Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Club Balai Isabel Visit + Aqua Park Experience

Summer was almost over when my office friends decided to have one last summer hooray.  We have quite a few criteria in selecting the place where we wanted to spend it.  As most of us have families already (and we didn’t bring them with us), the number one consideration we wanted was a place close to the metro.  We also want a place that’s not too pricey, but is not too shabby as well.  Club Balai Isabel was a perfect fit to our criteria. J

Traveling to Club Balai Isabel was easy.  From SLEX go directly to Startoll and take Tanauan Exit for a no-frills journey.  But if you want to visit Tagaytay along the way, it’s also amenable but the road connecting Tagaytay and Talisay is quite steep and curvy.

Club Balai Isabel is a huge hotel resort located at Talisay, Batangas.  This place doesn’t have beach as it is situated near the Taal Lake.  They offer quite a lot of accommodations.  My guestimate is that they can accommodate more than 200 pax for overnight.  Though the place is huge and can billet a lot of people, surprisingly, the area is very serene.

We booked a suite room at Mataas na Kahoy area.  The room that we booked is a one-bedroom apartment with complete cooking and dining amenities.  This saved us a lot in terms of food as we were able to cook.

We were lucky that during our visit, Club Balai Isabel has just recently launched Aqua Park.  It’s a huge water inflatable situated at Lake Taal.  Since the Aqua Park is on Lake Taal, the water is not beach salty, instead the water tastes and smells like tawilis.  Taal Lake is very deep, so life jackets are important.  My office friends and I had so much fun in this activity.  It cost Php450 per hour.  It has a lot of obstacles but the most thrilling of it was the 40-foot slide.  One hour is not enough for a person to tour the entire Aqua Park (this is my judgement given my strength and age... :P)

Let me give you an honest review of my visit at Club Balai Isabel.

Room – 5 out of 5.  The room that we booked is a one-bedroom apartment that according to the website, can sleep 4-6 people.  However, when we checked out our room, it can sleep 8 people comfortably.  It has air-conditioning unit inside the bedroom and outside the dining area, a refrigerator, television set, cabinets, and a toilet and bath. It has complete cooking and dining amenities (gas range, rice cooker, dining ware, and utensils).  Small size toiletries were also provided.

Amenities – 4.5 out of 5.  Club Balai Isabel has three swimming pools strategically placed in different areas of the resort.  It has a playground for kids.  Bike and billiards rentals are available.  There are also water sports such as jetski that you can rent.  A restaurant and a bar is also present at Club Balai Isabel.  However, the restaurant closes at 9PM, while the bar closes at 10PM.  Last order can be made 15-30 minutes prior to closing.  We just think this is quite early for a hotel resort.  We had to go out and look for a place where to buy drinks and food.  

Staff – 4 out of 5.  We had nice, slightly not nice, and not so nice experiences with the staffs of Club Balai Isabel.  The nice one was when we request to grill food in an area close to our place (which should be off-limits, they willingly allowed).  The slightly not nice one is when we had to call housekeeping 4 times to clean our place.  The not so nice one was when we were checking out.  We already paid a deposit but when we were checking out, the staff wasn’t able to relay to us properly how to complete the payment and was insisting we pay the amount in full, not considering our deposit.  But this was resolved after discussing everything.

Food – n/a.  Since the room we booked has complete cooking and dining amenities, we weren’t able to try the food they serve.

Location – 5 out of 5.  Club Balai Isabel is located at Talisay Batangas.  Three hours away from the metro.  You can visit Tagaytay along the way too.  We went there by car and it was a smooth drive.  I haven’t tried doing the public commute, so I am not sure how hard it would be.

Value for Money – 4.5 out of 5.  Our room costs us Php5500 overnight.  Since we cooked our food, it saved us a lot of money.   The location was not far too.  Aside from the minor issue with the staff during check out, I think our stay was okay.  Overall, if you want to place to relax from a stressful workweek, Club Balai Isabel is a good option.

