Where did the time go, Steve and I first visited the island of Boracay in the Philippines in the late nineties. Located in the Western Visayas, this tiny island famous for its pristine white beaches and parties, has become the most visited destination in the Philippines and was named as the best island gateway in the world in 2012 based on a survey of readers by Travel+Leisure and has continued to gain in popularity.
Corregidor is one of the islands located in the mouth of Manila Bay. This island stands as a memorial fortress to all Filipino and American defenders who fought with the invading Japanese forces during World War ll. It was the most bombed and attacked island, second only to Malta during the war. Today, the historical island is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Manila.
August has always been one of our favourite months to visit Terrigal on the Central Coast of New South Wales. It’s nearing the end of the winter months and the weather is nice with lots of sunshine and cool sea breezes. At night though, the temperature drops, so a proper winter outfit is still advisable. We also find this time more relaxed and far less crowded as compared to the peak season.
Winter time is one of the best times to visit the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It can be freezing with crisp air and you might get lucky with an occasional snow fall which adds a dramatic winter wonder land feel. Winter time is also the Yulefest celebration or popularly known as Christmas in July, with venues serving hearty Christmas fare, carols, fire places and even the presence of Santa in some venues. We religiously make a yearly pilgrimage to Katoomba and have mulled wine or even a bottle of Champagne to celebrate Christmas in the colder season. This trip we also visited Blackheath, a town close to Katoomba.
To best appreciate the many facets of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, you’ll need a car. Depending on your arrival point, you can rent a car from Brisbane Airport or Maroochydore Airport, the gateway to the Sunshine Coast. From Brisbane it’s over an hours drive (105 km) via the M1, a bus service also operates a shuttle transfer for those who don’t want to drive.
If you like an old world with a higgledy-piggledy atmosphere, a visit to Medieval York is must on your bucket list. Old York is a walled city in North Yorkshire England, and has produced evidence of ancient settlements as far back as 7-8000 years BC, way before the wave of invasions like that of the Romans, who named it as Eboracum in 71 AD.
“Seek and ye shall find” is no longer the mantra in the Philippines when it comes to finding a good coffee shop especially in the Makati area. There are more and more sleek independent coffee shops popping up offering the best aromatic coffee blends you can enjoy even on a hot day.
‘Goraiten itadakimashite makoto ni arigatou gozaimasu’ (thank you for coming to our store), when you keep hearing this announcement as you enter and exit any department store, you know that you are in one of the most exiting cities in the world, Tokyo.
If you have arrived at your hotel in downtown Tokyo from Narita or Haneda with out any mix-ups, that’s brilliant, you are on the right track. For most first time visitors to Tokyo it can be challenging and often daunting experience, especially if your time is limited, what to do and where to go if you haven’t pre-planned your trip.
If time permits during your stay in Tokyo, a good way to experience rural Japan is to head off to a nearby town for a day trip. One popular destination is a visit to Hakone, a mountainous town located west of Tokyo.
We have been to Japan a number of times, and during our last trip we endeavoured to visit this town, to experience its famous Onsen, hot spring bath. This is also a good vantage point to see Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi, weather permitting of course.
I’ve always wanted to experience a boodle feast or fight for a very long time. I’ve seen a lot of photos on social media and television food networks showing what a gastronomical experience this type of Filipino dining is, where food favourites are served on a wide-green banana-leaf platter and eaten with bare hands. So I contacted my friends whilst back in the Philippines, to see if they would like to have a get together and catch up over a boodle night, everyone liked the idea, so bring on the food war!
Finally we made it to this adventure park this year, a long time in the planning. Dubbed as Mindanao’s favourite extreme playground, this place has more to offer than meets the eye. Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines.
Our trip began from Davao City with few disagreements on how long the trip it will take. Google map says 5 hrs and 16 mins, 240.7 km, though from word of mouth it’s only 4 hours. Reluctant on which time frame of travel to rely on, we headed off after lunch. We hit the road on the Davao-Buda National Highway with traffic along the way that totally slowed us down. The roads were relatively stable and well-maintained so it’s easy for a four-wheel-drive vehicle, at times we can speed up to 100 km per hour but mostly we remained under 80 km per hour.
(A continuation of the Christchurch to Queenstown Winter road trip)
We arrived in Queenstown around 8 pm and immediately checked in at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, our room was overlooking Lake Wakatipu and we couldn’t wait to see the views the following morning.
The long drive from Geraldine to Queenstown was exhausting but we were ecstatic enough that we arrived safe and sound at our final destination and it definitely called for a round of beers.