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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CRISTINA VILLA MOUNTAIN RESORT AND HOTEL Antipolo

Long before Antipolo became famous as a resort town, Cristina Villa was already known as a retreat destination for locals and weary Metro Manila residents.

Then came all the competition, resorts sprouted in all directions and the fight for space and customers has never been intense. For a resort to stay in business this long and survive the onslaught of competition, one has to continuously evolve and reinvent itself to give reasons for customers to keep coming back. That's what CRISTINA VILLA MOUNTAIN RESORT AND HOTEL, formerly Villa Cristina, has done.

The resort, taking pride in its Mediterranean theme, is a little off the city center of Antipolo but still accessible via well paved road. The location might not be that strategic but this gives the resort it one of its key advantage, the uninterrupted view of Metro Manila below and its ever vibrant skyline.
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One of the main pools at Cristina Villa Antipolo

To be honest, I googled photos and blogs about the resort and what I found didn't elicit much excitement. But we decided to give it a try anyway one Sunday afternoon. I was surprised at what I saw, not the wooooooo wow kind of thing but the place is really far better in person than what you see online.
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At the entrance, you will greeted by a 22-room hotel which they are expanding to 40+ rooms. Since there was a large group which just checked out when we came, our room needed more time to be readied. I will go back to describing it later because we first toured the resort while waiting to check in.
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THE RESORT 
Not too sprawling and not too compact either. Just the right space so as not to get too tired going around and at the same time not feel crowded. The fact that it is on a cliff side gives it the multi-level and multi-dimentional effect. The two main pools for example (kiddie pool and adult pool) are situated on the lower section right behind the hotel.

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overlooking Metro Manila
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THE KIDDIE POOL 
Other than the other pools sectioned with kiddie pool, there is one entirely for kids. You are sure kids will not only enjoy the slides and other activities in it, you will also be confident they are safe to go around it all they want. We brought with us two kids and they had a fun time in this section while me and my wife cheerfully looked after them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE MING TOMBS: Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum 明孝陵 at Zhong Mountain Scenic Area Nanjing

Nanjing is not called "The City of Emperors for nothing. Up Zhong Mountain Scenic Area lies another UNESCO World Heritage Site ---The Ming Tombs.

The Ming Tomb is a site of world cultural heritage, and the Scenic Spot of the Ming Tomb is an important part of the Scenic Area of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum. Located at the foot of Wanzhu Peak of Dulong Mound on the southern slope of Zhongshan Mountain, the Ming Tomb is the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang,the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and his wife Mrs. Ma. The Ming Tomb in the Ming Dynasty covered a vast piece of land, with the circumference of its enclosure being 22.5 kilometers, approximately 2/3 of the total length of the city wall of Nanjing at that time. Source

I have heard about this fact prior to our visit but I didn't realize the extent of the place until we got here. The place is like the Chinese version of Angkor Wat----a complex of structures over a wide span of land.

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The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum  Nanjing China

Sunday, October 12, 2014

SUN YAT SEN MAUSOLEUM (中山陵) at Zhong Mountain Scenic Area Nanjing

Only a handful personalities are respected on both sides of Taiwan Straight, the most popular of which is Sun Yat Sen, the Father of Modern China. He is also considered the father of democratic China being the forerunner of the Chinese democratic revolution which eventually led to the fall of Qing Dynasty, the last dynasty of China. 

This also meant the end of 2,000 years of feudal system in the country. Born in Guandong and died in Beijing in 1925, his remains were transferred to Nanjing in 1929 where he was buried. A majestic mausoleum was erected in his honor at Zhong Mountain Scenic Area.

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The 392 steps to SUN YAT SEN's MAUSOLEUM

HOW TO GET TO SUN YAT SEN MAUSOLEUM
The area covers about 20 hectares in the East suburb of Nanjing.
To get here, you can
1. Take subway line 2 and get off Xiamafang Station.
2. Take the sightseeing vehicle to the site.

