SINGAPORE DIARY: SCREAM-FEST AT WILD WILD WET


A few months ago, my friend Chona invited me and Albert for a free bonding day at Wild Wild Wet in Pasir Ris. I have never been there, but some friends told me that it’s like Adventure Cove in Sentosa.

We arrived at around ten in the morning; just in time, as there were not much people and no queues for most of the slides.

TRAVEL DIARY: TOKYO EATS


Japanese cuisine is very famous all around the world, and a trip to Tokyo would not be complete without trying out some of their famous delicacies. Just reminiscing on all the food that we feasted on makes me salivate and makes me want to go back soon (even just for food).

HOW TO APPLY FOR A JAPAN VISA FROM MANILA

After sharing my experience on how I obtained my Japan Visa from Singapore, I realized that most of my readers are from Manila, so I am sharing as well how my husband applied for his visa in Manila.


Unlike in Singapore, applying visa from the Japan Embassy in the Philippines must be coursed through a travel agency. My husband picked Voyager Travel and Tours Inc to process his visa application, since they also processed his visa the last time he went there.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A JAPAN VISA FROM SINGAPORE

Having a Filipino passport requires me to apply for a visa before I can set foot in the land of the rising sun. If you are like me, who is residing and working in Singapore then the visa must be applied for here. 

The good news is that acquiring a Japanese visa here is easier compared to Manila.

TRAVEL DIARY: MINATO MIRAI, YOKOHAMA


We were initially planning to visit Tokyo Disney Sea or Tokyo Disneyland, but since it was too cold and I did not want to queue for rides, we looked for alternatives to do on our last full day in Japan, which happened to be my husband’s birthday.

TRAVEL DIARY: TSUKIJI FISH MARKET AND MEIJI SHRINE


Tsukiji Fish Market is the creme de la creme of palengkes (markets). They are known for their early morning seafood auctions, and tourists line up for hours to eat in the famous sushi restaurant there. However, JM and I were not ready to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to eat sushi so we settled for having lunch there instead.

TRAVEL DIARY: ASAKUSA AND ODAIBA

Ota City

During our walks from the hotel to Kamata station, we always pass by the Ota City office which has a huge digital thermometer outside. Day four was the coldest day that we experienced in Tokyo. 

The temperature when we went out in the morning was 2.7 degrees Celsius, dropping to 1.5 degrees Celsius on our way back to the hotel. 

We experienced sleet (rain with snow) while we were in Asakusa and it was raining hard while we were in Odaiba.

TRAVEL DIARY: UENO PARK AND AKIHABARA

Ueno Park

From doing a city tour yesterday, we decided to visit Tokyo’s famous Ueno Park. 

Ueno Park prides its rows of cherry blossom trees during springtime. However, we were in Tokyo last February, which is still considered as wintertime, and most of the trees have not yet bloomed. We were still lucky enough to see a few trees which had started to bloom already. 

I can just imagine how magnificent the park will look like in spring.

TRAVEL DIARY: SHINJUKU, HARAJUKU AND SHIBUYA


After having a good night’s sleep the previous night, we woke up full of energy as we prepared for our first touristy day in Tokyo.

TRAVEL DIARY: NARITA AND KAMATA


Tokyo Pocket Wifi
Pocket Wifi
For our honeymoon, we initially planned to go to the beach and lounge around. However, since we wanted to maximize the vacation leave that I took from work, we skipped the beach and decided to book a 7-day Tokyo holiday.

JM is a big fan of anything Japanese, so when I brought up the Tokyo honeymoon idea with him, he responded with a big thumbs-up sign.

FAMILY BONDING AT VALENTINO RESORT AND SPA BATANGAS


The villas
I just got back from a long weekend holiday in Manila, where our family went on a summer outing. 

My sister was in charge of looking for a resort, and she found one in Batangas - Valentino Resort and Spa. 

TRAVEL DIARY: SUNWAY LAGOON AND PETRONAS, MALAYSIA


We had only one whole day in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and there were two must-visit items on our list: Sunway Lagoon and Petronas Towers.

We heard good reviews about Sunway Lagoon so we decided to check out the place.

TRAVEL DIARY: ADVENTURE TIME EN ROUTE TO KUALA LUMPUR

A few months ago, my friends and I scored a SGD50 round trip AirAsia ticket from Johor Bahru (JB) to Kuala Lumpur (KL). Since we wanted to relax during the long weekend, we grabbed the cheap seats sale. 

The distance of Senai Airport in JB from our house in Singapore is around the same distance to Changi Airport, so it was okay for us to board the plane from Senai Airport.

