How to deal with RSVPs and Guest Lists?

The non-VIP seats for our Entourage and Guests

Dealing with your RSVPs can be a headache unless you plan it out perfectly because realistically it’s not common in Filipino traditions. What’s worse is how to properly deal with them and explain to every single person included in your guest lists that they are important. Unfortunately, even if you pay extra fees for RSVP services since not all Coordinators offer free in their packages, it’s rare to get even 50% confirmation since a lot has to be considered before you’d get their sweet yes!

Below are some of the things on how to deal with RSVPs depending on your guest list type.

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4D/3N Bagan, Myanmar

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မင်္ဂလာပါ! “Mingalabar!”
(pronounced as ming-ga-la-ba) “Hello” in Burmese.

Ever wonder how it feels like seeing a beautiful Sunset while overlooking thousands of ancient temples and pagodas within reach? Then you have to pack your bags and head straight to the underrated Ancient City of Bagan in Myanmar!

 

Landlocked between India (on the left), China (on the right) and Thailand (below), Myanmar or as it was formerly called Burma, is an astonishing country rich in culture and Buddhist relics that date back to the 6th century. Built around mid-9th century, the city boasts around 2,200 temples and pagodas that still exists today that is scattered all over the Bagan Archeological Zone.

What’s more interesting in this part of our trip is the memorable experience of taking a long-day flight that needs to do 2 plane changes and 3 stop-overs that  felt like a bus without leaving the airplane!

TRANSPORTATION

Getting to Bagan can be done by bus, boat, train, and plane. Although the most popular mode for the locals and backpackers were by bus and since our time is limited, we prefer to book our flight from Bangkok, which was our base station for the duration of our Indochina trip.

Unfortunately, there is no direct flight from Bangkok to Bagan, Myanmar. Instead, after countless of researching for the cheapest flight possible we ended up with Myanmar Airlines, where we were able to book a connecting flight from Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar first and then Yangon to Nyaung-U with in-flight meals and 30 kilos baggage allowance per person. We departed from Bangkok International Airport at 11 AM and was able to reach Nyaung-U domestic airport at 6:20 PM because of 3 stop-overs from Yangon International Airport, Heho Airport, and Mandalay International Airport. Overall, the flight was 7 hours and 20 minutes overall, including transit time between flights.

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VISA

Similar to other ASEAN countries, Philippine passport holders can enjoy 14 days of stay in Myanmar visa-free! 

Since our last destination is Nyaung-U where Bagan is located, we were only cleared once for immigration after we arrived at Yangon International Airport (RGN). There was actually a confusion when it comes to our luggage because we were the only passengers with that route on that day. Because we need to change planes for our domestic flight, we were told to go to the next terminal just outside RGN together with our bags.

 

TIME ZONE

Even if Myanmar (GMT +6:30) is part of Indochina, it is 1 hour and 30 minutes behind Manila Time (GMT +8).

CURRENCY

Myanmar’s currency is called the Burmese Kyat (MMK or Ks) but just like its neighboring countries, USD dollars are also widely accepted here. Exchanging Philippine Peso to Burmese Kyat is not recommended because of the low rate. Instead, it is advisable to exchange your US dollars to Burmese Kyat and use the Kyat when transacting locally like buying food and souvenirs, especially in Bagan.

$1 = 1,368 Myanmar Kyat
Php 1 = 25.64 Myanmar Kyat

LANGUAGE

Burmese is the official language in Myanmar although English is also being used to communicate with tourists.

DRESS CODE AND BEHAVIOR

Since Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar, it is normal to see locals wear traditional clothing called longyi for men, a patterned fabric wrapped around the waist similar to sarong especially in rural areas such as in Bagan. Although tourists are not required to wear them, it is highly advisable to wear decent clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, especially when entering religious areas such as Temples and Pagodas. Be also mindful that footwear is strictly prohibited inside religious grounds, even as far as the temple gate or courtyard, just as long as it is within the Temple and Pagoda premises.

CONNECTIVITY

In big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, connectivity is not an issue since sim card packs can be bought in airports and stores. Unfortunately, the internet signal is slow in Bagan so it is not advisable to buy 4G LTE sim cards or have your own wifi with you. Instead, check with your hotel for a better internet connection that you can use.

HOTEL

Since Bagan is in the rural part of Myanmar, hotels and inns are limited. What makes it more difficult is the fact that Bagan is divided into two main areas: Old Bagan and New Bagan. Finding the best possible accommodation that is near the airport and the famous temples and pagodas is tricky since they are spread across the city.

For our 3 nights stay, we booked at Sky View Hotel which is 10 minutes from Nyaung-U Airport located at N. 69 Shwe Knat Kaw Street, Zay Ya Waddy Quarter in Nyaung-U with rave reviews from Tripadvisor.

Just as expected, the hotel offers basic facilities with no swimming pool and elevator since it’s only 3 floors high although there was a nice rooftop where the in-house restaurant is located. The rooftop boasts a 360-degree view of New Bagan, overlooking temples and pagodas nearby. The room and bathroom that we booked were spacious. The bedsheets were also clean and the staffs are polite and attentive to our needs. They also have a routinary mosquito spraying time around 6 PM whether you’re inside the room to keep the place insect free. The only downside is the food that they have in their hotel which is very, very basic because it has few options and it tastes bland. There was also a point where the utensils that we were using smelled fishy, which was a letdown. But overall it’s definitely a good option for its price!

