My Tips in Applying for a Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines

January 21, 2018


My Tips in Applying for a Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines

1. Apply for a visa not more than 3 months from the intended date of stay in South Korea.


The consul is limited to issuing an expiry date 3 months from the date of visa issuance to applicants, even if you stated in the application form that your intended date of arrival is more than 3 months from the date of application. For example, if you plan to stay in Korea until June 1, do not apply for a visa earlier than March 1.


2. Find out if the embassy is open on the date you want to apply.

You don't need to get an appointment to apply for a visa to South Korea. You just walk-in. They do not inform you online whether or not the embassy is closed on a Philippine or Korean holiday. Below is the list of holidays they observe, both Philippine and Korean holidays. The list pertains to 2017 holidays. Adjust the dates accordingly for the subsequent years.

NOTE: They only observe national holidays. They do not observe municipal holidays like Taguig day, even if the embassy is located in Taguig.




3. Find out if you are eligible for a multiple entry 3-5 year visa.

If you have a BDO and BPI credit card, you may be eligible to apply for a multiple entry 3-5 year visa. 

Check out the BDO website for details:

Check out the BPI website for details:

4. If you have a visa for any of the OECD countries, you qualify for the express lane at Window 3. 

This means, you can get your passport (hopefully with visa) after three working days from submission of application. If you submitted your application on January 22 (a Monday), you can get your passport on January 25 (a Thursday).

You can present the visa of any OECD country for this purpose, even if EXPIRED, provided you used the visa at least once within the past 5 years. 

Below is a list of OECD countries:



5. Submit only photocopies of important documents. The embassy DOES NOT RETURN any document except your passport.




6. Arrange your documents in the following order for fast processing. 



7. Make sure to check that the embassy personnel assigned to verify your documents and issue the queue number assigned you in the right window.

I have seen the embassy personnel assign an applicant to window 1 when she qualified for window 3. Fortunately, the woman noticed the mistake and corrected him. Window 3 is the fast lane. The embassy returns your passport within 3 working days. Windows 1 and 2 are the regular lane. They return your passport within 5 working days.



8. Where to park 


Parking is across the Korean embassy
It is a roadside parking on the left side of the McKinley Hill sign.

This roadside parking is made an exclusive parking area of the Korean Embassy.

The red line is the location of the parking area.
For details, click: 
this link


REQUIREMENTS




FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUT THE KOREAN EMBASSY WEBSITE:  
http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3275/list.do




LTO-NCR Driver's License Backlog Printing: What You Need to Know

January 20, 2018


LTO-NCR Driver's License Backlog Printing:
 What You Need to Know


LTO opened 7 satellite offices to speed up the processing and issuance of around 3.6 million driver's license cards of applicants who were issued driver's licenses but failed to get the ID card. As shown in the photo below, these offices are purely for printing and releasing of 5 year driver's license cards. No student permit or renewal transactions are entertained.




WHERE TO FIND THE TEMPORARY OFFSITE PRINTING OFFICE

TOPO LOCATIONS:

SM MALLS: SM Marikina, Sm Manila, SM North Edsa
ROBINSONS MALL: Las Pinas
ALI MALL
FAIRVIEW CENTER MALL
LTO OFFICE: NCR Regional Office, Manila East District Office

OFFICE HOURS

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM


WHAT TO BRING:

Latest LTO official receipt

You must know your blood type


WHAT TO DO:

1. Approach the LTO personnel in front of the computer. He will give you a form to fill up and a queue number.



2. Fill up the form. The form asks for the same information as the driver's license application form. They are doing this because they will encode the same information all over again before they issue the driver's license card. They will also take your photo and signature again and in addition, your fingerprints.

3. The printing processing flow: 
a. Verification after you present your driver's license receipt.
b. Encoding of your personal information
c. Photo, Signature, Fingerprints
d. Printing of your driver's license card 

Average processing time is 10 minutes

This is the SM Marikina satellite office.


MY TIP: Don't arrive before 4:30 PM. They will not give you a queue number even if they close 6:00 PM. By that time all slots for the day were given out already. Arrive 10:00 AM to get a sure slot. 


