E-Passport Renewal (SM Megamall)

Getting something done in the Philippines can be a pain in the butt. Everything is just slow and there are processes that just don’t make sense…to me! To my surprise, I got my passport renewed without hassle.

On October 9th, I went online to get my appointment and the earliest I got was for October 16th at 11AM.

Everything you need to know is on their website at http://megamall.passport.com.ph. Just carefully read everything and follow what it says.

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Since I have an e-passport for renewal, my requirements are easy.

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Make sure you photocopied all your documents for faster transaction. The valid ID that they require needs to be photocopied as well. In case you forgot to photocopy something, they have a photocopy machine inside the processing area for P3.00 per page.

DFA is on the highest floor of Megamall Building C. I went in line at 10:30AM. At this time, they only allow people with 11AM appointment so if yours is not until 11:30AM don’t even try to get in line yet.

You first have to get your documents VERIFIED at the Information desk. We did not get a queue number as stated on their website though so it was basically on a first come, first serve basis.

The next step is the PROCESSING, even though I indicated online that I want the expedite process, they still asked me here. Regular Processing is P950.00 which takes 15 working days while the Express Processing is P1,200 for 7 working days.

Third step is the PAYMENT, one of the smartest thing you can do is to bring an exact amount like I did.

The last process is the ENCODING where your photo will be captured and your biometrics will be taken.

They have LBC courier service right by the exit door. Of course I took advantage of this for P120.00 and your passport will be delivered the next day (Metro Manila) after the release date of your passport.

I was done at 11:50AM. That was the fastest transaction I had in the Philippine government!!!

Since it was lunch time and I was in SM Megamall where El Pollo Loco is, I had my lunch there. This is my favorite fast food chain to get chicken. 🙂

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Backpacking is over…again! I’m back home :-(

After a week in the north of Thailand, I had to cut my trip short to help my American friend in the Philippines on some legal issues.

Yesterday, I took a flight from Chiang Mai, Thailand via AirAsia. I had a connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and my layover was 7 freaking hours! Since I don’t need a visa to Malaysia, I went through the immigration but I did not leave the airport. The city center is at least an hour one way and I did not want to spend time and money in KL since I’ve been there a few times before. I just killed time in the shopping mall in KLIA2.

I had lunch in the food court.

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While walking around, I saw this massage chairs. I did not hesitate to have half hour massage for like $3.

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I went back inside the departure area three hours prior to my boarding time. The airport has free wifi anyway. It will tell you that it’s only good for 3 hours but if you log in again, you will get connected for another 3 hours.

I spent the rest of my time at Gloria Jean’s. I was so bored! This was the longest layover I’ve had.

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Fun times in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Jenny and I were roommates at Empire Hostel in Singapore and got to reunite in Thailand.

We decided to take a photo of us with the names of the two Indians who were with us in Singapore hostel as well to tease them on FB.

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On my first day, Jenny and her two other Thai friends took me to Wana Ostrich Farm where we fed sheep, ponies and ostriches of course.

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I had so much fun with the ponies and sheep but the ostrich was scary for me. Their long neck freaked me out.

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We then went to the White Temple which was an extraordinary masterwork of a National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.

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We went to his Art Gallery where I saw a lot of his masterwork. It was just amazing! I think this was the first time I admire an artist so much. Too bad that taking pictures inside was not allowed. His original art works look jaw dropping compare to the printed ones or what you can see online.

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After a long day, we had desserts at Swensens. I had better but these were good too. 🙂

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The next day, Jenny showed me her university, Mae Fah Luang University. They said this is the most beautiful university in Thailand and I found out why.

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Lastly, Jenny and her friend Peem cooked delicious dinner for us. It was so delicious that I ate a lot.

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My Thai friends made my stay in Chiang Rai memorably fun.

My couple days in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Prior to coming to Thailand, I contacted some people through helpx.net because I wanted to try volunteer work so I can be useful while I’m traveling. I chose the Canadian and Thai couple Patrick Waters and Yanat “Nong” Wauters. Patrick is starting a french learning center called youtopia. He wants volunteers to help him so he can save money. There was a Chinese young man who was there a day before I arrived and he was there through couchsurfing. I felt bad for him because Patrick was giving him too much drawers and cabinet doors to paint. Patrick knocked on my door at 8AM! He woke me up while he was preparing breakfast and said we have to start early because we were not on vacation! What the hell! I was up until 2AM dealing with some personal problems in the Philippines so it pissed me off when he woke me up! Patrick and I started at 9AM. He was teaching me on what he needs me to do on the computer but before I even start one task he was instructing me to do another thing already. We went on for literally four hours like that and I got nothing done. His head was just all over the place. He made us feel that we gotta work our ass since he was giving us accommodation and breakfast!

Justin and I decided to leave the next day because of Patrick. His wife knows his attitude and she was not involving herself on the business. She understood why we had to leave and supported us. We got along really well with Nong. She took us to the market, we had lunch and cooked dinner before we left.

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Nong wanted me to stay with her during the weekend since she’ll be home but as much as I wanted to, I had to leave because it was awkward having Patrick around and he was really showing bad attitude.

Patrick will go with his wife to monastery next month for 10 days. I hope that will help him clear his mind because he seriously needs help. Anyway, that was my first volunteer experience!

I got in touch with a Thai girl I met in Singapore about 3 months ago. She’s currently in Chiang Rai so I went and took a bus from Chiang Mai to her place. 🙂

I crossed the border from Houay Xay, Laos to Chiang Khong, Thailand.

I did not want to have too much dilemma while crossing the border so I bought a bus ticket from Luang Prabang Laos to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Khounsavan Guesthouse is offering the fare for 330,000 KIP. I went to town first to check prices and they were more expensive which surprised me so I bought my ticket from the guesthouse instead.

It was indicated that it will be a sitting bus which will take 20 hours! I had longer hours of travel in Vietnam before so 20 hours did not bother me at all. The words “sitting bus” did. I asked around and there is no sleeper bus. How is that possible? I didn’t have any choice so I bravely booked it anyway.

I was picked up from my guesthouse at 5PM. The bus did not leave until 7PM and guess what?! This is a sleeper bus for me! I expected the worst and I’m glad I got a nice surprise. This is way more comfortable than the sitting bus I imagined.

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I read my eBook for an hour but it was a bumpy road so I stopped reading and took valum around 8:30PM so I could sleep. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep within 30 minutes. I woke up around 6:30AM! Wow! We were dropped off a little after 7AM in Houay Xay bus station.

I ate breakfast, changed my KIP money to Baht and waited for about 2 hours. We took a bus at 9AM to get our passport exit stamp. It was probably less than 30 minutes ride. After we got our passport stamped there was a lady who was waiting for us. She went with us to the bus crossing the Friendship Bridge to get to Chiang Khong border of Thailand.

Everything was fast but to my disappointment, the Thai immigration officer told me that as a Philippines passport holder, I can only get 15 days free visa if I cross the border by land. I went to Bangkok in 2012 and got 30 days free visa. He said it’s only at the airport so this screwed up my 3 weeks Thailand trip plans. 😦

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We were picked up by a van to get to Chiang Mai which took 5 hours. I was sleeping most of the time because of that valum! 🙂

Finally we arrived in the city center. I walked about 1 kilometer to Kikie’s Guesthouse. I checked in for 150 Baht a night. I freshened up and went to Thapae night market.

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Shelley is a girl from England that I met in Luang Prabang, Laos. She flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand on the same day I arrived by bus so we met for dinner.

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It has been another long and tiring journey for me but I’m glad to be in the Kingdom of Thailand.