Heart and Seoul

"Friend, let's go back here during spring!"

We haven't even left Seoul yet but my friend, Pat, and I were already planning our return.  We, along with some other friends, went there during autumn last November with the colors of yellow and orange accentuating the city.  It made me curious how South Korea would look like during spring with other colors in bloom.  Like I said in one of my previous entries about about Seoul, even before the halyu wave rose and even before I knew what "k-pop" meant, I have always been fascinated with the megacity.  And true enough, I fell in love with it during our first visit.

View from our room.

I was so awed by my experience, I realized I've never really written a detailed blog entry about it.  So while searching for promo fares that would take us again to my now-favorite city, I decided to do one based on a first-timer's experience since I've had friends asking me for travel tips.

I already wrote about all the lovely and unique cafes you'll find in Seoul (Read about them here).  So I thought I'd write about some of the must-see places in the city.

The waves of Baler

I can't believe it's almost March and I don't have a decent beach trip planned yet.

That was what I was thinking while browsing through Travelfactor.org's site a couple of months ago.  I usually plan trips DIY style but at that time, I just wanted to get away minus all the planning and researching. (We also went with Travelfactor for our Mt. Pulag trip last year.  And I can say, it was really hassle-free!)  While going through the list of their upcoming trips, the words "SURFVIVOR BALER" caught my eye.

I've done surfing in La Union several times.  And I've always been curious what it would be like to ride the waves in Baler seeing that so many people I know enjoy frequenting the province.  So without hesitation, I contacted my friends Peter and Jen and registered for a weekend of adventure.

The road to Baler
As expected, Travelfactor's service did not disappoint.  The three of us met up with the group and Aica, our designated travel coordinator for the trip, at McDonald's El Pueblo around 11:00pm.  Then around 12:00mn, we boarded the tourist bus and headed to Baler, Aurora.

For those who are planning a DIY trip, here's how you can get from Manila to Baler:
BY PRIVATE CAR.  You can get to Baler via McArthur Highway and Daang Maharlika, or thru NLEX ( EXIT at Mabalacat toll gate) and SCTEX ( ENTRY at LaPaz, Tarlac toll gate) until you get to Cabanatuan City . From Cabanatuan, take the Nueva Ecija-Aurora highway, passing thru the towns of Talavera , Rizal, and Pantabangan until you reach the Aurora border, then thru the towns of Maria Aurora, San Luis , and finally, Baler. The ride could take about five hours.
BY PUBLIC BUS.  Genesis Transport Bus provides the only direct route to Baler from Metro Manila. One way fare costs PhP404. Its terminal is located along EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City. There are three trips a day starting at 4:30 A.M. till 7:30 A.M. The bus ride could take about six hours.  (Via Beautiful Baler Tours)
I thought it was going to be a looooong ride but before I knew it, we were already in Baler, watching the sunrise. (Yes, if you must ask, I slept through the whole ride.  That's my special skill haha.)

Hello, Baler.

When in Bali

"Koryyyyyyyyn!  Good news!  I get to take two blogger friends with me on a free trip to Bali!"

It was a Monday afternoon when I received that call from my friend, Jen.  Like I said in my previous post, despite all the hype about the Indonesian island, Bali was never on my bucket list, mainly for three reasons:
1)  I've been told more than once that Bali beaches don't come close to the beauty of the Philippine beaches;
2)  Bali is a very expensive place.  Hotel and resort rates are sky high; and
3)  There are no direct flights from Manila to Bali.  Prior to Philippine Airlines's inaugural flight to the island last April 28, anyone from Manila who wants to go there would have to take a plane either to Jakarta or Singapore and then book another one to Bali.  With all the promo fares left and right, Filipinos could fly to available Asian destinations for as low as USD70.  So if you're a practical traveler like me, you'd think twice knowing you'd spend less on other countries or traveling around the Philippines.
But who would resist an all expense paid trip, right?  And, of course, the chance to finally find out if the popular beach destination will live up to its reputation.  So what ensued after were four days of exchanging details, emails, and harried packing.

And finally, come Saturday night, we found ourselves on-board the plane bound for Bali, Indonesia.

Destination paradise?  Curiosity at its peak: We left Manila eager to find out if there is some truth to all the hype about Bali, Indonesia.

Under the Bali sun (A sneak peek)

Bali, Indonesia has never been on my bucket list.  But when my friend Jen called me and said she gets to take two blogger friends to go with her on an all expense paid trip to Bali (courtesy of Philippine Airlines), it took no more than two seconds to convince me that this would be the perfect opportunity to see if the island's motto Bali Dwipa Jaya ("Glorious Bali Island") will hold true to its promise.

So did it?

I'll reserve the answer for my next post ;)  For now, I'll let you see for yourself :)

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