Philippines Travel

Silently Grieving on the Beautiful Island of Maniuaya



I was feeling off, indicative of grief I could not let on. I went on this trip in a zombie-like state and I convinced myself that it’s what I needed to deal with sorrow. Last April, my aunt left the mortal coil from breast cancer and on the day of her burial, I went to Maniuaya Island in Marinduque. I know how it sounds; like I didn’t care. How could I go on and have fun while my family is mourning? You can hate me later. On to the story.

My friend Cai, organizes annual trips with a group of guys he refers to as his beki friends (Beki is a Filipino slang word for "bakla," which means gay or homosexual). This year their chosen destination is Maniuaya also spelled as Maniwaya. He needed five more people to complete the headcount required for the van service that he hired. He invited five women, myself included.

How to get to Maniuaya Island?

Maniuaya Island is located in Barangay Maniwaya, one of the 55 barangays of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. To get there it takes five hours of land travel from Manila and another hour of sea transport.

Superlines terminals in Sampaloc, Cubao, and Alabang have daily routes to Catanuan and Mulanay. Get on on any of these buses then take off at General Luna Crossing in Quezon; fare rate is ₱320 ($5.98). From there, take a tricycle that goes to General Luna Port. Note that the boats that ferry the passengers to the island only travel once per day at 10:00 a.m. Boat fare is ₱150 ($2.80) per head and the journey takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

As with our group, we reached Quezon via van transfer, which we rented for ₱12,500 ($233.71). Cai found an operator on Facebook,  Safe Travels Transport. Given the fact that we would be spending the night on the island, I thought that the driver would join us, but he chose to stay behind; probably slept in the van.

We went to one of the rolling stores to break our fast before we proceeded to the harbor. At around 7 in the morning, the tide is still low, thus the tourists had to board those small fisherman boats to get to the ferry boat.

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When our group was all aboard the ferry, our journey continued.

Where to stay on Maniuaya Island?

Our big group found a home at Pielago Beach Resort, owned by a couple, Peter and Liza Quitoriano. During our stay, Ate Liza happened to be on the island. She has a bob hair, always smiling, and you will never see her without her shoulder bag that she likes to wear cross-body. She was present but not intrusive and she made sure that we got everything that we need. She’s also pretty cool, even indulged in joining one of the games that we played during our drinking session.

The resort is beach-front, with an expansive front yard dotted with tall coconut trees. We stayed in a 2-story house with 2 rooms. The ground floor has a common toilet and bath while the room on the second floor has its own, albeit smaller bathroom. It has a kitchen, a balcony, and a veranda. Despite our big number, we were able to squeeze ourselves in the 2 bedrooms. I stayed on the master’s bedroom with 6 other people. The three girls slept on the queen-size bed, I preferred to sleep on the extra mattress on the floor.

Our accommodation arrangement includes delicious home-cooked meals, mostly seafood with vegetable dishes and a generous serving of fruits for dessert.

What activities to do? 

Cai was getting antsy as he waited for us to settle our stuff in the resort. He had been to the island before, he was worried we’d miss the sandbar. This is one of the disadvantages of going with a big group; waiting time always takes longer.

Maniwaya is where I experienced the most relaxed kind of island hopping. It’s not because we were on a yacht or because we were treated like royals, but because there are only 2 islands to visit, Palad Sandbar and Ungab Rock.

Palad Sandbar

Pielago’s distance to Palad Sandbar is a mere 190 meters, so close you can see the island from the resort.

We were late that by the time we reached the place, the sandbar was already submerged in water, further obscured by the boats that were docked on the side. There are many tourists swimming and taking photos, and pretty soon our group got to working. By working I mean working it for the camera, of course.

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The water level reaches up until below my hips. The sandbar may be gone, but the view is still amazing. I stood fascinated at how blue and clear the water is.

Ungab Rock

Ungab Rock can be found on Mompong Island, about 30 minutes away from Maniuaya Island. This is where we stayed longer to enjoy snorkeling, and in my case, just swimming.

You can see the giant rock formation, jutting out on the shore blanketed by the trees. I just looked at it from afar and took a few photos. I didn’t bother stepping on the island and jumped straight to the water for a swim.

The Philippines is an archipelago, but many Filipinos, like me, can’t swim for shiz. In fact, only Cai was the only strong swimmer in the group. He went off on his own with his free diving gears, while I stayed afloat on the water with the life vest on.

