punta cana DR day 4 vacation

zip line

zip line

Our last full day at Grand Palladium Punta Cana in Dominican Republic. It was a busy day for us, zip lines in the morning then spa in the afternoon.

After breakfast we had to travel about an hour and a half to Anamuya Mountain where the zip line adventure was located. The travel was okay except for the last half an hour because the mountain road was not exactly a paved road. It was a bumpy ride. Our guide was so informative by sharing things about Dominican Republic. He said that they have the largest gold deposit in the world. Their share the island with Haiti. The gasoline price is outrageously high and they use motorcycles as some sort of taxi. They have rolling blackouts except for tourist spots and they use bottled water for drinking and cooking and rain water for everything else. You will see tanks on top of their houses for collecting rain.

The zip line adventure was awesome. There were 12 stages and the crew were so helpful, they even rigged my goPro to my helmet. However, the videos did not come out the way I want them because instead of pointing level or down it was pointing upwards, bummer. You can click the zip line adventure to check out their website and additional information.

When we got back to the resort, the girls have a spa schedule while mine was still 7PM for a massage. But I had a duty to reserve for the elusive Japanese restaurant. I chilled in the room and decided to stop by the restaurant by 530 PM. When I got there, there was a great number of people in line. I was able to reserve for 830 PM dinner. Went back to the room to get change for dinner but need to stop by the spa for my massage.

We had dinner at the Japanese restaurant, hibachi style, and it was actually a let down. It was not even close to what we were accustomed to back in the States. I really could not tell why it’s always booked every night.

After dinner, we went to lounge in the lobby and had a couple of drinks before heading back to start packing up and sleep. Click the pictures above or just click here to see other pictures.

 

punta cana DR day 3 vacation

stingray bay punta cana

stingray bay punta cana

The scheduled activities for that day was swimming with the sharks and snorkeling in the afternoon. That morning we were free to do anything after breakfast and I suggested to rent a speed boat as was suggested yesterday. We went to the beach to rent a speed boat, it was $100 for two hours, and we needed two. However, we were not told to make reservation, hence, we were not able to do so.

Why the heck did I suggest the banana boat instead? What was I thinking, I don’t like the water because I cannot swim. Minutes after into the banana boat ride, the guy running the boat made a quick turn then the banana boat being pulled by the boat tilted and down we went. We were all wearing a life vest but mine was a tad bigger and I thought i was still sinking. Panic set in and I was so afraid. The guy did not even know that we were already in the water. Got back to the boat and my wife, daughter and sister-in-law decided to go back again to the banana boat and I stayed in the boat. Again, minutes later the guy did the same mistake again and they all fell in. I decided to just go back to the shore and ended the ride.

That afternoon, we went to go swimming with the sharks but I told them that I will not join them snorkeling nor swimming with the sharks. We boarded the party boat and brought us in the middle of the ocean where they have this huge fenced in structure where they kept nurse sharks as well as sting rays. I only went to touch the sting rays and went into the water (it was just shallow). The belly of the sting ray was so smooth and slippery and it was the direct opposite of its top part which was rough (like sand paper). They went to another tank where they can snorkel while the sharks swim under them. I was just taking video of them  as well as submerging the goPro to get a look at the sharks.

Before the party boat went back to the shore, we stopped in the middle of the ocean and most of the people were led back to the open sea to snorkel. Then afterwards, the crew host announced it was an open bar and gave us some food to snack on. They opened up this big bottle of Mamajuana for us to taste. It was a mixture of rum, wine and honey, and it was strong. They claimed that it’s some sort of aphrodisiac. There were a lot of dancing while going back to the dock.

Click the picture above or just click here to see pictures taken during that day.

punta cana DR day 2 vacation

macao public beach

macao public beach

The second day was our first full day at the resort. I needed to give my resort voucher to the manager which I had to contact my travel agent. She was kind enough to email all the things I needed: the voucher for the resort and the voucher for the shuttle transportation from/to the airport. Went to the front desk after breakfast and sorted everything out.

