From Muscat to Salala On Oman Air Flight

So from Doha, Qatar my journey went on to the Sultanate of Oman, home to Middle East's most gentle people. True to the fact that first impression lasts, the soft nature of the Omani personnels at Muscat International Airport most especially those at the immigration counters really was something I never expected. I thought they were harsh but they turned out to be the opposite. I've already encountered rude airport personnels from other airports but absolutely not here in Muscat.

Flying over Muscat
Oman Air flight WY 903 took off Muscat International Airport at 08:30AM, exactly according to what was in the flight itinerary. It was an on time take-off and one smooth flight all the way to Salala,Oman. It's a daytime flight and I enjoyed viewing from my seat all those unique landscape unfamiliar and new to my eyes. The vast dessert, the mountain ranges, the long stretch of never ending highways, the houses and everything below 35,000 feet were fantastic.

During the descend in Salala
The Oman Air aircraft used for the flight is Embraer ERJ175. It's not that big but it's comfortable inside. But I was wondering why taking photos was not allowed inside the aircraft. The female flight attendant went to me and told me to delete the photos I took while she was attending passengers. Maybe it's because she was in the photo and most probably it's inappropriate by Muslim law to take photo of a female so I understand. She approached me professionally anyway, so I felt no offense and no embarrassment at all.

Arrived Salala Airport
Plane touched down Salala Airport smoothly and it was a relief to know that I arrived the final destination safely. How I wish I could find time to roam around either Muscat or Salala. The place itself really interests me a lot. I believe it has so much to discover and explore. Who knows when someday I'll be back in Muscat or Salala exploring and roaming around and do a lot of stuff to see and discover what's more behind the gentleness and friendliness of the people of Oman.

Fantastic And Indulging Experience With Qatar Airways

Just recently, I traveled to Salala, Oman on a series of flights and stopovers to rejoin back to the cruise ship where I work. This was my first travel to a Middle Eastern country so I was very excited for the whole duration of the series of flights from Manila. I've never been to Doha, Qatar and Muscat and Salala of Oman so honestly that trip was some sort of exploration and at the same time my chance of knowing what it is like traveling in this part of the earth;what there food tastes like; the people and everything.
Getting to the destination put me off to three different flights, two with Qatar Airways and one with Oman Air. My flights with Qatar Airways were absolutely fantastic. First league of the flight was from Manila to Doha on flight QR 927. Qatar Airways' Boeing 777-300ER was cozy with comfortable leg space even at the economy class not to mention the wide array of inflight entertainment to chose from, the attentive and efficient flight attendants and the fine dining cuisine served. A lot would say that airline food is crap but for me airline food is always classy. But the real score there is in the flight that until now continues to excite me is the mere fact that I am having a meal at 35,000 feet. Yeah, you can all laugh at me but that is really really true...LOL...
Economy Class Qatar Airways
The second league was onboard Airbus 320-200 on flight QR 1122 from Doha to Muscat, Oman. It's only an hour long flight so I just gave myself a relaxing treat. I slept for the entire flight almost missing the snacks being served midair. But the curry smell of the freshly heated sandwich was too tempting so eventually I had a filled gut when the plane touched down Muscat.
All these made my Qatar Airways experience fantastic and absolutely indulging. The next time I fly especially on long flights, I look forward flying with Qatar Airways again.
It was on a clear daylight when I took the connecting flight from Muscat to Salala and undoubtedly was picturesque. Watch for it on my next post.

Below is a short background about Qatar Airways from the inflight entertainment's airline info page.
Qatar Airways A320-200
One of the world's fastest growing airline, Qatar Airways serves more than 130 key business and leisure cities across six continents in Europe , Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East, North America and South America. Among them are such diverse destinations as Bali, Singapore, New York, Washington DC, Houston, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town, Muscat, Osaka, Mumbai, Kathmandu, Barcelona, Sao Paulo and Melbourne.
Qatar Airways' fleet is one of the youngest and most modern in the skies with an average of under 4 years. It operates one of the most fuel-effecient fleets and is set to be the first commercial airline in the world to use gas-to-liquids as an alternative to traditional aviation jet fuel.

