Australia Budget in a Nutshell

 

1. Airfare

Keyword: PROMO FARE.

It is a habit of mine to regularly check for promo fares. I seldom (or never) travel with regular fares.  Thank goodness for promo fares. Travelling has never been this affordable.

Both flights were with Cebu Pacific, the low budget airline based in the Philippines.  I booked each flight separately since booking direct Cebu to Sydney would cost twice as much as Manila to Sydney.

These days, you can book Manila to Sydney and vice versa flights for half the cost of what I had paid for. Those were the days when there were still fees and surcharges added to your fare.  The last time I checked, you can fly to Sydney for as low as Php9,000 roundtrip. But if you think about it, Php18,000 for a roundtrip ticket to Australia is not that bad.

Tip: You can skip adding meals to your booking (each meal being Php500).  They’re not that good. Buy some food from the airport enough to last you the entire eight-hour trip. Don’t forget to prepay for your bag.  It is cheaper than paying for your bag upon checking in.

My Sydney-Melbourne flight, however, was bought out of impulse.  This was not included in my itinerary.  Upon checking for things to do in Australia, I saw that you can take the train from Sydney to Melbourne. Ecstatic, I sent a message to my childhood friend based in Melbourne.  He advised me to take the plane instead because it will save me the time and hassle.  And I did.

There are also lots of promo fares in Australia. The key there is planning it ahead. I heard that you can fly for AUD50. Please note that you can absolutely take the train to Melbourne or anywhere in Australia if you have all the time in the world.  And it’s quiet affordable, too.

My Sydney-Melbourne ticket may have been booked out of impulse, but so far, it’s the best decision I’ve ever taken.  I can see myself living permanently in Melbourne. The place is THAT great!

2. Visa

You may check the details of my Visa application here.

3. Terminal Fee

Terminal fees for domestic travels (Cebu and Manila, I think) are already included in your tickets. For international flights, however, you will have to pay for it separately.

I know, I know. I can probably write an entire novel full of rants regarding nonsense fees and taxes. But anyway...

4. Travel Tax

Oh yes, you have to shell out Php1,620 before you can get inside the airport itself. See rant on #3.

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The ShipWreck Coast, Victoria, Australia

A Little Bit Of History

Loch Ard, the ship under the command of Captain Gibbs, departed England for Melbourne in 1878 with 17 passengers, 37 crew and cargo when it collided with a rocky reef close to Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell. Tragically, only two of the people on board survived the accident: one of the ship’s apprentices named Tom Pearce and a young female passenger named Eva Carmichael, who lost all of her family in the tragedy.

The couple was the subject of intense public interest and romantic speculation.  Tom received a hero’s welcome in Melbourne and, after six weeks, Eva returned to Ireland.  They never saw each other again.

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Parilya, Cebu

Do you ever wonder where my feet take me on Saturdays?

Meet my good friends.  We call ourselves the “Saturday Night Foodies” group.  We enjoy stories and laughters over gastronomic experiences.

We tried Parilya, the newly-opened restaurant by the Laguna Group.  It’s the latest landmark along the South Road Properties (SRP) right by Filinvest’s Il Corso property. Parilya makes you feel at home. Its setup is very light to the touch and very laidback.  It lives by the truest meaning of al fresco dining.

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Crispy Crablets:

Baby crabs cooked in perfect crisp; a crunch in every bite. Oh, and it smelled really, really good.

This dish surprised me the most. Mind you, I don’t usually eat crablets because of its shell. But this one, though, I didn’t even notice the shell. It was that good. Just dip it in vinegar, and you’d have the perfect starter (abrigana).

Php 180.00 per order  

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How To Apply for Australian Visitor Visa Online for Filipinos

Please note that this entry is based on my own application for visitor visa online, and may not apply to other types of visas and non-Filipino residents of the Philippines.

Step 1: Research, Research, Research.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get information from other Filipinos who have applied for Australian Visitor Visa in the past.

