Review: Agung Raka Resort in Ubud, Bali

I booked this resort via Agoda for the FLOW Bali retreat mainly because of the pool which I know everyone would appreciate.

Yes, that is really how it looks like up close and personal. Perfect, isn’t it?

Upon checking in, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were upgraded to a Deluxe room (from our Superior room booking).Gee, thanks! Our room was located on the 2nd floor which isn’t too child-friendly or baby-carrying-mommy-friendly but we had marvelous views of the pool and surrounding rice paddies. Usually, there is one king sized bed but I requested for triple shared beds since I roomed with two other adults. I was glad they complied.

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The bathroom had the least cookie points because it seemed real old and dark, without any natural light coming through (so important for me!). I didn’t even bother taking a photo.

Breakfast wasn’t fancy either. Some days you choose from Continental, Indonesian or American fare. Other days, they laid out the buffet which didn’t have much options. They start serving at 8am, which I personally find late so if you’re an early riser, request for early breakfast. Again, they gave in to this request of mine. Pretty good service, I must say.IMG_0098

This mother statue spoke to me and the other mothers in our group because she is breastfeeding and babywearing her children. Just like we do! Attachment parents unite!

If you have the budget, book one of their villas for a more authentic experience and privacy. You will also be situated closer to the main entrance versus most rooms which takes about 5-10 min walk or a short golf cart ride to the reception.

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Agung Raka Resort and Villas

Address: Jl. Raya, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia

Phone:+62 361 975757

http://www.baliagungrakaresort.com/

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Guest Blog: Keri’s Little Globetrotters

Yay for guests! This blog is hugely inspired by my mommy friends that roam with their little ones. Yes, independent traveling is exciting, even liberating and life-changing but as you age, get married and have kids – some moms want to experience all that travel has to offer with your children. I fall under that category of parents, just like my first guest blogger – Keri Zamora 🙂

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Keri with her Little Globetrotters: Amanda who is 14, Rocco is 10, Nicolas is 5 and Noah is 2 years old. IMG_2186

Most memorable trip so far
Our recent trip to Boston. My husband took a short course in Harvard so I had the kids all to myself. I kept them busy by doing different tours for a week and I really enjoyed their company even if it can get stressful. After the tour, I would have dinner with the older kids.

NYC in May 2015

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Bali, Indonesia

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You are blessed to have traveled with your Yaya? Can you share how to go about doing that process. Aside from attaining a Filipino passport, what other requirements will a Yaya be needing?
I really admire moms who can manage traveling with their kids with no help. I feel I need one for my sanity and also to be able to spend quality time with my husband- having dinner out or shopping . Although we’ve tried traveling without one when Amanda was the only child and she was 7months old, francis and I couldn’t stop arguing . I guess because we were first time parents and completely exhausted.
Rocco’s Yaya has been with us since he was born and has traveled to all countries/ places he’s been to. I made a mistake of taking Rocco with us to Europe when he was 2. Now we joke about it saying “well he doesn’t remember a thing but at least his Yaya can remind him of all the places we visited there!”.

I suggest to make sure you’ll be able to obtain their passports and necessary visas, you’ll have to comply with the requirements listed on the website of DFA and the destined country’s embassy (in the Philippines) website.  It’s very important to go over the list of requirements over and over again so as not to miss out on what’s needed.  Sometimes we tend to say “Pwede na yan” but when you go for your interview,  most foreign embassies are quite strict and thorough so you really have to make sure you have exactly what they’re asking for.

Japan January 2015

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Travel Tips For Kids
I really need their iPads whenever we travel because they become so restless on the plane especially on long haul flights. Also, my kids are very picky when it comes to food , so I bring cup noodles  just in case they don’t like the food on the plane . I know it’s not healthy but I don’t want them to starve especially on 12-16hour flights. I also bring their favorite snacks, coloring materials , their favorite DVDs  and books. Also, don’t forget to bring their medicines in case they catch something (like a cough, cold, or fever ) but I never used  any of these to knock them out- hahaha!

