USA Trip (Day 11-15)

Ola! We are now on our third installment of the USA series of #LesVoyagesdeNica. We are still currently in Gulf Shores, Alabama and will be exploring more of the place and some part of Florida. I’m really sorry that it took a week for the next post, my plate has been full of tasks that I needed to complete. Now let’s get on the trip!

*Note: I will post the links of the places we went too at the end of the blog*

After our beach day in Gulf Shores, we decided to head over to the nearest city and state, which is Pensacola, Florida. We also happened to pass by the famous Flora-Bama Lounge, who stands in the borderline of both Alabama and Florida. Cool story my Uncle told me was that in Alabama, alcohol was not sold on a Sunday, so if you are inside the Flora-bama, simply hop on the borderline to Florida and buy your drink on that side. Hehe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We also checked out the yachts and deep fishing gears.

I had to sit very still. #Florida #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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I'm ready to see more of you #Florida. #USA #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica

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It wasn’t a super long drive but when we reached Florida we were definitely hungry and so we gave out Chick-Fil-A a try. I love their chicken sandwich and the honey barbecue sauce is definitely a two thumbs up. I also love the fact that they don’t open on Sunday ever since they started. That kind of reminded me of our business back home where we don’t open on a Sunday for church and for the Lord.

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Our first stop was the Pensacola Beach. It was beautiful and thank goodness the sun shone really bright or we’d be freezing from the cold winds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They played “volleyball” LOL

Off to another beach. #Florida #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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After a few walks, we went to the other side which is the Quietwater Beach and enjoyed the serene waters and the huge giant oyster for photo op!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm a rare South Sea Pearl. ❤️ #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Florida

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Then we went shopping and headed back to Gulf Shores for a good night’s rest. For the following day, we decided to  have brunch at Mikee’s (a sister company of Shrimp Basket) then headed over to the Hangout to enjoy another beach day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Definitely full from it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A news reporter

It was really cold by the beach and we had to take shelter under a lifeguard’s seat from the freezing winds. Haha!

Take your time to enjoy. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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After my dad and uncle’s quick dip at the sea, we then headed to an outlet store to go shopping for clothes and gifts to bring back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We managed to look for sales and promos which gave us a huge discount too. Then we ended the night with some ice cream milkshake which was truly a thick one. I had the Malt Brownie and it was really good too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malt Brownies ❤️ #USA #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica

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That following morning, we then headed back to Trussville after cleaning the whole place. Our family truly enjoyed the stay at the Phillips’ rest house, once again, thank you Mr. Doug Phillips!

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Going our way back home, we passed by Huntsville and saw the NASA Space Center and decided that our next trip would be there. So the following morning, we did so. We should’ve started earlier but we were tired from the travel, so we make do with whatever time was left but we enjoyed the tour and learned a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the interactive activities inside the NASA center

T-minus 10… #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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What gravity feels like on the different planets of the Solar System
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A bumpy ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My arms will end up sore. #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica #Alabama

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Short girl problems eh? Haha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also enjoyed the outdoor activities and rides that are either scary or nauseating. LOL

I thought my heart stopped for a bit. #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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A Memorial for the Monkeynaut

The US Space Center was a wonderful experience for all of us. It was truly one of a kind! We went home a bit later that evening and slept for church the next day.

#Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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We went to where my Aunt and Uncle go to which was the Church of the Highlands. It was huge! The parking was full when we arrived and thankfully they’ve got people who assist you on your parking problems. I also got to ride a golf cart as they use it to service old people who parked farther away from the entrance. I’m glad my grandma was there and my aunt who carried Tahlia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They had theater rooms for in case the Main Auditorium got filled up by the crowd. They also offer free coffee and boy, I drank a lot. The preaching was good as well and after the service we left for lunch at the New China Buffet and meet up with my aunt’s Pinay friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a good hearty meal and chatting. It was all fun and laughter as we all bonded together. Then we parted ways and headed home to rest a bit and went to JC Penneys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dad, me and my aunt were the only ones who went shopping. We bought some gifts and souvenirs as well. Then by around 7pm we headed home to fetch the rest for dinner at Chipotle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most restaurants in the US lay out the Nutritional Content of their meals, which is a good way for people who monitor what they eat and their calorie intake.

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SO YUM!!

I truly enjoyed that Tex-Mex dish! I wish they would open one here in Manila. Chipotle, if you are reading this, please heed to my request. Char! Haha. After a super late dinner, we then went to Walmart for some grocery shopping, but my mom suddenly had vertigo attacks and thankfully, here in the US, people with disabilities are given the sense of normalcy even in the simple thing of grocery shopping.

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She had a nice ride

After a long but fun day, we headed home for another adventure that awaits us on our final days at the United States of America.

I hope y’all stay tune till the end!

Links:

Flora-Bama Lounge
Mikee’s Seafood
Sonic Drive-In
U.S. Space Rocket Center
New China Buffet
Chipotlè

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

USA Trip (Day 6-10)

Off to another day's adventure…#LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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Hello there once again! Sorry if the next post takes time to get published. Blogging 5 days of adventure in one go is quite a handful. So I hope y’all bear with me. Hehe. We are now on Alabama and will be touring most of the Southern States.

* I will post the links of the tour attractions’ websites below at the end of the blog.*

Ark Encounter > Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center 

After a day of our arrival, we decided that our first stop 20th of May was The Ark Encounter. The Ark is located in Williamstown, Kentucky and it is a 7 to 8 hour drive from Trussville, Alabama. It is a life-size Ark of Noah which is seen in the Bible. A must see tour attraction for all ages!

We left home a bit late as we were all dead tired and time zone changes are kicking in. So on our way we decided to stop by for coffee at none other else than, Starbucks. Haha. I was really surprised to see their venti size which was really huge! After a coffee break, we drove all the way to Kentucky. It wasn’t hard to see where the Ark was seeing the huge arch they made.

