AirBnb – M3: Our Brunei Home(stay)

Nomads do not have homes, they say. I beg to disagree. Wanderlusts, travelers, backpackers, find homes in unexpected places. It may not be where they permanently stay, but it is where their memories will forever wander back.

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I love this art!

This is M3 for me. When we decided to go to Brunei, we really did not have any idea what was in store for us. We even didn’t think they would have homestay available there considering the conservative culture.

When we checked AirBnb, we were proven wrong. There were several homestays available with a wide range of variation depending on price and location. We opted to get the cheapest (yet most appealing at first glance) since we were just going to spend the night sleeping and waking to another hectic day.

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❤ ❤ ❤ I added M3 to my favorites! 

We were lucky to have found M3. The first thing that caught my attention was the price. It was below Php 1,000 and it has air conditioning and very good feedback. They also offer tours around Brunei, Miri, and Kota Kinabalu. They can also take you on a wildlife trip where you can feed crocodiles!

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I immediately booked this through AirBnb. Our room was listed under “Nice and Cozy Room – Shared toilet” under M3. This homestay will appear if you search Bandar Seri Begawan. Just to clarify, the place is not in Bandar Seri Begawan exactly. It is located in Gadong which is a good 10 minute-bus ride with no heavy traffic.

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no heavy traffic!

Before we leave for Brunei, I communicated with the owner, Brandon. He gave me exact details on how to locate the place: all we would have to do is go to the central station and ride bus 55. We should alight at Supasave Beribi and cross the pedestrian bridge to Mamih Cafe. On the same area there is a hardware store named Goldmyne Hardware and there is a small slope next to it. We would have to climb the slope and that is M3! Does it sound complicated? Not really! That is the exact thing we did and we found where the place is!!! Awesome and clear directions!

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When we arrived, we were greeted by Mizzy, one of the hosts. She showed us our room. To our surprise, we were given a free upgrade! We upgraded to a big room with our very own toilet. We have a television, DVDs to watch, and a couch! The bed was large and cozy! The air conditioning was perfect too. They have centralized air conditioning and our very own AC inside the room.

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The bathroom is spacey too. They have hot and cold water which is perfect. It has a sink and a place where we can put our stuff when we are taking a bath.

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To top it all off, M3 has a wide front yard. This is perfect if you would just like to hangout outside and take a breath of fresh air. The place has a lot of greens around and they have the kindest neighbors with adorable dogs. Ate, as Mizzy endearingly calls the household helper next door, is a Filipina! She greeted us warmly when we arrived too!

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Mizzy, me, and my partner chatted the late afternoon away over coffee. We talked about the beautiful places in Brunei, the locals, things that we should and should not do…everything we needed to know. We were so grateful to have an accommodating host who would tell us the real deal about the country. She also gave us tips like how much the water taxi is. Also, when we visited, it was Ramadan. Mizzy messaged people to know if it was already Raya. If not, we will be able to see the mosques and other places since it will be open to the public.

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Hi Mizzy!

The 3 of us had dinner in Mamih Cafe after sunset. We were surprised at how good Mizzy is in speaking tagalog. She asked the waitress if she’s Filipina to which the waitress said yes!

Mizzy walked us through the menu and I ended up ordering Bah Kuh Teh and Kopy C, while my partner ordered Kopy O. I blogged about our Mamih Cafe experience HERE!!

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Before our host went home, she gave us the wifi password. The connection was good and we were able to surf with no problems. We slept peacefully that night and got up the next day to see Bandar Seri Begawan. We met Tze Yi, the other host, and she was warm and friendly! She even offered to drop us off to where we were going but we just woke up and were sort of embarrassed at how slow our pace is. LOL.

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She advised us where to eat since it was still Ramadan and restaurants were closed. She said that the restaurant on the Warisan Mata Mata Complex (the commercial area next to us, where Mamih Cafe is) houses a Chinese-fusion restaurant named Sing-U.Me Restaurant which is open. According to her, there are restaurants that are still open to accommodate non-Islams. All windows are covered with paper and there is a sign on the door that would say non-Islams can dine inside. This was a very helpful tip and we were so lucky to have known this!

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We dined like royalty that day because of Tze Yi! All thanks to her, we were able to discover good food in Gadong!

To read all about our adventures that day in Brunei, click HERE!

