Wednesday, September 30, 2009
After a week or so in Batticaloa, I had to travel back to Colombo since I was scheduled to leave the next day for Manila. Yahoo! Couldn't wait to go back home. The road trip from Batticaloa to Colombo takes approximately 8 hours - this includes an hour lunch break. I do not want to travel 8 hours straight without having lunch. This would just make me dizzy and irritable. The driver and I need food :-)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Well, I do love rice and I'm not bashful about it. Love it to the max. However, here in Sri Lanka, the rice meals proved to be way too much for me. Only a fourth gets gobbled up. Imagine that! What a waste I know. But unlike in Manila where rice is often in "one cup" portions, here it's like rice until you drop portions.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
September 19, 2009. Saturday. When I'm abroad for work, I usually work six-days a week. Yesiree, Saturday is a working day for me. Although at half past five, I did go out with Sudharshini who graciously took me around Colombo with her two lovely children in tow.
Our first stop was at Premadasa & Co. (Jewellers) Ltd. for gemstone shopping. Their stuff is expensive, not in my budget at all. It looked like quality gems. Hmmm, like I could tell, right? I'm a novice when it comes to gemstone shopping, so I am basing it on the price. Didn't think that a ruby, half a carat, would cost so much. Duh, how could I forget the theory of supply-and-demand, thus the price of the ruby. It's not a garnet, ok?! I accepted the fact that I couldn't afford it, so we left the store without a single purchase. Sad.
Next stop was at Barefoot, a shop that specializes in quality hand woven cloth, linen, hand-made toys, artsy houseware to name a few. It also has a cafe and art gallery. Went away with two sets of cushion covers. Really pretty.
From there, we went to Odel, Colombo's high-end shopping center. Although three stories, it's similar to a "mini-mini" Rustans in Manila. Sri Lanka's garment industry is a major dollar earner for the country. No wonder you can find various brand names here at a fraction of the price. Maybe there's a slight damage here and there. But honestly, who can tell. Saw a pretty Calvin Klein dress for approximately P2000. I was overwhelmed with the choices available and was tempted to purchase the dress. I'd like to think that I'm a high EQ kid so I was saving my dough to buy rubies. Still hoping, right?
There's a Dilmah store at Odel in case you want to buy some tea to take home. They say the tea leaf is better than the tea "dust". The "dust" is too strong according to my friend.
If you fancy a henna tattoo, take the escalator to the third floor. You won't miss it. Failed to ask how much though.
Overall, I enjoyed the rest of my Saturday, at least the few hours that were left for window shopping.
Premadasa & Co. (Jewellers) Ltd.
560 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
Tel: 2595178 or 79
No. 5 Alexandra Place,
Open everyday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Imagine a Manila-dampa style in a hotel. You select the seafood that you want and let them know how you want it prepared. They have a list of suggestions on the wall to help you out. We had the yummy shrimp rolls for starters and a glass of white wine while waiting for the rest of our food to arrive. I decided to have the white curry crab while Erik ordered the black-pepper crab. He wanted more shrimps so we asked them to cook it sweet and sour style. To complete our seafood meal, were the fried rice and stir-fried kangkong.
Service is a lot better than the Taprobane, also at the Grand Cinnamon hotel. The waiters at the Lagoon are attentive and put food on your plate. However, they forgot to serve my white curry crab which we eventually asked them to cancel because when we saw the food, there was no way we'd be able to finish everything.
Erik mentioned that one of the best crabs he's tried were those served to him in Zamboanga. This guy has been to places in the Philippines that I've never been too. Talk about the island off Zamboanga which has pink sand. He's been there. The Philippines, according to him, is one of the three countries in the world that has beaches with pink sand. Amazing, and who else knows that? Not a lot of people know how beautiful the Philippines is.
Back to the food. The black pepper crab had more sauce than I was expecting. I was hoping that it would be less saucy ala Singapore style like the one I tried at Newton's Bay. (The best black pepper crab I had was the one from Balikpapan, Indonesia. So good I tell you. The Jakarta staff and I had that as an afternoon snack. Have yet to try one that beats that.)