The Aqua Park is very nice additional amenity.  I honestly want to commend Club Balai Isabel for having this.  Stiff competition in hotel resorts is rampant nowadays, and for your place to be noticed, you have to have an offer that others don’t have.  And Club Balai Isabel has Aqua Park.  So I urge you to visit Club Balai Isabel if not for the serene place, do visit it because of the Aqua Park. 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Kainan sa Dalampasigan at Nasugbu

Ever tried road tripping?  I am not a fan of this type of adventure as I think hitting the road and not being sure of where to go is just a waste of time.  But one lazy Saturday afternoon of April, when we have really nothing to do, our family decided to go on road trip.  It wasn’t a long one.  In fact, it was just a 3-hour road trip from our house to Nasugbu via the Kaybiang Tunnel and back to our house via Tagaytay.

Beautiful via near Kaybiang Tunnel.

Since we hit the road around lunch time, and we will be going to a place we haven’t been to, I decided to google a place to eat.  My online search led me to Kainan sa Dalampasigan at Nasugbu.

When you are traversing the Ternate-Nasugbu road via the Kaybiang Tunnel, Kainan sa Dalampasigan is situated just at the end of the road before you arrive at the Nasugbu town proper.

The restaurant’s ambience is nice.  It has full of plants and vines.  The tables and chairs are made of wood materials; I’m just not sure what type of wood.  Kainan sa Dalampasigan’s ambience reminds me of Sonya’s Garden, though it is not as beautiful and maintained as Sonya’s.

Now let’s go to the food.  We ordered the following:

Binalot sa Dahon cost Php250.

Sinigang na Sugpo cost Php230.

Mango Ensalada cost Php100.

Most of their food servings are good for two already.  The Binalot is very filling with a lot of pork, seafood, and chicken.  The Sinigang na Sugpo tasted just right.  And the Mango Ensalada is very yummy.

We weren’t able to order drinks as they only offered soda.  We tried asking for shakes/smoothies but the servers told us that they don’t have ice.

The place has a nice ambience and the foods were delicious, but the service was really slow.  During our visit, I could only count less than 7 tables with guests, and we waited quite long for the food, (and the bill).  Also, when we were asking for water, it took us three times to ask three different servers before we got our water.  I wish they would improve on their service as this restaurant is really nice.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Press Release: Safeguard Against Germs ~ Your Ultimate Flu Season Survival Guide

Rainy season is already here.  And with this season we are more prone to experience sickness such as colds and flu.  These sicknesses are being spread out by viruses and germs that the wet season brings.  This makes people more vulnerable to getting sick – especially kids.

During the rainy season, most people opt to stay indoors in the hopes of being safe from sickness.  However, staying indoors does not guarantee that you are safe from germs and the illnesses that go with it.  Are you aware that even the inside of our homes are germ infested? 

So as mommies, how do we keep everyone protected from getting sick?

Get Flu Vaccines.  While getting vaccinated doesn’t guarantee 100% that you won’t get sick, vaccines can help boost your protection against certain illnesses.  When the rainy season arrives, our family makes sure to get the flu vaccine. 

Eat Healthily.  The rainy season can take a toll on our body’s immune system.  Make sure you eat healthy.  Fruits and vegetables are known to boost the body’s immune system.  Make sure to include this in your diet.

Sleep More.  Lack of sleep can bring down your immune system.  Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.  This will not only help build your immune system, it will also make you feel energized.

Clean Your Hands Often.  Clean hands can help you steer away from illnesses.  Proper hand washing has been a campaign of our health department for years as this will aid in lowering the number of people, especially kids, getting sick.  Use warm water and anti-bacterial soap that is known to provide protection against germs, like Safeguard.   Safeguard is equipped with GermShield+ technology which fights 3 types of germs namely Gram+ bacteria, Gram- bacteria, and fungi. 

We can encourage proper hand washing to our children using STEP.

