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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jakarta

DAY 1, 16 Mac 06

During this trip we stayed at our cousin's house in Jakarta. As soon as we reached the Airport, Mia's driver fetched us and then we fetched Mia at her office.









After having lasagna for lunch and resting at home for a while, the driver sent us to Senayan Shopping Mall, while he fetched Tawaf's brother, Lufi from the airport. The traffic jam in Jakarta was very bad and we ended up staying at this mall until night time.




Once we reached home, we had our dinner beside the swimming pool. It was fun!
Fat burning activity after dinner:














DAY 2, 17 Mac 06

Having breakfast by the pool at Mia's lovely bungalow house.















DAY 3, 18 Mac 06

















DAY 4, 19 Mac 06

Going to the Gelato Bar












DAY 5, 20 Mac 06


Relaxing in the morning








Having our last lunch and jotting down in Mia's guest book

Bye-bye Jakarta!

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Manila & Tagaytay

DAY 1, 8 Mac 06 - Manila

We got a great deal for our 2-way flight tickets, KL - Clark, for just RM286 for 2 pax by Air Asia.

Currency exchange: RM1 = P14.

We arrived at the Clark Airport in the morning. Clark Airport is located in Angeles City, the former home of the American 13th Air Force in Central Luzon, Republic of the Philippines. Clark Airport is approximately 2-2.5 hours from the 2 other terminals. Clark is in Pampanga which is a province north of Metro Manila, while the 2 terminals are located in the southern part of Metro Manila.


We took the shuttle bus provided by Air Asia from Clark to SM Megamall, a big mall, centrally located along EDSA, Metro Manila for a fee of P300/pax, one way (80km). On the way, we passed by lots of jeepneys. The drop-off point is at the Philtranco Terminal, Ground Floor, SM Megamall Building A, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City.

Look at this tiny toy-like motorbike that carried one whole family!





At SM Megamall, there were many cabs waiting so we just chose one and headed to our hotel. There were many locals; adults and young people selling goods in the middle of the road. Whenever the cars stopped at the traffic light, they would come close to the car window showing the goods. There were also lots of air pollution here.

Most drivers here LOVE using their horn. They rarely use their signal lights since the horn is all that they need :) Our cab went round and round, and at the end we reached our hotel: the Legend Villa. It is at Pioneer corner Madison Streets, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila.

We stayed at this hotel for only 1 night before we went to Tagaytay the next morning. Somehow, maybe due to the peak season, all hotels were full for that day. This was the only room available at 66 USD per room per night. It was a Villa Suite Deluxe including breakfast for two.

Our "room" had 2-levels. Ground floor is the living, dining and the kitchen. Meanwhile, the top floor consists of 2 Queen Size Beds!! Such a big place for just the two of us.

We brought a lot of food, since it was not easy to find Halal food in Manila. Half of our luggage was just FOOD!

After our late lunch, we decided to rest for a while before going to the nearby places. We overslept and woke up at almost 9 pm! Nothing much to do then. Just unpacked a bit, took our bath and prepared our stuff for tomorrow's journey.

DAY 2, 9 Mac 06 - Tagaytay

We started the day with a good breakfast. Not much that we could eat from the buffet though, since most were non-Halal. So eggs, bread and milk were our prime food.









Then, it was time to get our backpacks and head to Tagaytay. The receptionist helped to call a cab for us and explained to the driver that we were heading to a bus station to go to Tagaytay.

Without any hesitation, the cab driver drove and dropped us by the road side in the middle of the town, near a bus station. There was a big crowd and most of them were looking at us with our big bags. We felt lost!

We tried to ask them which bus goes to Tagaytay, but no one there could understand us. They were shouting to each other trying to understand us. At last, one of them caught the word "Tagaytay" and said that the buses there don't go to Tagaytay. We were at a wrong station!

In the havoc, one very young guy with a tricycle stopped by the road side and they asked us to hop on. All of them spoke in Tagalog and we prayed that this young guy will bring us to the right place. He took us through small alleys and the back roads. It was scary, especially not knowing where we were heading.

We were running out of time, since the bus should be leaving in any minute now. AT LAST we reached this small station and there was our bus! Alhamdulillah we managed to catch our bus to Tagaytay!









On the way to Tagaytay City, there were a few people who would hop on and off the bus to sell food and drinks. And they did this freely whenever the bus stopped at the traffic lights without any objection from the bus driver nor conductor. 

Tagaytay City is Philippines' second summer capital, next to Baguio. We looked forward to go there because of it's breathtaking world famous Taal formation, a crater within an island within a lake. One of the Smallest Active Volcanoes in the World. The journey from Manila to Tagaytay took 1 hour and it was 56km away.

The wind seemed cooler as we reached Tagaytay, similar to Genting in Malaysia. Our bus stopped by the road side at the central of Tagaytay and we walked to our Hotel, which was the Tagaytay Country Suite, Cavite. We booked online through Travelmart.net, for a Superior room at a total of USD90. Near to our hotel was a supermarket, where we bought our drinks and snacks.


After leaving our luggage in the room, we walked from our hotel to the center. There we saw a group of people with jeepneys by the road side. At first glance, they look suspicious but after talking to them, we realized that they were very nice and helpful. We asked if we can go to the Taal Volcano but they said that it is best if we go early tomorrow morning since it was already late afternoon and the wind was quite strong. So we took a jeepney uphill to the Picnic Groove. At the Picnic Groove the wind was strong as well but it was such a relaxing place.




























Taal Volcano from far:











DAY 3, 10 Mac 06 - Tagaytay

We woke up early to go to the Taal Volcano. A jeepney fetched us in front of our hotel for a one day tour. After a bumpy journey in the jeepney, we reached a village where there were many small boats. The villagers didn't understand us, so our jeepney driver explained on our behalf. We paid for one whole boat since there was no one else to share with.

They gave us life jackets and a piece of big plastic. The waves were strong and we used the plastic to cover our bodies from getting wet. From the village we could already see the Taal Volcano.





After crossing the lake, we saw many locals waiting by the shore with ponies. They also sell masks since it was dusty. We paid for 2 ponies and 2 guides and off we went! There were many guides, somehow we got the young ones.

Tosh's guide didn't even do anything since Tosh could control the pony himself. While Tawaf's guide, just keep quiet at the back. Only when the pony was out of control, he would do something. It was a good experience, though a bit scary as well since we were here with only these two kids to guide us.













Finally we reached the top, at the crater. This is the lake inside the volcano!

We remembered on the first day we reached Manila, there was a travel show on tv showing the Taal Volcano. The tv host went down to the crater with an egg and tried to boil it by putting it in a hole between the rocks. At the end of the show, the egg still wasn't cooked LOL. Don't know if it works.

Up here there was a viewing area and there's also a local lady selling coconut drinks.
We actually saw a lot of Korean tourists here too.







~Tosh and his guide.

Then we went back, took the boat trip and we were back on the main land again. This is our jeepney.



Next, we went to the Palace In The Sky.
It is high up on a hill. Originally designed to be the presidential guest house of the former president Ferdinand Marcos. Now it is open to the public as a vantage area for viewing a 360 degree profile of Taal Volcano. At the entrance, there were many fruit shops, where we bought our soursop.




Next destination: Tagaytay Zoo.
There was an albino cow with 5 legs in this zoo.





After going around Tagaytay, we got back to our hotel to rest and to have lunch.
There was a spa and salon near to our hotel. The staff there was actually the same people who worked at our hotel :) .

Tosh got his hair cut and got a massage while Tawaf did her hair treatment at the salon. Tosh came back with bruises on his back because the lady was actually using her elbow to massage. Of course Tawaf's hair treatment took long hours and we only got back to the hotel at night.


DAY 4, 11 Mac 06 - Manila

We got back to Manila by bus


In Manila, we stayed at the Astoria Plaza Hotel. Online booking was done through the HotelTravel.com for February 11-14, and it was USD162 for a deluxe room with breakfast for two. This was the view from our room



We went to SM Megamall to shop and the hotel offered a free coach to the mall.




DAY 5, 12 Mac 06
- Manila

This hotel offers a good breakfast and we saw quite a few Malaysians staying here as well.



Short nap after breakfast.

We had a great time at the shopping complexes: Glorietta, Greenbelt and Greenhills Mall. At the entrance of the major malls, there were guards on duty and they would inspect the visitors' bag.



Greenhill sells much cheaper stuff and you can find anything there. We had fun bargaining there and buying gifts to bring home. Lot's of beautiful and cheap candles as well, which would cost a lot more in KL.

New from head to toe :)





DAY 6, 13 Mac 06 - Manila

On this day, we went sight-seeing at The Rizal Park. The entrance to this park was free while the Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden had a fee of P5 per person.There were a few homeless people living here. As long as you do not disturb them, they'd just ignore you. Other attractions here are the Open-Air Auditorium, Planetarium, Rizal Park Library and MassCom Library, Chess Plaza, the Flower Clock, the Lights and Sounds of Rizal, fountains, amphitheater, children's playground, skating rink, National Museum, Orchidarium and the horse-drawn carriages.







From here, we walked to the Manila Bay. Then we took a cab to go to the Glorietta. Every time we take a cab, we would say "meter, meter" to ensure that the cab driver doesn't cheat us. If the driver says that the meter is broken, we will get out and take another cab :)

At Manila Bay:

Walking through beautiful shopping complexes.......










DAY 7, 14 Mac 06 - Manila

It's time to check-out from the hotel. We would definitely recommend this hotel. Very clean, great staff and great service!

We took the Air Asia bus to the Clark airport. When leaving Clark, there is a departure tax of P550 /pax.