Hi everyone! Hope you are all doing well, this post is pretty long and covers a lot of topic. This is both tagged as Personal for Travel but I also tagged this as Graphic Design since there is a small part where I really observed the Graphic Design of the places we went too. I’ve laid out a table of contents for your easy browsing:
This year there are a lot of challenges that I have to face and surviving them bit by bit and step by step I think it deserves a celebration thus this year me and my partner took this opportunity to have 1 week all to ourselves. This year is also the year where my quarter life is officially over and so it means I have more growing up and self improvement to do. In this blog I’ll share how I planned this trip and how the actual travel felt. I’ll also include bits and pieces of review on the places we visited and our accommodation. Hopefully as a reader you find this helpful, that is my goal aside from of course keeping this trip in a place where I can look back and reminisce the memory.
Part 1: The Planning
Travelling without planning is like going to war without a weapon. When planning to travel make sure to do through research and always be ready for plan B when Plan A doesn’t work. First thing to plan is the timeline. My partner left it up to me to do the planning and I decided that since this will be the first time that only the two of us will travel it can be scheduled on my birthday week. Both of us still have a lot of paid leave from our work so scheduling was easy as long as we planned it 30 days before.
The second thing to plan was the budget. We didn’t want to spend a lot but we also didn’t want to skimp out, although honestly by the end of the trip we did run into budget excess and this is where you should plan your budget but you also need to make sure you bring extra money because you’ll never know what sort of troubles you’ll run into. More of this in my detailed experiences later on in this blog entry.
The third thing to plan is the itinerary. Me and my partner decided we wanted to go to a place where we can easily commute without being too tired since the main goal was really to relax. A lot of places popped up since we had 5 days leave but we decided in Tagaytay. This was my first time to intensively plan my own DIY travel so I had a lot of help from google. I used google maps to plan where we will stay and where we will go. I tried to make sure our accommodation has an easy access to the places where we are going. Google map also has a feature where it will show you all the possible tourist attraction in an area and that was insanely helpful for a first time planner. While doing this I was also messaging the service providers in Facebook and looking for Metro deal vouchers to make the most out of our budget.
The fourth thing to plan would be how to get there. Do you have your own car? Will you be commuting? Honestly this is the part where I didn’t plan too much and maybe this is why we also had some trouble with this. We decided from the start that we will be commuting but I didn’t do my proper research on how much its ride will cost, or rather I was reading some out dated blog which is why I was surprised on the actual prices of each ride.
The fifth thing to plan is what you’ll bring. You need to pack light but you need to make sure you’ll have enough clothes for your stay. Me and my partner will be staying there for 5 days and 4 nights so we actually packed clothes for 6-7 days just to cover if we’ll get wet in Sky Ranch or if we need to change due to sweat. My partner took care of the toiletries as well since he had a bigger luggage. Getting a mobile data and a mobile phone will also be helpful for newbie travelers like me and my partner.
Here is how our raw itinerary looks like:
Tagaytay 5 Day Trip
August 14 –
9/10am Leave Cubao
Check in at Bethesda Cottages Relax for whole day.
Lunch & Dinner at Bethsda
August 15 –
Breakfast only at Bethesda
Whole day at Paradizoo (get metrodeal Voucher)
Go Back to Bethesda
Breakfast only at Bethesda
Whole day at Skyranch (get metrodeal Voucher)
Go Back to Bethesda
August 17 –
Breakfast only at Bethesda
Go to Puzzle Mansion
Go Back to Bethesda
August 18 –
Breakfast & Lunch at Bethesda
Travel Back to Manila After Lunch
Part 2: The Actual Travel
We began our travel from Cubao to Tagaytay. We had to ride a bus going to Lian or Nasugbu Batangas. Honestly there are a number of bus terminals in Cubao and I thought we will be able to ride a bus from there but I was wrong. The night before our trip my mom informed me that the bus station I thought we could ride was no longer existing as it was closed by the MMDA. (Coincidentally more illegal bus terminals alongside EDSA were closed down by MMDA while we were in Tagaytay). This was a first challenge, so instead of going straight to Tagaytay We had to use the Grab app and booked a Grabshare because we found a Grabshare promocode for first time users. During the night the price was about 200+ but during the morning when we will actually book the price surged to 350+, well it can’t be helped when we left it was still rush hour, we booked 9 am. There was some booking issue which was my fault (wrong pick up point) so although the final price was 176.50 only I asked my partner to pay 190 instead. It was a grab share service so we had to bring a lady to her location in Makati. We were dropped of in Kabayan Hotel instead of the actual Pasay bus station since the driver said the u turn slot was still far away. I was thinking positive so I just agreed to it and we just walked to the MRT overpass to cross the street, finally we arrived in Pasay Bus station. Upon arrival a bus going to Nasugbu was just about to leave and so we were easily able to ride. The bus fare from Pasay Bus Terminal to Anuling Tagaytay is P89 per head as of August 2017 our Travel time.
