Family Getaway: Summer on Balesin Island, Cymplified!

Holy Week in the Philippines sometimes mean traveling with the family. This year was a local trip to Balesin Island. We still had to ride an airplane though. We were at the hangar before sunrise.

With this post, I am taking you on a short video-heavy tour of some of the places in Balesin we have set foot on. There were more themed villages to see, like Bali, Phuket, Costa Del Sol and Balesin Village. There were fruit and flower farms, fish and aviary to visit, too.

En route to Balesin Island, day one

These were the unusual boarding passes.

Balesin Island - boarding passes

Balesin Island - boarding passes

There’s our ride!

Balesin Island plane

Upon arrival, we first had breakfast at the Balesin Clubhouse. After filling our bellies, we rode a shuttle to the The Royal Villa. Here’s a quick tour of one of the Royal Suites, where our family of five stayed.​



Continue reading “Family Getaway: Summer on Balesin Island, Cymplified!”

Family Day Out: Quezon Memorial Circle, Cymplified!

Quezon Memorial Circle

Several families had the same idea as ours. That is to bring the kids to Quezon Memorial Circle on Sunday. The last time I went there, my hubby and I bought plants for his hydroponic garden. The first time I went there was on a date with him as a boyfriend. We bought a pack of chicharon that had human-like hairs.  😯

It’s surprising to learn of the many activities families could enjoy inside. This link take you to a closer look at the place. Who knew that this national park in Quezon City was so big?

@ Quezon Memorial Circle
“Mama, take pictures of them.” So I whipped out my phone and took these. These were the only photos I took in Quezon Memorial Circle as I was absorbing the sights around us. Also, for safety since there were a lot of people.

 

@ Quezon Memorial Circle
I loved its color and its bushy tail!

We went in the afternoon and found out that the museum closed at four. Aww… Thus, we kept on walking. We arrived where the “action” is. Circle of Fun was the small amusement park. Circle of Joy was the overcrowded playground.

Hunger struck, therefore we had snacks at the food area in the vicinity. Rows of booths sold various food products. We had shawarma, fries, juice, tokwa’t baboy, and hotdogs on sticks.

what we did there

After that, we went over to Pedal & Paddle. As the name implied, it’s where we can pedal and paddle. We opted for the pedal with bikes going around a track. I was intrigued by the sky bike, though. We saw people paddle on the small lake on swan-shaped boats.

My legs felt like jelly after 15 minutes on the tandem bike. The youngest rode with me, the boy rode with his dad, and the eldest rode on her own. The children weren’t satisfied, that’s why I accompanied them on the small carousel. I got dizzy. Good thing I didn’t throw up. Haha!

It was growing dark when we walked back to our car.

We had dinner at The Big Cheese! Pizza. We had the place all to ourselves! Is that a good sign?

The Big Cheese! Pizza
outside

 

The Big Cheese! Pizza
inside

Yet, we loved the pizza! The toppings were tasty, not salty. The dough was delicious.

The Big Cheese! Pizza
The boy wanted pepperoni pizza. That’s a dish of garlic parmesan fries below it. Yum!

 

The Big Cheese! Pizza
The 10-cheese overload for my cheese-loving girls.

I was amazed at the sink at the hand-washing area. It’s operated using pressure from the knee.

The Big Cheese! Pizza
Here the kids were enjoying the blue lemonade, which, IMO was a tad too sour.

I hope we get to visit the Quezon Monument Museum next time. Quezon Memorial Circle is great for a Sunday walk with the family.

 

Have you been here before? What were the things you did?

Exploring Tagaytay With Children, Cymplified!

On Family Getaways

When going on family getaways, my husband and I make sure they’re fun and somewhat educational for the kids. It’s one of the ways that we can bond with each other and with the little ones. Another perk is that we get to see, experience and learn about a different city or province. It’s wonderful! Being four years old and above, they could still remember their adventures and talk about them for months. Hence, looking at photos could trigger memories.

exploring tagaytay with children
the kids still mention jeju island now and then

We have expectations of the places we visit. These are based on the research made before the trip. It’s important to check the weather and accommodation so we’ll know what necessities to pack. There was one hotel abroad that didn’t provide dental kits; therefore, we needed to bring our own toothbrushes. It’s helpful to read about how to pack for travel with kids. For hotel rates, we usually use online booking sites such as Traveloka to take advantage of promos and to compare hotel facilities.

