Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vigan at night | Philippines (#UNESCO)

Once a settlement for traders coming from China and was overwhelmed by Southern Fujianese, Vigan is now a famous UNESCO city with magnificent Spanish era architecture which draws travelers from world over. The Southern Fujianese referred this beautiful place as "Bee Gan" which means "Beautiful Shore", but the interchangeable V and the B has transformed "Bee Gan" as "Vigan" during the Spanish era and the name remains to this day.

Philippines entry :
Vigan Heritage City, Philippines

Similar to Jonker Street in Malaysia, Vigan's Calle Crisologo or Mena Crisologo Street is a must visit and this is perfected when one is riding a kalesa (or calesa); a local horse-drawn carriage. The best tips that can be shared is that if you wish to visit Vigan, you must experience it in 2 ambience or mood that is during day time and at night. As for night, you must catch it at sunset and while the blue hue is at its best; before darkness takes over.

Heritage homes owned by Filipino-Chinese traders are now the main attractions on Calle Crisologo Street, a subject matter loved by photographers. Some of these homes have turned into a mini museum, souvenir shops, restaurants, some even converted into hostels or inns. Something that I am game to try in my next visit.

Romantic blue hue is what makes this place famous for its night or sunset photography and we were lucky to be able to catch this moment. It was a race against time for us, a 4-5 hours bus ride from Laoag to Vigan but it was worth it.

Antiques from Spanish era, burnay, Vigan vinegar and wood ornaments can be found here, some even sold window frames with the shells still intact. Aside from this, Vigan souvenirs are at abundance, from fridge magnets, to shirts to bags and local delicacies for you to bring back and share with family and friends. If you are a curious person, try out their ice cream (cheese and yam), you will definitely ask for more *smile*.

This reminded me so much of Andalusia, dreamy romantic windows and doors complemented with romantically designed iron railings. The yellow lighting certainly perfected the mood.

Vigan is located 8 hours from Manila via land transport, if you have spare time in your itinerary, do include Vigan City, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Big Plane Project and Air Asia BIG's 1st Livery Launch

Air Asia BIG Loyalty Programme made history by being the first Air Asia to land in #KLIA2 in conjunction with the launch of its new livery.

The 6 lucky winners that participated in #BIGPlaneProject Social Media contest that was ran in Air Asia BIG’s Facebook page will get their portrait caricatures featured on BIG’s Airbus A320, illustrated by Cheeming Boey or better known as ‘iamboey’; a Malaysian web comic artist. Grand winner is Krittaphong Wongsachai, a BIG member from Thailand leading with more than 500 votes and walking away with 100,000 BIG points equivalent to 3 free return flights to Hong Kong from Bangkok.

Focusing on ‘visiting friends and relatives’ category and being the largest segment of Air Asia guest is BIG’s new brand strategy, to create stronger emotional connection with loved ones and BIG helps by offering travel opportunities to its members. With this strategy, Air Asia members automatically becomes ‘BIG Shots’ which allows wider range of benefits and perks, as well as earning and redeeming BIG points. 

The Air Asia BIG Livery Launch was officiated by Azran Osman Rani, CEO of Air Asia X Berhad together with Alice Goh, Air Asia BIG CEO, Evert de Boer, AIMIA Inc. Global Business Development GM, Cheeming Boey, popular comic illustrator and Krittaphong Wongsachai, winner of the #BIGPlaneProject.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vigan Heritage City, Philippines

I first fell in love with Vigan when my Philippines travel blogger Edgar and Gael told me about this place, an UNESCO site they say, not knowing I am an avid UNESCO hunter. I locked the name down in my cute little memory labelled 'The Philippines' with sub-label 'Must Visit Places'. And yes, last week.... I set foot at this magnificent historical city. Bucket list : checked!

During the planning stage of my maiden trip to the Philippines, I reminded them that Vigan must be part of the 'must visit places'. I am good to skip everything and everywhere except Vigan, and oh yah! I want to ride the horse-drawn carriage or known as kalesa while we were there. Another weird habit I have when traveling in foreign land, I will insist to ride on all transportation mode. Yeah, I am crazy like that *smile*.

One of the best gift from Vigan was that our kalesa ride was arranged by Metro Vigan Inn which is located in Bantay, a small town slightly outside the Vigan city. The best part was that the 3 hours kalesa ride starts from the hotel it self, which means I get to view Vigan and its outskirt on kalesa and not just the famous old street. Can't believe my luck. Thank you Metro Vigan Inn!

If you want to do this (which I highly encourage you to!), the cost is PHP150 or RM11 per hour. Ours was for 3 hours covering a few places, you can also discuss with them the area you wishes to cover or even the number of hours. Bottom line, a must do when in Vigan!

