More summer adventures—from Vietnam to Saudi Arabia

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Dennis Lustico and Jo Ann Bitagcol at Hoi An’s Silk Village
Dennis Lustico and Jo Ann Bitagcol at Hoi An’s Silk Village
Dennis Lustico and Jo Ann Bitagcol at Hoi An’s Silk Village
Dennis Lustico and Jo Ann Bitagcol at Hoi An’s Silk Village

Part 2

Lifestyle personalities share snapshots from their recent trips—and we hope these inspire your own summer adventures.

Dennis Lustico

fashion designer

Where did you go?

Hoi An and Da Nang in Vietnam

Who did you go with?

Model/photographer/designer Jo Ann Bitagcol

What did you love about this summer adventure?

Discovering the amazing movie-set-like colors and mood of the Ancient Town of Hoi An. I’m so in love with the place. Walking around its beautiful narrow streets, checking every store and discovering endless treasures full of history, basking in the radiance of their lively lanterns, biking to the Silk Village and savoring the softness of Vietnamese silk, enjoying the healthy and famous Vietnamese food.What were the highlights for you?Joann celebrated her birthday while we were in Hoi An.

What tip would you give to someone who wants to do the same thing?

Research the place online. The trip actually starts when you decide to book a plane ticket, then there’s the excitement in choosing a hotel. Go check as many videos about Hoi An; this will eventually save you time, especially when the trip is a short one. Get a tourist map as soon as you check into the hotel and prioritize places to visit according to interest. This has to be strategic, that’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the area.

Robby Carmona amid cherry blossoms in Tokyo
Robby Carmona amid cherry blossoms in Tokyo

Robby Carmona

fashion show director, founder of Saga PH

Where did you go?

I went to Tokyo, Japan, and did a lot of walking in the streets—Shibuya, Ginza, Shinjuku, Daikanyama, Omotesando, Harajuku and Ebisu.

Who did you go with?

I traveled with my best friend since grade 5, Jasmin, and her daughters Kitty and Carmina.

What did you love about this summer adventure?

I loved this summer adventure because of the lovely weather. I was also able to experience cherry blossoms once again after eight years, and ate lots of ramen!

What were the highlights for you?

My highlight was going to Yoyogi Park and experiencing the cherry blossoms once again. It was truly magical!

What tip would you give for someone who wants to do the same thing?

Plan your trip ahead of time. You’ll get good deals on flights and accommodations. Research all the places and restaurants you would like to visit and get a reservation.

Plan your itinerary per day so that you have a guide to follow when you are traveling.

Lastly, wear a pair of comfortable shoes because you’ll walk a lot.

Dr. Aivee Teo and family channeling the Beatles at Abbey Roadin London —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
Dr. Aivee Teo and family channeling the Beatles at Abbey Road in London —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Dr. Aivee Teo

medical director of The Aivee Clinic

Where did you go?

Our family explored the vibrant city of London, UK, visiting iconic landmarks and charming neighborhoods.

Who did you go with?

I traveled with my husband, Dr. Z, and our children, Kenz, Kenzo, and Keli, creating cherished memories together. We also met with my niece, Alexa Andanar, who is studying at the London School of Economics.

What did you love about this summer adventure?

We loved immersing ourselves in London’s rich history and cultural offerings, from visiting iconic landmarks like the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral among others to hidden gems. We also enjoyed spending quality time with the kids, trying the delicious diverse food, the British favorite fish and chips, and trying their famous high tea. Indulging in street food added to the experience. We had the incredible experience of watching a live football match in Liverpool, adding a thrilling sports element to our trip.

What were the highlights for you?

One highlight was exploring the vibrant West End theaters and experiencing live performances, including catching the last few days of the iconic “Plaza Suite” romcom play, starring real-life partners Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as the funny and entertaining “Book of Mormon.” Such performances left a lasting impression on us. We also enjoyed crossing the historic Tower Bridge and soaking in the breathtaking views of the River Thames and the city skyline, which was another memorable highlight of our London adventure.

