Get Up Grand Turk!

The Caribbean has been hit twice with hurricanes this year 2017. That doesn’t exclude this archipelago in the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos Islands. I was in Turks and Caicos Islands mid November and I saw how the capital of the archipelago territory, Grand Turk, devastated by hurricane after hurricane. It was so heartbreaking the people of Grand Turk trying to make ends meet. But I saw the resilience of the Turks and Caicos islanders and I’m here as a traveler helping them in a way boosting tourism in the land. All I can say is, Get up Grand Turk!

I was in a Caribbean cruise and Turks and Caicos Islands was one of the destinations we had in the cruise. I never heard of this territory before but I am person who loves to indulge in an adventure and before I left for my cruise, I did a research and added the territory on my list of places to visit. When I woke up in the morning and the cruise ship was already docked in the port of Grand Turk, I was hyped to head out and to explore the place.caribbean

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2018/01/04/get-up-grand-turk/)

Turks and Caicos Islands or TCI for short are a British Overseas Territory consisting of larger Caicos islands and smaller Turks islands. These group of tropical islands are primarily known for tourism and as an offshore financial center. The TCI lie southeast of the Bahamas and north of the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2018/01/04/get-up-grand-turk/)

Here is my vlog on Turks and Caicos Islands few months after it got hit by hurricane after hurricane.

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The Best of Puerto Plata

If you haven’t heard of Puerto Plata, Puerto Plata is in the north part of the country of Dominican Republic. I was in the Dominican Republic for a day and I took a day excursion by visiting the best of Puerto Plata.

To get to Puerto Plata, a traveler should dock thru Amber Cove coming from a cruise in Amber Coast. Amber Cove brims with bars, pools, lounging and shopping spots. It’s located just outside Puerto Plata, founded by Columbus and the first European settlement in the Americas.

We stayed in Amber Cove for half an hour waiting for tour guide and our excursion to start. While waiting, cruise guests can shop in different stores. They can get souvenirs made out of the country’s pure source. When the tour guide announced that he already have the exact head count for people going to the tour, we directly headed to the bus that will take us to these sites. These sites were Brugal Rum Factory, Amber Museum, Fortaleza San Felipe, Plaza Independencia and Catedral de San Felipe.

1. Brugal Rum Factory or Distillery

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/22/the-best-of-puerto-plata/)

It is located less than a kilometer east of the town limits on the main Sosua-Playa Dorada highway. The distillery is open every day of the week except the weekends. Open at office hours from 9AM to 12PM then 2PM to 5PM. Going to the distillery is for free. Guests will be met by pleasant guide in the reception area and will escort everyone inside the distillery that produces about a million and a half liters of white and dark rum each year. The guide will also explain the distillation and fermentation process to get the perfect rum from sugarcanes. At the end of the tour is a free taste and guests can buy slightly discounted rum by liters and some decent souvenirs.

2. Amber Museum or Museo del Ambar

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/22/the-best-of-puerto-plata/)

Amber Museum which was about 10 minutes drive from Brugal Rum Factory is a museum that displays pieces taken from the amber mines in the Northern Mountains with millennial fossils. The museum is located at Duarte Street #61 and is close to Central Park. The building that houses the museum is considered a splendid sample of neoclassical architecture with Victorian influence. Amber is considered a precious gem but it is actually formed when tree saps fossilizes that sometimes catches insects, leaves and plants. Amber mining has been a big business in Dominican Republic over the centuries.

3. Fortaleza San Felipe

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/22/the-best-of-puerto-plata/)

Fortaleza San Felipe or San Felipe Fort is located on a small peninsula on the Bahia de Puerto Plata. It is the bay where Columbus once had such high hopes for. The Fort is the only vestige of Puerto Plata’s colonial past. Since we were on excursion, we don’t have to pay for admission. In the fort, we were able to look in on a small historical museum and the tiny cell where the hero of the Independence Movement, Juan Pablo Duarte, was briefly confined. Fortaleza San Felipe was utilized to protect the province of Puerto Plata from pirates and corsairs. It is located on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It has its strategic location protecting the entrance of the seaport. Now, it serves as a museum showcasing its role  in the history of Puerto Plata.

4. Plaza Independencia

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/22/the-best-of-puerto-plata/)

Located at the center of the historic square, Plaza Independencia is a prominent cultural symbol and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city of Puerto Plata. This serene site evokes a sense of nostalgia with its Victorian-style designs and landscaped gardens and flower beds. The plaza has cobbled pathways, park benches, shaded trees, and lots of pigeons. It is a perfect place for a quiet walk in the evening or a great place to kill time in daylight.