7 DAYS IN TOKYO: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

January 12, 2018

7 DAYS IN TOKYO: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

WHAT YOU WILL VISIT IN THIS ITINERARY

A UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mount Fuji 

Tokyo Metropolitan Building: Visit this building to see an aerial view of Osaka. Unlike in other places, admission is FREE

Ghibli Museum: If you are a fan of anime, or movies by Studio Ghibli, this is a must visit site

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom viewing venues

Meiji Jingu Shrine: Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor and Empress Meiji

Shibuya Crossing: the busiest intersection in Japan and an iconic place Tokyo is known for

Hachiko Memorial Statue: commemorating the most famous Akita dog, Hachiko, whose story became a legend.

Ginza Architectural Walk

Tsukiji Market

Imperial Palace East Garden tour

Shopping at Daiso and Don Quijote 


WHAT TO BOOK OR BUY IN ADVANCE

1.  Mount Fuji Tour


I purchased my Mount Fuji Tour at viator.com instead of JTB Sunrise Tours or Japanican because viator.com offers it at 10% discount.

2. Ghibli Museum Tickets


You can buy Ghibli Museum tickets online on the 10th of the month at 10:00 AM Japan time of the month before the date you want to visit the museum. This means if you want to buy tickets for March 2018, you can only buy it on February 10, at 10:00 AM Japan time.

Where to buy Ghibli Museum tickets online:

My tip:
a. Go online at exactly 10:00 AM Japan time. Tickets are sold immediately in the next 30 minutes and are usually sold out within the hour.

b. You can only buy a maximum of 6 tickets at a time. So if you're buying more tickets, you should be fast in booking online.

c. Prepare the passport of your group leader. You will need to give details for claiming the tickets at the gate.

d. I noticed that of all the time slots, the 2:00 pm and the 4:00 pm. time slots are the last ones to get sold out.

3. Flytpack Pocket Wifi


It is essential to bring a pocket wifi in Japan so it will be possible to navigate the subways and private railways. Lines change depending on time. If you have a pocket wifi, when you arrive at the station, you can start searching for your destination at google maps and google maps will tell you the next train you can ride to go to your destination. Others use hyperdia.com to navigate the trains but I find it easier to use google maps. Japan trains arrive exactly on time. So it's essential that you do an online google map search again once you arrive at the station to make sure you'll ride the correct train at the correct time.

PRICE: 280 per day x 7 days = 1960 pesos rental fee. Plus 2800 pesos deposit, which they return after you return the unit. I added 550 pesos router insurance just to be safe.  


DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN TOKYO, TOKYO METROPOLITAN BUILDING (MONDAY)


1:30 AM
Leave house

2:00 AM
Park at NAIA Terminal 3 parking

2:30 AM - 4:30 AM
Go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3
Check-in
NOTE: Check in counter at Jetstar opens 3 hours before the flight contrary to the email information that it only opens 2 hours before the flight. 
Immigration
Breakfast at Skyview Lounge

4:30 AM
Boarding

5:10 AM - 11:50 AM
Manila to Osaka flight via Cebu Pacific 5J5054

NOTE: Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines so from this point of the itinerary, I'm using Japan time.

10:25 AM-11:25 AM
Arrival at  Narita Airport Terminal 2
After claiming your baggage, buy the PASMO Card for use in the Japanese subway.

This is a reloadable smart card that you can use on several networks like the JR train, subways, private railways and buses. This is the best smart card to use because:
a. It's reloadable. 
This means you load only the amount you need.
b. You don't need to buy train tickets using cash. You can go straight to the gate each time you enter the rail station. 
c. You don't need to buy separate tickets when you change lines from the subway to the private railway. You only need to tap the card at the turnstile when you change lines. 
d. You can use the card to make purchases in stores like 711.
Where to buy the PASMO card at the airport:
https://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/buy/  

Buy tickets to the limousine bus

11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Ride the limousine bus to Keio Plaza hotel

12:30 PM-1:00 PM
Ride the taxi from Keio Plaza hotel to  Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku 

1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Lunch

2:00 PM
Check in at Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku

2:00 PM-4:00 PM
Rest

4:00 PM-5:00 PM
Leave the hotel. Take the train to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building: 180 yen

5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Tokyo Metropolitan Building
South observatory is open 9:30 AM-5:30 PM (It is open till 11:00 PM if the North Observatory is closed) Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time

Why visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Building:
To see an aerial view of the city of Tokyo where admission is FREE. 

