Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sensoji, Asakusa Square.

 I got up pretty early on our second day. Aside from the fact that I knew we were having a buffet breakfast,(Okay, side note. I am crazy about breakfast. I am crazier about breakfast buffets. Its seriously one of the only reasons I get up early in hotels, just to see what they would serve. Lol)  it was our first full day in Tokyo! And our Itinerary said we were going to Asakusa, where Senso-ji Temple is located. Asakusa is in old town Tokyo.  The night before, I actually did my research and found out that Asakusa has 45 working geisha and is one of Tokyo’s older districts. (Yes, I did look for geisha. But didn’t spot one)
I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived. But I was blown away by what I saw. I couldn’t fixate on just one sight. There was too much to see! So much red! Sensoji was too beautiful! Everything was so finely detailed and designed. It also helped that we were there on a perfect day.
Right in front of the temple is Nakamise. A shopping strip that has been selling local goods for centuries. There were stores selling Samurai outfits, kimonos, Japanese bread , candy, handmade masks and many others. Basically, I hit the cultural marketplace. I fell in love with the old-meets-new feel of the place, there were these beautiful red alleys (which I couldn’t stop photographing and posing in.) and  lively sales people. I felt so deeply rooted in the culture (and the shopping) that I spent a good amount of time just walking, looking around and buying anything I could eat (matcha included) .

Being in Asakusa showed me something about Japan, it’s that no matter how extremely modern a place can get, there’s still space for culture to thrive.

 Philip Lim 3.1 jacket, Rayban aviators, Mango top, Forever 21 jeans, Tonic boots and Bershka bag.

 Thats a sort of snow-cone. In a cup. So, a snow-cup. Its got sweet syrup and sweet milk on it. 

 This is a sign outside a store selling samurai clothes. If I had the space (and the money, these were insanely expensive!) I would've picked up some for my two brothers!

  They are 13- year old students from a school nearby. They over heard us speaking English and practiced their skills on us. Japanese students learn English at age 12 and carry on till their University days.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Konnichiwa Japan!

About a month back, I received an email saying I got accepted  in to the JENESYS 2.0 program for mass media. The program, in a nugget, basically entails sending students from all over the world to Japan on a learning trip. I got chosen along with 111 others from all over the nation. We were invited to see and experience Japan at all levels. To see the cities, the province, dine, sleep and basically live Japanese style. We did this for a good 9 days. Honestly, I just cant get over it! I’m still so hung up on my experience and I can’t believe I’m already at that point where I’m sharing it with all of you on my blog!

(I kept everyone pretty updated via social media most especially via my instagram: @itsmiadurano)

It took me a while to figure out how I’m going to start writing about this, since it was a pretty lengthy trip with a lot of events. But I figured the best way is to take it one day and one post at a time. So, forgive me if the Japan-related posts run for a while.

To start off, we left for Narita on a Japan Airlines flight. I’ve travelled a lot in my life so I figured that my usual method of dressing comfortably would still apply to this flight. Usually when I travel domestic I travel in shorts. But since the weather in upon our arrival was slightly cooler than in our tropical nation, I decided that a sweater and a pair of jeans was the most comfortable option. I know, you’re thinking “Her bag is gigantic.” True, it is. I needed a bag big enough for everything that I couldn’t fit into my check-in luggage (laptop, dslr,makeup,papers,vanity…et al). I love Longchamp bags, always so functional and chic, no matter what size!
True enough, It was about 23°C when we arrived! A far cry from the 33°C heat we left. I gave myself a pat on the back for a great job on dressing for the weather! Narita is about an hour’s drive from Tokyo, we piled on to the bus, chatted the drive away, got to our hotel, settled in and got briefed. 

After all the formalities, we were given an hour or so to go around. A friend and I used the short time to explore the area around our hotel. We went in and out of the many convenience stores, lucky enough I found what I wanted! A Matcha latte! (I had Matcha everyday while I was there.) We took pictures of everything! It was just all new and interesting. Honestly, that first night it didn’t sink in yet. Not till I was in my bed and I saw that my phone had adjusted itself to the time. It was at that point where I said “Wow, I’m in Japan.”

 Yes, in case you were wondering. My hair is Blue! It faded out slowly while I was on the trip.

Thrifted sweater, Uniqlo jeans, Longchamp bag and Converse sneakers.

 Here I am with Farrah Garcia a dear friend and the reason I applied for this trip!
 Mia's Matcha fix day 1. haha

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Swimming with the Whale Sharks.

I am captivated by the ocean. I am amazed by the vastly undiscovered world that lies below. When we heard that the whale sharks were only 3 hours away from the hotel, we cleared a whole day to go and see them. The 30 minutes we spent with them was well worth the long drive. My whale shark experience was INCREDIBLE. Now, I’m a diver and I’ve seen many great things on dive trips, but seeing  these gentle creatures up close just blew my mind! They are massive! I’m not lying when I say they are as big as buses. The first time I dived in, I was so amazed that I didn’t notice that they were coming really close. Since guests aren’t allowed to touch them, I had to be pulled up and reminded.  I took note of the instructions and stayed down for 20 more minutes. It was unforgettable. 