We also talked to a travel agent at the lobby for other things we may want to do outside the resort. My wife and sister-in-law booked us for an adventure buggy ride that same day, swimming with sharks and snorkeling the following day, zip lining the next and for the last day a spa.

While waiting for the adventure buggy, they spent their time at the resort beach and used the kayak (included with the resort stay). After their kayak, they spent more time swimming and I just enjoyed my mojito strolling along the beach. If you want to save a lot of money, all you need to do is stay in the resort and avail of all that is included. All food, all drinks and all shows. Well you can eat the whole day and get drunk from sunrise to sunset if that’s what you want.

We ate lunch and grabbed some take out just in case we get hungry doing the adventure buggy. We got picked up outside the main lobby and we went out the resort and picked up several more people from other resorts nearby and we drove for half an hour. This was a case of getting something different from what was pictured or even stated by the travel agent. The buggy we used were not as great as in the picture, we thought we were able to get a decent buggy and drive it along the beach but no. We got to drive a crappy buggy and drove it along the DR public roads. Our first stop was the public beach called Macao. The beach was gorgeous, better than our resort beach. We parked the buggies and got to spend half an hour there, most of them swam. Then the next stop was the tobacco and chocolate plantation, we got to listen to a presentation then purchase some of their products. Then the last stop was to their self proclaimed best attraction, the underground river. This was a photo opportunity because they took pictures of you while you dove into the water which was dark and cold. Then we head back to where we started and board our shuttle back to our respective resorts.

We then prepared ourselves for dinner and it was an experience. There were buffet restaurants that you just need to walk-in while there were other restaurants that were sit-down, where you need reservations. The reservation was tricky, you needed to fall in line around 5:30 PM at a restaurant you wanted to dine in to get reservation. If the restaurant was popular then you need to be there earlier otherwise you will be fine.

We were unlucky to get seated at a Japanese restaurant hibachi style, it was one of the popular restaurant there. We just got lucky to dine in at a Greek restaurant, all of us in our group agreed that the only dish worth eating was the ceviche.

After dinner we went to the resort main lobby to listen to music and grabbed a few drinks before calling it a night. Click the picture above or click here to see other pictures. All the pictures were shot using GoPro Hero +.

punta cana DR day 1 vacation

grand palladium beach resort

grand palladium beach resort

This vacation was some sort of a gift for our daughter’s 18th birthday as well as high school graduation. We have planned this way ahead of time since she does not like to have some sort of an 18th birthday party like most of young ladies do. At first it was a trip to Rome or something but it proved to be expensive for five people (including their auntie).

My wife found a deal at groupon.com.  It was unfortunate, though, that our son was not able to make it due to summer class and we have to eat the cost even though we purchased travel insurance. The insurance did not include such excuse, contrary to what was explained by the travel agent.

This was my second air trip this year considering I don’t like flying a lot or should I say I don’t like flying at all if all possible. The flight was okay compared to the 14 hours flight from Chicago to South Korea.

Touching down in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic was an experience. After the plane touched down and parked we were ushered down the steps and waited for a bus to bring us to the terminal for customs and luggage. Lucky for us, I was able to convince my wife to travel light and just had one hand carry per person. But I always need to carry my camera bag with me regardless.

As soon as we cleared customs, which by the way we need to pay $10 per person, I realized that I made a mistake. I did not have any travel documentation from the travel agent, I found out that they were supposed to email those to me two weeks prior. We were able to talk our way through getting in on our shuttle as well as getting admittance at the resort.

After we settled in our rooms, well the ladies went to check out the beach before dinner. I went along and took some pictures, click here to see other pictures or the picture above.

2014 elijah’s birthday

lake at monroevilleNJ

lake at monroevilleNJ

We were invited at Elijah Nepomuceno’s birthday celebration at a lake in Monroeville, NJ. We went to this park before for just a simple picnic. It was a short ride from our house in Sewell via Route 55 South and I believe you need to exit at Buck Road.

