How essential is having constant internet connection with you when you travel? Admittedly, it wasn’t a big deal for me before. As long as the hotel had wifi, then I was perfectly fine with waiting to get back to home base before doing updates. However, since starting as a freelancer and social media manager with work stuff conducted primarily via e-mail, Facebook, and other SNS, staying connected regularly throughout most of the day has become a priority. And when I’m not sure how convenient getting local sim cards are, I turn to rentals. Today, I’ll share my experiences with Flytpack Pocket WiFi!
Aaaah… Here’s the obligatory summer-themed post. I’m usually hidden away in a “cave” where no light ever shines through, but on the rare occasion that I’m up to it, I journey to the beach for the sun, sand, sea, and…komodo dragons.
We went on a quick Holy Week trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Naturally, it was the perfect venue to test the complete Belo SUNEXPERT line. Mine came from Sample Room, and here’s a photo I styled for the occasion.
Now let’s get down to business, because this is gonna be a three-for-one blog post…
Belo Sunexpert SPF 50 PA+++ Transparent Mist
Quick Specs: PHP 449.75 for 100ml; UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum
- Travel-friendly packaging. The container is lightweight and non-bulky, so feel free to stick it into totes and purses as much as you like.
- 100ml is the right amount of liquid for a spray that can be used all over the body (and face). If you use this liberally everyday (complete with reapplications midday), this could last you a month. Definitely more than a month, if you’re just using it on your limbs.
- True to its claims, it isn’t sticky, it dries quickly, and it doesn’t break me out.
- I’ve used this under makeup, before primer and foundation. Just spray some on the hands and pat on the face. Hey, it’s better than waiting for a cream to get absorbed into the skin, especially in this heat. (Don’t know if it’s advisable for dry skin.)
- At first spray, there’s a strong whiff of its alcohol base, but that rapidly disappears in a matter of seconds.
- This is my personal favorite among the three Belo Sunexpert products, because it’s so convenient to apply.
Belo Sunexpert SPF 40 PA+++ Face
Quick Specs: PHP 329.75 for 50ml; UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum
- The light consistency of the cream/fluid is similar to Belo’s day cream, meaning it doesn’t feel sticky at all and it’s easy to smooth all over the face.
- No offensive scent.
- Leaves skin with a dewy, just-moisturized finish. I’ve used this under primer and foundation, and I didn’t experience any more re-greasing than usual.
Belo Sunexpert SPF 60 PA+++ Body
Quick Specs: PHP 459.75 for 100ml; UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum
- Feels like a light lotion. Non-sticky.
- Has a mild sunblock scent.
- Leaves a slight white cast, but nothing too unnatural.
- Unexpected bonus: It leaves skin with a slight sheen that actually flatters tans and makes skin look glowing.
Recommendation: All three products are remarkable, but I think the most versatile for everyday use is the spray.
When we hit the road, we hit the road hard. When I say “we”, I mean just about anyone who I work or hang out with. It’s usually very intense when I’ve got work to do, so the sleep-deprived nights are part of the deal. Eventually, the immune system conks out from the fatigue and I start coming down with a cold, a cough, or a fever. Yes, I’m well-aware that my habits aren’t precisely to-die-for.
After all is said and done, there is no substitute for the genuine article: R&R (rest and relaxation). BUT if you find that you have to keep yourself going in spite of your exhaustion (be it from travel-related fatigue or work weariness), sometimes the best solution is to add some effervescence to the mix.
I am obsessed with effervescent vitamin tablets. It seems to me that they’re the fastest way to get a much-needed energy kick. Mind you, this is no Sting, Red Bull, or Cobra. The nice flavor and fizzed-up water provides a pick-me-up when you need something in a flash. Plus, if you don’t want to get out of control with the instant juice mixes, this is a pretty clever alternative.
As you can see from the photo, I’ve stocked up the best I can. Redoxon (leftmost and rightmost on the photo) seems to be readily available most anywhere except the Philippines. It’s sold in Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, etc. For the life of me, I haven’t found it in Manila. Optisana (second to the left) can be found in… Santi’s Delicatessen for PHP 96. Cheaper than Berocca, but I haven’t had the chance to compare vitamin content. Finally, Dr. Elizabeth’s (second to the right) was on sale, but I don’t remember the price.
The con? Make no mistake, these are all sugar-free but contain aspartame. That’s why I still take the regular old pill-form vitamins. I just like to have one of these canisters in my purse for when I’m feeling like something nasty is about to come on. A little vitamin boost may just be what the doctor ordered…
Okay, so it doesn’t really sizzle. In fact, the Korean summer is much milder than the arid Philippine summer. There’s lots of sunlight, but there’s also a nice breeze because of the nearby Haeundae Beach. Then at night, it’s nice and chilly. How I wish we had the same weather in Manila!
Now, anytime anyone mentions “Korea”, the first thought that pops into my head is “COSMETICS!!!” But of course I’m well-aware that it is so much more than that. It’s a nice country to visit, even though you cannot speak a word of Korean. The first time I was in Korea (Seoul), I had my master communicator cousin with me, so I was quite nervous for this trip. Luckily, charades is a universal thing.
Busan is a much smaller city than Incheon, comparable to our very own Cebu. The vibe out there is also a lot different because people have a more laid-back style. The metro never gets too full (even on weekends) and people never elbow or jostle, unlike in Seoul. There are plenty of shopping and dining options. Sidewalks near the beach feature arcade games, if you want to try your luck. Definitely, this is a fantastic place to relax.
