Posts Tagged ‘family and living

23
Jun
13

WHY WE ENJOYED QUAYSIDE HOTEL & HALIA RESTAURANT & COFFEE BAR IN MALACCA, MALAYSIA

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby in Malacca, Malaysia on our second visit, June 21-23, 2013.

Our 7-hour-night-trip via bus from Butterworth, Penang to Malacca on our second visit to one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites was absolutely worth it!  Despite everything (read : haze from Sumatra’s slash and burn farming that greatly affected Singapore & some states of neighboring Malaysia; yes, including Malacca  but not as severe), we had so many reasons to be thankful for. Quality time with family was spent, gastronomic feasts were enjoyed, special memories were made. :)

For this midyear family getaway, we stayed in Melaka for 3D2N

on sponsored accomodation at the barely month-old,

Quayside Hotel.

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We arrived and checked in so early at 6AM in spite of the regular 3PM check in. Thank you!

Modestly looking warehouse from the outside, impressive interiors with warm hospitality awaits inside.

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Minimalist, masculine and industrial with homey atmosphere made the renovation true to its history of being a century-old- Customs warehouse in this side of Malaysia. My family and I found it so promising and definitely, a great option compared to the usual theme of hotels in Malacca.

Among the 39 rooms in Quayside Hotel, our home for this holiday was Azura Suite with king-sized bed, tasteful details and a stunning view of the Malacca River.

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Gabby felt so home immediately. Best indication of a right place to be! The parents were happy! :)

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Attention put to details and corners was very apparent. Everything looks simple yet uniquely quaint.

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We’re told that breakfast is served at Halia Inc, Restaurant and Coffee Bar starting at 7AM. So after checking in, we freshened up and trooped to the next door establishment to sample their goodies, more so to pacify our borborygmi (growling stomach sounds). ;)

Halia Inc, Restaurant and Coffee Bar

Over all interiors was patterned after the hotel’s old-Customs-warehouse-theme. First glimpse instantly reminded me of Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver; if you know what I mean. On the presentation and taste departments : As good as it gets!

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Let’s get down to business, shall we?

Here’s the usual shameless display of what we chow down. Breakfast : Day One was a delight with my favorite Malaysian dish, Char Koay Teow that’s served on the buffet spread with generous ingredients of plump prawns, slices of squid and taste that’s not overly spicy, perfectly adjusted to foreigner’s taste buds. Some breakfast staples also included a variety of breads partnered with butter and jam, fresh tropical fruits in season, DIY-congee, chicken sausages, fried rice and scrambled eggs (not on photos), washed down with freshly squeezed OJ and nice blends of coffee.

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Signs of happy diners : Loving the day and ear to ear smiles!

Breakfast Day Two : Set Menu of Western and Local favorites.

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Weekend getaways are made of these worry-free-smiles!

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We intentionally chose another charming spot at Halia Restaurant.

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Obviously, happy and hungry. No further captions needed, hehehe! :P

My family had each plate of pancakes smothered by raspberry jam, half-boiled-eggs and French toasts while I enjoyed my first meal on the second day with local fried noodles (Beehon) with sunny-side-up-egg, some pudding and coffee bread (super delicious!) and fresh fruits all packed and served Baba-Nyonya style. :)

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Dinner during our second night was savored at Halia Restaurant again, nonetheless a feast! Prior enjoying our ala carte orders, we engaged in an interesting talks with the owners, Shara & Stuart, and their friendly local staffs particularly, Jaqueline, their fascinating barista who hails from Kuala Lumpur. After taking in some recommendations on what to sample, Team DocGelo was certainly pleased with another memorable epicurean experience.

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Behind those photos are moments to cherish! Naks! :)

Tina, Gabby and I chose these yummies from Halia’s menu :

Mushroom Soup (Soup of the day) Served With Garlicky Sourdough Toast

All-Cheese-Pizza (by request sans toppings) for Gabby

Linguine Aglio Olio With Prawns, Squid and American Mussels for me

Oat-Crusted-Norwegian Salmon, Yuzu Butter Sauce, Market Vegetables for Tina

Asam Boi : Sweet Calamansi and Preserved Plum (local refresher) for me

Lime, Mint, Soda Mocktail for Tina

Halia Inc.’s Tiramisu

Sticky Date Pudding, Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream

Cappuccino for Tina

Mocha for me.