6:00 PM-7:00 PM
Take the train back to the hotel

7:00 PM
Dinner


DAY 2. MOUNT FUJI, LAKE ASHI AND BULLET TRAIN DAY TRIP FROM TOKYO TOUR (TUESDAY)


Check this out for details:
https://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/Mt-Fuji-Lake-Ashi-and-Bullet-Train-Day-Trip-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F800_F820

Why choose this tour:
I chose the bullet train ride on the return trip to Tokyo from Mount Fuji instead of the bus ride, although cheaper, so we can experience a bullet train ride. The Shinkansen or bullet train is very expensive so this will be enough experience riding it without spending a lot. 

8:25 AM:
Meet up at with the tour group at Keio Plaza Hotel (the nearest meet-up place from our hotel)

8:00 PM:
End of tour at Tokyo station

My tip:
If you plan on doing the Ghibli Museum Tour, do this tour on a Tuesday. Ghibli Museum is closed on Tuesdays.


DAY 3. GHIBLI MUSEUM TOUR (WEDNESDAY) or Shopping at Daiso or Don Quijote for those who do not want to join the tour

9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Take the train to the Mitaka Station: 390 yen

11:00 AM - 12:00
Lunch

1:00 PM-2:00 PM
At the Mitaka station, take the Mitaka bus to the Ghibli Museum: 310 yen roundtrip

2:00 PM-6:00 PM
Ghibli Museum tour

6:00 PM-7:00 PM
Return to the hotel

7:00 PM
Dinner

DAY 4. SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN, MEIJI JINGU SHRINE, SHIBUYA CROSSING, HACHIKU MEMORIAL STATUE (THURSDAY)

9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Take the train to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: 170 yen

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Take the train to the Meiji Jingu shrine: 170 yen

1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Meiji Jingu shrine

3:00 PM-4:00 PM
Walk to Shibuya Crossing
Lunch at Ichiran Ramen or Matsuya

4:00 PM-6:00 PM
Shibuya Crossing
See the Hachiko Memorial Statue

6:00 PM-7:00 PM
Return to the hotel

7:00 PM
Dinner


DAY 5. GINZA AND TSUKIJI MARKET, GINZA ARCHITECTURAL WALK (FRIDAY)


DAY 6. IMPERIAL PALACE EAST GARDEN TOUR (SATURDAY)

12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Leave hotel
Ride the train to Tokyo Station: 200 yen

1:00 PM-3:30 PM
Free walking tour of the Imperial Palace East Garden conducted by Tokyo Free Walking Tour

NOTE: THIS TOUR IS ONLY USUALLY AVAILABLE EVERY SATURDAY. MAKE SURE TO CHECKOUT THEIR CALENDAR OF THE MONTH IN CASE THEY ADDED TOURS. 



DAY 7. RETURN TO MANILA (SUNDAY)
7:30 AM
Check out of Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba

8:00 AM 
Get taxi in front of the hotel
Ride the taxi to Osaka City Air Terminal to ride the Kate limousine bus to the airport

9:10 AM - 10:00 AM
Ride the Kate limousine bus to Kansai Airport

10:30 AM - 11:30
Check in at the Cebu pacific counter

Dine at Narita irport food court before immigration

Immigration

Map photo
11:40 AM
Boarding

11:45 AM - 3:50 PM
Departure from Osaka via Cebu Pacifice 5J5055

3:50 PM
Arrival in Manila



OSAKA: Must Try Food at Kuromon Market (What We Liked)

October 25, 2017

OSAKA: Must Try Food at Kuromon Market (What We Liked)

There are a lot of fresh seafood and meat to try in Kuromon market. But these are the food we liked and would recommend you to try. As shown in the map below, these merchants can be found in just one street. 

CLICK TO ENLARGE MAP
www.kuromon.com




1. MARUZEN BUTCHER
Open 8:00 AM - 6:30 PM, 7 days a week

What to eat: Kobe beef

Melt-in-your mouth Kobe beef
Price: 2000 yen
Maruzen butcher stall
There are seats where you can enjoy eating the beef they cook for you.
We chose Kobe beef diced steak.