What tip would you give to someone who wants to do the same thing?

I recommend exploring quaint and charming neighborhoods like Notting Hill, visiting iconic sites, trying the street food in Borough Market and Portobello Road Market, doing a school tour of Oxford and Cambridge, watching a live football game, and catching a play at the West End. Additionally, consider taking a leisurely stroll along the Millennial Bridge and eating at the restaurants at The Shard for the breathtaking views of the cityscape.

Teddy Manuel,Gideon Hermosa
and Michael Ruiz
at the Elephant
Rock in Alula,
Saudi Arabia
Teddy Manuel, Gideon Hermosa and Michael Ruiz at the Elephant Rock in Alula, Saudi Arabia

Teddy Manuel

floral and events stylist, founder of Flowers & Events by Teddy Manuel

Where did you go and who did you go with?

The mesmerizing and historically rich city of Alula in Saudi Arabia with my friends (fellow events stylists) Gideon Hermosa and Michael Ruiz.

What did you love about this summer adventure? What were the highlights for you?

Saudi Arabia swung its doors wide open to tourism just four years ago, and the buzz about its hidden gems has been spreading like wildfire ever since.

Alula, a name that rolls off the tongue as effortlessly as the desert winds, is a place that’s been whispering the secrets of ancient civilizations for millennia. Nestled among golden sandstone mountains and enchanting desert landscapes, this oasis of culture and history was our playground for the most unforgettable summer adventure.

Our journey to Alula was like boarding a time machine. We wandered through the awe-inspiring archaeological site of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. As we stood before the monumental tombs carved onto the rosy rocks, it was as if the echoes of the ancient Nabatean kingdom were greeting us hello.

Alula is a masterful blend of nature and modern architecture. We were spellbound by Maraya, the stunning mirrored concert hall that reflected the surrounding landscape in an almost surreal display. It’s like the building was playing a game of hide and seek with the sun, shifting its appearance with the changing light. Simply put, our selfie game has never been stronger!

Saudi hospitality is something that you have to experience to believe. We were welcomed with open arms, warm smiles, and cups of aromatic Saudi coffee that could kick any jet lag to the curb. Our hosts’ generosity and eagerness to share their stories and traditions made us feel like we were part of the family.

Adventure was always just around the corner. Whether it was a thrilling 4×4 ride across the desert, a hot air balloon trip on a crisp morning, or a serene evening under the stars, Alula kept our adrenaline pumping and our hearts full.

Gideon, with his keen eye for beauty, captured moments that we’ll cherish forever, while Michael, ever the life of the party, made sure our spirits were as high as the Saudi sun.

And let’s not forget the food—oh, the food! Our taste buds embarked on their own little adventure with every mouthwatering dish. From succulent lamb mandi cooked to perfection to sweet, sticky dates that melted in our mouths, every meal was a celebration of flavor and tradition.

As our summer adventure drew to a close, we realized that Alula isn’t just a place you visit; it’s a story you become a part of. It’s a tale of friendship, discovery, and the timeless allure of the desert. So, if you’re thinking of where to go for your next summer escapade, take it from us: Alula, Saudi Arabia, is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

Tim Yap with Angelina Joliein New York
Tim Yap with Angelina Jolie in New York

Tim Yap

host, eventologist, club owner, president/CEO of Yaparazzi Events

Where did you go?

New York and Boston

Who did you go with?

Alone in New York and with Javi Martinez in Boston

What did you love about this summer adventure?

It was a summer of adventure, didn’t really plan anything except that I had to do the Boston Marathon.

What were the highlights for you?

Meeting Angelina Jolie and finishing the Boston Marathon

What tip would you give to someone who wants to do the same thing?

Train hard and let the universe guide you.

Show Suzuki, host, voice-over artist and content creator

Where did you go?

Tokyo, Japan.

Who did you go with?

Alone! Jowa is from Japan.