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We got home late that night and had our own Raya dinner. The dining area of the place is neat and the kitchen was spacious. We were able to use the microwave with such ease and water to clean up was not an issue.

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We woke up the next day ready to leave Brunei. We cleaned up our mess and messaged Mizzy that we were checking out. We left the keys and headed to our next destination.

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Honestly, our stay in M3 was unexpectedly pleasant. It was one of the reasons why I fell in love with Brunei. The hospitality of the people of Brunei was reflected at how good Mizzy, Tze Yi, and Brandon treated us. Everything we needed to know that actually helped us get by that day when we roamed around the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan, came from them.

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That’s Brandon over there! Famous!

I highly suggest that you stay here in M3! It will be worth your effort and the money you pay! Affordable, clean, spacious, and a very friendly place that is right next to a commercial area!

**To search for homestays and save money on your next trip, THIS IS THE LINK!!! You can also be an affiliate by signing up and sharing links to your friends. You get to earn while travelling! How awesome is that?!

**If you’re curious how we traveled from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei and earned 8 passport stamps, check my BLOG!

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How to Enjoy Brunei with Just 3,000 Php

Budget is an essential factor when travelling. As much as I would like to live the luxurious life and disregard my economical constraints, I simply can’t! When I booked for Bandar Seri Begawan, my thought was “I need a lot of money to enjoy the trip.” Thankfully though, I was proven wrong. So here is my story of how I enjoyed Brunei with Php 3,000.

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My forever travel, kuripot buddy!

We arrived in Brunei from Kota Kinabalu Saturday afternoon. From Muara Port, we rode the bus all the way to Bandar Seri Begawan which took around a good 30 minutes to an hour. What’s great about the bus rides in Brunei is that however near or far you are headed, the bus fare would always be 1 BND or around Php 37. It may look pricey but considering the distance that you will often travel, this is reasonable. Plus, if you need to transfer buses, they will give you a stub and you just hand it over to the next bus and not pay anymore.

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Please note that buses only operate until 6 PM. There will be some buses operating until 8PM but since it was Ramadan when we were there, we had to really make it to the 6 PM trip.

Our homestay is located in Jalan Mata-Mata, right next to Warisan Mata Mata Complex. This was booked through Air BnB (click this link to book your stay with AIRBNB!). For a very fair price, we were able to enjoy an impressive living space plus gain two friends in the form of our hosts Mizzy and Zee! THEY GAVE US A FREE ROOM UPGRADE from a shared toilet room to a King Size bedroom with toilet, by the way!!! You can read all about M3 HERE.

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Mizzy is awesome!!!

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Warisan Mata Mata Complex

After checking in and a good chat with our host, we headed to Mamih Cafe to have our dinner. Dinner in Brunei happens after sundown in compliance with Ramadan. I ordered Bah Kuh Teh and it was love at first taste! We also had Kopi C  and Kopi O which in the Philippines is the equivalent of coffee with milk and black coffee, respectively. The night was good and we were filled to our heart’s content! That night, our dinner cost us 13 BND or around 476 Php. For our full meal description and experience, click HERE.

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The night was rainy and there was nowhere left to go in Gadong but home. Besides, the trip to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu can be a bit tiring. A night in Brunei is calm and it is ideal to those who would prefer to rest up and get up early the next day for a packed adventure.

We woke up at 6 in the morning and headed to Sing U. Me Restaurant. This restaurant is one of the few ones open during holy week. Restaurants like this would have a sign on their doors in Malay that says non-Islams can dine inside and all windows and doors are covered with paper. Although majority of Brunei’s population is Islam, there are still some belonging to other sects. Out of common respect, everyone (even the tourists) are not to be seen eating or drinking in public. I honestly find this practice beautiful.

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Just as the night before, I ordered Bah Kuh Teh and other dishes. Their dimsum selection is a must try! They also serve seafood like huge, fresh shrimp and fish As do most restaurants in Brunei, a number of kababayans are working here. They were very patient with us in explaining unfamiliar dishes and made sure we enjoyed our experience. We overspent here, sadly. I am known to be highly impulsive when it comes to food. LOL. Make sure to check my review of this restaurant by clicking this sentence and find out why the 19 BND or Php 700 is so worth it!

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When you are caught in Bah Kuh Teh love

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Shrimps here are huge!

There are designated buses for every place in Brunei. Although you can view this at the Central Station, you can print a copy using this link.

