May 31, 2019

YangMingShan National Park

YangMingShan National Park (陽明山)

Last Autumn, I did a solo hike along the rolling hills of YangMingShan National Park (陽明山) just a few miles away from Taipei. From Jiantan Station, I rode a bus that took me straight to QingTianGang Circular Trail which is high above the mountains and you can get a bird's eye view of Metro Taipei.

How to Go to YangMingShan National Park: From Jiantan Station, walk towards Exit 1 (Shilin Night Market) and walk to the left side of the train Station. You can ride the city bus R5 or the smaller buses marked as S15 or S17 which I rode that took me all the way to YangMingShan Station. It cost me a very cheap price of 15 NTD (0.48 USD/ 25 PHP) that's why even if I was standing the whole zigzag road all the way up, I didn't mind it at all.

Me at the S15 bus to YangMingShan National Park

During Spring, a lot of cherry blossom trees or Sakura line up the National park and showers its slopes with beautiful flowers. Summer gives it a lush green foliage due to the thunderstorms that happen across the mountains which gives it a more livelier spirit. 

Since I visited during the late and short Autumn season, it was the silver grass that emerged victorious to my sight. I have always been dreaming of a colorful autumn but I was quite late to see the red maple trees and other hues of yellows and oranges. But yes, the silver grass were as glorious as they were. 

Silver Grass Fields at YangMingShan

I was all alone walking around the trail that weekday but there were a few families marching under the clear skies with their kids and loved ones, some where even kind enough to take pictures of me. It may be quite hard to do solo trips like these but at times, it can be very peaceful and detoxifying.

Blue skies above me

The views are amazing with all the silver grass that are growing along the the mountains. It was a very cool day and I had a really great time on the mountains that morning. I did several trails but every trail was a different flavor. Even if all of them had silver grasses, every trail gives a different angle so it was all worth the try. I am so happy I was able to bring my Hufflepuff Pride Scarf that I got from Universal Studios Japan and it complemented the deep shades of blue in the sky.

Autumn Trees at LengShuiKeng

To my surprise, walking towards the LengShuiKeng Recreational Area from the QingTianGang Trail brought me to this amazing view. I know it's not as colorful as one dreams of autumn would be like, but this was enough to make my heart smile. It may not be the time to see an array of warm hues that trip for me, but living in the tropics for all my life, this made me happy. Still, I hope that someday I can experience a very colorful Autumn somewhere in this world.

How to get back to Taipei: Buses will also pass by LengShuiKeng Recreational Area which can take you directly back to Jiantan Station in Taipei. The fare is also 15 NTD and just be ready to ride their buses standing because their city buses are usually lined with just a few seats, most of them are for elders.

House Hufflepuff - Just and Loyal

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/

May 29, 2019

Camp Aliyah at Amadeo

Survivor House Cup 2019

I finished my Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science last 2010 with a special set of people. We call ourselves the Survivors. A group of 16 friends who went through the four years of happy and hard times of college together and found a beautiful friendship with each other. We called ourselves Survivors because aside from most of us loving the US TV Series, we all survived college together!

The Survivors at our friend Kathleen's House

Last May 25-26, 2019, 9 of us friends traveled to Amadeo, Cavite to celebrate a mini reunion just because we wanna be together and also to send off one of our friends, my Best Friend from College Ralph John. We had a series of games that we called the Survivor House Cup and we had an amazing time together laughing and playing and catching up with our lives. 

Camp Aliyah, Amadeo, Cavite

Here are some pictures we took at Camp Aliyah where the games (and food) were held. It is a place secluded and hidden from the hustle and bustle of the city, deep in the heart of Amadeo, although it's just a few minute drive from Tagaytay City. We booked our overnight stay through AirBnB and the place was amazing and new! For groups of more than 10 people, this is a great place both for staycation and for activities since the front lawn is very spacious!

(L) Survivors at the Quiz Bee Game                     (R) Time to "Blow your Balls"      

I asked them to prepare one game each for 8 players. Each one of us will be the game-master for each of the games that we prepared so that will exempt us a game each so when the scores are tabulated, it will be one game less for everyone. Some of the games are individual and some are by group, but all of it was filled with so much fun!