We also ask this question. “What activities could the kids do in the area?” It would be too boring to stay in the hotel room all the time, right? If there’s a swimming pool, we need to bring their bathing suits. If there’s an outdoor playground, rubber shoes are a must. Packing for the kids with their help could be an enjoyable bonding moment.

Furthermore, we need to know if the hotel or condominium unit where we will be staying at has the following options:

  • extra bed for our eldest (if not, two queen-size beds)
  • bathtub
  • bidet sprayer
  • wi-fi
  • cable TV
  • swimming pool
Exploring Tagaytay With Children

Family getaways don’t have to be expensive or far. There are plenty of group buying discount deal websites that offer price reductions on various accommodations around the country. One place that is not too far from our location is Tagaytay City. It’s a respite from the city heat and pollution. It’s where we could have a good view of Taal Volcano. Something that the children could see for themselves, and not just read about in textbooks.

For children who love animals and would love to pet rabbits and guinea pigs, Hotel Kimberly is a great place to stay in. It has a farm at the back which has horses, chickens, turkeys, sheep and more. There’s an outdoor playground, an adult and a kiddy swimming pool. When we returned to Tagaytay one time, the kids were begging to check-in at Hotel Kimberly again.

hotel kimberly room

 

The weekend that we traveled to the south, there were storm warning signals. We attended my friend’s daughter’s first birthday. Afterwards, we drove straight to Tagaytay. It was cold and wet when we decided to check in at Taal Vista Hotel. Because of the downpour, we weren’t able to roam the grassy area overlooking Taal Volcano. We weren’t able to go swimming. Good thing the hotel has a play room. Therefore, the kids had a bit of fun with the toys there. I’m glad!

traveling with children 4 to 9 years old

 

If you’re in Tagaytay and craving for pasta, try to visit Buon Giorno in Cliffhouse. It’s an Italian restaurant with a lot of choices. For me that means, it’s child-friendly. Aside from staying at hotels, Tagaytay is a great place for going on food trips. Plenty of restaurants and stores that sell specialty food dot Aguinaldo Highway, the road that leads to a variety of destinations.

Food is also an educational part of a trip, you know?

seafoodpasta+quattroformaggi

 

After a satisfying lunch, I like having coffee and dessert in the afternoon. Twin Lakes is a relatively new property that houses a branch of Bag Of Beans. That’s where we went to on one of our family day outs. It has a country ambience that made us feel instantly at home.

bag of beans twin lakes lower floor interior

 

The “most beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines” is also in Twin Lakes. The seating area is down the stairs where a door leads to an outdoor walkway overlooking Taal Volcano.

inside starbucks, twin lakes
inside starbucks, twin lakes

 

Other activities that families can do in Tagaytay include:
  • Have a picnic, fly a kite or simply stroll in People’s Park. Maybe try the zipline.
  • Visit Sky Ranch. Ride the Sky Eye ferris wheel or a carousel and other rides.
  • Dine at Mushroomburger then ogle at a display of various kinds of mushrooms.
  • Have a serene breakfast or lunch at Antonio’s or Sonya’s Garden. Afterwards, take lots of photos!
  • Eat authentic bulalo. Yum!
  • Buy pasalubong at Rowena’s. Ube tart!
  • Savor Pastulan Store’s Good Shepherd ube jam.

There are a lot of places that my family and I have yet to visit… Like Paradizoo and Puzzle Mansion. I will definitely add them to our to-visit list!

Have you visited Tagaytay? What do you love about it?

Family Getaway: Why I Like Traveling with Children 4 to 9 Years Old, Cymplified!

My family and I recently came from a trip to Tagaytay. It was a last-minute getaway. I just packed the morning before leaving! Thankfully, we still got a room at Taal Vista Hotel. Even so, family getaways always excite me.

traveling with children 4 to 9 years old

When they were still babies, though, excursions like this need a list first of all. Impromptu ones? A no-no! I would have preferred to stay home than lug the whole nursery to the beach. Think of all the onesies, diapers, burp cloths, towels, bottles, bottle sterilizer, the bottle brush, the nipple brush, the cleanser, the baby wash, the baby lotion, etc.

Now that my youngest is almost five, the second is six and the eldest is nine, I look forward to family outings.

I believe there are advantages of traveling with children 4 to 9 years old.

