Lion and Safari Park

South Africa was never part of my list. You know, that list that we all make and tick off before we’re too old to do anything? That list. But I got curious. I’d been hearing about how good the meat is there, and boy do I love myself some juicy, tasty meat. So I went.

Not only did I help myself with a 480 gram Prime Rib, and another 280 gram Ostrich Meat, I also got to see and touch animals native of South Africa.

Lion and Safari Park is only one of the many wild life sanctuaries in Johannesburg -Kruger National Park being the biggest of all of them, boasting a 2,000,000 (yes million) hectare lot. But I made it a point to visit Lion and Safari Park because I knew it would be a guarrantee for me to see the animals that were advertised.

In this particular park, they have divisions keeping one animal species from another, making it safe for the herbivores from being eaten by the carnivores. To be able to see the animals, guests ride a jeep and enters into each division. The driver stops right where the animals are and gives a few fun facts about the creature on sight. If that sounds touristy to you, I won’t argue because it is. But it’s not so bad. I think it’s actually worth the money because I’ve talked to other people who’d done Kruger Park and they said they drove the entire day to see only two or three kinds of animals. Although, going to a 2,000,000 hectare national park is also something that’s worthy to be on anyone’s bucket list.

My Expenses: 

  • Transpo from Hotel to Lion & Safari Park + Entrance to Park + 1 hour Tour + Lion Cub Encounter = 800 South African Rand
  • Cheetah Encounter = 70 Rand
  • Tips for Tour Guide and Driver = 40 Rand
  • Fridge Magent = 59 Rand

Total: 969 ZAR

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Resort Review: Bravo Beach Resort, Siargao

Address: Barangay 5,, Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Wifi: Only in the Restaurant. Barely reaches the room.

I first found out about Bravo in 2016, when my boyfriend and I went there for drinks one night. We were both so amazed at how lively and full their restaurant was, that we regretted not staying in this resort. The place we were staying in at the time was dead during the night. Here, it was filled with all sorts of travellers who brought with them their youthful energy. Some were eagerly playing cards on the table next to ours, while most were just talking in a bubble of enthusiasm. Just observing this was already fun for us. So as we were about to go home, Douglas and I agreed that we’d stay in Bravo the next time we came to visit Siargao.

Well, I followed through on that agreement sans Douglas (sorry babe), and Bravo Beach Resort did not disappoint.

The Room

1. It’s super clean.

You know how sand just accumulates inside your room or bathroom after you get inside from the beach? Hate that. Luckily, that had never happened in Bravo because they clean the rooms every day. For a mere 920 pesos per bed per night, that’s quite luxury.

And for the sake of comparison, we paid 2,000 pesos/night for our room, in our previous resort, but the staff didn’t bother to clean it at all.

2. It’s spacious.

Although I shared the room with four other people, it was still big enough that it didn’t feel cramped.

3. It’s got lockers inside.

Because where else would we put our valuables away from the strangers we’re sleeping with? Bring your own padlocks.

The Necessities

1. The Bed

It was quite comfortable. I can’t say the same for the pillows and the blankets though. I would say that the pillows touch the fine line between being comfortable and not so much. The blankets are so thin that it felt like I had no blanket at all. I got cold every night, even when we set the airconditioning higher (also thanks to the night breeze).

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2. The Bath Necessities

They offer one beach towel, one room towel, and an unlimited supply of toilet rolls. That’s it. So bring your own necessities 🙂

3. The Toilet and The Shower

These two are in separate doors, which makes the place even more comfortable. You don’t have to wait for your roomate to finish showering, just so you can take a dump.

The Restuarant

1. Free Breakfast

You would think that paying 920 pesos a night won’t get you much for breakfast. Wrong. Bravo’s got quite a good selection of food. Out of the options, you can pick at least three orders for no extra charge. And just to compare (again), our previous resort only had the usual egg, rice, and bacon for breakfast. How boring.

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First Breakfast in Bravo: A fruit bowl, two pancakes, and greek yogurt. Coffee.
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Second Breakfast in Bravo: baked beans, poached eggs, bread. Water. Lemon Juice

2. The other meals

The food in Bravo is far from disappointing. It’s actually one of the restaurants that I would keep going back to. But even though the food I had there were all flavorful, I can’t say that they were the best.

Aside from that, they’re mostly focused on Spanish cuisines, which I don’t mind but a little variety would have been interesting. Anyway, I was able to visit other restaurants, so I won’t dwell on that.

They have the best signature drink though, which is called a Pomada – a cocktail of gin and lime and probably honey (?) Who knows. They mix it with crushed ice, so it’s like drinking a 7-Eleven Slurpee. It’s perfect for the tropical heat. It’s what everbody was drinking over there, I noticed.

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BLT Panini

3. The Plunge Pool

Their adorable plunge pool is right in front of the restaurant. Sometimes, it can get crowded with men with perfect abs, so it makes for a good view. LOL. Or you know, it’s useful for when you want to take a dip after that monster of a burger.