Our destination was our accommodation, Bethesda Cottage. Their Facebook page already has detailed instruction on how to get there and I was also messaging our host and they gave us instructions. We still asked help from Google maps just to be extra sure. This is where a smartphone with great GPS and mobile data comes in. We used Huawei P9, since my Happy Mobile Aspire 2’s GPS is no good at all. Even when I was still playing Pokemon Go it wasn’t a reliable phone.
Anyway so we used our google maps and thankfully the bus dropped us off at the correct area! Yey! We just walked a bit and we were in Adventure mode since we aren’t familiar with the area. Google Maps in hand we were able to arrive at out accommodation. They fed us lunch and led us to our room. For the rest of the day we were just resting and roaming our accommodation area.
Total Budget Spent from Cubao to Bethesda Cottages, Tagaytay:
Grab Car/ Grabshare with 50% OFF Promo: Total Bill is P176 but we gave a tip so we paid P190 pesos
Bus to Anuling, Brgy Asisan, Maglabe Drive: P89 x 2 = P178
Above are some pictures of the view around Bethesda. I found out about them just by looking at Google Maps. Their place is situated in the middle of all the placed we’d like to visit so their location is really great. Their price is also very affordable.
I don’t have any picture of the room since I think it was quite ordinary. Not that I’m complaining after all Bethesda is not a hotel. They are a retreat house. The rooms are pretty decent though. We were the only guest for the whole week so instead of giving us a room for two they let us use a room for 8 with a terrace outside. It was pretty comfortable and relaxing. A perfect place for a staycation. Or a retreat from the city if I may call it. They provided tissue papers in the bathroom although you have to bring your own toiletries. Funfact we (me and my partner) were able to almost finish a 70ml head and shoulder shampoo for 4 days. It’s a gated retreat house though so you need to come back before 7pm or you might get locked out. Well it was for our safety too so most of the time we left at around 9am to tour and came back the retreat house by 6pm the latest. This is where on our down time we watch The World God Only Knows, we actually managed to finish season 1 and season 2 for the whole duration of our vacation.
I like their meals honestly and overall I would recommend them if anyone is planning a trip similar to ours. The common area where we ate our meals had television, some local channels are not available though because of signal issues but overall it’s enough to stay up to date with the news despite our staycation. They had an accommodating care taker which we can talk to when we had water issues. Everything would have been perfect and I would have raved about Bethesda, everything was going great, well and dandy until a misunderstanding popped up during checkout.
As you can see the final agreed upon price in our Facebook Conversation was P4,000 for our whole trip and as you can see I even gave them our detailed itinerary. Upon check out though they insist we pay P5,100+ because they insist 600 per head per night so it’s overall P4,800 + P360 for our 3 extra meals. This got me confused and honestly disappointed since I thought I got a discounted package price since I booked 1 month advance + gave a very detailed itinerary. It’s true that they did give me the original price which was P600 per head for Bed and Breakfast and P800 for Bed & 3 meals, but I asked for a package price and they gave me that final quotation. As you can see they mentioned P2,000 which was supposedly a 50% downpayment so I thought P4,000 was the final price. In the end though we settled with P2,800 which makes it P4,800 for our overall stay. They waved the P360 meals because of the supposed misunderstanding. Honestly though when a customer’s expectation is broken, it’s bound to be disappointing. Well I did try to think positive though, overall the trip was really fun and Bethesda was our home for this trip so I still appreciate them. I still recommend them just make sure you always have extra cash with you in case a similar situation arises in your trip. This is where Plan B comes in.
Total Spending for Bethesda for 4 nights stay:
Bed & Breakfast: P4800
Extra meals: P360
Discount for the billing misunderstanding: P360
Total Payment: P4800
You can book with them via their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethesdaCottage
My Partner also take a lot of breath taking shots of the scenery. We went early so there wasn’t much people and we got a lot of great photos. If you plan properly and you prefer peace and quiet I propose you also don’t go during peak days and hours so you can enjoy the park like you own it.
We were there before opening hours which is 10am. So we also had to wait quite a bit before we can enter but as I said we made the most out of it by taking photos and talking like on a normal date.
We also got most of the souvenirs for our friends there. We got keychains which are 3 for 50 pesos with free name. We had 45++ keychains made so we asked for a discount which we got. We got 7 keychains for 100. so That’s 1 free keychain for our set.
My partner also got a wooden sword display there. He’s been wanting to collect some samurai stuff so this was a great find for him.
For the rest of the day we just rode a lot of the rides and then chill at the cabanas situated around the park when we need to cool down. I also drank Smootea. It was pretty tasty. For Dinner We bought our food from 7-11 for take out to eat when we get back to our accommodation.