The sweet and sour shrimp was good. It wasn't overcooked and the combination of the sweet and sour flavors were perfect for me.
Our dinner didn't come cheap. We had to pay 5,000 rupees each. (A rupee is approximately 140 per US $ at this time of writing.) Never mind the price of the meal, dinner was so much fun.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
September 16, 2009. HongKong. I had six hours to kill before boarding CX 711 en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Was deciding whether to sit around in one of the airport lounges in Hongkong and read. I figured that walking around for six hours would be too taxing on my feet. But well, since I don’t frequently pass through Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on business trips, might as well check out the airport, right?
On level 6 of HKIA terminal 1, I chanced upon Muji To Go. I remember visiting Muji for the first time while in Singapore, thanks to Mitchie who took me around. Didn’t pay much attention though because I was more focused on shopping at IKEA. This time around though, I spent some time checking what Muji To Go had to offer.
Muji's travel-concept store at the HKIA had products ranging from travel friendly-clothes (aka wrinkle-free), supplies, food, and travel products to name a few. Anything and everything that's related to your travel needs.I went crazy with their small plastic containers, a definite must-have for frequent travelers. A good portion of my suitcase is allocated to toiletries alone. I can’t seem to find smaller travel-friendly versions of the brands I use. Plus, the smaller sized versions are more expensive if you compute the price-volume ratio. Anyway, I couldn’t leave without buying some of those. The mini-containers cost me P2500.
I can’t wait to use them on my next trip.
Muji To GoTerminal 1,
HongKong International Airport
Sept. 16, 2009. Colombo, Sri Lanka. I arrived around 1:00 a.m. in Colombo. That's about 3:30 a.m. Manila time. Boy, was I tired. Didn't realize that the trip would take that long. I was at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 6 in the morning to catch the 9 a.m. flight. (You've got to be at the NAIA three hours before an international flight.) Plus there was 6-hour wait at the HKIA.
About an hour away from the airport, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel is like a breath of fresh air amidst a number of checkpoints surrounding the area. There is a welcome drink and a wet towel, upon checking-in. The lobby is spacious and inviting which definitely is a plus since there are so many people who stay here. Sometimes the lobby is peaceful and quite but a times there can be a deluge of travelers hanging out the lobby snacking on desserts and drinking coffee. By the way the desserts at the lobby cafe are good.
Towards the back of the lobby is an atrium sort of hall where parties and events are held. Gently lighted by huge ceiling lamps and floor lamps, the space is easy on the eyes. I do think though that it's kinda misplaced. But that's just me.
Below are a few pictures of the room, in case someone else is planning to stay at the Cinnamon Grand. My first room was on the third floor near the elevators. When I came back from Batticaloa, they gave me a better room at the 7th floor, not that the 3rd floor room wasn't nice. It was comfortable but I think the carpets need a bit more cleaning.
This is the view from my room's (the first one) glass window.
At the end of a long day, you'll get an orchid and chocolates that will make you smile.
Cinnamon Grand Hotel
77 Galle Road
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Check these places out: (The first 5 items' text are taken from Lonely Planet)
(Pictures are mine)
1 Old QuarterDiscover the Asia you dreamed about in the bustling back streets of the Old Quarter
2 Temple of LiteratureStep into history, and a spiritual retreat from the busy streets beyond, at the Temple of Literature
3 Water puppetsEnjoy a giggle at Punch and Judy in a pool, watching the city’s famed
4 Ho Chi Minh’s MausoleumSee ‘Uncle Ho’ in the flesh at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
5 Vietnam Museum of EthnologyPiece together the country’s ethnic mosaic at the wonderful Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
When you're at the Old Quarter, try "Bun Cha Hang Manh" Restaurant in No.1 Hang Manh Street - for pork skewers and spring rolls with salad. No ambiance at all (as in 0 for ambiance) but food is good. You sit on small plastic stools. Bring your own chopsticks lest you use the one that have been used and just washed.
