Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valley – Whakapapa Ski Area at Mt. Ruapehu

February 14, 2019

Less than a month and summer will be over. And here I am posting an entry about what I did last Winter! I’ll try to blog more (weh?!) to share with you our adventures here in New Zealand. I'm currently at home nursing a weird sickness so why not blog to keep the boredom away.

Last August, Jeff and I, along with two of our friends, went to Mt. Ruapehu. Since July, we’ve already booked each other’s calendar for this Winter getaway. To make the most of this trip, we left Auckland on Friday night and arrived in Turangi after an almost 5-hr drive. It was a very long and tiring drive but achievement unlocked for me as this was my first longest drive ever!

We stayed at Judges Pool Motel for 2 nights. I really like this place because it allowed us to do late night check-in with no extra charge. Also, the size of the room is spacious enough for 4 people. It’s a 1 bedroom unit with private deck, kitchen and bathroom. The unit has 1 double bed in the bedroom, 2 single beds on the living area, sofa, cabinets and most importantly, heater. Haha.
The kitchen also provided all the basic kitchen needs including cutlery, plates, toaster, water kettle and cooking pans. 
Day 2 was our snow day. Since none of us would like to drive on roads with snow, we opted to book Adventure Headquarters for our shuttle service to go up to the mountain. I also booked them last year and we all liked their very prompt service. They picked us up in front of our motel at 8:30 in the morning and we arrived in the mountain half past 9.
 These 2 are our contant travel buddies in NZ. :)
There was a long queue of cars and buses going up the mountain but I didn't mind because the view was breath taking. I’ve been here 2 years ago but I still felt the same excitement as if it was my first. 

The queue in the ticket counter was very long that it took us an hour before we got our tickets.
I only bought the Sightseeing ticket while Jeff got the Ski package. The sightseeing pass is more than enough for me to enjoy the mountain. It’s our first time to ride the lift and it brought us to the higher area of the mountain. As in sooooobrang ganda! I just felt bad a bit for Jeff because he was walking with ski boots already and I know how painful and uncomfortable it is.
Here are some of our snaps:

After sightseeing, we went down to Happy Valley for the boys to ski and us girls to try sled! OMG! It was soooo much fun! Though it hurt my butt and back a bit, I still rode the sled countless of times. I remember hitting my head when Jeff and I rode the same sled and tumble in the middle because of a hump. But even after that, I did one last ride then stop because we need to board the shuttle back to our motel again. The next day, I saw a huge bruise in my butt! Haha

This adventure is nothing but pure fun and laughter with friends. We’ve had endless photo shoots and video taking. And it’s also a bonus that it snowed later in the afternoon. Perfect IG moment! This is one for the books. I hope one day Jeff and I can bring our families and share the same joy we had when we are in the snow mountain.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ocean Park Hong Kong

January 07, 2017
Right after we check-in, we had a quick lunch near our apartment then went straight to Ocean Park. We don't have much time left because of the trouble we had at the apartment but even if we're not able to spend much time at the park, we still had fun. Actually, it's a bit of an advantage because the place was no longer crowded. Since we have a child and senior citizen in tow, we did not prioritize to take rides, instead, we opted to take pictures. Haha. corny =)) Well, we just actually roamed around. We took 2 rides, the Cable car and Ocean Park Tower. We also went there to see the Panda and Penguins.  Then after that, we played a game just so we can get the super cute and fluffy Unicorn stuffed toy. That pretty sum up our Day 1.

