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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pangasinan Road Trip 10: Mangatarem: Home To A New -Inn - Office!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Our road trip last March 23,2011 took us to a second class and the largest municipality in terms of land area in the province of Pangasinan - Mangatarem (or "mango plantation" in Pangasinense.

My paralegal (actually my blood brother Mike ) was staying for the night in Mangatarem for his assignments around Mangatarem, Aguilar and Bugallon. There are no known accommodations in the area and so he was very lucky that Nica's Palace Inn opened its doors on that day.

Nica's Palace Inn is a small transient hotel located along the Mc Arthur Highway (in between Camiling and Lingayen). The hotel has only twelve (12) rooms, all with parking garage, intended for those taking road trips to central or western Pangasinan.

Since I need some documents from my brother Mike, we decided to drive to Mangatarem and stay for the night at Nica Palace Inn.

I was the very first guest to occupy Room 7! (my driver and father occupied Room 1 (double occupancy) and Mike occupied Room 6).

Two thumbs up for Nica's Palace Inn! A hotel that highly values the balance between price and quality!

The overnight rate (12 hours) is only Php 650, while the regular rate for a single occupancy is Php 850 and Php 950 for double occupancy. Php 1,100 for a room with a complimentary breakfast for two.

Cheap rates? Oh yea. But that's not all. My room is spacious and gave me the convenience of an office, since it has a receiving area (center table with two cushioned chairs), a built in table for computers and gadgets, plugs and sockets, and an in-room internet access (wifi!)! Perfect for the work I needed to do with my brother!

My room also me gave the comforts and warmth of a home with a queen size bed with clean (and brand new sweet smelling sheets!!), two comfy pillows, air-condition, telephone, big flat-screen TV with cable channels (for watching my fave Korean soap opera,Baker King,can't miss it!), and a private bath ( with hot and cold shower,mirrors,etc.)

And for toiletries? The overnight rate of Php 650 surprisingly comes with two towels,two toothbrushes,two toothpaste tubes, two soaps,two shampoos, hangers, and two pairs of unmatched colorful slippers (a cute way of saying " please don't take me home! hahha)

With the cheap rates and amenities that comes with it,I couldn't help thinking that "it is just the introductory rates which would double in just two months".I was wrong, according to my brother who spoke to the manager. Good news is that business travelers in the central or western Pangasinan can continue to enjoy the same rate for a "home that comes with the convenience of an office"!!!

Nica's Palace Inn and Restaurant
Owner's Name: Harlene Nica
Address: Umangan, Mangatarem, Pangasinan
Telephone No.: (075)5464033

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Winning My First Online Contest and Getting The Prize!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Yippee!! I won my first online contest.Yea, the contest is courtesy of Wanderlass, Ms.Liliane Cobiao with the Adventure Partners Contest Series, Part 1! Here's the video of the exciting announcement of winner!

And the sweet prize? An Eagle Creek Compass (unisex) Bag courtesy of Recreational Outdoor Exchange (R.O.X) with the following features:

Smart Travel Security™ with Secure Zip™ toggle closure – secured to protect valuables; located close to body
Petty cash/receipt zip pockets
Pre-board concealed passport slip pocket
Slip pocket
Front and back quick grab zip pockets
Interior fleece-lined eyewear pocket
Audio portal
Adjustable cross-body shoulder strap for security

Capacity: 140 cu in / 2 L
Dimensions: 7 x 9.5 x 2 in / 18 x 24 x 5 cm
Weight: 10 oz / 0.28 kg
Fabric: 840D Jr. Ballistic, 210D Helix Box Ripstop

I claimed the prize last Saturday,March 26, 2011 at R.O.X store in Bonifacio High Street,Global City, the same store where I have taken the winning photo!

I felt like winning a trophy as my family joins me in claiming my prize!! I can't wait to use my compass as my adventure partner in my travels!!

Thanks to both Wanderlass and R.O.X Recreational Outdoor Exchange (R.O.X) for running this cool contest! When you see them as sponsors, there is no need to steer clear! Join and have fun!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Adventure Partners Without Races or Colors!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

For many years now my company thought I had been traveling solo. Little did they know Parklane, Blacky, Engel, Teddy, Shangri, Marky, Berdy, to name a few had been my travel companions! He keeps me company at the airport. Shares in my hotel room. Sleeps with me!

I can hardly imagine what the trip ( or life in general )would be like without one of them - my eager listeners, confidantes, and loyal friends. My adventure partners... (drum roll.....)

Yes! My friends with no races or colors. My travel and adventure partners! My teddy bears!!

From a self-confessed arctophile Loving-Teddy-Bear blog entry .