For Vietnamese food from different regions go to Quan An Ngon at 18 Phan Boi Chau [Between Ly Thuong Kiet and Hai Ba Trung, one block East of Le Duan.] Think of fastfood dining style. The place gets full so it's good to be there slightly before lunch or dinner so you can get a place. I kept going back here because there were so many choices all in one place.
La Place at 4 Ấu Triệu street. Didn't try this but this is my friend's fav restaurant. They also serve the grilled pork on skewers and noodles but place is cozy and nice according to her. Around that area (St. Joseph Church at the cross between Nha Tho str and Ly Quoc Su streets) are interesting shops too.
"Chim Sao" at 65 Ngõ Huế street. I didn't try this too but she recommends it.
Hanoi Garden at 36 Hàng Mành according to her also serves good vietnamese food.
When you're around the lake, try the cafe's there so you can rest a bit after much walking. Around that area is Fanny's Ice Cream which is a must too. Think of it as a reward for all the walking you've done.
Their well-known fastfood is Pho 24 for a bowl of steaming noodle soup and bread. I tried the one around the lake. Just google address.
Afternoon Tea and Chocolate Buffet & Sunday Buffet at If you are there on a Sunday, you shouldn't miss the Sunday buffet ($50/pax). The spread is not that many like the Sofitel here but the quality of food is superb. Most of it is from France and the presentation is more than stunning. .
Music and Entertainment:
Go to Metropole in the evening for some jazz music and have a scoop of strawberry sorbet and get some drinks.
Try to catch a show or a ballet performance. Then you can have coffee after or before the show at the . coffee house in the grounds of the opera house. You won't miss it.
Right beside the Hanoi Opera House. If you want to listen to a string quartet for free, hang out in the lobby at 5 or . and enjoy the music.
I suggest you check out the Dong Xuan Market (North of the Old Quarter- google the address) first before buying in the small shops at the Old Quarter. I found it to be cheaper here. This is a 3-storey market full of items. Near there is the Paper Shop where I took the nice colorful picture.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Bought a small pack of "snackees" from S&R. Approximately P250 per pack, it reminded me of the two-bite brownies which I used to buy with Amy at Wholefoods, NYC. The one at Wholefoods tasted much better- more moist and chocolatey. But well, the snackees are good enough to perk you up especially on a busy work day. Sometimes you don't have time for a real lunch so these do come in handy. And for the cost, it's definitely worth it.
Happy to discover these. I will surely go back to S&R to buy some more.
Monday, July 27, 2009
"Those are a fierce pair," said Ann as she accidentally peered under the table during lunch. I guess my footwear was hard not to notice.
"Oh, yeah. Not into the girlie-girl look. I want something that's a bit edgy," I replied.
Wore those sandals with a printed black dress from Topshop accented with white lace on top and frilly at the bottom. Now you know why I didn't put on my usual ballet flats. That would just be too plain and boring.
*The two other divas are based abroad. Cheryl resides in Texas while Elena works in Abu Dhabi.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
There was a ray of hope for a martabak-lover like me from Manila. My friend who was walking in the Mall of Asia (MOA) saw a restaurant called Martabak Cafe and hastily told me about it. Next thing you know, there I was with my mom and dad in tow eager to share with them my delight for this simple Indonesian dish. Looking at the restaurant from the outside, we could tell that the place was not inviting. Despite these warning signals, I forced my folks to try eating there even if my mom is quite a picky eater to say the least. My dad, well, I don't have to worry about him- he eats anything. So there I was eagerly waiting to dig-in and have them taste that wonderful martabak I've been raving about. To my horror and utter dismay, the martabak they served was the most unappetizing thing I've eaten. The thing was so oily, that it'll make your lips glisten from the oil. What a sham this thing was! It wasn't crispy at all. They were instead soft gummy squares dripping of oil. Oh my, they probably deep fried it while the oil wasn't hot enough which isn't the way it's cooked back in Jakarta. Lesson learned- don't settle for second-best EVER!
