Monday, July 27, 2009

My Lakbayan Grade

My Lakbayan grade is A-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Those which are shaded in light and dark blue on the map above are the places where I have been to for the past 20+ years of my existence. It seems a lot but I still need to cover many grounds of our 70+ provinces. I have visited all of the provinces in Visayas region as it is the smallest region of our country and it helped a lot that my father is from Region 6. My Northern Luzon trips were courtesy by our visit to my mom's hometown in Cagayan Valley and we also have relatives in the Ilocos Region.

Despite of my blood ties in Luzon and Visayas it is odd to reveal that my favorite region here in the Philippines is Mindanao... Yes, I am a Mindanao lover!... I learned to love it because I discovered that the perception of a war haven Mindanao is not true at all. There is a presence of terrorism activities in some parts of the region but it is unfair to brand the whole of Mindanao as a haven of lawlessness and terrorists. I would love to explore more of that very beautiful region and meet more friendly people in my upcoming trips.

P.S. I have a secret... Don't tell my mother I have been to Basilan :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Looking for a Hotel/Resort?

Aside from saving big bucks for booking that airline seat because of a seat sale you can also save substantial amount when you book your hotel to your intended destination. Whenever I plan to go out of town or even out of the country I always make it a point to visit to find good bargains on hotels or resorts. I also visit other hotel booking sites to compare prices but I always end up booking with Asiatravel.

I already used their services to book a hotel for my trips for more or less 20 instances already so I must say that Asiatravel is my favorite hotel booking website. I haven't solicited nor received any monetary favors from Asiatravel so I am not being biased with the other hotel providers. I chose Asiatravel more often because after comparing the price of my preferred hotel/resort from different providers I found it that they offer the lowest price. On one instance I needed to change a booking because of an unforeseen event they even waived without hesitation the cancellation fee when I told them that I am a frequent client.

The choices of hotels and resorts in a given destination are varied which can satisfy any budget that you may require. Compared to other similar websites the choices are also extensive so you can be sure that your favorite hotel will be on offer. It also doesn't take a genius to navigate and book a hotel using the website's interface. The pricing format is also straightforward so the price that you see as being advertised is what you get.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

P499 Seat Sale From Cebu Pacific

Many of my frequent readers visit this blog because they want to know if there is a seat sale/promotion from airlines to their favorite destinations here in the Philippines or even abroad. I will not disappoint you so here is another of my freshest catch:

Cebu Pacific, Asia’s third largest low-cost carrier, is offering seats for as low as PHP499 from Manila to established adventure destinations Naga (Cam Sur) and Kalibo (Boracay), as well as from Davao to Cagayan de Oro.

The PHP499 "Go Lite" fare also extends to flights from Manila to Tuguegarao, Catarman and Calbayog, and Cebu to Iloilo.

Passengers can avail of the one-way PHP499 Go Lite fare to all three adventure destinations. The seat sale is from July 17-19, 2009 and is valid for travel from August 16-September 30, 2009. Passengers with check-in baggage up to 15 kilos will just add P200.

P.S. Thank you very much for those who left their greetings in this blog's comment section in line with the 2nd anniversary of this Ar-wee-der-yet blog last June 18. I never thought that I would last this long because somtethings I am lazy updating this blog. Anyway, I will try my best to keep you all updated with travel news and issues.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Have an Award

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

It's been nearly a month now since my last post in this blog. I am just busy with something so I haven't updated my blog lately nor visited by favorite blogs. I promise to all who left a comment in my blog to visit your site soon.

I also didn't realize that this blog turned 2 years old last June 18. Wow! It's been 2 years since I discovered the joys of blogging. Anyway, it is too late to even greet my blog a happy birthday. I am sorry that I am too bad with dates :)

I wrote this post to thank the people behind for including my blog as one of the Top 20 finalist of the Travel Blog Awards 2009. I don't know the criteria or whoever nominated my blog so I just want to thank my visitors who found my blog informative and those who gave encouraging comments for my more than 200 posts.

I want to quote the award description which can be found at "The award for the best Philippines blog is an indication that the blogger is adept at being able to maintain their readership through a wide variety of skills including being able to convey their ideas and travel stories in a way that contains a great attention to detail and has the ability to be both informative and interesting to others, thus making it a vital source of information for those with a keen interest in the Philippines as well as those just passing by. The bloggers have been found to demonstrate that they can craft a fine blog in terms of content, both written and visual and can combine them in such a way so as to produce the award-winning blogs that you see before you here. These bloggers have ably captured the essence of the Philippines and have distilled it into their blogs in a way which makes them deserving of the best Philippines blog award."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy 111th Birthday Pilipinas!

