Ryoko’s Place ← our home away from home

When travelling to an expensive location like Japan, chances are, hotels could be very expensive too!  That is why, I am so thankful for Airbnb.  Not only do we get to save a lot from booking a hotel, we experience how it is to have a home away from home.

Ryoko is a superhost and a colleague has already booked her apartment several times.  So, being scammed isn’t going to be an issue.  

Our group consisted of 12 people all with 1 medium sized luggage and 1 handcarry luggage.  Do the math and that’s about 24 luggages in all. But Ryoko’s place is massive, so space is not a problem.

Ryoko’s place is in a quiet neighborhood.  It is actually in a high end part of Tokyo where the houses are big and pricey.

Ryoko’s is pricey also with rates going at Php 23,000.00 a night.  That doesn’t include Cleaning Fee.  However, the house can fit 14 people comfortably.  If you are more than 14, you could still fit.

Upon entering the house, there’s a mini sofa where you could sit and remove your shoes.  

Then the sala with a huge sofa set.  The black ones are actually sofa beds which can accommodate 2 to 4 people, or even 6.

There’s also a hammock for some chill time.

Photo from Ryoko’s Airbnb page

A big TV if you want to enjoy lounging at home.

Just in front is the Dining Area which could sit at least 10 people.

And then the Kitchen with complete amenities.  It has a fridge, a dishdryer, a microwave, and a coffee maker.  You could also use the plates, cups, glasses, and spoon and forks.  You can also find the washing machine there.

Then there were the bedrooms.
The only bedroom downstairs has a water bed!  It can fit 2 people.  It has its own walk in closet where you could hang your clothes or stash your luggages.  It also has its own toilet & bath.

There’s also a toilet on the 1st floor.

Up the 2nd floor, you can find 3 more bedrooms.  

The first one can fit at least 2 people.

The next bedroom has 2 single beds.

The third bedroom has a double bed also, could fit minimum 2 people.

One of these bedrooms has its own toilet and bath.

I have researched so much about Japan’s Airbnb and due to limited space of the houses in Tokyo, very seldom that you could find a house as big as this with all the beds and amenities to cater to your needs.

Definitely worth the price we paid for the duration of our stay.  Also, the house has WIFI and Ryoko lends a pocket wifi to bring along.

Her house is walkable from Shibuya, around 10 minutes give or take.  Just on the 1st street, there’s a Denny’s.  On the way, so many convenience stores, so you will never go hungry.

Ryoko is a very gracious host.  She is very accommodating.  Too bad I wasn’t able to meet her face to face.  According to my colleague, she is very beautiful too.

If you want to book her house in your future trip to Japan, just search Ryoko in Airbnb.  

Or leave a message and I will give you her contact number.

Happy Trip!

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Pay Travel Tax Online

Avoid the Holy Week Rush!  Pay your Philippine Travel Tax Online.

Go to www.tieza.gov.ph

Click Travel Tax, on the dropdown menu, select Pay Travel Tax Online.

You will be directed to this page.  Register and be a member. 

Once you are registered.  Paying your Travel Tax is so easy.  A registered member can pay for a maximum of 4 companions at a time.  

Click the Yellow Button that says Click here to fill up Travel Tax Payment Form.

The member’s name will be on default for every application.  You can choose to add member to input the name of your companion.  Fill up the form, you will be needing your Booking Reference Number.  Make sure you choose the right type of travel tax to pay.  For regular passengers on Economy, Travel Tax is Php 1,620.00.

Check all details then Click Confirm Payment.

There will be a fee of Php28.35 for each Travel Tax you pay online.  They call it Service Fee.  It is very minimal in exchange for the hassle of lining up and paying in Cash in the airport.

Once you confirm your payment, you will already see your Digitized Travel Tax Receipt.

There will be 4 copies.  2 copies in a page.  Print it in Landscape Form and cut.

There you go.  Travel Tax out of your way when you go to the airport.  

