In The Land Down Under

I planned my trip in the land down under for months. It took me awhile to come up with itinerary. Few months before my flight, I made sure to see most of Sydney by making it a 4 days, 3 nights trip. But a week before my scheduled trip, a most devastating news came to me. My almost a year relationship ended via text message from the United States to the Philippines. I was so depressed but I was a little optimistic that I can save our relationship, I re-booked my airline trip from Sydney to the US making my tour in Australia a 2 days, 1 night trip.

This is how my 2 days, 1 night itinerary went in Sydney, Australia:

I arrived in Sydney from Singapore at 1030H via Scoot. I went directly to the hostel I booked which was Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks. Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks was about 25-min from SYD airport via taxi or Uber.

Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks

Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks was built above archaeological remnants of the colonial Sydney. The hostel combines state-of-the-art facilities with a heritage experience and is the only hostel in the city’s historic harbourside precinct – The Rocks – with the stunning panoramic views of Sydney Harbour, Opera House, and Harbour Bridge. It is located in 110 Cumberland St, Sydney, The Rocks, NSW 2000, with phone number: (+61) 2 8272 0900 or visit the site.

The Big Dig Archaeology Education Center which is part of Sydney Harbour YHA
Artifacts dug from the location
Sydney Harbour YHA Social Area
Famous tourist spots in Australia
Stairways to the rooms
Bunk Beds
Sydney Harbour Bridge view on the rooftop deck of Sydney Harbour YHA
Sydney skyscrapers

After I got settled in the hostel, I met these roommates, two lovely ladies from San Diego, California. Their names were Kelsey and Stephanie. I always traveled alone but it would be fun if I tag along with their discover Sydney trip. We talked and it seemed that all places that I would love to see were also on their list to visit. Our first stop was the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. On our way there from the hostel, I got to take some photos of city center.

  • Sydney streets
  • Old English Style Building
  • Statue of Edward VII
  • Another amazing looking building
  • Sydney Conservatorium of Music Conservatorium High School
  • The Government House Gate

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was ginormous. It has Herb Garden, Palace Rose Garden, Art Gallery, Herbarium, Learning Center, Mrs Macquaries Point, Main Pond, Maiden Theater, some shops, restaurants, cafes and more. But not to worry since there were signages for tourists not to get lost.

  • Sign Post
  • Orchids in the Greenhouse
  • History of Cadigal
  • Sydney Fernery
  • Ferns
  • Plants with Bite Theme
  • The Calyx
  • The Venus Flytrap
  • The Biggest Tree
  • Lion on the Palace Rose Garden
  • Skyscrapers behind the Rose Garden
  • Capt Arthur Phillip statue
  • Pretty yellow rose

We started our walk around the city at 3PM Sydney Time and spent an hour in the Royal Botanic Garden. We went to the nearest train station which was Martin Place. Our second destination was Bondi Beach since we want to witness the famous sunset.

  • Traffic in City Center
  • Martin Place
  • Lift in the train station with Kelsey and Stephanie
  • Martin Place Train Stop
  • Single trip ticket

We got off the Bondi Junction. It was almost a 30-min train ride. While we were in Bondi Junction, we were kind of hungry. Good thing, Kelsey was a good navigator. From Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach, it was about 35-min walk. Here are the photos of our adventure to the beach from the train station.

We were starving, thus, we ended up going to the nearest burger pub. We went to Moo Gourmet Burgers. They have lots of choices but I wasn’t up for a steak challenge so, I got a delicious Australian beef burger instead. They were also affordable. After we satisfied our guts, we went directly to the beach. Bondi Beach is one of the most iconic beaches in Australia. It has reliable waves for surfers, laid-back cafes around the street for trendy and health-conscious locals and tourists, casual pubs for backpackers and travelers, and has dramatic scenery from the clifftop to the coastal walk for walkers and joggers.

  • Moo Burgers
  • Good for surfing
  • Bondi Beach
  • The Beach
  • The Clifftop
  • The Sun about to Set
  • Coastal Walk
  • The Famous Bondi Beach Sunset

It was already 8PM Sydney Time. Kelsey and Stephanie have decided to drink in the nearest pub. Since I don’t drink, I told them that I’ll just go back to the hostel. I got in the hostel thru Uber and went to the roof deck to witness this view of the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Opera House at night

The next day, Kelsey and Stephanie have left since their flight back to San Diego was early. I got the whole day before my flight back to the U.S. and of course, I haven’t visited the iconic landmark of Sydney. My next destination was the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge is a heritage-listed steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, bicycle, vehicular, and pedestrian traffic the city’s CBD and the North Shore. The bridge is one of the iconic view of Sydney and has been the famous location for tourists to visit.

