Just checkin’ in! Changi Airport T4 Open House

Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 opens October 31, 2017! They built it in under three years. It’s situated where the old Budget Terminal used to be. Terminal 4 or T4 is not connected to Terminals 1 to 3 via the Skytrain service. But shuttles will be provided.

If the video won’t play, you can click to see it on YouTube here.

The open house was a wonderful opportunity to check out the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) feature. These include the self check-in (already available at the other terminals), automated Bag-Drop and Boarding Gates with facial recognition technology, and new centralised screening areas.

It is a sparkling new compact terminal that will service budget carriers like AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. It will also cater to Cathay Pacific and Korean Air. Changi Airport is Skytrax World’s Best Airport for five consecutive years. Business Insider describes it as having “received praise from flyers for its beautiful architecture, efficient operation, luxurious amenities, and dining and shopping options.”

Other upcoming megastructures include Project Jewel, a lustrous facility with vortex waterfalls that will bridge the first three terminals together. And a fifth terminal megastructure with a new runway set to open in the next decade.

Video

Review: Boracay Haven Resort

Boracay Haven Resort was our team’s lodging during the 11th Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (BIDBF) from 20-22 April 2017.

I think it’s the best one I stayed at during a dragon boat race. This is third year in a row I participated at the BIDBF.

  • 2015, La Carmela de Boracay – the expansions give the resort a “mass tourism” taste to it, I did not enjoy my stay here.
  • 2016, Deparis Beach Resort – rustic, centrally located, great restaurant area

I was happy with Boracay Haven Resort. Its location is right at the heart of Station 2 (next to Henann Garden Resort and the McDonalds). It’s only a two minute walk to the beach down a reasonably sized alley.

I also liked the breakfast buffet spread. I wasn’t expecting much but what was on offer was tasty enough. The pool is a refreshing amenity. Great to take a dip before or after a trip to the beach. The whole idea of Boracay is to get wet and stay wet.

Video

Flight Review: SilkAir Singapore to Kalibo (MI 599)

I can now strike this off the bucket list!

I’ve always wanted to make a flight review video. I used to kill time by watching “flight review” videos on YouTube. When I was a little depressed last year, I would watch videos from the guy behind FlightTravels. It’s like I didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars flying around the world when all I could do is immerse myself in his videos.

Here’s a pocket-sized flight review of my experience on SilkAir flight MI 599 Singapore (SIN) to Kalibo (KLO).

The reason I prefer to fly direct to Kalibo from Singapore is because two years ago I almost missed my connecting flight back to Singapore after delays at NAIA. The bus ride between Kalibo and Caticlan isn’t so bad (the route is scenic).

As of April 2017, Kalibo is currently the only international airport that handles larger jets carrying travellers to Boracay. AFAIK, Caticlan has already expanded its runway but it hasn’t completed a new terminal yet.

When that new terminal opens in Caticlan, huge aircrafts will be bringing more and more tourists to Boracay. It’s good news for tourism but bad news for the environment. I personally can’t wait for Caticlan International Airport to open… but I also hope local government is stepping up to address Boracay’s growing pollution.

Video

Review: Changi Recommends Pocket Wifi for Overseas

Last weekend I was in Boracay for a dragon boat race. I wanted to stay connected but not have the hassle of switching phone numbers or adding an expensive data roaming service.

Then I discovered that the airport we love has a Pocket Wifi service being offered to travellers coming out of Singapore. I booked mine through their website and collected it on the morning of my flight to Kalibo.

I made a video about the experience! Click below to watch.

I guess the questions are…

Did it work?
– Yes, it did! In Kalibo, Caticlan, and Boracay. But there was no signal at some parts along the scenic route between Kalibo and Caticlan.

How’s the speed?
– Fair enough! I got to upload photos on Instagram during the times I had a connection. I got to send messages.

Is the connection stable?
– It was stable enough once you were at a location that seems to be connected. There’s a disclaimer saying that the device may not work well in coastal and mountainous areas. But it worked fine for me in Boracay.

How much did it cost?
– As of April 2017, it costs about S$8.00 per day. The first day is considered free. So I only ended up paying S$24.00 for a four-day trip to Boracay, Philippines.

Any other tips?
– I would purchase insurance (S$10.00) for the device if I were bringing to the Philippines. It’s only $10 for a little peace of mind.

It was a no-frills first experience using Changi Recommends Pocket Wifi for Overseas. I’m planning to use the service again in future travels.

Bekpackr Live from HK – Day 0

 

12:53am (next day), Chungking Mansions

First night = snacks and beer


11:45pm, Chungking Mansions, Kowloon

Bewildering feeling emerging from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR and landing yourself straight into the streets of Hong Kong. This is a very interesting neighborhood of puddles borne by dripping airconditoners and shadows, broken street tiles, and walls of cheap advertisements. Finding the guest house reception on the 16th floor was exciting.