Qatar Airways in Doha. B777-300ER

Thrilling Zip Line Adventure At Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel AdventurePark

Located in the remote highlands of Tangub City, the trip to Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park actually is where the adventure and thrill  begins. The heart stopping ascending road trip, the lush vegetation landscape and the gradual shift from warm to cool breeze truly make the road trip to Hoyohoy Highland  Stone Chapel Adventure Park interesting and exciting. At 2,788 feet above sea level, overlooking view of Panguil Bay, Ozamis City, Tangub City, the town of Tubod in Lanao del Norte, farms and villages is absolutely captivating.
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
The Stone Chapel
Travelers visiting Tangub City and Ozamis City or anywhere around the province of Misamis Occidental and neighboring provinces should try and experience the exhilirating zip line adventure. At a height of 500 meters and a length of 1,250 meters for the first line and 1,100 meters for the second line, the zip line in Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park as of posting is the longest and heighest zip line in the country and in Asia. After the completion of 2 zip line rides, a choice of horseback riding or the 4x4 buggy ride to get back to the starting point of the first zip ride completes the adventure and fun.
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
Overlooking view
The remoteness of Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park is perfect for everyone seeking a break and temporary disconnection from the busy and stressful world. It is also the best place for families or group of friends to go camping and for anybody who simply just want to enjoy a quiet and relaxing moment.
For those who want to stay for the night, Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Hotel offers affordable hotel accommodations. Camping tents are also available for rental. A function hall is also available for seminars, wedding receptions and other celebrations and gatherings as well.
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
Overlooking view of the cliff
For inquiries, Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Adventure Park can be reached at the following:

Mobile: +639173267878 and +639399248076
Email: hsch_hoyohoy@yahoo.com and hoyohoy.adventure@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hsch.hoyohoy

More photos:
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel Hotel
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
Buggy ride
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
Passing one of the villages
Hoyohoy Stone Chapel Adventure Park
On our way down

Travel Manila To Mindanao By Bus, Ferry and Airplane, Trust Me It's Exciting!

Flying is and has always been my preferred choice every time I go home to Mindanao from Manila and I've been doing this for many years. It's super fast, comfortable and in less than 3 or 4 hours I'm already in the comfort of my home watching CNN, playing with my kids or taking a nap. But during my very recent trip to Mindanao, I've decided for some twist and sort of diversion away from the norms I used to do. So for the very first time I embarked on a trip I've never done before - traveling from Manila to Mindanao via land, air and sea. Interesting isn't it? This was the very first time I did this so I was some kind of excited really. 
My long, exhausting but exciting three-day travel from Manila to Mindanao was absolutely remarkable and it started here:

1. From Buendia-Taft in Pasay via BLTB Bus bound for Batangas City Port
2GO ferry M/V St. Ignatius of Loyola in Batangas City Port
The over 2 hours bus travel was a bit tiring but impressively one smooth ride. I was on an air-conditioned bus and traveling over SLEX or South Luzon Expressway was smooth, no traffic and the view was amazing too. Can't imagine how soothing it is as the bus began its way leaving the busy Manila metropolis and traversing along the highway by the hills and valleys. 

Departure Buendia - Taft - 5PM
Arrival Batangas Port - 7:15PM

Travel time - 2 hours 15 minutes
Fare - Php 167.00

2. From Batangas Port to Caticlan Port
2GO ferry M/V St. Ignatius of Loyola in Caticlan Port
I then took  a 2GO ferry bound for Caticlan. Departure time should be 9 PM but was delayed and it's only at 10:30 PM the ferry did left Batangas. I've got nothing much to say during the sea voyage to Caticlan as the ferry travel was night time.
2GO ferry M/V St. Ignatius arrived Caticlan by 7:30AM but due to unavailability of berthing space, the vessel had to wait about a mile off Caticlan Port jetty. It was already around 9AM the ferry received clearance to berthed.

Departure Batangas City Port - 10:30PM
Arrival Caticlan Port - 7:30AM

Travel time - 9 hours
Fare - Php 1,150.00 (economy class accommodation)

Note: World popular resort island Boracay is just a boat ride away from Caticlan. A side trip to the island is a good choice to make the trip more exciting. And "YES" I did a side trip and you can read my Boracay experience and view photos here.