Just the opposite of Sydney Harbour Bridge was the most known landmark in the world, the Sydney Opera House. It is everybody’s dream to set foot and take a photo with the Opera House. Every year, Aussies celebrate their New Year countdown in this location.

Sydney Opera House

The iconic landmark, Sydney Opera House, is a multi-venue performing arts center in the city. It has been named as one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings in the world.

That was how I spent my 2 days and 1 night in Sydney, Australia. I have seen the best of the city and have explored from skyscraper metropolis to sunset perfection beach. Sydney has indeed the city, beach and suburban living in one. Check out my vlog for my Land Down Under trip.

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IATA Code: SYD – Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Location Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

SYD or Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is an international airport in Sydney, Australia. It is located 5 miles south of Sydney city center, in the suburb of Mascot. SYD is the primary airport serving Sydney and is the primary hub of Qantas, as secondary hub of Virgin Australia and JetStar Airways. Sydney Airport is one of the world’s longest continuously operated commercial airports and the busiest airport in Australia.

Deplaning process started and I got off the plane fast. It was indeed a great day in Sydney, the sun was out and took a quick photo of JetStar since it signifies, I am in Australia. After I got out of the gates, stores welcomed the passengers. Stores selling cosmetics, perfumes, and more goodies lined the walkway to immigration counters. When I got to Immigration Counters, it was divided to all other passport holders and ePassport self service for citizens of Australia, UK, US, Singapore, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, and other eligible countries. It was an easy breezy passing the immigration counter. I made sure that I got my tourist visa and passport in my hand. Next was the baggage claim.

JetStar, one of Australian’s carriers
Sydney’s Duty Free
Immigration Counter
Baggage Claim Area

I was already in the arrival area, tourists can have their money exchange to Australian dollars in a money exchange booth. There were also restaurants, fastfood chains, and meeting point.

Foreign Money Exchange
Queue for Fastfood
Meeting Point

To get to the city center, travelers can choose variety of modes of transportation. They have choices of using the public trains, public buses, rental cars, private limousines and share/ transport app like Uber. I used the former by walking from the arrival area to the specified location for Uber pick-ups. I was directed by the app to head to P7 Express Pick-up.

SYD Arrival Area
Bus Stops
P7 Parking Spot
Then, I saw this waving at me, welcoming me officially to the Land Down Under, Australia

Getting back to the airport is easily accessible just by riding the train. It has 2 stops, the domestic airport station and international airport station. I got off of the international airport station and headed to the international departures area. The whole area was spacious, clean, well-planned as well as the ventilation and lighting were good. Check-in Information screens were in every check-in counter.

Inside the train
Welcome to International Airport Station – Sydney
Escalator going to the Departure Area
Check-In Information Board
Check-in Counters

Like every airport in the world, after passing check-in counter, passengers need to undergo routine checks such as security check, immigration clearance, and border patrol. After passing those checks, I was able to roam around the boarding gates. The airport has clean bathrooms but they don’t have bidet like Japan airports has. I just did window shopping to kill time since I already have what I needed at that moment. Then, I went to the boarding gate while waiting for my flight back to the US. I had a quick stop at the money exchange booth.

Immigration Counter – Departure Area
Stores
and more stores..
Boarding gate’s waiting chairs
Foreign Money Exchange Booth inside the Boarding Gates

The whole time I stayed in Sydney Airport while waiting for my flight was easy breezy. I got hungry but I got access to food. I needed to charge my phone but they have charging stations. Fairly, it was a good place to spend time waiting for your flight.

Meet Up in Singapore

It’s my second time in Singapore and the reason why I’m visiting the Merlion nation was to meet up a friend. She has been my host everytime I visit the country. She has been my closest friend back when we first got our real job in the unforgiving world of employment. I arrived in Singapore around 1400H, went to Immigration Counter and it was no hassle. Then, I walked to the Arrival Gate and there I found my close friend waiting for my arrival.

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She already planned my itinerary while in Singapore. She made sure that we won’t get hungry while in a country of rich culture of Indians, Malay, Chinese and more. Our first stop was Food Opera in Ion Orchard.

