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Mike Aquino

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I’m Mike Aquino – I write for a living, which means my office is anywhere I plug in my laptop. I’m based in Manila at the moment, but I’ve had spells working as an advertising copywriter in Singapore and Malaysia. In that previous life, I worked at FCB, Bozell, Publicis-AMA, and Mandate Advertising (Singapore). I’m currently the guide in charge of About.com Southeast Asia Travel. I am married to Minnette, and we are parents to Miranda, who will grow up to change the world.

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Getting lost in Intramuros, Manila’s walled city

April 15, 2013 - 1 Comments - Mike Aquino

TRAVELERS don’t often think of Manila, the Philippines’ capital, as a destination unto itself. One is generally content with flying into the “world’s worst airport” (as Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is often called) and getting out – preferably ASAP – to the Philippines’ more scenic spots, like Boracay or Cebu. It’s a real shame,…>

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Marina Bay Sands: Live the high life in Singapore

April 15, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE Marina Bay Sands hotel and entertainment complex is an impressively-designed project rising above the Marina Bay district of Singapore – the result of over $5 billion in planning and execution that transformed the city-state and its formerly stodgy reputation for the better. The three towers contain 2,561 rooms and suites with a single three-acre…>

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Long Life Hotel: Affordable old-world charm in Hoi An

April 5, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THIS hotel has two names it uses concurrently: Long Life and Thanh Xuan (the latter is simply Vietnamese for the former); but whichever name you decide to call it, Long Life Hotel serves old-world charm on a budget, in the middle of the Hoi An backpacker district not 10 minutes from Hoi An’s Old Town.…>

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Grand Mirage Resort: Family-friendly luxury in Bali

March 31, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE Grand Mirage Resort is located next to the relatively sedate Tanjung Benoa beach in Bali, just 30 minutes’ taxi ride from Kuta and up the road from the Nusa Dua tourist enclave. Because of the beach’s unsuitability for surfing, the resorts along Tanjung Benoa have tended to attract a more sedate crowd compared to Kuta’s:…>

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Eastwood Richmonde Hotel: Business class in Manila

March 29, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

A ROOM at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel is not a bad deal for business travelers in Manila: check into one of the hotel’s 138 rooms and suites (which all have amazing views, as the lowest rooms start at the 29th floor), use the hotel’s premium business amenities, and be right in the middle of one of…>

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Club Bali Hawaii Resort: Rustic comfort in coastal Java

March 18, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THERE’S adventure out there in Anyer, on the western shores of Java, mere hours from the Anak Krakatau volcano and the Ujung Kulon Nature Reserve. You just have to drive four hours from Jakarta and book a room at the Club Bali Hawaii, a rustic but comfortable family-friendly resort overlooking the restless Sunda Strait. What…>

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Hotel Fort Canning: An urban oasis in Singapore

March 11, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE Hotel Fort Canning combines respect for history with an understated, contemporary luxury; the result is a posh (but not overly extravagant), cozy, and high-tech retreat set within the protective cocoon of the Fort Canning Park. It manages to stand apart from Singapore’s hustle and bustle while being only minutes away from Singapore’s public transport…>

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Bohol Beach Club: a taste of paradise on Panglao Island

February 10, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

The Bohol Beach Club occupies 65 hectares of beachfront property on the diving and watersports haven of Panglao Island. Its size, accommodations, and the range of its facilities ensure that couples, families and beach enthusiasts who pay a visit will have plenty to do with their time on the island. Having first opened in 1984,…>

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Bali Dynasty Resort: a family friendly location in the heart of Kuta

January 27, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

The accommodations at Bali Dynasty Resort suit family excursions to Bali quite neatly: despite its location in party-hearty Kuta, the stretch of Jalan Kartika is actually better known for far tamer pursuits, like the Waterbom Park, Bali Slingshot, and Discovery Shopping Mall. If you still feel the need to party, though, Kuta’s nightclubs are not…>

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Casa Leticia Boutique Hotel: An inexpensive but comfortable haunt in Davao City

January 20, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

Casa Leticia Boutique Hotel is perfectly placed for travelers who want to explore Davao City’s shopping and nightlife on a budget, without sacrificing too much comfort. The hotel stands in a very convenient location, next to the People’s Park and just a short walk away from the Ilustre shopping precinct. The accommodations, while not luxurious,…>

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Malaysian events and festivals

December 22, 2012 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

At almost any time of year, some part of Malaysia is busy throwing a party. While the majority of Malaysian people follow the Islamic faith, the presence of many other cultures in the country means that a multitude of celebrations crowds the calendar. Traditional Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, and indigenous tribal festivals have an honored place…>

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Shopping in Kuala Lumpur

December 22, 2012 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

By Mike Aquino Shopping in Kuala Lumpur can be very rewarding. You’ll find a mall, market, or night market (pasar malam) in practically every corner of the Malaysian capital, almost all of them accessible by monorail or LRT. The KL shopping scene is such a big draw, the government sponsors a three-month sale season from…>

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Sampling streetfood in Georgetown

August 31, 2012 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

By Mike Aquino Nowhere in Malaysia can match Penang for its head-over-heels devotion to good food. Every Penangite is a natural foodie, with very strongly-held opinions on where you can get the tastiest char koay teow and which mamak (Indian) stall in Georgetown delivers the best value for your ringgit. Blame Penang’s colonial history for…>

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Malaysia’s five most luxurious city hotels

August 30, 2012 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

CENTRAL city locations plus luxurious amenities help these five hotels rank among the coolest accommodations in Malaysia. If you’re looking to be spoiled consider checking into one of these places. Ritz Carlton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur Its location in the Golden Triangle places it right in the middle of the action; within minutes guests can reach…>