By the way, we're able to score cheaper park tickets at the airport :)

How to get there: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, we took MTR going to Admiralty station (red line - Tsuen Wan Line) then hop on to Bus #629

Ocean Park
Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong Island

Monday, October 31, 2016

Choice of Accommodation in Hong Kong: Star Mansion via Airbnb

October 31, 2016
Last March, my family, Jeff and I went to Hong Kong for a vacation. After our wedding last January, Jeff and I didn’t have our solo getaway. So our first official travel as a married couple is in Hong Kong with the whole family.  It was August of 2015 when I booked the ticket for all of us during PAL’s seat sale. I was really excited with this trip because I was on a serious travel diet for year 2015. :P
I booked our accommodation through Airbnb so that all of us can stay in just 1 house. It’s like a small apartment / condo unit with 2 bedrooms and 1 toilet and bath. It has a kitchen area equipped with electric stove, cooking utensils, microwave oven, kettle and refrigerator. It also has a front load washing machine.  I bedroom has 1 bunk bed, the other room has 1 double bed and in the living room, there’s 1 sofa bed and television. The unit also has a strong Wi-Fi connection.
Living room with Sofa bed
Bedroom with double bed
Bedroom with bunk bed
Kitchen / Laundry area

Since we stayed in an apartment, and we are not able to meet Nick, our host, in person, instructions / house rules were given to us prior to our arrival in the apartment. That includes throwing our own garbage, turning off the lights and air conditioner (we never turned it on during our stay because it was really cold!) when not in use, how to use the appliances, where to retrieve the keys upon arrival and where to return it upon checkout.
Though the place is quite small for us, we didn’t mind at all because the place is very well located. It’s near some fast food restaurants, money changer, convenience store, shopping malls and MTR. It’s approximately two-minute walk going to the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR. The host is very responsive as well to all my inquiries.
However, I wouldn’t suggest this place during cold season in Hong Kong because of their water heater. It takes some time before the water gets hot and the water temperature goes down when used for a long time (roughly 10 minutes straight). Also, one thing I noticed is that, there’s a metal gate after the Unit’s wood door but no key was provided for it, so when I accidentally closed it, I needed to contact the host. Though after I contacted him that the metal gate was locked, he sent his friend to open it for us.
The place may be a bit small for seven people (I find the bed in 1 room too small for 2 people) but with its superb location, I would still recommend this place.

Total Cost for 3 nights: Php 24,958

Star Mansion
3 Minden Row
Hong Kong, Kowloon
Hong Kong

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


October 04, 2016
I've first tried this famous cheesecake shop when Jeff and I went to Japan last April. Pablo is known for its soft and fluffy cheese tarts. I didn’t know that it was originally from Japan and it was that famous until its coming to the Philippines made a noise. I can’t remember if I even included it in our must-try-to-eat list when we went to Japan. All I remember is that, there’s always a long queue of people in every branch that we passed by. Since we have a schedule to follow, we didn’t join the craze. But I was so bothered and curious that we might be missing something if we won’t be able to try it.
Surprisingly (and luckily), we passed by a store that has a shorter queue. Unfortunately though, the store we spotted is not selling the smaller version of cheese tarts. Since I’m a bit desperate already, and besides, their pastries looks really tempting, we decided to just buy the bigger cheese tart. The size though is still smaller if compared to the usual size of a cake.
The next day, we had it for breakfast and guess what? Jeff and I were able to consume all of it in just one seating! Pablo cheese tart is the best cheese tart I’ve ever tasted. It’s thick, smooth and rich in flavor. The crust is soft, not too thick with a little bit of crunch. Eto yung cake na sobrang dami ng laman tapos kapiraso lang yung tart. Sobrang sarap! As in! Medyo OA no? Pero sobrang sarap niya talaga!
So when I heard that they will be opening a store here in Manila, I really got excited. My sister has been tagging me on Facebook pictures / links of Pablo opening in Robinsons Manila. Since I’ll be visiting them on a Sunday, Jeff and I decided to go to Robinsons Place Manila as early as 10:15 Saturday morning to avoid the long queue. Pero may pila pa din! Bwaha. I was expecting that it will take us 30 minutes or more before we can get out of the line but no! In less than 15 minutes, We got our cheese tarts already!
When we were near the counter, sooobrang bango! We bought 2 Freshly Baked Cheese Tarts and 1 Matcha Cheese Tart. However, Jeff and I didn’t like the Matcha flavor that much. I may be a bit biased because I’m not a fan of Matcha flavored food, but even Jeff who is not a picky eater did not enjoy it as much as we did with the Cheese Tart.
It has Mochi balls and Monggo-flavored filling
Of course, the Freshly Baked Cheese Tart did not disappoint. It’s still our favorite. We have yet to try the Premium Cheese Tart but maybe soon. Medyo mahal din kasi! Haha. In Japan, I know there's this soft and hard version for the cheese tart (sana tama alala ko). Pero yung hard version na nabili namin nun sobrang soft niya pa din :p Here in Manila, they only offer the Soft Cheese Tart.
*photo taken 1 day after we bought the cake
If you want to try Pablo Cheese Tarts, I suggest you go to the mall between 10am to 12noon. Expect that there’s still a queue but that will not take you hours before you can have your tarts. Each customer is allowed to purchase a maximum of 2 cheese tarts only. So if you want to buy more, tag along with you your friends and family members.