We rode the SkyTrain to get to the MRT station that will bring us to our destination. We got to ION Orchard and went directly to Food Opera. It was jam-packed. A lot of people dined there since there were more food stalls to choose from different cuisines of other Asian countries and etc. My friend ordered Tom Yum Soup which is known as a Thai cuisine. We got some really good pork meat food preparation. They were too good that I didn’t have the time to take pictures of them.

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Food Opera
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Tom Yum Soup in Food Opera

After the sumptuous dinner, we headed down to the street of Orchard Road. Different high brands lined the road from MK to Victoria’s Secret. I felt like the whole Singapore was on shopping spree with everyone out doing their Christmas gift buying.

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Tiffany and Co, Cartier, and many more stores
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Victoria’s Secret
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It was a short visit just to meet up a friend who lives in Singapore. For me, friendship is one of the most treasure gifts in life. I’ve been always out of my comfort zone and I’ve been far away from my family, thus, friends are the only people I can look up to whenever I’m in trouble or I want to have fun. They made my life more bearable in the battle called Life.

Gone Home 2018

It’s my annual vacation again. Last year 2017, I went home and visited various countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea. This year, I had a quick trip to Japan and before I head back to the United States, I will also visit another country and another state of the US. Anyway, as my stay for 3 weeks in the Philippines, these were all my activities and I called this article, gone home 2018.

The whole time of me going home was spent meeting and setting up reunions with my relatives, friends and also went to have a weekend getaway with family in a world class resort. In my first week, my schedule was full of meeting with friends and relatives. Dining to different restaurants old and newly opened. These are the restaurants we dined:

  • SMOQUE Bistro + Cafe

SMOQUE Bistro + Bar is located at CPG East Avenue, along ACE Medical Center near Bool Basketball court. The name goes from Smoked and Barbecue foods. For me, the crispy pork knuckles was the cherry on top. I loved it so much that I ordered it twice. They also have platters which are good for big group of diners. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 918-300-8180 or visit their location during Tuesday til Sunday from 11AM to 2PM for lunch, and 6PM to 10PM for dinner.

Meatlover Platter with pulled pork burger, fries, steak, ribs, deep-fried pork
Crispy Pork Knuckles
Calamari
  • Boy Zugba

Boy Zugba is a chain of restaurants located mostly in Visayas and Mindanao area. It has branches in Cebu City, Iligan City, Davao and their main restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City. Boy Zugba centers on serving food with different varieties such as smoked, boodle, kinilaw, and many more. For more information, visit their site at boyzugba.com

Bandihadong Karne which consists of pork bbq, chorizo, and liempo
  • Monina RM Inn and Restaurant

Monina RM Inn and Restaurant is located in Tagbilaran North Road, Tubigon, Bohol with telephone number of +63 38-237-2890. The venue served as the location for my mini reunion with my relatives. Seeing them all coming, I forgot to take some photos of the food. But what I can say is the food were really good. We ordered crispy pata, lechon kawali, corn soup, grilled fish, and for dessert was a gallon of ice cream.

  • Lantaw Native Restaurant

Lantaw Native Restaurant just opened in Tagbilaran City last September. The location has good view of the sunset and Tagbilaran Bay. It was spacious, airy and the foods were good, a wide range of Filipino dishes and cuisine. The only downside about it that I can think of is they weren’t still equipped with credit card readers so, diners have to pay cash. Who pays cash these days? Lol. If you want to try Lantaw, visit their location at V.P. Inting Avenue, corner Mansasa-Dampas Road, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines or call them at this phone number: +63 38 427 2485.

Cordova Express
  • Gerry’s Grill

Gerry’s Grill Restaurant is located in Level 4 Cineleisure Centre, BQ Mall, CPG Avenue, Tagbilaran City 6300, Bohol, Philippines. This restaurant never fails me if I’m craving for Filipino dishes since it is within downtown. It is inside the mall so, after I shop or watch movies, then I can just head to Gerry’s Grill without having to leave the mall. In terms of food, they were well-seasoned and very delicious. If you want to dine with them, just visit their location or call them for reservations or questions at this phone number: +63 38 411 3164.

Lechon Kawali
Chopsuey

I didn’t just eat the whole time I was home. I also spent time with my family. I gave them a treat on going to a 5-star hotel in Panglao Island. We went to Henann Resort. I’ve been there one time few weeks after their soft opening. At that time, it was still only 50% operational. That is the reason why I wanted to go back and I brought my family with me. Check my previous blog when I first visited the Henann Resort.

Henann Beach Resort – Alona, Bohol

Henann Beach Resort still remained to be one of the resort hotels to visit and stay in Panglao Island. The location was perfect for sea lovers since it was right next to Alona Beach. They still have plenty of pools where guests will be confused on which one to dive in.