Come Friday, our scheduled departure, we woke up early for our 11:20am flight, since we were anticipating the heavy volume of the people wanting to cross the Singapore-Malaysia border.


We met our friends around 7AM at the Kranji MRT station to board the CW1 bus to Singapore immigration. There was already a long queue at the bus stop and the attendant was warning people that there was a traffic jam in crossing the border. Finally, at 7:45AM, we were able to board the bus.

CW1 Bus at Kranji

We were still quite a distance from the Singapore immigration when we noticed the traffic was no longer moving. 

We decided to alight from the bus and walk. Lo and behold, it was pure chaos at the immigration office! We were already anticipating that we will miss our flight but we still tried our best. 

We were able to exit Singapore around 10am. We were supposed to board the bus to cross the bridge to JB for the Malaysian immigration, but the queue was very long. We decided to step up and walk the bridge towards JB.

Never had I imagined that I would be walking the bridge connecting Singapore and Malaysia!

Singapore Johor Bahru Bridge

After we reached the Malaysian immigration office, we had to queue for 30 minutes more before finally being able to enter JB. From where we were it was still a 20-minute drive to Senai Airport.

Since we already missed the bus that we booked going there, we had to buy new tickets. JB Sentral to Senai Airport via the Causeway Link bus costs 8RM. There was a taxi driver offering to drive us to the airport for 20RM each. Since we knew that Malaysian taxi drivers are notorious for price gouging and we had missed our flight already, we declined his offer and took the bus to the airport.

Upon reaching the airport, we asked if we could take the next flight. However, the next flight was full already, and the flight after that was very expensive at 100SGD++ for a one way trip.

Since we no longer had a choice, we decided to take the bus to KL. We ate first at Marrybrown and booked an Uber towards Larkin terminal, which was also in JB. We were lucky that there was still an available bus to KL leaving at 2PM.

Marrybrown Senai Airport

We made sure to wait for the bus at its parking bay so that we will no longer be left behind. By 2:30pm we had boarded the bus and were en route to KL. It was a 5 hour bus trip from JB to KL so we tried to sleep along the way. We reached KL around 8pm and had dinner at Kenny Rogers Roasters at BTS.

Bus to KL

Then we booked an Uber to bring us to our AirBnb and called it a night.

It was a day of adventures, running and circling around. 

It was very tiring, but having friends around made it more fun, and the experience was definitely one for the books.

Stay tuned for the activities that we did while in Kuala Lumpur!

**some photos were taken by my friend Chona.

HOTEL REVIEW: HOTEL MYSTAYS KAMATA JAPAN

For our honeymoon trip to Tokyo, we initially wanted to book an AirBnB, but since we wanted a stress-free honeymoon, we ditched the idea and booked a hotel room.

LOCATION AND ACCESSIBILITY 

The hotel is a five-minute walk away from the East Exit of Kamata Station, which is along the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line. It was a good home base for us, as it is at the center of all the sights we wanted to visit.

There are a lot of places to eat around the area, and there is a Family Mart just outside the train station where we bought snacks before retiring for the day. 

There is also a nearby branch of Don Quixote (fondly called as Donki) on the south side of the Kamata Station where you can buy Japanese goodies to bring home. 


CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT

We arrived at the hotel around 1pm, but their check-in time is 3pm. Good thing they allowed us to check-in already, because we were so tired from travelling.

Check-in was a breeze; I just showed them the printed Agoda voucher and that was it.

Upon check-out, we just surrendered our room keys, since payment has been settled thru Agoda.

Hotel Mystays Kamata Reception Area


THE ROOM

Knowing that space is expensive in Tokyo, the room that we got is about 22 sqm, which is a decent size for my husband and I. Hotel Mystays makes efficient use of the modest floor area. We still had space to walk around even though our luggage were half-opened on the floor.

Upon entering the room, there is a coat hanger and a safety deposit box.

It also has a study table which offers a view of the street outside. On one of its corners, there are integrated power outlets, a wired LAN network connection, and a USB charging port, making for a nice place to park a laptop on.

The beds are really comfortable, with medium firmness foam, and we always had a good night’s sleep. My husband especially liked the shaped memory foam pillows and wanted to get one for our home. Instead of using the study table by the window for my husband’s laptop, we used the little table on caster wheels instead, which could also be used for consuming drinks or snacks while in bed.

It is so nice to come home to a clean room at the end of the day.

Hotel Mystays Kamata Bed

Hotel Mystays Kamata Hanger and Safe Box

THE FAMOUS JAPANESE TOILET

The toilet and shower area is also small but still okay. It has a bathtub which we were not able to use.