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Are we satisfied with what we tasted from Halia Inc.’s menu? Those smiles mean a lot! :)

2
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I’m no hotelier or a man in the Tourism industry but I personally think the 3-star-hotel category of Quayside Hotel is underrated. Just because the hotel doesn’t have swimming pool or lifts because it’s only a 2-storey-structure doesn’t mean it couldn’t satisfy what tourists and guests are looking in an accomodation during leisure or holiday.

LOCATION

About five (5) minutes away from Melaka Sentral by taxi cab, situated at the center of Heritage Site, just after that giant Malaccan water wheel, along the Malacca River. A stone’s throw away from commercial malls, public and night markets, the famous Jonker Street, Red Square where Christ Church Melaka and Clock Tower are located. In order words, VERY ACCESSIBLE, so go book Quayside Hotel on your next Malaccan trip!

ROOMS :

Spacious, stylish and comfortable.

Wooden floors from lobby to hallways to suites! Impressive!

SERVICE :

Local staffs were courteous and fluent in English (apparently, a big plus to travelers & tourists).

RATES :

Surprisingly, reasonable and highly competitive with the other hotels around.

FOOD & BEVERAGE :

Delicious! Complimentary breakfast included on the package.

WIFI ACCESS :

Fast and FREE!

AMBIANCE FOR HOLIDAY :

Excellent. Relaxing. Not Intimidating

LOCAL FLAVOR :

Other than offering local cuisine together with Western favorites on their menu at Halia Inc Restaurant, Quayside Hotel also supports Malaysian culture, artists and their creativity by putting up its very own boutique shop and art gallery.

OUR SUGGESTIONS :

While our family highly recommends Quayside Hotel in Malacca based on what we experienced for 3D2N stay, here’s a short list of our humble suggestions for their improvement. *PLEASE BEAR IN MIND that all these were noted ONLY at Azura Suite, the hotel lobby and Halia Inc Restaurant & Coffee Bar, after the hotel’s ONE MONTH of operation. These comments and suggestions do not reflect the present condition of all the rooms in Quayside hotel & Halia Inc Restaurant. To us, everything’s fine but could have been better with enhancement of the following MINOR observations and personal suggestions :

  • Glass shower room at Azura suite needs (rubber-)sealing at the bottom of its glass door in order for water not to flow to the floor, to keep the toilet area dry at all times.
  • The sink at the toilet’s nice but must have soap dish(es).  A packet of thread & needles, plus comb will complete the travel necessities.
  • While hot and cold shower’s refreshing, a shampoo holder will be a good addition to the soap container inside the shower.
  • We appreciate the availability of iron and iron board, hangers and safe inside the wardrobe but better to provide at least a pair of long umbrellas and sets of room-slippers too.
  • A telephone at the bedside table in Azura suite could provide security and convenience to guests.
  • According to my wife, Tina, some fresh flowers and framed arts could make the lobby and first floor lounging area prettier.
  • In Halia Inc. Restaurant and Coffee Bar, I personally suggest the use of place mats under plates to protect the handsome wooden tables from early worn out.
  • Tina and Gabby suggest the addition of cereals and other fruit juices during breakfast. My wife also mentioned the spread could’ve been better with the provision of a bread toaster for guests to do their own toast.
  • Other than these small issues, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND Quayside Hotel and Halia Inc. Restaurant and Coffee Bar to all tourists and travelers in Malacca! :)

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Special thanks to Quayside Hotel, Halia, Inc Restaurant & Coffee Bar, and to Stuart and Shara for the generosity.

