30 June 2013

Ease In The Application Of Visa In Japan For Southeast Asians

The news about Japan's move to relax application of some Asian nationalities who wish to visit their country for tourism is well accepted by everyone. I am one of those who are very ecstatic about the news because my family and I have been planning a vacation in Japan for some time. For some reason, it gets getting delayed or shelved temporarily due to the tight visa application process. So, effective July 1, 2013, the ruling for some Asian nationalities like the Philippines, Malaysians, Thais and Indonesians can apply for multiple entry visa. While citizens of Thailand and Malaysia can now visit Japan to a maximum of 15 days without having to apply for a visa but the visa may not be extended. Meanwhile, Filipinos and Vietnamese citizens can now apply for a multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years which was normally granted to few privileged countries.

Japan's move to entice travelers to visit the country is really a brilliant one as more and more Asean nationals are enjoying the perks of traveling. There is a significant boom on the travel industry in the Asean region and Japan will benefit from this.

My family and I are already considering a trip in the offing this May 2014, just in time for my daughter's move to college. It is her request to travel to Japan before she goes back home in the Philippines and I am willing to give her that gift so I can also fulfill my bucket list.

There are plenty of beautiful places to see in the Land of the Rising Sun. My daughter and I have been brushing up with our conversational and reading skills in Nihongo so our immersion trip with the culture will be very appreciated. Not only that, we will time the vacation during the Sakura festival because my daughter and I love Cherry Blossoms so much. I have seen them bloom in New York but my daughter has yet to see them up close. And what better way to view those magnificent flowers is to visit where they originated! Another attraction my daughter will not let pass is the chance to visit the Studio Ghibli. For those who are new to anime, Studio Ghibli is the famous animators behind the films' Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, Totoro and so many more which were dubbed by famous Hollywood actors and actresses. Thinking of all the things and places we will see in Japan is already making me excited!

I have been researching the internet with specific keywords like places to visit japan or japan's tourism or things to see and do in japan to yield results that will help me plan the whole trip and squeeze in everything we can in less than 15 days. I know that with the new rule for visa application for our nationalities, I can always come back and see more of what Japan has to offer.

Nihonde wa, koko de wareware wa kite! 日本では、ここで我々は来て! See you soon!

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Munich, Germany Part 3

More photos of our vacation in Munich, Germany.

A little pond in Olympia Park... we fed the ducks!
That way to the Lowenbrau brewery."
We went up this tower - Olympia Tower and from there was an amazing 360 degree view of Munich.
That duckie my hubby fed was so friendly. I wanted to take him home....hehehehe.
The STAR of all season!

Oh my, I was still slim that time!!! Arggghhh!

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28 June 2013

Travel Packages From NYCtrip.com

New York City offers unique attractions that make it a great travel destination any time of year. The only challenge is to have a schedule that allows you to see as much of this great city as possible during your stay.

New York City Vacation Packages has many packages that let you create an itinerary that is ideal for you. NYC travel packages from NYCtrip.com can help you find the best hotels, entertainment and other attractions when you visit. You can plan weekends where you see the New York Yankees, visit the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero or see a popular Broadway show. You can plan a romantic weekend in the city, a shopping tour or a holiday themed getaway. If you want to travel to New York with friends, family or co-workers, you can also set up a group tour with NYCVP. Packages help you save money and ensure that you experience as much as possible during your trip.

A city like New York has so much to offer that it's hard to know what to see first. NYCVP helps you organize your trip so that you don't miss anything that's important to you. Packages include popular destinations such as the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. New York can be expensive, especially when it comes to hotel rooms. Getting a package deal is the best way to get great value. Rather than having to pay for everything separately, you can get your hotel room included with many of the attractions and amenities New York City is famous for.

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27 June 2013

Munich, Germany Part 2

The next installment of snaps. These pictures were taken at the Nymphenburg Palace.