I Love Henann
Sea view of Alona Beach
Pool with Bars
More pools
Relax under the sun with umbrellas

There were more to the resort that meets the eye. Henann Beach Resort has spa service, and bountiful restaurants. I haven’t tried the spa but the foods in one of the restaurants were really delicious.

Kai Spa
Sea Breeze Cafe

The whole Henann Beach Resort premises was wide. It’s on 6.5 hectares property on the pristine shores of Alona Beach. But it wasn’t a problem since upon check-in, receptionist gave out map of the resort. In every corner of the resort, there were signage telling directions where is where.

Check-In Counter
Lobby
Directions within the resort

When it comes to rooms, we got the family room which was good for 6 people. It has 2 rooms; 3 full size beds and a queen size bed. It has one spacious bathroom and toilet. The room also came with a porch.

The first room with 1 queen size bed and 1 full size bed
The 2nd room with 2 full size beds
The toilet and bath

Henann Beach Resort has also villas for larger numbers of guests. It offers a lot of activities such as biking on the shores of the beach or downtown, sailing, or just enjoying the beach and pool. Due to the resort’s location, there were other activities but offered by independent providers not by the resort like snorkeling, island hopping, and etc.

For Villa Guest
Walkway to rooms
Picking flowers in early morning
Koi Pond

The whole time I spent during my gone home 2018 was great. I’ve gained some weight due to every night dining out. But the best experience I had was spending my time with my family. Seeing them smile and having fun was worth the treasure in the world. Next year, I might not be able to go back home since I have decided that it will be my mum visiting me here in the United States.

IATA Code: HND – Haneda International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Location Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

HND/ Haneda International Airport is one of the two primary airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area. It is also the primary base of Japan’s two major domestic airlines, Japan Airlines and ANA or All Nippon Airways. The airport is located in Ota, Tokyo which is 8.7 miles south of Tokyo Station. HND was used to be the primary international airport serving Tokyo but was changed in 1978 when all international flights were diverted to NRT/ Narita International Airport. Thereby, making Haneda Airport only serving domestic flights and some chartered flights to nearby East Asian’s cities. It was then changed in 2010 when a dedicated international terminal was opened along with the completion of a 4th runway that allows long-haul flights. In 2014, HND was back to serving international flights. The Japanese government is currently encouraging the use of HND airport for premium business routes and the use of NRT airport for leisure routes and low-cost carriers.

I was down in Tokyo, exploring. It was almost my time to go back to the airport for the continuation of my trip. I was in Harajuku Train Station and for me to get to HND Airport, I have to get to Hamamatsucho Station and change service train to Tokyo Monorail.

Route Map from Harajuku Train Station

It was a relief since my friend offered to go with me to the Hamamatsucho station. But after I got to the Tokyo Monorail platform, I got a speed bump. There were 3 trains servicing the line. I was a little bit confused on when to ride the train. I asked 3 people and none of them speaks English. A red train arrived and was waiting for passengers and there was me, still looking for answers. The last person I asked, still has limited English communication skill but told me that the red train will go to HND airport. I was still questioning if it was a right information but the signs were so fast that I can’t even read the English translation. Time was clicking and I don’t want to miss my flight and then suddenly, I made up my mind and rode the red train. Thank goodness, it was indeed the right train. I got to the International Departure area with ample time to check-in.

Departure Lobby
Flight Information Board
Check-In Counters
Online Web Check-In

After I got my boarding pass, finding the boarding gate was easy. I passed the security, immigration officer in less than 10 minutes. I have enough time to walk around the airport while waiting for boarding time. In boarding gates, there are more international stores like Cartier, Victoria’s Secret, Chanel, and etc.

Departure Area near Security
Immigration Booths after passing them
Stores..
stores..stores..
and more stores..

I was so tired after the stressful day in Tokyo. I found my boarding gate for my flight. I took a quick nap while waiting while charging my phone for my next flight.

Free charging station in boarding gates

Haneda International Airport is a pretty new and nice airport. It was wide and the whole time I was there was good. I was really tired that I didn’t have the energy to see some of the services the airport offers. It was a long day for me in Tokyo but at the end of my journey in Japan, I found refuge in HND Airport.

Transit Trip to Tokyo

I was riding the Narita Express heading to downtown Tokyo from Narita International Airport. I couldn’t help it but take some photos of the greenery scenes of Terazaki and the concrete jungle view of Edogawa and Koto while in the train sitting comfortably.

