Category Archives: Frugal Living

Shogun Suite Hotel, Manila – Not Worth It, Shady Surroundings

Shogun Suite Hotel Manila Mural at Reception Area
Reception Area

Reception Area

The title of this blog post summarizes my overall impression of this “budget” hotel.  I was totally not pleased because they charge higher room rates but the service and accommodation are not good.  Also, I can’t disregard the fact that their rooms are stuffy and dusty.  That feeling when you entered a room and what you expected is the contrary.  Don’t trust the room photos they featured in Agoda.  They don’t look and feel the same.

Family Standard Room

Family Standard Room

Though, my overall review is negative, still I don’t want to disregard the positive things I experienced while staying there.  Thus, I’ll start my official review by enumerating the pros and then the cons.

The Good Stuff

One of the main reasons why I decided to book in there was the promise of a rooftop pool.  This can be categorize as part of the good stuff but honestly, their mini rooftop pool never impresses me.  It’s a so-so.  Perhaps, one of the good things about it is it’s centrally located.  Their breakfast buffet is also good with an ample variety of dishes.  Their reception and lobby area are decorated with a mural that has to do with Chinese warriors.  Other than these, I can’t think of any thing good about it.  Unfortunately, I got a lot of negative things to say.

The Bad Stuff

I booked a Standard Family room and it costs UDS52.45 per night.  As a budget traveler, this is already expensive but I thought the rate is reasonable because it’s a big room that is good for 4 people and breakfast for 2 is already free.  But, all my expectations crumbled to pieces when we arrived.  We were greeted with a shady hotel surroundings (the ambiance outside the hotel is worse than Colon Street area), the room is dusty and stuffy, the furniture inside it badly need some repairs, the air-condition unit is not working properly, body massage rate is too expensive, check-in and check-out is kinda slow, and pool at the rooftop is not well-maintained.

Total Cost

Waiting Area

Waiting Area

We stayed there for 2 nights and we paid a total of USD104.90.  This rate can actually make me afford a 4-night accommodation in another budget hotel minus all the bad stuff.  Thus, I’m strongly not recommending this hotel to everyone, especially for my fellow budget travelers.  Budget means you get the quality you want at an affordable cost.  Quality should always be the priority.

Location

Lobby

Lobby

Shogun Suite Hotel is located at 2867 Zamora Street, Rotonda, Manila.  You can just search in Agoda and you’ll get the exact details of its location using the map they provided.

Conclusion

Though my review is mostly negative, the truth is, we still had a great time staying there.  All the bad stuff were ignored because we spent most of our time outside, exploring and discovering the city.

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Bacolod’s The Ruins – Picturesque Burnt Remains of aTragic Past

The Ruins in the backdrop.

The Ruins in the backdrop.

In the midst of a vast sugar cane plantation, there lay a stunning panoramic European structure, a non-living witness of a violent past that will be remembered forever in history.

The burnt remains of  Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson’s grand mansion is now a famous tourist spot in Talisay City, Bacolod.

Tagged as the largest residential mansion built before the World War II era, The Ruins is now just a pale reflection of the 903 square meter structure that was once a symbol of wealth and abundance.

The Violent History

Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a known sugar baron in the 1900’s, built the mansion for his first wife, and it became a home for their unmarried children. When World War II broke out, the guerrillas decided to burn it to stop Japanese invaders from utilizing it as their headquarters.

Another version of the story is that, Don Mariano went mad after the death of his first wife and burned the mansion himself. This is actually just a rumor to put a romantic twist to the whole story.  But, whichever version you want to believe, it was told that it took several days before most of the mansion’s parts were burned down.

How Much is the Entrance Fee?

When we went there last year, they only charged us Php60 per person.  There are discounts for students and children though but we didn’t bother to ask.

How to Get There?

Panoramic view.

Panoramic view.

Here’s an accurate direction they provided on their official website.

Proceed to Bata (PEPSI bottling plant) and turn east. About 600 meters, you will see a cellsite above a 2 story building on the left. Opposite that building you will see a big sign that says “THIS WAY TO THE RUINS”. You will enter that narrow street leading to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden. Follow the small red and yellow signs on the electrical posts which will lead you all the way to The RUINS.

 Note: This is part 2 of my Bacolod Post series.  Part 1 here.

References:
http://bacolodtheruins.blogspot.com
https://ph.news.yahoo.com/get-a-history-lesson-from-the-ruins-055716537.html
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Grand C Hotel – Value for Money, Not Ideal for Meticulous Travelers #CheapTraveltoSingapore

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

Singapore is indeed a very expensive city.  But, I did manage to travel there (with my hubby) on a “budget”.  One of the difficult things I had to do before our trip was the search for the most affordable room.  Since my hubby doesn’t want us to check-in in motels or dormitory type inns, I had to look for a hotel that has private rooms.