Nymphenburg Palace is located in Munich, approximately 10 to 20 minutes from the Marienplatz by bus. It was used as the summer residence of the royalties. In 1664, the construction commenced and over the next hundred and fifty years, several buildings were also added making this palace a sight to behold.

This is the street leading to the palace. In front of this is the long canal which freezes during winter time and is used as skating rinks.

Side profile of the palace
The queen! Oppps, the swan just licked its butt! Ewww....
Behind the palace, on our way to the gardens
The sprawling gardens
The Royal Family!

(I have taken this post from my www.riablahgs.com site and moved it here where it is more relevant.)

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21 June 2013

Some Of The Most Popular Car Races Held Around The World

(Photo credit: sportscarforums.org but I added the text)

Have you ever imagined you were racing around in your new Jaguar sports car about to win a race and then wake up. Well here’s the next best thing, watching some of the most popular races. Car racing has been around since the early part of the 20th Century. Since then, it has gone on to become popular in many countries around the world. In terms of spectators, it is the second most popular sport globally. Only football boasts greater fan attendance. There are several key car races that fans of this sport look forward to every year:

Indianapolis 500

This is a 500-mile race that is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The first race was held in 1911. It is traditional held on the weekend of the American holiday known as Memorial Day. 200 laps around the oval track are necessary to finish the race. The cars that are driven in the race are IndyCar class, a name derived from the name of the race. These are open-wheel race cars. Rick Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt all share the record of four wins in this race. The original purse for the 1911 race was $US25,000. This was a spectacular amount of money for a car race being held one century ago. The event was so successful that the purse was doubled for the following year. During the 1950s, a large influx of European drivers started to compete in the race. Since then, some of the best performers in the Indianapolis 500 have been European.

Daytona 500

This is a 500-mile race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. It is often referred to as the “Great American Race.” It was first held in 1959. Richard Petty has won the race a record seven times. The cars driven in this race are stock cars, which are traditionally driven on the NASCAR racing circuit. The Daytona International Speedway is a 2.5-mile (4 km) track. The race requires a total of 200 laps to complete.

Monaco Grand Prix

This is a Formula One race that takes place on the Circuit de Monaco. It is a street circuit in the streets of La Condamine and Monte Carlo around the principality of Monaco. It is 2.075 miles (3.340 km) in length. A total of 78 laps are required to finish the race. AyrtonSenna of Brazil holds the record for most wins with six. He also won the race a record five consecutive times from 1989-1993. The race was held for the first time in 1929.

24 Hours of Le Mans

This is a 24-hour race that is held annually in Le Mans, France. It was first held in 1923. Tom Kristensen of Denmark has won the race a record eight times in his career. The race covers a total of 3,110 miles (5,000 km) over 24 hours. In the early days of the race, there were no restrictions on how many drivers must be used. Some drivers actually tried to complete the entire race by themselves. However, as the years went by, rules were added to increase driver safety. Three drivers are now required for each car. No driver is allowed to drive for more than four hours consecutively.

Author Bio: Jack has been a mechanic for 10 years and is a complete rev head. He has 5 cars to his name, and his past time hobbies include redoing old cars, travelling, going to car shows and writing blogs about cars.

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20 June 2013

Things to See and Do on a Caribbean Holiday

If there’s one place that you should go it is the Caribbean. At the very least you should visit one island in your lifetime. Each one is a melting pot of different cultures, laid back people and beautiful landscapes. If you’re off on holiday and you want to experience the best of the Caribbean, then you must do one of these things to really get a feel for the Caribbean.

Dance the Local Dance

The Caribbean is famed for its culture of music, dance and singing, so don’t be a wallflower and join in. Whether it’s the rumba or the mamba or you have a go on a steel drum, enjoy the music and let the Latin beats flow through you. There’s a saying that wherever you are on any Caribbean island you’ll be able to hear music, so simply follow the music and you’ll find someone to teach you a dance.