  • Quayside Hotel & Halia, Inc Restaurant  & Coffee Bar | No. 1, Jalan Merdeka, Quayside Heritage Centre, Banda Hilir, 75000 Melaka | Tel. No. : +606 284 1001 | Fax : +606 284 1002/1003.
  • Website : http://www.quaysidehotel.com.my
  • facebook : https://www.facebook.com/quaysidehotelmelaka
  • Email : hello@quaysidehotel.com.my (If in case you’ll be writing them, tell the very young and inspiring owners, Stuart & Shara that you read about their beautiful establishments here and please give our warm regards to them. Thanks!).

*While this is a sponsored blog post, the words are all mine unless quoted, and were never influenced by anyone.

Some photos on this post were taken by my lovely wife, Tina. I’m proud of her creativity! Day 3 Breakfast photos and menu are not yet included on this post as the blogger drafted and completed this entry prior to breakfast on 23rd June 2013 (without sleep on his own will & passion for blogging).

More stories and photos to come on this blog series, so stay tuned! :)

19
May
13

1885 : E&O HOTEL PENANG’S FINE DINING RESTAURANT

Memorable. It was one of our most unforgettable dining experiences ever. We’re eternally grateful!

05/17/13, Friday, Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, Malaysia. My family and I were fortunately invited by E&O to a 3D2N luxury accomodation at one of the five-123-square-meter-Corner Suites, among its 117 units of 55-square-meter-Superior Suites located at the newly built, Victory Annexe wing (our experience & views on the hotel suites, other F&Bs & facilities  plus our personal recommendations will be on a separate post on this blog series about E&O).

On top of the many exclusive privileges for guests at Victory Annexe that my family and I enjoyed, such as daily breakfast in either Sarkies at its ground floor (which we already sampled previously; blog post HERE!) or in Planter’s Lounge at its 6th level that also serves evening cocktails, E&O was more than generous to invite us as well, to a weekend family dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, 1885.

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My son & I at the living room of E&O Hotel Penang’s Corner Suite before heading to dinner at 1885.

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby at the hallway connecting Victory Annexe Wing & Heritage Wing.

1885 is located at the ground floor of the historical Heritage Wing of Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, which is a few-meter-walk from where we checked in. Stepping inside the restaurant felt surreal; the atmosphere was absolutely different. I silently observed Tina and Gabby’s reactions when all of us allowed the moment to just sink in. It was truly an amazing treat for the three of us!

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“Named for the year that the E&O Hotel was established, 1885 offers classical yet contemporary cuisine in an elegant environment in the finest traditions of colonial fine dining.

The selection of inventive fusion dishes from our accomplished chefs, accompanied by a superb selection of wines, marks 1885 as the perfect choice for an enjoyable dining experience.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea is also served in this elegant setting. Candlelit tables, starched linens, silver service, and attentive staff create a magical experience.” ~sourced from http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/

Every table was set simply in tuned with the E&O’s theme : Timeless elegance.

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The view from where we sat.

A set menu was specially prepared for us courtesy of the Chef, who happened to be on a special assignment in another Malaysian state that night. Nonetheless, the 6-course-meal was obviously well thought of and was nothing short of impressive.

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The set menu for Tina & I.

One of the strongest points that impressed us with 1885 was the fact that they provided a kiddie-dinner-menu for Gabby. Believe me, having  separate adult and children’s menus means so much for a family of diners! As in our case, Gabby got to exercise his decision making when he trusted his very own taste in selecting between choices from appetizers to entrees and desserts.

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Waiting for our orders was never an issue since we’re entertained by a very soothing and relaxing music that further enhanced the over all ambience of 1885 and of course, made our lovely epicurean experience even more remarkable. A pianist was playing pieces from our wonder years! Love songs commonly heard on the radio during late 80s and 90s were beautifully played on the piano throughout our 7PM to 11PM dinner.

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I didn’t expect 1885 to be filled with diners that night but tables were almost packed. I may have underestimated not the restaurant itself,  but the choices of guests when it comes to eating places in Penang. It was a great proof that there’s really a market for high-end and quality-dining amidst the volume of affordable hawkers in this Malaysian gastronomic paradise!

Our dinner kicked off with a variety of breads on a basket carried by waiters from table to table.

