August 30, 2015

Moevenpick Hotel Cebu Mactan

Fifty shades of blue

July 4-5, 2015. Like we always do every time I turn a year older, we pack our bags and head somewhere where we can relax and celebrate. This year, we decided to stay in Moevenpick Hotel in Mactan Cebu. 

The hotel has an upbeat and modern feel to it, just perfect to make me feel young again. Hahaha. The resort is smaller compared to it's massive neighbor -- the Shangri-la Resort Mactan. Moevenpick only has one pool and a small shoreline. Just enough though, for an overnight relaxing vacation.

Check-in was a breeze. We paid for a room upgrade to get a good view and it was worth it. I did feel a little disappointed on the size of the room. The one-bedroom suite feels crammed -- it's like they squeezed a bedroom, a bathroom and a living room in one tiny space. The view though is amazing. Plus I love the contemporary furniture and the fancy amenities that came with the room. 

Plush welcome gift set
View from our room

The sky was grey and there was a light drizzle. But of course, this didn't stop us, especially the kids, from having fun at the pool and the beach. We were even able to catch a few rays of the sun while chilling in the loungers.

Late afternoon, we headed straight to Ibiza Beach Club. Great place to enjoy cocktails while admiring the sunset. They have comfy couches, a jacuzzi and over-the-water cargo nets where you can enjoy your drinks. And yeah, they serve non-alcoholic drinks so kids are welcome as well. 

Happy hours are from 4pm to 6pm
Stunning view of the ocean
Ibiza Beach Club at night

Oh, when we got back to our room, I was greeted with a surprise from Moevenpick :) 

Birthday cupcakes from Moevenpick

Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu
Punta Engano, Mactan
Cebu, Philippines
Tel: +63 32 492 7777

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July 26, 2015

Pampanga Adventure Weekend

June 12-13, 2015. We took advantage of the long weekend to visit Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles, Pampanga. What used to be a haven for PX stores is now gaining popularity for its family-friendly adventure parks. Just perfect for a weekend getaway.

Here are the list of activities adults and kids alike will surely enjoy:

1. Play at Sandbox

Outdoor adventure park

Sandbox is located in Porac, Pampanga, just a quick drive if you're coming from Clark. It's an outdoor adventure park that features a zipline, a giant swing, a rope course, a wall climbing/rappelling tower, ATV rides and a whole lot more activities.

You have an option to get a package or just pick individual activities. Entrance fee is required for everyone entering the property. Since we only want to try three activities, we decided to just pay for the entrance and each individual activity. This way, it comes out cheaper.

Individual tickets for each activity.

First on our list was the Giant Swing. It looks easy from the ground but once you're strapped and you feel them pulling you 10 meters above the ground -- you'll feel the butterflies in your stomach flutter like crazy. Then wait until they slingshot you into the air and you'll feel all your insides start to curdle. My eyes were closed for most of the ride and I was definitely screaming the whole time (which was a little embarrassing as everyone can literally hear me). My son on the other hand was enjoying the whole time and actually wanted to ride again.

Literally -- a giant swing.

Up, up in the air.

My eyes were open -- at some point.

Next was the Avatar One. This is actually just my second time to try a zipline. The course was not that high but the dips and turns definitely added zest to the ride. To my surprise and relief, this ride is more enjoyable than scary.

Preparing for the ride.

One of the many dips in the roller coaster zipline.

By the time we got to the Aerial Walk, the line was unbearably long and the temperature's becoming uncomfortably hot. We just decided to skip it and head to the hotel to check in.

Aerial Walk obstacle course.

The Tower of Terror  for rappelling, wall climbing and free fall drop.

Just a few notes to help you enjoy your day in Sandbox:

1. They open as early as 9:00am so beat the crowd and be there early! They impose an admission cut-off for each activity, for more information visit this link. During our visit, the Aerial walk tickets were already sold out by lunch time.

2. Go to the Aerial Walk first as it takes a while to complete. It's an obstacle course and you'll be depending heavily on people in front of you to finish it sooner rather than later. The course should take approximately 30mins to complete.

3. It is an outdoor park, so lather on sunblock, put on a cap, lace up your rubber shoes and wear comfortable clothes.

Fun in Sandbox

2. Plunge in Fontana Water Park

This is just the kids' second time in a water park. It's relatively small with only four major slides (with one of them not operational during our visit), a wave pool, a lazy river and a couple of play area for kids.

Welcome to Fontana Water Park

It's good enough though for an afternoon of splashing, dipping, jumping and lounging.

My son's top favorite is the wave pool. He made it his mission to reach the deepest part and touch the floaty. I, on the other hand, had a rough time, swallowed liters of pool water (gross, I know) and was mostly gasping for breath while miserably failing from syncing my jumps with the waves.

My daughter loved the bigger slides. They have the usual ones where you can use a floaty or slide directly.

Hubby and I tried the Big Horn twice. You use a floaty for two and you slip in a short slide that takes you on big side to side swings before you plunge in the pool below. It's actually a fun ride but kids are not allowed on it.