Visitor visa (subclass 600) Information, Features and Requirements – Why subclass 600? Filipinos are not eligible for the eVisitor visa.  This website gives you information on Australia’s different types of visitor visas and who are eligible.

The embassy does not conduct interviews so be as thorough and as concise as possible.

Step 2: Gather all necessary documents.

This should be a helpful guide: Visitor visa (subclass 600) Application document checklist

I submitted the following documents:

a. Invitation Letter from my friend in Australia along with a copy of his passport, copy of his Driver’s License, copy of his employment ID, and copy of his Tenancy Agreement.  I included a copy of his tenancy agreement as proof that he can sponsor my accommodation while in Australia.  You may refer to my invitation letter here.

b. Bank Certification.
TIP: get your certification from the bank where you’ve been with the longest. I have a friend who works in a bank and she mentioned that for visa applications, it is important that you’ve been with the bank for a long time so as to avoid being questioned. BPI charges P100 per certification. Good thing about it is that you can get it right away and from any branch.

How much show money should you have in your bank account? It depends and I’m in no position to say how much. If your trip is sponsored by your Australian contact, you can present his/her financial documents.  Since I’m travelling on my own, I had to prove to the embassy that I can support myself during the entire time I’m in Australia so I had about 6 figures in the bank during the time when I lodged my application. (no longer 6 figures. That’s why it’s called show money. harhar.)

d. Credit Card Statements (3months) – proof of financial capacity
e. Income Tax Return (3 years) – proof of financial capacity and employment history
f. certified true copies of Payslip (6months) – proof of financial capacity
g. Certificate of Employment – proof that I have a reason to return to the Philippines
h. Letter of Leave of Absence from my manager – proof that I am required to return to the Philippines
i. Driver’s License – proof of identity
j. Passport Copy – proof of identity
k. USA Visa – proof of identity
l. Life Insurance – proof that the Australian government will not incur costs during my stay
m. Personal Accident Insurance -proof that the Australian government will not incur costs during my stay. I don’t think it is really required to have 2 insurance policies. However, this personal accident insurance was given to me during an event I took part of so I included this to my application.
n. Proof of Travel (passport stamps) – I enumerated the countries I’ve visited in the last 5 years
o. Roundtrip Plane Ticket – proof that I will return to the Philippines
p. Passport Photo – required

Continue reading “How To Apply for Australian Visitor Visa Online for Filipinos”

2014: Where My Feet Had Taken Me

January

Started the year with a bang in the lovely Cebu City. Need I mention Sinulog and Lifedance, too?

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February    

Rancho Cancio

Mactan, Cebu     

         

March to April  

New York

Who doesn’t love New York City?

 

Chicago

I’m in a love-hate relationship with Chicago. She’s beautiful but she doesn’t seem like she wants you to appreciate her beauty. She’s just too cold!

 

Continue reading “2014: Where My Feet Had Taken Me”

The Thanksgiving Week That Was

I must admit that this trip started on the wrong foot.  It’s true what they say:  “First impressions don’t last”. This trip has proven that.

I’ve been to numerous solo trips but this El Nido trip turned out to be, by far, the most memorable.  Sure, El Nido is beautiful but it’s the people you meet along the road that make it all worthwhile.

It was here that I met the most people from different facets of life.

Rarely do I get to meet solo female travellers.  Here, I met Faith.  Her family is from Cebu but they are now based in Canada. As of this writing, she is on her way to Australia. In the next few weeks, she’ll go on her 5-month trip around Asia.

Hidden beach, El Nido with Faith

It’s amazing how you can connect with people without ever saying a word.  If you can make people comfortable, they’ll open up. It’s just that simple.

I never got this man’s name but we sure did connect and shared some stories of our trips.  He’s from Argentina and wanted to check out the most beautiful island in the world, Palawan.  I wanted to invite him over to Nacpan beach but he had to leave for Australia.

Whenever I visit someplace new, I always make it a point to talk to locals and check if there are other places worth visiting. It never hurts to stop by and say hi and see how they’re doing.