Once you reach the Central station, you can walk around to some of the famous landmarks of Bandar Seri Begawan

  1. Tiang Yun Dian Chinese Temple/Teng Yun/Twa Pa Kung Temple

This temple is located at the corner of JLN Elizabeth Dua and JLN Kianggeh-just walking distance from the Central Station. Its name means “Temple of Flying Clouds”. This is so hard to miss as it’s structure is distinct and grand.

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When we went inside, it was pure solemnity. Candles offered to the gods were burning reverently as prayers were believed to ascend through the smoke. We asked permission, of course, if we can take photos, and the caretakers were more than welcoming.

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A detailed write up HERE by The Daily Brunei Resources.

BND Spent: 0

2. Makam Raja Ayang

This is one of the monuments that really sparked a particular interest in me. It may look like a typical shrine on the outside, but it actually has a story that tells so much of the Brunean culture,

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The story tells about a woman named Dang Ayang. She is of royal descent but was sadly caught in an immoral relationship with her sibling. This deed is punishable by death through stoning but no one at that time had the heart to execute the punishment. Some say that the people were swayed by the obedience of Dang Ayang. Instead, she was built a cavern prison in the middle of the forest and was provided food.There was also a vent where smoke comes out and once smoke ceases to appear, it would mean that they had already passed away.

The only proof that this was indeed the actual mound was the tombstone where words in Arabic were inscribed.

Check the detailed story by CLICKING HERE.

BND Spent: 0

3. The Lapau and Dewan Majlis Building

Situated next to each other, is the Lapau or the Royal Ceremonial Hall and the Dewan Majlis (House of the Parliament). This was where the current Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah was crowned.

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Aside from it was still Ramadan, we were not able to see the interior because permission was needed to be granted to us by the government to do so. The place is a beauty, though, from the outside. You can see the intricate designs on the roof and walls which would really make you admire the Brunean architecture style.

BND Spent: 0

4. The Royal Regalia Building

I have never seen so much gold in my life! The Royal Regalia Building is a museum that celebrates the 50 years of the country under the Sultanate of Hassanal Bolkiah. Photos and artifacts that were used during special ceremonies were stored here. The gifts of different world leaders to the Sultan were also displayed. For the security of the place, taking pictures on the second floor is not allowed. Bummer.

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On the first floor you will see the Royal Chariot that was used during the Royal Jubilee celebration. You will also see a grand entourage of mannequins wearing different traditional attires which commemorates the parade of the sultan during his coronation.

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You will not regret visiting the Royal Regalia as it is rich in history and, OMG GOLD! Also remember to remove your shoes and change to bedroom slippers before going in. In my case, I just removed my shoes and walked around in my socks. Sorry. I can be slow sometimes.

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That’s my boots over there. Left it and walked in my socks like a bad ass.

BND Spent: 10 BND for 2 keychains, 2 ref magnets, and a postcard

5. Brunei History Centre

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We were not able to make it inside the building. The announcement of Raya has emerged and they had to close for the celebration. If you will be visiting the place, please remember that the museum is closed on Fridays. Here, you can see the history and the family tree of the Sultans in Brunei. It was also initially established to conduct further research on the history of the country.

BND Spent: 0

6. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Library

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This is a public library with over 385,000 books –heaven for the likes of me and my friends! You will not miss this building along Jalan Elizabeth II because of its huge mural showing the culture of Brunei through the eyes of someone who reads. Beautiful concept!

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BND Spent: 0

7. Jabatan Hal Ehwal Syariah or the Department of Syariah Affairs

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Taken from the gardens of Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddin

Located just beside the Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddin, this building is a proof of how serious the people of Brunei in following the laws of their religion. Aside from the discussion and organization of laws, events such as workshops to improve the foundations of Islam is held here.

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BND Spent: 0

8. Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddin

Named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is undoubtedly the highlight of our Brunei trip. It sits in all its glory on the banks of Kampong Ayer and if you are to fly over Bandar Seri Begawan, you are not to miss the grand dome of the structure which is made of pure gold.

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We were only allowed outside as prayers were being held in light of Raya. Who are we to complain? The beauty of the garden is breathtaking! I read over the Internet that the carpets inside the mosque were of fine materials from Saudi Arabia and the magnificent chandeliers inside were from Europe. Here, we resolved to visit again and see more of the masjids and marvel at their beauty.