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Pregnant and Traveling: 4 Tips to Know

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There is a term for pregnant traveling and it is called “Babymoon”. Couples take their final chance of traveling together with their baby bump in tow to celebrate their last few months as husband and wife before baby arrives! I think it is an awesome concept.

While others choose not to travel during their pregnancies, because of being high risk or just because of fears, my itchy mama feet doesn’t stop me! My husband and I would frequent the beach during both my pregnancies. I’ve also traveled to Shanghai, Beijing and Negros in the Philippines without knowing I was even pregnant!

I was 3 months pregnant in San Francisco on my way to LA.

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And then traipsed all over Venice beach, too!IMG_0701

Here are a few of my traveling tips for pregnant mamas:

1. Do get a medical certificate from your doctor and make several copies  just in case the airline need it. If you aren’t showing, they most likely will not ask for one but if they suspect you are pregnant, most airline companies ask for it. Better to be on the safe side.

2.  Remember to bring snacks with you especially on long-haul flights! If you’re anything like me when pregnant, I do not stop eating! Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit are handy and nutritious.

3. Pre-purchase your ideal seat location beforehand or request a seat close to the toilet. The growing fetus presses on your internal organs, including the bladder, which causes frequent urination. While some women choose not to drink liquids during flight (to lessen the chance of using the plane’s toilet!), I always keep myself hydrated so… I choose a seat close to the loo! You should, too!

4. Circle your joints! I’m a yoga teacher so I know how  bad it is to be sitting on your butt for the duration of the flight. One of the wasiest ways to increase circulation in the body is to circle your joints – whether it is your ankles, knees, wrists, neck, etc. Do it while seated or while waiting in line for your turn in the loo.

Have you done a babymoon? I would love to hear how your trip went! Share some of your tips, too!

Northern Thailand and BKK in August!

When Noelle, my business partner in FLOW, traveled solo to Northern Thailand years ago, I knew I had to visit. So, I am making it happen! This August, we bring to you two very unique Yoga + Adventure retreats. The first will be in Northern Thaland: Chiangmai and Pai while the second leg will be in vibrant Bangkok City!

Flow Northern Yoga Retreat

Flow Urban Yoga Retreat

And like a true attachment parent, I always bring baby along with me. Top reason is because we are still breastfeeding, then there’s always because she is less than 2 years old which means she is a lap child = almost free airline ticket!

If I could afford it by August, I will also be taking my 8 year old son. He’s never been to Thailand and since #TheWorldIsOurClassroom , this is another chance for me to introduce him a neighboring country in Asia. I’ve picked up this cool map from www.theydrawandtravel.com of 11 Things for Kids to Do in Bangkok which can serve as my guide for when we have free time in the city!

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Join us? Kids are welcome, of course!

Registration at www.flowretreats.com

Seoul’s Culture Night: A Spring Festival Experience

We were lucky to be in town during Culture Night, a free festival to celebrate spring in Jeong-dong, Jung-gu. Thanks to Korean Tourism Organization, I was able to learn about this event posted on their facebook page.


TRAVEL TIP: Do check tourism offices and websites before your trip to help fill your itinerary with local events, not just touristy stuff. You might just be able to experience a concert, art show or festival for you and your kids to enjoy!

  

The Culture Night had different themed programs. I chose the Historical Street Experience to teach Santi about the Joseon Dynasty. All the workshops looked very interesting! If we only we had the luxury of time, we would’ve signed up for all! Unfortunately, lining up for each activity took 30-45 minutes so Santi and I were only able to try two before our tummies grumbled for FOOD.

Creating the Joseon Dynasty Wooden Knife

 It’s so nice that the Koreans love children. They really take their time to talk you each child, even if they don’t speak much English!

Santi personalizes his sword with “gems”.

Weapon Engraving at the Blacksmith Shop

   A crowd watching make-pretend torturing with wooden clubs. Now, that really got my son’s attention!

Rice drink?We took the subway to this event, only to find out later on that walking was waaaaay shorter! 

What an experience it was! I vow to partake in another festival for my kids next time we visit. Have you had any festival experiences in Korea?