#Kentucky here we come! #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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Isn’t she a cutie? That’s my little cousin who gives us “good music” during this trip. LOL

We bought our tickets on the spot at the Ark and rode their free shuttle bus. The Ark’s outside attractions were not completely done yet, but the Ark itself and the insides are. It was HUGE and beautiful. I love the detailed work they did and followed every step same as it was written on the Bible. For a Bible-believer like me, this is indeed wonderful.

The Ark. #Kentucky #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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The first floor of it is their souvenir shop, the second floor contains all the animal replicas and fun facts of how it was built and run by just 8 people during Noah’s time. The third floor are the quarters of Noah and his family and some mini museums about the Bible.  Each floor has a restroom and a TV show that either features documentaries or movies about Noah’s Ark.

They also featured how did the Flood happened and the Creation as told in the Bible. I love how interactive their museum is, you may get to ask the wax figure/robot of Noah and he’ll be answering you. Kinda creepy looking but fascinating!

After walking through all the three floors, I was truly exhausted and my toes felt like separating from my feet. I guess, that’s what you get when you try to go on fashion without comfort. Haha. It was tempting to walk on bare feet especially when the wooden floors are all cool and shiny.

It was late in the afternoon when we left the Ark and headed to Nashville, Tennessee to see my cousin who was based there. It was a long drive since it rained really hard on us on our way back. I have ever seen such rain and thunderstorms. I could see lightning hitting somewhere afar and it was indeed scary. We even got lost on our way to meet her at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.

Gaylord Opryland is one of North America’s largest hotels without a casino and is famous for its convention centers. Truly a 5 star hotel. I felt fancy entering the place and the garden was truly an oasis. Though it was a quick catch-up as we arrived there around 1am, we are happy to have seen each other. I haven’t seen her for almost a year and so we both were truly excited.

We arrived back at home at around 6am, it was a Sunday and as bad as we felt that we couldn’t go to church, we all were truly exhausted and slept almost the whole day. That evening we prepared our things for another long trip and left in the early morning of Monday for Gulf Shores, Alabama.

I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank Mr. Doug Phillips, my aunt’s father-in-law, for allowing us to use his home in Gulf Shores. My family enjoyed the place and are truly grateful for it. You may or may not read this but still, thank you and we hope to see you again!

Gulf Shores: Canal Park > Pass On Point Beach > Souvenir City > Shrimp Basket

A day at Gulf Shores. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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Right before the crack of dawn, we traveled from Trussville to Gulf Shores, Alabama which takes around 4 1/2 hours of driving. We slept on the car and woke up on Gulf Shores. It was a bit chilly in the area seeing that it is near the sea. We first did our groceries and napped for a while. We then headed to tour around the area first.

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Canal Park

Our first stop was the Canal Park. My Uncle said that we could go fish for bait here at the Canal and fish at some lake or by the beach area. It was a quiet place where a lot of boats are parked too. Here in Gulf Shores almost all the house are raised with poles and columns and beneath the house are their boats parked.

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Some fancy condominium unit.

On the way to the beach we passed by some of the fanciest condominiums in Gulf Shores. They sure do look like hotels, but Auntie said that those are Condominium units and very expensive ones too. Most of them are facing the beachside.

Beach day. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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The beach we went to was Alabama Point East. It was nice and calm that day and perfect a beach outing but we just wanted to see the area and we didn’t bring out swimwears too. Hehe. After the beach, we headed downtown to eat dinner at a eat-all-you-can resto called Shrimp Basket.

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Although what we ate wasn’t shrimp or anything. Haha. The menu that day for eat-all-you-can was whitefish and catfish. We had a great time bonding over good food and then we headed to the Souvenir City just right across the street to do some shopping.

Into the shark's head we go. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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There goes my silly little baby

Aye Captain!! #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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We did bought a lot of shirts for souvenirs and ended it that day. So far, our first day in Gulf Shores was a great time for the family. On the next day, we then headed down to the Little Lagoon beach and enjoy swimming.

It was also windy and sunny that it made it difficult for us to stand a tent. We had to dug up sand so it would stand. After the hassle, we swam a bit and ate lots of sandwiches too. My uncle and the rest of the men went out fishing, while we girls ate and goofed around. We stayed there up until noon. It was a great family bonding time that we all enjoyed.

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If my skin gets tanner than it usually is, here is the reason why. ☺️ #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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We also went Seagull feeding

Chill. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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Notice the immediate tan lines? Haha yep, I get so tan easily. We still have a lot places to go to here in Gulf Shores, so I do hope y’all stay tune for the next adventures we went to here in USA.

Check out the links provided below:

The Ark Encounter
Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention
The Shrimp Basket

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

USA Trip (Day 1-5)

 

Heya! I’m back again and this time would be about our 19 day trip to the United States of America! 🇺🇸✈️ If you followed my latest posts on Instagram then you would know what #LesVoyagesdeNica has been up to. Also, just last Wednesday, I posted the first of these USA trip blogs to come, just click here to check it out.

Our adventure began last May and after the stressful albeit exciting visa process for all 6 of us. We finally got to book our flights at China Airlines via cheapoair.com. Our flight itinerary is from Manila to Taipei, then Taipei to New York. It’ll be the longest flight we’ll take which topped our Israel trip and the longest number of days that topped our Asian trip.

*I will share the link of all the sites where you can purchase the tickets of our tour at the end of the blog*

Flight to Taipei

We went so early at the Terminal 1 of NAIA around 4am and the check in desk opens at around 7am while our flight is still at 10:35am. 😵 Terminal 1 is the oldest terminal in Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I kind of remember it during our Saudi Days where I would bawl everytime Papa left.