Saves us all the hassle.  Happy Vacation!

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Baguio 2017: Newtown Hotel

An impromptu trip to Baguio left us with no other choice but to find the most comfortable and cleanest hotel we could get at the last minute.

That is why I am so thankful for travel websites like Hotels.com, Traveloka and the others.  You can just go online, find a place and book easily.  Booking with these travel apps / websites comes with its own perks as well.

Like in Hotels.com, most of their hotels are included in the earn and redeem promo.  The more you book rooms with them, the easier you could get a free room.  This free room is redeemable anywhere in the world.

So anyway, we finally booked Newtown Plaza Hotel with the recommendation of a friend.  It’s a newly built hotel and it’s affordable, clean and modern.

We arrived midnight so checking in was a breeze.  

Didn’t get much pictures of the room because it’s midnight and we were all tired from the trip.

The room is big and spacious.  There are 2 double beds.  The TV is huge! Ample space for our things.  We asked for an extra bed the 2nd night.  
For Php1,200.00, this is what you get, a bed that could fit 2 more persons.

As for the bathroom…

The bathroom is spacious as well.  And the shower is the best ever!  I could stay longer than the normal under the hot shower.
The balcony and the view is just breathtaking!  So nice to wake up to a view like this!

Real value for money!  If I am going back to Baguio, I am definitely gonna stay in Newtown Hotel again!
They even have a swimming pool and a playground.

By the way, if you love wandering in a garden, and just be lost in time, the Botanical Garden is just a 5 minute walk from the hotel.  There’s also a coffee shop and some souvenir shops within the vicinity of the garden.  

If you are bringing a car with you, better partner it with Waze.  Helps a lot in navigating through the mountains and hills of Baguio!

Happy Trippin’!

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Japan Visa 2017 (Multiple Entry)

This year, our branch is travelling to the Land of the Rising Sun on Holy Week.  No need to talk about our plane tickets as we got it really expensive.  Since we have the tickets already, we can move on to getting a Japan Visa.  For quite some time now, Japan is lenient in granting visas as they are encouraging tourists to visit their country.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare for it.

So how do we get a Japan Visa?  Applicants can’t go directly to the Japanese Embassy to apply.  One needs an accredited travel agency.  The first time I applied for a visa, I got it from Friendship Tours located at Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati. 

This was my 2013 Japan Visa.  I was only given a single entry.  The visa was only valid for 90 days.  A single entry visa allows you to stay for a maximum of 15 days.

Now, I am getting it through Mulan Travel Agency located in Binondo Manila.  Contact them at 2454658.

These are their requirements:

1)  Application Form – get it from the travel agency

Fill it up properly.  If in case there is a mistake, just cross it out with 2 lines, don’t use correction tape.  They want to know what the mistake is.  

Another reminder for the place where you will be staying, don’t put an Air Bnb address, just use some random hotel.  Unless you are really staying in a hotel.

2) 2×2 Passport ID Picture – with white background

3) NSO Birth Certificate – if first time applicant and doesn’t have any other visa issued to you.

4) NSO Marriage Certificate – same with No. 3 and if you are married.

For NSO certificate needs, please see my post here.

5)   Bank Certificate – of course, the embassy needs to know if you are financially capable to fund your trip.

6)  COEI or Certificate of Employment with Income (if employed) – proof that you have a stable job here in the Philippines and that you are coming back.  Also to prove how much you are getting paid.

7)  ITR or Income Tax Return – they would want to know if you are a good citizen paying your taxes. Haha. 

8) Business Papers or Documents (if not employed and owns a business) – same with COEI, this is to prove that you have the means to earn and spend for a trip.

So there, easy right?  Just as long as you are honest and you presented complete requirements, I think you will not have a hard time.

I am wishing for a multiple entry visa this time so wish me luck!

Good luck to you too!

Update:

We finally sent out application but our application got delayed because I wasn’t able to send my old passport with my old Japan visa in it.  They need it if you will not be submitting NSO Certificates anymore and if you have been to Japan already.  I didn’t know it was needed because I thought they already have their database to check.