Reminder: After buying the cheese tart, make sure to refrigerate it immediately so that it won't melt. The lady at the counter told me that it can last its form for at most 6 hours after it is bought if not refrigerated.

Ground Floor, Pedro Gil Wing
Robinsons  Place Manila
Ermita, Manila

Monday, September 19, 2016

Taiwan Adventure: The Hotel

September 19, 2016
I had a bad experience staying at a hostel so I told Boyps to stay in a hotel this time. I don’t know the difference between the 2 except for the stars and price. Hehe. All I want is to have an accommodation that is in good location and free of pests.  After all the research and inquiries, I’m down with 2 options – Star beauty Hotel (near Shilin Night Market) and TS Hotel (Ximending Area). Rates in Star Beauty are much cheaper than TS but most of the reviews really favored the other so we chose TS hotel.

Ø  TS hotel has nice and clean rooms. I booked for 1 twin bedroom for Mar 5-6 and 1 double room for 7-8. Twin bedroom is only available on those dates so we have to book another room.
Ø  Complimentary supplies are provided daily.
Ø  They also have accommodating and friendly staffs. We had problems with our NTD because we have their old bills thus they are not accepting it anymore. The receptionist guy volunteered to accompany us to Bank of Taiwan to exchange our money with the new NTD.
Ø  Location. They are located near food stalls, shops and Ximen MRT station.
Ø  They also arranged airport pickup to and from hotel. Rates are 1200 (from airport to hotel) and 1100 (from hotel to airport)

Not so Good:
Ø  Slow response time on emails. I have to wait for at least 3 days before I can get their replies. I even tried to call them but they just told me to communicate with them thru email.
Ø  Very few of them can understand and speak English. Whenever we have questions or we ask for directions, they’re having a hard time explaining. They will start with English but eventually end up speaking their language. Thanks to Boyps who can speak and understand Chinese (not sure if it’s Mandarin, but Boyps said mixed).
Ø  Few variety of food for breakfast. We ate the same food set for 4 days. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a new viand served on our 4th day but can’t remember what it is.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay in this Hotel. There’s no perfect accommodation but clean rooms and nice people that provide great service are enough reasons to make customers go back. So despite all the not so good things about this hotel, TS will always be part of my hotel option list on my next visit to Taiwan.

Twin Room: NTD2480 - Discounted Price (NTD4560 Original Price)

Double Room: NTD1880 - Discounted Price (NTD3360 - Original Price)

TS Hotel
No. 170-172, HanZhong St., Taipei (near ChangSha St.)

Taiwan Adventure: The Preparation

September 19, 2016
It has always been my dream to go to places I've never been to. I grab every travel opportunity may it be domestic or international. I started to travel international last Mar 2010. Since then, my cravings for out of the country vacations have increased terribly :p
Last Mar 5, 2011, Boyps and I flew to Taipei, Taiwan for a 4 - day vacation. Boyps actually did the itinerary planning and I completed the hotel reservation. The ticket was booked as early as November 2010 if I’m not mistaken and the itinerary was completed a week before the departure date. There are so many places that we wanted to visit but it seems like 4 days is not enough to do them all so we eliminate some of the activities.
Taiwan requires Filipino citizens holding a Philippine passport to have a visa upon entry. Here are some tips / procedures that we did for visa application and processing.