It has the famous Japanese toilet commonly called as washlet which has a water spray or bidet feature. You can also control the temperature and water pressure of the washlet. The only downside is that the toilet seat itself is not heated, which is something you may see in other hotels or even the toilets in restaurants.

They also have full-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash provided in the shower area. For the other toiletries, they have a common place at the reception area where you can take what you need. We were fans of the folding hairbrushes.

Hotel Mystays Kamata Shower and Toilet

Hotel Mystays Kamata Toilet

THE VERDICT

We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Mystays Kamata and if we are to come back to Tokyo, I will still pick this hotel for its value for money.


HOTEL MYSTAYS Kamata
5-46-5 Kamata, Ota-ku, Tokyo 144-0052 Japan
Contact: +81-3-6855-3939

WEDDING DIARY: SUPPLIER'S REVIEWS AND RATINGS PART 2

There is no minor or major wedding supplier, as each one has a role which made our wedding a very special moment in our lives. Here is the continuation of our supplier’s reviews:

On-the-Day Coordinator: Imbitado Events 10/10

I have high expectations from Imbitado Events because they have very good reviews from GirlTalk Female Network and WAW (Weddings At Work); they did not disappoint and even exceeded my expectations.

From the day I inquired with Ayie, I knew that we were already in good hands. I did not immediately book her since I was still researching. She was kind enough to tell me that someone else was inquiring on my date, but since I inquired first, she will give me a few days to decide before she give the spot to others. That’s when I knew that I cannot let her go, so we paid our reservation fee to lock in the date.

We booked their “On-the-day coordination” service as we have already done most of the wedding planning and booking of suppliers.

We had three Skype meetings with Ayie before our wedding. It was an advantage for us because we did not need to drive all the way to Quezon City to meet up with her (just thinking about the traffic makes my husband cringe). Our meetings are very productive, as she tells us if we are on track or if we need to speed up a bit on the wedding preparations. She is also very prompt in replying to my Facebook messages whenever I have questions.

They arrived at the hotel around 10am and when I heard Ayie’s voice, I started to relax because I know that I could rely on her team. They took care of all the turnovers and made sure that we were on time for the pictorial, ceremony and reception.

Even the littlest of things like opening candy, they will do for you.

They also changed my shoes from heels to flats before entering the reception hall and helped me change back to heels for the garter ceremony. They also helped me to go to bathroom since my gown is too bulky.

After the program was done, they were ready with their list to turn our things back over to us. They even had a list of all the gifts received.

We are very thankful for Ayie and her team (Varna, Diane, Janis and Bianca) for letting us enjoy our special day and making it hassle-free.

Emcee: Darlene Tan-Salazar 10/10

Booking Ms Darlene is like having a second coordinator with you. She helped us tailor our wedding program in a way that will suit our personalities. We liked her hosting style as it is classy yet very fun.

She is always prompt in replying to my questions and gives us feedbacks on other suppliers as well. She gave us a heads-up that there will be road closures in Alabang during our wedding date (it coincided with the Condura Skyway Marathon weekend), so that we can inform other suppliers and our guests ahead.

It also helped that we had two Skype meetings with her before our wedding. We already felt at ease with her and she also got to know us a little more.

Our guests also commended her on how good she is. We are so proud that we got her to be the emcee during our reception.



Stylist: Events Central By Anna Winstel Chow 10/10

We initially did not want to get a stylist for our wedding as it is an added cost. However, when I saw the basic package offered by Palms, we did not like it and tried to get their in-house stylist to upgrade the styling. It was such a hassle transacting with their in-house stylist as they are not very prompt in replying and does not want to give a ballpark figure amount for the upgrades that we liked. I guess it was a blessing in disguise because it made me look for another stylist. That’s when I came across Events Central’s Facebook page,I liked Anna’s styling, simple yet classy. 

I admit that I am not very creative, I told Anna that I liked the theme romantic elegant and the flowers to be white with a hint of blue. I often confused her by sending a lot of pegs but she is very patient with me and guided me to stick only to my theme.

Weeks before our wedding she send us the mock-up for our guest and VIP tables and we liked it. 

She also did a very good job on my bridal bouquet and listened to what I liked, all white with a hint of greens.

Transacting with Anna is hassle free and she is very prompt in replying to my messages. Anna is very creative and I wish her business more luck and to be of service to more brides.







Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Mhec Gado 10/10

Mhec is my high school batchmate in St Mary’s Academy but this will be a non-biased review. 

A few years back, she started her own business of makeup artistry and I can see her works on Facebook. I knew that I wanted to get her for our wedding.

She also did my hair and makeup during our pre-nup photoshoot and from there we knew that what looks best on me is to emphasize the eyes and use nude colors on the lips. 

