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Archive for June 2012

I Hate Waiting

I've always hated waiting, even if it's for a good thing. I'm always known to be a very impatient person! I think thy waiting can be a waste of time!

I'm sitting here in greenbelt now, waiting for a friend more than 3 hours late. Le sigh. I wish I stayed at home for those hours and just watched telly or caught a few hours of Zzz before going here. Might have saved a few bucks too by not eating lunch out.

On the good side: I got some nice jeans from forever 21 and a free comic book from fully booked. Still mulling over if I'm going to purchase a few books from
National bookstore or fully booked. They finally have the book "the statisical probability of love at first sight" by jennifer e smith and "never let me go" by kazuo isihiguro. Now I'm still mulling over if I would just buy those books full price or wait until they go on sale - even at 20% off.

Ugh, I'm already bored. I hate being bored!

England: Leeds Castle

Last year, when I got a chance to go back to England, I vowed to make the most of my time exploring the area. On one very sunny weekend, my friends and I went off to Leeds Castle.

When I first heard of the place four years ago, I thought it would be in faraway Leeds. Until my boss at the time corrected me and told me it was just located in Surrey, an hour or so away from London.

To get there, you'll need to take a train from London's Victoria Station and go down at the Bearsted stop. From Bearsted, take a bus that will take you to Leeds Castle.

The castle is known for it's fabulous and spacious gardens, and also for the maze! Lots of families also flock here during the weekend (specially if it's sunny) to eat picnics in the massive grounds.

There's loads of things to do in the area. When you get there, you could grab both a grounds and palace ticket, which will allow you access to the castle and the gardens. If you only want to go to the maze, just get the grounds ticket!

I honestly loved the gardens: there are swans all over, and water too: giving a very romantic and tranquil feel to the place. Too bad I didn't have a special someone to share it with!

The castle is also worth exploring- I always love everything thats historic, grand, and old.

You could also watch the bird show they have. They don't actually perform, but is a venue for the birds to stretch their wings a but and fly around the massive grounds. They don't bite, and always come back anyway!

So if you're looking for a nice place o go to whilst in England, do consider Leeds Castle :)

NKOTBSB in Manila Part One

So, last June 3 was one of the best concert experiences in my life. One of my favourite boybands, BSB, has partnered up with another super boyband, NKOTB to make up NKOTBSB.

For those of you who don't know the acronyms: BSB- Backstreet Boys
NKOTB- New Kids On The Block
There. Acquainted now?

And so I got a txt and facebook message from friends while I was at Incheon International Airport in Korea and forwarded a poster to me: NKOTBSB on June 5. Oooh, count me in, I said to my friends. Only to find out the ticket prices a few weeks later and dismayed the hell out of me!

The SVIP area (first three rows) cost nearly 14000 pesos ($330+ £200+) (note: all prices are rounded up as I cannot remember the exact prices), the VIP area costs 9000 pesos ($230 £150), Lower Box around 8000 pesos ($200 £120), Upper Box at 3800 pesos ($100 £60) and General Admission at 1100 pesos ($30 £16).

It was much too expensive for my liking! And also, way off my original budget of 5000 pesos ($130 £75). My friends at the time were trying to buy VIP tickets but I politely declined, saying I will get the Upper Box as that was the closest to the stage given my very limited budget. It doesn't help that they will hold the venue at the Mall Of Asia Arena, a brand new concert venue in the metro, one we are not familiar with.

Anyways, I completely put the concert out of my mind - I don't want to regret buying the ticket (I could buy a plane ticket to Korea, Japan or any other international destination given that price) and I was also resolved in not watching anymore.

However, at the back of my mind, I was hoping for cheaper tickets and lo and behold, Groupon sold an offer to the ticket three days before the concert (on May 31st) at 50% off the original price. Perhaps because the original price of the tickets are so steep there's few people who bought them, and hence the offer. I immediately snapped a VIP seat at half off even though I have no idea where I was going to be seated.

On June 1st, I was lucky enough to get half day off from work and headed off to the Groupon office to claim my ticket. Knowing that there were hundreds who already bought the deal, I knew I was in for a chaotic afternoon and I was definitely not disappointed. The office was a bit hard to find- only directions I could give is that it's in Chino Roces Ave, and is near the Magallanes MRT station, walking distance!

When I arrived, the tickets weren't there yet! Apparently, they were still in transit (although I had a feeling thy were still being printed) and we had an option to wait for it or just have it shipped to our home addresses by the next day.