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4. The Sofas

Their restaurant also makes for a great spot to hangout in; this is obviously why it’s always packed from the afternoons into the evenings. When everybody just feels like lounging around, Bravo’s sofa beds are there for you. Plus, the wind coming through this place is heaven sent!

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The Beach

I saw that people don’t really use Bravo’s beach for swimming. Women mostly just lay on the sand to tan and that’s it, which is a waste because Bravo’s beach is clean, calm, and less rockly than most of Siargao’s shores. They also have the best views of the sunrise and the sunset. Bravo placed themselves in such a good spot that it makes me mad that I don’t live there.

Hotel Review: Hotel Meijiya

Address: Japan, 〒430-0807 Shizuoka Prefecture, Hamamatsu, Naka Ward, Sato, 1−1−30

Wifi: yes
Breakfast included: yes
Parking space: yes

Trying to stay cheap while traveling with five other people isn’t an easy feat. It’s difficult to find accommodation that can fit everyone’s budget. Even a two star hotel like Meijiya burned holes in my mom’s pocket for accommodating her and her three children (yes, me included). Although, she did share the expenses with two other people we were traveling with. Still, 104,400 JPY (46,056.78 PHP) for a total of three nights in a combined room, with free breakfast, a few futons, and a shared toilet and bath is a shocker. So for this review, affordability is definitely out of the question.

As for comfort, Hotel Meijiya is the place to go when staying in the quiet city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka.

The rooms are quite spacious – ideal for those traveling with a number of large luggage. Ideal for me and my family. lol. There are huge cupboards where one can place mountains upon mountains of clothes. Ideal for my mom who can never seem to pack light, even when she says she will.

The futons aren’t anything extraordinary but they do the job. For some people, they can be rough on the back. The pillows can also be uncomfortably hard but we made do. On the other hand, the comforters are DIVINE. I’d never touched anything so soft and smooth in my entire life! I could roll in those things and immediately fall asleep within minutes. Wake me up while I’m in them; we’re going to have a problem.

A review of Hotel Meijiya in Hamamatsu Shizouka

The shared bath and toilet are something else. 

There are only two toilets on our side of the building. One for males and one for females. They can be shared by everyone staying on our floor level. They are quite small but nothing that can make you claustrophobic. The good thing about the female’s restroom is the Toto bowl, complete with front and rear sprays. I felt clean dispite the place looking shady.

The shared bath is on the 9th floor. Of course, the baths for men and women are separate. The bathrobes and towels are provided for and are stored in one of the closets. I had to walk around the floor in a robe because I didn’t want to bring anything down after taking a bath. I’m not sure if that’s acceptable in Japanese culture since a guy eyed me down while going out of the elevator. I clearly didn’t do much research, but I advise against it. Then again, a woman walking around the hotel in just a robe isn’t an everyday attraction.

I’m a somewhat conservative person. Getting naked with the possibility that another person, even a woman, will see me is intimidating. I didn’t know how to feel about our situation but hey, it’s not everyday that I get to experience a Japanese hot bath. I went for it while constantly praying that no other person would feel the need to use the showers and the tub while I was in there.

Shared bathroom in Hotel Meijiya Hamamatsu Shizuoka

The showers have fast running water, both hot and cold. There’s enough supply of shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and even facial wash. They are of good quality too, courtesy of DHC. Plus points for Hotel Meijiya making sure we were always smelling fresh!

It is proper manners to shower first and clean everything, everywhere before jumping in the hot bath. I googled this before using the showers. lol. The tub was a haven for me because I felt less vulnerable in there. Especially since the bathroom only has glass surrounding it. Yeah, that’s how uncomfortable I felt while showering.

A Review of Hotel Meijiya

The temperature of the water wasn’texactly relaxing all the way through. I had to dip my feet first and inched down little by little until the heat got bearable. There was a point that it was relaxing until it wasn’t again. So I dedicated only about 15 minutes, including the time I used to ease into the water, for the hot tub until I couldn’t handle the heat anymore. It’s either Hotel Meijiya has their temperature way up, or I can’t handle heat like the Japanese can.

Overall, I’m giving Hotel Meijiya a 5/5 for comfort and for all the other things like their food and service. Would I go back? Maybe not, because I’ve seen almost all that’s to see in Hamamatsu but also because I solely can’t afford 7,676.13 PHP a night. Would I want to experience a hotel that’s like Meijiya? Of course. Only if it’s cheaper. I enjoyed the hot bath, regardless of the uncomfortable heat, and the food that they served. Even the shared toilet is something I can get used to.

 

Hostel Review: Travel Talk Taipei

Quite a number of people have expressed to me their surprise that I was only able to spend around 5,000 PHP during my entire stay in Taipei. Some have told me that they couldn’t believe that I only spent 1,925 on a 3 night accommodation. At that point I remind them that I stayed in a hostel.