10:39pm, Airport Express HKIA to Kowloon

Just met up with my two friends! We were trying to get pocket wi-fi but discovered later we were queuing for the ones that locals would use when they travel abroad. We decided to buy local SIM cards instead.

toni, ryan, and george go to hong kong

Hong Kong International Airport (Arrivals Hall), 9:21pm

Landed safely! Now waiting for my two friends arriving on Cebu Pacific 5J 142 from Manila. Feeling somewhat of a slight sore throat. This airport is massive and so… clinical. ;p


Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:56pm

Dinner is served. Chicken with Rice. The other option was Seafood Pasta. Ice cream and wine was also served. Finished up “How to Be Single?” and a 50-min cultural documentary about Hong Kong. The flight is smooth.

Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:51pm

How timely and relevant? “How to Be Single?” is my inflight entertainment.

 

Onboard CX734 parked at Gate D32, 4:52pm

Boarded the plane! It’s kind of a dated Boeing 777. The IFE system looks quite old. Reminds me of the 1990s. Plane is packed. See you in Hong Kong!

IFE onboard CX734 to Hong Kong

Changi Airport T1 Gate D32, 4:16pm

The CX aircraft (a Boeing 777) arrived late so there’s an hour delay suddenly. It’s okay since it’s a chance to quietly read the book that I can never seem to finish. I’ve also deleted my Facebook App. I hope it’s a perfect opportunity to zone out.

Reading the “opportunity” chapter.

Changi Airport T1 Departures, 3:28pm

Checked-in! First time to skip the traditional check-in counters and proceed straight to gate after immigration. No bags to drop.

Exchanging some SGDs to HKDs 🙂

17 Jun 2016 (Friday), 2:53pm

En route to Changi Airport to catch the 4:05pm CX flight to Hong Kong. Thank goodness for office summer fridays! First time to fly between these two super-cities.

Boarding Pass all on the phone.

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Family Trip to Coron Pt. 4 – Coron Island Tour

Our 3rd full day in Coron was for the Coron Island Tour. This was also arranged by our hotel (similar to our Island Escapades Tour the previous day and the Smith Point visit on my birthday.) This was probably the most standard of tour packages in Coron– featuring Kayangan Lake.

We were picked up at our hotel at 8:30 AM by a Calamian Island Tours van. The van brought us to the boat jetty nearby (probably a 5-10 minute walk from One Averee Bay Hotel). The boat was already filled with other members of our tour group that morning.

Coron Island was just across the straits. Here were our stops in the order we visited. I took some notes while visiting:

Kayangan Lake – stunningly beautiful (but mosquito-ridden!). Bring and apply OFF! Lotion. You can opt to do some snorkelling to see what’s underneath the lake. You’ll spot some fishes and some rock formations. Suggestion is to be one of the first to arrive at the lake before other groups beat you there. This allows you to take a photo of the lake without people. Try to grab the floating balsa before everyone else. Take your time on the steps up and down as they may be slippery. Definitely one of Coron’s most picturesque.

Coron Coral Garden – A wonderful snorkelling spot. Depth was fine during our visit. No need for slippers when we went in high tide. I spotted beautiful blue fishes and a few jellyfish at the deeper side. You can work with your guides to get you around faster using those flotation circles.

Beach 91 (Lunch Venue) – This was a small beach meant that served the purpose of being a pit stop for tour groups. Pass the rice and be friendly with your group! The waves were beautiful at high tide. Some mosquitos. You can kayak if you want stronger waves. Beach 91 is cornered by towering limestone cliffs.

Japanese Shipwreck – because we couldn’t access Siete Pecados (on our original itinerary), we were brought to a location where you can spot a creepy WWII Japanese shipwreck. You could only see the bow. There were plenty of fishes! I spotted one jellyfish the size of a shopping bag.

CYC Beach – our boat driver and tour guides said that this was one of Coron’s last remaining public beaches since all the other ones were privately owned. We arrived here during low tide which meant the boat was unable to approach the island. Some of us walked to the beach in shallow water. Not much to snorkel but I spotted some shrimps and a larger fish the size of a remote control.

Twin Lagoon – a fantastic finale for our Coron Island tour. It was beautiful approaching the limestone cliffs during late afternoon. There was one lagoon for boats, and another lagoon for people to swim to while wearing life vests. There’s this strange warm and cold water sensation that changes from time to time. Felt like entering a natural IMAX amphitheatre, with voices of tourists echoing. This was probably one of my favourite spots in Coron. Nothing to snorkel at since the water was dark (and mysterious). Wear slippers because some areas are rocky (especially getting through the shallow tunnel portion that links the two lagoons).

At the end of our two days of island tours, it appeared that my family were also having a great time. Which to me means everything. 🙂

The rest in photos…














— End of Part 4 —

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All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 3 – Island Escapades Tour

Our 2nd full day in Coron was for the Island Escapades Tour. Arranged via our hotel, we were picked up at 7:30 AM and brought to the port area for a one and a half hour boat ride across the sea to three islands: Malpacuyo Island, Banana Island, and Bulog Dos.

