Snow Adventure in Sapporo

First snow experience!

Gab and I went to Sapporo with his sister and brother-in-law (both our close friends and high school batchmates), Kris and Fil. We timed the trip so we can be there for the Sapporo Snow Festival. There were supposed to be five of us in the trip but our friend, who is a doctor at a government hospital, opted to stay due to the coronavirus threat. She supplied us with masks and sterillium to protect us from infection especially inside the airport and crowded places, and during the flight.

Hotel Sunroute New Sapporo

We got lucky in picking a hotel that was right by Tanukikoji Shopping Street (which had two Don Quijote mega stores) and close to Odori and Susukino subway stations where we took most of the rides to our destinations.

Shiroikoibito Park

Sapporo’s chocolate factory in Shiroikoibito Park was our first stop. It was a short 30-minute trip from Odori Station to Miyanosawa Station by Tozai subway line. A tour inside the chocolate factory costs ¥600 per person.

Snowmobile Experience

We booked our Snowmobile Experience via KKDay weeks before the trip (Php 5,100 per person). Glad we did since slots were limited per day. Our reservation included a shuttle pickup at 10am at one of the nearby hotels. The trip to Snowmobile Land took around 45 minutes with a nice, scenic view up the mountains. We suited up as soon as we got to the resort and were given instructions on how to use the snowmobiles. Each group had dedicated instructors guiding them throughout the course. Halfway before we headed back to the cabins, we stopped for photos where we also got play a little bit in the powdery snow. We were done by 12:30pm and were dropped off in Odori Park by the same shuttle bus.

P.S. I was so scared that I requested if I could ride with my husband. The instructor told me to try it first. Had much difficulty at first especially during practice round, but I got the hang of it and finished the entire course!

With our guide, Umeru.

At the end of the course, we were given a 5-minute treat – Gab and I did snow rafting, while Kris and Fil did banana boat.

Mt. Moiwa

We took the streetcar (tram) from Susukino to get to the get in point for the ropeway that took us to Mt. Moiwa. A free shuttle took us to the Moiwa get in point after alighting at Ropeway Iriguchi Shiden Station. We bought tickets (¥1,700) that included ride to Morris Car (small cable car) to get to the summit.We tried to catch the sunset once we got to the summit, but it was cloudy due to the snowfall earlier in the day. Nevertheless, the view going up was spectacular. It was dark by 5pm so we were able to also get a magnificent night view overlooking the city.

Otaru

Northwest of Sapporo is Otaru which is a port city known for its glassworks, music boxes and distilleries. It took about an hour from Sapporo Station via JR train to get to Otaru.A short 13-minute walk from Otaru Station is the picturesque Otaru Canal.

Right by the canal is the Visitor Information Center where we got a map and some recommendations to visit in the city.

By this time we were already used to snowfall, but it was the first time it snowed hard after we had lunch. We did not mind it, though, and walked in snow while waiting to get a taxi.

We went to the Music Boxes shop next. It was an impressive three storeys of music boxes and gift items.

We were treated to this mini spectacle outside the shop.

The Kitaichi Glass Shop with equally impressive glass items was just a few meters away.

Otaru was such a pretty city to visit.

Historical Village of Hokkaido

We took a taxi from Shin Sapporo Station to the Historical Village of Hokkaido. We were welcomed with an amazing view at the entrance.

We got tickets that included a visit to the Hokkaido Museum (¥1,200 per person). By noon, we got the place almost to ourselves.

Snow Festival

The snow festival was celebrated in three sites: Tsudome (opened last January 31), Susukino (opened on February 4) and Odori Park (opened on February 4). It took us several days (and nights) to visit all sites. The festival ran for a week.

Tsudome had various ice activities mostly for kids and snow sculptures. It was 38 minutes from Odori Station to Sakaemachi Station via Toho subway line. A shuttle was available outside the train station to take visitors to Tsudome.

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Susukino had varied and intricate ice sculptures. We were able to go back to this area a few times since it was only  750 meters away from our hotel.

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Odori Park had snow sculptures that stretched for over a kilometer. Each section featured various themes.

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With the Sapporo Tower in the background

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These International entries were among the best in the festival. Can you guess which country won as champion?

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Clock Tower

For me, the trip is not complete without visiting some of the known, iconic locations in the city. We made it a point to visit the Clock Tower on our last day in the city.

Some Travel Tips

IC Icoca Card. We were able to reuse the IC Icoca card we bought during our Kansai trip in 2018. We had it loaded with ¥10,000 at the Odori Station. We used it in the subway trains, streetcar/tram (also called shiden) and JR trains. We had over ¥3,000 left which we were able to use for shopping and food.

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Pocket-sized body warmers can be bought in convenience stores to keep you warm during heavy snow.

Body Warmer

Having a light umbrella to shield the face against falling snow would help.

Sapporo had lots of wifi hotspots around the city. However, we opted to bring 2 Flytpack wifi-routers rented via Travel Recommends so we can easily communicate when we had to split and to go to different places.

Transportation References:

SapporoSubway

Sapporo Shiden Local (streetcar/tram for Mt. Moiwa)

SapporoShiden

Hokkaido JR Train (for Otaru)

HokkaidoJR

Coron, Palawan 2017

My third trip to Coron is a bit remarkable compared to my other trips.

Since I had folks visiting from the US, we stayed at a more decent place, Busuanga Bay Lodge (I usually stay at boutique hotels that are less pricey 😊). This place was established in 2013 by its Canadian owner and his Filipino  partners. They picked a great part of the island with an amazing view.

We had this part of the property to ourselves, that’s our room at the corner.


All rooms have a view of the bay. We got one right by the shore.


Instead of the usual island hopping trips, we took the recommended trips by the hotel which only included three stops – Lusong Gun Boat (ship wreck from WWII), Coral Garden and South Cay Island.

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We rode an outrigger boat to the islands

We snorkled about a mile of lavish coral reef with plenty of fishes with varying sizes and colors. Too bad I was not able to bring my underwater camera with me.

South Cay Island was exclusive to guests of Busuanga Bay Lodge. We were lucky to be the only guests at the island the entire Saturday afternoon. It was such a wonderful experience to be on a beautiful island by yourself. There were some rainshowers throughout our stay but it was enough to cool the place down from the hot and very humid weather.

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We had a view of the other beautiful islands around South Cay

Apart from the new sights and places, the most remarkable about this trip is being able to experience it with someone special. Thanks, Gabriel, for being with me on this trip ❤

Labor Union Festival in LU (2017)

Back in La Union for an R&R with highschool friends.

Since Gab and I were late in coming back from Baguio, we missed the group who left for Tangadan Falls at 6am in Agoo, La Union. Tangadan Falls is located in San Gabriel, La Union which was about 2 hours from Agoo.

We took the motorcycle ride (habal-habal in local terms) from San Gabriel’s town proper to the parking area near the falls. It was my first time to ride a motorcycle – I was scared and excited at the same time (prayed hard as well that I don’t fall off the steep cliffs along the road).

What a relief when we made it to the falls without any scratches (knees were trembling, though).​


Folks are allowed to jump off the 15-ft cliff behind us for some thrill.



Walking back was more difficult, but was still fun since we’re with friends.



The boys had a thrill riding on top of the jeepney.



They joined us inside once we hit flat ground.


We spent the rest of the afternoon at San Juan Surf Resort where we had late lunch at 4pm at Coast Call.


A lot of folks were gathered in SJSR grounds for the Labor Union Festival.


We ended the trip with a visit to the Bacungan’s in San Fernando.

P.S. Thank you, Eric, for guiding us on this trip. And, by the way, you have one cool mom 😉

Bohol Escapade (April 2017) 

One place I have always wanted to visit was Bohol. Finally had a chance to visit when Gab invited me to join him as he attends a seminar there.

First thing we did when we arrived was to look for a restaurant with a view of the sunset.

While Gab was at the seminar for the next two days, I got busy with working remotely. On the second day, I decided to work at the same hotel where Gab’s seminar is, Bohol Tropics, and picked an area with a view of the water.

The seminar ended early on the second day so we took some time to see some sights in Panglao.




Tried to get a glimpse of the sunset at Alona Beach, but it was too cloudy.



We had grilled food for dinner by the beach before heading back to the main island.