It's been 111 years since the Philippines gained independence from the 3-century rule of Spain. We associate our independence day to a birthday because it is like giving birth to a different country with people gaining a new identity. For this, I want to greet my beloved Philippines a very happy 111th birthday!

111-Peso Seat Sale for 111 Years of Independence

Leading domestic airline, Cebu Pacific, is offering a Php111 all-in "Go Lite" fare for all of its domestic services in celebration of 111th anniversary of Philippine independence. The one-day seat sale is available on June 12 only and is valid for travel from November 1 to 30, 2009.

Go Lite fares are for passengers traveling with no check-in baggage. Passengers with check-in bags just have to add P200 to the fare. The seat sale is all-inclusive and non-refundable.
For flight bookings and inquiries, passengers may log on to Cebu Pacific's website, call reservations at 70-20-888 (Manila) / 230-88-88 (Cebu) or visit their nearest travel agent.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Way-to-Go Promo Fares from Philippine Airlines

It may be the start of the lean season for the Philippine travel industry so expect many promotions from airlines, hotels, resorts and other travel-related businesses. What a way to kick-off the lean season with this promotion from Philippine Airlines (PAL) which is valid for ticketing up to June 5 only.

The prices below are for roundtrip travel (economy class) originating in Manila:

$98 - Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei
$118 - Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh
$148/$168 - Jakarta
$178 - Shanghai
$188 - Osaka
$198 - Beijing
$228 - Fukuoka, Nagoya
$468 - Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu
$668 - Vancouver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Prices listed above are inclusive of surcharges and exclusive of government taxes and other fees that are to be collected at the airport (terminal fee & travel tax).
APPLICATION: * Valid for round trip travel on economy class.
TRANSPACIFIC * Valid for outbound travel from 01 SEP 09 through 25 DEC 09
REGIONALS * Valid for outbound travel from 01 JUL 09 through 30 NOV 09.

For more information about this promotion visit PAL's website or call your favorite travel agent.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Great Miles Getaway Is Back!

For those who are enrolled in the Mabuhay Miles program of Philippine Airlines this is our chance to travel on business class for just a fraction of the cost. You can now redeem your accumulated miles for 50% off.

For as low as 1,500 miles you can be on your way to a vacation on an economy class ticket while for as low as 2,000 miles can get you a business class seat.

Sales and Ticketing Period: 20 MAY 2009 - 10 JUNE 2009
Travel Period: 01 JULY 2009 - 30 NOVEMBER 2009
Travel Black-out Period: 22 OCTOBER 2009 - 04 NOVEMBER 2009

For more information about this promo call Philippine Airlines at:
Manila: (632) 855 7888
Cebu: (032) 340 0191
Davao: (082) 222 7423
Mabuhay Miles Service Center: (632) 817 8000- Manila, (032) 340 8000 - Cebu

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lights... Camera... Action!

It's my first time to see a television production on shoot. This is a shoot of a children's quiz show airing in Jakarta, Indonesia. I took these pictures in the island of Bali near the statue of Garuda. Too bad that I have no school uniform so I can't participate in the show as part of the audience, hahaha. One of the television crew told us that the episode they are shooting for the day will be airing after a week so we should tune in so we can see ourselves on TV as curious onlookers walking and taking pictures of the scenery in that tourist landmark. We never had the chance to see ourselves on TV as we only stayed in Indonesia for 5 days.

We observed what's happening during the shoot for about 15 minutes but I can't understand Bahasa so I got bored and my attention veered somewhere else. I don't know who won in the quiz show. Here are some of the pictures I took:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Hour Sale From Cebu Pacific

This is a new and innovative way to induce travel. The Philippines' leading low cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air is introducing the Happy Hour seat sale for all its domestic and international destinations except Japan. The one-way Go Lite fare for the domestic sectors is Php299 all-in and Php599 for the international sectors.