  • They are old enough to walk. Long walks and not asked to be carried all the time. We don’t even bring a stroller anymore!
  • They are old enough to remember these family adventures.
  • They are old enough to drink ordinary milk. We don’t need to bring formula anymore.
  • They are willing to try new or different cuisines.
  • For my girls, they have not hit puberty yet, thus, there’s no threat of getting period on the trip. There’s also no need to bring brassieres for them yet.
  • Their things and clothes are kid-sized that do not yet take up too much luggage space.
  • The three of them use just one kind of kiddy toothpaste. And a head-to-toe body wash would still do. It makes packing easier.
  • Two of them get free hotel breakfasts or buffet meals and we pay half price for one.
  • We could all still fit in one hotel room. We would opt for a room with two double-size beds or a king plus a single.
  • They get discounted tickets to attractions or exhibits.

traveling with children 4 to 9 years old to jeju island

These are ten of the things I like when traveling with children 4 to 9 years old. Do you have anything to add?

Going to places with the kids is one way of making memories during their childhood that they will gladly look back on. It’s time together as a family that everyone can cherish.

Before we go away on vacation… Cymplified!

Although intermittent downpours have been happening in my part of the world, I am not ready to give up summer just yet. I am still holding out hope that we would hit the beach. 🙂

When we do include it in our plans, I have to drag out our luggage. Aside from changes of clothes, underwear and pajamas; there must be swimming clothes, plus the kids’ goggles and kickboards. They love frolicking in water!

When all that’s prepared, save for the vitamins and toothbrushes that I leave until the day of departure, I make sure that our house is ready to be unoccupied for a couple or more days.

Before we go away on vacation, my husband and I have to keep the items on this pre-vacation checklist from SimpliSafe in mind and on hand. SimpliSafe is a wireless home security system that can help keep your home safe while you travel. The PDF file can be downloaded near the end, BTW. These are important, especially the one about protecting the home.

before we go away on vacation infographic

When we have peace of mind about the things we left before we go away on vacation, then, we could enjoy the wonderful time spent away from home with our family.

I always take delight in a good family adventure. Therefore, I must gear up ourselves with all our needs, especially the children’s, so we will not go last-minute panic-searching. I always include:

  • kid-friendly top-to-toe wash
  • mosquito-repellent oil
  • balms for headache, tummy ache, nicks and insect bites
  • kid-friendly sunblock lotion
  • their slippers
  • natural baby oil for their backs to prevent catching a cold while swimming
  • their vaccination records
  • a wet bag
  • their toys or art materials for the long trip
  • I think I should include pillows for sleeping in the car

These are some of the things in my own family trip with children checklist. 🙂

Download and print the worry-free pre-vacation checklist from the infographic above with this link: http://wp.me/a1RrnB-4SD

 

Did you have a fun vacation yet? What other home safety tips would you share when going on a trip?

Family Day Out: Bag of Beans Twin Lakes Tagaytay, Cymplified!

The plan was to have cakes and coffee in Starbucks, and we drove more than two hours for that… To Tagaytay! Only, we ended up in Bag of Beans Twin Lakes.

cakes & coffee @ bag of beans twin lakes

The parking slots outside were full and ours joined the party of cars on the road. The line in the so-called “most beautiful Starbucks” snaked from the counter right to the door. We went in anyway. We descended the stairs to the seating area and emerged on the grassy space behind the building. This overlooks the Taal Lake. I was shocked, though, to see the mountainous area below where we were standing being developed into a subdivision.

We walked to the back of Bag of Beans and decided that that’s where we’ll have cakes and coffee. The interiors did not disappoint. They exuded a certain charm with the mismatched wooden chairs and the handmade decorations.

bag of beans twin lakes lower floor interior

The day before this, I went to the mall with my friends. We dropped by Daiso. I bought art materials for the kids – a sketchbook, a pack of markers and a box of crayons.

 

I packed these for the trip. Happily, they drew and colored.

kids @ bag of beans twin lakes

Then, the food slowly came. The girls enjoyed their cups of rich chocolate mousse. The boy enjoyed his banana split.

bag of beans twin lakes chocolate mousse

bag of beans twin lakes chocolate mousse

bag of beans twin lakes banana split

It was dream come true for me to simply hang out in a beautiful coffee shop. Sipping on my sweet cafe mocha, taking leisurely bites of my sweet blueberry cheesecake and savoring my sweet life.

Yes, the coffee and the cheesecake were a tad too sweet. The blueberry topping must be homemade, for I spied a clump of cornstarch-looking substance.