Grand C Hotel at 165 Kitchener’s Road

Photo Credit: Agoda.com

In Agoda, this hotel only garnered a 5.9 (above average) rating.  This is really too low considering that I have never booked a hotel here in our country with ratings lower than 6.0.  I tried to look for hotels with higher ratings but they are just too expensive.  There are cheaper ones but they are mostly located in Geylang, a known red light district in Singapore. Thus, I have no other choice but to book for Grand C Hotel (4 nights & 5 days).  In most cases, I would never book for one if most of the reviews in Agoda are negative, but I just had to because I can’t find any other options that are more affordable.

The Good Stuff

This is how our small room look like.

This is how our small room look like.

Booking in Grand C Hotel means value for money, central location, very fast WiFi connection, and good service (in my case, I met a very friendly grandpa staff who took good care of our room and things for 5 days).  Value for money because you get what you’ve paid for (Singapore standard).  Centrally located because it’s walking distance from Farrer Park (train station), Metro City Square and Mustafa malls, and there are a lot of small restaurants surrounding the area, thus you can easily grab foods whenever you’re hungry.

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

I was very happy with the excellent speed of their WiFi connection, considering that they are the cheapest of cheapest hotels in the area.  And, of course, I had a chance knowing a local Singaporean through the very friendly maintenance grandpa who are fond of chitchatting.

The Bad Stuff

Carpeted floor

Carpeted floor

If you are very meticulous when it comes to cleanliness, then this is not the hotel for you.  If you hate small rooms and the smell of herbs, then don’t stay in this hotel.  If you like to be treated like a VIP, then stay away from Grand C Hotel.  In short, this hotel is ideal for backpackers and travelers who only stay in a hotel to sleep.

A view from the lobby's window.

A view from the lobby’s window.

Don’t expect extra frills or any kinds of add-on services.  You get what you paid for.  Cheap accommodation in Singapore is not at par in quality when compared to affordable hotels here in our country.  Affordable hotels here in our country offer better accommodation and service  despite the fact that their  rates are around 60% lower than those cheap ones in SG.

The Cost

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

We stayed in Grand C Hotel for 5 days and 4 nights (Superior Room – No Window) but most of the time, we only slept there.  We spent most of our time outside sight-seeing and discovering the wonders of the small city.  For our 4-night accommodation, we paid a total of USD201.76 ( or Php8,675.68).  This is definitely the cheapest of the cheapest (and I’m not exaggerating on this).  For regular hotels, you have to pay USD200 plus per night.  At Grand C Hotel, we only paid USD50.44 per night.  And take note that I got this deal because Agoda had a 50% promo.  So this means that the original rate is USD100.88.   Here in our country, you can already book a 3 to 4 stars hotel for that amount.

Conclusion

Would I go back to Grand C Hotel if I will travel back to SG sometime in the future? Yes.  Despite the cons, I still feel that the pros outweigh the bad stuff.  I highly recommend this to fellow budget travelers.

Have you’ve been to this hotel? Share your experience and reviews by commenting below.  Ciao!

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A Visit to the Farm – Toledo, Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 7 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

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WellCome – A Budget Hotel with a Rooftop Pool #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 6 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

SAM_4804

More about WellCome at www.wellcomehotel.com.

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Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Most people believe that traveling with kids is an extraordinarily expensive and strenuous affair since you will have to pay more and spend most of your time watching their every move. As such, they would rather leave their children with a nanny or a trusted friend than travel with them to their holiday destination. It is however important to note that holidays can be fun even with your children present as long as you consider several important factors when planning the holiday. Some of these include:

Research about your destination

Since you have kids on board, research on destinations that would not only be fun for you as an adult, but also your children. In this case, you can’t afford to miss popular theme parks, color pools and slides, white sand beaches, and the famous Jungle Island, which your kids would surely love.

Pre-travel considerations

If you are traveling with your children and other adults, discuss what destinations can cover the interests of everyone on board, including the children, and agree on how you will split chores and take time looking after the children.

Travel safety

When traveling with children on a plane, make sure they get safety seats or wear safety belts. Also, do not leave the children alone in a car.

Children with special needs 

If you have children with special needs, speak to parents whose children have similar conditions and try and find useful travel tips. You can also research about this online. You should invest in bracelets or jewellery that indicate a child’s medical condition if any, treatment and their doctor’s name in case of emergencies. The same applies for anyone with allergies.

Accommodation

Whether you have booked a hotel or opted for self-catering accommodation, always have toys for your children to play with. If you are looking to book a hotel, always check for special family discounts including free meals for children. Also scan the hotel room for any potential hazards and eliminate them.