It takes around 5-10 minutes up the mountain. Tram fare is 5 RMB One-way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FUZIMIAO: Nanjing Confucius Temple Complex

Before going to Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum and Ming Tombs which are the main reasons why we went to Nanjing, we dropped by Fuzi Miao Complex ( Confucian Temple Area) first since it is only a few blocks away from our place Fuzimiao International Youth Hostel.

Nanjing Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao)
The Confucius Temple in Nanjing was originally constructed in the year of 1034 in the Song Dynasty. It was a place to worship and consecrate Confucius, the great philosopher and educator of ancient China. It is also known as Fuzimiao in Chinese.
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Nanjing Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao)

NANJING MING CITY WALL and Xuanwu Lake


Many old cities in China had city walls but only a handful of them survived time due to both natural and man-made reasons. Even Beijing's city walls didn't get spared. Thanks to China's Communist Governments disregard for cultural heritage.

Nanjing on the other hand prides itself from still having its city walls intact. While many sections also got ruined, the walls are restored to its former glory.
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 Xuanwu Gate of Nanjing's Ming City Wall

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NANJING MASSACRE WAR MEMORIAL : For the 300,000 who perished in WWII

People ask me, "Why Nanjing?". The place is unheard of for many Filipinos primarily because there are no direct flights here from the Philippines. I say, why not? Nanjing holds a lot of history being considered as the Southern Capital of China. Nanjing, Beijing. Rings a bell? Beijing means Northern Capital, Nanjing means Southern Capital. That gave sense to our decision to visit the city.


Nanjing has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture having been the capital of China for several period including before World War II swept Asia Pacific. It was therefore the seat of government when the Japanese invaded China. Having said that, Nanjing suffered the brunt of Japanese brutality.


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NANJING MASSACRE WAR MEMORIAL

Sunday, September 21, 2014

WHAT TO EAT IN NANJING: Steamed Vegetable Ball, Fried Chinese Bolt, Deep Fried Candy Style Dumpling

Remember those old Chinese Kung Fu movies where the protagonist dine in a restaurant and all staff are very accommodating and they seem to move hastily just to find a table for the customer then everybody cheers to welcome the guest only to be attacked by the antagonist right after his/her tea is served? Less the gang fight, that was exactly the scene at the restaurant we first went to in Nanjing China which is just across the bridge from our hostel.

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Steamed Vegetable Ball in Nanjing China

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#NANJING: Fuzimiao International Youth Hostel

Regardless of what time we arrive at our destination, my wife and I have the habit of going straight to our acccommodation sonas to rest and recharge and we ready for the day ahead. We arrived at Nanjing train station at around 3:30am so public buses or subway were out of the options to get to the city.

READ: Midnight Train from SHANGHAI-NANJING China and yes, the train officer screamed at us!

Nanjing Train station felt like completely different from the one in Shanghai. Here, you can see people scattered on the floors at the station lobby with their stuff scattered around them. It gives a provincial feel to the place where people are free to do what they want. We were also surprised that other than official taxi service there arr many agents inside the station who will offer ride to the city at pre-arranged value. A lady immediately approached us and offered RMB 100 to our destination. I thought that's too expensive so I bargained for 90 Yuan. Tumawad pa talaga ako.
Fuzimiao International Youth Hostel Nanjing City China

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Midnight Train from SHANGHAI-NANJING China and yes, the train officer screamed at us!

"The customer is always right" , drop that notion if you are in China. Don't expect customer service here to be the mantra especially in government owned companies like China Railways. Our experience during our midnight trip from Shanghai to Nanjing reinforced this notion when the one in charged of the couch we were at screamed at us because we almost missed our station.

More on that later.^^
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Shanghai Railway Station

Monday, September 15, 2014

NUAT THAI BANAWE: Full Body Scrub + Aromatheraphy Massage Pampering

Space, it's one important element that many business establishments fail to look closely at specially among spas and massage centers. It is essential because space translates to comfort --both physical and psychological. In a spa for example, ample space means more room to breath.

That on top of good service and location is something about Nuat Thai Banawe where I tried the following services two weeks ago.

1. Full body scrub 
2. Aromatheraphy massage
3. Foot reflexology

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Nuat Thai Banawe 
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