Birthday Cruise : Keelung, Taiwan

For my birthday last year my parents decided to go on a short cruise around Japan/Taiwan, and as a special treat they told me I could invite a friend to come with us! As soon as they told me, I contacted Brinky who immediately jumped on board. Princess Cruises had a “Buy 2 Get 2 Free” promo during this period, so it was perfect. My parents booked their trips at a regular rate and Brinks and I were the “Get 2 Free“. (Of course there were still taxes and plane tickets to be paid, but the cruise fares were waived :D)

The cruise begins in Keelung, Taiwan so we took an early flight to get there.

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Kupos in pink

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Hello Taiwan!

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We booked a shuttle to pick us up from the airport and take us to the port

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During our last cruise my parents were finally upgraded to Platinum status, so we were able to skip the long check in lines this time around, yay!

The ship we would be sailing on is the Golden Princess, which is actually the same ship we were on during our Alaskan cruise (you can find my blog entries about that by clicking HERE). That was my very first cruise, so this ship holds a special place in my heart. Being back on board made us feel really happy, and we even met a few crew members who were there with us during our Alaskan cruise – and some of them actually remembered us! Pretty amazing considering that was two years ago and they usually have about 2000 passengers on board for each voyage.

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Ceiling shot while waiting for the elevators

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The crew was setting up for the champagne waterfall to be held that evening

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Pretty~

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Europe 2016 : Montenegro and Sicily

Finally writing the last entry from our trip last year. I can’t believe it took me almost an entire year to finish everything!

After leaving Corfu, the Royal Princess took us back to Kotor (Montenegro). Since it’s our second visit, we decided not to sign up for a tour and just explore Old Town. We were able to see it last time, but we didn’t spend that much time looking around since we wanted to get back on the ship immediately to have lunch. As I mentioned in my last entry about Kotor’s Old Town, I really love how it makes me feel like I traveled back in time:

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I loved all the stone bricks and the cobblestone roads ❤

However, seeing all the cafes around the area will remind you that we’re in the 21st century

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We mostly walked around and checked out the many gift shops in the area.

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Europe 2016 : Santorini and Mykonos

This is another photo-heavy post from the next three days of our cruise last July. In my previous entry (read here) I talked about our visit to Crete, Mykonos and Athens. In this one we explore Santorini, Mykonos (again) and Corfu (again … sort of).

When my dad signed us up for this cruise, one of the places I looked forward to the most was Santorini. I’ve read a lot of blogs and watched several videos of people visiting Santorini on the internet and it always looks amazing, so to finally have the chance to see it for myself felt unreal.

When we arrived in Santorini we had to use the tender service to go ashore

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Hello Santorini

After about a 20-minute boat ride, we made it to solid ground

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We met our guide at the port and she showed us our bus which would take us to our first location. On the way there we spotted several buildings with blue domes which Santorini is famous for:

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As I mentioned in my previous Mykonos entry, we were told that these blue domes indicate that these churches. There are a lot of them not just in Santorini but many parts of Greece because it’s common for rich families to own private churches.

Our first activity for the day was wine tasting. It was the middle of the day and that was apparently the best time to get drunk :p

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We tried three kinds of wine : white, dry red and dessert. Personally I like the white wine the best. The dessert was pretty good too but *way* too sweet.

They served plenty of olives, cheese, and bread there to combat the sweetness:

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There was a view deck nearby so after getting our fill of alcohol we headed over to take some photos

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We could see our cruise ship from there 😀 Hello Princess!

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Our next stop was the town of Oia. When people say “Santorini” this is the place they probably have in mind – the one that appears in postcards and travel photos, the one that has the three famous blue domes. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find the exact spot that would give you the best angle of the three domes, but you can sort of see them in this shot:

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And here:

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(They’re kinda small in the background though)

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Europe 2016 : Crete, Mykonos and Athens

(This is entry has three days worth of photos from our Mediterranean cruise last July, so once again it’s going to be pretty long.)

This post picks up from where I left off where I talked about our adventures in Montenegro and Corfu (blog entry HERE). After Corfu we remained in Greece and explored the island of Crete.

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Based on the brochure they gave us we learned that Crete is the birthplace of Zeus and the Minotaur. Our tour that day consisted of the Knossos Palace ruins and the city of Heraklion (which translates to Hercules City)

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Just like our tour in Naples and Pompeii, our guide utilized these radios so we can hear her from afar. The Knossos Palace is very big and packed with tourists so these were once again very helpful.

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She also gave us a map of Heraklion since we would later have 2 and 1/2 hrs to explore the city on our own.

At the Knossos Palace we mostly saw ruins of the old buildings. It was very large and was estimated to have been built sometime around 1700 to 1400 BC. It was believed to be the center and heart of the Minoan culture during that period.

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Our guide told us that these pillars and fresco of a bull (or was it a minotaur?) is the most iconic symbol of the Knossos palace. I’m not entirely sure why.

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Europe 2016 : Champagne Waterfall, Kotor (Montenegro) and Corfu (Greece)

This entry contains three days worth of photos so it’s going to be pretty long. You have been warned :p

After walking around Naples and Pompeii we were able to take a break because the following day was a sea day. That meant we were able to sleep in, eat a late breakfast and lounge around the ship the whole day. Instead of staying in our room we decided to go out on the 7th floor deck and enjoy the sea breeze.