The Happy Hour seat sale is only available from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm & 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on May 13, 14 & 15 and valid for travel from September 1 to 30, 2009.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Airport Posters

Found these two interesting posters at two different local airports here in the Philippines...

a poster with a catchy tagline at Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City

An Php8,000,000 reward anyone? (Zamboanga International Airport)

I hope these two posters would not scare foreign tourists, hahaha! ;)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Im Off to Cambodia... I'll be Back in a Jiffy!

Thank you for the 5-star airline ranked Malaysia Airlines for having a seat sale several months ago that was too good to resist. Malaysia Airlines is one of the only 6 airlines in the world with a 5-star rating assessed by SKYTRAX. As there are no flights available between the Philippines and Cambodia I will have a compulsory overnight layover in Kuala Lumpur before setting foot in the city of Siem Reap where the world famous Angkor Wat complex and other equally stunning ancient temples are based.

The complex of Angkor Wat is the setting of the Hollywood blockbuster Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie. Too bad that I will never meet Mrs. Pitt unless there is a sequel that we don't know which they are now filming discretely in Cambodia. Nevertheless, I will try my best to be an Indiana Jones for the next few days as many travel guides are saying that you need plenty of upper body strength in able for you to climb some of the ruins and temples.

According to wikipedia, Angkor Wat is a temple complex which was built in the 12th century. The temple is a source of national pride that it has been depicted in every Cambodian national flag since 1863. Angkor Wat is the central feature of the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site containing the magnificent remains of the Khmer civilization.
the national flag of Cambodia

My bags are packed and I am now ready to have a little adventure. I just hope that the weather is good as what the predictions for the next 5 days would be. Even if it is still a Wednesday I want to wish you all to have an adventurous weekend ahead.

Note: As this will be my first trip to Cambodia, the three photographs above are not mine, they were taken from various articles at

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Real Deal From Philippine Airlines

It's raining travel promos left and right. This is the talk of the town since last week. I saw an advertisement in at least 2 broadsheets and heard from a TV show host discussing about this seat sale. Calling all compulsive travellers! This promotion is on sale from Today up to TOMORROW only (April 27-28). Asia's first airline Philippine Airlines is having a Real Deal Promo Fares in its Asia, Australia and North America sectors. You can get a roundtrip ticket for as low as $38 all-in and valid for travel starting June 1, 2009. To be precise, these roundtrip tickets which originate in Manila will only set u back...

$38 for travel to Taipei
$58 for travel to Hong Kong & Macau
$78 for travel to Bangkok, Saigon & Singapore
$108 for travel to Beijing, Jakarta & Shanghai
$148 for travel to Guam
$162 for travel to Tokyo, Fukuoka & Nagoya
$318 for travel to Sydney, Melbourne & Honolulu
$418 for travel to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco & Vancouver

There are many sales restrictions and other miscellaneous provisions that you need to know when you buy this kind of ticket. Visit for the complete information regarding this promotion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cebu Pacific Sale for June, July & August

It looks like it's not summer anymore because it rains almost everyday since last week. But don't let the rains dampen your plans to explore our country or beyond. Cebu Pacific Air offers what it calls an all-out sale for the rainy season months of June, July and August for as low as 249 pesos one-way fare for certain domestic destinations and as low as 599 pesos for some international destinations.

The seat sale is available from all of the airline hubs in Manila, Cebu, Clark and Davao starting today until April 30 only. Tickets on sale with these promotional prices are valid for travel from June 1 to August 31, 2009.

I haven't checked yet the full details of this sale whether all destinations are included in this promotion, just go to to find out for yourself.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Philippine Airlines Promo Fares to/from Manila

Correct me if I'm wrong but I observed that this is uncommon for Philippine Airlines (at least for domestic travel) that is why there is a reason for travel vultures to celebrate. Catch and avail their newest promo fares for domestic destinations to/from Manila. For sales and ticketing from 21 to 30 April 2009. For travel between 01 June - 15 December 2009. Travel must be completed by 15 December 2009. As with all other seat promos in the world, seats are limited. The prices below are for one-way travel:

488 pesos for Laoag, Legaspi, Cebu & Iloilo

788 pesos for Bacolod, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, Tacloban & Tagbilaran

1,888 pesos for Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolor, GenSan & Zamboanga

Prices above are inclusive of insurance and fuel surcharges and VAT. Exclusive of Airport Security Fee and other fees that will be collected at the airport.

