The Most Frequently Visited Destinations in Asia, No Wonder Why

My friends were the first ones to have caught the travel bug. They have convinced me that hiking through the Amazon is a good way to spend my weekend than reading a good book on my couch. I didn’t really believe I’d be out there as I was a typical home body. However, my first trip in Egypt opened the possibility of exploring not only different places, but different culture. In the past years, I fell in love with Asia. I never realized that their culture is so different from my own.

Photo by jjcb via Flickr

Singapore

After visiting Egypt, a friend took me to Singapore to fill out for our friend who was unable to join the trip. It was a very different experience indeed. Singapore, though very small in land area, is a true melting pot of culture. Chinese, Malay, and Indian culture are strongly felt everywhere, especially in food influences. Don’t forget to try Chilli Crab whenever you’re in Singapore. This humble seafood sure packs a punch. It is also very interesting to see the influence of Colonial British in the country. Structures, such as the Old Admiralty House along the Old Nelson Road, will take any tourist into the old era of the British invasion. Everything, from the curb appeal of their traditional awnings and verandas to the still well kept gardens, boasts English culture. It provides a nice contrast to the traditional Eastern culture in Singapore. Also, visit Orchard Road for high-end brands. Better yet, go to Sungei Road Thieves’ Market for anything retro and quirky.

Photo by Armando Torrealba via Flickr

Bali, Indonesia

From the hustle and bustle of the West, it is nice to visit a place where one can be close to nature. Although, the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak Region is very much developed and a haven for party-goers, it is better to head to the other direction and stay in Ubud. Known by the locals to be mostly farms and celebrated for its arts and crafts, it is a perfect place to stretch my weary body and listen to nature’s chatter. It can be quite warm in the area and because of this the watermelon juice in Sari Organik became my instant favourite. There are also gelato selections in Gaya Gelato to survive the hotter parts of the day. What I love about Ubud is the freedom to roam around in nature. The rice paddies are a nice break from the din of the economic centre in the area. There’s also a jungle just a walking-distance away. Monkey Forest is also enjoyable, but monkeys can be aggressive especially if you have food with you.

Photo by Carlos Donderis via Flickr

Tokyo, Japan

The main purpose of my visits in Tokyo is good food. I am fond of Japanese food and if you are too, there’s no place better than Tokyo, where you can taste most food offered by different regions in Japan. Forget the sushi bars in New York, Tokyo is full with sushi restaurants from the typical small kiosks to the high-end places. I usually have friends in tow when travelling and we always head to an Izakaya for a good time. This traditional pub is a perfect place to try sake and bond with friends. Of course, Tokyo is also a shopping Mecca. Shibuya is a perfect place to shop for clothes not normally found back in the UK. Take note though, the sizes are very different in Japan.

Photo by Visit Abu Dhabi via Flickr

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi is an intersection of the conservative middle-eastern culture and the liberated ways of the west. Abu Dhabi shares its progressive attitude with the neighbouring Dubai but with a more relaxed feel. I stayed at the Royal Hotel, one of the mid-range amenities in the city, during a business trip. The retro design and bold colours sure lend a very different energy for visitors. Surprisingly, I found a mangrove marsh right within the area. The protected mangroves of Abu Dhabi are open to visitors for kayaking. Its narrow channels and splendid lagoons are very much refreshing. I was also lucky to have been included in a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It houses the largest carpet in the world! The 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers are enough to inspire awe. Also, no one should miss the Muhammad Rose Tea in Central Market.

Photo by Riccardo Romano via Flickr

Varanasi, India

My friends, for some reason, are very wary in visiting India. What we usually see in the West, such as overpopulation and poverty in the capital, is a very small part of India’s beauty. After a quick stay in Mumbai, my friends and I went straight to Varanasi. Our hotel, the Nadesar Palace is an old heritage house with charming gardens. We were warned about the heat, but I welcomed it like an old friend. We discovered Sarnath through a local befriended in Mumbai. I enjoyed the quiet, gently rolling deer park which is very accessible from the hotel. Sarnath is where the Buddha was born and the first seat of Buddhism. We also loved Bhangarh, outside Amanbagh. This ancient town near Jaipur is mesmerizing and spiritually inspiring. I suggest hiring a local tour guide to maximize your stay in Varanasi. We also discovered that Varanasi hides palaces. Man Mandir, located right along the Ganges, is a perfect place to view the area. Visitors are allowed to climb to the roof where an excellent panorama awaits. It is also a perfect place to take pictures.