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My mom brought her tablet so she could watch kdramas while I read The False Prince (Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy)

We stayed there until it was time for lunch. After stuffing ourselves at the buffet we went to the Vista Lounge to attend a talk about Art History.

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Here we learned about the works of Peter Max. I’ve never heard of him before but his art can be found everywhere! You’ve probably seen one of his pieces at one point. His art is often very bright and psychedelic.

After the talk we headed back to our room to nap and woke up in time for the champagne waterfall event that was being held at the Atrium. We’ve participated in other champagne waterfall events on cruises before but so far this is the best photo we’ve gotten. Most of the time they make it really difficult for your companions to take photos of you, so you’re forced to rely on the official photographer and buy the photo from them (which costs about 20USD). But this time the Maitre D’ was extremely nice. He even asked me who was taking my photo and told me to look over there so that my dad could get a good shot of me.

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My parents also had their turn to go up there while I took photos of them

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Thank you so much Generoso!

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It was our first formal night on the ship, and in an attempt to be more glamorous I tried false lashes for the first time. I bought them from the airport on our way over to this cruise. I expected them to fall off halfway through dinner but surprisingly they stayed on the whole night.

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Europe 2016 : Aboard the Royal Princess + Naples and Pompeii

This is a almost a year overdue, but I’ve finally started editing the vlogs and photos from our Mediterranean cruise last July. I don’t know how many vlogs/blog entries I’m going to end up with, but our trip lasted 15 days. So far I’ve been able to finish 6 vlogs (haven’t uploaded some of them yet) from our first 6 days there, but I’m hoping I can fit several days worth of footage into one vlog towards the later part of our trip. This entry contains vlogs #1 and #2 (at the very end) and some photos taken from those days.

Our journey began with a 2-hr flight to Hong Kong, a 9-hr layover, a 13-hr flight to Rome and a 1-hr bus ride to the port of Civitavecchia, where we boarded the Royal Princess cruise ship.

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Here’s my dad and me at NAIA, waiting for our flight

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Hello Hong Kong!

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Once we landed, we had 9 hours to kill before our connecting flight to Rome. We read online that there was an IMAX cinema in the airport so we figured we’d look for it and catch a movie to pass the time.

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We spotted this cutie in our search for the theater

We eventually found it but the only thing showing was Star Trek and we weren’t huge fans so we decided to look around the entertainment center, which was located in the same place

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Finding Dory 2 was released a few weeks before our trip

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Suicide Squad hasn’t been released but they had a lot of promotional materials there

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Chibi Iron Man

(We looked at their aviation exhibit, which was pretty interesting, but I didn’t take photos. However, I did take a lot of short videos which I included in my vlog.)

We ended up just hanging out at the airport, making use of the free wifi until our flight to Rome. Finally, after 9 long hours it was time for us to board again.

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Our departure time was 40 minutes past midnight, and by the time we were at the gate I couldn’t wait to get on the plane so I could sleep. The flight was 13 hours long and I pretty much slept through the entire thing. My mom woke me up for dinner and again for breakfast, but aside from that I was out cold the whole time.

Finally, after more than 24 hours of travel, we made it to Rome 🙂

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Yay!!! My first steps on European soil (err… pavement? … tiles?)

Once we made it through immigration and customs we looked for the Princess Cruises employees.

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We dropped off our bags with them and took a shuttle to the port of Civitavecchia where our ship would be waiting. Since it was still pretty early and check-in isn’t usually until around 11am, our guide took us on a panoramic bus tour of Rome. He didn’t let us get off the bus but he made sure to pass by some of the famous landmarks around the city

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Like the colosseum

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Kuala Lumpur 2017

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I recently went to Malaysia to attend a conference. It was held in Penang but my colleagues and I decided to spend a day in Kuala Lumpur before heading back home to Manila. There’s no direct flight from Penang to Manila anyway, so we were going to stop by KL no matter what, we might as well make the most of it.

Our flight was at 7am so we left our airbnb at around 4:30am. Our host was kind enough to arrange a vehicle for us because we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get an Uber that early in the morning.

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We caught the sun rising while we were on the plane

Once we arrived at KL, we booked a van from the airport to take us to our hotel. We didn’t really have concrete plans on how we were going to spend our afternoon but fortunately the hotel had a tour desk and we decided to avail of their 6-hr city tour. We arranged to meet our tour guide at around 1pm so that we could have lunch first. We found a street near our hotel that was lined with small restaurants and we just chose one at random.

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The food wasn’t good and it was overpriced, but at least Dustin enjoyed their cendol

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It was his first time trying it. It’s not the best I’ve had, but compared to the other things we ordered this was pretty good. Still, my sweet tooth wasn’t that satisfied. Fortunately we passed by a convenience store and I was able to pick up a pink magnum.

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Yay~.

Back at the hotel, we freshened up a bit before getting started with our tour. The first place our guide brought us to was the Sultan Abdul Samad Building

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I’m not sure what it was for (since our guide mainly just drove us around and didn’t give us that much background information about the places we went to), but it’s beautiful.

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Next up on the itinerary was the national monument

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The place was built in honor of the people who fought for Malaysia’s freedom during World War II

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