Locals working on Aurora Borealis

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Orange Karenderia, Lahug

Food spotting is one thing I do often on weekends.  A lot has been said about Orange Karenderia so when I heard that they opened a second branch nearby, I decided to give it a try.

Orange Karenderia has been known for serving exotic dishes and home-cooked meals. Its indoor setting has that old, familiar  “feel” of a karenderia, but an upgraded one.

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Ginabot, also known as the local version of chicharong bulaklak, is one street food that I do not eat.  Ginabot / Chicharong Bulaklak is made from salted, dried pig intestines. I’d imagine that these intestines were cleaned vigorously and then deep-fried in super hot oil until it became crispy. I gave it a try. Yes, this ginabot was tolerable (I ate 3 pieces!) and actually didn’t smell like the other ginabots. If you ask me, I think their version of ginabot is the best in town.  

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  I liked the first few bites of their Betsy’s Garlic Chicken (P135.00).  It’s made of fried boneless thighs in teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. I think I prefer the sauce separated from the dish itself.  The sweetness of the teriyaki sauce could be overpowering towards the end of your meal.  

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Their Cripy Tuna Belly (P120.00) was actually my favorite. It’s cripy and tasted really good.

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I can eat multiple servings of kinilaw, or ceviche, (P150.00) of any type. However, their kinilaw was the most disappointing I’ve tried so far.  It was really, really sour and I mean beyond tolerable sourness.  When it was served to me, the fish meat already looked pale which is the number 1 sign of too much vinegar.

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Other dishes they serve:

Appetizers: kinilaw, sinuglaw, itlog maalat and calamares
Grilled: pork barbecue, pork belly, chorizo, tuna panga, tuna belly
Sizzling Menu: tuna sisig, squid sisig, gambas, pork sisig
Main Menu: Crispy tuna buntot, crispy tuna belly, betsy’s garlic chicken, pancit bihon
Vegetables: chopsuey, ginataang gulay, pinakbet
Exotics: crispy tuna bihod, guisadong bihod, bagaybay, kusog, chicharon bulaklak, chicken liver and gizzard

All their prices are very affordable. Their servings are meant for sharing between 2-3 persons.

I’ve visited this place a couple of times but I can’t really say that I had a good experience overall. Food was okay and I wasn’t that impressed by their customer service.  The place is packed all the time so it’s necessary to go there during off-peak hours if you want to give them a visit.

La Guardia St., Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City
(0917) 721-0923
Operating Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm (kitchen closes at 10:00pm)
Cooking and Prepping time: 9-12 minutes

Fujinoya, Philippines

So… it’s been a while, huh? 🙂 We can all agree on one thing: restaurants and cafes in Cebu City are sprouting like mushrooms. I could hardly keep up!

Let me tell you something, Fujinoya Philippines is currently my favorite sanctuary.  This place is perfect for intimate conversations . Cozy ambiance? Oh yes!

Whenever I pay them a visit, I almost always have my “usual”: Shitake burger steak and Hot chocolate.

This was my first hot chocolate drink (Php120.00).  The barista was kind enough to make it pretty for my Instagram account.

Not perfect but can you blame me? It’s still instagram-worthy.

One of the many hot chocolates I had.

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Rancho Cancio Part 3

If you missed the first two posts on Racho Cancio, click here and here.

Rancho Cancio requires a minimum charge for those who wish to rent this farm. Additional charges will be applied to the exceeding number of guests.

This is their “dirty” kitchen.  Pretty fancy, huh? I want one, honestly.

This is the farm’s living room.  It is very relaxing and breezy.

 

Continue reading “Rancho Cancio Part 3”

Rancho Cancio Part 2

In case you missed the first part of the fun, head over to this link for part 1!

So, being a water baby that I am, it is imperative that I dedicate a blog entry exclusively for Rancho Cancio’s infinity pool.

Unbeknownst to many, I have this strong affinity to wood flooring.  I could not imagine where they got those gorgeous woods!

Those two at the end are actually jacuzzis.  You can request the caretakers to turn the bubbles on.

Continue reading “Rancho Cancio Part 2”

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