Do remember that kids are the most vulnerable to viruses and germs during the rainy season.  Be sure to dress them appropriately, get them flu vaccinated, teach them the importance of eating healthily, make them sleep more, and focus on maintaining a good hygiene, especially washing their hands frequently.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Azure Urban Resort Staycation

Our family is not a fan of staycation.  Vacation for us would always include transport to somewhere far and checking out several tourist destinations in that said area.  However, when Holy Week 2017 came and we don’t have any plans yet, we decided to try doing a staycation.

Hotels would be the best choice for staycation, but since we have been hearing nice reviews on Azure Urban Resort Residences, we gave it a try.  Azure Urban Resort is located in Paranaque.  It is a condominium residence with a lot of units; some of which are being rented out to guests.  Azure Urban Resort boasts its wonderful swimming facilities with man-made beach and wave pool.

We rented a unit at Azure Urban Resort through Airbnb.  It is a one-bedroom unit with complete amenities.  It has cooking and dining utensils.  It air-conditioned with television and cabinets.  It has everything you need for an overnight stay away from home – except for washing your clothes.  The unit we rented out has an overlooking view of the man-made beach and wave pool area.  Parking fee is not for free for guests. Unless the unit you rented has its own parking space. 

We arrived in the afternoon and decided not to swim yet and just do so in the morning.  We roam around the area where guests are allowed to enter.  There is the Paris Beach Club where a restaurant is located.  We went to the nearest 7/11 (which is still far from Azure) to buy our food as the restaurant offers only few choices and we have cooking amenities in our unit.

We ended the day early so as to hit the swim area early the next day.  I woke up early to take a photo of the beach area from our unit on the 10th floor of one of the buildings.  I wanted to see how the swim area looks like without people as it is open from 7am to 7pm only.  This is my photo taken around 6am.

To be honest, I was quite disappointed with the look of it.  It doesn’t look clean right?

After eating breakfast we head down to the registration area.  The access to the wave pool and man-made beach is Php20 when we went there.  You need to bring your guests ids to be able to register to access the swim area.  Swimming attire is also a must.  Life guards are very vigilant in reprimanding guests that do not follow the swimming attire policy.

There are three swimming pools in Azure Urban Resort.  The wave pool which generates waves every 11am and 5pm; the man-made beach which has the kiddie playground – both of which can be accessed by condominium guests.  The lap pool can only be accessed by homeowners.

As of May 22, Azure Urban Resort’s fee for swim area access is Php500 – to maintain its exclusivity.  I am not a homeowner, but I quite agree to this given the state of the wave pool and the man-made beach when we visited this place.  

Overall, it was a fun staycation.  We might include staycation as a yearly activity.  It’s a good stress reliever. J

Friday, August 18, 2017

Press Release: A #LoveThatProtects Trade Activity by Nido Advance Protectus 3+

We, parents, need to have watchful eyes to our children, to ensure that they are safe and healthy.  However, parents cannot be with their children 24/7.  There are times when they simply need to be away from their children to fulfill their other responsibilities.   The confidence to be away to our children without worrying if they are safe and healthy can be achieved by giving them Nido Advance Protectus 3+. 

Nido Advance Protectus 3+ has Lactobacillus Protectus with probiotic strain L. Rhamnosus, which not only helps protect children’s tummies but also helps support their defense againsts pathogens in the upper respiratory tract. 

Last August 12 and 13, Nido Advance Protectus 3+ held an event at SM Megamall Atrium called #LoveThatProtects.  This event showcased how moms show their love that protects through an aptly heart-shaped activity booth headlined by interactive parent-child activities.

Kids, moms, and even dads were able to join the fun by simply buying one (1) 370g pack of Nido Advance Protectus 3+ or 5+ from the selling booth to get a set of three (3) wrist tags.  Inside the event area, different activities were participated by kids and moms.  These activities are Shout the Love – a sound-controlled game where kids evade the dangers of the forest, Catch the Love Bug – a parent-kid tandem of catching yellows hearts and hugging when storms comes in, Color Me Love – where kids express their creativity by coloring template artworks, and to end the activity, moms need to state their commitment through a mom-child handprint and answering the question: “How do you show your love that protects?”