Just like anything else in life, whether it's getting into a relationship, choosing a job, or something trivial like selecting a restaurant, take note of the warning signs early on. Good thing this was just me eating martabak in a terrible restaurant which I later had to drown out with Hagendaas ice cream just to take the taste off my tongue.
Terrible restaurants like these are analogous to bad relationships, don't even think of going back there!
Ground Floor Mall of Asia,
Friday, June 19, 2009
This afternoon he sent me a link so I could see.
Picture from here
I think the hairstyle and the shape of the face are close. Just like most cartoon characters, the body shape is way too exaggerated.
Will have to see this film soon!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
It was my third time to eat here. Cathy T. introduced me to this restaurant when she organized a lunch for Luchie H. who was in Manila for a few days. Because I loved food and the coziness of the place I brought my folks the weekend after. Mama and Papa loved it. My mom particularly liked the five-cheese pizza. Papa loved the oysters.
The baked oysters were next. This was so yummy. It had the right hint of heat to cut the cheesiness of the dish.
Our main course consisted of 2 pizzas- five-cheese pizza and another one with meat plus an order of canelloni. One of the best thin crust cheese pizzas I've tried south of the Manila. So you've gotta go there, I tell you!
We capped our lunch with a heavenly bite of tiramisu, panna cotta and a cup of coffee for EJ.
We had to chalk up P500 each but it was well worth it. Driving down to Cavite isn't all that bad when you can stop over at Buona Vita and have good homestyle Italian fare.
From Alabang Town Center, take Daang Hari.
Keep driving until you see Verdana to your left.
Buona Vita is just across Verdana.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Rewind to the past
During our college days at the School of Economics, we and our friends used to walk over to the IC (International Center) and have good yet cheap Thai food. Budget wasn't necessarily a constraint to eating authentic Thai food.
Then when I was taking my post grad studies, U.P.'s Thai Canteen moved to Balara as a hole-in- wall type of eatery. It was later ejected to give way to a road widening project.
Fast forward to the present
"Mommy" as she is fondly called by U.P. students, was there though a tad bit thinner than the way I remembered her to be. I ordered the Phad Thai while Ella ordered the mixed seafood and rice. The portions can be shared by two if you're not a big eater. We decided to sit at the second floor. The interiors are slightly better than the eateries at the "shopping center" at U.P. so don't expect much in terms of ambiance. But the food is yummy taking into account the cost. I spent P150 for the noodles and a softdrink.
Good food + good company = HAPPY DAY
If you're coming from Megamall, take Julio Vargas and you'll see the Ortigas Home Depot on your left. Once you see the Starbucks on your left take the first available U-turn slot and turn right at the gate in front of Starbucks. Just go straight - you'll see small restos and watch out for "Khao Pad".
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
To my horror, I forgot to bring the appropriate adapter. I actually didn't have any adapter at hand. No adapter = no pictures with Mitchie and Evan plus no cell phone to boot. Can you beat that? Been traveling so long (3 years!!!) and still not organized.
I don't really shop when abroad but I did buy a set of different types of adapters during my last trip with the girls to Singapore. These are so handy. I saw one being sold in the plane but those are expensive. The set I bought was lime green all for $ 12 (SD) or approximately P360 pesos.
Sittie, my favorite-OC-friend was obviously prepared for our trip. Why am I not surprised. She bought hers at SM hardware for only P250. Had to borrow it for a day so my gadgets wouldn't die on me again for the nth time.
Which adapter should you bring? Take a look below:
Monday, June 1, 2009
On our way to Changi Airport. It was tiring but enormously fun. Taking a few days off from work for some R&R was good. Glad to have been with amazing travel companions. Sittie and Bel, you rock! Until the next adventure.
I wish Manila had more trees in the city.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Take a cable car from Vivo City to Sentosa instead of taking the MRT. You'll see the Singapore at a different angle - from the top. The harbor and the gazillion trees are absolutely stunning! This will cost you around $20 (SD) for a two-way trip. Not bad at all.