For budget accommodations near the beach, I strongly recommend staying at Popcorn Hostel. Ideal for backpackers, families, and groups, Popcorn takes up a mere 2 floors in a multi-level building. You can book a family room with an en suite bathroom, if you’re particular about communal restrooms. Originally, we asked for a room for 4 but they overbooked, so we got upgraded to a room for 6 instead (a bed for two plus two bunk beds).
It’s fairly basic, but clean. We didn’t have a TV in the room, but the air conditioner functioned nicely and they provided us with towels. As for the bathroom, the dual shower gives a good bath (one rainfall, the other a detachable shower head), though I do have to complain about the drainage system in our room. You see, the entire bathroom has a singular drain hole located between the shower and the sink. (The position of the drain is not the same as in the photo below.) For some reason, the water from the shower went down very slowly, to the point that there was a puddle developing under the sink and toilet bowl. It got gross pretty quickly.
Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. They provided free breakfast, albeit a simple one with coffee, eggs, toast, jam, and butter. There’s a communal kitchen complete with utensils and cookware and a dining area with desktop computers you can borrow for free. They do not allow eating in the quarters, but you can use the communal guest refrigerator for food you’ve brought from outside. They also sell alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages by the reception area.
From what was written in chalk on the dining area walls, plenty of guests share my sentiment in loving Popcorn. Staff members were friendly and super helpful. The beach and shop clusters are only a few blocks away and there’s even a small grocery store a block to the right. Given the chance, I’d love to stay there again.
To Be Continued
Popcorn Hotel — Tower Marin 10F & 11F, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro 321, Haeundae Beach / BEXCO, Busan, South Korea
Traveling with a small kid or a senior citizen is never easy, not that I’m complaining. It goes without saying that you must make sure your vulnerable companion doesn’t have a hard time. That’s why there are strollers and wheelchairs to make the whole experience more convenient.
Now here’s my grandmother who has arthritis, as with plenty of elderly people. After multiple shots to the knees of lubricating sodium hyaluronte to ease the pain, her doctor forbade her from walking or standing for long periods of time. It was agreed upon that any long trip, from now on, would require the use of a wheelchair. That same arrangement was decided for a family vacation to Hong Kong, and the chair would simply be checked with the luggage at the airport.
It was all well and good on the way to Clark International Airport. We were told by Seair staff that the chair need not go into cargo immediately and that granny could still use it all the way to the tarmac. As promised, a member of ground crew collected the chair as we boarded the aircraft.
Trouble started upon our arrival in Hong Kong. Fresh off the plane from the early morning flight, we stood at the aerobridge exit looking to see if they already had it waiting for us. No sign of the wheelchair, so we went to immigration and then proceeded to the luggage carousel. Still nothing. Eventually, most of the other passengers from our flight had already left with their respective bags, so it was time to ask airport personnel for assistance.
A young man armed with a walkie-talkie directed us to one end of the carousel, where all irregular-shaped luggage from the same flight were gathered. Only baby strollers were found, so we had to explain to him repeatedly that we were lacking a wheelchair. After several exchanges with his walkie-talkie contact, he asked us to sit and wait while they double-checked. We spent the time walking up and down the other luggage conveyors checking to see if, by some coincidence, the chair wound up there. No dice.
Eventually, he came back and told us that they didn’t find it in the plane. We countered that we had the chair right up until we had to board and were told that Clark staff would make sure the chair was with our flight’s cargo. We had to insist for him to triple-check the plane, so more waiting time elapsed.
Some 15 minutes later, the young man came back and told us that the Seair plane was already en route back to Clark. He urged us to file a lost item report with their office. By then, another airline (this one coming from mainland China) had already taken over the luggage claim from our Clark flight, so there was nothing left to do but to follow. Of course, we didn’t go without at least demanding they either lend us one of their own chairs or replace it on the spot, but the staff insisted that they couldn’t lend or replace without first conducting an investigation. We ended up filing the report and leaving our contact number. Having little choice but to let their investigation take place, we finally got out of the airport early afternoon.
For the meantime, we convinced granny to spend the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. Come nightfall, we placed a call to the airport office and inquired about the chair. The investigation was still ongoing and they were awaiting the response of the airline, they said. That’s when our end started to get seriously upset. How long does it take to locate a wheelchair? We were the only party on that flight with a chair, while the others all brought strollers. It wasn’t even a connecting flight! The only thing we got out of them was the promise to contact us immediately once they locate it.
The next morning was roughly the same conversation when we called them up again. We were upset, whereas they were polite but non-committal. After sending out a few e-mails to the airport management and airline customer care, we were on our way to Disneyland with no choice but to try the wheelchair rentals.
While we were buying tickets at the train station, we finally got a call from the airport informing us that the chair had been found. They would deliver it to the hotel within the day, but could not guarantee what time it would arrive. After heaving the initial sigh of relief, we asked them to leave it with the hotel. There was really no sense in going back and waiting for it.
Despite being incredibly thankful that a perfectly good wheelchair didn’t go to waste, I have to comment on the way the situation was handled. It’s funny because we’re in the age where contacting each other and getting answers is already expected to happen in real time, yet a day had to pass before there was word on the wheelchair. We’re not talking about a bunch of missing clothes. A wheelchair is fundamental for mobility. If the passenger was totally disabled without it, how then, do they plan to fix things?