What did you love about this summer adventure?

Getting away from the summer heat and enjoying the aircon weather in Tokyo. It’s a lot more fun to do OOTDs in cooler weather.

What were the highlights for you?

Taking photos with the cherry blossoms, going to DisneySea and shopping in Shibuya

What tip would you give to someone who wants to do the same thing? Bring comfy shoes because you’ll be walking a lot! Get a Suica card right away so you can go in and out of train stations easily without having to buy a ticket every time.

Pinky Tobiano

chemist, tablescape artist, CEO of Progressive Laboratories and KPP Powers Commodities

Where did you go?


Who did you go with?

Erik Santos, Kyla Rivera and Jason Dy, Erickson Raymundo and Juanch Robles

What were the highlights for you?

Our highlight was trying Michelin-starred restaurants. Gaggan x Louis Vuitton was mind-blowing. Chef Gaggan Anand mixed fashion with great food. The presentation was so chic and every bite was so dreamy.

Sühring is the best two-Michelin-star restaurant in Bangkok and my personal favorite. The Sühring twins set the bar for Michelin dining and the caviar was so good. Sühring is a must-try restaurant for the ambience and personal touch with amazing food. A gastronomic experience at its finest, a kaleidoscope of flavors in every spoon. I loved it so much I went back to eat there again the week after.

Dr. Vicki Belo

founder, CEO and medical director of Belo Medical Group

Where did you go? Who did you go with?

We went to Dubai for our Holy Week trip and stayed at the Atlantis the Royal. I wanted to go on a trip where Scarlet and I could bond. I figured Dubai was the perfect place to go as I could enjoy the beautiful place and amenities and have a chance to relax while I could also take Scarlet around to see all the natural sights like the desert and dunes and go to fun places like the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark, Warner Bros. World or Ferrari World.

What did you love about this summer adventure? Aside from the obvious experiences like riding a camel or driving through the sand dunes, it was really that I was able to experience all of these things with Scarlet. Thank you, Jesus and Pilates! I was able to keep up! She’s really a ball of energy. Because I am so busy in Manila working and Scarlet’s focus is on school and all her other extracurriculars, I felt like we really needed this mother-daughter bonding experience. This made the trip even more special as we could talk about all sorts of things that popped up in her 9-year-old brain. She taught me a lot about Roblox.

What were the highlights for you?

Scarlet had to force me and bargain a lot, but she convinced me to join her and ride three slides at the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark. I think she learned her negotiation skills from her dad. It was so exciting and not that scary because I made her promise to choose slides that weren’t too fast or too high, and she really did a good job choosing the three slides.

Another thing I loved was going to the desert camp and riding across the sand dunes. It was so fun the first few minutes, and then when it started getting less fun and more dizzying, our driver stopped right away and drove us to this desert camp where Scarlet and I could ride camels, watch sunsets, and play Beloball. It’s volleyball but since we don’t know how to play it, our only rule was that if we did not run away from the ball, we got a point!

A real highlight was also the hotel, its so beautiful! I wanted to stay there since it was opened by Beyonce last year, so it was really high up on the bucket list. The amenities were great, and the service was even greater. There were so many Pinoys there who made our stay so relaxing. Mabuhay, mga kababayan!

What tip would you give to someone who wants to do the same thing? Wear pants in the desert and sunscreen all time time! When we went to the desert, there were really strong winds, so the sand got everywhere and hit our legs a lot. So make sure you cover what needs to be covered and put away what needs to be put away. There was sand everywhere!

As for the sunblock, the sun is out out out! Even when it doesn’t feel as hot, and it’s a little chilly because of the wind, the sun really just gets you from all angles. So I always carried my sunstick in my bag and reapplied constantly. So far, so good—I didn’t get any sunburn!

But the biggest piece of advice I can give is to enjoy every minute of these trips, especially when you are with your little ones. As we watch them learn and grow, enjoy the moments that you have with them and be in the moment.

(To be continued.)

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