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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you, 2013!

Just like the previous years, 2013 was another year to be thankful for.  It may not be a perfect year for me but another experience, another learning was imparted to me this year.

Beach from Pimalai Resort and Spa
For my personal life, I'm happy that my relationship with my boyfriend is still going strong.  You really get to know each other when you travel together.  And this year was the test of our patience and understanding when we both traveled to places we've never been, locally and internationally.  Though it may not be a perfect trip as our attitudes were put to a test, I'm glad we were able to survive it happily and those memories are one of those to be treasured.

For my career, I'm glad that I'm always blessed with challenges on my work.  And because I endure those challenges, I was noticed and an advancement for my career happened.  I hope I will continue to do good and perform well that will be pleasing to the management eventhough there were times that I really want to give up.  But through prayers and patience, I am still here.  Thank God!

For my family, this year was when an unexpected event happened that tests our togetherness.  I am glad that we survived it and we continue to stick together and love one another.  Through thick and thin, to whatever challenges we will face, through all those hurtful times, my family will continually to grow as one.

For my passion: writing, i am happy that my blog is starting to earn! It may not be that big but I'm glad for the advertisers who believed in my blog. I'm also thankful to my followers, readers and friends for all the likes, comments and viewing/reading my blog and page.  I appreciate your time and your gratitudes in making my blog useful to you.  I still have a lot to share, hopefully I'll write more next year.

Lastly, for my another passion: traveling, thank God I'm still alive and all my travels were safe and fun!  I may not have traveled enough or as much as the previous years but I will try my best to impart and share useful information and tips about my travel adventures.  I cannot promise nor say more travel next year (as my priorities may have changed) but hopefully I can still visit places I've never been to.

Thank you everyone for being part of my 2013.  Thank you 2013 for the experience and memories. Thanks to you who are reading this.  Thank you thank you thank you!  See you again next year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

GMovies App: Convenience at Your Fingertips

I had the GMovies app for several months now.  But I only use it to view movie schedules on various cinemas.  It was just yesterday when I fully utilize its feature, that is buying movie tickets using my mobile phone, a real convenience at your fingertips.

GMovies is powered by Globe.  Even if it is under Ayala Group of companies, you will see movie schedules on various cinemas around the metro and even key cities around the Philippines like Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Pampanga and many others.  But unfortunately, at this time, you can only buy tickets on cinemas managed by the Ayala Malls Group.  But I don't think one has to worry about it since Ayala Malls has been continually expanding all over the Philippines.  They have Marquee Mall in Pampanga, Harbour Point in Subic, Ayala Center in Cebu, Abreeza Mall in Davao and Centrio Mall in Cagayan de Oro.

The GMovies app enables user to browse movie schedules currently on showing with a brief synopsis and even movie rating from rotten tomatoes.  Users can also view nearest cinema on their current location.

Yesterday, we decided to watch Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy.  Knowing its Metro Manila Film Festival season (meaning long queues in buying tickets and possibility of seats to be sold out fast), we decided to purchase tickets online.  Our choice of cinema was Glorietta as it is the nearest to my place.  I used to have a Sure Seats account, where you can reserve tickets and just pay upon arrival on the cinema (managed by Ayala malls) but I already forgot my credentials there so I tried buying tickets using GMovies app.  Here's what I did.

1. Select the movie of your choice. Click the Showtimes button. The list of nearby cinemas will be shown.

2. Select your preferred cinema.  I picked Glorietta 4.  Various schedules will be shown with corresponding price.  In case of our preferred movie, it is available in Cinema 3 and 4 in Glorietta.

3. Select your prefered schedule.  The available seats will be shown on your chosen schedule.  Select your preferred seat/s then click Buy button.

4.  Once you click Buy, you will proceed with the payment options.  Currently, there are 3 options available as shown below.  I read that Gcash payment will be available soon.  You may double check your prefered schedule and seat as indicated in the upper right portion of your app. 

5.  In our case, we chose the credit card payment option.  For credit card purchases, you will be charged an additional 20 pesos per ticket.  This is the same amount charged by sure seats for reservation.  Input your email address on the pop up screen then you will be directed to Peso Pay payment facility.

6.  At the Peso Pay payment facility, you will be asked to choose between Visa or Master Card payment.  Once you have chosen any of these, you will then input your credit card details.

7.   You are done!  A payment confirmation will be shown on your screen once done.  Since this is my first transaction using this app, I just screen grabbed the payment confirmation.  I checked my email and there was no email yet, but a got it on a later time.

