Exploring BALI, Indonesia

If you’re a beach lover, if you frequently go to Boracay or Palawan to hit the white sands, then probably one other destination you’ve thought of going to, would be BALI. I had the same plan in mind.

BALI = BEACH.

So again, when Cebu Pacific included this destination on sale, I found myself booking another impromptu trip. When I was researching for it I wanted to stay somewhere quiet, because my main goal was to relieve some stress from work. I read a lot of blogs, Trip Advisor, and other sites with testimonials.

Bali has so many beaches north, east, west and south. It depends on what environment you’re after. So after several days of contemplating, we ended up booking a hotel at Nusa Dua, the name of the hotel being Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

The Nusa Dua area is considered to be a quiet beach of Bali as it is private. You’ll need to enter the Nusa Dua Beach Complex where a number of mid-high end hotels are located, and they all share a strip of private white beach. It’s perfect in the morning but tide gets REALLY low in the afternoon.

Here’s our hotel, very Balinese looking right? Service was great and it was so big there was so much to do. They have 2 huge swimming pools, 1 lap pool, a gym, Squash court, game room, tennis courts, sauna, Jacuzzi, name it.

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By observation, we noticed Bali’s doors/gates all look similar, but in different sizes. They look similar to the gigantic one we have at our hotel.
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Another thing that I was very excited with going to Bali, aside from the beach and hotel, was the food. Prior to the trip we’ve already researched some food options to try, and I believe we pretty much succeeded in tasting their most famous local food!

Bebek Bengil – LOOOOVE. This is like Duck Crispy Pata.
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Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka 3 – Their suckling pig was yummy! Not to mention the balat.
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Photo from CuisineQuest

Naughty Nuri’s – Exceptional, juicy and tender BBQ Pork RIbs.
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Photo from TripAdvisor

We also recommend doing a sunset dinner at Jimbaran Beach. We tried the Blue Marlin Restaurant as recommended by our tour driver, but since it’s Dampa style like here in Manila, I think you are safe to choose pretty much any resto, just choose the ambiance. Price ranges are quite pricey, but you’ll love the view of the sunset. Perfect for romantic dates!🙂

Aside from the hotel and food, I was also interested to know about Bali’s culture, the locals’ life away from the beach, so we went on a day tour to the town of Ubud, and neighboring places.

Batuan Temple – very nice Balinese Structures and picture perfect if you’ll ask me!
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The Monkey Forest – cute little monkeys you can hang out with, feed, but can’t touch!
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Luwak Coffee Tasting – Coffee that’s processed out of the Civet Cat’s Poop. We also tasted other sorts of coffee (that tasting coffee strip in the photo below is free!), I just had to pay for the cup of Luwak Coffee (on the lef) for 50,000 IDR. It tasted stronger than usual coffee, and I was already contented with just tasting it. It was quite pricey too! Since I am a coffee lover, I brought home 1KG of ground Arabica Bali Kopi! Yay!🙂

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Ubud’s Rice Terraces – it was a nice sight to see even if we have our own up Northern Philippines.
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Last but not the least, the BEACH. I’m quite surprised myself how I haven’t sun-bathed after my 3 days of stay in a place where I had the BEACH in mind all along – but yet I was having so much fun!

Nusa Dua Beach
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Kuta Beach
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As you will notice, the beach was okay. Nusa Dua’s beach was quiet, the sand was semi-fine, but the water wasn’t very clear. We saw leaves floating around near the shoreline. As for Kuta, I will have to agree with most blogs that it’s not ideal for swimming as it’s a public beach so you would expect that other beaches in Bali would be nicer. In my honest opinion, I prefer the white sands of Palawan, Boracay, or even Davao’s Samal Island. Our sands and beaches are way better here in the Philippines.

To my pleasant surprise, I loved Bali for it’s culture, structures, and I loved trying out their food. For a picky eater like me it was quite surprising I tried some of their authentic spices – which they really LOVE.

Bali is one of the places where you can go and enjoy their culture, taste and feel something new. But if you’re in search for the finest beach/sand in the world then you don’t have to go down the map too far! We still have the best ones here in our country!🙂

Tim Ho Wan in Manila

Finally, some angel brought this franchise home to the Philippines. Okay, I will be honest that I didn’t know about this restaurant until the boyfriend lured me into an hour of long queue in Hong Kong. His selling point was “just to try some bbq pork buns” which then was just plain “asado siopao” to me…LOL! (but not anymore).

It was one of those nights when the boyfriend was feeling hungry, craving for Chinese food, so we went to SM Megamall where the first branch is located. As expected, the queue:

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Long long queue – wait time about 45 minutes to 1 hour

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Looks very similar to the HK Central branch

They open at noon and the cut off time at night is 8:30PM. On that evening we arrived a few minutes late, but because my date was very resourceful, we got in. Yahooooo!🙂

The price range I’d say is more expensive than typical dimsum places here, take for example the pork siomai that costs 150 pesos for 4 pieces — (I love this by the way. I ate 3 of 4…hehe!) — but if you’ll compare it to THW in HK, then the price is about the same.

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The menu with prices

The seats are quite limited in my opinion — just like the usual Tim Ho Wan dimsum houses, they aren’t as big as other Chinese restaurants. Due to the space limitations — one thing to note, you have to be complete when you arrive as you won’t be allowed to hoard seats while you wait for your friends. How would you feel lingering around while seeing a hundred more people waiting outside anyway?🙂

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Interiors. The place is not so big, very typical THW

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BF caught this – the drop lights looked like dimsum steamers which were really cute! and appropriate.

Now the dishes that we ate! There are only 25 options to choose from and we have already tried some of them in Hong Kong. We just wanted to compare if they tasted the same. One thing we noticed though, is that the Wasabi Prawn Dumpling was new — of course the boyfriend ordered it. We had 8 dimsum pieces just for the 2 of us. I placed my satisfaction scores for each plate :)

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Pan Fried Carrot Cake – 4.0 / 5.0 (this is radish cake for me:))

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Prawn Dumpling – 3.5 / 5.0 (I found it typical)

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Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp – 4.5 / 5.0 (goes so well with the sour sauce they have)

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Prawn Wasabi Dumpling – I didn’t eat this but for sure the BF would give a 5.0 / 5.0 (the wasabi taste isn’t too heavy)

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Beancurd Roll with Shrimp – 3.5 / 5.0 (it was good even though I’m not a beancurd fan)

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Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (Siomai) – 4.5 / 5.0 (haha I don’t know why I really loved it!)

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Baked bun with BBQ Pork – 5.0 / 5.0 (The BOMB! Obviously we ordered 2)

If you have tried these baked pork buns then you’ll probably agree with me but if you haven’t, I tell you — it’s not your ordinary asado sio pao! haha! Go try it and see for yourself. The crisp but soft and a bit buttery sweet crust blends so well with the pork barbeque. Eat it while its freshly baked — and you’ll forget your name!🙂

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What’s inside the heavenly bun?

Overall, we got the feeling that it was tastier here in Manila than in Hong Kong, or maybe because of the food we ordered? We just probably nailed our options here. Second time’s always the best right? Anyway, we walked away with very happy tummies. For sure there will be a third trip!🙂

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My very busy but happy date. #love

Go try it if you haven’t. Highly recommended resto. Just be ready to queue up — bring your iPad or be WiFi ready!🙂

 

Tim Ho Wan 添好運 (First branch)
Ground Floor, SM Mega Fashion Hall
SM Mega Mall, EDSA Mandaluyong City

Coming Soon: Tim Ho Wan Glorietta; Tim Ho Wan SM MOA

 

 

South Korea – Third Time’s a Charm

So I’m back to the beautiful country of South Korea this year, but the first time that I’m visiting during spring. The weather was awesome, it wasn’t too cold, and it was perfect for sight seeing.

This year I went with the boyfriend’s family…haha okay this is the first time that I’m mentioning this guy beside me (in photo below), so I’m officially introducting Jasper a.k.a. “the boyfriend”! I’d say this trip was totally different from the Winter Seoul that I’ve seen in previous years, and because it’s not too cold, going around outdoors made it much easier for me!

We went to the Namsanggol Village, which looked like Bukchon Village in my previous post. It also features traditional Korean houses, flowers, and nice views for visitors to take photos from.

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One of the beautiful village doors

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View from inside the village

 

We also went to the Myeongdong District, of course for shopping and for street food. We all surely enjoyed all the different variety from the long stretch. The price were not so high and they were really good! I captured this priceless photo of how this guy admired the potato stick hehe

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Healthy? or not? :p

We also watched the Cooking Show at the Nanta Theater. It’s a must see. Actually this is the second time I’ve been in this theater and they always feature good shows. This cooking show is nothing for moms only or women, it’s a show everyone can really enjoy.

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Playing with the knives

We also did research for some good eats and this resto particularly captured our attention. Try it when you’re in Myeong Dong. The name is Bong Chu Chicken. They only serve this dish, but trust me it’s super nice! See the smile on Jordan’s face (who is the boyfriend’s brother).

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Jordan and his spicy Bong Chu Chicken

We also went to the NamSan (North) Tower, which is probably one of the destinations you shouldn’t miss when going to Korea. This is my third time going to the tower, but this year, it’s more special (naks!). Okay get ready for the cheesy-ness. We placed a padlock in the Love Locks section, they say if you leave one then you’ll never be apart. Hopefully one day if we go back, we can still remember where we put it though!

Location: It’s at the second floor, near the 10th pillar from the left edge. Find it if you go there?🙂

Side comment: The lock was provided by the boyfriend’s mom by the way. We weren’t really prepared🙂

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Forgive my ugliness in this photo. It was dark and it was the most the iPhone flash could do

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Closer look at the lock, it says “Jasper❤ Kathy”

Next stop, the Mt. Seorak. I have never been here before. It was a few hours of travel from the city, but worth it. There are actually a lot of things you can do aside from sight seeing. You can ride the cable car, or do different kinds of hiking, at different difficulty levels. Spend a whole day to make it worth it.

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The Mt. Seorak fortress is at the top of the rock behind us.

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Taking advantage of couple shots hehe

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View from the reception

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Family Selfie! Thanks to Tor’s monopod

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More cheesiness…

 

The following day we went to the Nami Island, the home of the Winter Sonata. Again, another first time destination for me. One thing I bring home from being in this island is that it’s the all-time cheesy place. It is perfect for couples as you can take photos with nice views everywhere.

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Entrance palang, may photo na🙂

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The mini house

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Loving these pink trees, good thing the bf’s a sport, or wala syang choice but to take a pic with me!🙂

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The “first kiss bridge”, popularized by the Winter Sonata

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Cute haystack houses. With Tor and Dina, the girlfriends of bf’s brothers

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The bf’s brothers

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Probably my favorite couple shot – The Ginko Tree Lane (Straight Line Trees)

Last but not the least, we went to Everland. I’m not a huge fan of theme parks, but we had to go for the reason that the boyfriend likes animals. Yes he does and we couldn’t miss it haha! To be fair with them though, you will be amazed by their zoo, the safari ride was great (truck turning into a boat), and there were so many animals we’ve seen that you won’t find in the Manila Zoo, not even in Singapore’s Night Safari. I have one happy kid after that visit.🙂

What struck me though are the lovely flowers. As it was spring, it was the perfect timing for tulips to bloom. These are just some of the photos I took but there’s more in my Camera Roll.

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Tulips of different colors

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Life size comparison, they were big ones!

Last but not the least, I’d just like to showcase where we had our dinner on our last night. We really had to go beyond efforts to look for this hole-in-the-wall but very nice restaurant that cooks Beef Sirloin — and it was SO WORTH IT. The name of the restaurant is Daedo Siktang.

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Yummy and very tender beef sirloin

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Best in Korea since 1964!

Piece of advise when travelling to South Korea, it is really good to be prepared with your print outs having all the addresses of the places you want to visit, restaurants and basic Korean phrases with you. You’re lucky if you get to speak to people who can speak in English, but just be prepared. Perhaps I am a bit lucky as my previous employer graciously sent me to Korean Language school, but otherwise, just be prepared. In our trip alone, 5 out of the 9 of us got lost at some point in the trip, but they’re all fine now. So print print print!

Anyhoo, it was fun recollecting this trip, it’s been a month but all the weight gained is still in my belly!🙂

Until our next trip!

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with McDo

I LOVE FASTFOOD. That’s a given, and who doesn’t? Who would exchange for convenience, affordable food, availability, with an OK quality? I am one of those frequent drive-thru goers, especially because there’s one branch that’s almost right across where I live.

But above all the good things that fast food has to offer, the below charts display THE MAIN REASON why sometimes I “hate” going to McDo (for lack of a better term), but nevertheless after a while, I always end up going back! haha!