After we checked in, we had breakfast at the waiting area lounge, then waited for a bit and boarded to Taipei.
It is my first time to ride with China Airlines and I tell you. It was quite enjoyable! Though I would say, most of the food they served were pork. 😔 I don’t eat pork so it was really envious to see your seatmates chowing down on their meal. But since we didn’t indicate any preference on the food during our booking, we had to make do of what we can eat.

Touchdown #Taiwan ✈️✈️✈️ 4 more hours till the next flight. #LesVoyagesdeNica

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Medyo Ma Luo Ho 😂😭 #Taiwan #LesVoyagesdeNica

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China Airlines served us one meal during our flight to Taiwan. Plus they have TV screens too which made the flight not too boring. We watched a couple of movies then dozed off. I wished I just slept, cause after a few minutes of sleeping in the pilot announced our arrival.

Taipei Airport 

I didn’t get to see much of Taipei Taoyuan International Airport as we were on a 4 hour connecting flight to New York. We had to see were our boarding gate was before we get to roam around. There was a lot to see at the airport and we got to try out free tastings, free car racing video games and so much more. There were tiny museums of dolls and knick knacks all around. I hope we get to come back here in Taiwan and see more of this country.

After gallivanting, we changed clothes because…hygiene. Hehe. Then boarded for our long haul flight.

During the flight the airlines served us two meal courses, two to three snacks. They gave us two options on the menu which was really good since it was either chicken or pork or beef. At least we’ll get to eat!

JFK New York > Hotel Pennsylvania 

We arrived at night in New York and it was cold! Thank goodness I had a sweater and scarf prepared but my legs were shaking! After passing through the Immigration and seeing JFK. I didn’t really expect that there was no wifi. 😞 I badly wanted to tweet. Hahaha.

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JFK Arrival Area

We decided to take the subway and thankfully, the New York subway is almost open for 24 hours. I did Googled that on Taiwan, just tell me if I am wrong. Haha. We had to ask for directions as it was kind of a jungle to all of us. What is cool about JFK and like almost all airports we’ve been through is the train. They do have an Airtrain that you can freely use if you are on the airport and changing terminals.

We boarded the Airtrain going to Jamaica Station. Then bought the Metrocard tickets. Each Metrocard ticket can swipe for 4 people only. We bought two to swipe for 3 people each card. The thing about the Metrocard is that they are like loadable cards. You could load up to $100 and every swipe when you enter a station costs $2.75. When you exit, you don’t need to swipe. When we finally got that part our subway rides were smoother. Haha. It was truly different from every country we’ve been through.

From Jamaica Station you walk to Queens-Sutphin Blvd Station and there we boarded going to 34 St. Penn Station. There are signboards above the train telling you what the next station is, so you can chillax. 😂

In #NewYork… *cues in music* #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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We walked to our hotel which was just in front of Madison’s Square Garden and checked in at around 2am. It was a three star hotel, which in my opinion was not so bad at all. It was near the different tourist sites and near to almost three subway stations and to the Amtrak station. Though the facilities were old looking, we didn’t really encounter any issues at all. We ate our early breakfast/super late dinner at a gyro cart across our hotel and slept.

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Midnight strolling. #NewYork #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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Amtrak Station > New York Water Taxi > Times Square > Central Park > Empire State Building

It was a jam packed adventure that day so we headed to the Amtrak station first at New York Penn Station. Be mindful of train station names as they are quite confusing. We bought our tickets to Birmingham and headed out to see more of New York.

We hopped on the subway at the station of W 34 St/7Av then went down on the South Ferry Station (Whitehall St Station). Out there we were met by New York Water Taxi agents. Initially, we wanted to go up the Statue of Liberty but we were told that we should have it booked a month ago. Bummer! Still we had other options.

We chose the New York Water Taxi hop on hop off all day access ride. We’ll be able to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Governor’s Island, Statue of Liberty and get off at Times Square. After buying the tickets we walked on to Pier 11. There we ate our breakfast from a gyro cart and hopped on the boat ride.

Brooklyn Bridge ❤️ #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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She is beautiful. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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On our last stop we were told that there was a free bus ride going back to the city for passengers of the ferry. So we hopped on it again and we down to see Times Square.

In the sea of people… #LesVoyagesdeNica #NewYork #USA

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If you have heard the news, just a few days after an 18 year old girl died and few other civilians were injured from a car that rammed them through Times Square. 😞 I do pray for the families of the victims and that justice may be given to them all. 🙏🏼 I can only thank the Lord for His continuing protection.

After Times Square, we walked to the Central Park and along the way enjoyed New York’s concrete jungle. Get that? Haha. Sarreh.

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A big secret garden 💚💚💚#USA #NewYork #LesVoyagesdeNica

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It was a huge park. I would suggest that you try renting a bike to see all of it. We rented two bikes, one single and onw tandem bike. I rode the tandem with my brother, cause I don’t know how to bike. Seriously, I really don’t and I’m scared of falling over. 😁😬

It took us an hour of biking and it was a good heart pumping event. My brother and I truly enjoyed that. For around $7-18 you can enjoy Central Park and it’s lush green view. You may also opt to rent a carriage or sleep under the trees which my grandparents did.

After Central Park, we walked back to our Hotel and napped until around 8:00pm. Then all four of us headed out to see the New York City lights. We didn’t really expect to see Empire State Building, my dad really wanted to check out Times Square once again. But we wanted to see a new view so we headed to Empire State.

We got there and learned that we could go up. My dad said, “Let’s go see the top. We weren’t able to at the Statue of Liberty, we might as well do it here.” 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 And so we did. We bought tickets up to the 86th floor only and it was around $34 for adults.

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The 86th floor, open deck observatory. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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After Empire State we headed home to rest for the night.

Bryant Park > Grand Central Station > New York Public Library > Coney Island > Chelsea Market

On this second day of touring, we headed out for a quick breakfast on Salt and Pepper which was beside our hotel and walked going to Grand Central passing along Bryant Park and the NYPL.