2nd update: After a week since I sent my old Japan Visa, my application has been processed and I now have a Multiple Entry Japan Visa valid for 5 years!  It allows you to stay a maximum of 30 days for every visit!

It is a surprise, really!  According to the travel agency, you can’t apply for a multiple visa.  It is up to the Japan Embassy if there are gonna give you or not.  More often than not, they give you a multiple entry if you have already been issued a visa before.

What can I say?  Yey!

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Travel: Traveloka App

Discovered a new travel app just recently and it has already proven itself!  It is so easy to use.

We used this app to book our impromptu long weekend getaway and we literally made #HabolsaHalloween!  

In addition to the low prices they are offering, we got another 30% off on 1 of the rooms because of their #HabolsaHalloween promo.

We compared their prices with other travel apps and theirs is really lower.

Got a room in Matabungkay Beach Resort at only Php 3,212.70, discounted from Php 3,505.30.  Published rate is at Php 4,800.00.  

Booked 2 of these deluxe rooms and then applied the promo code Habol30.  I ended up paying just Php 5,461.59 instead of Php 6,425.40.  The 30% was applied to 1 room making me save another Php 963.81.

Thanks to Traveloka, we got 2 rooms at this rate at the last minute.  Who would have thought right?

What are you waiting for?  They have a new promo and it will run until November 6, 2016.  Book now!

You can download the app and use your Facebook ID to log in, this way, you don’t have to create a new account anymore.  Like them on Facebook, TravelokaPH

Check out their official website at www.traveloka.com

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Travel: US Visa Approved!

Throwback to the day of our appointment:

You can imagine our happy state as we walked away from the booth of the consul who said that our passports will be delivered in our address in the application!  My daughter’s got a twinkle in her eyes!

On exactly the 5th day after the appointment, we received our passports with our US Visas! We were all given 10 years! Great isn’t it?


So how did we do it?  Read on.

Be calm.  Be honest.  Two things to live by during this whole application process.  From the moment you fill up your application form up until the time of your interview with the consul, be calm and be honest.

Getting to the US Embassy
Lining Up

We had felt pity on ourselves as we lined up outside the embassy under the pouring rain, with 2 kids in tow.  That feeling was immediately changed as we went through a very easy process inside the embassy. 

Grateful to the staff attending to the lines outside because he gave us sort of like a Fast Pass seeing that we have 2 kids.  

There will be 2 security checks before you actually get to the Consular Building.

Once you get in, you’ll be directed to Step 1, the Pre-Screening.  No lines here.  At this window, the Officer will get your Confirmation Page, your Passport and your 2×2 picture.  Then she will ask the applicant his name and birthday, validate it against the application form you submitted online.  Takes about 5 minutes tops.

Step 2 is Finger Scanning.  There was a short queue for this.  There was also a hand sanitizer and paper towel for you to clean your hands.  Again, only the Confirmation Page and the Passport is needed.  The officer was very jolly and she interacted with the applicants well.  Her voice was loud so you’d think she was angry, but she’s not.  Finger Scanning is only for adults.  She asked us for our names and birthdays, then instructed us to put our thumbs together and had it pressed in the machine.  After the 2 thumbs, all 8 fingers were scanned together.

Last and Final Step is the Interview with the Consul.  We waited and were seated for about 8 minutes until we were called to stand in line.  There was a family in front of us, but unfortunately they weren’t granted the Visas.  

It was nerve wracking because the family before us just got denied.  While waiting in line, me and my husband were discussing our answers in the application form because that is the only basis of the consul.  

When it was our turn, we said hello to the consul and we were asked to wait first as he finished jotting down notes for the application of the family ahead of us. 

Be calm and be honest.

