Do you remember the computer H.A.L. in the movie '2001: A Space Odessy'?
Have you seen an 'Iron Man' movie where the computer's name is Jarvis?
Now there is Echo.
It's hands free and always listening and waiting for your commands - even across long distances in your home or office (Echo website here)
Echo is designed around your voice. It's hands-free and always on and can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. It's like having your own 'Jarvis' computer.
Echo answer questions, plays music, reads the news, check sports scores or the weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Echo is also an outstanding music speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.
(no monthly fees)
If you are someone who deals with a wide array of questions during your day, or if you need quick answers to various questions, or if you like the thought of a voice activated computer then you need not look any further. The Amazon Echo can answer all your daily questions and perform many more operations. It can play your music, read you audiobooks, set alarms and much more. It’s an amazing. (See what I mean below). (Echo website here)
What Can Echo Do?
Echo is always ready, connected, and fast. Just say the wake word, "Alexa," for:
Local search: Get information about local businesses and restaurants from Yelp.
Audible: Play audiobooks from Audible with Echo. Plus, Echo supports Whispersync for Voice to continue right where you left off.
Calendars: Check your upcoming schedule by asking what’s on your Google calendar.
Shopping: Restock on previously purchased items by re-ordering Prime-eligible products in your Amazon shopping history.
Smart home: Control compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink devices with your voice.
Traffic: Hear commute time and the fastest route to your destination.
Sports: Ask for sports scores and schedules from the NFL, NBA, MLS, MLB, NHL, NCAA, WNBA, and more.
Pandora: Listen to and discover music from Pandora's library of over 1 million tracks.
Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.
Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping lists, and to-do lists.
Lighting Control: Turn your lights on/off or schedule them as need be.
(Echo website here)
If you want to see more, then I recommend clicking the link below and it will take you directly to the Echo website
(Where I just ordered ours)
See What People are saying about their Experiences with Echo
Okay, so….I’m not technologically inclined anyway. BUT, the Echo is amazing.
The voice recognition alone is way better than I thought it would be. I didn’t have to train Alexa to understand what I was saying, she understood me, southern accent, slang and all. I’ve had maybe three times when I had to repeat myself and I’ve talked to her pretty much constantly since Friday afternoon. Her reading from Kindle books is actually incredibly well done as her voice isn’t robotic (which I expected). She doesn’t pick up the emotion in reading so it’s not 100% but I’d guess non-fiction, she’d be on par with the Audible readers. She has a lot of games that have proven interesting, Word Master is my favorite, where she says a word and you take the last letter from her word and say another word and she takes the last letter from your word (you get the idea). Anyway, she keeps score with the length of the words. She also makes animal sounds and tells jokes. Another really cool feature is the alarm and timer feature. She wakes me up every day now and the alarm isn’t overbearing. The seven microphones are great at picking up your voice from a distance and she very rarely gets confused by background noises (i.e. my dogs hacking up their lungs while I’m speaking or the tv blaring ten feet from her). I have her in my kitchen and she can easily understand what I’m saying from the bathroom, which I found impressive even though my apartment is really small. I will invest in the $30 remote with the microphone (mainly because it will work with the fire tv as well) so that I don’t have to raise my voice but it definitely isn’t a necessity. She also keeps a running shopping list for me which is entertaining. The Alexa app is also useful so when I go to Kroger, I can access everything I’ve added to the list and remove the items as I get them (via checking them off). Or, you can simply say, “Alexa, remove milk from my shopping list.” when you get home.
Also, you can say commands in any number of ways to get to the final outcome, which is also impressive to me (I’m pretty easily impressed). I tested with the alarm feature using phrases very similar to the below and she accepted and set the alarm with no issue.
“Alexa, wake me up at 4:45” (to which she responded “would that be 4:45 in the morning or evening?”
“Alexa, set my alarm for 4:45 a.m.”
“Alexa, set ongoing alarm for 4:45 in the morning”
“Alexa, alarm for 4:45 a.m.”