It was a good size lake but I believe the $9.00 per person (adult) is a steep prize considering that there was no shower to rinse after you dip in the lake. Picnic tables are more than adequate and for special occasions you can reserve a covered area, there were a couple or a few. There were paddle boats, canoe and kayak that you can rent for $6.00 per half an hour. There was also a playground for young ones.

The Nepomuceno’s had a huge spread in addition to the grilled food they did on site, there really were a lot of food. Thank you for the invite.

Click the picture above to see the pictures and videos I have taken during the occasion using my Sony Alpha 99 and GoPro Hero 3+, just click here.

denisha’s high school graduation

high school graduation

high school graduation

My daughter just graduated high school from Deptford High last week. Another milestone in our lives and in hers. In a few months, she will be embarking on another chapter in her life, college. It will be a new experience for her and I know that she’s up to the task as God will be with her constantly.

Her graduation was held in the school’s football field late in the afternoon early evening but it was so hot and humid. Our parking was not great either, it was a long walk to the stands. We were seated in the middle part of the stadium which was strategic for taking pictures if not for the official photographers blocking the view since they were in the field for a closer shot. Most of my shots was using the Sony 200 mm F/2.8 lens on a Sony Alpha 99.

The speeches were not long, I guess in consideration of the weather. The school’s principal, superintendent and the town mayor gave their inspirational speeches as well as the graduating class president, salutatorian and the valedictorian. What I liked the most was the salutatorian’s speech. It seemed impromptu and it was lively, not boring since it was down to earth kind of speech.

You can click the picture above to see other shots and a video or just click here.

hershey park – take 2

hershey park – part 2

We went back to Hershey Park two weeks ago because we were given a rain check. Last year we went to the park but soon after lunch the rain just poured down and we decided to go home close to 4 or 5 PM. My wife went to the customer service before we headed home to ask about our visit that day and was told that they can give her a rain check to be used within the year.

Some of us were able to get the return vouchers while others who went home earlier were not able to.

There were about 4 or 5 families went that day. This time we brought Cooper with us since we knew that there was a kennel in the park for only $10 for the whole day. I just need to go back and walk the dog.

Click the pictures above to see the rest of the pictures I have taken that day or just click here.

sister vilma’s 25th anniversary

sister vilma

sister vilma

We  met Sister Vilma at Saint Margaret Church in Woodbury Heights, NJ. She was one of the sisters in their parish. She’s a Filipina and she has been serving our Lord for 25 years. She has also been assigned in various countries as well as states here in the US.

That day was her anniversary. The parish priest has prepared a celebration for her, inviting her family as well as people who has been so much part of her life. Our prayer group was also been fortunate and was invited in the celebration.

We attended the mass wearing our traditional Filipino attire and brought native dishes to share in the celebration. Our children performed a couple of native dances and they were great.

Click the above picture to see the pictures and videos or just click here.

2014 santa cruzan – philadelphia, PA

santa cruzan

santa cruzan

We were invited to a Santa Cruzan in Philadelphia held at Ukranian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception. This was the same venue for the last year’s Santa Cruzan. This event is one of the many Filipino tradition that immigrants from the Philippines brought over here to the United States.

I believe there were a lot of attendees last year compared to this year because I saw several sashes that were left in the basket at the church’s entrance. Since I have started with this comment, I would like to add that it was kind of lacking police assistance with regards to the street parade. Last year there were police cars assisting traffic or blocking the streets. This year I was asking a fellow attendee about the traffic police, none to be seen.

Last year both my kids were participants in the Santa Cruzan whereas this year, it was just my son. I guess my daughter just wanted to be a spectator this time. I was also able to test out my GoPro to take videos in the event. Click the picture to see other shots and videos or click here.

2014 deptford high school awards night

2014 seniors awards night

2014 seniors awards night

Every year Deptford High School has an awards night for graduating students who received some form of scholarship(s) from various groups or organizations towards their college education. This was held at the school’s auditorium and it was a joy to see students who excelled so much academically as well as in athletics.

You can click on the picture above or click here to see other pictures I took during this event.