Oz Oz, Oy Oy Oy!

Australia is a nation that is in itself occupies a whole continent. Located at the south of Indonesia, Australia consist of the mainland continent, plus the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is also the world’s sixth-largest country by total area.

Australia’s climate varies throughout the different states and territories, with most of the states experiencing four seasons except for the tropical north that experiences only wet and dry season. Also, do take note that the seasons are a complete opposite to those in the northern hemisphere, December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring. We went in June last year so it was very very cold. The winter season also doesn’t necessarily mean snow, although in some areas in Sydney there was snow the night before we visited there (hello, Katoomba!) but the most we experienced was really bitingly cold winter wind, and on other days some rain showers.

We decided to divide our visit to 2 states, Sydney and Melbourne. We took the red-eye flight (12:15 am) to Sydney from NAIA Terminal 3 via Cebu Pacific and reached Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport at around 10:30 in the morning. Travel time is 8 hours plus 2 hours time difference, Sydney being ahead by 2 hours.

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Fun in Taiwan: Sun Moon Lake

2016 has been my best year in terms of traveling, and I’ve yet to write anything about my 2016 trips. So let me start it off with our Taiwan trip last April 2016.

Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia, with neighbors including China (west), Japan (northeast) and Philippines (south).  It is around 4 hrs and 30 mins trip from Singapore Changi Airport to Taoyuan International Airport. We went there on the first weekend of April hoping to catch the tail end of the sakura/spring season.

Early Saturday morning, we took the red eye flight to Taiwan via Scoot. Once we arrived in Taoyuan International Airport, we took UBus 705 (N$30; S$1 = ~22N$) (found in Terminal 1) which took us to the HSR (High Speed Rail) Taoyuan Station.

Cherry blossoms found outside Taoyuan HSR Station

Cherry Blossoms found outside Taoyuan HSR Station

TAIWAN HIGH SPEED RAIL 

Taiwan High Speed Rail (also known as THSR, HSR, or Gāotíe) is a high-speed rail line approximately 345KM in length running along the west coast of Taiwan from Taipei Main Station in the north to Kaohsiung in the south.  Similar to Shinkansen of Japan, the HSR can reach speeds of up to 330 km/hr. There are 3 different seating sections: non-reserved (car 10-12), reserved and business class. There are automated ticket vending machines available in the stations, as well as counters. More information on traveling via Taiwan HSR here.

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Bagan, for the first time

Hiyah! I apologize for the lack of updates, I know I still have a looot of pending posts but can’t seem to find the time (or motivation) to write them. So for now I am posting this in behalf of my sister, J-anne (my guest blogger; follow her Instagram account) about her (mis)adventures in Bagan, Myanmar.


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Sunrise and hot air balloons

BAGAN GUIDE FOR FILIPINOS

Part 1: Getting there

I booked my Yangon plane tickets from Bangkok 5 months ahead of my intended dates and reserved a room in the city via Agoda. I wanted to say that I did a lot of research and preparation beyond doing this, but I did not. I realized a week before I was set to go that the picturesque places I want to visit in Myanmar is in Bagan, which is quite a distance from Yangon. So at the last minute, I changed course and made arrangements for Bagan.

I’m a researcher in real life so my lack of research is quite embarrassing to admit, but gone are the days when my travel itineraries are planned to the last detail in Excel. I honestly thought I could just wing it when I get there – although in some ways I think I still did. I’m guest-writing in this blog so (I hope) you won’t repeat the same mistakes I did. 🙂

bagan1

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Fun in Taiwan: Visa Application

Taiwan (Republic Of China) is an island nation located east of Hong Kong and north of the Philippines. Before it became ROC, Taiwan was under the Japanese regime until World War II when it was claimed by People’s Republic of China and thus was called Republic of China. In a way, it is an independent country but still under the constitution of PRC.

Acquiring a VISA to enter Taiwan

Entering Taiwan, like China, requires a Visa for certain passport holders, Philippines included. There is a fee of S$65 single entry visitor visa application in Singapore with the following requirements:

  1. a passport with validity of at least six months upon entry .
  • visa-exempt entry only applies to foreign visitors holding formal passports (i.e. ordinary, official/service and diplomatic passports), not including those holding emergency, temporary, other informal passports or travel documents.
  • Japanese passport holders with their passports valid for more than 3 months are eligible for visa-exempt entry.
  • US passport (including emergency passport) holders with their passports valid for the period of intended stay are eligible for visa-exempt entry.

2. a confirmed return air/sea ticket or an air/sea ticket and a visa for the next destination, and a confirmed seat reservation for departure.