“Alexa, wake me at 4:45 in the morning”
Needless to state at this point, I am more than impressed with her skills and company.
I did ask her where I could hide a body and she offered to call the police for me. No bueno on that one since she actually CAN call the police via the app (I think?). Oh, and she will friend zone that crap out of you when you proclaim your love for her. Again, something I’m fairly used to.
You can order things from Amazon on her but it’s somewhat tedious and she isn’t good at searching for the best price.
The speakers are also great (not Beats great; but very clear and impressive). Listening to Pandora or Prime music is simple. “Alexa, I want to hear Amazing Grace” or “Alexa, play John Hiatt” or “Alexa, Pandora Easy Listening” gets her blaring tunes. And, “Alexa, volume up” or “Alexa, volume 3” (even over the music) has been majorly successful. I haven’t even heard her at full volume because I have an old lady neighbor but the speakers are crystal clear.
Okay, I’m done singing her praises now!
Tell me about your experience with your Echo
Do you like frigid winter weather where it is so cold that your face hurts from being outside? Where it's so cold that you lose feeling in your fingers and toes, and it takes 20 to 30 minutes to thaw out after you've gone inside. Personally, I can't stand it. (for those of you who Love the cold weather - good for you - but I prefer the warmth of the sun).
For those of you who aren't our neighbors on our warm tropical island paradise, I thought I'd share some warming photos with you to keep you warm (scroll through them & enjoy). If you aren't feeling the warmth, then either:
Just recently our neighbor Malcolm had a house warming party with over 100 guests from around the globe and the Philippines in attendance. Music, roast pig and chicken on a BBQ spit, tropical fruits & vegetables, and exotic refreshing drinks (Malcolm invented a few delicious ones of his own).
An unexpected bonus from Malcolm's party is that we made lots of new friends. During our conversations, we were asked how we were able to afford moving and starting our life here. Questions were like:
The next evening, something unexpected happened...
We got a knock on our door.
"Come on in. The doors open!"
and what what happened is not what we expected.
It was nearly 12 people coming in our home. These were people we had met from the party from around the globe. They heard what we were telling Mike & Marlyn about life on our island, and they wanted to know more.
Rose is wonderful and gracious. She prepared food and drinks and we all went out to the patio so we could talk while enjoying the sunset.
Over the next 4 hours we talked about:
Essentially, they wanted to know the details on How to Move to a Tropical Island & How to afford it.
Results after sharing this information with them:
2 couples are actively looking for their ideal piece of property (as I am writing this post).
If you are interested in learning more on this subject, then let us know below. Maybe you can be our neighbors too!
Having a steady stream of income is prudent so you can have money to pay your bills and eat. Having EXTRA money is nice so you can:
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The Philippines, an archipelago of 7,107 islands, is known for its beautiful beaches. Its coastline, stretching at 37,653 kilometers, is the fourth longest in the world, longer than Australia and even the United States of America. But more than Boracay, Cebu or El Nido, there are other beaches perched in less touristy islands of the country. Unspoiled and unexploited hidden jewels that guarantee the same sun, sea and sand of the tropical Philippines such as in the Province of Romblon.
Located at the center of the Philippine archipelago, the Province of Romblon is a cluster of 20 islands and islets scattered in Sibuyan Sea and Tablas Strait. Its capital is the island municipality of the same name, Romblon Island, home to some of the country’s pristine beaches, without the usual crowd and with the serenity that everyone dreams of. Let’s check out some!
It is a bare beach – no resort nor other commercial amenities. Just pure sand, turquoise water, fantastic view of the Tablas Island, beautiful sunset and the typical rural beach life. Since it is a private property, you need to ask permission if you have plan of camping in the area.
Like Bonbon Beach, there is no resort nor cottages in Margie’s Beach. If you prefer to set your camp here, just approach the locals residing in the beach to ask for permission.
It is a child friendly beach for its gradually sloping seabed and clean fine sand. But unlike Bonbon and Margie, Tiamban Beach has basic facilities for tourists who prefer to stay overnight, camping is also allowed for a minimal fee.