Being a Spanish colony for more than 300 years, it comes as no surprise that most of our trips will be covering Spanish influenced churches. This Saint Augustine Parish Church or commonly known by the locals as Bantay Church is a famous Roman Catholic church inspired by pseudo-Romanesque design while adapting to Spanish and local feel. It is made famous by the strong standing bell tower built in 1590 (located a far distance from the church), what amazes me is that you can climb till the top as the main structure is still firmly planted showing no sign of erosion. The pride of Bantay I would say.

The bell towers gives you a clear view of Bantay and environ.

Despite being scared of heights, I still want to have an inside view of the bell tower (10 person per time) with my new #AdidasNeo shirt and of course with the rest of the gang. Despite the shirt being long sleeve, there is a sheer or thin material on the shoulder that makes the shirt airy and comfortable which is very suitable for those who want to avoid the UV rays yet prefers an airy shirt.

I think I need a classier sandal though.

This was not my ride but all girls dreamt of riding a white carriage right, no? Princess much *smile*.

Finally we entered Vigan City on our beautiful kalesa, the trip from Bantay Church to Vigan takes approximately 15mins or so. I have to admit, I like the feel of riding on a kalesa entering a historic UNESCO town. Very princessy.

Burgos National Museum or Padre Burgos House was our first stop inside Vigan Heritage City. What fascinate me here was the wooden coffins and burial chair of Iloco-Kankanay-Itneg culture, aside from musical instruments weaponry; weaving implements etc.

This is the coffin of Bago tribe which at a glance I thought was rather small, but I later found out that when a rich or powerful member dies, the tendons of arm and legs are cut. The body is bound in a burial chair with cloth and head fastened with a string of beads. The body will slowly be mummified from a smokey fire before him. The corpse later is placed in a sitting position inside a spruced coffin which will be put inside a cave.

This man is not a prop. Thank you.

How a local house looks like those days, a dedicated area will be fanned by pulling and releasing a rope that attached to the panel-cloth.

Carriage porch is located inside the home.

 Vigan Heritage City UNESCO signage.

We also visited the place where they showcase the art of making burnay; an earthen jars just like our labu sayong, this dated as far back to pre-colonial times when China immigrants came and settled in the Philippines. Its earlier days, it is use for tea drinking, salt container, or container to hold water, local wine (basi) and bagoong (fermented fish) etc. The locals believe that local wine (basi) and bagoong (fermented fish) taste much better when stored inside burnays versus inside a modern container.

Fidel Antiporda Go is the descendant of the first Chinese potter who came to Vigan and established Ruby Pottery. His effort in preserving the art of making burnays has awarded him with the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Folk Artist Award) of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts in 1990.

Our last stop is at Vigan Hidden Garden before heading to the famous street. I kept wondering on what to expect, later I found out it's a garden cum restaurant, a very relaxing embience. You can come here and coincide with lunch or tea time, take a stroll before enjoying your sumptuous meal.

This is what I gather from the website as there wasn't much info on it.

"Six years ago, Francis Flores, the owner of Hidden Garden of Vigan suffered from three heart attacks. Half of his body was paralyzed. He then realized to change his life. So he decided to start a garden and became a landscape architect. It was a garden therapy for him until it became a business. Now he is planning to place a health spa to help other people as well."

After a peaceful stroll at the garden, stop for break and have their halo-halo; Philippines version of Malaysia ABC :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Interesting things in #Philippines

Before I get started with my little adventure in Luzon island, Philippines, I thought I should share these "interesting" things I saw in the Philippines, especially in their supermart (my favourite place in each country), bookshops and malls. Some might have seen these on twitter as I tweet on the go but for those that did not, let me share it with you guys.

This. Is. Manila. (view from my hostel)

Bakers alert!

Dedicated to Bart!

Bought the other version because I was too hungry at that time.

Got this one for myself, muahahhahah..... sodap!

The coolest store in Glorietta 4, most stuff at of average price but the owl vase I wanted to get for sis cost around RM100-200. I said kirim salam, next time mebbe. (Chup! Besar gak tau vase tu, yang kiri atas sekali tuh, nampak tak?)

Oh! Oh! Oh! I love their shoes! Range between RM80-RM100+. No, did not get any though. Ada sedikit menyesal disini.

My Little Pony and Friends soft toyssssss.... (I pulak yang over).

And have books too! Malaysia susah nak dapat banyak sekali gus, if tau kat mana, sila share info yek.

This is wrapping paper is beautiful, it comes with notebooks, paperbags, cards etc. Felt like purchasing the whole set! 

Flashcards! Intrigues by this but apparently in Malaysia we have alot too. Ignorant me! Hahhahahah....

And the options!

I thought this was a brilliant idea! Wanna put my thinking cap on and expend from this CSR idea. 

Comic addict out there... giler dok? 

 .... And more.

True that! 

This is their exercise books, bought a few... bestkan?! Dengan harapan adek-adek belajar rajin-rajin.

I know Bangkok have similar concept and if we have this in Midvalley Megamall, I will be soooooo happy! Hahahhaha.... I nak naik dulu ok!
(Ke dah ada tapi I yang tak tau? Lama tak gi Midvalley dah nih.)

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