Golden Arches Development Corporation has previously published a full list of McDonalds’ Philippines food nutrition facts. Read on and compute the CALORIES you consume in a week :p

(Click on the images to magnify)

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Original Photo from FoodieTraveller.com

I guess at the end of the day, it boils down to how much you eat. For sure a little amount a week won’t hurt, as long as you equip yourself with ample exercise, and match it with healthy food for most of your days.

Happy healthy eating!🙂

Source of Nutrition Facts: FoodieTraveller WordPress
(Thank you!! I’ve been looking for this chart! :))

Exploring El Nido

After half a year post this trip, I finally had the time to publish my review!

My college friends and I go to trips yearly, and in 2013 we chose to go to El Nido Palawan, after hearing so many good things about the place. They always say that you need to save up some money for a trip to this haven, but I beg to disagree and wanted to prove them wrong. It will definitely depend on how you’ll go about your trip, and what you want to see or do. I think I’ve already earned a degree with tipid trips for a while now haha!

Out of the 3 places popular in the Islands of Palawan (with Coron & Puerto Princesa), El Nido was my last stop. The entry point to this beautiful island was through Puerto Princesa, followed by a van ride that takes about 5-6 hours. You may opt to fly via a chartered plane of course, at premium costs.🙂

For me, there are 2 ways on how to enjoy your El Nido trip. 1. Book an expensive hotel (there are really good ones at the Lagen and Miniloc Islands) and experience a high-end type of pampering, or 2. Walk around town for a cheap but clean hotel with easy access to local restaurants and local livelihood. Our group chose the 2nd, as we were in some sort of a “budget” too hehe!

We arrived at the town of El Nido and went to the beach front hotels to look for a place to stay. We all agreed to book Hotel Garnet, which was right across the road from the beach. It only costs 2400 php per night for 4 people. Such a steal right? It comes with unlimited supply of coffee, 24×7. Not bad for a coffee drinker like me.

You won't miss this bright orange colored hotel at any time of the day

You won’t miss this bright orange colored hotel at any time of the day (Photo from Trip Advisor)

The town proper is relatively small. When I say small, you can walk your way around it, as it’s only in one street. There you’ll see all the hotels, bars and restos. Try Squidos, Sea Slugs, and the Hilltop resto for a live band. They all serve good seafood. While we were having lunch at Squidos, an in house lady named “Jessica” (who turned out to be the sister-in-law of the owner), came up to us and offered tour packages. There were several to choose from. Either you want to see lagoons and beaches; caves and coves; or hidden islands and secret beaches. Our group chose the combination tour which was a little expensive, but had a good mix of all, and would only highlight the best ones. Tour packages ranged from 800-900 php per head but the combo tour cost 1,500 php.

All tours start early, and usually take the whole day. Here’s a photo of us early in the morning, habang mapuputi pa kami hehe!

All aboard our boat!

All aboard our boat with our kuya bangkero

First stop, the Helicopter Island . It was called “Helicopter” because it was shaped liked one at a distance. It was also where we stopped by and took time to snorkel. Wish I could take photos but I don’t have an underwater camera. It was lovely, but I think Coron’s underwater view was much nicer.

Photo from VirTourist.com

Photo from VirTourist.com

View from the beach

View from the beach

Against the light

Against the light

Second destination, the Secret Beach. As the word “secret” implies, it means that the beach is hidden in between rock formations. We had to walk our way inside where you’ll be surprised to see a beach surrounded with deep waters.

Excuse my shawl, it was too sunny I tried to protect burning my face

Excuse my shawl hehe

Better view of the waters getting deep from green to blue

Water getting deep from green to blue

Third stop, the Matinloc Shrine. Our tour guides said that it’s owner built it just to show gratitude to the people of Matinloc Island. There lies an abandoned mansion, and a shrine with limestone walls. But what’s most breath-taking for this stop was the 180 degrees view of the islands from the top. You have to climb steep rock formations to reach it, be careful as the rocks were really sharp — to think we were in our bikinis! haha!

Group photo from the top

Group photo from the top

The shrine at the center

The shrine at the center

My friend Schubert and the superb view behind him

My friend Schubert and the superb view behind him

At half way through we then headed to the Talisayen Beach for lunch! This was already inclusive in the tour package. You just had to tell your guides a day before on what your food preferences are, and they will cook for you. They allowed us to rest and relax at the beach while they cooked our food on the spot.