We left the park at around 5pm since I was tired, I rode the super viking twice and it made my head spin a bit. Riding a jeepney back to our hotel took some time but thankfully we got back before dark.
Total Spending in Skyranch:
Jeep to Skyranch from Bethesda: P8 x 2 = P16
Metrodeal Ride all you can:
Keychain Souvenir: P750+180= P 930
Partner’s Gulaman: P15
My Mango Smootea: P60
7-11 Dinner for both of us: P63
Jeep to Bethesda: P16
Total Skyranch Day Spending: P1,798
I actually did something stupid for our Metrodeal voucher for this part of the trip. I accidentally got the Zoobic Safari (in Subic) instead of the Paradizoo vouchers. In the end I contacted them via FB and via text messaging and they said that they will still honor the Zoobic Safari Vouchers in Paradizoo. It was a bit more expensive but we still made the most out of it.
So we arrived really early so we had the chance to go around on our own and take pictures in solo mode. After a few hours we came back to the entrance and we saw they were going to tour some teachers for field trip ocular and I asked if we can join them and they allowed us. So for our next walk around the area we got to know some trivia.
Below is the vicinity map of Paradizoo. We actually saw this map for our round 2, but we realized that the layout of the area is pretty easy to understand. We were actually able to walk around on our own even without a guide.
Below are some of the farm animals we saw. I found them really cute! I don’t know if you notice “Voltes 5” the 5 legged cow! I was astounded by the size of the ostrich too! It’s been ages since I’ve seen an Ostritch and I’ve never realized it was so big and majestic! The Donkeys and Miniature Horses were pretty cute too I wish I had a farm so I can also have pet donkeys and horses. They also have lots of ducks, bunnies and pigeons! They also sell some of this animals so if you want a pet guinea pig maybe this is the place to go.
By the way I don’t know if I mentioned it yet but most of the photos here are taken by my partner ! You can view his Instagram here where he posts mostly, still life, landscape and animal pictures. Below are some pictures of a FEW, and I say only a few of the beautiful floras that can be found in Paradizoo. You can definitely see more and even see how the gardeners are taking care of the plants. It is an awesome sight to behold. Very great place for nature lovers. While I was there I just keep on remembering why I love nature and how it energizes me so much and why I really want to own a farm in a quiet country side someday.
We got to Paradizoo at around 9am and by 11:30am we were done touring so we walked halfway to Savemore Supermarket in Emilio Aguinaldo Highway. I say halfway because we literally walked around 3km but we sorta got lost and couldn’t take the heat of the sun so in the end we rode a jeepney. We ate light lunch and visited Rowena’s souvenir shop and got Buko Pie for dinner.
Randomly looking at Instagram some photos of Tigers and Lions were tagged as #Paradizoo but I have no idea if it’s the same place since I definitely didn’t see any lions or tigers in there~
Total Spending in Paradizoo:
Tricycle from Bethesda to Paradizoo: P120
Metrodeal Day Tour w/ Entrance Fee (Zoobic Safari but got it redeemed at Paradizoo):
Jeep to Savemore: P16
Pepsi 1 Liter: P37.50
Buko Pie for Dinner: P200
Jeep back to bethesda: P16
Total Spending in Paradizoo: P1,105.5
Puzzle Museum is less than 2 km from Bethesda and since we often wake up at 6am we were able to travel early at around 9am and we walked to Puzzle Museum from Bethesda while basking in the morning sun.
As you can see from the picture above puzzle museum is pretty scenic on the outside while on the inside it’s very awe inspiring. Everywhere I look there are puzzle, and mostly they aren’t ordinary puzzle, imprinted on them are amazing works of art. Puzzle Museum combines the traditional art museum with an amazing twist. PUZZLES! It makes me remember my younger days when I tried building a 1,000 piece puzzle and failed. In there large 32,000 pieces puzzles will make you want to challenge yourself and build one yourself.
We were there early so again we explored on our own but later on another group arrived and we joined on their tour so we also heard a lot of Trivias. There are a lot of kind of puzzle, from wooden puzzles, 3d puzzles and of course the traditional puzzles. The Puzzle Museum is also a Guiness Book World of record awardee and I wouldn’t be surprised. Like seriously it has a big collection!
A lot of reviews in the Fb page actually complains of the puzzle mansion as feeling like a department store but in truth I personally am able to appreciate it. When we were there it was quiet and peaceful and it makes me reflect on the kind of lifestyle the collection owner had. I was able to imagine that she probably loves to travel and appreciates art which I got correctly. My thought was confirmed by the very funny tour guide. Sadly, the collector Georgina Gil-Lacuna has already passed away last 2014 but her children and other relatives have been honoring her through the museum. They also completed the biggest puzzle in the world in her place. It was 70% complete only when she died and it was her relative who completed the last 30% as a tribute for her.
