Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CH200: Renewed - Taipei!

So, finally, the Taipei trip is beginning to take shape! I've booked our hotel and tours during the length of the stay all in one day (yesterday, Tuesday, Jan 21) - the day when my credit card cycle was reset. A lot of stress leading up to that day considering the expenses leftover from the previous cycle (which should be settled soon!!!). So far, I have below itinerary drafted out.

430pm: Arrive
Take Bus to city and train to hotel
Explore Area (Ximending)

10am: Arrival
1pm -6pm: Wulai Aboriginal Village Tour (1500 NTD/pax)
7pm: Shilin Night Market"

8am-12nn: Northern Coast Tour (Keeling City, Keelung Harbour, Buddha Statue, Yeliu Park, Queen's Head)
1pm-6pm: Tour (Chiufen Village, Chinkuashih Village,Pitou Cape, Nanya Rock Formations, Bay of Two Colors)
7pm: Long Shan Temple
8pm: Hwahsi Night Market

8am-12nn: Tour (Presidential Building, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Martyr's Shrine, Traditional Taiwanese Temple, National Palace Museum, Handicraft Center)
1pm-3pm: Confucius Temple, Xingtian Temple
4pm: Taipei 101 Mall
5pm: Go up Taipei 101
6pm: Dinner Taipei101 Mall Shopping
8pm: Ximending Shopping

9am: Maokong Gondola Ride and Maokong  (Zhinan Temple) Mountain walk
12nn: Lunch at one of Maokong Mountain Tea House
2pm: Sun Yat Sen Memorial
3pm: Fine Arts Museum
5pm: More shopping at Ximending(in case Ma didn’t get enough)
7pm: Dinner in Ximending Area
9pm: Pack and head to airport for Mama's flight

1am: Mama's flight
Clubbing till late
Checkout before leaving hotel?
11am: Museum of Contemporary Arts
1pm: National Taiwan Museum
230pm:  Pack and Prepare to leave for airport
3pm: Airport
535pm: Flight
1030pm: Singapore

The hotel I booked is quite okay looking based on the pictures. It looks hip. We're staying in the Ximending area so we're close to some shopping areas and food places. I guess, I had it as a priority to stay in the area after reading that the hip bars are also around there. I have time on the 28th and Feb 2 by myself and I'm not going to spend that stuck in a room watching cable! ;)

Now, as the 28th of January approaches, I'm getting more and more excited! I just hope that during the tour and going around that it won't be super crowded. I also hope that there won't be any traffic jams during our tour that could jeopardize the timing. I opted to go for the tours so my mom doesn't have to go around walking too much or commuting. This vacation after all was organize as her 60th birthday celebration! Although, so far, the only contributors I have from the family is my dad who committed to shell out 500 usd to pay for a bracelet/watch/jewelry as a gift to my mom (awwww....).

Now, time to start organizing the finances! I want to be able to shop for some things when I do get there and not just have to carry my mom's spoils for her. The night markets in Taipei are something I also look forward to experiencing. Forget the diet (again!), time to binge on street food and maybe try a shot of snake blood.

Anyone been to Taipei who can suggest places to visit based on the itinerary? I've researched through several sources like tripadvisor, wikia, and other apps geared for travelling (Triposo, etc) and that's the best I can come up with suited for a gen-y and senior citizen haha.

Friday, January 17, 2014

CH199: FML

I thought I had been carefully monitoring my expenses after the Christmas splurge, but OMG FML!
I still have 3 days to go before my credit card cut-off. I can't wait for it to be the 20th of January already so I can escape the amount that's haunting me. And also because it will follow that the 24th is arriving and I can pay off my credit card and get back in the green.

I have to blame for the most part the Bangkok protests! Blame game! If there wasn't any uprising or as it turns out violence (as of today, there have been reported incidents of bombing aside from the peaceful rally and mobilizations), the trip would have pushed through and I won't be in the red! Then I wouldn't have had to hustle to get airplane tickets for me and my mom rebooked (or bought new ones) to Taiwan.


Oh well, I knew it could have ended up as such considering I've ended once before even in a deeper shade of red in terms of expenses (that time I think was over-the-holiday expenses and last minute booking of a trip to New Zealand last year). To offset the sudden dip in mood, I decided to inquire on the air miles I've accumulated since getting my ANZ last October and I was pleasantly surprised that I've earned 10,000 points/miles already. That means, I have 60,000 miles as of the moment and I can accumulate more and offset the cost of going to Europe/America on April (or maybe June so it doesn't feel like I'm debilitating myself financially!)

