Monday, September 19, 2011

Somtam: A CNN Winner

I wrote about Somtam at Soi 5 sometime ago. Well, I got good news. It's was judged as the best place that served green papaya salad in Thailand. You will be able to find almost every food stall selling somtam so you're probably wondering what makes it different than the rest. Well, you've just got to try it for yourself. Hope you drop by there soon. Be prepared to wait in line.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Thorny Tree, Adulterers Beware!

Back in those days in Cambodia, lovers caught in an adulterous relationship were made to strip down to their birthday suit and climb a tree full of thorns as punishment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


(Sometime July 2011.)  I celebrated my 39th birthday in Jakarta.  I've always been in Manila for my birthday so this was a first for me.  Thought the day would just be like any ordinary work day but my office mates had a surprise for me. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dining at One of Bangkok's Street Corners

(Sometime October 2010.)  S and I decided to have something while waiting for two of our friends. Please take note that even if we ordered the cheapest items, S and I still had to share. This was the most expensive fried rice and shrimp balls I ever paid for.  But you can see why, right?  Presentation is beautiful and the surrounding view is amazing. (Sorry for the awful pictures.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Do You Say Goodnight?

(Sometime October 2010).  This is how the Plaza Athenee says "goodnight".  It's all in the details and the "sweet" stuff like this.  I am not complaining and yes, it was good. 

Bangkok at Night

(Sometime October 2010.)  After having some drinks at the Plaza Athenee, my officemates and I decided to take another view of Bangkok.  Enough of the office and work, now it's time to relax.  Someone suggested the skybar Sirocco at The Dome.  You can see that the view is stunning to say the least.  It's sixty-three stories high and there was quite a breeze.  If you ever decide to go, it's best to bring a jacket or a shawl.  Food and drinks are quite pricey.  I think you pay for the view, that's why.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Miss Cafe de la Paix in Siem Reap

If there's a restaurant or cafe that I would love to keep revisiting in Siem Reap, Cafe de la Paix would be it. Situated on the ground floor of Hotel de la Paix, the cafe is a like a breath of fresh air from the dusty roads of the city. Its minimalist interiors and black and white color scheme exudes a relaxing atmosphere.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Waiting for Mahleen

(Sometime June 2011) Got off at Grand Central Station, exited at Vanderbilt and walked towards St. Patrick's. My cousin was a bit concerned that I would get lost. My sense of direction is not that good but I have miraculously found my way around the city that never sleeps.

While walking I chanced upon Daffy's. I remember wanting to go here during my last visit but didn't get the chance. I think I was meant to go to Daffy 's today. After a few minutes of looking around, nothing really caught my eye so I get out of the store and walk on Madisson towards 51st street. This is where I am meeting Mahleen who was an officemate of mine some years back in the now defunct AGILE.  I see St. Patrick's from the backside and I walk towards the front on Park Avenue. The sweltering heat is terrible. Today's temp is at 97F. I call this Manila weather because it's too damned hot. Beads of sweat slowly trickle down my back as I crane my neck looking for my friend. She hasn't arrived yet.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of people crowding in front of the church because it's graduation season.  Pictures are being taken left and right.  So many happy people, smiling people. I look at them and i think to myself that this is so boring. I remember not wanting to attend my own graduation when I finished my Masters degree. My parents cringed at the thought of skipping such a "momentous event"- to be read as "Thank God, our daughter can go back to working now." I stopped working for two years so I could study full-time. There was no skipping the graduation ceremony for me. End of story. I have pictures of this event.

Anyway, there is still no sign of my friend. I'm actually a bit early for our 4:30pm appointment.  This heat is killing me. I turn and look around for the nearest coffee shop. A few meters away from the corner of Park Avenue and 51st street is "The Primeburger". Anything with air-conditioning would be great at this point. I'm on the verge of dehydration so I order a peach Snapple sit at one of those single seats with the movable tabletop. The brown interiors and bad lighting tells me that this joint probably started in the 60's. In front of me is a picture of SJP and Aidan from one of the scenes from Sex and the City. Meanwhile at the bar, a family of three are about to finish their meal. They seem to be tourists like me. The place doesn't look exceptionally clean but hey if SJP had a burger here then it must not be too bad. One of the waiters is sitting by the bar with his head leaning on his left arm. He's a sleepy and slow waiter. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe he's been doing this for years, who knows. I read through the menu and decide to order a vanilla sundae in case Mahleen is late. My sundae is served and it looks like a huge pile of messy white cream with chocolate sauce poured on top and spilling over the side of the bowl. Arrgh.  I better eat it though or else it would be such a waste as I try to mentally compute how much this thing would cost in pesos. Ten minutes later, Mahleen arrives and the sundae is left unnoticed and melts into oblivion.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You'd Want to Hire a Tuktuk like this in Siem Reap

Sometime November 2010.  Are we spoiled or what?  B and I decided to hire this "tuktuk" because it was only $17 USD more than hiring the "regular tuktuk".  Hey we work hard and we deserve it. Plus we started the morning quite late and finished our breakfast at Blue  Pumpkin around 10:30 a.m. If you add the very hot weather to the equation, then you would probably do the same thing.

This was indeed a nice way to start discovering the temples.