That is what she did for my wedding too. 

Mhec and her team arrived around 9am at the hotel and started to prep me up. She did my makeup and Ate Liway did my hair. 

I actually had three looks that day - hair down during preps, hair up at the church and hair down again at the reception.

She no longer came with me at the Church and waited at the reception for my second look.

It was very easy and very fun to work with Mhec and her team.




Invitations: Print City Invitations 9/10

We met PrintCity at the bridal fair on January 2016. My husband has a bit of graphic design and layout experience, so he liked how simply yet elegantly many of their demo invites looked, with creative use of typography.

Transacting with them was simple, for the most part. George, our main contact, went back and forth with us over email with our selected design, card size, envelope detailing, and add-on options. From there, it was a simple matter of depositing payment via bank account and picking up the sample invites, then a final round of negotiation for any more changes. Since PrintCity’s office in SM Las PiƱas Center Mall is right next to an LBC outlet, they offer the option of shipping the finished invites - which is a welcome option compared to braving the congestion of Alabang-Zapote Road on a Saturday.

Their card stock and designs are excellent all around. The only complaint we had was with their map imagery. They tend to use real world map data, which isn’t too helpful for people unfamiliar with the Muntinlupa area to navigate to our church and reception area.



Strings: Bernie Pasamba Music Consultancy 9/10

We booked Bernie via Palms Country Club since his outfit is their in-house musician. Bernie is very responsive to our messages and questions. We told Bernie that we liked a chill vibe for our music and he also helped checked our chosen repertoire.

While I was standing outside the church and waiting for my entrance, I can hear the group playing our entourage song “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and I felt that happy moment that a few minutes from now I will be married to my best friend.



Bridal and Entourage Gowns: Bridesdream 8/10

We booked Bridesdream during the Getting Married Bridal Fair in January 2016 and since I am based overseas, I was only able to meet Ceejay Bautista when I went home for a short vacation in February 2016. She took my measurements and we discussed the design of the gown that I wanted. I initially wanted it to be long sleeved but she said that the ¾ sleeves will suit me better. Good thing I listed to her.

I had only two fittings with them. The first one was on October 2016 and it was only the base of the gown. The second fitting was a week before our wedding, the body fit was good but the arms part of the gown was too tight. They repaired it and promised to be ready in two days. I went back on Monday which was five days before the wedding and the gown now fit perfectly. I was so happy on how the gown turned out, just like how I wanted it to be. 

We also got our entourage dresses and my mom’s dress from them. Some of the entourage gowns were too tight after the final fitting but they repaired it as soon as we gave it back to them.

The only con in booking them is that their main shop in Gatchalian Subdivision is rather hard to find, and the village’s roads can be confusing. Best to use Waze when getting there so that you don’t spend too much time looking for it.







Groom’s Barong: Ziggy Savella of ZS Clothiers 10/10

My sister-in-law gifted us with the barong my husband would wear on our big day. ZS Clothiers is located in Teacher’s Village in Quezon City, which is quite the trip to make on Saturdays, but Ziggy Savella made sure he made efficient use of our time. He was very professional in taking measurements and letting JM choose the material and embroidery.

In addition to the barong, Ziggy also tailored a custom long-sleeved camisa de chino to match. He was not satisfied with the ready-to-wear options, and had an eye for how closely the camisa de chino would hew to the barong’s lines without attracting too much attention to itself. He also tailored a matching pair of trousers, all in varying shades of brownish gray.

In total, JM made three trips to ZS Clothiers, and fit the whole ensemble on the last. Only very minor alterations were needed, which reflects just how well Ziggy can capture what his clients want. JM had zero complaints with his barong, and noted that such a fine formal garment is worth the great tailoring, as it can be re-used many years after.


Dance Instructor: Teacher Mich of M Studio 10/10

We were gifted by my sister-in-law also with dance lessons with Teacher Mich for our first dance. We met her in late 2016, but since our wedding was still a few months away, she advised us to have our classes a week before our wedding so we wouldn’t forget the dance steps. We had two sessions with her of 1.5 hours each and she was very patient in teaching us our dance steps. 

She created a dance routine which JM and I can easily followed and our first dance was one of our favorite highlights of our wedding.

Bridal Car: APerfectDayWedCar 10/10

We were initially not planning to book a bridal car, but then I realized that I will have no driver going to the church as my family will be in the entourage. We got a W210 Mercedes-Benz E-class from APerfectDayWedCar, and Berlee was very easy to talk to. The driver was on time during our wedding and we did not have any problems with them.