It was a fun-filled activity for kids and their parents.  Little kids were given a chance to demonstrate their creativity and teamwork with their parents.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Japan 2017: Kansai to Kanto ~ Traveling through the Overnight Bus

There are two regions in Japan that is famous to tourist: Kansai and Kanto.  Kansai is where Osaka and Kyoto is located, while Tokyo is in Kanto region.  These regions are 500 kilometers apart.  We wanted to go to both areas and so we included it in our itinerary.

Traveling from Kansai to Kanto region by Shinkansen will take 4 hours; 3 hours if you take the Nozomi Shinkansen, the fastest Shinkansen in Tokaido line.  This Shinkansen ride costs JPY14450 (kids below 6 years old are free).  I am not very keen in spending JPY14450 (x2, the hubby and me) for this ride and so we searched for an alternative.   And luckily we found one: traveling by bus.

Traveling from Kansai to Kanto region by bus will take more than 9 hours.  The cost of the bus ride will depends on what type of bus you will take.  It can range from JPY5900 to JPY 12000 (kids below 6 years old are free but if you want to buy them a seat, they are charged half the price). 

Our overnight bus arrived just in time. 

We chose the overnight bus from Kyoto to Tokyo (you can opt for the day bus if you like).  The cost was JPY6000 for adult and JPY3000 for Neo.   We booked the overnight bus online at – I suggest you use this website for booking as they have a lot of bus choices and they are in English language.

There are three things we were able to save when we traveled via overnight bus.

1.    FARE.  Bus fares are so much cheaper than Shinkansen fare.  Shinkansen cost JPY14450 for each adult; overnight bus cost JPY6000 for each adult, and JPY3000 for our little boy.

Overnight Bus
JPY 14450 x2 adults = JPY28,900
JPY 6000 x2 adults = JPY12,000
JPY 0 for Neo = 0
JPY 3000 for Neo = JPY3,000
Total = JPY28,900
Total = JPY15,000

That’s JPY13,900 monetary savings for us! J

2.    OVERNIGHT HOTEL STAY.  We were able to save an overnight stay when we traveled via the overnight bus.  We slept during the travel time of 9 hours on the bus. 

We saved around JPY4000 – JPY5000 for an overnight stay.

3.    TIME.  We were able to save our precious time when we traveled via the overnight bus.  We spent the whole day touring Kyoto and Nara instead of traveling by day. 

When you are traveling by overnight bus, please do take note of the following:

·         Buses leave on time.  Not a minute before and not a minute after.  Make sure you are there before the scheduled departure so you can settle properly.  To be safe, 15 minutes before is an ideal time.

·         Check the departure area.  When booking for an overnight bus, make sure to check where it will depart.  Not all Willer buses depart at Willer Station.  Some depart on parking spaces that may not be very ideal for you.

Our overnight bus station is in front of JR Kyoto Station.

·         Check the bus inclusions.  Cost of buses varies because of inclusions and seat details.  Not all buses have toilet and luggage allowance.  If you have a lot of luggage with you, you have to check if the bus you are booking allows check in of luggage.  If you have bladder problems, you might want to book a bus with toilet.

Luggage tag. 

·         Check the seat details.  Seat details vary per bus.  More costly buses has wide seat, electrical outlet, leg rest, foot rest, wi-fi, blanket, and 3 seats in a row.  Japan overnight buses travel with a rule that women are seated together.  So if you are a couple, and you don’t fancy traveling seated with strangers, you may want to book a 3-seater bus (we did). 

The overnight bus that we book was a 3-seater bus, with privacy curtain, electrical outlet, foot rest, leg rest, blanket, and rest room.

Neo has his own seat and was able to rest properly. 