Now, if you wanna go on a whale shark adventure, I suggest you leave early. The sharks are only usually there till noon. So the earlier you leave Cebu City, the better. And oh! Pack a Waterproof camera or a GoPro. All the guides there know how to use them! 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Perfectly at ease.

 When dressing up, I always make comfort my number 1 priority. I like to feel free and easy in the clothes I wear, and not fussy and hot. I guess you could say tiis ganda doesn’t apply to me. That’s why this ensemble, albeit simple, has made it on to my shortlist for favorite outfits. It’s all about the comfort with the right amount of sexy <3
These days, I cannot be bothered to fix my hair. And the funny thing is,  I love it when its disheveled. It feels (at least to me) very je ne sais quoi.

Forever 21 pants, Michael Kors watch, Forever 21 rings, Call it Spring shoes.

Friday, August 01, 2014

10 Days in Cebu!

Now, its no secret that I shuffle back and forth between Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. Mostly cause I was born in Cebu. I also lived there alone during my first year of college. But now that I'm in my senior year, I haven't really found the time to visit my home city, see my friends and other family. When a chance came for a trip while school was on holiday, I snatched the opportunity! It was a fun and well-needed vacation. I spent most days with my 3 cousins or my equally food crazy aunt. We were always just hanging out, eating and shopping. It was really a vacation with no strict planning. We'd wake up one day, figure out where we wanted to eat and move on from there.

My trip is sort of split between two places. For the first four nights we stayed at the Shangri-La Resort and Spa in Mactan island. This hotel was insane!! Beautiful beaches and pools, fun activities,great gym and an even better international buffet! I was stuffing my face all day! Now, for the next 5 nights, we stayed in the heart of Cebu. Very near everything we needed to see...and eat! 

Funny, when I got home, a friend told me that my photos from the trip followed a certain order, he said it was "OOTD, family, food." I checked, and he's basically right!! HAHA.

I kept everyone updated via Instagram and Facebook, but in case you don't follow me (@itsmiadurano) I'm putting the photos from IG and my scanned polaroids here along with stories about my trip. :)

This is my Aunt Joy, my dad's sister. She's the food crazy aunt I'm talking about. Aunt Joy was my buddy during the whole trip! And she was usually my photographer for IG too. 

These are my cousins (L-R) Justin, Alexander and little Aniana. I see these kiddos only once a year, but when they are in the country, I am usually assigned to watch them, and I don't mind! <3

Our first night, we took a service to the city to eat  Yakiniku at Moshi-Moshi. The Kobe beef was amazing! Melts in your mouth!

The next couple of days was all about enjoying the resort. I love this polaroid of my two aunts and grandma! Great smiles!

I captioned this very differently on instagram, but really, this is just me hanging out on deck before our boat ride.

The next day, we took the 3 hour drive from Cebu to Oslob. Not just to see the whale sharks, but to swim with them. It was AMAZING. I'll tell you more in another entry. ;)

My cousins at the airport. I love these two silly boys.

My first #OOTD in the city. That backpack is now my new favorite bag! I've been using it everywhere! A steal at one of the mall's end of season sales. :)

My food adventure started in Phat Pho, a popular Vietnamese Restaurant in Cebu. I loved my Pho! The place was recommended by a friend and I'm happy I took her advice. :) 

I went out with my college classmate and best friend Maria for lunch. We had that amazing fudge brownie for dessert. (See how intense this is? I have dessert after every meal. haha) After our  lunch+ dessert+ shopping date, I went out for pizza with a few more members of the family. (We had cake after. haha)

More shopping the next day! Here's an outfit I put together. Actually, here's a funny story. My parents sent me on this trip without a return ticket. So I thought I'd only be staying 5-7 days and I didn't know I was going to stay in the city. I stayed 10 full days in Cebu! Laundry in hotels are just as pricey as new pieces so I decided to just buy versatile clothes that I could mix and match.  

I had lunch in Larsian with my aunt the following day. Larsian is an old and famous barbecue spot in the heart of Cebu's business district. Basically, Larsian is a hawker center. We had to eat with our hands and on banana leaves. I'd definitely recommend a visit here if you really wanna experience Cebuano food.  

Please notice I am wearing pink. This is rare. hahah

Spent the rest of the afternoon at the well instagrammed La Vie Parisienne. The place is so cozy and relaxing. When you enter, the smell of bread welcomes you. Along with many more French treats. 

Inside La Vie's famous wine cave. We had a bottle of bubbly with some cheese.

Macarons. My favorite treat! I was really excited to try these and I didn't know what to eat first so I bit each one and then ate them after. 

My last full day of this trip was a Monday. And I have this rule about my fitness, never miss a Monday, so here I am with the CrossFitPintados family. They a crazy funny CF family that reminded me of my own at CGYfit!

What's a better last meal in Cebu than LECHON?

Well, that's most of my trip. There's honestly so much more I could have shared if I remembered to photograph it first (or before I ate it.). I had the best time during this very long vacation and I cant wait to go on another!