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Herbed and salted butter on bread never fails to stimulate!

Tina and I opted to have different entrees. The choices were usual but the plates were extraordinary.  It was a toss between seared fish and baked steak. In as much as I wanted to dunk my fork on a handsome slice of Wagyu Fillet Mignon, I allowed Tina to have it since she liked it over the cod fish and I thought, she’d eventually share it with me, and she did, hehehe!

Because we’re having fish and beef dishes, white and red wines to complement everything were mandatory. I like! :)

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The service of 1885 staff was impeccable. They were highly courteous, quick and attentive. Kudos! To us, they deserve a raise! :)

Not merely because we’re far from being wine connoisseurs (well, surely we’re not!) but I personally have confidence with established restaurants’ recommendations. So when one of the staff asked us of what wines we like, we threw the question back to him politely. With a smile, he instantly suggested Fire Road Pinot Noir 2011 from New Zealand and LFE Chardonnay 2012 from Chile.

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Fire Road Pinot Noir 2011, New Zealand.

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Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay 2012, Chile.

It was indeed, a fine dining but our conversation remained casual. Gabby discussed his wishes on how to celebrate his upcoming 9th birthday in his school here this October; he already had ideas in mind from the cake, to his requested fried chicken fillet strips with home-made gravy for his mom to prepare for his classmates and teachers, and the gifts that he’d like to receive -what else but toys!

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While Tina & I were savoring wines, the little boy wonder was gulping iced water. :)

One by one, our plates arrived on our table.

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Amuse Bouche.  This bite-sized hors d’œuvre was Ratatouille; rich with tomatoes and veggies. With no overpowering flavor, Tina and I found it just fine.

Between Tomato Soup and Creme of Mushroom, Gabby chose the latter and he liked it a lot, leaving his soup bowl empty in few sec.

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Creme of Mushroom Soup, Buttered Crouton

The greens came in next.

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Rocket Salad. Cherry Tomato, Herb Ricotta Cheese Crouton Cracked Black Pepper

Must have detailed shot…

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I asked my wife if she like it the way I do and we’re both on the same page. Cheesy and crunchy leaves with mild hints of anchovies. The fusion was effectively tasteful!

If Gabby had Creme of Mushroom Soup, Tina and I had the Lobster Bisque.

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Lobster Bisque. Lobster Fricassee, Garlic Bread Croutons. We both love seafoods; no explanations needed.

Then it was time to cleanse the palates.

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Sorbet

The test of patience and understanding happened when a wait staff committed mistake in mentally jotting down the orders. Between Carbonara and Bolognese Pasta, our little-big boy told the waiter he likes the former. After several minutes of waiting, a pasta plate with red sauce landed on our table.

Gabby to Tina : “Ma, is this Carbonara?”

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Pasta Bolognese

We looked at each other and without wasting a minute, I called the attention of the waiter. Told him that our boy wants Carbonara and not Bolognese. The staff apologized, took the plate and positively replied that he’ll prepare another plate with Carbonara sauce; he even asked us if he can use Rigatoni. To me, that’s being customer-friendly!

Gabby’s choice :

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Rigatoni Carbonara

Tina and I saw how Gabby literally devoured his Carbonara. It was even piping hot when Gabby had his fork with pasta to his mouth, one after the other. We were in awe watching him eat. It must be that good!

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Baked Wagyu Fillet Mignon. Anna Potato, Lotus Tempura, Spinach Shallot Glaze

Detail shot…

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1885′s Baked Wagyu Fillet Mignon passed Tina’s disriminating taste! She had it medium-well and even commented to me that it nearly tasted her favorite fillet mignon dish that she ate in one of the most regarded restaurants in Tagaytay City back home. She shared to me a generous chunk and I effortlessly understood her praises for the dish. It must be the quality of beef plus the meticulous method of cooking. The potato side dish was not merely chopped and fried but was creatively done in thin and layered servings.