Getting to these three islands was actually tiresome. With party cloudy skies, the waves were a bit rough and there was plenty of splash. Our first stop was Malpacuyo.

Malpacuyo Island – The strong waves on the beach reminded me of Pagudpod. I immediately went to the water to just take it all in. Lots of kubos and seats, an island with a basketball court and a house.

Banana Island – about 15 minutes from Malpacuyo Island, is where our tour group had lunch. Served were crabs, fish, and grilled chicken. Plenty of rice. This was a favourite because it was a great place to chill. There’s a beach with calm waves ideal for light snorkelling and kayaking. The other side was a beach with stronger waves. There were some private little houses on the island. A bathroom is available.

Bulog Dos – about 15 minutes away were these two little islets that were connected by sand bars. It was low tide so our boat could not approach the island. Some of us swam/walked through the water to access the rocky island. I went to the other side to look for the tour guide’s nemo “may mga nemo dun sa kabila” but it was too rocky. I was also scared of stepping on baby starfishes, if any. I did some snorkelling and saw a small sea urchin.

After a 1.5 hour-long boat ride back to Coron town, we refreshed and had dinner at Kawayanan Grill. It is more of an inuman place. Like a local version of Gerry’s Grill. Compared with our first night’s dinner at Santino’s Grill, Kawayanan was disappointing.

In photos:


















— End of Part 3 —

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All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 2 – Big 3-0 at Smith Point

Smith Point lies on the westernmost tip of Coron Island. It was what the hotel recommended for a private day trip. We signed up for two tours (Island Escapades and Coron Island Tour) but I wanted to do those on different days. I wanted to have a simple birthday picnic at a beach.

Our first full day in Coron was at Smith Point. I arranged for a private boat to take my family. We paid about PHP 2,000 for the boat rental which comes with the crew (who will also grill and prepare the picnic food). PHP 100.00 each was the “island visiting fee”.

After my parents did some groceries at the public market, we reached Smith Point before 11:00 AM. It was a quick 20 minute boat ride across the Coron Passage.

At high tide, the waves were beautiful! We had the whole beach to ourselves except during lunch hour when two other tour groups had their buffet lunch at Smith Point. They left after eating and we had the beach again to ourselves.

Smith Point is a small beach cove with about four or five kubos/huts. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs. There are no bathrooms on the beach. There’s a cat, a dog, and a monitor lizard if you are lucky to catch one picking up scrap food.

In photos:





















 — End of Part 2 —

Get notified on your news feed when I write something new! Like Bekpackr on Facebook. You can also follow me on Instagram (@bekpackr) and Twitter (@bekpackr).

All photos taken using my iPhone 6 Plus. Photos processed with the help of VSCOCam.

Family Trip to Coron Pt. 1 – Cavite to Coron

On Sunday we took a Philippine Airlines Bombardier Q400 prop to Busuanga, Coron, Philippines. It was a trip I planned months ago to celebrate my BIG 3-0 this year. I wanted to bring my family to see these beautiful islands. I pictured beaches, open seas, fresh seafood, barbecues and for some strange reason– vintage coke bottles.

NAIA-3 on a Sunday morning was fairly quiet. Check-in was a breeze and we were at our gate about two hours before boarding. I ordered tapa at Army Navy because… I haven’t had tapa in ages! I was worried about possible flight cancellations since prop plane flights usually get cancelled due to air traffic or weather conditions. Luckily, nothing was cancelled. We departed almost in time and landed in picturesque Busuanga Island 45 minutes later. Landing in this vast green valley on an island was a sight! You could see cattle and little farm houses on the horizon.

Airport transfer was quick and we were in Coron town within 30 minutes. You could tell how few people lived on this island. A population of only about 70,000 people. My hometown in Cavite has more than twice that amount in a much compressed space!

We checked in at our lodging for four nights: One Averee Bay Hotel. Location was downtown, surrounded by t-shirt stores and open lots. The port was just a 5 minute walk away. Fantastic. We also had the family suite since we wanted to stay together in one room. The suite is quite large and looks like it could fit about six adults.

Essentially, this was our Coron itinerary:

  • Monday – private birthday picnic at Smith Point, Coron Island
  • Tuesday – Island Escapades Tour (Malpacuyo, Banana, and Bulog Dos islands)
  • Wednesday – Coron Island Tour (Kayangan Lake, Coral Garden, Twin Lagoon, Beach 91, Japanese Shipwreck, and CYC Beach)
  • Thursday – return to Manila

In photos: hi







– End of Part 1 –

Get notified on your news feed when I write something new! Like Bekpackr on Facebook. You can also follow me on Instagram (@bekpackr) and Twitter (@bekpackr).