Friday, January 11, 2019


I established this blog as a "shrine" for my adventures. 

I've have travelled, since my last update - I took time to at least update my Adventure Accounts page. It's just...more difficult to really give trip details.

Each blog post takes me approximately 4 hours to write, select and watermark photos, and recheck my excel file & trip notes. So two long and detailed blog posts equal to one working day.

In the last couple of years, the rise of microblogging just made it easier to just skip a blogpost; because hey, there's your audience in FB or IG. I don't like to admit this, but there's a sense of "instant validation" when others do like your travel update post vs. waiting for someone to give a nice comment in your blog post (that took hours to write). 

In between my March 2017 post and today, I've been busy being a postgraduate student in the UK (thru the Chevening scholarship), then I've travelled for 90 days to cover 11 countries (yeap, just 11 - after all, I'm not that young backpacker anymore ;P). 

I'm now back in the Philippines. 
Lots of free time as of now. 
Maybe I'll get my enthusiasm again. Somehow.

For now, I just want to say that I'm still alive and travelling. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

UK Visa Application in the Philippines

The United Kingdom (UK) may be in Europe but it is not included in the Schengen zone. You need to apply for a separate visa in the UK. I’ve always wanted to see London (because of Mary Poppins) but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of applying and paying for another visa aside from Schengen. Since this was a family trip, I finally had the opportunity of visiting London.

We had to apply for a UK visa first before applying for a Schengen visa in the French Embassy. The process is a bit similar to the US Visa application wherein you fill-out a long form, pay the visa fee, then schedule your application to submit your documents.

Here’s the basic process:

1.    Create an account and fill-out application forms  here: immigration
2.    Pay for the visa fee - via credit card – USD 110
3.    Schedule the visa appointment in VFS Global UK
4.    Print and gather documents in the checklist
5.    Go to VFS Global UK to submit documents
6.    Wait wait wait for your passport to arrive

The embassy grants a 6-month visit visa for tourists. For other visa types, sorry I can’t help you. We had 4 nights planned in the UK. That’s $110 for 4 nights. Very pricey.

VFS Global handles the UK visa applications in the Philippines.
I suggest you spend time (lots of it) reading the info in their website:

Filling out the application forms, payment, & scheduling your appointment
This had been a tedious process. Prepare to answer these questions:

  • How much do you earn a month?
  • How much do you spend a month?
  • Do you have any dependents?
  • How much are you spending for the trip?
  • How much is your “total assets”? I can’t recall the exact term used but I recall I had to compute for my net worth to answer this questions
  • And prepare to input some of the answers in GBP

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schengen Visa Application via French Embassy in the Philippines

I am not a Schengen visa expert. I cannot assess your chance of getting a visa. I am only sharing what happened in my experience.

Less than a year after my Europe III trip (which I haven’t blogged about), I found myself applying for my 4th Schengen visa. This was for our two-week family vacation in Europe in Italy, France and UK. Since we were staying at France the longest, we lodged our Schengen visa application with the French embassy.

This time, we applied via the French Embassy. VFS Global handles the visa applications for the French embassy. I hope that before you found this blog, you already read the very informative website of VFS France in the Philippines. Now if you haven’t, I suggest stop reading this blog entry for a while and go and click that link and spend some time reading the information there.

Then go click on these to read about my past Schengen visa applications:
1.    Italy, 2011 (denied-reapplied-approved)
2.    Spain, 2013 (approved)
3.    Germany, 2016 (approved)

The website of VFS Global France is pretty detailed, except that it does not mention this rule: If you are applying for a Schengen visa in the French Embassy and your itinerary starts or ends in the UK, you’ll have to obtain a UK visa first. Since our itinerary ends in UK, we should apply for a UK visa first.

VFS France informed us that should we insist on submitting our application without the UK visa, we risk a denial. We didn’t want that. We somewhat attempted trying our luck to get an appointment for a UK visa that same morning (the VFS UK was just in the same building, in the same floor) but nope, not possible. Ugh. What a wasted morning. We were able to book an appointment for the UK visa application after two weeks. I was thinking we would’ve gotten the Schengen visa by the time we applied for a UK visa but it turned out to be the other way around. Fine, that's the rule. But they should've put that in their website or checklist.

Here’s the updated checklist as of September 23, 2016. Please check if they have an updated version of this (check the website of VFS). I deleted the items which were not applicable in our case.

1.    Signed Schengen visa application form with photo (35mm x 45mm, white background). There’s a digital version where you can type out the answers. Alternatively, if you are applying for a UK visa, you can download a filled-out application form of the Schengen visa at the end – they use your applicable details reflected in your UK visa application (name, passport number, address etc). Cost: photo – Php 75 at Kodak Express in Trinoma.

2.    Valid passport (3 months' validity from the end of intended stay), photocopy of valid and former visas, pages of the passport with Immigration stamps and previous refusal stamps, if any.

I submitted three passports (2 expired, 1 brand new) and photocopies of the pages with stamps.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Taiwan Itinerary & Budget

August was ending. It was almost two months after my trip to Central Europe and I was feeling restless. I had no planned trip for the rest of the year. Well I had plans of exploring Turkey with a friend but with the airport incident that happened in June, we got scared.

So no plans. But I wanted an adventure.

It came down to Taiwan. I flushed round-trip tickets that I got for Php 3K back in 2014 because I wasn't up for temples and siomai after my two-week trip in China. So bye bye Taiwan and tickets.

But this was two years after China, so I think I get have another dose of China, or its territory (Ooops not! *prickly point of contention*). Moving on.