With eight room cottages, a restaurant and a secluded beach, this resort offers a quiet and serene beach accommodation for as low as P600 per night on a fan room. The the resort, owned by Ms. Mina Mingowa (+639282730515), is popular for foreign backpackers.
The Boracay Island in the Philippines is one of the best tropical destinations in the world. The Philippines is world-famous for the white-sand beaches around the country, but the beach in Boracay Island is probably the best there is. No wonder that it’s hailed as one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots in the world.
Being a Filipina, I’ve heard stories about Boracay, but never had any idea how beautiful it is until I visited it myself. I’m from Davao City – located in the Southern part of the Philippines, we have an abundance of beautiful beaches but I was still captivated by Boracay’s beauty.
As someone who has already been there, I’d do my best to inform you about Boracay Island- right from how to get to there, the places to go and the activities to do.
Getting to BoracayBoracay is an island located in Aklan, a small province in the Visayas island (FYI: The Philippines is made up of 3 major islands and 7,700 small ones). Since I’m from the country, it was easy for me to fly to Aklan.
For people out of the country, you need to travel to the country’s capital, Manila and then board another flight for Aklan.
Aklan has two major airports – one at Kalibo and another at Caticlan. From Manila, you can book for a flight to either of the two. There used to be a terminal fee if you’re flying in and out of NAIA for domestic flights, but it’s now being included with the airplane ticket so you don’t have to worry about it.
Entering Through KaliboWhen you land at Kalibo, there will be vans waiting outside going to the jetty port at Caticlan. If you booked a travel agency going to Boracay, there should be a private van waiting for you outside the airport but I advise against it because it’s very expensive compared to looking for a van on your arrival.
You might have to wait for the van to get filled by ten people, but we were already a group of ten so we didn’t have to wait long. We paid around $7 per head, and that already includes the payment for the boat that will take us to Boracay Island. Travel time is around one hour.
Entering Through Caticlan
A more convenient way of getting to Boracay Island is through Caticlan because it’s closer. When you arrive at the Caticlan airport, all you have to do is find the tricycle terminal (you can ask around, Filipinos are very friendly) where you can take a tricycle for around $2 per person. This will take you to the Caticlan jetty port. The boat fare is included and travel time is around 5 minutes.
At the Jetty PortThe Caticlan jetty port is the main point of entry to Boracay Island. This is where everybody will take a boat if they wish to get to Boracay Island. Each person going through the port is required to pay a terminal fee ($1.50) and an environmental fee ($2). Children below five years old are excluded from these fees.
There are a lot of guides in the jetty port and they’ll be more than happy to point you to your boat if you need assistance (If you took a van from Kalibo, they would have given you a ticket for your boat before departing).
Arriving at Boracay Island
Once you arrive at Boracay Island, you’d have to ride a traditional tricycle (on the left) or the e-trike (on the right) that will take you to your hotel. There are no other means of transportation and tricycles are quite small so don’t bring any unnecessary stuff (Note for women: you don’t need a hair blower, sun-dried hair is all the rage in Boracay).
Charter rate per tricycle is around $4 for foreigners. Note that this is charter rate, so you don’t have to wait for other passengers to share the tricycle with you.
Where to Stay
Boracay has an abundance of hotels and guest houses. You’d never run out of a room so if you want to save, look for a place to stay when you get there. This is a lot cheaper than booking a hotel room online.
The first thing that you have to learn about Boracay Island is that it’s divided into three stations – Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3. Station 1 has the most expensive hotels and restaurants, Station 2 is for the “middle” class while Station 3 has the cheapest hotels and places to eat. I suggest staying at Station 1 if you can afford it. If you decide to stay at Station 2, that’s okay but I suggest spending the day at Station 1. I didn’t think there was much of a difference but the sand at Station 1 is simply to die for. It was like walking on powdered milk! The super fine sand is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Boracay in the first place.