Conditions :

*Valid for one way and combinable for roundtrip travel on economy class.
*Restricted for sales and ticketing in the Philippines.
*Open-dated tickets and go-show not allowed
*Non-refundable but upgradeable to a higher fare type. Re-issuance fee waived.
*Downgrade/re-routing allowed. Re-issuance fee must be collected.
*Re-issuance is allowed at PHP600 per ticket
*No-show surcharge is PHP600 per sector
*Rebooking is allowed at PHP600 per sector
*Valid for travel from 01 June to 15 December 2009.

*No other discounts apply except for Senior Citizen and Infant without seat

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

To all my Christian readers: HAPPY EASTER!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let's Have a Meaningful Holy Week...

It is a tradition here in the Philippines as a Catholic country that the last week of the Lenten season is being observed seriously so business and commerce will be in a standstill. Malls, restaurants, bars and other establishments will be closed for a couple of days. The streets of Manila will be deserted as the population will swell in the provinces. It is a legal holiday every Holy Thursday and Good Friday and the normal workweek will start on Easter Monday. There is a reason for having such a very long weekend. I believe it is not because the government wants us to be on vacation and stimulate the local travel industry rather it is the time when we should reflect why that week is being called "Holy" in the first place.

Wherever you will spend your Holyweek I hope we all have a very meaningful observance of this very important season as Christians.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Zest Air Promo for the Off-Season

Zest Air (former Asian Spirit Airlines) is once again active in their marketing strategy as they released an across the board seat sale for all their domestic flights for the off-peak season. A one-way fare will only set you back as low as 468 pesos (all taxes included) for a number of its domestic sectors including the ever popular routes of Boracay, Cebu, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran. These one-way fares are applicable for flights originating/terminating in Manila.

I know that Boracay fanatics will be very happy with these fares as I get a lot of questions from my friends regarding the price of Boracay flights for the off-peak season.
Zest Air flies to the following destinations to/from Manila for only 468 pesos: Boracay, Bacolod, Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Cebu, Iloilo, Kalibo, Legaspi, Marinduque, Naga, Puerto Princesa, San Jose (Mindoro), Tacloban, Tagbilaran and Virac. While the Manila-Davao sector will cost you 1,188 pesos.

The above fares are valid for travel from June 1 to December 31, 2009. Act fast as the selling period for this promotion will end on April 15 and the promo seats are only limited.

For those who are not familiar with this airline, I reviewed this airline in my post last February 27, 2009. Click here for the details.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm Off to Dumaguete... I'll be Back in a Jiffy!

The monicker of Dumaguete City in the province of Negros Oriental has the monicker of "The Land of Gentle People." It is somewhat true as the last time I was there with a friend we did not encounter any difficulty in exploring the city and to some extent the other parts of the province as everyone is willing to help their two visitors from the jungles of Manila. The locals are so proud with their homeland that they have countless of suggestions where we suppose to go and what we should try to eat.

I am anticipating this brief trip to Dumaguete to be an enjoyable and hassle-free one. I hope what I said will not jinx my trip in any way, hehehe!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm Off to Dakak... I'll be Back in a Jiffy!

photos taken from Dakak's official website

It's summer! A number of surveys said that the #1 activity of Filipinos during the dry season is going to a beach with family, friends or both. Dakak Beach Resort near the city of Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte is quite famous in the 1990's as it hosted a batch of Miss Universe beauties way back in 1994 when Manila hosted that prestigious beauty pageant. When I told my friends that I will go to Dakak most of them asked me if it still exists. Well, in the first place, would I go to an imaginary place like Neverland or the Atlantis? hehehe.

I can't say anything more about the beach resort as it would be my first time to go there. I don't really believe in what a brochure says as it is often sugar coated with adjectives that men use to court women. Anyway, here it is: (according to the official website of the resort)

"A timeless experience.........Imagine strolling on a pristine powdery white sand beach... looking across a beautifully shaped island cove stretching out to deeper blue waters. . .picture gazing a sunset horizon while lying on a hammock set under lush native trees, hearing the waves clash quietly against the shore. . . .only a few relaxing pleasure we have to offer.

Our resort boasts of 15 hectares of wooded land, a natural reservoir for native plants and animals, providing the ideal setting for a 750-meter private beach blanketed with powdery white sand.

Natural spring water and tumbling waterfalls feed our resort's two pools, whilst providing the ultimate hideaway at a private open air Jacuzzi where you can relax in the sauna and whirlpool amidst an atmosphere of blissful solitary refinement.