·         Be time conscious.  The overnight bus we rode was very thoughtful to ensure we have an overnight rest.  The bus was dimly lit.  It has curtains in the front row as well as the windows.  No noise can be heard on the bus.  The driver drove the bus with caution (not kaskasero).  We were able to sleep well.  And we woke up just a minute before we entered the Shinjuku Bus Station.  The bus arrived on schedule and we barely had time to stretch.  Be time conscious as you don’t want the driver and conductor to wake you up all in your morning glory. Haha

We didn’t have any issues when we traveled using the overnight bus.  In fact, I highly suggest you use this in case you want to travel from Kansai to Kanto region.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Japan 2017: The Shinkansen Experience

Japan is famous for its wonderful technologies that make life a whole lot easier.  One of these technologies is the bullet train – which makes traveling more faster (more na, faster pa! ganoon kabilis! hahaha).  Shinkansen is one of Japan’s famous bullet trains.  It is operated by Japan Railways (JR). 

My little boy is fascinated by trains (as evident by his love for Thomas, the tank engine), so riding the famous Shinkansen is a must in our list of to-do things in Japan. 

Most of the people who traveled to Japan suggested that if we are traveling from Kansai to Kanto (Osaka to Tokyo), we should use the Shinkansen for faster travel.  It will only take three hours.  The cost of this is travel is JPY14450 per person.  Since we didn’t avail of the JR Nationwide Pass, spending almost JPY15000 for one person is too much for me. 

So we searched for a way on how we could enjoy riding the Shinkansen with a minimal cost.  We found out that Shinkansen also operates intra-region.  Thus, we rode the Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto.

You can travel to Kyoto from Osaka through train or bus.  Traveling by bus will be a little bit longer.  Traveling by train will be a little bit faster.  There are a lot of train lines that you can choose from when you travel from Osaka to Kyoto: the Keihan Line, Hankyu Line, JR Rapid Service, and the Shinkansen. 

Shinkansen fare from Osaka to Kyoto is JPY560 one-way.  Children below 6 years old are free to ride.  Shinkansen is longer than your usual train.  It has several coaches and you have to pay for your seat.  There are three seat classes: The Green Seat, which is the first class, cost JPY3220; Reserved Seat cost JPY2460; and Unreserved seat cost JPY860.  We paid for the Unreserved seat and our total fare of Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto is JPY1420 per person.

Don’t be confused of the tickets.  We came from Fukushima Station and we traveled to Osaka with a fare of JPY160.

The Unreserved Seat is the end coach.  We arrived minutes before the Shinkansen is scheduled to leave so we ran to the Unreserved Seat coach since we don’t want to wait another hour for the next Shinkansen train schedule.  After running and locating our coach, we found out that, we could enter any coach and just walk inside the Shinkansen as all coaches are linked.

We were lucky that the Shinkansen scheduled when we traveled was the Nozomi – the fastest Shinkansen at Tokaido/Sanyo Line.  It has individual seats and tray tables.  The seats remind me that of an airplane. 

If you have a luggage with you, do put it at the end of the coach where there is enough space for luggage. 

Riding the Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto takes about 18 minutes (Osaka to Shin-Osaka: 4mins, Shin-Osaka to Kyoto: 14mins).  The JR Rapid line will take 27 minutes from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.  You don’t save so much time, but you get to experience riding the Shinkansen.

Riding the Shinkansen is an experience in itself, so make sure to try it.  Now, let me end this blog post by a video of our Shinkansen experience with my little boy saying “Hi” all the time. J

Friday, August 11, 2017

Japan 2017: Japanese Accommodation Through Airbnb

Traveling can be costly.  A big chunk of anyone’s travel budget will always go to accommodation.  Lucky are those who visit certain places where they have relatives or friends where they can stay at.  Another lucky bunch of people are those who can stay at backpackers’ hotels or hostels and are amendable with sleeping in a room together with other people.  But some of us usually book hotels for overnight stay while traveling.  It can be costly – even if it’s just a hostel or a 3 star-hotel.