Another entry to the Wanderlass My-Adventure-Partner-Contest!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Testament Lesson 12: I Am The Bread of Life!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

John 6:5-13 (New King James Version)

5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples[a] to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”
13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

"Many nameless people with gifts equal only to five loaves and two fishes magnify their callings and serve without attention and recognition, feeding literally thousands...These are the hundreds of thousands of leaders and teachers in all of the auxiliaries and priesthood quorums, the home teachers, the Relief Society visiting teachers. These are the many humble bishops in the Church,some without formal training but greatly magnified,always learning with a humble desire to serve the Lord and the people of their wards..." Elder James E.Faust

Saturday, March 26, 2011

143 JOURNEYS: Shanghai, China

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
Daisypath Vacation tickers
For my second blog entry for the 143 Journeys , I write about Shanghai (Suzhou) our first ever journey out of the country! (The first 143 Journey blog entry is on Beijing please click here .)

When: December 26-31, 2007
Duration: Five (5) Days
Occasion: Christmas/New Year Get-Away
Sightseeing: Suzhou
Stay: Liang-An Hotel (located at the Shanghai Ever-bright Commercial Area, close to the railway station and subway, and is about a 20-minute drive from the airport. P3,500 approx.)
Eating: Don't Remember!
Shopping: Not In The Mood! ahhaha (done that in May 2006)
Travel: Cebu Pacific Airlines (roundtrip Manila-Shanghai for me), Cathay Pacific (New York-Shanghai - Beijing - New York,for my prince), Train (Shanghai to Suzhuo) and Foot (around Shanghai)

When we went to Shanghai during 2007 Christmas break, we were both in the "been there,done that" mode. I was in Shanghai for a week in May 2006 as a solo traveler pls. check my blog entry "Shanghai-China's Fascinating City" while my prince been there a number of times during his college days.

The compromise: slow down and skip those we have already seen in Shanghai and focused on our own off-the-beaten track lovers' destination list. Suzhou made the cut!

Suzhou is an ancient scenic water town located in the center of the Yangtze Delta, east of Shanghai. It is accessible by plane, train and bus. Since the city has numerous ponds and streams, Suzhou was nicknamed the "Oriental Venice" and becoming one of the famous tourist cities in China.

We took the train directly to Suzhou from Shanghai at 3:00 in the afternoon. Train travel was only an hour and we got on soft seaters for $2 each.

Although the best time to travel to Suzhou is in spring (when the trees and flowers of the gardens are green and in full bloom), Suzhou was also good to see in winter (unless you like to do the canal tour like us! haha). We didn't know that the lake was frozen!

Not being able to do the canal tour of Suzhou's unique and fantastic gardens, I was still able to enjoy the journey to this tranquil city.

December 30, 2007
Sights Visited: Northern Temple Pagoda, Suzhou at Night
Cost: Entrance Fee for the grounds (RMB10) and RMB5 to climb the pagoda

Being very close to Suzhou Railway Station, our first stop was at the Northern Temple Pagoda . Known as Beisi Ta in Chinese, Northern Temple Pagoda is one of Suzhou's more authentic temple attraction. The temple is said to be the tallest pagoda south of the Yangtze River and is a great place to get a fantastic view of the city.

At night, Suzhou city was quiet, peaceful and chilly. With its mild climate, we were able to observe the double-chessboard layout of Suzhou, (with 'the streets and rivers go side by side while the water and land routes run in parallel) . We strolled the streets to feel the unique lingering charm of Suzhou's landscape while we enhanced our attractions for each other.

I will never forget Suzhou in our romantic memories. Though we were not able to see any of the more than sixty (60) gardens (most of them in the World Heritage List like Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Garden of Master of Nets and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty), its charm has definitely captivated me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Highs and Lows in Caramoan Islands with My Adventure Partners!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Enjoying Caramoan's pristine paradise ( as in my previous blog entry) Caramoan-Island-Hopping is affected mainly by high tides and low tides!

Good thing, I have adventure partners fit for those highs and lows,and made my Caramoan adventure possible.

Since it was already low tide when we got to Caramoan, the boat couldn't come close to get us. My adventure partners to the rescue! They pushed the smaller boat on the mud until we could board the boat to go cruising.Thanks to the Caramoan Banca boys, my adventure partners!

In the different islands of Caramoan, I found my alter-ego,like-minded buddy, adventure partner Tess! It was so much fun to wade, snorkel,swim, go boating, pose for pictures and enjoy fun moments in the cool crisp water with her. Tess is a true blue adventure partner!

After a fun-filled Caramoan's best, I met another adventure partner. It was low tide when we got to Sabang's port, so the boat could not dock near the shore. Thanks to another nameless adventure partner! He carried me on his back (high!) and brought me safely to dry ground! He is one of the Sabang's Porters who carried me on his shoulders to get off the boat dry!