5. Catedral de San Felipe Apóstol

(check for the full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/22/the-best-of-puerto-plata/)

Catedral de San Felipe Apóstol is located in Calle Jose del Carmen Ariza. The cathedral is built in modern Victorian style and is the mother of the Diocese of Puerto Plata. It is the biggest Roman Catholic church in the city and most of the locals are Catholic.

As a summary, the whole experience I had in Dominican Republic specifically in Puerto Plata was wonderful and full of information of the rich culture of the country. It sure was the best of Puerto Plata. If I would go back to Dominican Republic, I want to try their beach which is in the eastern part of the nation at Punta Cana. But for now, Puerto Plata was interesting.

Here is my vlog on the Best of Puerto Plata:

Stunning Beach View of the Bahamas

I was in a Caribbean Cruise and the itinerary showed 2 days in the Bahamas exploring Half Moon Cay and Nassau. I’ve heard a lot about the Bahamas such as great beaches, top tourist destination in the Caribbean, and it has been a location for movies. Hearing those feedback, I was still doubtful since I came from an island with beautiful beaches in Bohol, the Philippines. But when I heard the overhead call that we arrived in Half Moon Cay, I was ecstatic. We needed to get to a smaller boat to get to the shore. When I got out and reached the Half Moon beach, I thought I was dreaming. Right infront of me was a stunning beach view of the Bahamas.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Half Moon Cay is one of the islands of the Bahamas. It is also known as the Little San Salvador island. It is a private island in the Bahamas only accessible by cruise ship. The island got its name for its crescent-shaped Half Moon Beach. Half Moon Cay  has luxury cabanas dot the beachfront that gives way to trail-lined country rich in birdlife. The island has this Stingray Cove that is a lagoon enclosure and is home to stingrays.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Half Moon Beach was surreal, it was like a heaven in earth for beach lovers like me. After spending almost whole day in the island, some of the guests and I have decided to go back to the cruise ship and call it a day but everytime I walked and almost get to the small boat, the beach kept on dragging me to take more photos. It was a picturesque image from a dream that came into reality. The next day in the Bahamas, it was scheduled that we will dock in Nassau.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and has been a popular hangout for pirates of the Caribbean, both historically and the Johnny Depp-type. The island also had a starring role in four James Bond films. It lies on the island of New Providence. Nassau is a popular cruise-ship destination. The city has a hilly landscape and is known for beaches too. The city retains many of its typical pastel-colored British colonial buildings such as the pink-hued Government House.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Since Nassau is a town, there are also other sites to sightsee. A map is available for free at the tourist center. Here are the places that we have visited:

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Queen’s Staircase is  commonly referred to as the 66 Steps. It was hewn out of solid limestone rock by slaves back late 1700s. It provided a direct route from Nassau to Fort Fincastle. The name of 66 Steps later was changed in honor of Queen Victoria who reigned in Britain for 64 years. Because the pathway that lead to the steps has been paved, the bottom step was buried and now, there are only 65 steps.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Fort Fincastle is one of Nassau’s fortifications built by Lord Dunmore during his term as Royal Governor. Fincastle stands out from Nassau’s other forts in its unique design, a shipshape. The fort was built on the highest point of the island, within view of Fort Montagu to the east and Fort Charlotte to the west. From the breathtaking vantage point, guests can easily imagine the excitement of the first sentry to sight an incoming ship, quickly hoisting the signal flags to pass the news along.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Supreme Court of Nassau in the Bahamas is located in New Providence. It is the highest court in the country. The building is of Neo-Georgian style and is similar in design to the Central Public Building  which is north of the building. It is in pink-hued building the same as the Government House.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Pompey Square is built to tell the heroic story of a slave named Pompey and to commemorate the official opening of the square. The square is the sure where the slaves were brought and sold. In 1830, Pompey led a revolt on the island of Exuma, in the Bahamas. Pompey along with other slaves were arrested and brought to Nassau. Rumors of freedom were instrumental in motivating their claim for land and setting up their own commonage property. In 1834, the passing of the Emancipation Act brought freedom.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/15/stunning-beach-view-of-the-bahamas/)

Tiki Bikini Hut is a handy work of Byron who has made the little spot in Junkano Beach a treasure. The land area for Tiki Bikini Hut was not wide making it congested for there were a lot of tourists and beach lovers. The vibe was lively with guests drinking at the bar, swimming at the beach, having fun by playing beach volleyball. I stayed for less than an hour.

It was a scorching hot in Nassau that I got to spend only 3 hours while there. It was purely walking around downtown Nassau and with its heat, my energy depleted that fast. I went back to the cruise ship and bought some souvenirs on my way there.

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an archipelagic state within the Lucayan Archipelago. The Bahamas is the site of Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in late 1400s. It became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1973 retaining the British monarch. It is one of the richest countries in the Americas with economy based on tourism and finance. The Bahamas is also on the list of places that I would love to visit, sitting at number 6.

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My 2-day shore excursions in the islands of the Bahamas has broaden my taste of finding an amazing beach. Indeed, the Bahamas has the stunning view of fine and powdery sands, crystal clear water, blue skies and perfect weather. Half Moon Cay for me is the best beach in the world. Now, I’m open to find the next beach to topple Half Moon Cay from its current position at number 1.

For my vlog, check my YouTube channel or watch it here.

The Lone Traveler Got His Own Site

I’ve been thinking of getting my own site and finally, I have decided to make it a reality. So, I am glad to say that, The Lone Traveler got his own site. If you’ve been following this wordpress site, you already knew that I’ve started blogging from 2010 and I treated my blogsite as my baby, a diary of my life and travels. So I am hoping that you will follow me also on my journey to my new web address, www.thelonetravelercarl.comTh

This New Year, I have moved all of my postings to the new site. I will still keep this old site active since this account has a lot of memories when I was writing travel and life stories. It is a great start for me this year 2018, I hope it goes awesome to everyone, too.

More travels and a great New Year ahead to everyone!

 

AirAsia ASEAN Pass Review

This is my review entry of my recent ASEAN trip using the AirAsia ASEAN Pass. It has been launched way back 2014. Before I left for the United States, I was eyeing to do an ASEAN tour and has been very interested to use the pass. I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and most of them were negatives so, I am making my own review based on the experiences I had.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass has two different kind of passes, the 10- and 20-credit passes. I bought the AirASEAN Pass for 10 credits costing USD160. Once I purchased the pass, it is valid for 1 year from the date I bought it or 30 days from the day I made my first redemption and 60 days for the 20-credit pass. Since I’ve been to Thailand, VietNam and Cambodia, the choices of countries to visit are cut in half. Thus, making it easier for me to decide since I also have a list of nation that I would love to see. I chose to visit Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore for these reasons;

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Closer image of Petronas Twin Towers

Malaysia – due to the fact that it is the centerpoint of every flight and also the main hub for AirAsia. So, I can get really good flights spending only 1 credit.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Indonesia – for the main reason that my cousin wants to visit the famous tourist attraction, Bali, and;

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Merlion Park

Singapore – because I’ve been wanting to visit this place when I was still working back in the Philippines as a customer service representative.

This is how I allotted my credits to travel those countries.klI flew from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via different airlines since I got a really good deal with Cebu Pacific Air. Once I got to Kuala Lumpur, I spent my 3 credits to get to Bali then 3 credits to Singapore and the last 3 credits back to Cebu, making a total of 9 credits. I just made sure to check my flights early so I can have more choices to choose from. Seats are really limited so the earlier the booking, the better. After I chose my flights, I just pinned my bought credits to the chosen time and date of my flight and it’s automatically booked. The sad thing about it is the credits only pays the airfare so, other fees like travel tax, airline tax and airport fees are not included and it’ll be out of pocket expenses. But those fees are not that expensive.

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I still have 1 credit for AirAsia ASEAN Pass.

As as summary, the pass is really great if you plan your trip ahead of time like 2-3 months. If you’re flexible with changing itineraries, your budget, your accommodation or places to stay then, you can save and have fun traveling the ASEAN countries. It is all about planning. So for my AirAsia ASEAN pass review, it was worth it and I got to save some money while having the trip of my life. Instead of spending those hard earned cash to airline fares and transportation, I got to spend it to tours, souvenirs, foods and etc. and of course, I got to take a photo of these picturesque places.

For full details, check AirAsia website at https://www.airasia.com/en/home.page?cid=1

Migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/16/my-airasia-asean-pass-review/

My Days in Your Singapore

This blog article has been migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/09/my-days-in-your-singapore/

The last leg of my ASEAN trip was in Singapore. Singapore is one of the well developed countries in Southeast Asia. I only have limited time staying in the Merlion country but my trip was great. It sure was a memorable time during my days in Your Singapore. The nation is also on the sixth spot on my list of counties that I would love to visit.

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Updated List of Countries That I Would Love to Visit

My tour in Singapore started after leaving the plane and took the SkyTrain from Singapore Changi Airport to city centre. Since I had a little spare time before check-in hour in the hotel, I went to Raffles City Mall for lunch. It was an embarrasing moment for me that day for being a clumsy person. I dropped my food tray before even trying to eat it. The good food attendant and server just looked at me and fixed another plate of the same food I ordered and he didn’t charge me for that. The cleaners went to help clean the mess I’ve made and they were pleasant and courteous. After I had my lunch, I went directly to my hotel which was just a few blocks away from Raffles City Mall. I checked in at Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel and was amazed with the view. It sure got the nicest sight in the city.

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Deluxe Twin Room in Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel with amazing view of Singapore Skyline
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Singapore Skyline

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Your Singapore skyline

I went to lie on the bed, took a nap for an hour or two and then, started to do sightseeing the streets of Singapore. Since the hotel is situated in the center of the city. Buses and other modes of transportation are everywhere. I walked just the opposite of the street and I was already at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

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St. Andrew’s Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is one of the hop-on, hop-off bus stops. I rode the bus red line. The red line has stops at Sri Mariamman Temple, Chinatown, and Speaker’s Corner but main agenda was Singapore Marina so, I skipped most of the stops. I stepped out of the bus in Marina Boulevard. Then started walking on Marina. It was picture perfect location where I can see most of the popular sights in Singapore. I was able to see Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay, Singapore Flyer, and the Singapore skyline.

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Singapore Flyer, the ArtScience Museum, and Marina Bay Sands

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The ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore Marina

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Singapore Bay and skyline

The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay is also known as the Esplanade Theater which is a performing arts center located in the bay near the Singapore River. It has a concert hall that can accommodate 1,600 viewers and 2,000 audiences in the performing arts.

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The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. The resort includes a lot of hotel rooms, a huge convention-exhibition center, The Shoppes mall, a museum, two large theaters, ‘celebrity chef’ restaurants, a skating rink, floating Crystal Pavilions, and the largest casino atrium.

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Marina Bay Sands

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ArtScience Museum is within the integrated resort of the Marina Bay Sands in the downtown core of the Central Area in Singapore. It has permanent exhibition, ArtScience Gallery, the ArtScience Museum mainly hosts touring exhibitions by other museums.

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ArtScience Museum

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Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel which is also an observation wheel. It used to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel before the High Roller in Las Vegas Strip on 2014.

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Singapore Flyer

It was surreal for me since I have dreamt of going to Singapore like 5 years ago and now, I’m here. I headed to the Merlion Park since Singapore is famous for the Merlion statue. It was short walk and when I got there, the park was jam-packed with tourists taking decent pictures.

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Merlion statue

Merlion Park is a landmark and a major tourist attraction located at One Fullerton near the Central Business District. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish that is widely used as a national personification of Singapore. It also spouts water out of its mouth. It was a majestic view.

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Merlion Park packed with tourists

After touring around the Marina Bay area, I tried to snap some more random shots of the Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade, Singapore Flyer and the ArtScience Museum. Then I hopped back on to the bus to go back to the hotel. Little did I know that the bus tours have parking spot and that is in the Suntec City Mall. Good thing I was able to take pictures of the Fountain of Wealth. It took about an hour to get back to the hotel. The bus passed through Little India, Malay Heritage Center and back to City Hall.

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Fountain of Wealth

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Duck and Hippo Sightseeing Bus Parking Area in Suntec City

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Little India

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Little India Welcome Sign

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Little India Arcade

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Little India street

It was a humid and warm day in Singapore that I have to take like 3 showers. I was soaked with sweat that I have to change my clothes and freshen up more often. Late that noon, my close friend from High School who is working in Singapore for years has invited me to meet her. She told me to meet her in the Gardens by the Bay. Since the park is widely popular with night and light shows. I just rode a taxi from the hotel and it took about half an hour to get there.

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Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is right next to Marina reservoir and consists of three waterfront gardens. The aim of the country is to raise quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. Gardens by the Bay was intended to be Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, and also a national icon.sin48sin49sin46sin51sin47

It was magical when the sun set. The lights of the supertrees were lit. The music and lights show begun. The show ran about an hour. Songs mostly from famous soundtrack of movies were used while the lights flickered and lit in unison. It was memorable. There was a view deck accentuated to have a good view of the area.sin45

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Singapore Marina at night

The following day, we went to Burgis which is a famous place for souvenirs as well as inexpensive products. The items they’re selling are good and durable. The location was used to be a nightly gathering are for trans women in 1950s which made it one of Singapore’s top tourist destinations during that period.

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Burgis Street Market cr. alamy.com

After I got my souvenirs, I headed back to the hotel for it was almost time to check-out. It was just a quick trip and when I got to the hotel, I packed my bag, walked to Raffles City Mall for the nearest train station to the airport.

My days in Your Singapore was remarkable. The country is small that I got to see some of the major sights but not everything. It is indeed a must-visit place and it is not that expensive. Singapore was the last country of my ASEAN tour. It was short but it was worth the time.

Check my YouTube vlog at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5wGfBerXA&t=110s