I booked tickets with EVA air. Airfare costs $102 which includes meals and 20kg baggage allowance. That is a deal! That rate is not even a promo rate.

I decided to be a "kinda-maintenance" passenger and ordered vegetarian meals for my flights. The flight attendants take note of your seat number. You get served first before they roll out the food card for everyone else. Really good if you are someone like me who gets on a kinda-beast-mode when hungry. 
Pretty tasty

EVA Air flies out of Terminal 1. I Uber-ed (yeah that's a verb now, just like Googled) going to Terminal and it was a pretty quick ride with the now-open airport Skyway. I was very pleasantly surprised that I saw the facelift they've given Terminal 1.

The last time I was here was 2013 and this waiting area was poorly lit. I am extremely happy they fixed that. *applause*

There's the iconic Jollibee with a waiting area.

I didn't get any sleep in the flight. I was pretty "jet-lagged" when I landed in Taiwan Taoyuan Internation Airport. I presented the Travel Certificate I secured online using my multiple-entry Japan visa.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


In history and Game of Thrones, the armies conquer the lands by invading and raiding. The conquered village bow down to their new lord.

I have no army. I have no desire to conquer land. 
Nowadays, the game is in the domain name. 
That is easier to conquer.

After 6 years of travel blogging, I finally bought

I availed of the promo rate of GoDaddy for the first year (Php 53) and got some discounted offer for the next two years. Overall, I paid Php 970 for three years (note that the first year is a discounted rate). 

The link redirects you to my blogspot page. As of now, I have no plans of putting the effort in getting my own hosting. It took me 6 years to decide to buy my own domain, so it will probably take a while before I get my own host.

I started blogging in 2005. That was the "dear diary" era of blogging back then. I sometimes cringe when I read my writing back in those days. There were not a lot of specialized blogs or "branded" blogs. 

Then I started travelling in 2007 . I noticed a lot of specialty blogs sprouted: fashion, beauty, travel, finance, etc. It took me a long time to decide whether I should create a new blog that features my adventures. After much thought and consultation with friends, I decided to create an new one. I seriously thought about the name and motto of this blog

"Dot-comming" (that is a verb now, right?) my blog feels so grown-up. Parang bumili ako ng condo. :P

Cheers to more travel adventures...and blogging! :D

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How To Fully Enjoy Art In Island (Rediscovering Cubao)

Cubao memories...
When I was a kid, my mom took me to Fiesta Carnival frequently. I don't remember every ride we took but I remember we were there frequently. (RIP Fiesta Carnival).
When I was a teenager, my highschool classmates and I used to hang-out in the new Gateway when we were all sick and tired of SM North Edsa (Trinoma wasn't around back then).
Over the years, Cubao just became a crowded MRT spot and a hotbed for pickpockets. An adventure in Cubao is not enticing. I did not want to explore. I did go to Cubao Expo once to check on the boots on sale in Janilyn but that's it.
In my adult life, I just go to Cubao whenever there's an event or concert in Araneta Coliseum - oooh, it is now Smart-Araneta. :P  

This time, a new attraction put Cubao back in the map.

Art in Island is an Interactive Art Museum located right beside the Cubao Expo complex (or is it really part of it?). The museum allows visitors to interact with the art pieces. I've had my fair share of museums and I can say that they can be somewhat tiring. 

Well not this one.

I explored the museum together with my Amiga Sarah (we call our group Amigas, you probably have your own squad names) during my birthday. The museum has a birthday promo: the celebrant has a waived entrance fee during, one day before, and one day after the celebrant's birthday. 

I showed my driver's license as proof of my birthday, and the ticket lady greeted me "Happy birthday" and told me to just show my license as my "ticket". The other staff greeted me "Happy birthday!" as well when they saw my ID. Nice staff, nice start. Entrance fee costs Php 500/pax. Staff advised us to turn off the flash when taking photos.

According to their FAQs, bring the following
1. Camera
2. Socks/bedroom slippers. You need to leave your shoes before entering the museum.
3. Jacket because it can get cold inside 

After leaving our shoes, we proceeded entering the museum. The entryway contains artwork of familiar optical illusions. I did not bother to take photos of those because they were so cliche.

I'll be sharing selected pics here. I don't want to spoil the surprise of seeing all the paintings. Still, I ended up with quite a number of pics for this blog post. [I have no idea how to call the art in this museum. I'll be using, art, wallart, pics, mural, and painting interchangeably]. 

So here's the "introductory wall art". 
My game-on-energy vibes haven't kicked in yet.

Warm up pose. No strategy. 

Other tips to fully enjoy Art in Island:

4. Wear something you can easily move around in. I wore a dress + leggings + socks... because it was my birthday and I wanted to look fab. It was quite limiting to move around but it was still manageable.

It would also help if you are physically fit to squat, sit down, stand up, balance on one leg, and do all of these repeatedly. 

I am surfing. I am surfing in a dress. Believe me!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Europe Part III: Itinerary and Budget Breakdown

I should probably start blogging about this now. Grad school starts in two weeks. My blogging mojo has an erratic life. I have backlogs from my China 2014 trip. It is difficult to blog about the past and plan for the next trip at the same time. It is difficult to keep up with myself (Char!). So here we go.

Europe again. Can you blame me?

Crafting this itinerary took considerably less time that the previous two EU trips I did.
I didn’t feel that I “have to” hit a specific place just because I am in Europe. This time, I focused on Central Europe and did not travel via plane intra-Europe. I stuck with trains.

This is also the first time that I am travelling Europe during summer.

The table below is the itinerary I presented in my visa application. I just added additional columns for the contact details of the hostels. 

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