When I grew tired pretending that I was a mermaid, I went back to the boat. As I was sitting there, wondering what time we’d return to the resort, I spotted one of our boatmen eating turon. Turon is one of my favorite Filipino snacks. It’s made of sliced bananas (jackfruit is optional) wrapped in spring roll wrapper, deep-fried with brown sugar. I must have it. Next thing I knew, everyone on the boat was eating turon. It’s important that I mention this because it’s the best turon I have ever had in my life. It was soft and warm, not too sweet, and the spring roll wrapper wasn’t thick unlike most turon in the market. What’s more, it’s cheap, only 10 ($0.19). So if you ever get to Ungab Rock don’t leave without buying that turon. Thank me later.

Maniuaya Island

I had a chance to walk a little bit along the stretch of the golden-sand beach of Maniuaya. I saw a makeshift store on the seashore, a few meters away from the resort. It was selling some junk food and iced desserts, halo-halo and mais con hielo. I ordered a halo-halo and occupied one of the monobloc chairs to finish the treat while enjoying the view of the beach. I listened to the idle conversations of the locals, they all speak Tagalogs but with a different accent and intonation than the people from Manila.

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The island is generally quiet with strong cool winds that blow no matter what time of day. It was not a remote place but underdeveloped, no grand establishments like bars or restos, no nightlife.  The network signal is intermittent, in my case, Globe only works when I go by the seashore. It’s the kind of place ideal for a quick escape from the city.

Beach bumming and bonding

Come night time, after dinner, the group gathered for a drink, Filipino style. We played games like the Kings Cup and two other games that I don’t know how to call.  There is one game that I liked better. The rule is simple, a random category is given and each one has to provide an example or a  word related to said category. The words uttered by one participant should never be repeated by another. A person who mistakenly repeats a word loses the game. The evening was long, the alcohol and the chips were overflowing, and the group’s laughter echoed through the night.

These games are meant for fun, but I think the true goal is to get everybody drunk. The punishment for losers is to drink a shot. Pretty soon, most of them were already slurring their words, some (I mean Cai) even puked. I say “them” because I was the only one who didn’t lose in the games, therefore, I didn’t have to drink as much as they did.

In a true “titas of manila” fashion, I went up to the room after three games to retire for the night.


Pielago has a cottage by the shore that all of their guests are free to use. Hanging out on this cottage, lying on one of the hammocks with my instant coffee is my most favorite moment on Maniuaya. The cool wind was blowing, the leaves and the trees are swaying, the sound and the sight of the waves helped soothe my grieving heart.

Unbeknownst to my companions, I was mourning the loss of my aunt at that time. Her interment coincided with this trip. I know that if I had chosen to back out, Cai would understand. I debated with myself whether I should go, but I didn’t want to be that person who bails at the last minute. I didn’t want to embody the kind of person that I detest. Also, I had paid for the trip, I didn’t want to waste my hard-earned money.

[Related: You were a Mother Caroline]

But I also know that these are all just reasons that I used to not deal with the guilt of missing out a sad but important family event. If you ask me whether I regret coming to this trip, I would have to say yes. It wasn’t because things went wrong or that I didn’t enjoy our short time on the island. In all honesty, it was fun; Cai’s friends are all nice, not to mention funny. The island has a beauty that makes the time stands still, the kind that pacifies a weary soul. It may very well be, just what I needed in the time I was dealing with the pain of a loss.

The regret comes from the lost opportunity to say goodbye to the person who stood as a second mother to me and my siblings. I feel guilty that I wasn’t able to share in the pain of the family. I’m sorry that I have let them down.

I found out that in the weeks before her passing, my aunt asked her sister when could she see me. I had to fight back the tears when I heard this. I was not able to see her in her final days and I didn’t send her off on the day of her burial. It honestly makes me feel like a terrible person.

Maniuaya will forever be, a sad reminder of this regret.

Itinerary Philippines Popular

A Day Trip Guide to Mariveles, Bataan

Last weekend, I returned to Bataan for the third time and went as far as Mariveles, a municipality in the southern tip of Bataan peninsula. Formerly known as Village of Kamaya, Mariveles has 18 barangays (villages) and a population of around 127,000 (based on the 2015 consensus). Probably the most popular tourist destination in this part of Bataan is a group of coves called, Five Fingers, named so due to their coastal features similar to the interdigital folds of a hand, at least when you check its aerial view. But we are not going to talk about Five Fingers, I am going to show you what else you can see in Mariveles for a day.