 

It was quaint park that was a perfect place for coffee and quiet book reading. After a few strolling, we headed straight to see the Grand Central Station. All I could say was that it was so beautiful. 😍 Magnifico!

Such a grand place. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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After being bedazzled by the Grand Central Station we headed out to see the NYPL. I remembered seeing this on the movie the Day After Tomorrow. Hehe.

It's going to be a good day. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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It was free to roam around and see lots of books! It felt like Belle entering the Beast’s personal library. ❤️

We didn’t stay too long as we had another place to go by and this would take us about an hour of subway ride. We were heading to see Coney Island.

We went down the 5 Av Station beside the NYPL walked underground to the F Train to Coney Stillwell Station. We had to ask for directions so as not to board the wrong train.

Warm and sunny. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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Reaching there, we were probably the only ones in long sleeves as we all felt cold. Everyone was on their swimwear and here we are fully clothed. Hehe. But we enjoyed sightseeing and even had cold coffee cause despite the cold winds, the sun was beamingly hot. We headed home once again on a long train ride then walked back to our hotel and rested.

Around 4pm we walked to see Chelsea Market. I finally got to see the apartments that I use to see on movies and tv shows. Those small quiet street red bricked apartments are IG worthy. Hehe.

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#LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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We enjoyed seeing lots of food at the market and there were different delicacies to try. After feasting our eyes we then headed back via a subway ride to our hotel and bought our dinner at Salt Pepper. Afterwards we packed our stuff another long ride the next day heading to Alabama.

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24 hour train ride to Alabama

We had our breakfast checked out before 11am then headed to the Penn station of Amtrak. It was really hard to carry 6 huge luggages on the escalator, but we managed.

We checked our luggages in the counter. Each passenger is allowed 2 baggages, strictly 50lbs each and two carry on bags. We had to remove the excess and put them on the baggages that had less weight.

Since we are going through Amtrak we waited on the waiting area for Amtrak passengers where wifi is free. We then boarded as soon as our train was announced.

It was a comfy ride and we brought food to eat at the train. They do have a cafe lounge where you can buy food and coffee. It was a bit expensive though. When you bring your own food you may only eat it at your seat. You cannot bring that on the cafe lounge.

The train is also equipped with free wifi so you won’t have to be bored and still stay in connection. They also have electrical sockets on board so you won’t have to worry with your battery going empty.

After that long train ride, we finally met my aunt and her family, who I haven’t seen in 5 years. It was a tear-jerking moment for all of us. We stayed at their house and they welcomed us with a warm meal that we all enjoyed.

We ended the day through a grocery shopping in Walmart and other stores in Trussville. It was my first Walmart shopping ever and I really like it that it was wifi equipped. Now I understood why some van living explorers on Youtube park on Walmart overnight for the free wifi. Hehe 😜

Meet Yuna, she loves me almost immediately I called her name. ❤️ #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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The day 1-5 ends here first. Stay tune for a whole lot more of my US adventure!

Check out the links below:

Cheapoair
Hotel Pennsylvania
Amtrak
New York Water Taxi
Central Park Bike Rentals
Empire State Building Observatory
New York Public Library

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt! 

Special shout out to my IG photographer/brother, Nick for taking the awesome IG pics. 

Our U.S. Visa Experience

Hello! We are back from the longest trip we had so far since 2015 of #LesVoyagesdeNica. I had to take a week off since we came to cope from the jetlag and nights of sleeplessness from the differing timezones that my body had to recover from. I have so much to tell you of this trip, which I never thought would happen and so let us start from the beginning.

The U.S. Tourist Visa, it seemed a big deal to most Filipinos to be granted with such an opportunity. I have heard countless of stories of denial and being granted and it made this journey all the more exciting for all of us. There are six of us applying for the visa, two students, two seniors and two businessmen. I will share to you what documents we decided to prepare. Take in mind that acquiring the US Visa has no secret, our results may differ from yours and that this blog written will only give you tips but not the assurance that you’ll be granted with the visa.

Applying the US Visa seems really daunting, as they do not provide an exact list of what documents to present except for a photo (with very strict details on how it should be taken) on a white background, completed online DS-160, email confirmation, and bank receipt from BPI, your passport and a pen. I suggest that you take your photo on a studio at a mall and indicate that this is for US visa application. They do know the rules so your picture would be accepted when you submit it online. Do ask for a hard copy and a soft copy of your photo.

Now, that is the general requirements. But the process of applying is different. It took us almost a week or two just to complete all papers at hand both original and photocopy before we applied online. It is important that you have those before applying as you may need it during the process. Here is what we prepared: Take note that this may differ with others, you may add more documents to prove that your stay there is financially supported and that you will not illegally stay in the US. 

For students: Your school ID, latest grade results, school certificate that you are a bonafide student, enrolment certificate, school calendar, parent’s ITR, business documents (DTI), bank statements, credit card statements, birth certificate (proving your relation to your parent/sponsor).

For senior citizens: Senior ID, birth certificate, sponsor’s business or employment documents (ITR, salary, bank statements, credit card statements, birth certificate). If they are retired from a certain company you could add the documents of their retirement and pension they receive.

For businessmen/self-employed: Birth certificate, business registrations, DTI, ITR, bank statements in the last 6 months, credit card statements in the last 6 months, valid IDs, business permits. If you have properties such as land, house, car add their titles and photos. Add photos of the business as well that you owned. If you are employed you may add a letter from the HR proving that you are working there, your letter of vacation leave approved, salary from the past 6 months.

Those were the specific papers we prepared for each person. The general ones include latest travels, itinerary for your stay (include the hotels and planned airline tickets-DO NOT BOOK yet unless your visa is approved just indicate the names and address of the hotel and airline that you plan to use). If you are staying with a relative indicate their address and phone number, prepare a scanned copy of their status whether they are working, citizen, permanent resident and etc. If they are married to a US citizen,add their marriage contract as well and birth certificate to prove their relationship to you.Whoever is the sponsor or the one paying for the trip should have the most documents to prove that they are capable of paying for the trip.