My plate :

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Seared Cod Fish. Sauteed Soba, Beans Sprout, Tempura Prawn, Sesame Soya Dressing

The cod fish was well seasoned; neither bland nor too salty. It perfectly complemented the crispy prawn tempura. What made the dish soared to the highest heavens was pairing it with sauteed soba. I only hoped for another similar plate that night! ;) And the waiter’s recommendation of chardonnay? I never had a doubt.

Gabby thought of having Single Scoop Ice Cream over Trio Flavored Ice Cream from the kiddie menu.

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Vanilla Ice Cream 

If Gabby only had the very common yet classic, vanilla flavored ice cream, 1885 prepared a uniquely textured and bitter-sweet dessert plate for Tina and I.

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Toffee Mascarpone Cheesecake. Maple Sauce, Cinnamon Cherry, Almond Shortbread

It’s hard to fake it; we liked every plate from the very first one to our dessert. Just look at the smile of my lovely wife. Naks! :D

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At this point, we’re almost struggling with satiation. Tina and I told the wait staff that since our Corner Suite has coffee making facility, we had to let go of having coffee at 1885. However, we got a word that they already began brewing it, so we happily gave in. What’s a pretty meal without coffee ending (or to some, tea) anyway?

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Freshly Brewed Coffee (or selection of Gourmet Tea)

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The happy diners!

Before writing this, I asked Tina and Gabby of their honest comments with the service, ambiance and food of 1885 and I got no negative response. I only heard from both of them, “Masarap!” or in Bahaya Malaysia, “Sedap!”

We wish to come back for some English Afternoon Tea next time.

Thank you very much, 1885 at E&O Hotel Penang! :)

>><<

STAY TUNED for MORE of this E&O BLOG SERIES!

1885 | Eastern & Oriental Hotel | 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 102oo Penang, Malaysia | Operating hours : 2PM-11PM (daily), English Afternoon Tea is served from 2PM to 5PM | website : http://e-o-hotel.com/1885/

*While this is a sponsored blog post, the words are all mine unless quoted, and were never influenced by anyone.

01
Jan
13

‘TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2012

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

 

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Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a blast in your holiday celebrations as much as we did. I just came home last December 30th from my very first (hopefully not the last as per permission from Tina) solo backpacking trip in Chiang Mai and enjoyed 4D3N of awesome Thai-adventure! But prior to that, my family and I left our work and current home base in Penang and went to Kuala Lumpur from December 22nd-25th, last year (still feel quite weird saying that “last year” phrase!).  

24 December 2012. Leboh Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Immediately after we checked out from our budget hotel accomodation in Hotel 1915 and left our luggage and bags in its concierge, we strolled our way to a nearby Gereja Katolik (Bahasa Malaysia for Catholic Church) called St. John Cathedral located approximately 5 minute-walk from Leboh Ampang or the so-called, Little India in KL and around 10-15 minute-walk from Masjid Jamek LRT station. I learned about St. John Cathedral via what else but googling and thankfully, it’s located so close to where we stayed for our first 2 nights.

Despite there was no scheduled Holy Mass that high noon, we entered the church, said our prayers and words of gratitude. There was an atmosphere of Christmas-in-the-Philippines somehow in this part of Malaysia with the sight of parol at the facade (Christmas lantern that symbolizes the star in Bethlehem that guided the wise men and shepherds to the Infant Jesus) and a belen or a Nativity scene beside the main altar.

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St John Cathedral | No. 5 Jalan Bukit Nanas 50250 Kuala Lumpur | www.stjohnkl.net

Then we headed back to Leboh Ampang for that necessary lunch. We were thinking of getting our bags first from Hotel 1915 and tranfer to JW Mariott where we decided to spend our Christmas eve but we opted to fill in our almost empty tummies before anything else. Glad it was on the top of our priorities; Abraham Maslow would agree! :D

Another happy problem rose and that was where to eat? The area boasts of common fastfood joints -from McDonald’s, Burger King and Chatime and some local restaurants and hawker food stalls.  It wasn’t difficult for Tina and I to convince Gabby for us to have an Indian-Malaysian lunch because our wonder boy himself loves to put his hand on some Cheese Naan and dips it to dahl or some spicy sauce before savoring it in his discriminating mouth. Soon enough, we found ourselves seated inside the airconditioned Indian Restaurant in Leboh Ampang called Sangeetha.