How to get to Mariveles

There are 3 ways in which you can reach Mariveles: drive, take a bus, ride a ferry. Travel time by land takes 3 to 4 hours.

To know your travel options, click the buttons below.

By Bus

Bataan Transit has daily trips to Balanga and Mariveles from their 4 terminals in Metro Manila; Cubao, Boni, Avenida, and Pasay. The fare rate from Cubao/Avenida is ₱280 ($5.26), while it’s ₱290 ($5.45) if you’re coming from Pasay or Boni. See the table below for the Avenida/Cubao schedule.

Route First Trip Last Trip Interval
Cubao to Mariveles 12:00 a.m. 9:30 p.m. 20 minutes
Avenida to Mariveles 2:30 a.m. 8:00 p.m. 30 minutes
Mariveles to Cubao 12:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. 15 minutes
Mariveles to Avenida 2:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m. 20 minutes
Bus schedule information is based from Bataan Transit site.

 

Another bus company that plies the same route is Genesis.

TipTo avoid a hassle, book your ticket online. Both Bataan Transit and Genesis offer online booking option.

By Ferry

If you want to cut travel time by half and want to enjoy a much-relaxed trip, then take a trip with El Greco. They have 3 scheduled daily trips from Manila to Mariveles and vice versa.

Schedule Fare Rates
Manila to Mariveles Mariveles to Manila Lower Economy 195 ($3.66)
5:30 a.m. 7:30 a.m. Upper Economy ₱210 ($3.95)
9:00 a.m. 10:30 a.m. First Class ₱235 ($4.41)
3:30 p.m. 5:15 p.m. V.I.P Cabin ₱350 ($6.58)

 

By Car
Though the prospect of reaching Mariveles after only 2 hours is far more appealing, it’d be difficult to get around Mariveles if we didn’t have our own vehicle. Thus, we took the option of renting a van. I posted on my Facebook wall asking for recommendations and that’s how I found out about Aloha Transport Services. The transaction was a breeze, the person who entertained my inquiries was very responsive. The van rate for our day trip to Mariveles is ₱6,500 ($122.11) and that’s all in. The call time was set at 3:30 a.m. and the driver, Kuya Gelly, arrived on time. I highly recommend this transport service.

What to see in Mariveles

A few weeks prior, I searched for some of the places that we could visit. I did the due diligence of checking Google maps for each of their location so we don’t go around aimlessly. The plan is to go to the farthest location then drive back so by the time we’re ready to go home, travel time wouldn’t be as long. Here are the key places that we visited.

Bataan Death March Zero Kilometer Marker

When you visit Bataan, you might notice the several kilometer markers on the road, most of them along MacArthur highway. These are not just any ordinary markers but ones that hold a historical significance. In 1942, over 60,000 to 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of wars walked—a great number of them to their death—along the 160-km stretch of road from Bataan to Pampanga. This point in history is called, the Bataan Death March, one if not the most terrible of atrocities in recollection during the Japanese occupation.  

There are 138 markers, 100 of which can be found in Bataan. The remaining markers can be seen in Pampanga (31) and Tarlac (7). There are two Zero KM markers in Bataan, one in Bagac and another one in Mariveles. The marker that we visited is in the Freeport Town of Mariveles, sitting just beside a Jollibee branch. I know the story of Bataan death march from reading the book, Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides years ago. Because of this, I didn’t feel right about taking a selfie in the monument, hence I just stopped to take a picture of the marker.

Panoypoy Cove

Indubitably, the most beautiful spot we visited on this day trip is the Panoypoy Cove, also known as the Batanes of the West. It can be found inside a resort called Claubel, weird name, which I’m pretty sure is two names merged into one (maybe Claude and Annabel? Who knows?!). If Claubel is too hard for you to remember, then ask people about “Hawla Beach”, another name for this resort. Why does it have another name? Go figure.

There is a 100-peso ($1.88) entry fee per head and they will tell you that it’s required to rent one of their cottages for ₱500 ($9.39). We had no intention of going swimming or staying there for long, we only wanted to take pictures of the cove. We begged the attendants to let us in without paying the cottage. It took some convincing but they finally let us through. It turns out that we really won’t be needing the cottage because we decided to skip the beach.