When I received the email, there were some instructions there on how to claim the tickets.    Specifically for credit card transactions, one must print the email confirmation and bring the card card used for the payment.  But since I don't have printer at home, I'm hopeful that presenting the email from my mobile will suffice.

Upon arriving at Glorietta, since I am familiar with Sure Seats transaction, we fall in line at the Sure Seats counter.  The lady asked me to log in my credentials at Sure Seats website but I told her I made transactions using GMovies so she told me to just go directly in the cinema to get our tickets.  Wow, what a convenience, I thought.

At the cinema, the lady at the entrance was asking for the print out but I told her I don't have it and asked where can I print it.  She told me I can have the email confirmation printed at the Sure Seats counter, I told her that it was them who told me to just go directly at the cinema.  I also said if she can just copy the barcode details instead.  She asked her colleague and she said to her to just copy the barcode while telling me to have it printed next time.  Well, that was not quite a convenience at that time.

It was just now that I learned through the GMovies app via My Tickets tab that indeed I no longer need the printed email.  

The lady at the Sure Seats counter was correct but unfortunately, the lady at the cinema entrance may not be familiar with it or maybe because I didn't tell her that I purchased tickets through GMovies.

This is really very convenient, a true convenience at your fingertips.  You can purchase your tickets anytime, anywhere.  I hope payment through ATM via online banking will be available soon.  Besides, BPI, another Ayala Group, have an online banking facility.  I prefer debiting my cash rather than paying through credit card.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

My boyfriend and I had an overnight layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after our Krabi trip in Thailand.  It may seem like a lot of time but it's not since we will be arriving in LCC Terminal at about 5pm.  Then the next day, our flight back to Manila is at around 12:40pm.  So basically we just have the night to explore Kuala Lumpur.  With that, we just thought of visiting Petronas Towers and KL Tower.  Good thing, I read that the Petronas Tower is more beautiful at night.  By the way, this is our first visit in Malaysia.  Read below on how our short but memorable trip went.

From LCC Terminal (LCCT), we decided to ride the bus, Sky Bus to be specific, to get to KL Sentral.  As per research, travel time will take about an hour and 15 minutes.  Another way to get to KL Sentral is by train.  But the train from the airport is located in KLIA terminal, which is about 15 minutes away by bus or shuttle from LCCT.  If by train, travel time is only about 40 minutes.

Sky Bus ticket
Then from KL Sentral, we rode the rapidKL train (Kelana Jaya line) going to KLCC station.  Travel time is about 17 minutes.  The Petronas Towers is just a short walking distance from KLCC station.

rapidKL token

The Petronas Towers
We arrived at KLCC station at around 8pm already.  Upon disembarking the station, you will be passing by a shopping mall.  I just forgot its name.  We were kinda lost upon exiting the train and we found ourselves inside this mall.  The concierge gladly showed us how to go to Petronas Towers, which was really walking distance outside the mall.  Outside the mall, we can already see the tall Petronas Towers.

Petronas Towers at night

picture taken by our kababayan

I was instantly amazed at its tall majestic structure with lights opened at the building.  Viewing Petronas Towers at night was indeed a good sight.  There were quite a number of people taking pictures outside of the building.  We even heard and see several Filipinos in the area.  With that, we were able to ask them to take a picture of us.  People around were quite friendly, whatever one's nationality is, because I've seen different people asking to take pictures of them.

KL Tower
From research, I learned that KL Tower is just near the Petronas Towers.  It is suggested to walk rather than take a cab since you might be stuck in traffic.  I read that we must take the P. Ramlee street but when we asked some security guards around, they pointed us in the other way.  I insisted my boyfriend to take the P. Ramlee street but I didn't argue further.

KL Tower from afar

We stopped here, it seems like KL Tower is nearer

Because we took the "longer way", we got tired and just decided to go to our hotel, which is at the Nilai area.  Along the way, my boyfriend buys some cigarette in a small store.  It was quite expensive at RM 12 to RM 14 per pack.  The store owner told us to be cautious in passing by small streets as there were some pick pocketers around.  I thought that was a nice gesture but it made us quite afraid in walking around the city at night.  That was past 9pm already and going to Nilai from KL Sentral would take us about an hour travel time. Our travel going to hotel was the most memorable one.

Nilai Hotel
From KLCC station, we rode the same train, rapidKL, in going back to KL Sentral station.  From KL Sentral, we took the KTM Komuter train (Rawang Seremban line) going to Nilai station. It was almost 10pm when we rode the train.  Travel time is about 58 minutes, almost an hour.  Few stations before Nilai, my boyfriend sees that its less people already outside each station.  He is worried that we might not easily get to our hotel.  The hotel I chose was about 2-3km from Nilai station.  I chose this area as it is just 30 minutes away from KLIA by bus.  Also from Nilai station, the bus terminal going to the airport is just walking distance.

train station in KL Sentral

inside KTM Komuter train

Ticket of KTM Komuter
I explained all these to my boyfriend so he wouldn't worry that much.  But deep inside, I was also kinda worried myself as it is getting late already.