Taste the Traditional Cuisine

Caribbean food takes all the best of African, European, Chinese and other cuisines that were brought from the origins of the peoples of the Caribbean. Food is a very important part of Caribbean culture, so if you’re going to visit, you simply must taste it. But whether you try a Soursop in Antigua (which apparently is a fruit that tastes like crème anglais) or just rice ’n peas is up to you and how adventurous you’re feeling.  

Drink Rum

Rum is the quintessential Caribbean drink. Imagine sitting on a beach and getting gently merry while you watch the sun going down- a portion of bliss. You can see rum being made in distilleries and drink it in cocktails in the bars all over the Caribbean islands.

Take a Look at Marine Life

Within the expanse of clear blue, shimmering water that surrounds the islands lies another world, and you can explore that world through a myriad of different ways. From spotting humpback whales on a boat to snorkelling in the reefs with sharks to diving with dolphins, whatever you want to see, there is someone just waiting to show you. 

Stay in a Luxury Hotel

Staying in luxury is a must for a Caribbean holiday, but if you don’t think you can afford it, think again. With Best at Caribbean, you can have a luxury holiday at an affordable price. Check out their deals on the Bestat Caribbean website. 

(Photo credit: cheapholidaybargains.com but I added the text)

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Hit the Beach in Miami: The Best Places to Work on Your Tan

If you want to get some sun and a tan, enjoy the ocean, and play beach sports, where better to go than Miami? This city is famous for its beaches, from South Beach to other, lesser-known beaches. Whether you're looking to people-watch or get away from the crowds, you can find a beach that will give you a great tanning experience. Here are some of the beaches you can visit in Miami.

South Beach

No list of Miami beaches would be complete without mentioning South Beach. This beach hardly requires introduction, but in case you're out of touch with all pop culture, South Beach is the place to be. The beach stretches the length of Miami Beach, and topless bathing is allowed if you want to get a tan line-free tan. People won't stop and stare, either! There is a jogging path that runs along the beach, too, and nearby Ocean Drive offers nightclubs, restaurants, and cafes to satisfy any hunger or thirst at any hour of the day.

Bill Baggs State Park

Nearby Key Biscayne offers a view of the particularly famous Cape Florida lighthouse you have probably seen on postcards and in photos. You can go swimming, stay on the beach, or take a guided tour to learn more about the history of the park's lighthouse. From the seawall, you can fish or watch fishermen relaxing in the sun.

Haulover Beach

Locals and international tourists know Haulover as the clothing-optional beach in Miami. You can take advantage of either the clothing-optional section to avoid any tan lines or a normal sunbathing section, and the sections are clearly marked so you won't stumble into one area or the other. People are very laid-back and mind their own business here, so you'll quickly lose your shyness.

Sunny Isles Beach

This two-mile-long white sand beach offers a great sunbathing experience. It tends to be less crowded than South Beach, but isn't difficult to find. The Newport Fishing Pier allows you to fish or watch others trying their luck, and the beach also has a kids' play area. Water sports such as snorkeling and diving are popular here, but you can quietly sunbathe if you prefer that.

Matheson Hammock Park Beach

Don't expect to be surrounded by hammocks when you come to this beach – but you can expect a man-made lagoon with stunning sunset views. The Biscayne Bay regularly refreshes the water here, unlike some lagoons, and the name comes from the trees that surround it. These trees are mangrove trees, also known as hammock trees. Look on websites such as the Marriott.com website to find information about hotels in the area of this family-friendly beach.

No matter whether your goal for hitting the Miami beaches is to show off your style, get a tan, play beach sports, or just enjoy the view, you can find a beach that suits your needs. There are beaches with white sand, clear blue waters, jogging paths, legal topless bathing, or family-friendly attractions all within an easy drive of Miami. Relax and enjoy your vacation in the heat of Miami!

Chris McMahon enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights online through blogging. He has a particular love for Miami which he never misses the chance to visit.