BND Spent: 0

9. Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex

At this point, I had become so thirsty that I really needed to take a gulp. Given the circumstances, however, we simply cannot. We saw this beautiful mall just across the lagoon where Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddin is situated. There were fast food joints inside like KFC and, guess what…Jollibee!!!

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We noticed that these restaurants were open but only for to-go orders. We went straight to KFC and ordered 3 large sodas and headed out to the convenience store and bought a large bottle of mineral water. The dilemma came when we didn’t know where and how to drink it since it was not allowed. People were even throwing us looks because we sat at KFC with drinks on our table (sorry :((( ).

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Haggard moments. No food. No drinks. Just the heat.

Luckily we found Chewy Junior!!! Yes! The cream puff store we know and love in the Philippines. They were on sale – half the price off everything – since it’s the holy week. Here we met another Filipina. She is in charge of the stall and by how we probably looked she could tell that we were really thirsty! She allowed us to hide behind the oven and drink. SALAMAT PO ATE!!!

BND Spent:  3 large sodas for 1.50 BND each, 1 bottled water for 1 BND, 2 large pieces of Chewy Junior Cheesecake Cream Puffs for 5 BND

10. Mercu Dirgahayu 60

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This monument is located near the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex, right across Kampong Ayer. It takes a very interesting shape that symbolizes a lot about the philosophy of the country. The Mercu Dirgahayu is a gift of the Brunei people to Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkian for his 60th birthday. It takes the form of the Arabic numeral equivalent to 60 at the center of 5 pillars representing the 5 obligations of Islam. It also represents the close relationship of his majesty to his people and how he is full of wisdom and looked up to by his people.

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BND Spent: 0

11. Kampong Ayer

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Home of 10% of Brunei’s population, Kampong Ayer or Water Village, has been named as the Venice of the East. This village is located above the river waters and its main transportation are the water taxis. The community is complete! It has a market, schools, restaurants, shops, etc! Majority of the houses we saw has air conditioning and our boat driver mentioned that cable television and Internet connection is good in that area. It was also said that the government provides those who wishes to live there a good means of living to promote the growth of the largest water village in Asia.

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BND Spent: 10 BND for the boat ride. We haggled! It was just supposed to be 2 BND but with the rise of the number of tourists that day, the prices went up to 20 BND. We were glad the boat driver agreed to our price and still gave us a good tour. 

12. Sungai Kebun Bridge

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When we first arrived in Bandar Seri Begawan, this bridge immediately caught my attention. It’s structure, in all its massive glory, can literally render you speechless. They say that this bridge was made to connect Muara to Bandar Seri Begawan to improve business relations and that there is another bridge that is in the process of construction that is twice its size and length, connecting Muara to Temburong District (boarder of Sarawak, Malaysia). WOW.

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BND Spent: 0

13. Gadong Night Market

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Food park is also a hit in Brunei. We were in the right place and in the right time because during our stay, we get to celebrate the first day of Raya! Food and fireworks were everywhere! What really got me is the Gadong Night Market. Unlike in the Philippines, Brunei night markets are more of an “afternoon market”. They open at around 3 PM and close at 5:30 PM to 6 PM. Also, no one eats at the night market. Everything is to-go.

If you are slow in deciding which dish to buy, you might end up going home without anything. Seriously! The food is so good that it does not last the entire operating hours! As expected, we went over our budget here. The spicy cockle I begged my partner to buy was worth 5 BND…but believe me it was worth it! We also bought sate, rice cake, Kuih Malaya (which is like coconut pancakes with peanut butter and A MUST TRY!), stir-fried noodles, and Nasi Katok (this dish has a pretty interesting backstory which I will be sharing to you soon!).

I also bought a glass of iced chocolate drink which is actually a life-saver!

BND spent: 13 BND

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We went home from Gadong Night Market at around 5:30 PM. Sadly, there were no more buses left and everyone is celebrating the holiday. We walked for 30 minutes  just to get home and got lost a little bit since it was so hard to recognize freeways at night! Thank goodness we arrived just in time for us to have our very own Raya dinner 🙂

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It was so hard to wake up the next day because of our full stomachs and tired legs that we missed the first bus trip from the Central Station to Muara Port. We were told that we can ride Bus 38 and just transfer buses to get to the port. That we did. Here we met the bus driver of Bus 38, Allan Jasmin. He is also a fellow Filipino. We noticed how he would greet every one who rode the bus and even asked any Filipino who would ride this trip how they are and how their lives are doing. I find his personality very refreshing since it is so seldom that you see someone so happy and optimistic while doing his job.