Fridays Boracay is one of the island’s finest luxury resort. Located at the end of Station 1, expect a relaxing and calming environment while enjoying the beach and the fine, white sand. The resort’s Deluxe room is at $240 during the low season, $302 from October 16 to June 30 and $415 per night during the peak season (Dec. 17 to Jan. 11, Jan. 28 to Feb. 8 and Mar.22 to Apr.1)
Astoria Boracay is one of the newest hotels in Station 1. With it’s modern design, it’s perfect for young professionals who like having a good time. The deluxe room, which is good for two guests, is at $215 during the low season, $235 from Oct. 16 to June 15 and $423 per night during the peak season (Dec. 20 to Jan. 4, Jan. 26 to Feb.4)
Pearl of the Pacific
The Pearl of the Pacific is a five-building resort famous for it’s Maharlika rooms (which have beach view). What people love about this resort is the friendly staff and the seafood grills. The Pearl Beachfront room ( for 3 guests) is at $233 during the low season, $250 from Oct. 29 to June 15 and $400 during the peak season which is from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3 and Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.
Station 2,being the “middle class” has very affordable hotels that’s both comfortable, homey and clean. These are the most popular hotels in Station 2, Boracay.
Operated by Boracay Regency, expect all the amenities of a first-class hotel at Boracay Lagoon. This new 120-room luxury hotel is really worth the price. The Deluxe room, which is good for two guests is at $156 for low season, $174 from Nov.11 to June 8 and $230 during the peak season which is from Dec.25 to June 5 and Jan. 30 to Feb.4
The Red Coconut is located in the heart of Station 2 and right at the beachfront. This hotel is popular for its bar and lounge chairs on the beach. The resort’s Superior room, good for two guests, is at $118 during the low season, same rate for the high season which is from Oct. 16 to June 14 and $130 per night during peak season (Dec. 20 to Jan.5 and Jan. 29 to Feb.4).
La Carmela de Boracay
La Carmela de Boracay is a cute, little hotel located at the beachfront. Their Standard room has two beds and can accommodate up to 4 guests. Rate is at $57 during the low season, $85 during high season and $98 per night during the peak season.
Golden Phoenix Hotel
The Golden Phoenix Hotel is one of the finest hotels located in Station 3. This hotel is a blissful sanctuary with spacious rooms and elegant spaces. The Deluxe room, which can accommodate two adults and two kids, is at $159 during low season and high season (Oct. 1-May 31) and $180 during peak season (May 1-May 5, Oct. 1- Oct. 2, Dec. 20 – Jan. 5 and Jan. 29 to Feb. 3)
Angol Point Beach Resort
Instead of rooms, this beachfront resort is made up of bungalows to give you privacy. A bungalow cottage features a large room, an electric fan, a veranda, hot and cold shower and a double bed. It’s good for two guests but can accommodate up to four. Rate is at $77 whole year through.
Oro Beach Resort
Oro Beach Resort is a new resort with 31 rooms that can accommodate up to three guests. This hotel features a large bar serving both Filipino and Korean cuisine. The superior room features one queen bed, one twin bed, a refrigerator and AC. Rate is at $65 during low season, $93 from Dec. 1 – June 15 and $104 from Dec. 23 – Jan. 6 and Jan. 29 – Feb. 4
Boracay is such a busy island. There’s always something to do no matter what your interests are – 24/7.
Island hopping should definitely be on your to-do list. The itinerary usually includes going to Puka Beach, Crystal Cove and snorkeling.
The island employs the “lamesa” system in renting a boat. “Lamesa” literally means table. Right at where the island hopping boats are, there’s a table where you can register. I suggest going directly to this table and ask which boat is available. There are a lot of “agents” around the island offering “packaged activities” but they earn through commission so going through them will make the activities more expensive. Boat standard rates start at around $52 (good for 1-7 persons) for 3 hours but we haggled and brought it down to $30.