We went to Japan without knowing anybody (a friend or relative) who we can stay at overnight.  We were there for 11 days and we were sure that booking hotels would be very costly.  We also have a little boy and we are very sure we don’t want to sleep with other people in the same room by backpacking.  Good thing there’s Airbnb J Yes, everyone, we booked our accommodation using Airbnb.  We booked one apartment at Osaka for four nights and another apartment at Tokyo for five nights.  If you were wondering how come we are missing one night…well, we slept in the overnight bus from Kyoto to Tokyo.

Osaka Airbnb

Our apartment in Osaka is located at Fukushima.  It is 5-minutes walk from JR Fukushima Station.  Like most Japan apartments, this is very small – but it has everything we need.  It has a twin size bed, a sleeping mattress, small kitchenette with induction cooker, bathroom with a bathtub, wash area, and small table for dining.  It also comes with complete amenities such as heater, TV, hair dryer, fully automatic washing machine (with detergent), electric kettle, microwave, cooking pots and utensils, refrigerator, and complete set of toiletries.  It also has its own pocket wifi which we used while roaming around Osaka.  It’s like having your own home. J

We arrived 11pm at our Osaka apartment, cold and starving…and we found the noodles.  Arissa is such a nice host. J

Our host, Arisa, made sure everything we needed was there and she also checked on us from time to time in case we needed something.  This wonderful Osaka apartment cost us Php 6825.00 for four nights.

Click here in case you want to book Arisa’s Osaka apartment.  

Tokyo Airbnb

Our Tokyo apartment is located at Nakano-sakaue.  It is 15-minutes walk from Nakano-sakaue station.  Nakano-sakaue is close to Shinjuku area.  Like our Osaka apartment, it is also small and it is also complete.  It doesn’t have a bed, but has mattress good for 3 people.  It has a separate bath with bathtub which has complete toiletries.  It has a toilet, a Japanese one complete with all the buttons (little Neo was so amazed!).  There’s a small kitchenette with induction cooker but with no pots and pans.  It has complete amenities too like hairdryer, electric kettle, refrigerator, microwave, and fully automatic washing machine with detergent.  It also comes with a wifi, though not portable.

 Japanese toilet! 

Our host, Ou, gave us very detailed instructions on how to locate her apartment.  She also allowed us to check-in early as our overnight bus arrived at Tokyo around 7AM.  Normal check-in time for Airbnb’s in Japan is 3PM.  And Ou was very generous to give us Tokyo Metro passes – and these gave us a lot of savings. J Our beautiful Tokyo apartment cost us Php 11,541 for five nights. 

Click here in case you want to book Ou’s Tokyo apartment.

Tips in looking for Airbnb accommodation in Japan.

·         Close to a train station.  Make sure to book an apartment close to a train station.  Japan is a walking country.  After walking so much from touring, you will want to rest your tired feet.  So book an apartment close to a train station so you don’t need to walk so far.
·         Near a convenience store.  Book an apartment close to a convenience store so that when you need anything, there’s always a Family Mart, Lawson, or 7/11 you can go to.
·         Complete amenities.  Since the apartment will be your home, it is important that you have what you need.  One of my “needs” in terms of amenities was a washing machine.  We will be traveling for 11 days and washing our clothes is a must.  Some might want to cook and thus a kitchenette is a must for them.  Check the amenities and make sure it is complete by your needs and standards.
·         Book with a Promo.  Airbnb gives credits to their customers.  The hubby and I were able to use these credits and book both our Osaka and Tokyo apartments with Php1244.00 apiece!  That’s Php2488.00 savings!  Send me an email so I can share the promo code to you!

Booking an apartment through Airbnb was really very cost efficient for us.  It also gave us the feeling of being a local.  We walked to our apartment alongside Japanese people, washed our clothes there, cooked our food, cleaned the apartment, and segregate our trashes.  We were like real Japanese! J  

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