Edogawa showing Tokyo Tower
Koto ricefields
Terazaki ricefields

Before I left the United States, I already have a list of places to visit in Tokyo. I also made sure what train stations to ride and what train companies and lines to take. I did this because I only have a limited time to see the city and this was just a layover. I called this adventure, Transit Trip to Tokyo.

I have 8 hours to see Tokyo. This was my itinerary. From Narita International Airport, take the Narita Express and get to Shibuya Station and meet my friend, Chihiro, to visit Hachikō Monument and to see the Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing. After getting something to eat in Ichiran Ramen in Shibuya, I will then, go to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. After the garden, I will visit Anamoriinari Shrine and before going to the airport, to check Ota Tourist Center.

Hachikō Monument cr: beauty_of_japan
Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing cr: videoblocks
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden cr: japan_guide
Anamoriinari Shrine cr: poge.exblog
Ota Tourist Center cr: ota_tokyo

That was the plan but I hit a big speed bump right after I got out of the train. I got lost. My friend told me to meet her in Hachikō Exit but instead, I went to the South Exit and I didn’t have any means of communicating with her. I tried to ask some locals but they don’t speak the language. It took me about 30 mins to find my way back to the train station entrance and when I got there, I met a security guard who showed me the right path to the Hachikō Exit. I was already shaking if my friend was still waiting for me since it has been almost an hour of waiting. When I got out, she found me and I felt relief. I needed few minutes to calm myself and when I was good to go, we decided to go to Hachikō Monument which was just few steps from the exit. Hachikō Monument is very famous around the world. It is a statue that commemorates the loyalty and fidelity of the dog named Hachikō . Hachikō was a pet and would meet with his owner in the Shibuya Station every day after work. When his owner died, he continued to wait for his owner in the station until his last breath waiting for his owner to return. When I was there, the queue was long. I didn’t have time to follow the queue since I still have other places to see. So, I just took a peek and then, moved to the Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing.

Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing

It was already 4PM and it was getting darker. I got a lot of photos while in Shibuya Crossing. It was lively, busy, fun and even amidst the chaotic people walking everywhere, it was still great. Shibuya Crossing was considered the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. A traveler can really say that he has been to Tokyo if he take a photo when in Shibuya.

After that scary, energy-draining incident of getting lost in translation, Chihiro and I decided to go for dinner. We already planned to dine in Ichiran Ramen.

Me in Ichiran Ramen Shibuya

Ichiran Ramen is popular in Japan according to my friend. It has one of the best the ramens in town. When we got there, we still have to be in queue. Ordering was thru a vending machine and when a seat is available, they will call you. The Ichiran Ramen experience was differently odd but in a good way. Diners won’t be able to see the people making and delivering your bowl of ramen. The restaurant has been called for people who want to dine alone or anti-social beings. The set-up was a cubicle just for one diner and was separated by a divider which you can also fold if you want to talk to your seatmate. The concept of not seeing the waiter or cook or the staff was unique. They just emphasized to ramen lovers to enjoy their ramen and there shouldn’t be anything in between your bowl of ramen and you. It was cool and the ramen tasted very good.

This is how you order in Ichiran, thru a vending machine.
Inside Ichiran Ramen, authentic Japanese restaurant
The eating table/cubicle
Hot and perfect ramen bowl soup for a cold weather
My whole dinner table

My belly was full after that Ichiran Ramen experience. It was affordable and definitely, travelers should try when in Shibuya or Japan. We went back to the streets. It was already dark. I thought the gardens and shrine will be closed by then. It was around 5:10PM. My friend recommended to see Meiji Jingu Shrine. We walked for about 20 mins but to our surprise, the shrine was already closed. They closed early due to renovation. She brought me to Takeshita Street.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street is a popular pedestrian street that features trendy independent and chain shops, along with eateries. It is in Harajuku and is known for wacky, youth-driven shops selling colorful and crazy clothes and accessories. It is crowded but a mecca for youth fashion in Harajuku style.

It was already 6PM and I’m due to head back to the airport to continue my journey home. We went to Harajuku Station and got a ticket for me to go to Haneda International Airport.

My transit trip to Tokyo was indeed short. I missed a lot of places that I planned to visit but it was OK since I got to see other locations while my friend was touring me around. I would definitely love to come back to Japan. This time, it would be more of temples and shrines and of course, the mountains and nature.

Check my vlog entry for my Transit Trip to Tokyo by checking my YouTube channel: