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Segunda-feira, 9 de Março de 2009
Ilocos Norte, Filipinas

I was really surprised how beautiful this part of the Philippines is! I went there without too many expectations but I was delighted by what I saw. It's really beautiful.


And sure, I am quite content of the pictures I made here! I am only using a simple digital camera but I've got nothing to complain about!






















publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 06:58
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Sexta-feira, 27 de Junho de 2008
Cebu Pacific Hong Kong-Manila-Hong Kong

Airbus 319 of Cebu Pacific Airways (click on the picture for the name of the photographer)

Flight Details

Cebu Pacific

Date: 20 January 2007
Dep: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Gate: 1
Boarding Time: 0655
Dep Time: 0800
Load: 100%
Seat: 25A
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Arr Time: 0945
Weather during landing: Broken clouds

My first trip abroad with my parents. My parents availed of Cathay Pacific travel package while I went for the cheaper Cebu Pacific (or is it really cheaper??). I only bought the airfare and stayed at the hotel where my parents stayed, lol.

We went to the airport early at around 3am because my parents' flight was scheduled to leave at 6am (although my flight with Cebu Pacific left at 8am). With Cathay Pacific, check in was a breeze though the outsourced check-in agent could have put some smile on her face even a little. She did not even key in the Finnair Plus numbers of my parents correctly. Apparently she was arguing with someone else before she sat at the check-in counter to attend to the passengers.

Anyway, check in at Cebu Pacific was OK; agent was cool.

The take off was smooth and we climbed up quite fast. It was a sunny day and the view from above was quite impressive. The pilot was a bit chatty (I like it this way actually) and he informed us about the places and interesting points that we saw such as Hundred Islands and the mountains near Manila before taking the route to China Sea direction.

The in-flight service was like any other budget airline; you have to buy your food. But there were games though and some prizes were model aircraft and some T-shirts. But one good thing happened when the plane arrived in Hong Kong airport: the 4 Embraer 170's of Hong Kong Express were parked near the runway and it was a sight to behold! It was my first time to spot some Embraer E-Jets (I was supposed to go to Laoag Airport simply to spot an E170 of Hong Kong Express but they no longer fly to this northern Philippine city so I had to see them in Hong Kong! And now, these E-Jets are now being operated by Air North in Australia and some went to Kenya and now operated by Kenya Airways).

My parents arrived at their hotel first and I met them (with another cousin who is working there) at the hotel room. I changed my clothes and we went to the harbour area of Kowloon; walked around for a while and bought some food to eat while exploring the other parts of the city.

Victoria Peak

We went to Macau in the afternoon and took the ferry. When we got there, we immediately went to the city centre, at the Largo do Senado. This plaza seemed to be transplanted from Portugal and the surrounding area was bustling with activities. Remember that Macau is a centre for gambling. Too bad, we were not there to gamble. No money, lol.

The weather was chilly and I liked it. I felt it was even more chilly in Macau than Hong Kong. And of course, Macau is a former Portuguese colony and some vestiges of Portuguese culture still can be seen and felt. Even the passport stamps were in Portuguese and Chinese, and English.

We went back to Hong Kong late evening. After hurdling the long immigration line in Macau, we got another 14-day stay in Hong Kong and another stamp in Portuguese, heehehehheeh.

The next day we explored Hong Kong and met up with some friends and former students of my mother who are now working in Hong Kong. Nice reunion.

Cebu Pacific

Date: 21 January 2007
Dep: Hong Kong International (HKG)
Gate: 42
Boarding Time: 2116
Dep Time: 2200
Load: 100%
Seat: 22F
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Weather during take off: Rain showers
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Arr Time: 2345
Weather during landing: Hot



Hong Kong International Airport is without doubt one of the best airports in the world. I always enjoy using it. It's the first airport I travelled to.

The check-in agents were nice and efficient. I requested for a window seat and they gave it to me. And when I was about to go to the designated gate, I was interviewed by chance by an airport staff asking me things such as my impression of the airport. Well, I said nice things about it which was actually true. I went to my gate and did some plane spotting. The boarding gates of HKG are good places to plane spot.

The flight

The equipment was an Airbus 319 which had surprisingly more legroom than Airbus 320. I just slept and had to be ready again during approach Manila. It was a night flight so there's not much to see. That's what I hate about flying at night.

I arrived first in Manila and I waited for my parents for some minutes. Taxi ride was expensive (made expensive by the drivers actually) so we took a bus to Cubao and a taxi going home.

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:20
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Manila-Laoag with Philippine Airlines Airbus 320

Airbus 320 of Philippine Airlines by KL Yim of Airliners

Flight Details

Philippine Airlines

Date: 31 December 2006
Dep: Manila (MNL)
Gate: S01
Boarding Time: 1715
Dep Time: 1735 scheduled, 1735 actual
Load: 100%
Seat: 028A
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Arr: Laoag International (MNL)
Arr Time: 2115 scheduled, 2115 actual

31st December 2006. I did not really have plans of going to the province to celebrate the New Year's Eve. It's not that I didn't want to go (my parents have visited me already). I have this thing about travelling by bus. Sure it's not more dangerous than any other means of transportation or anything but going to my province by bus would mean I'd be glued to the seat for 10 hours! But when my parents left the house going to the bus station, I felt somewhat guilty that I'd be the only one (along with my sister) not present in the New Year's reunion. So I told them I'd go home. Not by bus though but by plane. My sister agreed and asked me to pay for her airfare and she'd pay me back when we get to to the province. I called up the Philippine Airlines call centre and got some expensive fares. The agent advised us to buy the tickets at the airport because we really had no time to buy it at their town office.

At the airport office, the passenger whose planes were taking off in an hour or a couple of hours were given priority so we only had to wait for some minutes.

Airport Centennial 2

My first time at the Centennial 2 Terminal. This is used by Air Philippines and Philippine Airlines for both its domestic and international flights. It's way better that the domestic terminal used by Cebu Pacific and other local-based airlines and the Terminal 1 which is used by foreign carriers.

Our flight was to leave at 6pm and would arrive in Laoag at around 7pm. We did not actually think about the dates and the hours when we booked this flight. A mistake that would make this trip messy.

We had a rough take off but all in all it was a good flight. The passengers were given some free snack and drinks. My sister even got a 2-liter mineral water courtesy of the flight steward, lol.

When we arrived in Laoag, we were the "stars" of the arrival hall because the attention of some airport staff and passengers were on us because we were asking aroung on how to get to Narvacan (Ilocos Sur) where to take another bus to Abra. Perhaps we were the only ones who just popped out in there without arranged transportation to the city proper. The other passengers were met by bunch of jeepneys and shuttle services from respective hotels.

Turned out that no bus had schedule trips on that day! It's a tradition that no trips on the 31st of December, at least beginning of the afternoon until the following day. And to make it worse, there was no jeepney to take us to the city centre which is sveral kilometeres away if I'm not mistaken. We had to rent a jeepney to take us there and whew for a whooping 300 pesos (normally, it only costs no more than 15 pesos).

We decided to go to the Farinas Bus Station to spend the night cos we would be safer there than go to the town plaza and wander around. But then we decided to sleep in a budget hotel and spend the night there and then go to our province the next day. I felt bad because we would be spending the New year's Eve in that filthy hostel and not with our family.

Anyway, I was already already sleeping when suddenly the friend of my sister and brother-in-law was knocking at the door and told us to get our things and go with him. He billeted us in Fort Ilocandia! That was cool! Another five-star acommodation for me, lol. But anyway, I would have preferred to spend the New year's Eve with my folks in our province.

On New Year's day, me and my sister wandered aroun the Fort Ilocandia resort for a while before going back to Farinas Bus station. It was a mess because there was a limited number of seats for that bus bound for Manila and there's a sea of passengers but thanks to the charms of my sister, we got those 2 precious seats for us.

Took the bus going to Santa (Ilocos) and took the tricycle to Narvacan and then a jeepney ride going to our destination town. My sister and her husband met us tere and we hopped on their car going to our town. Tiring trip but funny at the same time. lol.

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:20
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Sexta-feira, 10 de Março de 2006
First time to fly Philippine Airlines with Airbus 320

Manila Airport Terminal 2 (me, my sister, and my father waiting for our plane while my mother took the photo)

Philippine Airlines

Date: March 2006
Dep: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Boarding Time: 1920
Dep Time:
Load: 100%
Seat: Aisle
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Cebu Mactan International (CEB)
Gate: Monogate
Weather during landing: Sunny

This is actually a gift of my eldest sister for my parents and to our youngest sister. I paid for the hotel and my sister paid for the airfare.


I haven't had the chance to fly Philippine Airlines (PR) before. I started to travel by plane in 2001 when I finally was able to conquer my fear of flying. But that was with British Airways.


Flying PR means chekcing in at the Terminal 2 of NAIA. So another first for me as the first time I traveled, I checked in at Terminal 1, a shabby and old terminal which handles foreign airlines.

Terminal 2 is better compared to Terminal 1. I like the design, basic and minimalist, but it serves its purpose.


I was quite excited as well because it's my first time to fly with members of my family. I have been planning this before. Everytime I fly especially during take off, I would imagine my family with me telling them how I like take off and stuff, lol.


I was worried about my mother because it would be her first time to fly and my youngest sister as well. My father had flying experiences already years ago so it was not a new thing for him.


My sister was seated behind me and me at the row with my parents. I did not have the wondow seat this time as my mother occupied that place. I was happy just looking at my parents inside the plane. What I wanted, it all materialised after all. When the plane was preparing to take off, I was talking to my mother just so she would not feel nervous. But when the engine started to roar and the aircraft started to move and we're pushed back against our seats, she said: "Dios ko". I was happy though and I was like a kid and during take off I smiled at my sister and my father told me to stop behaving like that or else other passengers would think it was my first time to fly. Ahhh, I did not really! It was not my first time to fly after all! 


It was a nice flight and we enjoyed it even if was only 40 minutes. But it's fun!


Philippine Airlines

Date: March 2006
Dep: Cebu Mactan Airport (CEB)
Load: 100%
Seat: Aisle
Class: Economy
Aircraft: Airbus 330
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)


We spent two days in Cebu. My first time in Cebu as well!


On our way back, we flew Airbus 330. We're delayed for 2 hours I think. But it's OK we were not in a hurry and we just enjoyed chilling out at the airport.


When we were about to board the plane, she got nervous when she saw the plane. She said it was too big and that alone made her nervous. I told her there are bigger planes still, hehehehehe.


This time I sat next to my sister. So again, during take off, I got to see her reaction. It was fun especially that we did not really have a nice take off and right after we lifted off the ground, we got bothered by some turbulence and the aircraft was not stable. I almost puked.


So, with this journey, I had some firsts:


-first with PR

-first with T2

-first with Airbus 320

-first time to visit Cebu and the Cebu Mactan Airport

-first time to fly with members of the family



There you go, a journey that was simply fun!

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 00:00
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Sábado, 26 de Março de 2005
Bordeaux-Paris-Istanbul-Amsterdam-Manila with Air France/KLM

I was not able to have my coat (dry)cleaned because of a simple ... miscommunication. So I had to settle for a dirty one. Thought of not using it...but talked to the receptionist and told me she had been to my destination and at this time of the year (it was March), the weather was cold and snowy. No choice now. I had to bring with me my dirty jacket and protect myself from the cold weather in...





Flight Details

Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Bordeaux Merignac (BOD)
Gate: 25
Boarding Time: 0615
Dep Time: 0645
Load: 95%
Seat: 04F
Class: Monoclass
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Cloudy
Arr: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold


I had to wake up early in the morning. I have been waiting for this one actually. Though I really hate doing this early but this one, I did not mind. After all, I was a few hours (by flying of course!) away from the city that has been fascinating me all my life!


Back in Manila, I planned to go to Copenhagen, Denmark to see my Spanish friend who's married to a Dane and sure to revisit one of my favourite cities as well. This would be possible after my training in France. But on the last minute my friend sent me e-mail informing me that he would not be able to join me in Copenhagen because he'd join the family trip out of the city. I had to change my itinerary fast. I chose Cyprus but ticket conditions would not allow me to. And then there were several other choices.  Finally, I chose Istanbul. This means I would apply for a visa in an almost limited time (same with Cyprus though the Cypriot Consulate is near my home so it would not be that complicated as far as time was concerned). Thank God, after three days I got my Turkish visa and on the same day I got the French one.


Anyway, fast track to Bordeaux, me and my colleagues took the same van to go to the airport: destination Paris. Most of them were going to Athens, Greece and two others would stay in Paris. And I was going to Istanbul. That means one group with several destinations.


Sad to leave Bordeaux. I have learned to love the city. I spent 2 weeks here and I found it a short stay (if you love the place, staying there for two weeks is not really be enough). 


The airport of Bordeaux is small but practical. Nothing to write home about though. Check in was a breeze and after waiting for almost an hour, our plane was ready for take off. It was a cloudy day and it was drizzling. But this condition did not prevent us from having a nice take off. Minutes before arriving in Paris, the weather was wonderful: sunny and cold!



Flight from Bordeaux with Air France Airbus 319. We were approaching Paris CDG Airport when I took this picture...




Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Gate: not indicated
Boarding Time: 0925
Dep Time: 1000
Load: 85%
Seat: 02F
Class: Business
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold


We have arrived in Paris without any problems. This was a connecting flight to Istanbul. Said bye to my colleagues and since I still had 3 hours to spare, I accompanied my team leader to go buy her ticket  to go to the centre of Paris. Everything seemed fine. Time to say bye bye to her when I noticed I did not have my...guess! Not only that, it seemed I did not have my pouch with me! That would passport as well! And no frequent flyer cards! No visa! WTF!


Suddenly, things started to be a bit clear to me...


-no visa; no Turkey visit

-secure another passport at the Philippine Embassy in Paris


We searched all over the airport. At that time, I felt nothing. Don't get me wrong. I felt nothing simply because opf extreme fear. I honestly thought somebody stole my pouch. Or maybe after some hypnosis I voluntarily handed my stuff to someone!?! Oh my...


After 30 minutes of asking people (!?!) and searching from one trash can to another (?!?), my team leader thought of going back to the train ticket centre where we bought her Paris pass. When we were about a few meters to the counter, a lady shouted: "Mr. Gonzales?!?"


That was one of the happiest moments of my life! She told me I forgot the pouch on the counter so she had kept it. Her name is Margareth. I thanked her without end. If you read this, Margareth, I thank you so much!




Paris CDG was a mess and there was a long queue at the passport control. I was going to Turkey and it's out of the Schengen zone. We took the bus to board our plane. We were flying on an Airbus 320. This is an opoortunity to do some planespotting but at that time, I was still thinking about my misadventure...


I was flying business and I expected a little bit more from the usual. But on the contrary, no pillow for the 4-hour flight.  When I asked for it , the steward told me there's no more pillows. Mediocre service for a biz class and FA's had a difficulty smiling. That's about it.


Aboard Air France Airbus 320 with a view of the Austrian Alps.


Arrival in Istanbul. I took this picture while we wait for the airbridge to be connected to the aircraft


Istanbul Ataturk International Airport:

Good points:
- not too far from the city centre
- modern and beautiful airport
- plane spotting is possible
- helpful staff
- security is tough

Negative points:
- long lines (re: immigration counter) for foreigners entering and exiting the country
- getting crowded so I think the country should build another international terminal for the growing number of tourists


I had earlier arranged with my hostel for a van to pick me up at the airport but it seemed nobody was there to meet me. I had to go to the information counter and requested the staff to make some announcement (Believe me, I did not want to do this but I had to!) that I (stating my complete name) was waiting for someone from the hostel (name of hostel) to pick me up. But the announcement was like this:


"Attention Mr. Gonzales, please go to the information section because somebody is waiting for you!".


Errrrrr! Of course that's not what I meant! Or maybe I was not clear about it. I went back to the booth and explained that Mr. Gonzales wa actually "me" and that it was "me" who was waiting for the airport pick up service. They did it again, this time, correctly. But still, no hotel representative to pick me up.


After half an hour, I decided to go to a phone service booth and bought some phone cards from the guy who was attending to me. I phoned the hostel and finally they sent someone to the airport  and I got to the hostel safe with some joy ride from the airport to the hostel and seeing a bit of the city as well.


When we passed by the Aya Sofya, I was so happy. I could not believed that structure was in front of me! It's amazing!


I took a shower in the hostel and then went out immediately. I saw some record stores and went in to some. I went to Taksim and walked and walked and walked. I bought two CD's. One is Ismail YK and the other one is Cem Adrian. I played those two CD's while exploring the place. It was fun. I sampled food and some nightlife in Taksim and then went back to Sultanhamet with two Spanish ladies I met. 


At night, the Sultanahmet Aquare with the lighted Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque is beautiful. After relaxing on one of the benches, I went to sleep at the hostel because it was already 12 midnight and I still have to wake up early the following morning for a quick ferry ride on the Bosphorous.

Interesting information about Istanbul:

- Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia, and its name changed from Constantinople in 1453, about 550 years ago.

- Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire(395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).

While going around the city, this was one of the songs I'd listen to:


Highlights of my trip:

-I've always had good impression of the people and places I have visited and every country has its way of being hospitable to travelers. And Istanbul is not an exemption. Nice, helpful, and hospitable people (at least those that I met during my 24-hour stay but really the Turkish are famous for their hospitality). I got lost how many times on the streets and people were just helpful.

-Beautiful scenery (Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen)

-Boat ride from the European side of th city to the Asian side. It's cheap! So I've been to 2 continents in one trip; 2 continents visited in 2 hours!

-Bought some t-shirts and other souvenir items at the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered marketplace in th world



I took some photos with my disposable camera. Not quite happy with the results but here they are. At least, I've got some souvenirs of this beautiful city!















KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Boarding Time: 1614
Dep Time: 1700
Load: 100%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 737
Weather during take off: Sunny but cold
Arr: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Weather during landing: Broken clouds, scattered rain shower


During my second day, I woke up early to make the most of my visit. I went to Uskudar on the Asian side and took a ride in the ferry that plied the Bosphorus. But then again I had to hurry because at around 4PM the plane will leave. And because of too much security measures at the airport, I had to be there at least 3 hours before departure. That means I had only 4 hours to go around but I think I saw a lot.


I took a taxi to the airport. I had a fast fast we almost crashed!


The flight to Amsterdam with KLM was nice. The staff were more accommodating and friendly.


When I arrived in Amsterdam, I met up with my colleague who just flew in from Athens. We would fly together to Manila.

KLM Royal Dutch airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Boarding Time: Not indicated
Dep Time: 2030
Load: 95%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Weather during take off: Cold
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Weather during landing: Hot and humid


Nice experience that I'll never forget. Thanks France and Turkey.


I felt bad that my first trip to Istanbul was only for 24 hours (though the Turkish Embassy gave me a visa for 15-day stay in Turkey) because it was only a sidetrip so I had to rush back to Manila to work. Istanbul deserves at least a week. But will visit it again...

publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:18
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