Before our noon flight the next day, we went to see more sights. First stop was at the famous chocolate hills.


Next was a brief stop at the butterfly farm.


We went to see the tarsiers as well. They were as small as rats!

Also stopped for some pictures in the middle of the road for this man-made forest.


Our last stop was lunch at a cruise by Loboc River.

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Of course, my visit to Bohol will not be complete without seeing our Tagbilaran girl, Jare. She was my classmate in college. She took us to one of the best restos in Tagbilaran, Gerardas. It turned out she and her husband play tennis. Gab will bring his tennis gear next time we visit so he can play with them 😊

Sagada 2017

Went back to Sagada with my high school friends last February 2 to 5. We took a van from Manila at 1:30am and picked up more of our friends in La Union. We drove through Tagudin, Ilocos Sur to get to Sagada.

We stopped by Bessang Pass for bio break.


We got to Sagada at around noon, then had lunch at Misty Lodge which was about two kilometers from Sagada’s town proper. Their burger and tinola were really good.

St. Joseph Rest House

One of my friends booked us at St. Joseph Rest House. It is the best place to stay in Sagada with its wide ground coverage which makes it accessible through the church and through the market.

 

Mud surfing at Echo Valley Trail

First stop after lunch was hike through Echo Valley trail.



Bonding by the Fire




 

Spelunking at Sumaging Cave

We went to Sumaging cave at 8 in the morning to ensure there won’t be that many people in the cave.

 

Hiking to Bomod-ok Falls

On our third day, we decided to wear our batch shirt. We took a different trail to avoid the throng of people who wanted to see the falls. I’m glad we did because the view along the trail was breathtaking.

When we arrived at the falls, it was full with people. After about half an hour, my friends and I were just the only ones left. We had the falls to ourselves!

On the way back, my friends opted to take the trail by the river. Turned out, we had to walk by the cliff!

We took a few stops to appreciate the view and enjoy the cool breeze.



Sea of Clouds

Saw this sea of clouds on our way from Sagada to Baguio. We parked by the road to take these awesome pictures.

VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/203144645

Summer in Yosemite (2015)

One stop before my flight back to Manila two weeks ago was a visit to this breathtaking place, Yosemite.

This is my second visit. My first visit was I think in 2011, with my good friends from high school. (I just realized now I never got to post about that trip. Will correct this soon.) Back then, we went in October, during Fall.

This time, I went with some of my officemates from Manila… on a Summer. Someone told me I should try going once each season. Because this beautiful place looks different for every season.

Bridal Veil Falls looked almost the same, but you know that the place has been affected by the drought since the stream going to the falls was dried up.

  

These mountains are a sight to behold.

  
  
  
  
  

Took me a while to find this bridge with a view of one of Yosemite’s falls. It’s called Swinging Bridge.

  
  

We decided to go the other way since we thought we’ll get to the road past the meadow. We were wrong. Glad we were, since we got to see this beauty.

  

Unfortunately, we lost so much time when we ‘got lost’, that the parking was already full when we get to the main area.

It was already past 1:00 PM when we took the shuttle for a tour around the area. While waiting for the shuttle, I couldn’t help but get a snapshot of Half Dome from behind the trees.

  

Our first stop was Mist Trail. I thought this stop will have a view of Half Dome, I was wrong (again!).

  

Saw some guys fly fishing by the water. I don’t think they caught anything.

  
  
  
  

Then we went to Mirror Lake. Sad to see that the lake was a bit dried up. We didn’t get a good reflection of Half Dome. And there were people camping there, swimming and playing volleyball games.

  
    

My first Hawai’i Trip: Around Oahu

Finally made it to Hawai’i last May.

My highschool barkada, Jazel, wed the love of her life, Wilbur in the beautiful island of Oahu where Wilbur grew up.

Lalaine and I made arrangement to fly at the same time via Hawaiian Airlines and stay at Kahala Resorts where the wedding was held.


         
       

The Wedding

It was a simple yet beitiful wedding by the beach.

                      
Island Tour

Among the new friends we met at the wedding were Imelda and Onassis who graciously offered to take us around the island.


                                        

Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, Kai’wi Trail