These were what we prepared and carefully applied for online at their website. Be very sure to read carefully the instructions and if you have any difficulty you may call their telephone number and ask for assistance with a Filipino speaking agent. After I completed online the DS-160, I was guided by the Filipino agent to the payment. I had to print out 6 different bank payment slips for each person that I had to pay before 3pm that same day so my papers would be processed immediately after 6 hours.

Be sure to carry their passports with you when you pay for it at the nearest BPI and keep the bank receipt. Do not ever lose it. After payment, we decided to wait for the next day to schedule our interview and we did it through calling the embassy once again and have it scheduled with the Filipino agent. Passport, banking receipt and the DS-160 application should be all on hand as you call for the appointment. If you will be applying for a family  take note that it refers to IMMEDIATE family members only (dad, mom and unmarried sibling). You would have to make a separate call immediately for other members of the extended family (grandparents, niece, cousin, aunt, etc) that will go with you.

It was a long process for six of us and I had to make three separate calls due to the IMMEDIATE family members only rule. But I am thankful for the assistive agents who were really patient and attentive. You may have the same schedule interview for all and be sure to bring all documents both specific and general. DO NOT BRING any electronic devices at the day of interview. I suggest bring yourself, the documents, a pen and someone who could wait for you outside and carry your other stuff.

Be there at least an hour early before your time schedule. They announce the time outside so you would know if it is your turn. Dress well and appropriate. If you are a student, wear your uniform or a formal business attire would do. Then of course, add a lot of prayers to get your visa approved. We applied for a B2 visa which meant Tourist Visa. We were all nervous but then if you know that you are honest and will abide with the rules what is there to fear?

You will know immediately from the Consul whether your visa is approved or not. If you wish to get your visa expedited do not hesitate to tell it to the Consul so that they will jot it down and guide you on what to do. They will hand you a slip on what to do next. The process of getting your visa expedited meant calling the embassy again and having the delivery area changed to whatever is in the slip of paper given. The usual seven days of waiting could lessen into two or three during the process. We actually had our passport with the visa the next day immediately when the courier texted us that our passports where delivered.

We had so much joy to receive such good news and booked what we needed to book for our trip. I could still feel the excitement and tension when I think about that wonderful blessing. I am also glad that I could share it with you so that you get a glimpse of what could happen when you apply. They say that there is no secret in getting your US visa approved. Truly, there is no secret but then it wouldn’t hurt to listen to other’s experience and learn the good from it.

For more details on the application visit:

US Tourist Visa Application Experience

US Visa Application

US Embassy

I hope that this would help on your application and see the land of the brave and free!

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

 

South Korea Adventure 3.0

Hello there! I’m back from our family retreat of which you can see on my Instagram account @nicagerona. Today is my last post of our South Korean trip *sighs*, and the last video will also be posted here at the end. For our last day, we went SHOPPING! My grandparents were quite eager to shop, they can manage to walk all day as long as there is shopping involved. Haha

We were supposed to go to both Myeong-do and Insa-dong, but we only managed to visit one. It was because of the cold weather that I honestly couldn’t stand. So we chose to roam around Insa-dong and shop there. My grandparents had a blast and truly enjoyed every moment. There vendors were quite kind and gracious to give us discounts and she even gave us freebies! One thing I noticed is that Koreans have deep respect and love for the elderly. My grandmas enjoyed the freebies and gave lots of hugs and kisses too.

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Lockers for luggages
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Cute art.

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We also visited the Ssamzigil shopping center in Insa-dong and there my grandmothers bought their handbags. The kind store lady offered warmed bean bags to seat on and to put on the neck. They were concerned of them as they were bundled up tight due to the cold weather. I loved those bean bags and even sat on one while grandma was busy shopping. Haha.

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Quite a rainy and chilly day!

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Ssamzigil Shopping Center

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Korean Pancakes

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Those warm bean bags!!

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Oddblanc: Handmade Korean jewelry

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Seal the moment.

On the upper floor, we bought some silver jewelry in a store called, Oddblanc. All their jewelry are handmade, with a 92.5% silver chain and 99% silver pendant. I wanted the thumb print with printed words of I love you, but those customized necklaces will need 7 days to prepare. So, I chose a traditional Korean Chilbo necklace to pattern with my Mum’s. It was beautiful!

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Then we walked to another shopping store, where we bought my brother some souvenir shirts, my grandmothers bought chocolates and grandpa bought a belt. After all the shopping and coupled with the drizzling rain, we went to have our tax refund and headed back for our last dinner in the two ajumma’s place. We also prepped our belongings for tomorrow’s flight.

The next day, we just ate our last breakfast there. It was a sad and heartfelt goodbye and we’ll surely miss the two ajummas who became close to my grandparents. We picked up our baggages back at the guesthouse and decided to wait in the airport for the flight as it was freezing cold. I could feel my snot freezing as well. Eew! Haha.

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Hongik to Incheon Airport

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The train transfer. It was the longest 6 minutes of my life!

So we rode the direct train from Hongik to Incheon Airport. However, we didn’t hear the announcement that the train will only be up to Gyeyang Station. So we had to transfer and my goodness, it was so cold! My legs and hands hurt badly everytime the wind blows. It was a relief to get back inside the train and stay warm.

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The strawberries here are uber sweet!
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My photographer taking a selfie. HEEHEE

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I always look for charging ports at the Airport
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Classy!

At the airport we stayed and ate strawberries while we waited for the check-in. Our flight was at 9:35pm and we had time to nap and roam around the spacious, clean airport.