National Folk Museum of Korea and The Children’s Museum

When traveling, immerse your family in the country’s history and pop culture for cheap or for free by visiting the local museums! I absolutely love educational trips with my kids because they experience concepts uniquely outside the walls of the classroom. Going on museum visits in fine weather is definitely a plus, too!

We took a taxi from our hotel, Ibis Myeongdong, which costed us a few thousand won. We learned that it is more convenient for us to use the taxi vs the subway because we were a family of 4 travelling with 2 kids. It actually may even be more cost-effective.

The day we decided to stroll the National Folk Museum it rained so it was cooler compared to the unusual hot weather Seoul was experiencing last month. Good thing we brought rain gear or we would’ve been stranded for at least an hour!


TRAVEL TIP: Check weather forecast for the days you are planning to be outdoors. Always bring a travel-sized umbrella and hooded jackets for you and your tots. Alternatively, you may choose to borrow an umbrella from your hotel concierge. It just might pour and proper gear will save you from getting drenched and stuck. Being prepared will save you precious travel time!

If you didn’t get to bring drinks with you, just by the entrance you will find vendo machines underneath a canopy of trees where you can also choose to rest after your museum trip.

From the main entrance, expect to walk 5-10 minutes (depending on how fast you walk!) until you get to the main structure. Since it was raining, they canceled the change of guards which is what we wanted to see. So, we decided to look around the grounds and then later on, whichever features they had inside the museum.

Just outside the main museum entrance was stone statues of the 12 Zodiac Signs.

“The Twelve Zodiac Signs have close ties with everyday life of Koreans, including the notion of time and directions in astronomy and the calendar as well as fortune telling, naming a baby, fixing a date and foretelling the fate and marital harmony.” – See more here. Apparently, the General Director of the museum had many studies on the subject matter plus books on the Zodiac Signs published!

Santi was delighted to pose with his Chinese zodiac animal, The Boar. He was born in year 2007 which makes him a golden fire pig. This special sign only comes once in every 600 years so they say that people born during that year are very lucky. I believe so! On his 8th birthday month, Santi got to travel to Hong Kong and Korea. What a lucky little boy!

Maya admiring her Chinese zodiac sign, the Horse. It’s special that she has the same zodiac signs as her Dad. They are both Piscean Horses!

And I get to have a photo with my sign too, The Dog!  

I was amazed at this magnificent calendar in the middle of the statues. It is in Korean so I couldn’t read what it says but I imagine it to be some kind of special lunar calendar?

And then we proceeded indoors to see what interesting exhibits they had. Stars were definitely aligned in my behalf!

Because we were in Samsung-land, multi-media presentations were everywhere.

Baby with Dad in traditional Korean outfit!  If they were babywearing, that would’ve been real awesome.

A message from the divine that day..  

NATIONAL FOLK MUSEUM

Cost: Free

Audio guide rental (optional) : 1,000 won

There are free available wheelchairs for elderly or disabled and infant strollers for use.

Address: 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Contact No. +82 2-3704-3114

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And then the next area was miraculously the Children’s Museum! My Waldorf-schooled child was drawn to the children’s theatre room playing cartoons in the entrance. LOL! (Waldorf Schools do not encourage TV and gadgets like the IPad)

After letting him sit in for 5 minutes, we proceeded to the main exhibit. Looking at the photo below, can you guess what it’s all about? A full exhibit on POOP! Yes, the Koreans seem to love toilet humor. They’ve found a way to merge education with our toilet business.

The Scoop On Poop is the exhibition title. What a catchy one!

A vintage contraption of their bedwetting solution. Santi tries it out. I wish there were long enough english translations for me to understand the descriptions!

“Ewww. pigs eat your poo?”, Santi asked

“Yup, that’s why I don’t eat pork. Their meat is dirty!”, I replied hoping to have made my point very clear.
  Santi squats and sees poop with the pigs below. Oh, technology!

Sit on your throne! And do you read that, “WHAT DOES POO TASTE LIKE?!?” Oh my….can someone translate to me what it says?!

Poop carrying Santi. “When flushing toilets weren’t invented, you had to carry your poop out to the field”, I explained to Santi. I hope he got the message on how challenging life was before!