First stop was Puka Beach. I enjoyed going there but more because of this differently-abled man who makes amazing sand sculptures. These sculptures used to be created by locals at Station 2 but the new mayor prohibited them because it will shift the sand around or something (the man told us). There’s no payment for taking pictures with the sculptures, but cash donations are welcome. We initially told the man that we don’t have any money with us, and he was very kind to allow us to take pictures anyway so we gave him 50 pesos (less than $1) and he was very happy with it. This kind of hospitality adds gravity to why Boracay is hailed as one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots on Earth.
We went snorkeling next, but I actually wasn’t impressed. The coral reefs were not that great – they actually look kind of dead. We rented the equipment at around $2.50 each and paid a snorkeling fee of $1 per person. It was not worth it and I’d suggest skipping this activity instead.
Last stop was Crystal Cove, and it was amazing! Crystal Cove is a developed park in this small island where you can have a picnic or just admire the beautiful water around. The main attractions are the two caves found in the middle of the island. The smaller cave opens directly to the sea and has stairs that leads you below where you can see amazing crystal formations. The other cave is much larger and leads to a cave pool where you can swim for a while and enjoy the cold water. It also has a viewing deck where you can admire the beauty of the cave from above. There’s no entrance fee for the Puka Beach but Crystal Cove has an entrance fee of $7 per person.
This is probably my favorite activity to do in Boracay. A parasail is a special type of parachute with harnesses that flies you up in the air while it’s strapped to a speed boat. It was the best thing ever! It was scary at first, but feeling the breeze in my face and seeing the blue water below made the experience worth it. You can either take someone with you or have the guys at the boat take a picture of you while you’re above. Rate for parasailing starts at around $14.
Henna Tattoo and Braiding
Hair-braiding and having henna tattoos put on are very popular activities in Boracay. I didn’t expect the locals to be that good but they surprised me! Henna starts at $3 (minimum) and hair-braiding starts at $1, with the price going up for more complicated styles.
There are several tents lined up near the shore offering massages. The only problem I had was that there were no walls/ blankets to cover my body (everybody’s wearing their bikinis for the massage though). If this is a concern, you can bring a towel for cover. You can also bring your own lotion/ oil. Rate starts at $9 for a 30-minute massage and lower if you know how to haggle.
There’s banana boat riding and what they call the “Flying Fish”. A Banana boat ride is your only option if you have kids with you, and it costs around $4 per person. Supposedly, the boat pulling the banana boat will make a sudden turn to throw-off passengers into the water but again, we had the kids with us so it was a kinda boring ride (although the kids had loads of fun).
The Flying Fish is another story. The Flying Fish is a flat, inflatable “boat” with rubber wings on the side. It goes up in the air as the speedboat picks up speed, and you have to hold on for dear life if you wanna stay on it. Each person is required to have a life vest on but it was still scary as hell! Flying Fish costs around $12 per head, and a ride is good for up to 6 people.
Don’t ever leave Boracay without going helmet diving. It basically involves wearing a “helmet” on your head for oxygen and diving underwater. What makes it a really great experience is that you get to walk underwater and feed the fishes! The pressure will build up on your ears though but the guides will teach you how to expel it. Cost per head is around $28 but we haggled and brought it down to $17.
FoodA really important thing that you have to remember about Boracay Island is that it’s famous for it’s fresh seafoods and you’d be crazy not to try it. The cheapest place to get seafood is at D’Talipapa which is basically a market selling fresh seafoods and souvenirs. To go there, take a tricycle from anywhere within Boracay. Ride costs around $2.
I’m used to getting seafoods anytime at my city and I thought we have the cheapest seafoods but I was happily surprised when I saw the prices at D’Talipapa. It was crazily affordable! After buying the seafoods, you can have them cooked at the shops around the market. They charge per kilo, and I find it crazy that they charge almost the same price you paid for the seafoods but well, we didn’t have a choice (it wasn’t like we can cook at the hotel). They cook well though, and I’d have to admit that I sometimes wish D’Talipapa is right outside my house.