Visa Requirements:
Ø  Passport – valid for at least 6 months
Ø  Completed application form – downloaded from
Ø  2 Taiwan Visa ID - must be taken within the last 6 months
Ø  Supporting documents (listed below are the papers that we presented)
·         Birth Certificate issued by NSO
·         Income Tax Return (ITR)
·         Bank Statement / Bank Certificate
·         Flight Tickets
·         Certificate of Employment (COE)
·         Hotel Reservation Confirmation
·         Photocopy of all of this.
·         Valid ID (please bring any government issued ID for deposit at TECO reception)

We arrived at RCBC at exactly 8AM (Feb 11) but the receptionist told us that the office will open at 830. Since we're too early, we decided to have breakfast first and go back at exactly 830 to avoid long queues. We line up and register but the receptionist told us to get a number first at the open area of RCBC. But we didn’t see anyone distributing numbers so we went back to the lady receptionist. After getting the numbers from her, we proceed  immediately to the 41st floor. 

We asked for new application form at Information window so we can have the latest copy/version of the form. We fill up the form and wait for our turn. Once called, we presented the documents at the window then wait again to be called for payment. The cashier will call your name, proceed to the cashier window, pay for the visa application (PHP 2, 400 for single entry) and then take the receipt. Finish! :D They will return your passport after 3 working days with your visa attached. 

We went back last Feb 16 to get our Passport (and hoping that visa application got approved :p). We arrived at 120PM and we're kinda early again because distribution starts at 130PM. We register first at the reception and went to the open area again because numbers will be distributed there (this time it’s for real :p) Names will be called for number distribution. 

We proceed at 41st floor and wait for our number to be flashed on the screen. Yipee, We got our Passport with our tourist visa attached to it. They also returned our birth certificate and ITR.

Visa Application Time: 8:45-11:45
Visa Releasing Time: 1:30-4:50
Visa must be used 1 month after the date of issuance.
TAIPEI, Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), Taiwan, R.O.C.
41F, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City

Check out this sites for more details:

**copied from my old blog *

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Introduction

September 12, 2016

Yey! Finally I’m back in the blogger world. Woohoo! I actually had a blog before but unfortunately, I failed to update it for so long that when I tried accessing it, I already forgot the password. T_T I tried all the recovery actions I can think of and all the helps I got from Google but then, I failed. So instead of being sad, I just thought of creating a new one. Medyo sayang lang yung luma. But I’ll try to grab the entries there and post it here instead. We’ll see. Depende sa sipag.

I’m Joie, pronounced as Jo-yeee. People find it difficult to pronounce at first but days of practice, they already get the hang of it. I’m an IT professional, a food adventurer, traveller, frustrated baker, a sister, daughter and wife. I have a small online business, My Sweets’ Haven, that’s been quiet for a while because I got busy with the wedding preps and my current work. I love spending time with my hubby, friends and family.  I prefer to stay at home during weekends to do house chores then rest but when mall is on sale, I prefer to roam around. :p

Anyways, to set your expectations, this blog will only contain food, travel and anything and everything else I want to post. :p My old blog does not show any faces of human beings, just pure food and travel highlights. But now I want to change that. :) You’ll get to meet me, my boyps-turned-hubby, my friends and family. Just in case lang na gusto niyo ako makilala :p  I’m also not that good in speaking and writing English so expect my entries to be short and simple. Minsan kasi gusto ko lang i-share yung pictures. I will also try to post my baked goodies and other mishaps in our small kitchen. ;)

That’s it. I just wish I’ll get to update this as often as possible. :) Please visit me again, okay?

'Til next time.