We arrived at Nilai station at almost 11pm already.  We immediately asked around where New Nilai Hotel is located.  Several people provided us with several answers.  Some say that we cannot go there by walking as it is far while some say it can be done.  This made us wonder who was telling the truth and how far really is our hotel from Nilai station.  We thought of getting a taxi but I was worried our money will not be enough as I opted to pay in cash on our hotel reservation even if I booked via agoda.  Another option we thought was to ride the bus going to the airport and just spend the night there.  Our hotel reservation will be forfeited and we will still be charged/debited through the credit card enrolled in agoda.  A few more walks around the area we saw the police station.  The gate was closed but a policeman was outside.  My boyfriend asked them if they knew our hotel.  For some reason, what they say was the one we believed in.  They say that it is located about 2 blocks away, on the second stoplight, about 3 km distance.  We can walk but since its already late at night, they advised us that might not be safe.  They told us we can ride a taxi but I know, from research, night taxi rate is higher than day rate.  As I've mentioned, our money will not be enough to pay for the taxi.  We thought of our second option but the policeman told us that there were no longer buses arriving at the terminal at that late time of the night going to the airport.  I was already worried, frustrated, mixed emotions and deep inside I was already praying.  It is already the last night of our vacation yet we don't have any place to sleep and rest.  What an opposite situation from our luxurious accommodation in Thailand!

Nilai police station post, at the back of the picture is the bus terminal

Nilai police station entrance
Then all of a sudden, the policeman we talked to offered to take us to our hotel.  We couldn't believe what we heard but we already took the offer.  Words of gratitude came from me and my boyfriend's mouth from riding the policeman's car up to our hotel.  That was the first time I felt "no words can really express how thankful we were".  My boyfriend wanted to hand him some payment but the policeman refused. We were really thankfuk to him.  And indeed, our hotel was quite near the Nilai station and can be reached by walking.

Once at the hotel, we were already quite relieved, though my boyfriend is still worried about our safety in Nilai area.  That was also the first time he told me: "matapang ka talaga" (you're really strong).  I don't know why he said that or what he really meant about it.  But I know I made him worried a lot, not for himself but for me and my safety.  To me, this experience is an adventure but scary.  Prayers can still do wonders and God is good all the time.

The next day, from our hotel, we just walked towards the bus terminal.  From Nilai bus terminal to KLIA, we took the Airport Liner.  Travel time is about 20-30 minutes.  Waiting time or bus interval is about every 20 minutes so it is important to be early at the bus terminal to wait for the bus.

Airport Liner ticket
I like the ticketing system of Airport Liner.  Even though there are 2 doors in the bus, everyone must enter in the front, at the driver's side, since the bus ticket is printed there.  They have like a POS ticketing system where the driver inputs the number of passengers and destination then the ticket will print the amount.

Here's the breakdown of our expenses (for 2) in our layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Bus from airport to KL Sentral - RM 18
Train from KL Sentral to KLCC station - RM 3.20
KLCC station to KL Sentral - RM 3.20
Mc Do dinner - RM 21.95

Train from KLSentral to Nilai station - RM 9.40
New Nilai Hotel - RM 60 (watch out for my blog about this hotel)
Nilai bus terminal to KLIA -  RM 6.40
KFC lunch (at KLIA) - RM 27.50
Souvenirs (at KLIA) - RM 44.70

TOTAL - RM 194.35 (Php 2,600+ approx.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Surigao Adventure: Day 2d - The Beach

After the caves, we visited a small island/beach during our Sohoton tour.  I forgot the name of this beach but it was nice, quiet beach.  The shoreline is short but it has fine white sand.  Crushed corals can also be seen along the shoreline and on the shallow waters.  The beach was clean, clear with small fishes around.  It was only us who were at that beach that time.  Not much to say about this beach, just sharing with you these pictures we captured with it.

Small beach
Closer to the beach
Beach with some rock formations
Another rock formations, with the other couple on our tour

Fine white sand

Unique rock structure, spade shaped.  This has white sands inside.
Clear water with some rocks/corals

Underwater shot
Underwater shot

This beach side trip is part of the Bucas Grande Island tour which was explored during our Day 2 Surigao Adventure.