3. Caticlan Port to Kalibo International Airport
Onboard a van from Caticlan to Kalibo
I checked out Tree House Da Mario in Boracay on the next day just before dawn and left the resort island early because I thought travel time from Caticlan to Kalibo would take 2 hours and a half as I read from another travel blog. But it turned out travel time by van was far less. 
I knew it! There wasn't any road congestion traveling from Caticlan to Kalibo and frankly speaking, this is what I always love about traveling in the countryside. More on that, the view of the sea, hills, farms and countryside villages were beautiful.

Departure Caticlan - 6AM
Arrival Kalibo - 7:10AM

Travel time - 1 hour 10 minutes
Fare - Php 175.00

4. Kalibo to Cebu
Runway approach in Mactan, Cebu
My original plan was to take a bus from Caticlan to Iloilo and continue with my trip to Bacolod then Dumaguete and across Dapitan City. But since I managed to get a promo fare from Kalibo to Cebu, I diverted from the original plan. 
It was a daytime flight and during that short flight, I enjoyed so much watching aerial views of the islands and the seas from my window seat. 

Departure Kalibo - 12:10PM
Arrival Mactan - 12:40PM

Travel time - 30 minutes
Fare - Php 1,570.68 (Cebu Pacific Air Flight 5J 417)

5. Cebu City to Ozamis City
2GO ferry M/V St. Anthony de Padua in Cebu Port
Cebu City is a very nice place to visit. In Cebu you can visit century old historical churches, enjoy the beach or simply go shopping. Since I've visited Cebu many many times, I chose to stay inside the mall as I waited for my connecting ferry trip  to Ozamis City.
Cebu to Ozamis route is served by Trans Asia, Cookaliong and 2GO ferries. For ferry schedules and rates, visit the shipping company's website.

Departure Cebu City - 6:30PM
Arrival Ozamis City - 5AM (the following day)

Travel time - 10 hours 30 minutes
Fare - Php 898.60 (2GO ferry M/V St. Anthony de Padua)

Traveling from Manila to Mindanao by a combination of bus, ferry and plane is more fun and exciting. Travelers can explore and wander several other places along the way, taste local foods and a lot more. 
Enjoy and make your trip full of adventures, lots of thrills and fun and make it memorable. Hit the roads, sail the seas and fly the Philippine skies. It's more fun in the Philippines.

Ways To Enjoy Boracay Even On A Tight Budget

visited Boracay as a side trip and not as planned. I was hesitant at first to drop by at the resort island as I only had cash left just a little more than enough to cover my expenses for the succeeding series of trips to Mindanao. But my gut persuaded me to visit Boracay, put all my worries into the bucket, find the cheapest accommodation to stay for the night and do the budgeting earnestly.
So there I was in Boracay and on a close fisted budget. In order to survive in the island even just for a day, I did the tricks of budgeting to make what seems impossible possible.
The best way to make the most of my short stay in Boracay was to go out and enjoy (if not all) the variety of fun filled water sports activities, the foods, the weather and most of all the long stretch of white powdery sand beaches of the island. But in my case, where money was a concern, did I enjoy and had a great time in the island? Definitely, of course! 
Boracay Getaway
There are several ways to enjoy Boracay even if you are on a tight budget or no budget at all. You don't have to pay in order to swim in Boracay, that is one. You can do sun bathing for free just anywhere along the beach except if you opt to rent sunbeds, that's number two. Enjoy solitary walk from Station 1 to Station 3 or if you are the more active type trek around the whole island and that's third. Listen to live band or watch heart pounding fire dance performances during the night, it's free to listen and watch and that's number four. 
And here is number five. If you love photography or simply love taking beautiful pictures, you are exactly in one of the world's most beautiful places, so don't waste the moment. 
Boracay Getaway
Of course there are many other things you can do in Boracay without spending a dime, just learn the tricks and before you know it, you already explored and made the most of your stay in this world famous Philippine resort island.
Boracay Getaway
Souvenir t-shirts artists
Failure to capture digital images of this world popular resort simply is a crime...LOL... But I always have my digital SLR camera with me in all my travels so I got covered. 