We took the path that goes down to the viewing point of the cove. There, on top of the hills, you can see the amazing view of Panoypoy Cove. I haven’t been to Batanes so I can’t make a valid comparison, but I was impressed by the view nonetheless. 

My friends and I had to do a little hike across the hill to get to a better spot. I knew that there’s some hiking involved but I wanted to be “extra” and wore a dress and a pair of gladiator sandals. Ill-dressed for the task but highly determined, I started climbing the rocky hill with one of my friends, Patit. We noticed that the mountain is bald and dry, the grasses are more brown than green. Patit wondered what happened to the trees, I echoed her sentiment. I took extra caution, carrying my tripod on my left shoulder, my brown bag on my right, as I walked on the slightly moist stony ground. The trek was short and doesn’t take a lot of effort, at least if I would compare it with all of my previous climbs. Before long, we were already on the other side to gaze at this view.

When everyone else has gathered to this side of the hill, I called for a group photo. As you can see, my friends are as extra as me, lol. By the time we decided to leave, I was nearing dehydration because of the sun. If you’re ever thinking of going there, make sure to bring water and slather on the sunblock.   

Address: Porto Del sol, Circle Brgy. Balon Anito

Balon Anito

Have you ever been to the mouth of a volcano? Well, you can easily do that in Mariveles by visiting Balon Anito. The locals call it a hot spring, but in reality, it is the mouth of a dormant volcano. True enough, you can see bubbles coming up on the water’s surface. The water is the color of moss and the crater itself is just the size of a regular swimming pool for kids.

The spring is in the back of Balon Anito Barangay Hall and basketball court. People go there to dip their toes because of the alleged healing properties of the water. I entertained thoughts of dipping my feet but the idea of wetting my sandals changed my mind. I did play with water a little with my hands just to know if the water is warm, it is but not as hot as I thought it’d be.

There were no other tourists when we went there. A local told us that if we don’t know how to swim then it’s best not to do it because the spring may be small, but it is deep.

Address: Barangay Balon Anito, Freeport Area of Bataan

San Miguel Lighthouse & San Miguel Peak

The smallest lighthouse I have ever seen can be found on the tip of Sisiman. San Miguel Lighthouse lies on the foot of a small mountain called, San Miguel Peak. My friend, Pancake, climbed this mountain with her son on her previous visit. By the time we reached the place, the sun was at its highest, taking out any thoughts of conquering the peak.

Going to the lighthouse entails a few minutes of walk over a dirt road sandwiched between San Miguel Peak and Sisiman Bay. There are small rundown cottages on the side of the bay, empty saved for one that looks like it’s being used as a place of residence.  

Walking at around 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon heat can be oppressing, thus I used my umbrella. It only succeeded in shading the upper part of my body, I had to endure the heat on my feet. At last, we reached the white lighthouse that no visitors are allowed to climb. It looks so small and lonely. On the back of the lighthouse, somebody pitched a tent. I looked at it and wondered how could anyone stay in there under the intense heat of the sun.   

I went down to the shore bedecked with huge boulders and rocks to take some photos. The wind that was blowing was a small mercy, but it was not enough to make us want to stay longer. My guesstimate is that we were only there for no more than 15 or 20 minutes.    

Address: Barangay Balon Anito, Freeport Area of Bataan  

Manila Airport Transfers

Where to eat in Mariveles

For our lunch, we went to Pupung Grill, a Filipino restaurant. It can be found on the side of Roman Superhighway facing the Mariveles Bay. They serve Filipino food but the area in which we were seated had a Japanese theme going on. I was momentarily disoriented but the place looks decent so I guess, it was no big deal.

We went there after having coffee, thus we were not starving and had the patience to wait for the food. We ordered several dishes for sharing, my most favorite of which is the sinigang na bangus and ensaladang talong. Price range plays between ₱200 to 500 ($3.76 – $9.39).     

Address: Ave of the Philippines, Freeport Area of Bataan  

Where to get coffee in Mariveles

There is not a lot of cafes in Mariveles to my disappointment. On googling we found Iwahori Coffeeshop, the in-house cafe of Iwahori Guesthouse. It claims that it offers healthy coffee, I was naturally curious. We entered a rather drab looking place, small and aesthetically unimpressive. It doesn’t look anything like the cafes that you can find in the city.

I ordered a cup of hot latte ₱60 ($1.13), which according to the barista is their bestseller. I was disappointed to find out that they are offering instant coffee from a product that came from Malaysia. It’s not that I don’t drink instant coffee, it’s just that it’s supposed to be a cafe, of course, I would expect that at the least they’d serve brewed coffee. There was nothing spectacular about the latte that it got me wondering how it became a bestseller. Nonetheless, I finished my cup in peace, not the best but I’ve had worse. At least the staff was nice to us. We asked them what else we could see in Mariveles but all of their suggestions, save for Five Fingers, were already included in our itinerary.  

Address: 156 Lakandula St. Poblacion


We couldn’t find Sisiman Beach, our supposed last stop. It was a little before 3:00 p.m., too early to go home, but that’s what we ended up doing when somewhere along the way it started raining hard. The trip back to the crowded city took longer considering the traffic. Nevertheless, we all agreed, it has been a successful day trip.

This trip pushed through at the request of Pancake who is leaving for Ireland soon. It’s been a long time since our group went somewhere together, it was nice to have a sort of a last hurrah before one of us leave the country for good.


Itinerary & Expenses

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Australia Travel

Friday Night on Sydney’s Central Business District

What are you doing tonight?” asked my officemate D.

I had plans to meet this guy I swiped right on Tinder for dinner that Friday night. But not after I’m done with the whole business of hauling my stuff from Meriton Suites Chatswood to Base Hostel in CBD. The workweek was over, so was my sponsored stay in the hotel. My flight was on Sunday, thus the need to arrange my weekend accommodation. From having a room all to myself, I would be moving to a much smaller room that I have to share with strangers.

Kristel, my fellow Knowledge Specialist in Manila, reported that she would be meeting with friends. I told D of my lodging plans, he said he and our other colleague, Kaily were planning to take us for dinner in CBD. Am I meeting the guy who is practically a stranger or should I accept the generosity of my officemates? The answer is, I’m still single.

We said our goodbyes to Kristel in the lobby then we went to the parking lot to pick up D’s car. Kaily rides shotgun while I took the seat behind. They do right-hand driving in Australia just like Japan where I first saw cars with steering wheels on the right. D drove fast much like our boss and I wondered if that’s an Australian thing. I looked out the window to manage my car motion sickness.

There were roads in which we slowed down due to traffic, but it was moving unlike in the Philippines. I heard D muttering complaints about the traffic and I can’t remember now whether I said it aloud that it was not heavy traffic, at least not in the Philippine standard.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Kaily helped with my bags when we reached Meriton Suites. We got in the car, then continued our way to CBD. I was already feeling sleepy but when we passed through the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I was jolted back to life. There is something about the steel arch that had me mesmerized. They have a moniker for this bridge, “The Coathanger” because of the arch.

This bridge is the 6th longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge. If it reminds you of the Hell Gate Bridge in New York, USA, that’s because the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built with that as an inspiration. Do you know you can do a bridge climb on this bridge? Yes, you can. It is one of the popular tourist activities in Sydney. The price range is between $168 – $403; that’s roughly ₱8,000 to ₱21,000. Both D and Kaily claimed that they haven’t made the climb because using their own words, it is bloody expensive. I can’t say I disagree.

Base Backpackers Hostel

Base Backpackers or XBase has a number of budget accommodations in Australia and New Zealand, manned by staff who are, as their website claims, backpackers. In Sydney, Xbase is in a perfect location along Kent St., close to many other points of interest, such as the Chinatown, Darling Harbour, and The Rocks precinct. Xbase, as it turns out, is what I would call a party hostel; it literally has a door that connects to the Scary Canary, a popular bar and club in the area. There were many people in the lobby, mostly young people in their 20s, who are clearly backpackers. I don’t do well with a lot of people, I only picked this hostel because of its proximity to many key spots in CBD.

Kaily helped me with my bags again, as D waited for us in the lobby. For some reason, we failed to see the elevator. Hence, we exerted so much effort climbing the stairs while carrying my backpack and luggage, all the way to the floor in which Sanctuary, the secluded area for women, can be found. We couldn’t find the Sanctuary so we knocked on one of the doors and out came a blonde lad. He pointed us to the other end of the hall where the Sanctuary is and asked me what’s wrong with the mixed dorms that I chose to stay in the all-female area. I just laughed, choosing not to answer his question.