Lunch @ Sangeetha, an Indian Vegetarian Restaurant

Seriously checking the menu…
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Tina and Gabby had baskets filled with Cheese and Garlic Naan with cheesy dip for their light lunch. It’s a family favorite!

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While the big-eater-in-me sampled one of the restaurant’s most frequently ordered items from their menu. It’s called Sangeetha Special Thali and this is how lovely it looks like :

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Sangeetha Restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant so it offers less guilt on the diet (for those diet-consicous).

Sangeetha Special Thali was served beautifully first with vegetarian-orange-colored soup that’s thick and hot and flavorful! Then it came with a visually stunning set of cup of rice, a piece of chapathi,  papadom and dried salty chili. Those carbo-rich items placed at the center of the entire set were complemented by Indian saucy dishes- kootu, potato masala, rassam, veggies that reminded me of lumpia, dahl, yoghurt and sweet and yellow dessert. A scoop of berry-flavored ice cream was also served as part of that Sangeetha Special Thali set. And did I tell you already that those dishes and even the rice were refillable? I didn’t challenge my appetite to ask for another serving. Everything was satisfyingly good and I highly recommend it when you find yourself in this part of KL but my palates are still biased with Restoran Kapitan in the heart of Lebuh Chulia in Pulau Pinang. :D

Detail shot of that impressive Sangeetha Special Thali…
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Then we became busier of course! Nom nom nom…
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Smiling while something is in your mouth wasn’t easy, lol
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Done with lunch!
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We collected our luggage and bags from Hotel 1915, hailed a cab (we could’ve taken the LRT as we used to when we were there if not for our heavy loads) and trooped to Bukit Bintang.

Checking in at JW Mariott was a breeze. Detailed review of our stay deserves a separate blog post.

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After quick freshening up, I was excited to bring my family to Feast Village at the basement of Starhill Gallery which is located exactly adjacent to JW Mariott -we didn’t even have to go out of the building of the hotel (everything mentioned is owned by YTL).

When I was invited to an exclusive food-tasting-tour last November, Feast Village at Starhill Gallery generously gave me a 100-ringgit-voucher to be spent either at Fisherman’s Cove or Village Bar.

Look at how Gabby’s amazed with the live lobsters and fish-ready-to-be-cooked-upon-order at Firsherman’s Cove.

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Tina and I must bring this kid to a bigger aquarium when we get a chance. He’s so fascinated with Science as he gets a load of info not only from his school but from watching NatGeo Wild on TV.
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A decision was made by the two. We sampled Village Bar for free and passed up Fisherman’s Cove.

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village bar christmas 2012
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Once again, I was in awe with this ultimately quaint bar located at the basement of Starhill Gallery. I’m glad my family loved it too! We all admire those vibrantly colored and fascinating lamps; Tina and I wished that we would have a lanai one day with all of them dropping from our very own ceiling. Lovely, isn’t it?

With a 100-ringgit-free-voucher at hand, we ordered Mojito, Cosmopolitan and Vanilla Madagascar from a Filipino bar tender in Village Bar. I had the Mojito, Cosmopolitan for Tina and of course, Vanilla Madagascar which is non-alcoholic for our kiddo. A serving of assorted nuts was offered free. :D

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I like these next shots. Look how Gabby enjoyed his drink from Village Bar…
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Blurry, I know but I love this photo taken at the mall in Starhill Gallery. It certainly spells the holiday we savored!
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After those drinks at Village Bar in Feast Village, we went to Pavilion Mall which is located just across Starhill Gallery and Mariott. It was a fine afternoon filled with Christmas spirit and a very blissful atmosphere amidst the holiday rush.