Since I was a paranoid android, I decided to wait. I didn't have anything else planned for the evening anyway. I'm all fairness and respect to the Groupon staff, they did everything that they can to keep us comfortable during the wait: offering us snacks, drinks, and chairs. They also offered updates now and again. Who could say no to that?

I finally got my tickets at around 7pm and woohoo!! I'll see NKOTBSB! It's finally real!

Watch out for part two of my post-
It will cover what happened at the concert itself :)

Applying for a Chinese Visa (Philippine passport holders)

With my trip to Shanghai, China in June, I had to apply for a Chinese visa at least a few weeks Abefore the trip, otherwise I would never be allowed entry to their country. First off, to get a Chinese visa, they require the following:

1. Filled out form wih a passport photo (white background)
2. Photocopy of your passport's information page (the one with your photo on it, etc)
3. Photocopy of the back part of your passport: the emergency contact page must also be filled out.
4. Original bank certificate with receipt issued within the month you are applying the visa for. I think you'll need at least P50,000 in the account, but if it's more then it's better
5. NBI Clearance valid for travel abroad (for first time applicants only)
6. Photocopy of your SSS ID and your contributions (you can get your contributions from the sss website, the Chinese embassy accepts that. Saves you a lot of time in queueing up at the SSS office nearest you just for a printout).
7. TIN ID & latest 2316 form if you're employed or self-employed
8. Roundtrip plane ticket & hostel/hotel/guest house booking.

So, first things first, where is the Chinese Embassy?

Well, it could be found in Buendia. From Edsa, go down at Buendia MRT then ride the jeepney going to RCBC and go down at the World Centre building. Just follow the signs to the Chinese Embassy. No need to take the elevator as the stairs going to the second floor is enough to bring you to the Embassy.

Full address:

The Embassy of the People's Republic of China
Second & Third Floor
The World Center
330 Sen Gil Puyat Avenue
Makati City, Philippines

Before I go on with my experience with getting the visa, let me provide a brief background of myself: I am 20-something, employed in a multinational company for 5 years, and have been working for more than 6 years now. I have enough cash in my bank account, and also have travelled to several countries (Hong Kong, Macau, UK, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, among others).

So, my day began quite early, I arrived around 830AM at the embassy (45 minutes later than what I was hoping) so there was a small queue of people outside the embassy door, waiting to go in. Just tell the guard that you are going to apply for a Chinese visa. There is a metal detector going in, and tell the receptionist you're applying for a visa and she will give you a number.

Wait for your number to be called (it took ages for my number to be called) and once you are at the counter, just present your documents to the consul and he/she will review if your documents are complete and will ask some questions relating to your trip.

I was only asked two questions: What are you going to do in China & how long will you stay? To which I answered: "I'm going there to sightsee and I'm only staying for four days."

The consul double checked my documents again, then gave me a pink slip telling me to come back on a certain day. In my case, I applied on June 22, and he asked me to come back on June 25. Fast eh?

Since I was not free on June 25th (releasing times for the Chinese Visa is from 9-11AM), I asked if it was okay to get my passport on another date. He said that I could get a representative to get my passport on my behalf, as long as they are holding the pink paper. Sweet! Note that you do not have to pay for the visa when you submit your documents. You'll only pay for the visa when you claim your passport.

Anyway, on June 25th, I asked my mum to get my passport. She arrived at around 930-10AM at the embassy and got a number for the passport claiming.

Once her number was called, she went to Window 7 to pay P1400 (I applied for a single entry visa, valid for 3 months with a maximum stay in China for 14 days). If you're applying for a multiple entry visa then the charges are higher (I think around P2500, if I'm not mistaken).

Once you have paid the visa fee, you'll be issued a receipt and you have to fall in line in Window 6 according to the receipt number. So do remember who was in front of you at the line! In Window 6, you'll have to show the receipt and they will give your passport back!

Hurrah! That's it! Getting a Chinese visa is quite easy although the pain points are getting all the requirements ready (all the IDs and of course, the NBI Clearance) and queueing to pass your requirements (then again, it's the same as South Korea, you have to queue!)

Ahh the pains of travelling abroad when you have a Philippine Passport. Lots of time, money, effort & energy spent in securing all the needed documents and sleepless nights wondering if you're gonna be approved or denied.

Next stop for a visa-required country for me would probably be Japan! Fingers crossed! :)

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