So, my hubby and I were sitting there talking. The kids were drawing and eating… When all of a sudden, people came rushing in from the double doors. They took up the empty tables near us. The rain poured hard. One server brought in the chair cushions. The lightning flashed and darkness covered us. Black out! After a second, the emergency lights came on. That was the exciting part.

The last time we set foot on Twin Lakes, it was when we stayed at Hotel Kimberly. It was also raining at that time. Coincidence?

Thankfully, the light was restored. We were happy again.

with the kids @ bag of beans twin lakes

You should have seen the upper floor. It was so bright and cozy. Even in the evening. Very welcoming. Like our favorite grandma’s warm and friendly country home. We bought fruit jelly on our way out, upon the girls’ request.

fruit jelly & cookies for sale @ bag of beans twin lakes

That was all we did. It’s simple, a bit silly, really, but it’s super special.

 

Have you done something simple and a little silly with your loved ones? What was it?

Family Getaway: Jeju Island Trip Preparation, Cymplified!

I was looking forward to this trip. I also was not. One thing I was sure of is that there must be a Jeju Island trip preparation for our family.

I looked forward to cooler weather since it turned sizzling summer here in the Philippines. I also looked forward to experiencing some of my family’s firsts. It was our first time to travel internationally together. It was our first time to set foot on Korea. It was our first time to experience Spring. It was our first time to see Cherry Blossoms in person.

I didn’t look forward to the packing and unpacking before and after trips, as usual. I didn’t look forward to the very cold weather, lest the children would have gotten sick. I didn’t look forward to lots of walking. But, all of these, we overcame. Yay! I am so thankful to God they didn’t catch a cold or fever.

Thanks to the smartphone, to the winter jackets & beanies that we bought and to the warm clothes that we borrowed/were given, we stayed mostly warm. It really pays to be prepared for trips to unknown weather, especially with children in tow.

How to prepare for Spring in Jeju:
  • Living in a tropical country with only a wet and a dry season, I needed more information about the place we were traveling to. I checked the temperature on my phone’s weather app from time to time. I googled photos of Jeju Island and what the people were wearing during Spring. I read the itinerary.
  • Knowing that the temperature will be around 7-12ºC got me asking family and friends for clothing recommendations. My main concern was the children and good thing we saw winter jackets for kids at Terranova. Thanks, Marg, for the reco! What’s great about buying out-of-season clothes was the big discount! We even bought boots for our eldest! It helped us save a lot, especially if these items would be used just once or twice.jeju island trip preparation - winter jackets
  • Spring is right after winter, therefore, I think it would still be chilly. The kids would need protection from the cold. I decided to purchase beanies from @crochetbymrsc and I’m glad I did. Too bad the gloves from Lazada would take a month to ship (from abroad) and it was already the beginning of March!

    kids on jeju island cliffside
    @ daepo jusangjeolli cliff (주상절리(대포동지삿개))
  • One of my friends suggested applying petroleum jelly on the nostrils to avoid nosebleed as a result of breathing in cold and dry air. I bought a tiny jar for the trip and it also worked on minimizing the redness of their noses and cheeks. The wind was really biting and I have felt my face starting to get numb!
  • There was an app called PackPoint, which helped me pack the luggage. I entered our destination and travel dates (it then predicted the temperature), the activities and if there would be babies; then it generated lists of things to bring. Because of it, I remembered to put lip balm in my kikay kit.
  • Because of the walking tours in the itinerary, we packed rubber shoes for the girls since they were in boots. The children might get sweaty from the activities so I packed lots of cloth diapers (lampin). Well, both items didn’t get used, but it’s better to be ready for anything, right?
  • Uncertainty of the public restrooms in another country brings anxiety. Teaching our kids how to use them is one way to prepare for traveling. What I loved about Jeju Island is that there are public restrooms everywhere! Most of them are clean.
  • One of the perks, and also challenges of traveling is the very different cuisine that the country has. It’s a perk because we got to try something authentic and new. It’s a challenge when you have kids who are picky eaters. One preparation for this aspect of the trip is the exposure of the kids to different food and constantly telling them to “always try it first”. I like these words directed at children I read in a parenting article: “Try something of everything. Eat everything of something.”
  • Going on family day-outs and local family getaways got the children ready for one important thing when traveling: Staying together! 

    family with cherry blossoms in jeju island
    the jeju cherry blossom festival (제주 왕벚꽃축제) @ area surrounding nearby jeju sports complex

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip. I am definitely missing the cool climate!