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My masterpiece: “Shading”

We also did some last minute shopping  at the Duty Free and even toured the Museum of Korean Culture which was located inside the airport. We even had some cool souvenirs, made and sealed by yours truly! HAHAHA.

This trip was indeed our shortest, but a fun-filled one. I am happy that even in my grandparent’s old age, they managed Korea’s cold weather and enjoyed the wonderful surprises it has to offer. I hope we could travel with them more, and if my dad would read this, I hope it’ll be Japan. Haha. Thank you Papa for bringing us all here. To my brother, thank you for being my photographer and meeting your model’s (ehem) demands. To my bestfriend Chen, thank you for encouraging me to make a video out of this trip. To the Lord Almighty, for all of these.

Here is the final video I made:

 

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

P.S. Look out for my other adventures this year, 2017. 

 

South Korea Adventure 2.0

We are now on the Day 2 of adventure and this time it’s Everland wonderland! My dad chanced upon a poster in our Guesthouse that sells discounted tickets to both Everland and Lotte World. Both are known theme parks in South Korea, the difference is that Everland is more of an outdoor park while Lotte World is more of an indoor park. Originally, Everland sells their one day tickets for 52,000KRW for Adults, and for children it is 41,000KRW. While Lotte World sells 52,000KRW for Adults, 45,000KRW for teens, 42,000KRW for children and 13,000KRW for infants.

But the Guesthouse is tied up with the park and they offer a discounted price of 37,000KRW per person. My dad in all excitement told me and my brother, and so off we bought the tickets at the reception. They just phoned the park and asked us to pay in cash. After 10 minutes, they handed us 7 tickets. We were told that Everland’s Shuttle bus is available in the Sinchon area and that it leaves at 9am.

We were tempted to grab the bus option. But we sleep in a bit and the fact that we couldn’t walk in a hurried pace with our elders in tow. Plus we wanted to eat a hearty meal in the two ajumma’s place, we then chose the train option. This is however the longest train ride I ever had in my life. I will share the routes we took going to and back at the end. Also another vlog is posted at the end and linked on Youtube.

Here is how our day began…

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Right after a hearty breakfast from the two ajumma’s place, we walked to the station with my grandpa held my grandma’s hand and they walked along. So sweet!
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Awwww

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The everyday train ride. Haha
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My readers, behold my impromptu photographer and annoying brother. Heehee

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Such view!
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Just one more train ride!

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The usual photo op
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And selfie!
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Free Shuttle Bus

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Here we go!

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I regretted this ride ever…

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A must try ride here in Everland. The T-express, the only roller coaster made of wood and the steepest in South Korea.

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This is it!

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Look at those beams!
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Almost all the walls in each ride have some sort of vandalism in it. 
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*Gulps*

That ride was the most scariest but enjoyable ride of my life. I cannot say exactly or explain how, but it was one unforgettable moment to try the T-express. My brother wanted to take another swing but the line was too long. So we went to another area of the park.

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Right after this ride, it started drizzling, at this point my grandparents were all freezing and we had to go home. My grandma Ruth had to change jackets with my mother to stop her chilling. d0367471-0cd3-4883-a78a-39353c7ee9aa

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And here we are at the station, all bundled up. The park closed earlier too due to the rain.

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Of course, vanity strikes!

When we arrived Hongik Station it was pouring, Dad had to buy us umbrellas and we all walked hurriedly in the the two ajumma’s place for a warm dinner.

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Ramen so good!
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Gimbap! Yum

That day was fun and chilly. My grandpa complained of the cold as it was windy and rainy at the same time. It poured the whole night and some in the morning after which made this last leg of our trip, extra cold. But they sure enjoyed the scenery of the mountains and the colorful remaining leaves on some trees.

How we got there:
Hongik University Station (Line 2-Green Line) => Seolleung (Line 2-Green Line) change station to Bundang Line-Yellow Line => Giheung (change station to Light Green Line-Yongin Everline) =>Jeondae-Everland Station

From Jeondae-Everland Station go down to the Parking Lot and there is a free Shuttle going to the Everland Theme Park. The last bus leaves from the Park to the station at 10pm.

25 stations from Hongik to Seolleung + 22 stations from Seolleung to Giheung + 14 stations from Giheung to Jeondae-Everland Station

How we got back:
Jeondae-Everland Station (Yongin Everline) => Giheung (change to Yellow line-Bundang line) => change line Suwon Station (Dark Blue line-Line 1) => Sindorim Station (change to Green line-Line 2) => Hongik Station (Line 2-Green Line).

14 stations from Jeondae-Everland to Giheung + 8 stations from Giheung to Suwon + 15 stations from Suwon to Sindorim + 5 stations from Sindorim to Hongik.

For more details click the link provided:
Everland Theme Park
Lotte World

And here is the video for the Day 2 adventure!

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

P.S. My third and last post for South Korea will be delayed from the usual one day apart posting due to our family vacation/reunion in my Mother’s hometown. 

South Korea Adventure 1.0

Annyeonghaseyo everyone! We are now on my third post about our Korean Adventure 🇰🇷. My first blog, was about how we procured our visa, my second blog was about our stay at the Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse. Today, is a post of our adventures in the famous Gyeongbokgung Palace 🏯 then to the National Palace Museum of Korea and down to the Bukchon Hanok Village. At the end of the blog is a video, I made for to show you our trip. The video is also uploaded in Youtube, in case you want to check it out.

Let us start off, with this series of photos of our flight going to South Korea…✈️

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Touchdown South Korea!
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Cool toilets for the elderly and disabled!

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When my grandma asked me to accompany her to the toilet, I brought her here. It was hilarious, as I didn’t first see the buttons for close and open. I just closed the door with all my might and the door wasn’t locking. Haha! I’m just glad in the end I figured it out before granny was done peeing.