 

FOOD 

If you’re a vegan and you like less spicy curry, then you’d definitely dig Burmese food. The local dishes were a fusion of Thai and Indian, but the taste comes quite bland for us although that may just be our take. Anyway, other than the in-house hotel restaurants, there are also a few restaurants that look like carinderias in Old and New Bagan that offer dishes at an affordable rate. Typically, one main dish with rice costs around 4,500 Kyat ($2.88 or Php 155) and one glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice costs around 2,000 Kyat ($1.20 or Php 69).

SAFETY

When we first arrived at Bagan, we didn’t really think that it’s a city, but only a small town because of the simplicity of its surroundings. It’s actually normal to see herds of cows everywhere other than the scattered temples and pagodas. Since it’s quite hard to reach as compared to Mandalay, it is also not crowded with tourists so most of the time you have the whole place to yourselves. Even if there are no CCTVs in the streets and the Police Station located only in New Bagan, the place is too serene and very welcoming for people to stroll around even at night. Try to be careful not to get lost because the place is huge if you plan to just walk or when you encounter wild animals such as snakes.

ITINERARY

DAY 1

  • Depart from BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport via Myanmar Airlines
  • Arrival at Yangon International Airport
  • Connecting Flight from Yangon International Airport to Nyaung-U Domestic Airport
  • We bought our Bagan Archaeological Pass that is good for 5 days at the Nyaung-U airport for Php 850 ($15 or 25,000 Kyat) each before heading to the hotel
  • Check-in at Sky View Hotel for Deluxe Double Room for 2pax (Php 3,803.07 or $70 or 109,100 Kyat) all-in for 4D/3N including taxes and buffet breakfast. Airport transfer costs 5,000 Kyat ($3.15 or Php 170) per way

DAY 2

  • Bagan Cultural Full Day Tour
  • We booked our tour online through Klook for a private car for Php 3,592 ($73.24 or 103,857 Kyat) inclusive of English speaking tour guide. Our tour guide, Mr. Khant together with the driver, Mr. Moon arrived on time. They were both polite, attentive and informative about the important historical sites of Ancient Bagan. Since we finished early, we were also able to go to other non-touristy sites other than what we have on the list.
    • Shwezigon Pagoda
    • Ananda Temple
    • Dhammayangyi Temple
    • Htilominlo Temple
    • Sulamani Temple
    • Thatbyinnyu Temple
    • Shwesandaw Pagoda
    • Manuha Temple
    • Myazedi Pagoda and Gubyaukgyi Temple
    • Nanpaya Temple
    • Gawdawpalin Temple

 

 

 

  • We had lunch at Treasure Restaurant which serves authentic Burmese food. Unfortunately, even if the location has fantastic views of pagodas (literally beside the restaurant) and the food was really affordable, the dishes served were a bit bland for our taste.
  • Min Nan Thu Village. We visited the local village located inside Old Bagan to see their daily activities such as weaving, handicraft and the use of thanaka tree bark for make-up and sunscreen which is common for the locals
  • Sunset hill site viewing at Ko Mauk Lake

DAY 3

  • Chill day at the Hotel to explore the facilities
  • DIY travel around the nearby areas using Tuk-tuk for 6,000 Kyat ($3.84 or Php 207)  roundtrip
  • Dinner at Sanon Training Restaurant located at Pyu Saw Hti Street next to Nyaung U Thante Hotel which serves a variety of delicious authentic gourmet-style Burmese dishes. This place is a must-try! What’s more interesting is their charitable advocacy to help fund the education of the local children of Bagan from its earnings!

 

DAY 4

  • Depart Nyaung-U Airport (3 stopovers again) to Yangon International Airport and back to Bangkok International Airport which was our base station

 

Overall expenses for 4D/3N Bagan, Myanmar Tour (excluding airfare and souvenirs)

  • Hotel: Php 3,803.07
  • Airport Transfer two-way: Php 340
  • Bagan Archaeological Zone Pass for 2pax: Php 1,700
  • Private Car with Tour Guide: Php 3,938
  • Food: Php 2,255

OVERALL TOTAL for TWO PAX : Php 12,036.07 (US $222.70 ~)

Note: The cost of souvenirs and airfare have been excluded in the overall expenses computation because of the seasonal rate and promo that we were able to get. 