They cook the beef in front of you.

They give a certificate of authenticity that they served you Kobe beef.

MY TIP: Avoid meal time hours. This stall is very popular. We went there meal time hours and lines are long. There were less people when we went there 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM. 


2. KITAO SENGYOTEN
Open 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed Sundays and holidays

What to eat: Fresh Uni, Grilled Giant Scallops

Fresh and newly opened uni eaten straight from the shell is heavenly.
There is an aroma that fills your mouth that you won't experience tasting unless you eat it out of the shell.
Price: 1500 yen

The grilled giant scallops is so juicy.
Price: 1500 yen

The front of the stall
You can identify it through the green sign and the no.59 sign

You choose your scallops.

They cook it in front of you.

You choose your uni.

This is how they open it.



3. PRODUCE MARKET YASUI
Open 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Sundays and public holidays until 3:00 PM only

What to eat: Cremia ice cream

Soft serve Cremia ice cream

The front of the stall where you can buy the ice cream

You can see this sign in front of the stall.


4. SENNARIYA
Open 9:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Closed New Year's day

What to eat: Sushi, eel, etc

Front of the stall
(Photo taken from the Kuromon market site)

There are seats and a variety of food stalls inside Sennariya.
(Photo taken from the Kuromon market site.)


MY TIP: They slash down prices of sushi at 2:00 PM. Apparently, the fish is no longer "fresh" by their high standards starting at 2:00 PM. My daughter bought sushi before 2:00 PM and noticed a few minutes after she bought her sushi, the vendor slashed down prices.

OSAKA: Must Try Food at Dotonbori (What we liked)

October 23, 2017


OSAKA: Must Try Food at Dotonbori
(What we liked)

There's a great variety of food you can try in Dotonbori. But I'm sharing with you the food we really liked. We recommend the following ramen, takoyaki, okonomiyaki and melon pan brands. This is where you can find them.


CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE


1. ICHIRAN RAMEN
    Open 24 hours

Entrance of Ichiran Ramen

People lining up to enter Ichiran Ramen

We lined up to enter the restaurant but the wait is not long.

You use this terminal to place your order.


The instructions were:

1. Insert bills

2. Press the ramen button.
3. Remove the meal ticket.
4. Retrieve the change. 

Basic ramen is 890 yen.

Seats inside Ichiran Ramen

The waiter checks your order.

They deliver your ramen through this hole.

Ramen with additional order of tamago and seaweed.





2. TAKOYAKI KUKURU


Takoyaki Kukuru is the restaurant on the right with the giant octopus figure on top.

8 pieces is 650 yen, 10 pcs is 750 yen


You can sit inside the restaurant to eat the takoyaki



3. CHIBO OKONOMIYAKI
11:00 AM - 1:00 AM

My tip: Best time to go is during off hours. At meal times, the line is long. We ate at this restaurant 4:30 PM.




Entrance of Chibo
There's usually a line at the front door during lunchtime and dinnertime.

Inside Chibo

While cooking okonomiyaki

We ordered Dotonbori Okonomiyaki.
It has pork, beef tendon and konjac, shrimp, squid and cheese.
Price is 1674 yen.

This okonomiyaki is large and  is good for 2-3 persons.
It is so delicious. We vow to return and eat at this place when we return to Osaka.
It is no wonder that the place always has a long line during meal times. 

We also tried Chibo Yakisoba Noodles.
It's made of pork, prawn, octopus and squid.
The price is 1796 yen. It's also very delicious.




4. MELON PAN ICE CREAM

My tip: The line is always long when we pass by this food truck during meal times. I recommend you buy Melon Pan when it's off-hours. Line was short when we went there at 4:00 PM.

Melon Pan food truck 


Average price of Melon Pan is 500 yen.
You can buy melon bread without the ice cream for 200 yen.

The line is long because only the lady owner is dispensing the ice cream.
Warning: Make sure to have the right amount of money with you. They only accept 100 and 1000 yen. They do not accept 5000 and 10,000 yen, as well as coins. That's the warning written on the sign with the red border.

Melon Pan is ice cream placed inside melon bread.
It is so delicious and the texture of the melon bread is quite unique.