weather at the time. It was a nice running around the garden with the trees, the rare plants, the squirrels, the lanscapes, the lake and the ever changing terrains. I always like to spend time here being such a serene place.
It wasn't my best time but considering the odds of the cold weather, I'm just glad I'm still moving after the 5 kilometer run. Of course, the downside could have me being added as a frozen monument in the park. Oh well, that didn't happen so I'd take it as a very nice scenic run.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Running the Subic Scenery

I attended my first out of town and international marathon in Subic and it was a whole new running experience and at such a reasonable budget. For all the trips I had in Subic, I rarely get a chance to stay long in this area.

Having the whole road traveling by feet, you get to appreciate the place in a different light. You get to see the nice sceneries at some parts overlooking the bay, the lush greenery and all the shops and structures. Then there's the much crisper and fresher breath of air and the not so warm early morning temperature. It was a much appreciated change of environment and it did show in time with my fastest 10K so far at 1:02.

Of course, we're still able to enjoy other features that make Subic famous. Dinner at the bay, coffee and drinks at the Lighthouse and those mouth-watering TJ ribs. Such a nice reward from a tiring fast paced run. It's just two expressway away so it won't be a surprise if I'd be lost here again sometime.