I can’t say that this is generally true, but from what I see, hostels aren’t a Filipino’s first choice of lodging. We like to stay in comfy hotels, and we value our privacy. Because of our strict Catholic upbringing, and because of how we’ve always been told to be wary of other people, we’re not comfortable sharing rooms with strangers. So you can imagine my surprise when I was told that I was going to be in a two-bedroom with a man, even though I originally booked for a six-bedroom. In my head, security alarms went off. But thankfully, my roommate was just the sweetest Japanese tourist you could ever meet. I would give him a shout out here, if I only remembered his name. Haha. 

Generally, I loved my very first stay in a hostel, which is why I thought of making a review. The Travel Talk Taipei Backpackers’ Hostel will be reviewed in 4 categories: location, amenities, comfort, and cleanliness.

First up:

Location

Since I was traveling alone, I made sure that I could get around easily. I Google mapped Travel Talk Taipei and found that it was only a few hundred meters away from bus stops, and the Xingtian Temple Train Station. There’s also a temple 400 meters, away from the hostel, where we can look around to kill time before check in. The Lin An Tai Old House is also just a kilometer away.

Travel Talk Taipei is right smack in the middle of the touristy destinations. The Shilin Night Market and The Grand Hotel are 4 kilometers north from the hostel. Just a 20 minute train ride away. The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, and Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail are just 3 km, 6 km, and 7 km south from the hostel, respectively. The popular Ximending District is 5 km also just south of Travel Talk Taipei. So I would say that the hostel is very conveniently located.

To top that, once you go out of the Travel Talk, you’re faced with a big main road and you’re already right next to a 7/11, massage parlors, and some restaurants. At the back of the hostel, there’s a mini night market, dessert stores, and boutique shops that one can just easily reach at night for when you no longer want to go out.

Location’s a 5/5 for me.

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Amenities

It’s a hostel, so it’s all about the basics, baby! Bathrooms, beds, and common room, I mean. There are about two toilet cubicles and two shower cubicles, together with three sinks, on the first floor. On the second floor, they have the main bathroom, a much comfortable space in comparison to the ones on the first.

The bedrooms are a bit small but have more space than what backpackers need. But what is the standard size for hostel bedrooms? I wouldn’t know; this was my first time staying in one. Lol. I personally had no complaints about the space since I only needed a place to crash in, not do jumping jacks. The only major downside is that when you’re placed on the second floor, you can hear people taking their showers in the main bathroom. You can hear noise in the first floor bedrooms too, but even worse. You can hear horns from the streets and people taking their showers in the other building. Between the two, the upper floor bedrooms are a better choice.

A review of Travel Talk Taipei Backpacker's Hostel

A review of Travel Talk Taipei Backpacker's Hostel

Inclusions in Travel Talk Taipei Backpacker's Hostel

I give amenities a 4/5 because all the necessary ones are there.

Comfort

To make up for the noise and lack of space is the fact that the beds, pillows, and duvets where surprisingly very comfy. I slept like a baby when I was placed on the second floor. It felt like I was still at home, in my own bed. And for the sake of comparison (also because I am currently writing this post on a hotel bed in another country that I will soon be blogging about), Travel Talk Taipei’s pillows are more comfortable than the ones I have now!

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But I unfortunately got transferred to the lower floor after two days. For that last night, I almost cried in the middle of it because, not only did I hear noise from the outside, I heard noise from the inside too! I’m so sure that one of my roommates grinded his teeth while he was sleeping. So it’s easy to say that I didn’t get any sleep, at all, during that one night.

But I give all the people, who run Travel Talk Taipei, all the credit for trying to make me feel welcomed while I was there. Even the other lodgers did their best to make small talk, no matter how awkward it was. Even that roommate, with the bad sleeping habit, made the effort to talk to me whenever the silence in the common room got overwhelming.

So comfort is still a 5/5 for me.

Cleanliness

Cleanliness could be debatable, depending on what’s important to you. The bathrooms were spotless. The trashcans were always emptied out, and they always had tissue paper. I would say that the bathrooms were pretty well maintained for such an inexpensive place. The bedrooms were the same, although they won’t fix your bed for obvious reason. It’s just that I noticed that whenever I went in barefoot, I couldn’t feel any grit on the floors. Lol!

The common room, though, needs a bit of tidying up. The floors are always swept and mopped, that’s for sure. I just meant that it needs arranging. The common room just doesn’t seem neat for some reason. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s because of all the baggage on different corners of the room, and the notebooks, books, and papers just strewn on the tables.

The sofas are a bit old and needs redressing. To solve that, they cover the entire furniture with big cloths, which I had no problem with. I rarely used those sofas anyway. I just thought that it was worth mentioning, for the people who may be a little ma-arte on that area.

Cleanliness is a 4/5 for me.

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Conclusion

So the hostel’s not perfect. It has its cons, but I think that its pros completely override the negative. Would I stay there again? Definitely. In terms of overall experience, I’m rating the hostel a 5/5.