My parents and I indulge in poop humor. Poop clouds over our heads. Thank God for such cool, grandparents!

Poopy cartoons

The olden day ways of wiping yourself clean. Interesting inforgaphic for young ones!

 After viewing the exhibit, we exited into a maze around this giant robotic structure. If it weren’t wet from the rain, Santi would’ve loved to hang out and play.

 And onto the Old Korea town. A whole alley filled with blast from the past structures and things.

No electricity required fire for cooking and heat. Firewood was essential in every household. It seems we lack this element in modern times.

Freezing this moment with Maya who was 1 year and 3 months old at the time photo was taken.  

Santi’s famous kung-fu pose. Maybe he thinks Korean’s invented Kung-fu. I should correct him LOL!


  

After all the walking, we stopped to have a picnic. It was such a lovely afternoon to be out in nature with family!

He obviously had a good day 🙂

SEOUL’S CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

Cost: Free of charge for some exhibits

MUSEUM TIP: Checking the website, there is a lot of educational programs to avail in the children’s museum. Make sure you read about offerings before planning a visit to make the most out of your trip to the museum!

Seoul Food: 15 Things To Try

Aside from travel, most of my personal budget goes to food. Nevermind shopping, I make it a point to see what each destination has to offer, making our tongues tingle and tummies happy 🙂 It’s a very straightforward way of teaching my kids all about another’s culture…through food!

Take a photo journey to some of the food we’ve digested (or not!) in this trip 🙂

Insadong Street Food

1. Rose shaped yogurt ice cream -this was not good. I was merely smitten by it’s beauty.

2. Homemade French Madeleines by a real Frenchman! Yes, it seems that the Korean’s are obsessed with all things French, says my own mother. Of course, we bought a pack because he was so convincing.

3. Rice Juice – We didn’t get to try this because it was at the tail end of the main street so we were already full by then. This is something I would most definitely drink because of its health benefits!

Lotte Mall Grocery & Foodcourt Finds

4. Huge, fresh and ripe strawberries and cherries (rare in Manila) make awesome superfood snacks!

5. Softree’s soft served Ice Cream made with organic milk topped with real honey comb. How can I say no to organic ice cream? My kids enjoyed this as much as I did! Someone says we now have this in Manila as well?

6. Lotus phobic’s beware of this… Lotus Bibimbap. I didn’t try this but it seemed nutritious?!

Myeongdong Streetfood

7. My ultimate favorite – the REAL strawberry-filled red bean mochi!!!! It tastes as yummy as it looks! Since it is one of the best tasting treats I have ever tried in my ENTIRE life, it has to have the most photos 🙂 Santi and I devoured a few pieces in one sitting.   

Anyone going to Seoul and coming to Manila afterwards? Please bring me home a box! I’ll trade it for a healing yoga class 🙂

8. Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Good for the reproductive system!

9. Turkish Ice Cream – Can you tell by now that they do love their dairy? I didn’t get to try this either but I do want to next time I visit!

10. Dragon’s Beard Candy. Now this is special because the merchant took his time to engage us, made it from scratch infront of us while explaining each step. He even gave us a free sample. My 8 year old son, Santi thought it was pretty cool.

11. Freshly pressed orange juice – you may choose to have it with or without ice.

12. Potato chips. No explanation needed except it tasted superb! Oily and crunchy junky snack.

13. Banana flavored milk from the local grocery mart close to our hotel. My friend says this is their flavored Yakult.14. Crepe cake slice from a cafe behind our hotel. Back in MNL, I love love love Dessert Du Jour’s crepe cakes so wanted to check if it tastes as good. Apparently, not.

15. Traditional Korean Meal -Thanks to my Korean friend, Woochae. She took us to Aunt’s Home (It doesn’t have an english name but this is the translation of it’s Korean name). a non-touristy local restaurant in Insadong on our last day in Seoul. 

Location: 5-3, Insadong 14gil, Jongro-gu, Seoul

This meal was probably the best one we’ve had in the whole trip! Because I don’t eat meat, I can live on appetizers alone. And Korean food has tons of apetizers or what they call, “Banchan”.