Festive mood in front of Starhill Gallery and JW Mariott Hotel…

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Crossed the street to Pavilion Mall and we’re greeted with more gold, green and red colors of the season…
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In my opinion, Pavilion’s holiday decors and ornaments topped that of Suria-KLCC-Shopping Complex’s this year. Pavilion’s nothing but magnificent! One Christmas tree was absolutely not enough! lol

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We had no game plan in mind but to buy something for our Noche Buena that we planned to celebrate inside our room and for Gabby to buy a Lego toy. Inside Parkson’s Department Store, Tina’s excitement was so apparent after seeing Pucca dolls. I was somewhat left out because I don’t know anything about Pucca! I did nothing but to capture the moment! …Picture!

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We grabbed what we wanted for our Christmas Eve dinner from Mercato grocery and Lavander Bake Shop inside Pavilion and went out of the said mall. It was already dusk and Jalan Bukit Bintang was indeed living up to its name (Bukit Bintang means star hill); everything was lit up! Bikit Bintang was screaming Christmas!!!

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It was a lovely night for my family. Will definitely share what we think of JW Mariott, what it needs to improve and provide to clients, our Noche Buena and Media Noche soon on the concluding post of this Christmas 2012 Blog Series.

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From my family to yours, Happy 2013, everyone and may we all have a healthier, happier new year!

Cheers to more family bonding, food and fun adventures!

>><<

31
Dec
12

OUR CHRISTMAS MASQUERADE LUNCH BUFFET AT SHOOK!

Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :

*Warning : This is another visual overload. You know the drill before you drool. I suggest you get yourself a tall glass of iced water prior reading this post and salivate involuntarily. lol 

>><<

25 December 2012. Christmas Day. Feast Village, Starhill Gallery, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

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Tina, Gabby and I had the grandest Christmas Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur and we hope you enjoyed yours too! We spent Christmas eve in a deluxe room in JW Mariott Hotel and savored our simple Noche Buena feast and a satisfying breakfast buffet meal at Shook! (both deserve a seperate blog posts). We were given the privilege of late check out at 2PM but we managed to settle everything at 12noon and went back to Shook! to grace their Masquerade Christmas Day Lunch Buffet!

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This gastronomic experience is nothing short of spectacular! Of all the eat-all-you-want feasts we enjoyed from the Philippines to Malaysia, Shook! Christmas Masquerade Buffet Lunch at Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang (which literally means, ‘star hill’) is the most fantastic, stellar and stunning, certainly entertaining, lavishly fascinating gastronomic experience to date with all those scrumptious spread of Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Italian, Continental cuisines perfectly paired with free-flowing champagne (we passed up the bottomless champagne and opted to wash everything down with Evian water)!  Shook! offers this splendid theatrical buffet every Sunday but for us who currently live more than 300km from Kuala Lumpur, we’re thankful for the chance that we had it on the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas! What a great time and reason for such indulgence!

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I spoke to Mr. Raj, one of the main men behind Shook! in Feast Village and he proudly told me all those holiday decors and pretty ornaments were prepared by the staff themselves. Bravo for such efforts! They creatively set the ambiance and the mood for everyone’s enjoyment. Even the tiniest details on the tables were not overlooked. What a visual and digestive feast it was! :)

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“The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.

~CS Lewis

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Apart from the buffet spread, diners had the opportunity of choosing entrees on the menu; we selected one for each of us. Clockwise from top photo : Tina opted to try a beef dish that was pleasantly plated while I didn’t miss the chance of having seafoods and that Shook’s award winning dish that I sampled last November when they generously invited me for a tasting tour at selected restaurants in Feast Village, the Dancing Prawn. Gabby’s choice was predictable and classic; he had his favorite, Ebi Tempura that seemed like all coated with batter but were all nibbled by Gabby so I guess it successfully passed his young discriminating taste.

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There were Mongolian BBQ, Roast Turkey and Beef Ribs (which I also sampled, delicious, tender & flavorful!), Western Style Salad Bar, Selection of Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Thai Food Counters, Cheese Buffet, Antipasti and more but my palates were so biased to what I don’t usually eat on a daily basis. After all, it’s Christmas, must eat your favorites. And for me, it’s seafood dishes and Japanese!

