Monthly Archives: August 2015

Today’s Sunset, August 27, 2015

It’s been a very busy two weeks as I catch up on work after a month-long business and leisure trip.  I would always come home late and today was no different except that I took the time to go out come sunset for a change in scenery.  Imagine my delight when I was greeted by this view.

The above was taken at the Aqua Sports.  Since the skyline was more colorful on the resort’s West Lagoon, I headed to Peninsula Beach for a different view.

So beautiful, isn’t it?  I especially loved looking at the defined clouds with their pastel colors that looked straight out of an Impressionist painting.

I also walked along the spillway footpath to capture the colorful skyline above Yucatan and Zanzibar Houses and Xanadu Lodge.

Over time, the once pastel colors became more vivid, turning the pinkish hues to red.

When I finally reached Peninsula Beach, the colors metamorphosed to mostly blue violet.

So serene, don’t you think?  Definitely, seeing views like these is the silver lining to working overtime.


Samboan: Gorion Beach Resort

sunset by the resort's beachfront

sunset by the resort’s beachfront

As mentioned in my previous post about Fantasy Lodge, we ended up staying at Gorion Beach because Fantasy Lodge was fully booked.

We became walk-in guests because the number on the official Samboan Android app turned out to be the personal number of the previous caretaker and while she was kind enough to provide us with the contact number of the owner (+63922 927 4645), no one was picking up or replying to our SMS when we contacted them.

I did not expect Gorion Beach to be my typical choice of resort, but I was still unprepared for the sorry state of our room.

our room

our room

Paint was peeling off at some parts of the walls and the furniture was mismatched and riddled with scratches. The lamp shade was dirty and the curtains were dusty, while the air-conditioning was very noisy.

Worse, the bathroom had yellow tiles and grout.

Gorion 02
And there were no toiletries, not even a roll of tissue paper. Good thing I always travel with tissues and wet wipes and my own set of toiletries.

The saving grace of this “resort” is its staff who are very kind and accommodating. This, and the fact that it is a beachfront property with beautiful views of the setting sun as evident from the main photo from this post.

Here is my set of sunset photos taken at Gorion Beach.

Gorion 06Gorion 05
Did you notice the strong waves? I haven’t seen anyone swim at the beach in front of Gorion in the two days that we were there, but Alex (one of our guides who is also a staff at the resort) assured us that it’s safe to swim here, but only during low tide.

We were lucky to have witnessed the setting sun from start to finish so we were able to watch it
paint the sky a golden yellow, to shades of red orange.

Gorion 04Gorion 08
By the way, Gorion Beach has cottages by its beach, and that’s where I took these photos, and where we stayed most of the time while we were sunset- watching.

Gorion 07
Ultimately, the sun retired into the horizon and we were left with just the colorful sky and the choppy waters to admire.

Gorion 09
And right before we left our spot a local sat by the beach to admire the views so I took her photo to add a focal point to this shot.

Gorion 10

Despite these lovely views and its proximity to local attractions and even the local market, I am still not recommending Gorion Beach Resort because its accommodations are not well-maintained. I don’t mind a bare accommodation so long as it’s clean and sadly, our room just wasn’t.

Samboan: Fantasy Lodge

Fantasy 01

So after writing a teaser post about my trip to the US, which kept me off blogging for almost 2 months, I’m back to writing about where I left off.

Now Fantasy Lodge is my fondest memory of Samboan. I fell in love with its rustic charm at first sight online, and it’s just too bad that it was fully booked during our stay so we ended up staying at Gorion Beach. Still, we took the time to visit Fantasy Lodge for lunch.

Food was our greatest challenge in Samboan because there were no decent restaurants in the area and we had to go to the wet market twice to eat at the same carinderia.  Thus, it was sheer joy to step into Fantasy Lodge to dine.

We ordered Pizza Margherita, Crème brûlée, and Piña Colada.

Fantasy 10
The pizza was good, though it would have been better if they used cherry tomatoes (I was under the impression that they used local tomatoes, which was more sour). My sweet tooth appreciated the Crème brûlée, though I would have appreciated it more if it wasn’t served too chilled. I didn’t like the Piña Colada because it tasted too strongly of rum so I managed just a few sips of it.