Entertainment and culinary treats abound as well. Dine on freshly grilled seafoods, sample exotic Filipino dishes, continental cuisine and feast on an array of fresh fruits. Be treated to a cultural show or party the night away at Dakak Pirates bar or Fusion Disco.

Get the family involved in a group sport! Whether it be bowling, billiards, tennis, basketball or golf we're the resort that has it all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Know You're a Flight Attendant When...

1. You can eat a 4 course meal standing at the kitchen counter
2. You search for a button to flush the toilet
3. You look for the "crew line" at the grocery store
4. You can pack for a 2 week trip to Europe in 1 roll-aboard
5. All of your pens have different hotel names on them
6. You NEVER unpack
7. You can recognize pilots by the backs of their heads-but not by their faces
8. You can tell from 70 yards away if a piece of luggage will fit in the overhead bin
9. You care about the local news in a city three states away
10. You can tie a neck scarf 36 ways
11. You know at least 25 uses for air sickness bags-none of which pertain to vomit
12. You understand and actually use the 24-hour clock
13. You own 2 sets of uniforms: fat and thin
14. You don't think in "months"-you think in "bid packs"
15. You always point with two fingers
16. You get a little too excited by certain types of ice
17. You stand at the front door and politely say "Buh-bye, thanks, have a nice day" when someone leaves your home
18. You can make a sentence using all of the following phrases: "At this time," "For your safety," "Feel free," and "As a reminder"
19. You know what's on the cover of the current issues of In Touch, Star, and People magazines
20. You stop and inspect every fire extinguisher you pass, just to make sure the "gauge is in the green"
21. Your thighs are covered in bruises from armrests and elbows
22. You wake up and have to look at the hotel stationery to figure out where you are
23. You refer to cities by their airport codes
24. You actually understand every item on this list
25. Everytime the door bell rings you look up at the ceiling.
26. You change into you "galley shoes" to cook dinner at home!
27. You open your bathroom doors at home slowly incase someone forgot to lock it.
28. You only know 250 or 350 degrees on your home oven
29. When you ask your spouse when they will be coming home from work you ask for their "ETA"
30. You can spot out an airplane from the ground above and tell the other person what airline it is!
31. You go through each room at your friends place looking for magazines to read!
32. You bring home different grocery bags full of goodies that you can't get in your home town! and tell a story about it!
33. You know better NOT to date a pilot!
34. Your a fire fighter, a nurse, a security officer and a server all in one!
35. Your a GREAT multi - tasker!
36. You have mastered the art of walking very quickly down the aisle and not catching anyone's eye.
37. Your at a friends party and you start wiping your hands on their curtains.
38.You call for the car doors to be armed and cross checked before pulling away. answer your phone by saying "Hi its ..... at "position"
40. when you try and put the foot brake on your shopping cart.
41.When releasing your seatbelt in the car, you try to 'lift the top portion of the buckle and pull apart" and are confused when you can't find it.
42. When sitting in the backseat of your friends car, you check the seat pocket for garbage.
43. when your friends or family ask what time it is, you ask in what time zone!
44. When you're really tired and are staying in for the night, you tell you're friends you're 'slam-clicking'.
45. you remember the hotel phone numbers better than your home phone number.
46. You see rubbish dropped on the floor in your own home and instead of bending down to pick it up, you kick it under the sofa.
47. You have 400 mobile numbers in your adress book of crew you still wanted to meet up with....but when you finally get the time and browes for numbers you cannot put their faces and names together!
48. You locate all the exits when on public transport and learn the door operations.
49. You are standing in an elevator in your hotel and cant remember what floor you're supposed to go to, or what your room number is.
50. You can never make definite plans, otherwise you know you'll be delayed/called out, for sure!
51. You can't help saying goodbye to friends or anyone without sounding patronising... "b'bye now.. bye!
52. when you've finished your dinner you throw the dirty plate in the cupboard and kick the door shut.
53. If you check your breast pocket for a pen when you are going to write a shopping list at home.
54. You automatically uncross your legs, sit back, and fold your arms across your lap when you hear an engine rev up, whether you're a passenger on a flight that day or just in the car!
55. Every time someone ask's a question your reply is ... 'Just bear with me, or standby...
56. when ur going out from the hotel on a layover u smile and greet ppl u meet in the lifts... and ur not even in uniform! lol
57. You take out one blanket from the overhead bin or closet....and you hide it behind your back, running fast so no one sees it so you can use it!!!!
58. You know the water gague is showing empty and you grab a bottle of water and start washing your hands!
59. You spin around in the aft galley and yell, i love my job, i love my job....
60. You carry around ultra concentrated spray for the smells that come out of the lavoratory to protect you and your fellow co-workers!
61. You carry around a sharpie marker!
62. You work 18 hour days then go home and start cleaning up after someone else!
63. You have soo much time off you have 2 jobs!
64. Your dead heading on a flight and your sleeping and you wake up when they say "doors for departure and cross check" or when you hear the high low chimes in the cabin!
65. You tell people to turn off their cellphones or ipods.
66. If someone is smoking you show them the sign and remind them not to smoke!
67. You are ready to shop when you get to your destination!
68. You get so use to standing up while eating you don't even look for a chair anymore.
69. You hate people that slam their doors and call them slam-clickers!
70. You have soo many pictures, you don't know what album to start with and what pictures belong where anymore!
71. You don't like long walks at the beach anymore, cause all you do is walk the ocean, but 36,000FT above!
72. you stuff your cell phone in your bra while out clubbing in case you get a call from crew sked
73. you have mastered the art of putting on makeup in the car/bus/subway
74. you carry in your purse a stain-remover pencil at all times
75. you apologize for everything
76. you are no longer disgusted at stepping in dog poo: you've seen me!
77. you appreciate time at home more than anyone else
78. when you ask someone a question, you stick your ear in their face and put your hand around it in order to hear better
79. you've developed an interest for astrology, and constantly ask "what's your sign?"
80. you're a pro of small talk and specialize in four categories: children, mortgages, divorces, and your in-laws
81. you've got a bunch of old worthless coins from the pre-Euro era
82. you bring your big suitcase on a one-day layover to get your groceries!
83. you know how to create a gourmet fondue using jersey milk bars, stale crew fruit, plastic cutlery and china from the business class cabin.
84. you bring home some passenger meal trays and wash them, then fill them with your own food and heat it up on board during your next flight!
85. you're dead-heading and you offer to place other passengers' luggage in the overhead bins, or bring them blankets.
86. you keep your crew tags visible when you are dead-heading, so that the flight attendants will know you are crew and offer you free food/booze.
87. you keep all your creams/perfumes/cosmetics in small pots and bottles so that they pass security cause you know its has to be under 100ML
88. You hear your cell phone ring even when it's not ringing
89. you bid flights according to the hotel at a destination, and not necessarily the destination itself
90. your fruits and veggies at home always go bad because you're always away