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Mon papa et mes grand-meres
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Train directly from Incheon International Aiport to the station near our guesthouse
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Of course, selfie is a must!
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Sinchon Area
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Our very first Korean dinner. Haha. We got there late.
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You know me and my IG-worthy photos. Haha #vain
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The following day

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These two ajummas kept us fed and were very kind to both of my grandmothers. We ended up eating here every meal.

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Always start with a good breakfast!

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Deposit your subway cards after use to refund 500 KRW back!
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Always prepared!

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Koreans are very polite to the elderly. They would stand to let them old seat.

Travelling throughout Seoul is a breeze due to their well-connected subway system. Download the app Seoul Subway from the App Store or simply ask from the Tourist Information for a map. 🚈 🚊

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Built during the 1300s and was known as the Northern Palace. It is the largest and most grandeur from all 5 remaining palaces in South Korea. (Source: english.visitkorea.or.kr)
*Note: They are closed during Tuesdays, for more details, click the source link above*

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Always look for these exit signs to find your way out.

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Ginormous!

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Beautiful.

You may notice the few pictures we have that is because we forgot to do a thorough research and came on a Tuesday. Nevertheless, we enjoyed what we saw.

How we got there:
Hongik University Station (Line 2-Green Line) => Euljiro 3-ga (Euljiro sam-ga) change to Line 3 or Orange line => Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3-Orange Line)

National Palace of Museum Korea
The museum was built on September 1908 and was first known as the “Korean Imperial Museum”. Originally it was in the Changgyeonggung Palace, but in 2005 it is placed in a modern building up until today near the Gyeongbokgung Palace. (Source: Wikipedia) Entrance is free and you may take photos (without flash) within. Free wifi is also available. For more details click this link.

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Yes, I am feeling it!

 

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Behold! The Iron Throne, I mean the King’s throne.
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Portrait of the Joseon Kings
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Sorry, my hand was shaking with excitement.

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Wedding Bands

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The Queen!
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The Imperial Car

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Self-striking Water Clock that chimed in just in time we were there!

 

How we got there:
The Museum is just across the Palace.
Bukchon Hanok Village
This village is known for its traditional houses called “hanok”. It is also within the surrounding of two palaces and a shrine. Some of the houses are offered as guesthouses to tourists or cultural workshops. (Source: english.visitkorea.or.kr)

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I was tempted to enter here!
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They place this on the sidewalk to guide tourists.
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Here we go!
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There are tons of hanbok rentals across the area.

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Obligatory shot

How we got there:
Gyeongbokgung Palace (Line 3-Orange Line) => Anguk Station (Line 3-Orange Line)

On our way home, we chanced upon some famous Korean street foods and got to have some tteokbokki! Yum!

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Those J-shaped ice cream cones.
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They all look tired. Aww
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But first, dinner in the two ajumma’s place. Bibimbap!
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Udon
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Spicy Seafood Rice

Our first day of adventure might seem short compared to our previous trips. However, to my grandparents, it was a long one. They needed leg massages as soon as we got back to the guesthouses and smelled of menthol ointments to soothe the pain. But they definitely enjoyed the memories and culture to cherish.

As promised, here is the video I made. Hope y’all enjoy it!

 

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

I also want to thank my bestfriend, Chen who encouraged me to do a video out of this trip and my brother, Nick for being my impromptu photographer.

This is the first time, I would be requesting this, but if you find my blog posts interesting at all, kindly share or subscribe, it would mean a lot to me! Je t’aime mon cher lecteur.

Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse

Last Sunday, I shared how we got our Korean Tourist Visa and today, we are going through our 4 day trip in South Korea 🇰🇷 by 3 parts. Plus, I’ll be posting a 2 part video 🎥📽linked on the next blog post and in Youtube of our SoKor fun, which I painstakingly made via iMovie. Haha! I hope y’all would at least like it👍🏼. This is actually the shortest trip we ever had since I started the #LesVoyagesdesNica in Instagram. Not that I’m starting some “movement” but I’d just like to categorize my IG travel posts, so you can easily find them too. Heehee.

Shortest, because there were 7 of us travelling, which means it’ll be more expensive and the 3 who would be joining us are my grandparents. If you have read my previous travel posts, you probably noticed that we love walking and taking the cheapest routes and places to stay as much as possible. Being with my grandparents means, we couldn’t walk as fast paced as before, since we need to assist them and be mindful of them as well. Another reason is the winter season in South Korea, in which we all have to prepare well. Staying more than those 4 days, might get them sick, since we all aren’t used to -2°C and below.😱🤧🤒😷

In this blog, let us talk of the Guesthouse we stayed in Korea. We stayed at the Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse, which was the cheapest place we scouted from both Tripadvisor and Agoda.com. Kimchee Guesthouses are budget-friendly places to stay for travelers and backpackers alike. They have 5 branches in the areas of Gangnam, Hongdae, Sinchon/Edae & Busan. They offer dormitories and private rooms, free internet, a common lounge, laundry, kitchen, shared bathrooms and such.

We stayed in the Sinchon branch, it is considered their largest branch. It is also near the Hongkik University Station and Sinchon Station. It is at the center of trendy cafes and youthful vibes surrounding Hongdae-Sinchon. From here we booked online a 4 bed private room with a shared bathroom. This meant we’ll be using a public bathroom with the other guests, but we’ll be staying in a private room. We got mixed up thinking it was our own private shared bathroom. But it’s okay, we can adapt to changes. Hehe. ☺️

Right after booking with Agoda.com, the Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse, immediately sent an email to confirm our stay, indicating that this is a book now and pay later reservation. The payment will enter on December 16, which was a month long time to think whether you would push through. But of course, we didn’t cancel, hehe.