Photobooth: Flipbooks 8/10

We also got Flipbooks during the Getting Married Bridal Fair in January 2016. We liked their uniqueness and I think some of guests did enjoy the booth.



Lights and Sounds: Rejectkrew 9/10

Elmer was responsive in replying to my messages and requests. It is also an advantage that they have worked several times with my emcee already and they already know the drill. Honestly, I didn't really notice the lights during our reception but I liked the mood. I told them early on that I did not want a very dim reception and they happily obliged.

Projector: Metrotech 10/10

Hassle free transacting with them. Period.


That's it! Thank you to all our suppliers for making our wedding a happy and memorable moment of our life.

Click here to view Part 1 of our Supplier's Reviews and Ratings

WEDDING DIARY: SUPPLIER'S REVIEWS AND RATINGS PART 1

Wedding planning was not as easy as we hoped it would be. With proper research I am glad that most, if not all, of our suppliers have performed very well. As a way of giving back to the communities which helped us plan for our dream wedding, JM and I have created our supplier’s reviews. We hope this can be of help to future brides and grooms.

Church: St James the Great Parish 9/10

Ever since I saw the church of St. James the Great, I felt that I wanted to get married in this church someday. So when we were planning for our wedding, I only had St. James in mind. However, since this church’s reservation rate is pricey, JM and I had to look for alternatives which can accommodate our budget. We were considering St. Jerome Emiliani, also in Alabang, or St. John Bosco in Makati.

Days and nights passed, but I still could not get this church out of my head. JM and I talked about it and we decided to book it without getting its in-house floral arrangements as it was an additional cost for us.

It was a good thing I listened to my husband and let go of the flowers; we were lucky that the altar had flowers on the day of our wedding. That’s instant PhP17,000 savings for us.
The only problem that we had with them was the unclear scheduling of the Pre-Cana session.

Also, some of our suppliers were required to attend an accreditation seminar for familiarization with the parish’s rules during the wedding proper.

St James the Great Exterior

St James the Great Interior


Reception: Palms Country Club 10/10

The account manager assigned for our event was Raissa Velarde. She was very accommodating and very efficient: she replied promptly to our emails and text messages and kept track of the numerous changes that I requested.

We initially met with Raissa in January 2016 to discuss which package and menu we will be getting. Since we intended to get outside suppliers for styling, lights and sounds, she advised us to book Package A, and we can deduct from the package the items that we will not get.

The moment that JM and I arrived from the church on our wedding day, Raissa was already waiting to offer us drinks. She also instructed the waiters to prepare our meals at the holding area before we entered the reception for the program. She made sure that we were well-fed before we faced our guests so that we could fully enjoy our reception.


The maitre’d (head waiter), Darwin, was also very conscientious. He made sure that the leftovers were packed into two groups to be split between the groom’s family and bride’s family. He also prepared two sets of takeaway food for JM and I to eat at the hotel after the reception program.

Overall we loved Palms Country Club from preps until our wedding day. It looked like our guests did, too, because they were raving about the great taste and the quantity of their food.

The wedding cake was part of the package from Palms






Photographer and Videographer: DigitEyes Photography 10/10

DigitEyes Photography was one of our favorite suppliers. Ever since our prenup photoshoot, their crew was very easy and fun to work with. Ms Bheng was also very prompt and very patient in replying to all my questions.

One of their photographers, Dom, arrived with my makeup artist at around 9am and was able to take a lot of shots while I was being prepped up. The rest of the team arrived around 10am. They already have a system on how the flow of the photographs should go, so the shooting crews could act independently with minimum supervision and make the most of limited time. They were busy taking photos of the gowns, invitations and other wedding paraphernalias.

Dhynn and Dom are very good in giving directions on how to pose for the kinds of photos they want to shoot with you. When we got the raw photos, there were over 5,000 of them and we loved each and every shot. To this day, we have difficulty in narrowing them down to 100 for our wedding album.

We also loved how our Same Day Edit video turned out. They were able to capture all the emotions on our special day, and we are very thankful for that.


Hotel Preps: Bellevue Manila 10/10

There are a lot of hotels in Alabang which you can choose from for your wedding preps. However, I really liked Bellevue because it is very spacious and they allow photoshoots in the common areas without extra charge.

Mhec, my makeup artist, warned me that the bridal room should be spacious because most of the suppliers and entourage will be at the bride’s room during preps. This is why I booked a Junior Suite for me and a Deluxe Room for JM.

Overall, we did not have any issues with Bellevue and they were kind enough to grant some of my special requests.

The following photos are from The Bellevue Manila

I love their bed!
Living Room
Kitchenette
Bathroom
Click here for the Part 2 of my wedding supplier's review.