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While riding bus 38, we get to pass by the Office of the Prime Minister and the different homes of the ambassadors from foreign countries. We even passed by the Philippine Ambassador to Brunei, Meynardo LB. Montealegre’s home. I also found out just recently that the Ambassador is my elementary school teacher’s in-law!!! Lucky! We promise to drop by and say “hi” the next time we visit. 🙂

We arrived at the drop-off point of Bus 38 and were instructed by Kuya Allan to wait for the next bus heading to Muara Port. When he found out that we were going to ride the ferry, he mentioned that we were running late and might miss it. At that moment, he did the uncanny. He requested for the other passengers to alight the bus! Imagine, they were nationals! He said in a very nice tone that he will just drop us off and he will go back to them to resume the trip. We were so filled with gratitude towards Kuya Allan. He dropped us off at the gates of Muara Port and were able to make it just in time to ride Shuttle Hope. We missed the Express Kinabalu to Labuan and had we missed Shuttle Hope, we would have stayed there another night with no homestay reservations!

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This is Kuya Allan! Our life-saver!

Kuya Allan mentioned that he has a daughter working here in the Philippines in the call center and if by chance you happen to read this, which is a long shot, I hope you know that your father is a very good man. He is working really hard and still manages to put a smile in other people’s faces. It really is something to be proud of!

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As we rode Shuttle Hope and leave for Labuan and Kota Kinabalu, I realized how much I enjoyed Brunei. The country made me realize how beautiful Islam is. Their government is strong and sturdy, and most importantly, cares so much for its people. They are strict in implementing their laws and that actually puts order in place.

If you were to ask me if I would visit Brunei again, my answer will definitely be YES. The culture is rich, the people are friendly, and the streets are clean! Also, I only spent roughly Php 3,000 here!

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Here’s a breakdown of everything:

Expenses

If you are going to visit Brunei, I highly recommend for you to visit Jerudong Park (amusement park) and Tungku Beach! This is near M3 or the place we stayed in. We regret not seeing those places but we would not trade the culture-filled experience we had in Brunei. Travelling really does mean learning and I had so much of that in this country.

Terima Kasih, Brunei!

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Starbucks 2017 Planner Unboxing and Review

One of the known, ongoing traditions every holiday is the race to obtain the annual Starbucks Planner. This year, Starbucks Philippines is presenting something different: the planner in full color!

With a total of 18 stickers (that’s 9 holiday drinks + 9 drinks of your choice), you will not only get the planner itself but a pouch, an erasable pen, stickers, and, yes, discount vouchers that promises to give you treats almost every month!

For a closer look at the Starbucks 2017  Planner, do check my video below ^___^:

 

As promised, here are the photos of the vouchers that goes along with the planner. Again, remember, each voucher has a particular month to use it on (I arranged it from top to bottom, left and then right). If you probably noticed, there are only 10 vouchers on the Starbucks Planner 2017–November and December aren’t included. My best bet would be that the 2018 planner will be launched by that time, this year.

 

 

Highlights of the Planner:

  • Discounts! Free stuff! –and that’s throughout the year!
  • Collectors Item: colored, finally.
  • Lots of things that comes along with it (e.g. erasable pen, pouch, stickers, magnetic bookmark).
  • You get to help charities Teach for the Philippines & Philippine Educational Theater Association.

Flip Side:

  • If you are not really a coffee drinker, the vouchers have no use.
  • Paper thickness is not so much compared to last year. Be careful in using heavy-tinted pens as it may blot the next page
  • You have to spend around 2,000 Php to get this planner or a go-big-or-go-home 7,000 Php on a single purchase receipt.

 

The issuing of stickers is only until January 8, 2016 so if you have not yet completed your card,  it’s time to call for backup!

I sure hope I helped you decide whether you are getting the Starbucks Planner 2017! Let me know what you think on the comment section below ^_^

 

 

Blackbeard’s Seafood Island x Belle de Jour Voucher: Food and Reunions

Blackbeard's Seafood Island Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While it is true that this is the season of good cheer, it is also the moment of blissful reunions and gatherings. Thanks to Seafood Island, our get-together was a blast!