Allow flexibility

Basically, you can never plan too much time for meals and national parks. Always feel free to extend time in the park or forest to ensure you don’t miss anything. As for the kids, always ensure that they are in a safe place. For example, if you are in a place like the Serengeti in Africa, they should always be in the car as it is dangerous even for adults to veer away from their vehicles.

Summary

Holiday breaks won’t be complete if the kids won’t tag along. It should be noted also that traveling with kids can be fun and hassle-free if you’ll consider the tips and pointers that are mentioned above. With the right precautionary measures, your trip will be fruitful, memorable, and enjoyable.

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How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

For too many people, going on a dream vacation can feel like an unattainable goal. While it would be amazing to travel to exotic destinations like Thailand, Australia, Singapore or Jamaica, many of us think that we would never be able to save up enough money to travel to these places comfortably, even if we were able to score last minute vacation packages. After all, most of us have mortgages, tuition payments and other assorted bills to worry about.

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

Night shot of Marina Bay during our Singapore trip – December of last year.

Thankfully, this line of reasoning is completely wrong. You can go on that dream vacation, but it will require giving yourself a year’s time to plan and save accordingly. Here are some tips on how to save money during the year to go on your dream vacation.

Determine How Much You’ll Need – The first step is to sit down and calculate exactly how much money you’ll need to enjoy your vacation comfortably. While you want to create a figure that you can logically save up in a year’s time, don’t budget too much. After all, you want to have enough funds to truly enjoy your dream vacation.

Create a Plan – Once you’ve determined how much you’ll need, you simply need to create a plan determining how much and how often you’ll put money into your vacation savings. This is as simple as dividing your total amount by 12, the number of months in a year, or 52, the number of weeks. It’s a good idea to create a savings account for your vacation money. This way, you won’t be tempted to dip into it.

Stick To Your Plan – The most important aspect of saving for a dream vacation is really sticking to your plan. It will be tempting to dip into your vacation savings for little purchases throughout the year, especially around the holidays. However, sticking to your vacation savings plan will be something that you thank yourself for once the time for your dream vacation comes.

Get the whole family involved in this year of vacation saving. This is a great way to teach your kids about the benefits and rewards that come with diligently saving money. If you create a year-long plan and stick to it, you’ll thank yourself when it comes time to fly away to the destination that you’ve always dreamed of visiting.

 

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MOA IMAX Theater Lounge Area Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 5 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (: 

998923_10151554770816951_1455272944_n        Cool and sleek red lounge pods.

Giant Coca-cola cap and Big big pop corn.

The ever beautiful Inday Minette.

The northern part of lounge, and the counter area.

Chiel, the one and only…

More about IMAX Theater at www.imax.com/theatres.

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Mall of Asia Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 4 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

1146513_10151554773771951_98940923_nA close-up photo with Chiel in the telescope.

One of the best views from Mall of Asia.

Inside and outside the mall.

1209436_10151554773281951_54290225_nPanoramic view

More about Mall of Asia at www.smmallofasia.com.

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BE Resorts Mactan Lapulapu Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 3 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

BE Resort’s Deluxe Room Interior

The Lobby.

Lime Cafe.

Their beach front and the amazing lounge pods.

Amazing beach shots.

Be Resort Mactan Lapulapu Cebu 21And the star of the event, Inday Liana Gail. (:

More about BE Resort at www.beresorts.com.

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Alona Beach Panglao Island Bohol #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

featured pic

Note: This is part 2 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 2

Morning stroll with inday Minette at Alona Beach.

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Early morning beach shot.

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Testing the water for a quick morning swim.

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I was left alone, ruminating by myself.  LOL!

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The beach-lover chick.

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Save mother earth. (:

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Afternoon shot by the beach.

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Bohol Diver’s Club beach

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Dude at BDC’s beach garden.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol

Morning breakfast with dude at Bohol Diver’s Club.  Their breakfast buffet is yummy!

More about Alona Beach at www.alonabeachguide.com.

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Mt. Manghilao – Danao’s Highest Mountain Peak #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

featured photo

Note: This is part 1 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Danao Mountain Peak 2

My pretty little sister enjoying the mountain view at the private rest house of Soulmate’s hubby.

Danao Mountain Peak 3

The view from the private rest house.

Danao Mountain Peak 4

The epic carabao pic. In the photo is my younger sister and Chiel, one of my close buddies. (:

Danao Mountain Peak 5

Nice skyline view.  This is the path leading to the private rest house.

Danao Mountain Peak 6

Another shot inside the forest.

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Simply amazing mountain view.

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Some of the people who celebrated mine and Soulmate’s birthday last year.  From left to right: Chiel, me, Soulmate, dude, manash.

Danao Mountain Peak 9

Jeepney ride with my dorky little sister and two of my friends.