TIPS:

  1. A helpful list of Bagan temples and pagodas can be found here.
  2. Majority of the affordable hotels and restaurants are located near the airport, while the expensive ones are located in Old Bagan, so be sure to plan ahead where you will be staying.
  3. If you plan to buy a Longyi for your souvenir, better buy it in the market and not from the Villages or at stalls located outside the temples because they usually sell it 3-4x its normal price! A good quality and standard cotton longyi is only around 5,000 Kyat ($3.20 or Php 172).
  4. Do not exchange your money in unauthorized stores especially in Bagan because you can get scammed. Instead, get your US dollars exchanged to Kyat in exchange centers administered by the banks located in New Bagan.
  5. Credit Cards are widely accepted in the other cities, but not in Bagan because we didn’t find a restaurant that accepts Mastercard or Visa for payment. They also prefer to be paid in Kyats and not in USD especially the small restaurants. But if you have no Kyats, your USD will be accepted but be mindful that you’ll receive your extra change in Kyats which would be of less value if you plan to travel to another country other than Myanmar.

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All-in-Wedding Packages or Direct Supplier Booking?

Planning a wedding can be quite daunting especially when you’re on a tight budget. What more was the added confusion of whether to get an All-In Package from a company or to book the Suppliers directly, DIY style?

Below are some of the pros and cons of the two.

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5D/4N Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Angkor Wat

ជំរាបសួរ! Chum Reap Suor!” (pronounced as choum-reap-sore) 
It means “Hello” in Cambodian.

If you’ve seen Tomb Raider, then you’ll definitely recognize the huge Banyan trees that were entwined with the centuries-old temples of Angkor. The scene that showcased it was only a small depiction of the majestic beauty of the Khmer empire or modern-day Cambodia as we all know today. As an option for travelers on their honeymoon that want to explore the cultural origins of Cambodia which were packed with centuries-old temples as part of an Indochina itinerary, then Siem Reap is the ideal place to be! This is the reason why among other beautiful cities of Cambodia we preferred to have our first stop in the home of a famous UNESCO heritage site – the Angkor Wat.

Continue reading “5D/4N Siem Reap, Cambodia”

Wedding Supplier Payments

One of the biggest challenges of a couple planning their wedding especially those who are based overseas like us concerns supplier payments. Since news about fraudulent transactions, security breaches, scammers, and identity theft are everywhere, just like what happened to an OFW couple who got duped by their “trusted” wedding coordinator after getting an All-in-Wedding Package worth around a million pesos has been all over Facebook a year ago. Because of these couples have been doubtful and afraid to transact with strangers especially those that they have just met online, lalu na kung malaking pera ang pinag-uusapan. Trust is something that needs to be built, but can’t be acquired in an instant. But even if unfortunate things do happen, if equipped with proper information, one can ensure that supplier payments can be made without any problems.

When booking event suppliers these days, different portals are being used. Based on our experience (and a lot of other couples that we know), these Payment schemes other than paying cash on-the-spot are great options for couples to use:

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Wedding Supplier Review: VIDLENS PRODUCTIONS

GA vidlens aerial shot

This was a long overdue review because we’ve been waiting for our final wedding film to arrive (after 2 revisions). Although our long wait was over, Brian and his team still exceeded our expectations! Below is our supplier review for our wedding Videographer — VIDLENS PRODUCTIONS

  • Supplier Rating: 5/5
  • Mode of Communication: FB Chat, Email
  • Contact Person: Brian Carambas
  • Package: Ideal wedding package

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Wedding Entourage Roles

 

There would probably be a time in your life that you have participated in a Wedding as part of the entourage but haven’t really understood the whole context of your “role”. Since Filipino Church Wedding traditions have its own beliefs, it is best to at least get to know them and then decide later on if you see yourselves okay to follow it. As a couple, you have every right to decide which is best for you during your wedding planning, but understanding our Filipino wedding culture is also the best way to give respect to the elders and to our roots.

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Us with our Wedding Entourage

Below is the list of the people who will be part of your Filipino Church Wedding Entourage, including the couple. Their description varies but their roles were standard as per Filipino Catholic tradition. For a more detailed information, it is highly advisable to seek your Church for any dress code and age restrictions.

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We Got Featured

1. Wedding Chicks 3. Asia Wedding Network 5. Marry to Merry 4. Wedding Essentials 6. labride 7. Bride Story 8. Weddingsatwork

Express Kumpil in Manila

st michael church

The Confirmation or Kumpil Ceremony is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church that is required by an individual if they wish to be married in the Catholic rites in the Philippines. Normally, this ceremony can be obtained when the parishioner reaches the age of 10 onwards but only if the person has already been Baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as a pre-requisite.

But the question is, what if you seemed to “forget” if you had undergone this Catholic ritual before? Or what if, if you really haven’t done it before? What can you do? Is it possible for an adult individual to get it rather quickly?

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Wedding Entourage Responsibilities?

I’ve been asked questions by brides if it’s okay to give responsibilities to the entourage like the MOH, Bestman, Groomsmen, and Bridesmaids. This “wedding entourage responsibilities” is actually an ideal based on the West since bridesmaids there, for example, were supposed to pay for their own wedding expenses and is customary to give the bride her bachelorette party. These so-called responsibilities by the bridesmaids, for example, were even listed on dozens of posts on Pinterest and various wedding blogs. But is this even applicable to Filipino culture? Are we really supposed to follow this? Does our culture implement this also in our own weddings? Well based on our experience, there’s actually no correct answer since it will depend on a lot of factors.

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With our Matron of Honor, Man of Honor and the rest of our bridesmaids

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