The Secret Beach at El Nido

October 29, 2012

The Secret Beach at El Nido

Why see the Secret Beach at El Nido

I love the Secret Beach because it's one of those isolated beaches in El Nido where kids will enjoy staying in. The beach has white sand, the water is crystal clear. The waters are shallow for at least 50 meters from the shore. You can even go snorkeling in those shallow waters and find an interesting array of fish to amuse the kids. For the more adventurous, you can go to the deeper part of the island on the right side of the beach where you can find Nemo (a clown fish) among the live corrals.

What to expect when you arrive at the Secret Beach

This is the entrance to the Secret Beach
Docked at Secret Beach
Note the people on the right side of the photo:
You can see that even at that distance, water is only waist deep.
Visitors snorkel and find an interesting variety of fish even in this shallow waters.

The beachfront

Deeper and more challenging waters can be accessed
through a hole at the right side of the beach

Entering the hole

The path is rocky and slippery

This is what we see after passing through the hole

Snorkeling in deeper waters

Finding Nemo on this part of the beach

My tip: If you have kids smaller than my kids shown above, this is a nice beach to spend the day in. The waters are shallow and clear, the sand is white. They can learn to snorkel here and be rewarded by an interesting variety of fish.

Since there are a lot of beaches with common or synonymous names in this bay, my suggestion if you want to find this beach is to refer to it as the Secret Beach on Tour C.

What to See at the MoMA if you only have TWO HOURS: Must See Paintings at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York

October 27, 2012

What to See at the MoMA if you only have TWO HOURS: 
Must-See Paintings at the Museum of Modern Art  (MoMA) New York 

My tip on MoMA entrance fees:
Be sure to check out the following links to see if you qualify for free entrance or discounts:  Free Admission at the MoMA and Corporate Membership benefits at the MoMA. In my case, I paid only $10 entrance free for all 6 of us to be admitted to the MoMA. This is broken down as follows:
My husband = FREE (his employer is a corporate member of MoMA so employees are free upon presentation of corporate ID)
Myself =  $5 (my husband is entitled to bring 5 guests at $5 each as part of his corporate membership benefits)
My 18 year old daughter =  $5 ( same reason as myself)
My three kids 16 years old and below = FREE  (MoMA admission ticket rules) 
Tickets for the discounts mentioned above can only be claimed at the counter. You don't really need to purchase online because lines are not long at the ticket counter. The advantages of purchasing tickets at the ticket counter are as follows:

1. You can claim discounts if you qualify for discounts not reflected in the online purchase form.

2. You are not limited by the date on the ticket purchased online. You can just drop by the MoMA when convenient with your schedule and get your ticket. 

My tip on the MoMA highlights handbook:
If you only have 2 hours, you don't need to purchase the MoMA highlights handbook worth $20. You don't have time to see everything shown in the MoMA highlights handbook. The best thing to do is choose the most important paintings of the museum and spend time viewing it. If you need information while viewing the painting, bring a wifi enabled device and log on to the free wifi of the museum and browse the information on your device.

What to See at the MoMA if you only have TWO HOURS
My kids love paintings so it's not really a problem bringing them to a museum that features a lot of paintings. But if you have limited time, these four paintings are the ones you shouldn't miss. It's so famous that my kids are even familiar with it or at least have encountered it in one of their classes in school.
These paintings are all located on the 5th floor of the MoMa.



We almost missed seeing this painting because it's so small.
It's almost as big as a long bond paper at 9.5in x 13in.
Make sure to ask the guard or any museum personnnel where it is.
One clue may be that a lot of people than usual gather around this painting.
Note: As of this writing, the Persistence of Memory is not currently on view. It will return September 2013. 


Location of the MoMa

11 West 53rd Street  New York, NY 10019, United States

(212) 708-9400

Hours and Admissions

CLOSED: Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

Open  Sat-Mon, Wed-Thurs (10:30 AM to 5:30 PM); Fri (10:30 AM to 8:00 PM)

Free Walking Tour of Midtown Manhattan by Free Tours by Foot: A Traveler's Review

October 25, 2012

Free Walking Tour of Midtown Manhattan
by Free Tours by Foot: 
A Traveler's Review

On our first day in New York, the first thing we did was join the Midtown Manhattan Walking Tour by Free Tours by Foot. It was the first day my kids will see New York and a walking tour with a guide was the best way to explore New York for the first time. I chose Midtown Manhattan because the kids are familiar with most of the sights included in the tour and would most probably have seen them in the movies already. This makes it more interesting for them even if it involves a great deal of walking. 

Why I Love this Tour:

1. The tour is free.
This tour is actually tip-based. If you like this tour, you give the guide a tip based on how much you liked his tour. This is a great option for a big group on a budget. You can still take this wonderful tour and give the guide a tip based on what you can afford.
2. The tour starts at 10am.
When I'm on vacation, I don't like starting out early if I can avoid it.  Being on vacation with kids makes it even more difficult to start early. So the late starting time of this tour is perfect for those who want a slow start to their mornings when on vacation, for couples with kids, and for a big group traveling together. 
3. The guide is experienced and very informative.

4. The tour covers a significant distance.
Not everyone may like the fact that the tour covers a significant distance because of the amount of walking they will do. But in my case, I like the idea that in a short span of time (around 2-3 hours), we were able to see and visit a significant number of places. The advantage of doing a walking tour compared to doing a bus tour, you're able to see the sights up close even if you do a quick walk and just pass by it. 
Distance covered by the tour: 2.1 miles in 3 hours, with stops.
My tip: Wear good walking shoes. You will travel a great distance during the tour itself, not including the walking you will do going to the meeting place and returning to your hotel.