Photo by Just One Way Ticket via Flickr

Philippines

Apart from its famous turquoise water and emerald rice fields, I was bewildered with the vibrant, fun-loving and eclectic group of people in the Philippines. Despite of the increasing trends of high-rise buildings and condominiums in the Philippine central area, indeed, it is the land of hospitable locals and the land of Asia’s pristine islands.  That time, I travelled alone but never in my full stay there that I felt unaccompanied. People I met were extremely welcoming, curious and respectful. I first visited the queen of all beaches, the White Sand Beach of Boracay. I stayed for 2 days in Boracay. The sandy beaches and crystal clear water, told me that I was in the right country. Not to cite their prosperous Filipino food. Every dish is worth trying and has the taste of Asia’s best cuisines. My personal favourite is Adobo, a dish of chicken cooked with vinegar and soy sauce. One Filipino chef (I can barely remember his name) even taught me how to cook and prepare their special adobo. Another thing I found very amusing with the Filipino troops and culture is their jeepney. It’s a public transportation vehicle that was outlined from U.S military jeeps back in the WW2. The Filipinos gave it a colourful designs, decorative ornaments, flashy paintings and lights. I’ve never seen anything like Filipino jeepneys before. I enjoyed hopping from different marvellous places riding the jeepney. I haven’t explored much of the country’s best places and until now, I have been longing to visit the Philippines again.

Asia is a world treasure waiting to be explored. I am looking forward to my future adventures in Asia. Perhaps, I should visit Mongolia?

The Perks of House Hunting in Asia

There are many diverse reasons for house hunting. It may be for reasons of necessity, convenience, practicality or luxury, among others. To consider finding a new home much farther than where you are now may be owing to relocation because of a career change or a job transfer, retirement plans, to establish a vacation home or probably for no reason other than a much-needed change in environment, or a new beginning.

Why not consider Southeast Asia?

Asian-Style-Houses-Designs

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Real Estate: The Rent VS Buy Debate

Renting vs buying can be a very tough decision. Here and there, most people are convinced by real estate agents to own a house with fine amenities nowadays because of its luxurious yet convenient nature. But is it really necessary to immediately rent or buy one? When it comes to both matters, the first thing that people should ask themselves is if they have the purchasing capability. In looking for the right place, real estate agents must be given an update regarding the current condition of financial assets, liabilities and income of the client. Determining these factors will help the agents find the suitable condominium or town house that match the available resources of the person involved to put his/her future plans into perspective.

When enticed to either rent or buy a house, bear in mind to always observe the global market trends. The stock market usually acquaints businessmen and ordinary citizens on what to expect in the current prices of commodities around the world with respect to the monetary value. Aside from selecting the appropriate location of a personal space, consumers must not neglect the significance of the changing season and or occasion as it also influences the law of supply and demand. For example, every summer, the prices of fruit drinks increase as the supply drops due to hot weather. The same thing applies on the real estate field. Read more

Tips in Finding an Apartment

As of now, more and more lands are being converted into commercial areas wherein apartment buildings are mostly situated at urban places, especially at marketable centers. This is due to the demand for housing which is continuously escalating in magnitude every year.