Is Boracay an Overrated Vacation Destination?Not at all. If you want to see white sand, swim in blue, cool water and get lazy under the sun then Boracay Island is the perfect destination. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen and I recommend it to everybody I know. Did I fall in love with Boracay? I did. In fact, me and my husband are scheduled to come back at the end of this year – without the kids, this time. Haha! If Boracay is not one of the most amazing tropical vacation spots in the world, then I don’t know what is.
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“Do they know each other?” I wonder if Island Mommy’s husband is watching.
Then the unexpected happens. She pulls him to her lips! She’s kissing him!
“Oh My God!” I mouth. And once again, my mouth falls open in disbelief. Maybe it’s not disbelief.
Maybe it’s more like pure shock because it’s a ‘Beauty and The Beast’ moment! Then she kisses him again. “Oh my God!” I whisper. But this time I think he heard me. Because as my mouth is hanging open... he looks over, he smiles... and winks.
Shaking my head in denial and trying not to stare, I watch her help his large, waterlogged form from the pool and into his chair. My staring must be obvious, because he looks over at me and winks again.
She towels him off. “I’m going back in the water Honey,” she says. But before she trots back to the pool, she kisses him passionately on the mouth (I think they are putting on a show for me). “Wow!” I mouth. And he sees me staring over my Pina colada again… We make direct eye contact.
“G’Day mate! I guess you discovered our little secret here.”
Quickly I look behind me to see if he’s talking to someone else, but I’m the only person at the pool.
“Are you talking to me?” I ask embarrassed.
“You must be an American. I can tell by your accent. That explains why you wouldn’t know about our little secret. We Ozzies (Australians) have known about this little secret lifestyle for years. What you see is nothing unusual. It’s quite normal. This is how we live our every day lives here in paradise. We live like happy millionaires.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, did you win the lottery? How did you get so lucky?”
“You’re a funny man, mate. I quit my job years ago. Then I moved here because the people are genuinely wonderful. Life is filled with music, laughter, happiness, and a foreigner like me are living like kings. Here you’ll run out of month before you’ll run out of money.”
“Are those your children?” I asked with a surprised tone.
“You are a funny man, mate. Of course those are my children,” he laughs. “It’s obvious you aren’t familiar with the lifestyle in the Philippines. So let me tell you about life in the Philippines. Here you can:
• Escape the cold winters
• Live in a place where life goes by at a slow and beautiful pace
• Escape the ‘rat race’
• Be able to afford a maid and a driver
• Wake up in the morning and go to bed every night free of frustration or anxiety over money
• Live healthier and with less stress
• Great personal relationships that are full of love, friendship and true caring for each other
• Find the meaning of Life with people that are loving and happy
• Live where the elderly are treated with respect and dignity
• Start a new life in a tropical paradise
• Live like a king in a tropical paradise
• Retire four as rich and 10 times happier
“So mate, does health, better relationships and more fun sound good to you?”
“Of course it does. Who wouldn’t like the lifestyle like you have?”
“Great mate! When are you moving here?”
“Me?” I ask in shock.
“It’s obvious you like what you see. I’m not blind. So what are you waiting for? If you wait until you grow old and retire, then you’ll be to fragile to enjoy this wonderful lifestyle. Bring your wife. She’ll love it. Spas, a full time maid, tailors, fresh food, a fun lifestyle in the tropical sun.”
“I’m not married.”
“Then, like I said, What are you waiting for? When will you join us here in the Philippines?”
At that moment time slowed. I wasn’t sure if it was from the potent rum in my pina colada, or if it was from the endorphins and the rapid firing synapses in my brain. But at that moment, thousands of scenarios, thoughts, opinions and questions raced through my mind. What will my friends and family say? Where will I live? How can I make this work?
And then time returned to normal, and I noticed him smiling at me. Then I thought, “It’s my life. Why not? Why should I wait for retirement? Why should I let life and opportunity pass me by? Why should I wait another day to find happiness?” So I answer him.
“Today. Today is the day. Today I’m moving to the Philippines. Today I’m starting my happy new life in Paradise.” !!!!
Enjoy the Hilarious Adventures of my Move to the Philippines
See More ->> HERE