(L) The Wet Game got us really wet!                 (R) Poker Tournament, I won this one!                  

After a few more games, we decided that it was time for dinner. Some prepped up the dishes while a few of us ran for errands on the missing pieces that we need for our Korean BBQ night. Special thanks to Ate Lhot and Kathleen for their Samgyupsal stoves, we were able to grill delicious pork and beef cutlets complete with tasty Shabu-Shabu style soup.

Friends that eat together, gets bigger together

The games started quite late because we had to do our initial preparations for dinner and also planning of the meals to be done right after the first half of the games. We had so much fun preparing the games and meals together as we all talk about memories and future plans for our group of friends.

  (L) Codename Board Game                                    (R) Our Favorite Survey Game

We capped the night with our very last game at around 1 in the morning and we all said goodnight and finally hit the sack. The night was very peaceful and quiet, with just a hint of karaoke night on another house but it was not that much to displace our sleep.

When we got up, it was time for breakfast. The breakfast team prepared a heavy breakfast of rice and noodles with eggs and hotdogs. It was a riot as usual, but filled with laughs and stories. When it was all over, we watched Tiny Places on Netflix and prepared to leave. The awarding ceremony took place just before we left and I prepared a few certificates as remembrances for that amazing two days we shared together.

House Ralph                                        House Zarah                                     House Abby

House Emil                                        House Stevenson                                     House Wally

House Jayson                                        House Mark                                     House Florence
   Third Place                                          Second Place                                   Grand Champion

Congratulations to the winners! House Jayson took home the Third Place, House Mark got the Silver Award, and House Florence won the lot and took home the title of GRAND CHAMPION! Great job everybody, it was an amazing game!

All those times, we wish there were more of us Survivors present but they will always be with us even if they were not able to come. hoping for more adventures for us Survivors, for sure there will be more in the coming months and years!

May 25, 2019

Balinese Gate


Me and my dad went to the mystical island of Bali a couple of years ago and explored its beautiful temples and natural sites. The sky that time was dark with overcast but when it started to rain lightly for just a few minutes, clearer skies replaced it. This was a shot I took before the rain greeted us that afternoon when we arrived.


This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/

May 22, 2019

Poll: Dream Destination

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page". Just as the quote says, truly, living a life without a dream destination is living a life without reason, at least for me. But I know you do! I know you have this one special place in the world that you secretly hope you'll be in someday. I have listed down some famous dream destinations, but I wish to hear what's your through this poll. Of these 14 places, which would you like to visit the most?

When results have been tabulated, I will be writing an article about the top choices and what's in those places to boost your excitement and drive to keep on dreaming to see that special place! I love to travel and I want you as well to have that dream, that dream that will take you to wherever your heart desires to be at.


Which of these places would you like to visit the most?

Amsterdam
Dubai
Egypt
Hawaii
Maldives
New York
Paris
Peru
Prague
Rio De Janeiro
Rome
Tokyo
London
Iceland
Created with Quiz Maker

Sightseeing Taipei - A Half Day Itinerary

It was my 15th country/territory, Taiwan was. Since the island nation above the Philippines has opened its doors to Filipinos last 2017 and imposing a temporary visa-free policy for a year which was then extended to another year from July 2018 to July 2019, many Filipinos, including myself, made plans to visit and see what Taiwan has to offer. 

UPDATE: Taiwan faces calls to extend visa-free entry for Filipinos before the temporary visa-free program ends this July 2019.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, Taipei

Officially the Republic of China, Taiwan is the place where the nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek fled to exile and established the Chinese republic when the communist party led by Mao Zedong took over the mainland. through the years, Taiwan went nowhere but up and the success of its industry and finance has fortified the nation into being one of the richest countries not just in Asia but in the whole world.

WATCH: Steven's Queue VLOG#39 - Ni Hao Taiwan!

Me and my cousin Ate Judy flew to Taipei last November 2018 and we spent the first day looking around the capital city of Taipei. We flew in via Cebu Pacific Air on their earliest flight from Manila.

Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)

From our place at Minquan Station (we stayed here for 4 days at a private room at a condo via AirBnB), we took the Subway all the way to our first destination which is the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. via the Red Subway Line, it took us just 5 stations to reach the memorial hall which is one of the major landmarks of Taiwan.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Station is a junction for both the Red Line and Green Line of MRT.

(L) Me inside the Taipei Metro                    (R) Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Complex            

The complex was vast! Aside from the memorial hall, there are two halls that are built in traditional Chinese style, the National Concert Hall and the National Theater Hall. They were not open when we visited so we were not able to explore whats inside both halls.

WATCH: Steven's Queue VLOG#40 - Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

When me and my cousin continued walking through the entrance to the complex from the station, we saw our high school classmate and friend April who has been living and working in Taiwan for 7 years now. She is accompanied by her boyfriend Roilan and it was a happy moment to see her after so long. She went all the way to Taipei from Hsinchu just to see us that afternoon.

There is no entrance fee to pay when visiting the Memorial complex, even through the Memorial Hall and the museum that is located at its base. I think it is a must to visit this place which is why it is also the very first landmark we visited not just for its beauty but to give respect to Taiwan's leader Chiang Kai Shek. 

Ate Judy, Me, April, and Roilan - Groupfie Time!

Climbing through the stairs at the Memorial Hall, it led us to the tomb of the Nationalist leader wherein a changing of the guards ceremony is taking place. Everyone was quiet and solemn as we all silently watch the ceremony. Travelers from different nation were present during that afternoon's program.

(L) Changing of the Guards                     (R) Intricate design of the Tomb's ceiling         

After the ceremony, we decided to go down and visit the museum that is housed right below the tomb, at the hall's ground floor. It has an exhibit of photographs and memorabilla related to the life and legacy of Chiang Kai Shek. I really did enjoy the exhibit that shows his garments and clothing that showed a fusion of both traditional Chinese clothing and modern day attires.

(L) Chiang Kai Shek's Coat                       (R) Me and Chiang Kai Shek

Bethelites Batch 2006 at Taipei

We then said our goodbyes to April and Roilan and me and my Ate continued on our adventure around the city. We then went to Taipei Central Station where we are about to ride the Taipei Sightseeing Tour - Hop On, Hop Off Bus. We got our tickets at Klook.com. They have a 4-hour ticket which costs Php 450 while a 24-hour unlimited pass costs Php 899. We purchased the  24-hour unlimited ride with stops at major tourist attractions in the city.

WATCH: Steven's Queue VLOG#41 - HOP ON - HOP OFF TAIWAN

Our first stop is Ximen Junction wherein we visited the famous and historical theater called The Red House. It was constructed by a team led by a Japanese architect Kondo Juro which was originally made to become a public market. It was then turned into a theater and now, a museum and cafe.

Me and my Ate Judy at The Red House

Ximending District is very busy and I can even compare it as a quainter version of Tokyo's Shibuya Junction. Shops and restaurants lined up the streets and smaller alleys led to a lot of other stores and establishments. It was full of life, especially at that time of the afternoon which was about just an hour before sunset.

(L) Selfie Time with the 'Locals' of Ximen   (R) Loved this little alley across Ximen

To be honest, we were not able to maximize the 24 hour ticket that we purchased because we started the bus ride late at around 5 pm and the last round trip is at 7:30 in the evening. But nonetheless, we can say it was worth it because we did a round trip sightseeing on it's final trip and we were able to see the sights of Taipei during nighttime, it was beautiful!

The last full round-trip that we did was on the Taipei Sightseeing Tour Bus's Red Line. It starts and ends its route at Taipei Main Station and passes through important locations such as the Ximending District, Taipei 101, and the Sun Yat Set Memorial Hall.


(L) Me taking videos at the Taipei Sightseeing Bus                    (R) Taipei 101 at Night 

Just like any other East Asian country, Taiwan is a well developed nation and truly one with the first world. Its infrastructures and efficient public transport makes it not just a good place to visit and travel to, but also a perfect place to live and work in. 

Locals are very nice and disciplined and a barrier I did experience was language as to not all locals are fluent in the English Language but if you are lost, it's not hard to find a younger generation Taiwanese which can help you find your way.

Visit Taiwan, and experience 'The Heart of Asia'