I never loved riding in a vehicle with A/C more than that first day at Siem Reap. Plus there's more...cold drinks and cold towels to wipe the sweat off our brows.  Ahhh, such is life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thailand's World of Chili

Sometime October 2010. Bangkok, Thailand.  Happy to have time to go around Bangkok. My friend and I went around Bangkok's flower market and chanced upon a world of chili.  Take your pick, guys!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Discovering Siem Reap's Blue Pumpkin

Sometime November 2010 (Siem Reap, Cambodia). I was excited to go out and discover the beauty of the temples but not before a proper breakfast. B had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur and we were both ready for the busy day ahead of us. After making arrangements for our transportation, off we went to Blue Pumpkin located near the Old Market. It's like their local version of Starbucks because you can find it in many places around the city.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chamkar's Tofu and the Energetic Vibe at Pub Street

November 27, 2010. Siem Reap. In all honesty it was difficult deciding where to have dinner on my very first night in Siem Reap. There were so many online recommendations from TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Frommer's, New York Times, etc. After much thought combined with half an hour of scanning various reviews plus taking into account my budget (most importantly!), I decided to try Chamkar, a vegetarian restaurant. One of the reviews said that they regretted not discovering this place earlier on during their trip because they would have gone back. Plus, food here was cheaper than the other restaurants in the area. Sounds promising- good yet affordable food.  Yeah, so this was it for me.

I didn't have an easy time finding the place. The tuk-tuk driver didn't know where it was.  All I knew was that it was in the vicinity of Pub street.  Asking the locals standing around the corner of Pub street did not help at all. At that point, I was actually thinking maybe going out tonight was a bad idea since I could have ordered for room service while comfortably tucked away in bed. But well, I was already out and maybe it was time to implement "plan b".  Oh but I didn't have any plan b. Hahaha.  That's the type of traveler I am. Sigh.

Note that tuk-tuks are not allowed to ply Pub street at night.  Pedestrians take over the road as dusk sets in. There's no sidewalk to speak of so having the road blocked off from vehicles at night was definitely a good idea. If you've been to Thailand's Khaosan Road you'll notice some similarity as Pub street exudes such an energetic vibe.  After a few minutes of walking, I decided to take the small alley perpendicular to Pub street. A few steps further and I unexpectedly found Chakram. It's across Amok restaurant. Yay, this was definitely a good sign.

Poetry at Siem Reap

November 27, 2010. Siem Reap, Cambodia.  After a very satisfying dinner at Chamkar, I walked by this alley and discovered that Pub street does not only have a variety of restaurants to satisfy whatever gastronomic cravings one has but it also is home to a few but really cool shops. A nice way to walk off a heavy dinner.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Relaxing Place - Angkor Miracle Resort & Spa

Sometime November 2010. Siem Reap, Cambodia.  My friends (B & V) and I stayed at the Angkor Miracle Resort and Spa in Siem Reap courtesy of a colleague of mine from Phnom Penh.  Well, we got a BIG discount.  A very BIG discount. Were it not for my friend's help (his wife is a good friend of the owner), we couldn't simply afford staying here.  We were only expecting to stay at B&Bs as there are many decent and nice ones.  But we were not going to pass off this opportunity.  Although it's 15 minutes away from Pub Street, we really didn't mind because the $3 USD tuktuk ride to town was really minimal compared to the discount we got for our rooms.  I truly got shocked when I got the bill.  Anyway, for those of you who are looking for a place to stay in Siem Reap, do consider this hotel. Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Front desk.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heading Off to Siem Reap

(Sometime November 2010.)   After working for two weeks in Phnom Penh, I was so ready to take a much needed break in Siem Reap.  My officemate V was flying in from Vietnam while  B who was celebrating her birthday flew in from Manila.  Although I had visited Phnom Penh so many times before, this would be my first visit to Siem Reap.  My friends at the office would actually wonder in amazement why I never visited Siem Reap earlier.  I guess I'm really odd.  It seems that I always want to rush home after a working trip.  But here I am (finally!) at the Phnom Penh Airport waiting for my flight to Siem Reap.

Although there's an itinerary already, I haven't done much research on where to eat. While waiting to board the plane I decide to hang out at a coffee shop and search the web for suggestions.  So happy that their airport has free wifi, our beloved NAIA doesn't.
I was hoping that that would be our plane but alas...

Our plane was the propeller driven aircraft that you see below.  That's Cambodian Angkor Air (CAA).  I think it cost me almost $100 for a one way ticket if I am not mistaken. 

The flight was delayed for an hour and people were just anxious to get on board.

I think Vietnam Airlines (VA) used to ply that same route but not anymore.  I get the impression that CAA could use some competition.  They were late and the price they charge customers is way too expensive.  The Philippines was in a similar predicament some years ago when domestic flights were "monopolized" by Philippine Airlines.  Travel was expensive and flights were delayed.  Thank God, things have changed and there are more choices. 

While on board the plane, an Australian guy starts a conversation and I was too tired to be attentive.  At that point I was sleep depraved and just wanted to have a nap.  So after a few minutes of being polite, I lean my head on the window and close my eyes.

After 45 minutes or so, we finally land at Siem Reap's International Airport.  I breathe a sigh of relief since I didn't feel too comfortable riding on the aircraft. 

Ah, the adventure begins as I walk towards the holding area to pick up my bags.