View of the beach

View of the beach

FOOD! We had all sorts of seafood with liempo and fruits. Look at the garnish! How nice right?

FOOD! We had all sorts of seafood with liempo and fruits. Look at the garnish! How nice right?

Ready to attack!

Ready to attack!

After a little siesta, we headed to the second half of our tour, the lagoons. This part is where I got my cuts from the corals. I’m not scaring you, but it’s quite inevitable. Wear aqua shoes if you have them. They’re worth it though. Six months after and I still have the scars in my legs, but it’s fine. They’re my battle scars!

Lagoon – a stretch of salt water separated from the sea by a low sandbank or coral reef. -definition from Google.com

First lagoon in the list, the “Secret Lagoon” as you had to go into a hole to see what’s inside.

The lagoon entrance

The lagoon entrance

Human to nature size comparison hehe

Human to hole size comparison hehe

View from inside the lagoon

View from inside the lagoon

We never miss a group shot

We never miss a group shot

Next stop, and probably the nicest lagoon for me, was the Big Lagoon. It had this view where it seemed like 2 huge rock formations separated as you enter/exit the deep sea.

Carmie and I were just in awe of the view

Kaye and I were just in awe of the view

In a different angle

In a different angle

Third and final lagoon for the tour, is the Small Lagoon. Why? No one knows, my guess was that if there’s a Big Lagoon, there also had to me a small version of it. LOL.

Lagoon entrance

Lagoon entrance (Photo from Footloose)

After going in the lagoon entrance

After going in the lagoon entrance

View from inside

View from inside

Last but not the least, the highlight of the whole tour for me, the Seven Commandos Beach. Why? I just loved how fine the sand was, very much comparable to the white sands of Boracay’s Boat Station 1. We didn’t bother to ask why it was named that way, but Google tells us that in the old times there were seven soldiers who lived in the island and carved their names in stones. We never saw those stones.🙂 Anyhoo, the guide allowed us to rest at the beautiful beach after all the walking and hopping that we did from the lagoons. I actually fell asleep while the gang took a dip. It was the perfect way to end the tour.

View before sunset

View before sunset

My lovely friends relaxing after their swim

My lovely friends relaxing after their swim, look at the sand, my golly!

Near sunset shot

Near sunset shot

We headed back to the town before dark, all tired and most of us bruised, but I’m sure that we all had a great time. What we saw were priceless. It was different than what you expect in Puerto Princesa’s islands or Coron, where it’s so beautiful underneath. El Nido has it’s own set of natural wonders that you won’t find elsewhere. I enjoyed all the secret places that I discovered on that tour.

And this is how we were at the end of the day – sunog! haha!

I really had a bad sunburn hehe

I really had a bad sunburn hehe

Be sure to bring your sunblock for both the body and face as you’ll have to reapply every so often. If you have rash guards and aqua shoes, they will be your best buds. But if you want tan lines (like us! haha) then you can also pull it off by just wearing your swimwear all day.

Our group had dinner at the Hilltop Restaurant  (in photo above) where we listened to a local band, and had some drinks before we headed back to Puerto Princesa and Manila the next day.

Trip costs (in PH pesos):

Round Trip Airfare – 1,874.40
4D/3N Hotel Accommodation – 1,800
Round Trip Van & Tricycle fares – 1,200
Whole Day Tour with Food – 1,500

Total – PHP 6,374.00

Not bad right?

I didn’t include my pocket money for food and drinks as this will vary depending on your appetite. The food is cheap anyway so meals would only range from 150-200 php, busog meals.

So who says you need to spend a lot for El Nido?🙂

The Michelin Star Hunt @ HK, 2014

This post is short and sweet, but I wanted to highlight some of the best food finds from my latest trip.

I just got back from Hong Kong last night, and it wasn’t necessarily my first time, but it was the first that I’ve intentionally travelled for food hunting rather than visiting Mickey Mouse or go seeing the whales and the sharks (of course shopping is a given).

So I booked 4 days and 3 nights to eat Chinese food, look for restos awarded with Michelin Stars, and try to discover places where its affordable but would still please my tummy!

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The photo above shows 9 of the best things I’ve eaten or drunk during the trip. I’ll go by row.

1. Yung Kee (Central) – awarded 1 Michelin Star; try their roast goose, it’s their best seller!

2. Sweet Dynasty (Tsim Sha Tsui) – try their assorted fruits tofu pudding, 3. mango pancake (they are crepes actually, but that’s what the locals call it); and 4. pan fried turnip cake (favorite). Their food was overall really yummy!