Wave pool

View from the lazy river
Chilling in the Lazy River

Big splash at the kiddie area

Enjoying the giant slides

You cannot bring food or drinks inside. The entrance fee includes a Php50 voucher which you can use to purchase food or drink inside the park.

They have free tables where you can put your stuff but you leave them at your own risk. They have cabanas for rent but they're not locked nor secured. You may opt to rent a locker for your valuables instead.

3. Try wakeboarding

Deca Wakeboard Park

This was a first for the kids and they loved it! It wasn't as easy as surfing because the boards were just too big for them to maneuver easily. They managed to (almost) reach the other end of the lake in the whole hour that we spent there and they were begging to come back for more.

For a fixed fee, we get to use a wakeboard and life vest for an hour and get lessons as well. Don't expect too much from the lessons though. It's just a one minute run-down of what you should do. Not much tips or whatever. It was basically, go and figure it out on your own. 

All set to try a new sport

Deca Wakeboard Park is just a short drive away from Clark. They have two lakes  /courses available -- one for beginners and one for trained riders. On a really busy day, the park gets really packed and the waiting time gets insanely long. It's best to schedule your trip on a weekday and come really early. 

4. Paintball battle

Right beside Holiday Inn Clark is a paintball arena. You need to call in advance to schedule and you may ask the front desk for assistance. 

Fee is Php500 for each participant and you'll be suited up for war and given 80 colored bullets. You may purchase more bullets if necessary. The length of the game depends on how trigger happy the participants are. Just a warning, you'll be given a helmet and body pads but note that it hurts (like hell) when you get hit. I was hit in the finger and it was swollen and bruised for days. I never imagined I was going to get a real battle scar from playing.

Surprisingly, we were able to play two rounds with a few bullets to spare for a target practice at the end. This despite the kids being trigger-happy players. My daughter was really good with her aim (she managed to hit me several times). Meanwhile, it took me the entire game to figure out how to aim on my targets. It's a little nerve wracking when you see the bullets fly and literally hear them whizzing in the air. I need to aim carefully for their body pads or I can seriously hurt the kids.

The war zone

Ready for war

5. Chill in the hotel pool

After a long and tiring day, lazing around in the pool while sipping a cold drink just sounds heavenly.

Alviera, Porac, Pampanga
Mobile: +63936 988 6023

Fontana Water Park
CM Recto Highway,
Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
Tel: +63 45 599 5000
Mobile: +63917 553 7598

Deca Wakeboard Park Clark
Margot, Angeles City, Pampanga
Mobile: +63905 330 1013 / +63918 459 8488

Global Gutz Clark
Mimosa Leisure Estate
Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
Mobile: +63916 488 7771

Holiday Inn Clark
Mimosa Leisure Estate
Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
Tel: +632 845 1888

May 17, 2015

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Welcome to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Jan 31 2015. The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located at the Tempozan Harbor Village and is one of the biggest public aquariums in the world. It's just a quick 15-minute ferry ride from Universal City Port via the Captain Line. The aquarium is very popular to two kinds of visitors: kids who are too young and too small for the rides in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) and the veterans who are too "senior" for the attractions in USJ. 

Joint ticket for the Ferry and Aquarium

We availed of the joint Kaiyukan and Captain Line (ferry boat) ticket from our hotel concierge. The ferry runs every 30 minutes and the terminal is a short 10-minute walk from our hotel in Universal CityWalk. Good thing the snow wasn't that strong that morning so it was a pleasant walk.

Universal City Port
On board the ferry

Like all transportations in Japan, the ferry was on time and we were well on our way to the Kaiyukan. 

Upon entry, you'll ride the escalator all the way up to the top and from there, you'll need to work your way down the Aquarium. 

On our way to to top
There are plenty of animals to see at the Aquarium -- from otters, to sea lions, to whale sharks, to manta rays to penguins. The kids had a fun time clicking away pictures of all the cute, creepy, massive and everything in between animals they see.

Adorable baby Rocker Penguin

Colorful ocean

Hello there Mr. Turtle

The last attraction is our favorite -- the touch pool! They have baby sharks and sting rays on a shallow pool and if you're up for it, you can dip your hand and touch them.

Touching the baby shark

Next on our itinerary is a ride at the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. This tourist attraction used to be the biggest and the tallest in the world, that is, until it was surpassed by the more massive London Eye. Just the same, it offers an amazing view of the city and it's an exhilarating 15-minute ride worth the price tag. At no additional cost, you may even opt for the all glass gondola. This we did not try, we were all scared enough as it is, having a glass floor would just probably cross  the line from fun and exhilarating to down-right freaky and scary. 

Each gondola is supervised by a sea-animal stuffed toy

View from the top

The Gray/Red/Blue Kaiyukan Building

Next on the list is the Tempozan Marketplace. It's just right beside the aquarium and there are plenty of stores and restaurants inside. Perfect way to cap our tiring and eventful day in Osaka.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022
Tel: +81 6 6576 5501
Fax: +81 6 6576 5510