3. non-criminal record and not prohibited by the local authorities to enter the R.O.C.

The requirements and procedure for visa application for Philippine passport holders residing in Philippines can be found on this link.

Aside from applying for Visa, there is also an option to apply for Travel Authorization Certificate. Nationals of India, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, who possess a valid visa (including an electric one) or permanent resident certificate issued by U.S.A., Canada, Japan, U.K., Schengen Convention countries, Australia or New Zealand, are eligible for the visa exemption program, which permits a duration of stay up to 30 days. Since I have a trip to Australia in 4 months after going to Taiwan, I decided to get an Australian Visa first and use it to apply for the Travel Authorization Certificate to Taiwan. Take note that you can only use a valid visa for the TAC if: 1. on the same continuing journey, you are using the Visa to the issuing country prior to your arrival in Taiwan AND/OR 2. you will arrive in Taiwan before the expiration date of the valid visa.

After getting my Australian Visa grant, I applied for the TAC right away and it was approved on the same day. The printed version of both visa and TAC is needed to be shown to Taiwan immigration upon arrival.

XOXO,

Jinkay ❤

 

 

 

 

Applying for an Australian VISA

Applying for an Australian Visa is totally different from applying for a visa in an Asian country. You can do it online or manually, although I advise to do it online since it easier and faster.

I applied for my VISA through the VFS Global Website. Getting to the correct site for the eVisa application can be quite confusing as there are so many links provided in their website so I hope that this post could be of great help. 🙂

If you are going for a short visit, the visa to apply for is the Visitor Visa (subclass 600). The various types of visit visas are listed on this link. From this link you can choose visitor visa, then choose to apply for the visa online. From there you can Start an application, create an ImmiAccount, log-in and proceed to answer the form online. You can save your work every time you log-out then continue another day. After filling up the form, there will be a page for all the requirements to be attached. The requirement states that each document should be notarized but I didn’t actually have all my documents notarized and my application was approved. The list of required documents are as follows:

  1. Travel Document: Passport – the particulars page of your passport
  2. (Evidence of) Visa status in Country of Residence – in my case, a copy of my Spass
  3. (Evidence of) Travel History – a. Entry/Exit stamped pages of the current passport; b.Entry/Exit stamped pages of the expired passport
  4. (Evidence of) Birth or Age – a copy of my NSO Birth Certificate.
  5. (Evidence of) Work Experience, Overseas – a. Employment Contract from my Employer ; b. Letter/Statement from business/employer stating intent to return to work.
  6. (Evidence of) Financial Capacity, Personal – a copy of one month recent bank statement of my Payroll account.
  7. (Evidence of) Assets, Personal – I used the same bank statement I attached for #6.

After attaching every document, double check all the documents as well as your answers to the form and then you can proceed for payment. Only then will they start to assess your application. The application fee is AUD$ 135 plus surcharges depending on the card you use.

I received an email straightaway to acknowledge my application, as well as a letter requiring me to provide personal identifiers in the form of biometrics. I then had to book for an appointment online for biometrics (fingerprint and facial photo taking). You can also go there for walk-in and just let them know you are there for biometrics. There is a SGD 43.30 (to be paid in cash) processing fee for the biometrics. After that you just have to wait for the Visa Grant to be sent to your email. I received mine a few hours after I got my biometrics taken.

VISA application from the Philippines can also be done online, although the document requirements have a slight difference to the requirements here in Singapore. Also, biometrics is not required and the Visa grant can take upto 5 weeks before approval (or rejection).

Til next time!

xoxo,

Jinkay ❤️

Japan Diaries: Universal Studios Japan

One of the must-go to places in Osaka for a theme park lover such as myself is definitely the Universal Studios located in Osaka bay, Japan. USJ was the first theme park under the Universal Studios brand built in Asia. It also houses the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the first in Asia and is probably the main attraction in USJ. It was raining on the day that we went there but it didn’t stop us from having the best time in USJ.

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Japan Diaries: A Side Trip to Nara

Nara is a spectacularly picturesque city which is second only to Kyoto for the richness and beauty of its temples, shrines and gardens. It is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.

From our hotel, we took the JR Train (Osaka Loop first, then continued on the same train to Nara station via Yamatoji Line). Once we reached the station, we went around, bought some snacks at the local supermarket, asked the tourist information center for some directions on where we can eat and off we went. Everything is just walking distance from the train station although there is a Nara Sightseeing Bus that stops at all the tourist spots within Nara. We opted to just walk since it was a nice day to stroll around anyways. 🙂

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JR Train for Nara

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