Klook.com

Mixed dorms in which there are more males than females tend to be always in a state of chaos. This is not to say that I didn’t meet women who are slobs but based on my experience, men, in general, do not care about putting away their stuff. Also, I’d like to be able to take off my clothes without having to go to the bathroom.   

World Square

As soon as I settled my stuff in the dorm, Kaily and I headed out to meet D. The first point of business is to have dinner at World Square, a food and shopping center on George Street. There, we had ramen at Ramen Zundo where we were joined by Hillary, D’s girlfriend.

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The Choc Pot

My colleagues were particularly excited about getting our desserts at The Chot Pot, in fact, they were set on going there long before we decided where to have dinner. Choc Pot can be found inside the Regent Place Shopping Centre. It is known for its signature dessert of, well, chocolate pudding in a pot. It’s like a land of souffles and waffles, ice cream and marshmallows, and yes, chocolates; basically, your sweet dreams. The place was packed that we had to wait to be seated. A stocky Asian guy was managing the place, his accent told me his nationality; a fellow Filipino.

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My tummy was still heavy from the ramen that I had and that’s the only thing that was preventing me from devouring the dessert that we ordered in its entirety. I’m not a chocolate person, but I love ice cream, thus I was pretty happy eating the waffle topped with an overturned ice cream cone. I wasn’t able to get the names of the desserts that we had, I took pictures though.

Chinatown

In Sydney, there are many Chinese who are part of the 5 major ancestries in the city. And where there are many Chinese, you are sure to find a China town. We walked through the Chinatown as we contemplated our next destination. There are plenty of Chinese restaurants and shops in this area and in the evening, you can visit the area to check out the food stalls and souvenir kiosks during the night market. 

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There was a huge round installation hanging above that looked like a Chinese vintage coin. My companions noticed me taking photos of it, they said that if it weren’t for me, they wouldn’t have known that it was up there.  

The Baxter Inn

The last agenda of the night was to drink. We were supposed to check out The Scary Canary, the queue of people waiting to get in was long. D found the entry fee off-putting and so we went to this place that he knows on Clarence St. Just like the previous bar, this one has a queue of people waiting outside. The men are tall and handsome, the women are all made up and looking sexy. I, on the other hand, was too covered for comfort. Had I known visiting a bar would be on the agenda I would have worn something “bar-appropriate.”

The queue moved pretty quickly that soon we were inside this dark and fully crowded underground whiskey cellar. The back wall of the bar is covered with different bottles of old whiskey that go right up to the ceiling. The bartenders have to use a wheeling ladder (like the ones they have in libraries) to get to the top shelves. There were people in every corner that I thought we would never be able to find a table. Moments later, I saw D motioning us to the table that had just been vacated.

I approached the bar where one part of the wall has a list of all the drinks they are offering. I don’t speak whiskey, my alcoholic knowledge limited to vodka, wine, and cocktails that looking at the menu felt like reading Sanskrit I have to pick my battles, thus I retreated to our table and let D do the ordering.  

Men in Sydney are generally good looking and I also noticed that they have a good physique. And a lot of them seemed to have the same idea that night, visiting The Baxter Inn, that is. I sat there the entire night either listening to the stories of my colleagues or eyeing the eye candies.

Kaily and D had mocktails because they don’t drink. I forgot what Hillary ordered; I think I had a mojito (this happened in November last year so I don’t remember the littlest of details). Kaily and I got to talking a little bit while the couple was getting our drinks. We’re both single and not dating anyone, and I remember not being able to articulate well the reason for my singlehood.


Everybody was tired and it was time to call it a day. They walked me back to my hostel, the night air has grown chilly. I gave each of them a hug as we said our goodbyes. I told them that I truly appreciate them taking their time to tour me around CBD. I certainly do not regret choosing them over a Tinder date.  

The line was still long outside The Scary Canary, I went inside the hostel, found the elevator that has eluded me and Kaily before, got in and went up to the Sanctuary.

