Saturday, January 19, 2013
AFFORDABLE LUXURY IN THE PHILLIPINES
This culture rich and affordable luxury destination has long been a favourite with the Europeans, Americans and Australians and now with direct Philippine Airlines flights from Delhi the number of Indian tourists is on the rise. My stay in The Philippines merged into a blur of long, relaxing and fun filled days. I immediately adjusted to the Island lifestyle and exotic pleasures- getting a massage done by the beachside, shopping away or trying my luck at the casino after a meal at a fine ding restaurant. During my weeks stay each of the three must visit places provided a different experience and I not only made wonderful friends from across the world that I will keep for life, but memories that will also last a life time.
SHOPPING AND NIGHTLIFE IN MANILA
I didn’t get to do much sightseeing, but I did get to do some shopping, one of my favourite past-times, with the biggest mall in South East Asia and more… I was sold! The mall of Asia is located by the bay, has a nice boulevard for a stroll, lined with restaurants, entertainments from performing bands, and also carts selling hot snacks and cold drinks. The Green Hills Shopping Centre is a huge complex, houses numerous name brand stores, a supermarket, local vendors and best of all a market which sells every name brand knock off under the sun! Great quality products which you couldn’t even tell were knock-offs at all! Dinner at “Crisostomo” was a mouth-watering taste sensation of arguably the finest Filipino food I could find in the Philippines in Resorts world before we hit the nightlife. Truly, if you want to party then make sure you have a night or two in Manila. I would highly recommend RepubliQ, a Vegas style club and a damn fine one at that and this is where Manila’s finest go for a night out on the town. The club is quite large with a handful of bars craft fully situated all over so no matter where you are there’s a bar conveniently nearby. As for the drinks, I suppose they are a little bit more costly than some places but then again, you are at a club full of beautiful decor, stunning ambience, and of course beautiful people.
A popular tourist destinations and one of the oldest cities of the Philippines, this lively and colourful metropolis is regarded as the number one dynamic metro area in this South-East Asian nation and has a lot of historical and cultural landmarks. I found it to be steeped in history and would say that it boasts a tantalizing mix of cosmopolitan and historical appearance; a great and lively hub with a charismatic atmosphere and plenty to see and to do. Enroute to the hotel from the airport we stopped by at a monument on Macatan Island where the tribal chief Lapu Lapu killed Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The monument and surrounding park incorporated history and spectacular gardens, ringed by souvenir vendors. Next on the list was the “Magellan's Cross” a symbol of Cebu and the image of the pavilion that houses the cross can be found in the city’s seal. I also dropped by at The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House (oldest residential house) , just a few steps away from the Parian Monument which is also known as Heritage of Cebu Monument and a few meters away from Colon street. Originally owned by a Chinese merchant named Don Juan Yap and his wife, Dona Maria Florido, today it belongs to Dona Maria’s great great grandson, Val Sandiego. Val himself is known at present times as an art collector, renowned choreographer and heritage icon which were evident when I took the house tour. However if you are not a history buff, no worries, Cebu is also a booming, hectic city and a place with many stories and faces. The city has captivating resorts and beaches; it is a haven for convenient and luxurious shopping malls, retail shops, restaurants, café’s too!
LIFE IS A BEACH IN BORACAY
A typical Filipino beach day is vastly different from what I am used to! Shops don’t open until 10 am and its people are laid back, unperturbed by the outside frantic western world and more interested in lying on the beach and convincing you to buy souvenirs. I could see tourist attractions in every corner and I did it all …from banana boat to parasailing, beauty treatments, zipping, quad biking and glass water boats and canoes- the list goes on forever. On my last day before heading for an afternoon snorkel, I booked myself for a Filipino spa at the resort. The reef ran the full length of the Island and was only twenty feet from the beach edge. The water was remarkably clear and the underwater fauna and flora before my mask was a kaleidoscope of stunning colours. I swam over hardly touched healthy young corals, discovered many fishes lurking in the shadows and also had an encounter with a curious young turtle. That evening after my four hand harmony massage which was an amazing combination of different strokes, I dressed in a local Sarong and walked along the beach to an Asian speciality restaurant for my dinner.
This island escape was by far the best holidays I have had which I also owe to it being so affordably luxurious. I highly recommend a visit to this tropical paradise.
published in M