*taken from a group page in

Friday, February 27, 2009

Zest Air : A Review

An Airbus A320 parked at the tarmac of Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Many of my friends are asking me about Zest Air, whether it is a new airline or it is reliable or if the fares are cheap and it is safe to ride in their airplanes. Zest Air is much more commonly known before as Asian Spirit. I happen to ride in one of Asian Spirit's plane last summer to Baguio City and I'm just glad that we landed safely in one of their decades old Dash-7 aircraft which even triggered my allergic rhinitis due to the aircraft's very dusty interior.

It's a good thing that Zest Air now operates only brand new turboprop planes and for the first time they acquired an Airbus plane as they are now expanding their routes. I happen to experience riding in their first Airbus A320 aircraft last December 2008 and the following are some of my rants and little praises for Zest Air.

* What a relief to finally see the Old Domestic Terminal with just several passengers. As far as I can remember even when I'm just about 4 years old on our way to Iloilo that the terminal is always full of passengers as it is the sole terminal of Philippine Airlines for all its domestic destinations. During the 1980's even at 2AM the Old Domestic Terminal is a bustling building because of people taking the "Bulilit Flights" of Philippine Airlines. Cebu Pacific Air outgrew the terminal and is now enjoying the vast space at Terminal 3.

* Check-in was fast. The flight was delayed by about 30 mins. but it is tolerable as it is the busy holiday season. No aerobridge when you board the aircraft as the terminal does not have them.

* I was assigned to seat 5A (I always request for a window seat) but inside the aircraft the flight attendants transferred all the passengers to occupy the middle part of the plane to distribute the weight & balance thing as the flight is just 1/3 full. In the end I was transferred to an aisle seat and I completely blame it on the check-in counter girl as it is her duty to distribute the passengers accordingly because she knows beforehand that we are only 50+ who will take that flight.