After walking under the sweltering heat (hotter than Manila I swear), cool down with a scoop or two of ice cream at Movenpick. A scoop costs $4.50. Stop converting to pesos and just enjoy the day!
Try biking along the beach from Siloso to Palawan which is on the other end. Bel, Sittie and I rented bikes for $5 for ordinary bikes and $7 for mountain bikes. The rates are on a per hour basis. To our surprise the person manning the bike shop was a kababayan. Although he didn't give us a discount, he didn't charge additional for the extra time. We weren't expecting any discount whatsoever but he was being kind.
Purchase tickets for the Songs of the Sea show then at around 6:30 pm buy the tickets for the Luge to get a discount.
Then take the cable car back to Vivo City and enjoy Singapore's city lights.
It's always helpful to have some lemon oil when in crowded places. Thanks, Sittie.
I had a nasi lemak which consisted of rice cooked in coconut, dilis, fried chicken wing. egg omelet and something similar to our local bagoong all for $3.99.*
I have tried better nasi lemak's or something similar in Jakarta so I wasn't too impressed.
What I enjoyed was the popiah. It's similar to our fresh lumpia. It has vegetables, peanuts, chili and a sweet sauce all rolled in a wrapper for something like $2 only. This is what Qiji is known for according to it's website.
It's just too bad that I didn't get to bring some home. I'm sure my folks would have loved this.
Check their website for a list of Qiji outlets in Singapore.
* 30 pesos to a SNG dollar at the time of writing
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Despite the A(H1N1) virus that is currently sweeping the entire world, Bel, Sittie and I had decided to push through with our trip to Singapore last May 28, 2009. Bel purchased PAL's Econolite tickets which cost each of us P7000 roundtrip. Not bad right -considering Singapore Airlines charges around US $700. Well we didn't know what to expect but were happy to save a lot of money from the discounted airfare.
Here's what we got in a nutshell:
1. Allowable baggage of 15 kilos.
2. We were given "choice" seats-- the very last seats in the plane which were 28A, 28B and 28C. Note that you cannot transfer seats even if the plane is not full.
3. Unlimited drinks but no food for the 3 hour flight. The FA's just whizzed by and won't ask if you'd like the chicken or the fish. However, you do get 3 small bags of peanuts and unlimited water.
4. Because we were seated at the very end just beside the toilets, we knew when everyone was "done" with every swishing sound of the toilet flush. Way to go passengers!
Here's a pic of my travel buddies (Sittie and Bel)
Friday, May 1, 2009
Picture from here
The film features Daigo, a cellist, who lost his job when the Tokyo symphony orchestra disbanded. Not having the confidence to pursue his dream of becoming an A-class musician, he decided to relocate back to his hometown with his wife in tow in search for a job there.
He took interest in an ad which mentioned "departures", thinking that this job was related to the travel industry. He was hired on the spot with a huge pay check. Little did he know that this job had nothing to do with the travel industry and everything to do with preparing the dead before cremation.
Having been "forced" into accepting a job that is not respectable in society plus dealing with internal struggles from the past, makes Daigo's character vulnerable and human. And yet in the end respectable.
The movie makes the viewer feel a myriad of emotions. It will make you laugh, wonder in amazement, and cry. The music beautifully highlights scenes in the movie which tug at the heart.
It's no wonder it won the best foreign language film in the recent Academy Awards.
Based on the film's official website, Departures has been awarded the following:
Winner 10 Japan Academy Prize Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor
Winner - Grand Prix de Ameriques: 32nd Montreal World Film Festival
Winner - Mercedes Benz Audience Award: Best Feature, Palm Springs International FF
Winner - Golden Rooster Award: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki)
Winner - Hawaii International Film festival: Audience Award
Winner - Hochi Film Awards: Best Film
Winner - Nikkan Sports Film Award: Best Film, Best Director
Winner - Kinema Junpo Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki)
I am not sure how you can get a copy but check the link below for more details about the film.