An apartment, while it doesn’t offer much investment potential, is considered one of the wisest financial choices, and solutions to this demanding real estate inclination, which is why a lot of people are realizing its several benefits, and in due course, are purchasing them. Some may be saving for a down payment on a home; others may be unable to afford buying a home. For families or individuals who move often, or for those who are not interested in the maintenance and repair of a home, renting can offer freedom to relocate, and relief from the costs of home ownership. Moreover, many wish to find an affordable yet quality residence, in which they can enjoy carefree living, and luxuries that they might otherwise never have. Read more

Best Places To Install Home Security Cameras

The latest security cameras are the perfect surveillance devices in homes. They can cover larger areas and can see for long ranges both day and night. They have higher resolution to help record clearer images and are capable of working through different weather conditions. These cameras can also connect to a web of alarm system components through an IP address instead of through multiple connectors and cables, allowing regular homeowners to easily them set-up without seeking professional help. With these devices on hand, people can guarantee that they’ll have no problems monitoring their homes with high-quality surveillance videos.

But is having them enough to keep their houses safe?

Clearly, there’s one more thing people have to keep in mind after buying surveillance cameras to be guaranteed with strong home defense frontlines. People who purchase them must do something very crucial that would ensure the cameras’ efficacy and guarantee their protection: installing the cameras in the right locations.

Here are the best places to install security cameras at home.

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Things to Consider When Looking For An Apartment

Where do you start? Who do you ask? How will you know if it’s the right space for you? These are the questions that come in mind when looking for an apartment. First, I recommend that you consider consulting regional newspapers, and advertisements on the Internet. These resources will help you learn more about the process on a wider range. Nowadays, more and more real estate owners advertise their developments through their host websites, thus, providing you with a huge record of apartments in selection. Booking your reservations online is now also available; this will help you reserve the apartment you prefer easily. But before choosing an apartment for rent, be enlightened first by the list of the following things you need to consider:

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Philippine Mortgage Calculator

Are you worried about how you’d be meeting your mortgage payments? Do you feel that in the future it may be a problem for you? Do you want that hard reassurance to tell you that you could maintain your payment for this mortgage for years to come?

Well, here is something helpful you could use, a Philippine Mortgage Calculator.

A Philippine Mortgage Calculator

An OFWs Full Experience in Buying Real Estate in the Philippines

As soon as people back home knew I was working abroad, I was treated like a goose that lays golden eggs. That was something I realized that most OFWs felt. Everybody was selling me or asking me to buy something. I tried to keep my head straight by focusing on investments off the bat. This is something I knew would ensure that all the hard work in the middle of the desert will not be wasted. Buying land or real estate in the Philippines appealed to me most because it’s practical and sensible. Like all investments, it takes a lot of smarts to make sure that money and time is not wasted. From my experienced I realized a few important things when buying real estate which you may find useful.

vast-bountiful-land
Vast bountiful land

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The Best Practical Tips for Condo Hunting

Condo living at best is like living in a resort or hotel. That’s what most developers guarantee. It should not be a “too good to be true” proposition. The condo that I bought has delivered on their promise. We just have to be smart in making choices. I’d heard from well-intended brokers, read from news articles but nothing substitutes for experience. Hopefully you could get the same good results by keeping these things in mind:

1) It’s all about convenience.
The list can stop right here. Everything should be dictated by convenience. It is the main thrust of condo-living. A lifestyle fit to who you are. List down what your priorities are. If you’re single, it’s a little easier to define. If you have a family, you have to check out if are there any good school near the area. Are you going to swim as often as you think you will? Are you going to the gym as often? In the end, you’ll be spending most of your time inside your space, which leads us to #2. Read more

Common Real Estate Scams You Should Beware Of

If somebody sells you real estate in the Philippines, and the offer is too good to be true, then maybe it is a scam.

According to CoreLogic, there has been a 20% increase in mortgage fraud with an approximate value of US$12 billion during 2010, with 1 for every 52 short sale transactions considered suspicious. It doesn’t pay to be a skeptic. Real estate fraud types are becoming increasingly well hidden and complex, gone are the days of mere misrepresentation of information, now they’re using technicalities to take advantage of you.

A house placed as bait in a mousetrap

Here are some of the scams they’re doing:

1. Flopping – somebody buys a property from an owner possibly facing foreclosure for a value below what that owner owes the bank. Then the owner convinces the bank to short sale the property which the bank approves, since it will be less costly for them than go through the foreclosure process. The new owner then will sell that property to another buyer at a higher price, turning a profit. Usually the new and original owner are parties to this scam. Read more