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Before, I blogged about the Training Team (see post HERE) and how we celebrate the love of feasting. From the time I posted that blog entry, a lot has changed. Some transitioned, while  some stayed. Nevertheless, our love for eating still unites us. I am also grateful to Belle de Jour’s vouchers because of the discounts we can utilize in moments like these.

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The deal is to order an Island Sinugba Espesyal boodle good for 5-7 persons and your Belle de Jour Voucher entitles you to a free Grilled Tuna Panga. That we did! The moment it was served, we were so enchanted as it was more than what we expected. Seafood Island ensures that you get your money’s worth. The meal comes with 2 crabs and an overwhelming amount of rice and shellfish. It is a validation that delicious can be healthy!

 

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The team wolfed over the lavish dinner in between reminiscing and the never-ending “how-are-yous”. We were also very gracious because the Seafood Island staff never let us hanging even for a bit. They were there to attend to us despite the hectic and demanding Friday crowd.

It was all pure happiness with every bite we took. The togetherness was  felt and it was something we cherished. Seafood Island was our catalyst in remembering the good times we shared in the past.

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The Belle de Jour voucher discount for Seafood Island was practical. Having an extra grilled tuna panga prolonged the time we spent with each other eating. Believe it or not, with all the ulam we had, we still had leftover rice! A bonus tip should you wish to dine at Seafood Island Eastwood, schedule it on a Friday. There are a lot of promo people wandering about, handing free drinks, food, and the like. A definite budget saver! However, if you are handed alcohol and cigarettes, please make sure you are of legal age.

We, the Training Department, may no longer be together in one company but the bond we share will be everlasting. Good food will always connect us. Discounts, however, will save us from this vice.

  *The Perks of a Bella voucher book is free with every purchase of the Belle de Jour Power Planner. The Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017 is now available at ilovebdj.com

Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017: Ride the Waves [Unboxing]

The Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017 is a must-have for every woman, young and old, who wishes to not just keep their schedules organized but also have a daily dose of inspiration. This is something that sets the brand aside compared to the other planners in the market. Face it, it is sometimes tough being a “she”. This organizer will let you know that you are not alone in your battle.

Can a planner really do that? Definitely! The Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017 lives by the tagline “Rise Above the Waves”. This is our battle cry that all obstacles are, nonetheless, conquerable. Nothing is impossible! Below is my unboxing video and short review of the product:

 

I certainly hope that my review was helpful and as promised, here are the vouchers included on the Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017. Feel free to click them and get a better view 🙂

 

Are you purchasing the Belle de Jour Power Planner 2017? Share with us your reason or if you have already bought it, let us know what you think on the comments section below!

Cheers!

Janni

Puerto Galera: 6 Ways to Make Your Visit Affordable

Puerto Galera has been dubbed as one of the most frequented spots not only every summer but all throughout the year. On my first post about the island (CLICK HERE), I have highlighted some of the less-exposed, yet equally beautiful places to be while in this paradise.  

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Now this blog post is all about the places and activities you can take advantage of while working on a tight budget. Definitely, these tips are not to compromise the whole Puerto Galera experience.

  1. Accommodation

Truly, White Beach is the center of all the happenings on the island. You will also notice how fine the sand is and how vast the seashore on this side of the island compared to the other beaches of Puerto Galera. The downside though is that these things attract majority of the tourists, making the place crowded and highly commercialized. Since there is a high demand, the price of goods is, well…expensive.

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White Beach! We were not able to swim, though. Too. Many. People.

Instead of staying in hotels located at White Beach and deal with the stress of big crowds, loud music, and high rates, why not stay in the more preserved areas instead? Dalaruan port serves as one of the best bets. Accommodation here begins at as low as 1,700 Php including welcome drinks and daily breakfast! I stayed at Bamboo Beach and it is such a scenic place to stay. Also, this is a good jump-off point to your island hopping and scuba diving escapades since from here, it takes just a short time to reach the Verde Island Passage (Laguna Point, Shipwreck Point, The Hill, and the widely renown Coral Gardens).

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You can also try checking travelbook.ph for accommodations in Puerto Galera. The thing with this booking site is that they have discounts that you can take advantage of and have the best price guarantee. You do not even need a credit card because they have an option to pay at the hotel. Literally, all you would have to do is reserve.

  1.  Food

With all the hustle and bustle of the hectic crowd in White Beach, restaurants are definitely a requirement! The prices are–as expected–high making your 100 Php lose its value. Usually, to eat a decent meal, you would have to spend 150 Php – 250 Php and that is just our typical inihaw with rice. Sad, isn’t it?

