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March 21, 2014

Exploring Manila with the Lumia 925

You may remember Lisa from her blog post she wrote for us on her travels with the Lumia 925. We liked it so much that we asked her for to take the 925 with her to the beautiful Philippines. Why not have a read of Lisa’s story and then share your own travel tales below? Over to you Lisa…   

When George and I left on our trip to Asia for a year, we started with a camera, flip video camera, laptop and external hard drive. After six months, they had individually, for different reasons, because inoperable. I began researching what to do next… I needed to be able to keep up with social media, take high-quality video and photos, as well as stay connected via email and telephone.

The Nokia Lumia 925 was the solution to all my issues.

This one device allows me to call guest-houses in advance to find a room, take high quality 1080 videos for our growing YouTube channel and upload my latest photos on Instagram Beta for Windows. I love using OneNote to keep track of our journeys and the Flashlight XT app lights the way on dark nights. Read on to see how it all started:

In Manila, our friends Rissa and Carlo greeted us at the airport wearing polo shirts in the colours of the Philippine flag. They were keen to show us around Manila and being that Carlo is a tour guide, we were in good hands.  It was also our very first day with our new Nokia Lumia 925. I have to admit I took several photos of the inside of the car trying to figure out all the features but we were soon prepared for our photo-journalist day.

Our tour began at the American War Memorial where allied forces from WWII were buried. The names of soldiers who were deemed missing in action were etched onto walls. Maps within the complex gave detailed historical facts that transpired from 1942-45. We quickly started to use OneNote to keep track of facts from our tour matched with photos from our adventure.

We drove to Makati to visit Intramuros and entered Fort Santiago, constructed in 1714. The steps that Dr. Rizal took as he walked to the spot where he was assassinated by the Spanish are marked in metal soles. From the riverbank, we saw a makeshift area that Carlo explained, “Those are where the squatters live.”

We then visited St. Augustine, a Baroque style church constructed in 1571; the checkered floor interior and cross shape design is typical of Baroque architecture. Erected in the 16th century, the adjacent Casa Manila is a house that represented three different cultures that influenced the Philippines over time: Philippine, Spanish, and Chinese.

After taking in what Intramuros had to offer, we checked into the unique yet swank Hotel H20. Situated on Manila Bay, the view from our hotel room was lovely and relaxed. However, the distinctive aspect that Hotel H20 offers is the ability to sleep in a room where the inner wall is an aquarium that connects with adjacent rooms so fish can freely navigate from one hotel room to the next. Another distinctive room is the jellyfish room where clients snooze among stingy creatures.  

Hotel H20 sunset

The Nokia Lumia 925 took stunning photos of the jellyfish and our room with the gorgeous view of the bay.

Whether taking a room with creatures of the deep or enjoying rooms overlooking Manila Bay, Hotel H20 has even more to offer. Bordering the hotel is an ocean park where encounters with sharks, stingrays, and starfish are available. Depending upon your level of preference, you can chose between entering the water in an aquanaut suit, the full body encounter, or a half body encounter. Divers and swimmers are permitted to touch and feed stingrays and feed sharks. We took a video of baby sharks in their egg cases. 

We were astounded at the quality of the video. It was far superior to our video camera and so easy to use.

Even if the shark and stingrays encounter does not appeal to you, the Oceanarium will not disappoint. The tunnelled aquarium houses a variety of exotic fish from around the world, some I had never seen before despite having scuba dived and snorkelled in many locales across the world. In addition, watching the reef sharks, nurse sharks, and various rays swim around and over our heads was a worthwhile entertaining experience.

Manila Aquarium Hotel H20

After taking in the hotel atmosphere and ocean park, we enjoyed culinary delights at Hotel H20’s Makan Makan; the Asian Food Village and Club Lounge serves up tasty cuisine from all over Asia. We especially enjoyed the chicken sate, the tilapia fish, and a halo halo dessert treat to wash everything down.

Before flying out to Palau that night, we visited one of the largest malls in Asia, the Mall of Asia. We wandered among international retailers such as The Gap, Guess and Starbucks, and then took in the scene flanking Manila Bay where locals seated upon the bay wall snacked on varied treats. Our time in the Philippines was sadly coming to an end. However, with over 7,000 islands to explore and a friendly people who speak excellent English, we will surely be back soon to enjoy more of what the Philippines has to offer visitors. Remember, it’s more fun in the Philippines!

With Thanks to Ricky Tio of Cebu Holiday Tours and Rissa Gatdula-Lumontad, author of the book, “Philippines: 100 Travel Tips,” who arranged our visit in the Philippines and of course to Nokia Connects for sharing the wonderful world of Lumia with us!

manila panorama


About the Reviewers: Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna are co-authors of Traveling in Sin and co-founders of We Said Go Travel. They are accomplished writers, speakers and travellers who are members of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travellers who have visited one hundred or more countries. Follow their journey with Nokia Lumia at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and

Have you taken your Lumia anywhere exotic? Tell us where in the comments and don’t forget to tweet us any pictures you took @Nokia_Connects!