5. Tim Ho Wan (Central) – awarded with 1 Michelin Star at their original branch in Kowloon; we had to queue up for 1 hour for this. Try their baked pork buns and you’ll forget your name. We also ordered 6. pork siomai, shrimp hakaw, veggie & seamoss hakaw, deep fried pork dumplings, and bbq pork hofan.

7. Happy Valley Bar & Grill (Happy Valley) – take a break from all the Chinese cuisine and enjoy exciting brews (rare beer finds); We loved the Erdinger Wheat Beer and the Lindemans Framboise Cranberry Alcoholic Drink;

8. CaliBurger (Wanchai) – I know we have this in Manila but it was their only branch in HK (for now) so just had to try it there🙂

9. Wing Wah (Wanchai) – once awarded 1 Michelin Star; This over 60-year old place is still visited by locals and visitors in the area. Try their shrimp wonton noodles!

…and last but not the least

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10. Turo turo / Street food (Lockhart Road / Times Square) – I wouldn’t discount this place for sure! Who can resist eating fried food on sticks after a few bottles of beer?? We tried the octopus, siomai, hungarian sausages, fish ball/radish curry and egg waffles.

Hungry now??

I hope we have the same taste in food, or at least for some. There are a lot more places to eat at in HK but I sure did enjoy pigging out at these places. I placed the location of the restos but some have other branches, so all you need is to be resourceful with your map.

Happy food tripping!

Missing Tokyo (Part 2 of Japan Trip)

Another long overdue post! But something that shouldn’t be missed. I haven’t blogged in a while again, but today I just felt like finishing what I have started last year – my summary of our Japan trip last April 2013!

Tokyo has probably been one of the places that I always had in my travel list – why? Perhaps because of the culture, the technological advancement, high standard living, and more. I’ve always wondered how a country so near the Philippines can be considered first world??

True enough I’ve enjoyed every bit of that trip. Here are some of the highlights, and places that made a mark for me and I highly recommend to visit when you go to Tokyo. The fastest and I can say easiest way to get around the city is through their subway. Despite it being Japanese, it was very easy to read and navigate, not to mention they now have letter/number codes to make it easier for tourists!

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Probably the biggest Uniqlo store with 12 floors (8 for shopping), at Ginza, Tokyo.

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Ginza, Tokyo – they close the roads oon Sundays for shoppers, look how nice this street is. There are huge buildings but the roads are narrow.

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The famous dog Hachiko in Shibuya! My sister was so gigil she wanted to bring it home hehe

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Visit the Izakayas (or inuman places) in Shibuya. We enjoyed their cocktails and unlimited supply of edamame!

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Shibuya Crossing – MUST SEE! Probably the busiest multi-road crossing that I’ve seen. Best at night with all the lights and when people are off work.

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Tsukiji Market – enjoy free tastes just by going around the market and mabubusog ka na! hehe lots of ramen places, don buri, sushi and pasalubongs etc.

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Find this chasyu ramen place in Tsukiji because it is really the BEST! Just remember this logo.

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Tsukiji – then we went into this sushi place, it was a bit pricey but they really make fresh ones. Again i’m not a huge fan but I really loved what he made for us!

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Tamago and Kani sushi were my favorites!🙂

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You’ll see Yakult street vendors in the streets too! My cousin Terri bought one just for the heck of it.

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Akasaka – the CBD. I had to take a side trip to visit my previous employer’s headquarters, Thomson Reuters. For a few hours I experienced how it felt like going to work there haha…

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Harajuku Street – visit this place on Sundays as the young ones/teenagers dress up like cosplayers or anime. They call it the shopping and entertainment place.

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Harajuku – one of the shops. It is the place where you can see the trendiest clothings and accessories for teenagers!

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Pablo Cheese Tart Shibuya – a new discovery! We found ours in Shibuya but it may have already new branches now. It was super delicious. I’ve seen nothing like that here in Manila

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Pablo Cheese Tart – the real thing!

And there you have it, my recollection of my Tokyo trip in photos. Of course a trip won’t be complete without vanity shots! Sorry, babae lang!🙂

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PURIKURA (also known as neoprint) – they say you’ve never been to Japan if you don’t have this!