Accommodation Australia Travel

Meriton Suites Chatswood – a glimpse of what it feels like to live overseas

It took me a while to figure out how the espresso machine works, a success I wasn’t able to replicate with the dishwasher. I taught myself how to use the washing machine then I dried my clothes in the spin. Back home I didn’t have an iron, thus I was fascinated when I pressed the wrinkles off my pants. These are the things I would love to have in my own home, they sure made my stay in Australia a lot easier. It surprised me that I could fend for myself in a foreign country, but I am more surprised by how easy I was able to adjust in a place about 4,000 kilometers away from home. There was no sense of feeling out of place, no missing the things I have back home. I mean, how could I when I stayed at Meriton Suites Chatswood, a hotel that pretty much has everything.

Still reeling from the fact I just spent AUD 63 (that’s 2,501.73 in peso) for a 21-minute taxi ride from Elizabeth Street to Chatswood, I pulled my luggage and walked with my back hunched from carrying Monster toward the lobby of Meriton Suites.

Meriton Suites is a chain of hotels, established in 2003 by Harry Triguboff, Meriton Group’s managing director and a billionaire property entrepreneur. It is said to be the largest owner of hotels in Australia, operating in 18 locations in Sydney, Brisbane, and Gold Coast. In Sydney alone, there are 14 Meriton Suites, including the one in Chatswood.

Meriton Suites in Chatswood is a serviced apartment; big space and fully furnished, ideal for long-term stays. It’s just a few minute’s walk from the train station and only one station away from North Ryde where the building of our company is located.

I came in on a Sunday at around 11:00 a.m. I was supposed to stay in a room on a higher floor, but it wouldn’t be available until the check-in time, 2:00 p.m. They offered another option, an early check-in, but on a lower floor. It didn’t take long for me to decide to take the second option; a good view of the city, although preferable is not my priority. I wanted to check in early so I don’t waste time I could have spent exploring the city.

Booking.com

I stayed in a 1-bedroom modern suite and I wasn’t prepared at how huge space is. The bedroom has a king-size bed, a built-in wardrobe, and an HD flat TV screen.

There’s a bathroom with a toilet, complete with plush towels, METIS skin and haircare amenities, and a hairdryer. I loved everything about this bathroom especially the METIS products, but it was missing one ingredient that in my opinion would have made it perfect; a bidet. I soon learned that in Australia, they are unfamiliar with the wonders of a bidet.

Meriton Suites Chatswood wins the best bathroom essentials award in my book.

In the corner, just outside the bedroom and the bathroom is an office table with a chair. I wasn’t able to use it as I preferred using my laptop in the living room.

The living room is big like I could do cartwheels and not break things. It also has an HD flat-screen TV with selected Foxtel channels.

Beyond the living room is a private balcony that offers the view of the road.

But what I truly loved about this room is the fully equipped gourmet kitchen. It has a Vittoria Espresso coffee capsule machine, a fridge, a gas stove and an oven, and a dishwasher.

The laundry area was particularly useful for me during my stay, saved me the trouble of buying clothes because I could wash ’em.

Though I had Optus, I used the unlimited WiFi of Meriton whenever I’m there. It was high-speed and reliable.

Other key features of the hotel include a 24hr Reception, indoor heated pool & sauna, and a fitness center (gym). I was able to do my workout in the gym for a day, it wasn’t crowded and it has a complete set of gym equipment.

Now if you’re curious about Chatswood area, here’s a little tour. Chatswood is in 10-km north of Sydney’s Central Business District. The name came from two things, the name of the wife of the then-Mayor Richard Harnett, Charlotte who was nicknamed, “Chattie”, and the wooden features of the area. It used to be Chattie’s Wood, until it was shortened to Chatswood.

There were 2 days in which I went out of the suite to check out the surrounding area and to eat because the kitchen despite being fully furnished didn’t inspire me to cook. My feet led me to Victoria Street. I went in springtime when the sun doesn’t set until around 7:00 p.m., but the majority of establishments in Sydney close as early as 5:00 p.m., thus there isn’t much going on outside.

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I keep telling my friends that one day, I would be living in another country, hopefully with a husband. I dream to be somewhere in Europe, preferably where I can perfect my French. Not sure when is it going to be (and I’m hoping before I turn 40), but I’m glad that in Sydney, I had a glimpse of how it is going to be. I fell easily into a routine, I almost believed it was permanent. I think if I ever move to another country for real, I’ll be okay.

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