Reminiscing my first ever adventures in Caramoan gives me a real high! Not only because of the beauty of the place but mainly because of high - spirited, low-keyed adventure partners - Caramoan Banca Boys, buddy Tess and the Sabang Porter !!

My entry to the wanderlass My Adventure Partner Contest .

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Testament Lesson 11: He Spake Many Things unto Them in Parables

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

The Parable Of The Sower (Matthew 13)

3 . . . Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold".

This parable is not about sowers and seeds. It is more of the grounds or in other words "souls" or the "hearts of men". It is about the response of people to the word when it comes to them. It seems clear that every soul that ever heard the word would fit into one of the four categories mentioned in the parable. (with reference tothe words of Ted L.Gibbons)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Binsky: My Adventure Partner!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Anyone who knows me ( a petite girl with a weak heart) and who has been to the Sumaging Cave in Sagada, would say that the whole caving thing isn't for me! Surely, you will say, I won't survive the more than two hours of grueling, exhausting, slippery walk, butt aching, wall climbing all under a very cold temperature grrrrr.

But here's the news! "I came, I conquered and I survived" SUMAGING CAVE spelunking not once but TWICE!!

Thanks to my adventure partner. Binksy!

Binsky has a lamp. Led us on the trail. And briefed us on the way.

Binksy tested the water.

Binksy held my hand!!!

Binsky assisted me on the rope.

Binsky walked ahead. Showed us turtle head.

Binksy allowed us to see the pigpen, the elephant heads, the chocolate cake, the rice granaries, the Kings's curtain. the Queen. Wonderful creations!

Binksy! My adventure partner. Our adventure partner.Cool. Dependable. Knowledgeable. Cheap.

Binsky is one of Sagada's Tour Guides. For three of us (Nabil and Darin), we paid only Php 500 or Php 175 per person! (It could be cheaper if you are four!)

So next time you are in Sagada, do yourself a favor. Don't miss the caving. Just holler the name Binsky. And he will there!!

This is an entry to Wanderlass Adventure Partner ContestMy-Adventure-Partner-Contest

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

143 JOURNEYS: Beijing, China

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
Daisypath Vacation tickers
When: January 1-7, 2008
Duration: One (1) Week
Occasion: Six - Month' mark (that's his name!)
Sightseeing: Great Wall (Badaling), Forbidden City, Summer Palace, YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace) Tian'anmen Square, Jingshan Park, Temple of Heaven, Olympic Green Village (Bird's Nest and Water Cube)
Stay: Leo Hostel (Address: A Lai Ke Zhan, 52 Da Zha Lan Xi Jie, Qianmen, Beijing, China, 5-10 minute walk from Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Qianmen bus and subway stations)
Eating: KFC (for its hot orange drink!), Peking Duck Resto and many chinese fancy and non fancy resto which I am still trying to recall the names haha
Shopping: Pearl Market, Panjiayuan Weekend Market
Travel: Cebu Pacific Airlines (roundtrip Manila-Shanghai), Train (Shanghai to Beijing), Local Airline (Beijing-Shanghai), Subway,Buses and Foot (around Beijing)

My 143 JOURNEYS blog series debut with a destination that is close to my prince's heart (yea, he spent his undergraduate studying its language)), the so - called "Heart of China" or its capital city, Beijing!

As China's enduring capital and host to the 2008 Olympic Games, I've been longing to step in this dynastic city. You can just imagine how I jumped for joy when my prince (then a sophomore law student in New York) announced he will be in Beijing for a 15-day crash course in January 2008!

We met up in Shanghai and took the overnight train on December 31 from central Shanghai train station. On board, we celebrated New Year's eve inside the 2-berth soft sleeper (cost: RMB 450). (The other options are deluxe sleepers, hard sleepers, soft seaters and hard seaters which still look comfortable). Since Beijing to Shanghai is 1,454 km (909 miles), we got to Beijing after about 10 hours of sleep (or travel, however you want to call it) .

That was my first train journey and it was an experience in itself! Not only I was impressed with China trains network that links almost every town and city, but also because train is safe, comfortable and cheap. Highly recommended for my friends, who like me, wants to spend their sleeping time while simultaneously traveling to another place. here

( I was in Beijing in January 2008 which was a cold winter for me to handle. But it didn't stop us from enjoying Beijing attractions , by doing/visiting at least one or two tourist spots a day in a full week's journey )

January 1, 2008
Tourist Spot: Tian'anmen Square
Cost: Tiananmen Square (Free), Gate of Heavenly Peace (RMB 15)The Great Hall of the People (RMB 15), Chairman Mao's Mausoleum (Free), The National Museum of China (RMB 15)

Being just a stone's throw away from our accommodations, our first spot was the vast, solemn and respectful Tian'anmen Square located at the very heart of the city. This city square is the largest in the world, and serves not only Beijing's symbol but also the whole of China. A massive portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong sets above the Gate of Heavenly Peace leading to the Forbidden City.