More photos:

Boracay Getaway
One of Boracay's popular night spot, Nigi Nigi Nu Noos
Boracay Getaway
Another night spot favorites, Guilly's Island
Boracay Getaway
Boracay sunset
Boracay Getaway
Boat at Boracay beach
Boracay Getaway
Tree House Hotel
Boracay Getaway
Boracay bound pumpboats at Caticlan Port jetty
Boracay Getaway
Caticlan Port Terminal
Boracay Getaway
Boracay white powdery sand beach
Boracay Getaway
Shrine of the Virgin Mary in Boracay

The Foot Thumping Beating Of Drums

I was lying on a sunbed at the beach front hotel I opted to stay in in Boracay when the lively beating and foot thumping sound of drums began to resonate around. But since I was really close to dosing off to sleep brought by the cool breeze that was gently touching my skin on that very warm afternoon, I went on listening to the sound and let my thoughts do the dancing. It was amazing and totally relaxing and that was one of the best nap I ever had.
If not for these group of foreign tourists who passed by and noisily poking fun on each other, I should have dosed off to a prolonged nap. Upon realizing I could not get back to hibernation mode, I left the sunbed and went off to check where these lively drum beating came from. And I found it and here they were.

Backpacking Tagaytay - People's Park In The Sky

Originally called Palace in the Sky, People's Park in the Sky is actually an uncompleted mansion built during the Marcos era. Now it serves as a park and one of Tagaytay's most popular tourist spots.
People's Park In The Sky
Beautiful view
Visitors of the park enjoys a beautiful 360 view of Manila Bay to the north; Laguna Bay to the east; and Taal Lake to the south. Taal Lake can also be viewed from several other spots in Tagaytay but I should say that I got the best viewing angle at People's Park.
People's Park In The Sky
Taal Lake view
The park has several cottages for rentals and souvenir shops as well. Also at the park stands the Shrine of Our Lady, Mother of Fair and Love and a doppler weather radar station maintained by the PAGASA or Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
People's Park In The Sky
Cottages for rental
Entrance fee is only 30 pesos. From the entrance gate of the park, an ascending walk to the top is more of a fun but for visitors who prefer the easy way, jeepneys are also available.
People's Park In The Sky
Shrine of Our Lady, Mother of Fair and Love

Backpacking Tagaytay For Less Than 400 Pesos

I had a fantastic day backpacking in Tagaytay last Sunday. For less than 400 pesos, I've visited two of Tagaytay's popular landmarks - People's Park in the Sky and Tagaytay Picnic Groove. I could have visited more of Tagaytay's several tourist sites if I get there 3 or 4 hours earlier. Next time I'll see to it that my alarm clock is set to the correct time...LOL...
It's hard to believe that at less than 400 pesos I was visiting Tagaytay but for a budget traveler like me, it's possible. 
Here's how:
1. Take a JAM Transit bus with the signboard Balibago. Bus station is near LRT Buendia Station. The ride only takes about an hour. Fare from Buendia to Balibago is 61.00 pesos. Ask the bus driver to have you dropped on the bus stop where jeepneys going to Tagaytay are parked.
2. Take a jeepney from Balibago with the signboard Tagaytay. Fare from Balibago to Tagaytay is 45 pesos. The ride takes about an hour.
3. Alight at the drop off area of the jeepney terminal in Tagaytay and take another jeepney with the signboard People's Park. Fare is only 10 pesos. The ride is only 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Entrance at People's Park in the Sky is 30 pesos. At the gate, jeepneys are available that will take visitors to the viewing point of the park where souvenir shops, cottages, shrine and several other amenities are located. Taking the jeepney up costs 40 pesos per trip for a maximum of 6 persons per trip. Going up by walking only takes about 10 to 15 minutes, so taking a jeepney is not necessary unless you prefer. In my case, I opted walking.
5. From People's Park in the Sky head down to Picnic Groove. Jeepney fare costs 15 pesos. Picnic Groove entrance fee is only 50 pesos.
6. Picnic Groove to Tagaytay terminal costs 8 pesos.
7. Tagaytay terminal to Balibago costs 45 pesos.
8. Balibago to Buendia costs 61 pesos.
To sum it all, I only spend exactly 327 pesos. 