(Photo credit: nimblefitness.com but I added my own text)

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09 June 2013

Pod Hotels - Affordable And Convenient

Have you heard of pod hotels? Pod hotels are the newest trend in budget accommodation for the people on the go who are willing to stay in a small room with basic amenities.

Pod hotels have been patterned after the Japanese capsule hotels which is the practical way of getting through the day in a different place with only a bed. The typical size of a capsule cabin is just 2 m (6 ft 7 in) by 1 m (3 ft 3 in) by 1.25 m (4 ft 1 in)* and if you're the claustrophobic kind then capsule accommodation is not the right one for you. You can try the pod hotel then.

Photo credit: thepodhotel.com

Pod hotels are bigger in terms of size and can accommodate a maximum of two depending on the pod hotel's design and size per pods. A typical double room pod will have a double bed size sleeping area, a flat tv, a tiny desk, hooks on the wall for clothing and jackets to be hung and a small bathroom. Gone are the mini-bar in the pod hotels because every space is maximized and the sole intention is to provide comfort with a low price. I think this is great for solo traveler, business folks and couples who do not mind sleeping in small rooms or even sharing a communal bathroom.

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04 June 2013

Review - Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel, Ortigas, Metro Manila, Philippines

During my vacation few years ago in Manila, we booked ourselves (my mom and daughter and myself of course) at Crowne Plaza Galleria Hotel, Pasig City for 2 nights and 3 days. The experience was very pleasant, fitting for royalties who were there for a good R & R.

The hotel is a 5-star property under the Intercontinental Hotels group of companies, a sister company as well of Holiday Inn. Crowne Plaza is located in the heart of Pasig City just adjacent to the Robinson's Galleria and stones throw away from SM Megamall and St. Francis Square.

I booked for a twin-bed, deluxe room in the higher floor and was quite glad to have a view of EDSA. The room was so spacious and very neat and organized. The bathroom has separate tub and shower area and was quite big. Other amenities includes mini bar, hair dryer, Internet connection, pressing board and iron. The staff was cordial and always ready with a smile. I felt like a royal!

I would definitely recommend this hotel to my family and friends who wish to stay in the city for a nice R & R. Here are some of the snaps I took:
The royalties!

Taking snap of the big mirror on the console area.

Hallway leading to the sleeping area.

Our beauty stuff courtesy of the hotel. Separate shower area The tub area. My princess used it as a mini-pool!

No pics taken of the hotel's facade, lobby, lounge area and the gym, spa, and outdoor pool as I was busy shopping! hahaha! Come on, it was just next to the mall and there was a short-cut bridge on the 3rd floor from the hotel (special access given to hotel guests) to the Robinson's Galleria Mall. Would I let that opportunity pass? Guess not.

P.S. These are my personal photos and this is NOT a paid review. It's just my way of thanking the staff for making me and my family feel so special.

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01 June 2013

Easy Travel Tips For Summer

Summer has arrived! Lots of people are already on their way to their summer destination. However, for those who are still on the planning stage of their vacation get-away, it is wise to note some of these tips:

1. Go to a destination where the value of your "local currency" is higher than the destination's currency (applicable to those travelling internationally).

2. Check Internet offers for great deals and discounts.

3. Stay on lodging houses or hostels if you are not the finicky type. If you are travelling with your family, there are youth hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation suitable for your type.

4. Be an early bird! Pay early! Sometimes, airlines and tour operators offer huge discount when you purchase your tickets or packages months in advance.

5. Avoid shopping if you can. The reason for your travel is to soak in other culture, enjoy the scenery and have fun in the local scene. Some trinkets or souvenirs are fine but leave your purchases to that and to your meals if you have to.

6. Stay with relatives. This is a great opportunity to save a lot of money by not paying for accommodation. This is a bit tricky though, it only applies to those who have relatives on other places.

7. Travel as a group. Airlines and tour operators always give discounts to large group travelling together.

8. Bring light and not easily perishable snacks. Cookies and those cup noodles can save you big time.

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