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…and a Tokyo Selfie at a Shiseido Boutique hehe!

til my next trip!🙂

NASDAQ OMX PH Day 1 Photos

BLUE is the new ORANGE.

It’s FINAL! I’m officially with my second employer after 8 years and 11 months with Thomson Reuters (Ex-Thomson Financial).

Nasdaq OMX Time Square

Nasdaq OMX Times Square, NYC

Some photo booth shots from the day 1 celebrations:

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My buddy for almost 9 years – Mitch. She’s been with me since I started working.

...and another

…and another

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My EMEA team, all buttoned up hehe

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With my adopted EMEA team Elle and Chico

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My EMEA boys goofing around🙂

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My APAC Team – Jhet, Ronah, Aris, Glenn & Gem

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Gem looks funny here

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With my APAC Team adopted, Angela Chua

Our welcome gifts:

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Very cute packaging – muntik ng di lumusot sa customs🙂

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Notebook, metal puzzle coaster, and a pen

CHEERS! #itsmorefuninthephilippines

I Left My Stomach in Japan (Part 1: Osaka & Kyoto)

Such a long overdue post! Been so busy at work lately that I nearly forgot I had a blog *teehee*.

This is probably one post that I can’t skip, as this is one of the destinations that I probably dreamed of going ever since. The visa application I thought was tideous, perhaps because I had to prepare for myself and my shobe, who’s still a student (ang daming financial support ek ek that required documents from my mom!). Thank God we all got approved.

We chose to land at Osaka for one reason – the ticket was on sale LOL! We booked it for 2000 pesos one way – such a steal. Bahala na how to get to Tokyo and how to get back. We eventually got a ticket from Narita to Manila for only 9000 pesos. I always brag about this 11000 pesos (total) airfare for a roundtrip ticket to Japan hehe!

Osaka was a nice laid back place, not a busy city, more provincial looking. We stayed at the Hotel Nikko which is located at the Shinsaibashi shopping district. The weather was freezing. It was somewhere at 8-12 degrees Celsius. We arrived at night so we just had to walk the streets and find a place that’s still open. Guess where we ended up — haha! of course – an Izakaya (or an inuman place)!

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With Ers, Dazz and Shobe

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Octopus with Wasabi

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Hot Sa-ke

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With Tersh and Tim

And so as expected, we were not yet busog, so we walked some more and stumbled upon a carinderia looking place that sells Gyoza (dumplings). To our lovely surprise they also had ramen, so we had to try them and it was super good!

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Authentic Cha-syu Ramen (this was really to die for!)

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Gyoza – super yum!

First stop the next day was the Osaka Aquarium. It is known for it’s size and uniqueness. Basically you climb up the escalator of 8 floors to walk your way (circular) down as you see the water creatures, or mammals or animals or however you like🙂

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With my shobs

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Those are actually wind chimes. Nice no?

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How it is inside…

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May ume-emo lang haha

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Crab-let. Life size comparison. It was huge!

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You can touch the mantarey. Slimy daw shobe said. I couldn’t dare🙂

Next stop, the search for the last of the Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). Okay, I shall explain. We planned on going to Japan earlier in April to catch the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom, but too bad my sister still had school and we wanted her to come, so we waited until the second week before we could go. Unfortunately Sakuras only bloom quickly, and that is the main reason why it is not the main attraction of our trip hehe! We heard from very reliable Japanese sources that different more kinds could be found in higher mountain ranges, so we’re all up for it. Literal na naghahanap kami ng pink na puno haha!

Before that search, our hungry tummies stumbled upon kalye restaurants (oh yes we love streetfood because everything fancy is just so expensive!), that cook Takoyaki! It was so good, forgive me if I forgot the price, but it wasn’t so bad na for its quantity! I realized Takoyaki in pinas doesn’t have octopus in it, that’s why it made the experience so much different!

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Takoyaki – fried veggie ballls with this sort of breading with octopus!

The not yet so full me and shobe still went inside McDonalds to try their EBI Filet-O which is actually a Shrimp burger! Something we can’t find here in Pinas.

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Sorry no open shot haha walang sense!

And then they were found. We went up to this place called Sakuranomiya Park where you will still see Cherry Blossoms in bloom but not at it’s peak anymore. Well, it had to do. Noticeably the photo is not too “pink” anymore, but nevertheless it was still kikay to begin with. haha!

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Happy shobe found her Sakura!