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Five Malaysian National Parks

August 28, 2012 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

MALAYSIA possesses the most biologically wealthy real estate on Earth. Thousands of plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world, are protected within specially-designated national parks and sanctuaries that showcase Malaysia’s biodiversity while protecting it from harm. Taman Negara, Pahang/Kelantan/Terengganu Taman Negara is Malaysia’s largest national park, stretching over an area of…>

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I Get Around: Transportation from Manila’s Airport to the rest of the city

March 10, 2012 - 1 Comments - Mike Aquino

IF thousands of returning Filipinos can do it, so can you. Your fear of Manila’s notoriously opaque transportation system shouldn’t prevent you from discovering the very real charms of the Philippines’ capital city. To that end, we’ll try to make sense of your transportation options from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The options are…>

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Cambodia and illegal drugs: Live and let live… until you die

February 28, 2012 - 2 Comments - Mike Aquino

OFFICIALLY, the Cambodian authorities are shocked, shocked that drug use is rampant among locals and tourists. Unofficially, it’s live and let live on the streets of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville – you’re relatively free to buy and use marijuana, yaba, and heroin, so long as you don’t flaunt it unnecessarily. “Pot prohibition never really caught…>

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Crazy pills and double crosses: Drug use among tourists in Thailand

February 16, 2012 - 7 Comments - Mike Aquino

SAY what you will about Thailand’s hellhole jails – they’ve inspired an entire bestselling genre of books, the drug trafficker prison memoir. Warren Fellows’ The Damage Done recounts the author’s years wasting away in Bang Kwang Central Prison after his conviction for heroin trafficking. Andy Botts’ Nightmare in Bangkok does much the same with the…>

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A diamond-hard Line: Singapore’s fight against illegal drugs

February 9, 2012 - 1 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE authorities in Singapore reserve the right to drug-test visitors upon arrival. Even a positive result – in the complete absence of any drugs on one’s person – can be grounds for arrest. “There are CNB [Central Narcotics Bureau] officers at Singapore customs and they are trained to look at signs of drug use,” says…>

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Kerobokan Prison Blues: Tourists and Indonesia’s harsh drug laws

February 2, 2012 - 4 Comments - Mike Aquino

IF the international war on drugs were to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions, as per Marx, the first cracks would probably appear in Indonesia, where draconian drug laws are making little headway against porous borders and pockets of heavy drug use. Despite a strengthened anti-narcotics law implemented in 2009, the drug scene…>

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Trouble in paradise: Falling foul of Southeast Asia’s tough drug laws

January 26, 2012 - 4 Comments - Mike Aquino

TALK about your Bali vacation gone all to hell. Kerobokan Prison was likely the last thing on the anonymous Australian teenager’s mind when he paid a Kuta dealer about $25 for a baggie of marijuana. But drugs in Southeast Asia have a way of screwing up your travel plans. As the Aussie teen found out…>

Getting lost in Intramuros, Manila’s walled city

Getting lost in Intramuros, Manila’s walled city

April 15, 2013 - 1 Comments - Mike Aquino

TRAVELERS don’t often think of Manila, the Philippines’ capital, as a destination unto itself. One is generally content with flying into the “world’s worst airport” (as Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is often called) and getting out – preferably ASAP – to the Philippines’ more scenic spots, like Boracay or Cebu. It’s a real shame,…>

Marina Bay Sands: Live the high life in Singapore

Marina Bay Sands: Live the high life in Singapore

April 15, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE Marina Bay Sands hotel and entertainment complex is an impressively-designed project rising above the Marina Bay district of Singapore – the result of over $5 billion in planning and execution that transformed the city-state and its formerly stodgy reputation for the better. The three towers contain 2,561 rooms and suites with a single three-acre…>

Long Life Hotel: Affordable old-world charm in Hoi An

Long Life Hotel: Affordable old-world charm in Hoi An

April 5, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THIS hotel has two names it uses concurrently: Long Life and Thanh Xuan (the latter is simply Vietnamese for the former); but whichever name you decide to call it, Long Life Hotel serves old-world charm on a budget, in the middle of the Hoi An backpacker district not 10 minutes from Hoi An’s Old Town.…>

Eastwood Richmonde Hotel: Business class in Manila

Eastwood Richmonde Hotel: Business class in Manila

March 29, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

A ROOM at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel is not a bad deal for business travelers in Manila: check into one of the hotel’s 138 rooms and suites (which all have amazing views, as the lowest rooms start at the 29th floor), use the hotel’s premium business amenities, and be right in the middle of one of…>

Club Bali Hawaii Resort: Rustic comfort in coastal Java

Club Bali Hawaii Resort: Rustic comfort in coastal Java

March 18, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THERE’S adventure out there in Anyer, on the western shores of Java, mere hours from the Anak Krakatau volcano and the Ujung Kulon Nature Reserve. You just have to drive four hours from Jakarta and book a room at the Club Bali Hawaii, a rustic but comfortable family-friendly resort overlooking the restless Sunda Strait. What…>

Hotel Fort Canning: An urban oasis in Singapore

Hotel Fort Canning: An urban oasis in Singapore

March 11, 2013 - 0 Comments - Mike Aquino

THE Hotel Fort Canning combines respect for history with an understated, contemporary luxury; the result is a posh (but not overly extravagant), cozy, and high-tech retreat set within the protective cocoon of the Fort Canning Park. It manages to stand apart from Singapore’s hustle and bustle while being only minutes away from Singapore’s public transport…>

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