The owner was kind enough to let us wander around before and after our meal, so we had the opportunity to discover the resort’s facilities an appreciate its quaint charm.

Fantasy 06
I loved the tile floors of the hallway with some kind of boat on its wall and the hammock by the pool.

Fantasy Lodge had a spa too, but it was fully booked so even when our bodies were screaming for some pampering after our falls hopping adventure the day before, we had to skip this. Of course, they had a pool, a beachfront (we didn’t get to go all the way down to check this out), and unique accommodations like The Dome. They had a bar too with unique seating (the orange couches in the succeeding photo).

Fantasy 11
What I loved most at the resort was their viewdeck, which was perfect for lounging around while reading a book, or just chilling while appreciating the calming views of the sea.

Fantasy 04
Their pool was also nice, but too small for my taste, but because it was a small private resort, only registered guests have exclusive use of this facility, so I guess it’s fine.

Fantasy 03
Fantasy Lodge also has a beautiful garden. Here are some of my finds during my short visit.

Fantasy 09
Aren’t they lovely, especially the fully bloomed rose, but my favorite would have been the flower of the Passion Fruit, so here’s a solo shot of it.

Fantasy 05
They had this Plumeria tree too with vivid red flowers, which is really rare since I usually find this in white, yellow, or light pink.  What more, the same tree has flowers in different shades of pink and red.

Fantasy 07
What an interesting find.  Note the two vivid red ones and the solitary pinkish white plumeria flower with yellowish center.

At the resort, we also met their resident monkey named Pogi (Filipino for handsome), and he was quite the charmer. That is, until he bared his fangs.

Fantasy 08
Pogi was an entertainer at heart.  It would let out a whoop each time we passed by and each time I aimed my camera at him, he would stop moving around and “pose” so I could take a shot.

We were at Fantasy Lodge only for a couple of hours, but it became my fondest memory of Samboan because the place is just so pretty.  Someday, I will come back so I could spend a night or two.

Check out Fantasy Lodge when in Samboan.  Contact them via +63917 700 6027, or visit their official Facebook page.

Fantasy 02

Teaser Post about my Trip to the US, June to July 2015

Monument Valley

a visit to Monument Valley – one of the highlights of my trip

My apologies, since it’s been almost two months since my last post and that’s because I went to the US for a month-long business and leisure trip.

Here’s what kept me occupied while I was away.

Cornell University
If you remember this post, you’ll remember how torn I was about taking my company’s offer of management training at Cornell’s School of Hospitality Management. I realized it was too good an offer to pass up so in late June, I revisited Cornell to study Strategic Leadership and New Media for Hospitality.

me in Cornell

the customary photo-op at the university’s entrance

In between classes, I took the time to rediscover Cornell.  Here’s a photo of Triphammer Falls, perhaps the campus’ most popular falls, with a 55-feet multiple cascading falls.

Triphammer Falls
Ever the flower lover, I fell in love with the university’s Botanical Gardens.  Here’s one of my favorite photos from there.

daisies worshiping the sun

daisies worshiping the sun

Isn’t it amazing?  Someone noticed me photographing flowers at odd angles and asked me what I was doing.  When I showed her some of my photos, she was amazed and later joined me in shooting flowers with the camera lens pointed at the sky.

Niagara Falls
The school organized this trip.  I missed this the last time since they offer this only once during the 4-week summer class.

me in Niagara Falls
Despite the cloudy and at some points rainy weather, I found Niagara amazing, though many shared that the best views of the falls are seen from Canada.  Hmm.  Someday.  🙂

Buttermilk Falls
The Falls takes its name from the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake.

Buttermilk Falls
It’s been raining during our last week in Ithaca, so the water at the falls was a little murky.

New York
I was here only for 2 nights (the night before we left for Cornell and the night before we left for Washington DC).  Highlights of my stay here were my view of Manhattan’s nightscape on our first night and finally getting to sample Shake Shack (best burger ever!) on our last night.

NY nightscape
Washington DC
This was my first time in the country’s capital.  I had fun discovering the various attractions along the National Mall (my favorite would be the Smithsonian Castle).

me in DC

by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, with the Washington Monument behind me

Too bad the United States Capitol was under renovation during our visit.

renovation is underway for the United States Capitol Dome

renovation is underway for the United States Capitol Dome

Just look at all those black cars and men in tuxedos.  No wonder being here made me feel as if I were transported to the pages of James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, or to the shoot of popular TV shows 24 and Bones.