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…and so did I hehe

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She loves Cherry Blossoms because it’s pink. She even has it as her scent!

After overflowing our eyes with pink, we then headed back to Osaka to see the Osaka Castle. Not that there was anything extravagant to see, but I think Osaka is known for it’s temples and castles, so might as well visit one or 2.

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Feeling photographer while walking to the castle… It’s like a river separating the CBD from the country side. How’s that perspective?

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The Osaka temple from outside the walls

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Pose muna as we get closer to the castle, it was a LOOOOONG walk going inside.

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Finally the temple – right in front of me!

After that long walk, we headed to Dotonbori, which is another tourist destination that used to be a pleasure district (but all gone now), and now turned out to be a shopping alley with restaurants and food stalls. Forever 21, H&M have opened up their stores there as well (haha additional knowledge lang for the women!).

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Dotonbori at night

Again, we did not go to Japan to shop, but rather to EAT. We found this very in demand cha-syu ramen restaurant that serves nothing else but still sobrang haba ng pila. So we had to give it a try.

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This chain of resto is easy to remember, a green dragon in orange walls.

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The very busy chef. Hindi pwede kausapin :-p

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Heaven at our finger tips… or chopsticks. Another super good cha-syu ramen. Obviously my favorite. I’ve been eating it haha!

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Are you hungry?

And still… the unsatisfied tummies of the Uy’s and the Sy’s was still in search of food. So we went into this revolving sushi buffet to cap of our dinner for that night. I probably had 6 or 7 plates haha!

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Sushi buffet

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Kani Maki

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The sushi cooks

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Ebi Maki

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Milk pudding that I bought on the streets again…while walking🙂

Next stop… KYOTO, Japan. Yet another provincial destination that highlights one of the most loved views when in Japan, and you must have heard of it. We went to Kyoto to see the Temple of the Golden Pavillion. I can say Kyoto has a very nice train station, much better than Osaka, it looks very modern.

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Kyoto Train Station

It was also the same place where I saw this very cute strawberry bun. I love how Japanese make every thing so cute!

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Strawberry flavored bun – but it was a bit expensive.

We still had to take a bus to finally see the temple. It was really nice, though apart from taking photos, there weren’t really that much to do inside the temple.

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The Temple of the Golden Pavillion

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Whoelse, my shobe dear

I wouldn’t leave Kyoto without pigging out of course, so before we headed back to the train station we stopped for lunch. I was craving for some Tonkatsu. Fried fried fried. We just found this restaurant down the street of the Golden Pavillion entrance, and it was delicious. A little pricey, but worth it. So I had Tonkatsu with udon on the side.

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Bento box

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Nabitin pa, one more tempura hehe

Last stop, the Fushimi Inari Temple, still in Kyoto, known for its uniqueness, you’ll see multiple orange arcs that seem to never end.

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Entrance just beside a train stop

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Orange arcs

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With Tersh

Now Tokyo bound! We decided to take the overnight Cocoon Bus instead of the Shinkansen – that’s now a reason for me to go back to Japan!!

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Cocoon shaped chairs – bus

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My seat

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Reclining seat with a facial mirror, foot rest, table, tv with movies and video games

I’ll park for now, this is way too long! Part 2 – the rest of the trip in TOKYO. The city life in Japan.🙂

Baby Steps

After 9 months of not joining races, I found myself at the starting line of Run Rio’s Run United 1, 2013 last March 17th. I despised and ranted the waking-up part earlier that Sunday morning, but I have to admit that it was again another ecstatic feeling at the finish line.

I ran 5 kilometers without any exercise in the past 4-5 months (yahoo), well aside from my blossoming boxing career (chos). Oh boy, clearly I am so out of shape now, mabuti nalang I was able to warm up before the race because of some round trips up and down the parking lot (LOL Jesy, thank you for that). Anyway, I finished at a kid pace (as I was told hehe) but pwede na rin for a (re)start – at least for me.🙂

943 / 2246 runners?!

Out of 2246 runners naman “daw” yan haha! 

Looking like I was unaware na may camera haha!

Baby steps.

Parang magfaint na ko dito haha

Parang mag-faint na ko dito haha

Thank you Takbo.ph and RunningPhotographers.com for these photos! I seriously lost touch to preparing myself in front of race cams na! LOL.🙂

Wishful thinking that I can get back to running again. BHS, maybe I will see you more often.