Other significant edifices inside and around this immense courtyard includes the Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Monument to the People's Heroes and National Museum of China.

January 2, 2008
Tourist Spots: Forbidden City and Jingshan Park
Location: No.4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: On Foot (or subway)

Forbidden City is one of the most exciting things to see in Beijing. With 9,999 rooms (which obviously we were not able to see), Forbidden City is the largest and the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world. Here, the emperors ruled in splendor surrounded with wide terraces and lavishly decorated rooms.

Jingshan Park is a beautiful royal landscape garden facing the north gate of the Forbidden City. Found on Jingshan Hill, I had a full and clear view of the Forbidden City from the summit peak.

January 3, 2008
Tourist Spots: Summer Palace and YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace)
Location: Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) Road, Haidian District (Northwest of Central Beijing)
Mode of Transport: Subway and Taxi (but there are buses)
Entrance Fee: RMB 40 (low season) / RMB 50 (peak season)

The 300 - hectare Summer Palace is another Beijing's contribution to the UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1998. With its gardens and lakes, this palace was built for the imperial family to escape the heat of the city. As its name denotes, summer is the best time to visit this place and boating in Kunming Lake is a must - do. But since we were there in winter, the lake was frozen and the cruise was not available. Nonetheless, we enjoyed gazing at the lake's incomparable beauty while feeling the cold winds.

Very close to the Summer Palace is YuanMingYuan, also known as the 'Old Summer Palace'. This extremely large complex of palaces and gardens constructed during the 18th and early 19th century was originally called the Imperial Gardens. It was truly a wonderland of lakes and waterways, bridges, hills and pavilions!

January 4, 2008
Tourist Spot: Great Wall (Badaling)
Location: Badaling, 65 minutes from Beijing
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 50), Cable Car (RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: Took Bus 919 from Deshengmen (a little east of JiShuiTan subway station)(RMB 12 each way). Tourist buses abound but more expensive (RMB 150) and taxi (RMB 500 or more)

Finally! The long awaited dream of seeing one of the seven wonders of the world that lies north of Beijing, the Great Wall of China!

The Great Wall of almost 6,000 kilometers in lenght, was built more than 2700 years ago when the separate states in China built their own defence walls. It has several sections namely: Badaling, Simatai, Jinshanling, Mutianyu, Gubeikou, Huanghuacheng and Jiankou. Badaling and Mutianyu are both well preserved and most visited by tourists.

The entrance to the Badaling Great Wall is close to the bus stop. We bought a ticket for the cable car(RMB 60) which brought us up about 2/3 of the way to the peak (call it spoiling the fun, but I wasn't apt for the long hike). There we bought a second ticket for the Great Wall(RMB 50).

Above, we had a magnificent view but was more steep than I had expected. We took the right side which took us to the highest point and continued to the second half which was both much quieter and even more interesting. Then we traced our journey all the way back again!

January 5, 2008
Tourist Spots: Olympic Green - National Stadium (Bird's Nest) (unfinished), National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) newly completed
Cost: free (unfinished) (now Entrance Fee to the Water Cube (RMB 40/RMB 60)
Mode of Transport: Subway Line 8 (Olympic Special Line)

I was lucky to be in Beijing as the 2008 Olympic Games' deadline fast approaches because major sporting facilities have been taking shape day by day. Most striking of these include the National Stadium affectionately known as Bird's Nest and the National Aquatics Center nicknamed Water Cube because its outer shell and roof resembles a huge soap bubble. During our visit, the gorgeous Bird's Nest was still unfinished and the Water Cube has just been completed a few days ago (January 1). In October 2008 (after the Olympics), both the Bird's Nest and Water Cube have been opened as a tourist attractions. Good thing, my prince was in Beijing in November 2008 and took some pictures.

Since January 5, 2008 was our sixth mensiversary , my prince invited me to a dinner at a fancy traditional Chinese restaurant with his classmates. Beijing is home to Peking Duck and savoring any Beijing Duck delicacy is a "must" for those visiting Beijing for the first time like me.

January 6, 2008
Tourist Spot: Temple of Heaven
Location: East of Tianqiao, Chongwen District (southern part of Beijing)
Mode of Transport: Subway and Bus
Cost: Entrance Fee (RMB 35)

The Temple of Heaven is worth visiting as it has been one of the most holy places for China for more than five centuries. It is enclosed by a horseshoe shaped wall and the ceremonial halls featured the favored Chinese shapes – square for Earth and circular for Heaven, reflecting the ancient Chinese thought of "The heaven is round and the earth is square".

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