Yes I Fly With Air Asia Zest

Air Asia Zest aircraft in Lumbia International Airport
As I mentioned from my previous post, I arrived Laguindingan International Airport too early just to make sure I would not miss my first ever Air Asia Zest flight. Well, on my part, I was just doing the normal stuff travelers should be doing to avoid missing a flight. For those who hasn't missed a single flight so far, keep it up as you were doing just the right thing. Missing a flight not only costs you some of your valuable time but also it costs you money. 
I just had my first ever Air Asia Zest flight almost a week ago. It was one good flight though I am afraid to say that it's not the best one. But to be fair I would say that it's not a bad one either. 
Just like everybody else, I always wanted to get to the destination on time  but my flight yesterday was delayed for almost about an hour. The delay was due to air traffic congestion in Manila most probably. Departure time should be at 2:40 PM. By 2:30 PM Air Asia Zest personnels were already on stand-by at the boarding gate counter at Gate 1 but minutes later they were all gone. Well that only suggests one thing, flight Z2 549 will be delayed and so it was. Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines flights also suffer slight delays but at least these airlines made announcement over the public address about the delay of the flight. But for this Air Asia Zest flight bound for Manila, there was nothing. 
Flight attendant during safety demo
Boarding time eventually began at 3:00 PM but when everybody were onboard and the aircraft doors were closed, the pilot announced that take off time would be delayed for about 12 to 15 minutes. Argh...did we got any option?  The answer was NO but anyway I already got used to this. 
Finally, the plane took off Laguindingan International Airport. The flight was smooth except for the moderate air turbulence the aircraft encountered during its ascend but was gone when the plane reached its cruising altitude. I woke up so early yesterday so I slept mostly with the duration of the flight. 
Air Asia Zest operation is at NAIA Terminal 4, the old domestic terminal building of NAIA. Honestly, I like arriving at Terminal 4 - no long walks to take and within just a short distance, I am standing in front of the luggage carousel waiting for my check-in luggage to appear. For the first time ever, my luggage came out from the luggage handling area so fast and was the number 2 luggage lodged at the carousel or luggage conveyor. 
By 5 PM I was out from the domestic terminal and queued up for the metered yellow taxi cab. I always prefer taking the yellow taxi cab over the white ones and I suggest you do the same too. If you want to avoid fighting with the taxi driver for over charging or asking extra amount from what appears on the meter, avoid the white taxis at the airport. By the way let me stress here that not all white taxi drivers are doing this, but for the sake of comfortable, convenient and argument-free taxi ride, go straight for the yellow taxis. The rate for the yellow cab is a bit higher compared to the white cab but it's worth the ride. If I got it right, yellow taxi charged a flat down rate of Php 70.00 for the first 500 meters and Php 4.00 for every succeeding 300 meters. And one more thing, I feel more secure and safe with the yellow taxi cab because they were being monitored by the Manila International Airport Authority and passengers can report any act of abuse or discourtesy to the authority at 09178396242.
So this is it for now and I do hope for a safe, convenient and comfortable travel always for each and everyone of us.

Knocking Off Time With A Dunkin Donut Coffee and Muffin at LaguindinganAirport

I could have left home an hour or two hours later and spent the remaining time with my family but I was a bit skeptical, I am afraid about not catching my flight. This is not my usual route when going to Manila, I usually fly from Ozamis Airport so I really am not sure how long it would take me to get to Laguindingan International Airport. It's better to be early than late as what my friends often told me everytime I started to whine about being too early. But anyway, what matters most is to catch my 2:40 PM Air Asia Zest flight for Manila and that's it...LOL...
When flying I normally opt for the lowest air ticket I could get, I am a wise traveler though. But two nights ago, I booked for flight Z2 594 of Air Asia Zest for the sake of curiousity. I could get about a hundred peso less with Cebu Pacific Air but I proceed booking my flight with Air Asia Zest. 
Air Asia Zest is the newest air carrier joining the other fleets of budget airlines serving Philippines. Actually Zest Air had been flying the Philippine skies long before it merged with Air Asia but I haven't made a single flight with the airline. So, this will be my very first time to fly with Air Asia Zest.
It's still three hours more before my experience with Air Asia Zest should begin. While waiting for that moment to come, filling my gastronomic craving with a coffee and a muffin from a Dunkin Donut outlet at the airport is obviously the best I can get or the only alternative I got here actually to knock off time.

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