Danao Mountain Peak 10

Meditating pose with the birthday girls: me and Soulmate.

Danao Mountain Peak

Sky, mountain, forest.

More info about Mt. Manghilao at www.danaocity.gov.ph/index.php/tourism/mt-manghilao.

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MUJI, a Brandless Japanese Store is now in Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines

MUJI, an international Japanese lifestyle retail store, opened their first branch in Central Visayas on December 20, 2013.  It is located at the New Wing of Ayala Center Cebu, Level 2.  They offer unbranded yet high quality products and goods that are sold at reasonable prices.

Minimalism and Recycling

All MUJI’s products are manufactured and designed with minimalism and recycling in mind.  From their complete line of household supplies, electronics, furniture, to cosmetics, apparels, food, travel and daily essentials, they focus more in creating functional products with simplistic packaging to reduce waste and help conserve the environment.

MUJI Store in Ayala Center Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - OutsideOutside the Store

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - TravelTravel Essentials

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FashionMen’s and Ladies’ Garments

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FurnitureFurniture and Household Supplies

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - KitchenKitchen Utensils

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - Educational SuppliesPens, Notebooks and other Stationery Items

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FoodsSnacks, Sweets, Dried Fruits, Popcorn, Instant Drip Coffee and Tea

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - CounterStore Counter

The overall design of their store is in synced with the company’s philosophy that promotes simplicity, green living, and sustainability.

About MUJI

Muji is simply the shorter version of Mujirushi (no brand) Ryohin (quality goods).  The company officially opened its first store in 1983.  The Muji store in Ayala Center Cebu is the very first branch they opened here in the Visayas region.  At the present, they have 205 retail outlets operating all over the globe.  Visit www.muji.net to check out their products online.

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/muji.ph

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MUJI_PH

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Masskara Festival 2013: A Glimpse of the Street Dancing Parade (Photos)

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 14

Because I didn’t find the time to get my media ID from a prominent blogger who offered us an ID pass, I had no choice but to battle my way down to the street dancers.  Starting from the very strong crowd, photography enthusiasts, and down to a group of Caucasians (a foreign TV crew I guess) who dominated the street every time a group of dancers passes by.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 5

At first I was kind of contented just taking photos from afar, but then I thought, I was there to document the event.  It’s just unfair not take some close-up photos.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 18

I easily made my way to a group of local photographers but there’s just something in the crowd that made them hesitate to go near towards the main attraction.  And it’s no other than this group of foreign TV crew who were also covering the street parade.  This group is so domineering.  They have all the lenses and have this very “authoritative air” every time they take their position to get a good shot/video each time the dancers stop by to perform.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 6

Fortunately for me, I didn’t find this group a hindrance at all.  I used their domineering presence to get some good close-up photos.  Every time a new group of dancers stopped by, I immediately positioned myself by their (foreign crew) side.  It was a BREEZE!!! (:

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Having a foreign TV crew by your side is AWESOME!!!! LOL!

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 10

I only took a few photos as the heat of the sun is something that I can’t bear.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 11

All these photos were taken on the 21st of October.  That was on Sunday.  The 3rd of day of our trip there in Bacolod.  More stories of our Bacolod travel in my next blog posts.  For more street parade photos, you may visit my Facebook fanpage.

 

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Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a BudgetStarting off in a new home isn’t cheap. Apart from the initial cost of deposits and agency or mortgage fees, you’ll have to stump up the funds to kit out your pad. The good news is, there are lots of money-saving tactics that you can employ in order to keep your spending down.

Shop around

When you’re on the hunt for kitchen appliances and other items, make sure you shop around for both larger white goods and smaller appliances like toasters, kettles and grills. There are lots of deals available online, and by taking a little time and using price comparison sites to review a number of options, you stand a better chance of bagging a bargain.

Go second-hand

Also, it can pay off to opt for second-hand products. These can also be found online auction and ad sites, as well as in charity shops and car boot sales. OK, so these items may not last as long or look as pretty as brand new versions, but they can save you a tidy sum. Of course, before you hand over any money for these items, you’ll need to make sure they work properly.

Free living

You might even be able to get some items for free. There are a growing number of reuse websites in cyberspace where people advertise products ranging from white goods to sofas that they no longer want. As long as you can pick the objects up, they could be yours for nothing.

Comb the sales

Timing is also key. If you stock up on products for your property during sale seasons, you can benefit from impressive value for money. This may mean being patient for a little while, but if big savings are on offer, it could be worth your while.

Kitting your new house or flat out on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to style. Often, it is the inexpensive little extras that help to make living spaces look and feel warm and attractive. Something as simple – and cheap – as adding some new cushions to sofas or placing a fresh bunch of flowers in a vase can bring rooms to life and suddenly make it feel like home.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4929685747/

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