5. It continues despite the weather
Weather conditions in May: Ranging from slight drizzle to heavy rain. John Gallegher, our tour guide, didn't cancel the tour and just made sure we stayed indoors when the rains start to pour.

My tip: Bring a plastic poncho so you'll be well-protected just in case it rains. The tour continues even during the rain. A plastic poncho is convenient to bring because it's light, folds into a small square and can easily be stored in a handbag.

6. Reliable booking system
Their booking system is "painless" so to speak. You just email them, they reply, then you  go to the meeting place and take the tour.

Below is the map of the route we took:

This gives you an idea of the area where we walked, what we saw and the distance we traveled, so you can gauge if you're capable of doing this tour.

 A  Walgreens Store meeting place

 B  Times Square Theater District

Our guide, John Gallegher

  Bryant Park

  New York Public Library

The Lion of the New York Public Library.
At the back is the HSBC building

  Chrysler Building

Inside the Chrysler Building

  Grand Central Terminal

Outside the Grand Central Terminal

Inside the Grand Central Terminal

  Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

  St. Patrick's Cathedral

   Saks 5th Avenue

  The Rink at Rockefeller Center

How to book:

1. If you're at least 6, you need to email them at

  • If you're 5 or less in a group, you can book directly here 

2. They reply immediately. We received two emails from them. Below are the emails we received from them.

First email:

Thank you for your interest in Free Tours by Foot.  If you are inquiring about our private tours, we will get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, please visit our private tour page at for information about tour options and pricing.  

Due to factors such as street sizes, city regulations and general customer satisfaction, we limit the size of our groups.  Our tours are very popular and we often have stand-by lists and often we must turn away interested guests.  Our experiences have shown that groups of 6 or more have a high rate of late cancellations or simply do not show up for the tours.  To be fair to other guests and to our guides, who rely on tips for a living, groups of 6 or more will be placed on stand-by and permitted to take our tours if space is available. We will do our best to notify standby groups with 48 hours whether they will be permitted to take their tour. 

We recommend that groups of 6 or more consider a private tour option.  Private tour options offer groups privacy, flexibility as well as affordability.  Private tour information can be found at  If you are flexible with your start times, we may be flexible with our prices. 

We thank you in advance for your understanding.  If you would like to book a private tour, or if you have any further questions, please let us know.

Free Tours by Foot

Second email:


I just booked the tour for you and you should be receiving the email confirmation.  Please let us know if you are not able to attend this tour 48 hours prior to your tour.


3. A week before the tour, they emailed us to reconfirm our tour. Below is the email we received from them

Booking Invoice


Free Tours by Foot
Contact Number Below

Booking ID:YXRT-040412
Created:April 4, 2012
Booking Date:May 15, 2012

Midtown Manhattan 10am (6)
Tue May 15, 2012
People: 6

Dear Guest,

Thank you for your reservation for the Midtown Manhattan 10am on Tue May 15, 2012.  This is a reminder that your tour takes place in 6 days.  I've relisted the tour information below.  
Our experience has shown that many guests who reserve with us with more than 6 days notice often do not show up to the tours and unfortunately do not notify us.  Our tours are very popular and we often have people waiting on stand-by to take these tours.  Please kindly confirm your reservation and the number of people by replying to this email or calling us at least 48 hours before your tour start time.  If we do not hear from you, we may give your spot(s) on the tour to stand-by guests.  We thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation and we look forward to showing you this great city.  

Be sure to check out our FREE tours in New OrleansPhiladelphiaNew York CityWashington, DC and Boston

For a Midtown fact sheet, please visit

Tour begins from the northeast corner of 42nd and Broadway, by the Walgreens store. Look for your guide with the Free Tours by Foot logo.
Tour ends at 30 Rockefeller Plaza
Get directions to and from the tour with our Google map located at
Tour lasts approx 2 hours
Total Distance is approx 1 mile
NYC contact # - 646.450.6831
Like us and follow us on Facebook

Q: Do the tours ever get cancelled for weather?
A: The show must go on! Dress appropriately for the conditions. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. However, extreme weather may cancel or postpone the tour. Please see our Facebook page for updates.

Q: What is an appropriate tip/gratuity?
A: Another good question. People always ask why we offer a tour for free that our competitors offer for $20/person. Well, we feel that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a tour at a price he or she thinks the tour was worth - so just think of our tours as "name your own price". You let us know what you think. Don't like the tour? Don't waste your money! Love it? Then we appreciate whatever you feel is fair. We are that confident in the quality of our tours. How can you beat that?

4. The day before the tour, they email us with the contact information of the guide.

Hi Everyone, 

Just a friendly reminder for tomorrow's Midtown Manhattan walking tour.  Thanks again for choosing Free Tours by Foot - New York.  JOHN will be your guide tomorrow and I can be reached or 917.691.4055.  Please remember that we are meeting at 9:50am in front of the Wallgreens Store on Broadway just north of 42nd Street (map).  He will have a Free Tours by Foot logo.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  
Thanks again for booking with us.  I am looking forward to showing you a great time and a great neighborhood!


My tip: Since they email you only the day before the tour with information about your guide, you need to be able to check your email.

My Best Food Souvenir or "Pasalubong" from Bangkok

October 19, 2012

My Best Food Souvenir or "Pasalubong" from Bangkok

This is just to share with you my favorite food to take home from Bangkok. This is by no means the only thing that's good to bring home. But if I were given the choice of bringing home food gifts to relatives and friends back home as pasalubong, this is it.

These are dates with cashews inside.
Oops. It's half full coz I ate most of it already.

This is how it really looks like straight from the store.

The seedless dates.... 

... with a cashew inside.

In case you have problems finding it at
the Gourmet Market of Siam Paragon,
show this label in Thai to the saleslady.

Where to find it

At the Gourmet Market of Siam Paragon Mall