He asked for our Confirmation Page and the Passports.  He asked for our names then continued to interview us.  These are some of the questions he asked us:

  • What will you do in the States?
  • Where in the States will you be going?
  • Where do you plan to stay?  How long?
  • When do you plan to go?
  • What’s our occupation and how long we have been with our respective companies?
  • Who is going with us in our trip?

Right after he asked the questions, he just told us that our passports will be delivered to the address we stated in the application form.  He didn’t ask for a single document.

No fanfare.  No congratulations.  But in my head and in my daughters’ heads, there were fireworks!

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Public Service: Modus on Parking for US Visa Applicants

Our scheduled appointment was 8:45am.  US Embassy wants you to be there at least 15 minutes before your schedule. 
Together with the kids, we left the house at 630am.  We got into the tail of traffic at Quirino Highway so we decided to take another route.  Fortunately, the longer route wasn’t as jammed as the previous.  We arrived at the US Embassy area around 730am.  Well, at least we have enough time to spare. 

We looked for a parking space on a side street because all the service road parking near the footbridge was full already.  (The footbridge is the only way to cross Roxas Boulevard to go to the Embassy.)  

When we found a parking space, an ate from the parking bureau immediately assisted us.  When finally parked, hubby rolled the window down, the ate said, “Embassy Sir? 100 po.” (She said parking is 100 pesos if you are going to the Embassy.)  Shocked of her announcement, we said “why 100? Holdap ah?” (We asked why 100 pesos for embassy goers, we asked her is this a hold up?)  She answered, “matagal kasi interview dun.” (The interview takes time.)  We tried to argue with her and she discounted the rate to 70 pesos.  

What a shocker really!  The ticket’s print says that it’s just 30 pesos for the first 3 hours, then 10 pesos for every succeeding hour.  Even if we stayed until noon there, our parking should have been just 50 pesos.

And since we finished about 930am.  The 70 pesos we paid was just for 2 hours of parking.  A clear kickback of about 40 pesos. Grrr…

Funny thing is, when we were leaving the parking space, Ate was just standing there and not assisting.  Maybe she’s afraid that we will call her out with our parking fee if she gets near us.

Lucky her we were too happy with the result of our interview, we just let her be.

So guys, beware of these parking attendants.  If you don’t have a driver, make sure you don’t get hold upped by these attendants.  If you have drivers, better let them drop you off in front of the embassy and just let them know where to wait for you.  

Good luck with the parking!

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Travel: Sky View Lounge in NAIA 3

Travelling with our 2 daughters on this trip, we decided to go to the airport early so we won’t be rushing and stressing.  After checking in our luggages and passing through the Immigration, we proceeded to the Sky View Lounge. 

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It’s located on the 4th level and there are a lot of signs that will point you to its location. 

How to get in?  We used American Express Platinum Cards to get in.  1 card allows the cardholder to bring a guest with him.  Since we were 4, we presented 2 cards.  It doesn’t matter if you are the Principal or not.  All you need is to show your card on the front desk and register.

Aside from the BDO Amex Cards, they also accept Security Bank’s World or Platinum Cards, Citibank Premiermiles Platinum, Diner’s Club and Priority Pass.

Why stay in a lounge?

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Cool and comfortable environment while waiting for your flight.

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Free WIFI to connect.

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Catch up on some reading.

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Thirsty?  Not a problem when you’re inside the lounge.  They have a variety of drinks to offer – juice, soda, beer, coffee and liquor.

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They have bread and spreads like jam, butter and cheese.  They also have different sandwiches. 

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For today, they served Chicken Congee, Vegetable Pasta, Fish Nuggets and Steamed Rice.

Also very important to me in a lounge is a clean rest room.

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They also have a Prayer Room if you need time to contemplate.

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And there’s more!  You could bump into a handsome celebrity.

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All these amenities plus nice and accommodating staff would really make your stay a comfortable one.  Especially if you are waiting for a flight, or your flight is delayed, instead of being stressed and angry, just stay here in the Sky View Lounge.

So there, if you have the above mentioned credit cards, try the Sky View Lounge on your next trip!

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