God! Please let time go faster and let it be the 20th already. I can't wait to put behind me the horror of expense.

3600+ SGD. About twice the norm. ARGH!

Boom. I'm broke. But, I'm happy. #ironic

It just occured to me, I only promised my mom Hotel costs as my sister would have shouldered my mom's air tickets. Haha, oh please mum! Can I get cash for Christmas? :)

And also on the happy news, my sister is finally pregnant and I'm going to have another niece!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CH198: Derailed

2014 isn't looking too good for planning and travel. I booked flights for me and my mom going to Bangkok for the Chinese New Year. I got her tickets via PAL from MNL to BKK and CEB from BKK to MNL before all the outburst that is happening now in Thailand. I got my tickets via Jetstar.

From the pictures and the news, it does seem blown out of proportion considering when I look through Twitter to help assess the situation, it doesn't seem dangerous or at all violent. But, it has been driving me crazy having to monitor the situation and not being able to decide whether to push through with it or not. I've been holding off on booking hotels because I don't want to have to add another layer of uncertainty and rebooking and other administrative tasks just to change plans last minute!

So, today, I decided to rebook my mom's CEB flight instead from TPE to MNL and got new flights for her via PAL for her MNL to TPE flight. Meanwhile, I used wego to find cheap flights and found one roundtrip for 580 SG to TPE. So, yes, we're going to Taiwan instead for Chinese New Year. A bit of stress now gone, but a bit stressed with the expenses! Now, I might not be able to push through with my plans to do Amsterdam-Paris-Barcelona for April because of cost considerations since I'm trying to stay in the green with credit card spending and avoid having to touch my savings.

Anyway, that's just me typically stressing about things. The good thing is that at least we don't have to worry about anything happening to us when we do go to BKK like in case they shutdown the airport since the elections is scheduled on the 2nd of February (Travel plans are from 29th Jan to 2nd Feb). Plus, I don't want the unnecessary pressure of disappointment from my Dad and Mom considering it should be a wonderful celebration of my mom's 60th birthday!

Time to research about the places to go and hotel to stay in Taiwan! I haven't even considered the fact that based on what I've heard from friends, the language barrier is quite strong in Taiwan!

An interesting note though - I saw online that as of August 8, 2013, Philippine passport holders who have valid entry visa to US, Japan, UK, New Zealand and Australia (and maybe some other countries I forgot to note down), can apply online to get a clearance certificate and avoid the hassle of applying for a Taiwan visa. So, my 10 year US visa has served another purpose! Will have yet to see how the process goes, as far as booking and other things are concerned, I'm done for the day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

CH197: Commissioned

I was telling my sister and brother in law a couple of days ago in our family group chat how their walls looked white and barren. Considering they're expecting a baby soon, I told them they should probably hang paintings.

So the other night I asked my sister:
Me: hey, give me 3 words you want to be the central theme for a painting I'll do you.
Sis: okay! Paint me, healthy beautiful baby.
Me: that's just 1 word with baby being the subject!
Sis: okay, paint me new year, reunion and baby!
Me: OMG! That's so simplistic!
Sis: what do you want? Okay paint me New Zealand, Singapore and philippines!
Me: haha I'm not that good of a painter! Nevermind! I'll think of the themes myself. I'll paint you, baby, family and God (Since my Sister is quite religious)

Here's the result of 2 hours painting at Arteastiq at Mandarin Gallery. For 50-60 sgd (I didn't check the price that was charged earlier lol).

To explain the themes, the four panels represent each member of the family.

Mom and dad. Mom being the (red) heart of the family, and my dad (in blue green to symbolize that he was the money earner - green dollars)

My sister and brother in law. My sister in pink coming from my mom's red. My brother in law in brown as a neutral color and pure Filipino descent. And the baby, because we don't know the sex yet, symbolized by the circle in pink and brown.

My brother's family. My brother in green stemming from my dad's blue green. My sister in law in purple. My nephew in yellow striped white because yellow is his favorite color. And pink and red flowers for my niece simply because.

The last panel of course is for myself. The blue comes from dad, and the mushroom stemming from CP calling me shroom because according to him, my head is "shroomy."

The cross at the center of the picture will be representative of God. I may not be very religious anymore, but For my sister I had to incorporate it haha. It's still symbolic of what binds the family together.

All in all, a pleasant afternoon after an early afternoon at the gym. Now I just have to figure out how I can send the commissioned art work to my sister in LA!