Reston, Virginia
We stayed here for 3 nights.  While our friend took classes at the Learning Tree, another friend and I had a gastronomic feast at the establishments along Reston Town Center.

me in Reston
We really didn’t explore Reston much since we opted to revisit Washington DC while here.


Edgartown Lighthouse in Martha's Vineyard

Edgartown Lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard

One of our friends lives in Falmouth so we stayed with her while in this state.  We visited Craigville Beach, Cape Cod, and  Martha’s Vineyard.

me in Martha's Vineyard
Las Vegas
Technically, we only slept here for 2 nights in preparation for our camping trip in Utah and Arizona.  We stayed at Stratosphere because it was our pick up and drop off points.  We did have the first night to stroll along the strip and again, we took the time to see Bellagio’s beautiful indoor garden (the theme this year was under the sea) and watch its dancing fountain.

Bellagio's Dancing Waters, with the Las Vegas nightscape as its backdrop

Bellagio’s Dancing Waters, with the Las Vegas nightscape as its backdrop

Utah and Arizona
We wanted to see the Grand Canyon and online, found Bindlestiff’s 3-day glamping that includes visits to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, and of course, the Grand Canyon.  While expensive at USD 595, it was worth it.  A trip of a lifetime indeed.

Zion National Park

This was our first stop.  Zion is Utah’s oldest national park known for its incredible canyons and spectacular views.

Bryce Canyon
Popular for its hoodoos, Bryce Canyon is actually not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters.  Pictured below is Thor’s Hammer that can be viewed only when one goes down a short hike from the topmost viewdeck.

Thor's Hammer
Lake Powell
me in Lake Powell

This is the US’s second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity after Lake Mead.

Hoover Dam
Constructed between 1931 and 1936, Hoover Dam was once known as Boulder Dam and is located on the border between Arizona and Nevada.

Hoover Dam
Antelope Canyon
Located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon with two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections namely Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.

the wave

the wave

This was my favorite part of our trip because I was amazed at the beautiful colors of the walls, which range from light to golden-yellow, and orange to red orange, with the occasional glint of purple here and there.

me on Antelope Canyon
Monument Valley
Known for its cluster of vast sandstone buttes, Monument Valley became popular after it was featured in many forms of media.

Monument Valley's West Mitten Butte

Monument Valley’s West Butte

We drove around the valley, which made me appreciate it beyond what I’ve seen on American West-themed movies.

Monument Valley 03
I loved the valley’s vivid red color and the buttes rising above the landscape.

me in Monument Valley
We camped here for the night and the following morning, woke up to this beautiful sunrise.

sunrise at Monument Valley
Beautiful, isn’t it?

Grand Canyon
Who needs an introduction to the Grand Canyon, one of America’s most iconic natural attractions?

Colorado River flows  through the Grand Canyon

Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon

This was the highlight of our trip made more memorable when I signed up for a helicopter tour of the canyons.  The above photo was taken mid-flight and while I got scared whenever the helicopter made sudden turns, the views made everything worth it.

Too bad the weather turned dreary at the end of our helicopter ride and during the remaining hours of our stay there.

before the rain

before the rain

Here’s a collage of photos from my visit to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Monument Valley.

me at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon

me at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon

Route 66
On our way back to Las Vegas, we stopped by the historic Route 66.  Introduced to my generation via the Disney movie Cars, Route 66, also known as Will Rogers Highway, became one of the most famous roads in America.  It originally ran from Chicago, IL through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, CA.

Route 66
Not only did we stop by here, we also got to dine at Delgadillo’s Snow Caps, a historic eatery and roadside attraction along Route 66.

We capped off our 2015 visit to the US with a visit to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland!

me in Disney
Disneyland in Anaheim, Los Angeles was celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and we felt lucky to be there.  Highlights of my visit included a ride to the Pirates of the Caribbean and Soarin’, and my Star Tours 3D, motion-simulated flight.   We also stayed until nighttime to experience World of Color.

And thus was how my recent visit to the US went.  More photos on my detailed blog per attraction soon!