We have discovered Marginors Dine and Snack at the far east of White Beach, near the Verde Divers. The food here is unbelievably economical but the quality, amount of serving, and taste remains uncompromised. We only paid 90 php for Inihaw na Liempo with rice! They also have complimentary ice and water for all their customers unlike the other restaurants that you would have to purchase bottled water separately from the ice. Argh! 

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If you happen to visit Tamaraw Falls, I suggest you visit AJ Lomi House for those Instagram-worthy sights to behold (for more info CLICK HERE). Aside from the good view, good food starts at 50 Php! Yes. You read that right!

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  1. Shopping


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Tourists tend to go to the huge shopping area on the west-end of White Beach. When we went there, a huge wave of people were out and about that the shop attendants had a hard time focusing on customers. Luckily, we walked and discovered the other side of White Beach. Just right behind Marginors Dine and Snack is a shopping area that offers their goods way cheaper. If you are looking for the typical pasalubong of Puerto Galera shirts, keychains, and what-not, I strongly recommend the shop of Ate Anabelle and Kuya Christian just a few steps next to Marginors. Their prices are not just low but generous. Items that usually sell at 3 for 100 on the west side sells here for 5 for 100.  It is that good! She and her husband helped us a lot during our stay. It all started with an innocent purchase but when we got to know them, they oriented us on how to make the most of out of our visit without spending too much! I can never thank you enough! If you have problems looking for their stall, you can contact them at (0915) 290-8569.

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  1. Transportation

Habal-habal or riding on a motorcycle is the best way to go around the island on long distances. Aside from it’s fast, it also is the cheapest. However, you can go cheaper! You can contact Kuya Kristoffer at (0919) 228-6009 or (0995) 385-2280 and inquire how much for his service. He offers Puerto Galera Tours for as low as 1000 per person. Usual Inland Tours (Ponderosa, Tamaraw Falls, etc.) costs 3000/pax. His Tukuran Falls Tour is also affordable at 1500 Php compared to the 4000 Php offered by most. I can definitely vouch for Kuya Kristoffer since we personally met him and availed his services. He is such a helpful and honest man!

  1. Snorkelling and Island Hopping

This is the most commonly tried island activity in Puerto Galera aside from Banana Boat. If you are to take advantage of the offers at White Beach, this will cost around 2000 Php or more per boat/5-8 pax. Common destinations would be Haligi Beach, Sandbar Island, Bayanan Island, and Coral Garden. For Coral Garden, should you wish to snorkel, there is an additional 200 Php/pax charge. Honestly speaking, Haligi Beach and Bayanan Island are only beauty because of their shores. If you would like to take scenic shore scenes, then this is the tour for you. However, if you really want a sight to see, you can altogether skip this and go straight to Coral Garden.

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Our contact is Kuya Edward (0977) 685-1076. Our first stop was at Sandbar Beach for the mandatory beach pictures. We went straight to Coral Garden where we snorkled for FREE with gears and fish food for the marine life to gobble on. We held on to the ridges of the boat and were tugged across the vast garden. No words can ever explain the paradise we witnessed! We also saw the San Antonio Island Underwater Cave, and definitely witnessed the massive Giant Clams! Now, if you will be asking how much we spent, it was just 1,000 Php for 2 pax inclusive of everything!

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  1. Beachineering

White Beach is waaay too crowded. Sabang Beach on the other hand is a party hole especially at night. If you wish to just bum around the beach for free without the hassle of having to deal with a mob of crazy travelers, I have the best tip for you. Have you ever heard of Pebbles Beach or Aplayang Munti? Now this place is known for massive crowds but why am I referring you to this place? There is a Grotto that can be seen from the side of the road. This Grotto is facing the sea and it serves as the division between Aplayang Munti and the residential beach front. The challenge is to enter the beach from the Grotto down to the east side of the beach. Once you are there, you will witness how serene the beach really is and why it was called “Virgin Beach” before it was Aplayang Munti/Pebbles Beach (read all about how I met a very kind family and their dog here).

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Crossed the Grotto and survived!

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On top of it all!

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Now, whoever would have thought that Puerto Galera can be one of your budget travels? As they say, no journey is expensive. You just have to work your way through the backdoors. Let me know if you tried these tips and comment below!

 

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