* I initially thought that their first Airbus A320 aircraft is brand new but I was wrong the very second I entered the aircraft just because of the smell... Yes, I know how a brand new airplane smells like. It didn't smell like a brand new airplane at all. Aside from that, the seats are not new as there is a cover on the back of the seat where a personal entertainment system of its previous owner might be placed. Then I saw the passenger safety information card, if you look closely on the picture below there is just a sticker of Zest Air covering the words JetBlue. I therefore conclude at that time that U.S.-based JetBlue Airways is the original owner of the aircraft. A funny thing is that it contains a Spanish translation targeted for the Hispanic passengers of JetBlue. I hope by now Zest Air replaced those safety cards as I think it is not that costly for an airline to print those cards so it can display their official company colors rather than the design which is only intended for JetBlue. If they want they can put a Filipino translation to replace the Spanish translation as it is more practical for a Philippines-based airline.

* Inflight service is quite good. I don't know if Zest Air is calling itself a budget airline as the flight attendants pass newspapers just like what legacy carriers offer. And then I was even more surprised when they offer refreshments of either mineral water or Zest-O juice drinks (Zest Air's majority owner is also the chairman and president of Zest-O Corp.).

* The flight ended in a smooth landing at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. When it is time to deplane I was dumbfounded to know that we need to walk all the way to the terminal as Zest Air does not use the aerobridges which Mactan Airport obviously have unlike its terminal in Manila. I don't know why, maybe because the other gates with an aerobridge are reserved for other airlines or Zest Air just does not want to pay extra to access an aerobridge. Oh well, the weather is good at that time and I need a little exercise anyway.

* On the flight back to Manila it is such an inconvenience to passengers when only 1 check-in counter is open to accommodate all of us passengers. I'm still on queue 30 mins. before the official departure time and I found out that the flight is only half-full. It didn't stop there as the flight was delayed for 2 hours and they only announced it way past our scheduled departure time.

* For the inflight service back to Manila almost everything is the same as my previous flight.

Would I fly with Zest Air again? Why not? I had also bad experiences with Cebu Pacific, SEAIR and Philippine Airlines. I BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BAD EXPERIENCE AND A BAD AIRLINE. If Zest Air would not improve their Airbus service then that would be a different story and I would tell you again about it here in my blog. It's a good start that they are now operating with newer planes to all of their flights.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Love Couchsurfing!

I think that CouchSurfing (CS) is a genius idea for all sort of travelers. I have made several wonderful friends in Indonesia and here in the Philippines because of CouchSurfing. Some of my CS friends showed me their town/city and served as my tour guide and translator as well. The only thing that I have yet to do to comply with the mission of this project is to actually surf someone's couch.

To be honest, I have reservations and concerns about meeting and staying with or hosting strangers in my home although my initial doubts changed and the fears disappeared when I met Sita and Haru in Bali, Indonesia and Benny together with other CS members in Jakarta, Indonesia. CS is for any traveler with an open mind and would love to meet new friends and enjoys learning about and experience other cultures. A wonderful time can be guaranteed as long as you have common sense as with anything involving meeting strangers. Who knows, these strangers can be your lifelong friends or even your soulmate.

CouchSurfing FAQs:

Q: What is Couchsurfing?
A: According to wikipedia, it is an Internet-based, international hospitality service and it is currently the largest hospitality exchange network. Members use the website to coordinate contacts and home accommodation (couch-surfing) with other network members around the world.

Q: How it works?
A: Memberships in the organization is free and is obtained simply by registering on the website. The core activity of the organization is exchange of accommodation. Acting as a host, a member offers the possibility of accommodation at his or her leisure. Acting as a surfer (guest), a traveller may search for and request for accommodation at his or her destination. Accommodation is entirely consensual between the host and the surfer and the duration, nature and terms of the surfer's stay are generally worked out in advance to the convenience of both parties.

Q: Do I recommend it to other travelers?
A: Definitely! Although you should carefully choose whom to stay for the night or several nights.

Q: Have I used the website to sleep in other people's house?
A: I have an issue when it regards to security so I haven't yet tried to couchsurf in other traveler's home. In my recent trip to Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia I used the website to try to find locals who could show me more about their city/town. I enjoyed every minute of being with other couchsurfers.