Overall, I really appreciated the place, I was a bit overwhelmed with her large collection but I think thats part of what really made it great for me. It felt like I can stay there for a long time and just appreciate all sort of art and puzzles. There is just magic when you combine art and puzzle like combining art and logic. Visiting this place definitely made me want to build some puzzles. My Partner suggested that hopefully Puzzle Mansion includes an interactive area where visitors can build puzzles. Well, I hope they do so too.
View their Fb Page Here: https://www.facebook.com/PuzzleMansion/
Total Spending in Puzzle Mansion:
Entrance to Puzzle Mantion: P100 x 2 = P200
Picture Puzzle Souvenir: P700
The Flower Farm
Honestly we weren’t able to decently visit this place. I wasn’t able to research this place and it wasn’t part of the itinerary I made but spontaneously we rode a tricycle from Puzzle Mansion to the Flower Farm for P50 pesos. Unfortunately they don’t accommodate you if you are not a group of 10 people. Entrance fee is P180 pesos per person and the minimum is a group of 10. When we asked if me and my partner can visit they told us we need to pay P1800 pesos (meaning we had to pay for 8 non existent people with us). We declined and just used the time to walk back to our accommodation while just breathing Tagaytay air, sight seeing and just generally bonding over the most mundane part of the trip, walking back “home”
Total Spending in Flower Farm:
Tricycle from Puzzle Mansion to Flower Farm: P50
We rode a jeep from Bethesda to Savemore so we can buy more souvenir going home. After buying souvenirs we rode a bus going back to pasay.
When we arrived in Pasay, we booked a Grab Taxi in hope of getting a cheap but comfortable ride home.
Sadly, it was our check out and Grab Taxi trip going home which was most disappointing. I’m thinking that maybe this is a sign that we shouldn’t go home yet. Hahaha, anyway so as I’ve mentioned we had some issues upon check out at Bethesda but what’s worse is our Grab Taxi experience. I’ve already reported the driver and I’m hoping that they take action on it.
1.) Issue was we weren’t picked up at our pick up location. Instead the driver made us walk to him.
2.) He insisted we pay a higher booking fee than the one stated in the Grab App
3.) He made his own long way route which made the meter fare exceed the estimated fare in the app.
4.) His Taxi had a broken trunk. I was pretty neutral about this until I just didn’t feel like a satisfied customer with his service.
5.) Overall I use the Grab App to deal with drivers who treat their customer well but I just didn’t feel this when I was riding with this taxi.
I can’t help but feel all the more sad with the LTFRB issue on Uber and it’s suspension.
Thankfully me and my partner got home well, we ate dinner and continued our bonding until we uploaded our pictures and finished watching season one of Cooking Battle Souma.
Total Spending Going Home:
Bethesda to Savemore: P16
Souvenir: P780 + P220
Savemore to Pasay: P174
Grab Taxi Pasay to home: P436
Total Spending Going Home: P1,626
Overall Spending for this trip:P10,647.5
Honestly our budget was P10,000 for both of us but we over budgeted a bit by 647.5 to be exact. Honestly some things didn’t go as plan but that’s why when going on a trip make sure you have extra money just so you can be ready for anything. I can pin point which part really made us over budget and honestly I wish we could have avoided it but overall I had fun with this trip. It’s a great for a first time traveller like us. I mean when we go out of town it was often with family but this time it was just the two of us and there are realization of course.
Anyway I feel super refreshed now so I’m thankful for my birthday week trip.
Graphic Design in our Travel
Well As a Graphic Designer of course I can’t help to observe the signages and Graphic Design Related Collaterals I run into everyday. What’s very funny was during our trip this designer meme was really relevant to me.
In this picture can you see the 123rf watermark on this picture? HAHAHA, we saw this in one of the display in Skyranch! There was actually another one with a . picture of a donkey with 123rf watermark in Paradizoo too. As a designer it surprised me how a lot of company probably didn’t hire a proper designer to layout this collaterals for them. Or, maybe they hired a designer but didn’t pay for the stock photo. There are a lot of reason but in the end I don’t think as a viewer that it will leave a clean impression. After all a watermarked image just screams of messy for me personally. An image cannot be fully appreciated if it’s marked with a gigantic watermark all over.
Well I guess my tip to business owners are before approving final artworks and sending them to print please don’t forget to double check the images for watermarks so you’ll leave a great impression to your customers with a fully polished marketing collateral.
To my fellow graphic designer, don’t forget to ask your clients to buy the images in your proposed artworks 🙂 Well unless they run away and don’t pay you which may just be unfortunate and thus it is where down payments come in, but that’s for another story.
Overall I hope you enjoyed reading about my birthday travel! Let me know what you think! If your have any Questions, Feel free to send them through my contact form here! I also welcome comments and suggestions!