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‼️*Note: Take a screenshot of your Hostel/Hotel’s address and phone number as it is needed in the Visa Application form and the Arrival Card before entering Korea*‼️

We arrived pretty late in South Korea and catched the last train leaving going to Hongkik University. Thankfully, Incheon Airport has a direct route there. From the station, we walked and even had a minor accident of my grandma slipping face forward. 😱Thank goodness, she wasn’t badly hurt, though she did scraped her knee. Outside the station, we used the map given by Kimchee Sinchon (as seen above) to locate the place, as it was late and quite dark already. We were also starving and had to buy instant noodles for our first “Korean” dinner.

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Arriving in Sinchon, we were expecting the reception to be 24/7 open. But it wasn’t, we all thought we were going to end up sleeping on the street. But they do leave your key number along with the guest’s name on the counter. Just pick it up and off you go to your room. But then you have to show up by 9am the next day to pay for the key deposit and complete your check in.

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What we didn’t know was that the Guesthouse only had stairs, they had no elevators. So we had to go in two groups (remember we have 3 senior citizens, 4 baggages plus 7 hand carry bags) 😩. My dad and brother carried all baggages from the 1st to the 5th floor. Yes, our room was on the 5th floor. While I stayed up to place them on the respective rooms and guard them as well. My mom had to assist two grandmas and my grandpa in going up, but right after dad and my brother were done, they helped as well.

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It was teamwork indeed! Haha. The private rooms were placed on the highest floor, so we really had no choice. Anyway, it was good exercise! Haha. Right now, I’ll be showing you the rooms we availed and other amenities involved:

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The elders slept on the lower bunks, while we took down the mattresses on the floor to sleep on. It was way better! 😪😴

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The common area, where a smoking room is also available. Kitchen, utensils and plates are free to use, just wash them after. They have a laundry and the lounge area. The shelves are where the residents place their food. Kind of like a food storage. They clean the shelves every week though.

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Shared bathroom. Each floor had two toilets and two shower rooms. Male restrooms are on the 1st and 4th floor. The female restrooms are on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th floors.

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Information, a list of house rules and a discount promo for bloggers.

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Be sure to buy a universal adapter for your devices. You may buy at the reception and it costs 5,000KRW.

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Airconditioners are turned off during the cold winter months. But you may use their mosquito repellant provided in each room.

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The Guesthouse during the day.

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The street across the guesthouse by day.

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Reception by day.

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A selfie from the whole fam! Off to a day’s adventure.

Overall, our stay in the Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse was comfortable 👍🏼👌🏼. Even if we had to climb the stairs daily and use a common bathroom, it was fine by us. We adapted and even had good nights of blissful rest. Plus, their staff were really accommodating and assistive to our questions. Special shout out to Jay and Johnny! 🙌🏼🙌🏼

If you ever need a budget-friendly place to stay in South Korea and won’t mind sharing a bathroom then Kimchee Guesthouse is the place for you.

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

P.S. The next blogpost will contain the video of the part 1 of our trip. 🎥📽

My Experience: Korean Tourist Visa

*Disclaimer: This post will not guarantee your visa approval as a tourist to South Korea. But this will give you an insight of what you need to do and what could possibly happen.*

Hello there! We just got back from our South Korean Adventure and our shortest but fun filled trip! South Korea 🇰🇷 is the first country we ever visited with the requirement of a Tourist Visa for Filipinos. This trip is also our first with my grandparents from both sides 👴🏼👵🏻👵🏼. This makes this trip extra fun and challenging, considering the visas we need to procure and the winter weather we all should face. 😨☃️❄️

So let us begin.

The Korean visa requirements are displayed per category in the Korean Embassy’s website. There are 19 categories, but the most common are:

1. Businessmen
2. Student 
3. Housewife/Househusband
4. Employee
5. Retired Senior Citizen
6. Workers

We took the four categories of housewife, self-employed, student and retired senior citizen. Under each category is a specific list of requirements that you need to strictly follow. Arrange your paper according to the list of requirements in the site. It is important to take note of the “and/or” conjunctions.

Be sure to provide PHOTOCOPIES of the NECESSARY documents indicated in the website. Make sure that all your documents are not more than 3 months old. Apply at least a month before your preferred date of departure. Also make an advanced “pay later” booking of your hotel, or place to stay in as it is needed in the application.

Fill in all the boxes in the application form provided on their website. Write N/A for the blank boxes. Use only black pen and write in CAPITAL letters. When you are going to fill up for someone, (e.g. Your grandma or a young child) be sure to indicate it in the slot at the end of the form. Print it in A4 paper.

If you will be staying for less than 59 days, you no longer need to pay for visa. For 60 to 90 days is PHP1,800.00. More than this, you may refer to their site on the price, as it may vary in time. Be there at 8:30am-11:00am for the submission. This is a first come, first serve basis. The length of waiting for the visa is around 3 to 5 days. For those who have travelled on OECD countries or in any countries for the last 5 years, list it down on the form. The list of OECD countries is provided on the site as well.

For a family like ours, where we listed my dad as the person who would finance, we provided for each person a document that would prove our relationship to him. For my mom, their marriage contract. His parents, his birth certificate. Me and my brother, our birth certificate. His mother-in-law, my parent’s marriage certificate and my mother’s birth certificate.

One representative per family or group will suffice in the submission. However, be sure to ask whether they would need every member of the family or group to be present when you claim your passport. They will also tell you when to come back and where to go after. We got our visa after 5 days and praise God! All were approved. 🙌🏼 But dad had to prank us, by making us anxious in thinking that one of us was not approved. 😂😩😒 My mum definitely didn’t like that prank. Haha!

This was a memorable trip for my grandparents and for my family as well. It was my grandmothers’ first trip outside the country. My grandfather’s first after soo many years ago.  I hope my rundown of what we did and what could happen helped you. If you need any help, do not hesitate to ask me here on the comment boxes below. 😘

Merci beaucoup et à bientôt

Watch out for the next blogpost for #SouthKorea and the VLOG!! 🙌🏼📽🎥