I am now back in the Philippines and looking at this photo makes me crave for Korean food. Must head to Kaya Korean restaurant for my fix soon!

4 Useful Travel Hacks for Babies: as seen in Seoul

1. Raining? No problem, use the ring sling baby carrier as protection for your baby. I am using the Next9 sling which you can purchase from INDIGOBaby.

2. I can’t praise breastfeeding enough for endless advantages in baby travel! Free accessible health food anytime, anywhere!  Maya wanted to feed in the middle of a cultural show… Sure, why not?!

3. Do bring paper and crayons with you for long bus, train or airplane rides. Save your children’s artworks together with photos from your trip for a memorable album. This was snapped at our 1.5 hour bus ride from Myeongdong to Everland theme park.

4. Always ask for a high chair or “baby chair” in restaurants (and hope that they have it!) so you can eat at peace. Last meal was eaten at Bennigans, Incheon international airport. Yay for high chair with wheels!


Got anymore baby travel hacks to share with me? I want to learn more!

Born To Fly

 
This is a drawing made by my son many years ago when he was very little living in Palawan. He was maybe about 3 years old. Can you spot the airplane? 

I know that my children were born to fly because it is embedded in their DNA. The wanderlust gene has been passed down to me from my own mother. She traveled around the world at the young age of 18 with a Filipino Folk Dance troupe. Her stories of foreign lands and people always amazed me and left me curious to seek the same experiences of exotic destinations. I wish to bring my children around the world, too. To expose my young ones to other cultures that have fascinated me as a child.

Are you or your children born to fly? What motivates you to roam free?

Review: Ibis Ambassador Hotel, Myeongdong

I chose to stay in this hotel purely because of its location. Right smack where the action is in busy Myeondgong where an abundance of food stalls and make up stores are located. It is also infront of Lotte Young Plaza next to Lotte Hotel where many of my friends stayed.

  
I booked 2 rooms months ahead via Agoda.com which was so very convenient. I chose the cheapest option which had no breakfast included but when my son found out we weren’t eating in the hotel, he and his grumbly tummy got very upset at me for 3 consecutive mornings hahahha. So if you’re traveling with children, make sure you wake up and feed them before hunger strikes!

 
The standard rooms are 21 sq meters in size which had a small shower (that felt like you were in a space craft) and a high tech toilet just like the ones found in Japan. 

  
My son was amazed at this invention and wanted one for home! 

What we all loved was the comfortable bed, pillows and super soft sheets which was hard to peel away from in the mornings. 
  

Plugs for charging and free wifi was available in the room, yay! 

  
Our room 1117 had a functioning AC while my parents room 1120 had a faulty one so they requested for a fan to be brought up. There was a 24-hour gym and a hot bath facility which I didn’t get to try.

They also have a free shuttle to certain areas but we didn’t get to make reservations ahead so we didn’t have space anymore that day. If you’re staying in this hotel, make necessary shuttle arrangements for your sight seeing at least a day before.

  
The only odd thing was that reception was on the 19th floor so it was out of the way. Can someone explain to me why do they do this??!

I would recommend this hotel for people who like shopping at fashion, make up and skin care outlets or trying out the endless food stalls found on the streets of Myeongdong. Next time we return to Korea, I wish to stay in a traditional style homestay close to nature to get a feel of the old Korea.

To give you a little background of how this trip came to materialize, my high school friends and I have been planning a trip out of the country since last year. Initally, I was supposed to bring just one child, my 1 year old daughter Maya (because we are still breastfeeding). My cousin-in-law who is also part of my high school circle was supposed to be my roomie with her 1 year old son as well. When my parents found out about this trip, they felt sorry for my son because I wasn’t planning on bringing him. So they told me that they would bring him because it was his birthday month, lucky little boy!

And because sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned, my cousin-in-law and son never made it to the trip. So, instead of this becoming a high school girlfriend’s trip, I decided to spend some time with my parents and both children. It’s been a family custom to use this time to bond during travels. And so, we did 🙂