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While Gabby loves Ebi Tempura, I also share the love for such dishes with Tina. Look at my lovely wife’s plates…

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This is the only eat-all-you-want that we experienced amazing entertainment. There were clown-balloon maker, magician, juggler, all staff dressed in Medieval splendor, there’s Santa Clause who went table to table giving candies to the old and the young as if the dessert spread wasn’t enough, and yes, there was live band and choir singing what else but lovely Christmas carols! Everything’s magical! Surreal!

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The service of all staff of Shook! at Feast Village was quick, warm and friendly! Everyone deserves a salary raise if you ask me! They surely complemented everything on this fabulous feast!

Food. More glorious food!

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Desserts were absolutely divine.

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Lively and lovely atmosphere…
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Cups of cappuccino to end a beautiful meal.

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The buffet started 12PM and lasted until 3:30PM; too many food, so little time and stomach! lol. :D As we bid goodbye to the best buffet experience we had for 2012, we were gifted with freebies of heavenly chocolate cupcakes topped with moist and decadent chocolate icing and Christmas ornaments. What a great takeaway!

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Apparently, one can never measure happiness with anything money could buy. It’s not on the food we eat, the gifts we receive, the cars you drive, the things you shop but it eternally springs on those precious moments we spend with people who love and treasure us.  My biggest joy for Christmas 2012 was celebrating its meaning with my family and seeing ear-to-ear-smiles on their faces. Priceless definitely! :)

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May the good Lord continuously shower all of us with more of His bountiful blessings this 2013 and beyond.

Have a Prosperous, Healthier & Happier New Year, everyone!

*This is NOT a sponsored post but special thanks goes out to Shook! and Starhill Gallery people, Yati, Raj and Rachel Yong! Warm regards to all the staff particularly to the Filipino crew at Shook! :)

Feast Village, Starhill Gallery | 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur | www.feastvillage.com

>><<

28
Oct
12

INSPIRED BY THE WALKING DEAD

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve definitely seen these photos taken from years of Gabby’s trick or treating in his school and malls in Manila and a mall here in Penang.
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Several weeks back, Tina and I asked our 8-year-old kiddo if he still digs being in costume to celebrate Halloween. Gabby replied positively but he professed he doesn’t want to join any contest in the mall like what he did before. He only wanted to have fun and enjoy the occasion. OK. Fine. :)

Luckily, few malls here in Penang partake in this Western tradition of celebrating Halloween; we had choices where to go to. Last year, we had it at Queensbay Mall while this year, we spent half of our Sunday at 1st Avenue Mall.

And because Gabby’s a bit older already, his choices in all things also mature gradually. This Halloween, he opted to dress as a zombie, perhaps so inspired by one of our favorite TV series, The Walking Dead. After having an idea of what to wear, Tina began to be more imaginative this time on how to zombie-fied our cute little Gabby.

She started with what we have in the kitchen. Egg white, artificial food coloring and tissue paper worked well with my wife’s creativity.
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She used these to make fake blood; the egg white served as binder or glue the tissue paper on Gabby’s school-boy-complexion making him look more like someone from the grave. Clever eh? I say pure talent! LOL! :)

At home, they had rehearsal. The two were in character!!!

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zombie : halloween 2012
Call it weird but at least it’s clean FUN and most importantly, we’re HAPPY! ;)
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28 OCTOBER 2012. Sunday. 1st Avenue Mall. We found a seat inside Starbucks Coffee after engaging on a hearty brunch meal at Dome. Of course, I needed to take the “BEFORE” photo of the two.
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Beautiful, aren’t they? :D
Then my wife brought out all her stuffs -food colors, hypoallergenic face makeup, sheets of tissue paper, and yes, an egg that she had to crack on the table of Starbucks to get its white.
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Gabby wanted it, so he was so submissive. Take note, there’s no coercion nor force here! :D
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Just so you know, my wife is a professional Operating Room Nurse and a former Clinical Instructor and she has no formal schooling on makeup more so on prosthetics but isn’t her work amazing? And apparently, Gabby’s the cutest “Walking Dead” ever!!!
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Must be in character!
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Despite there were no candies, no loot bags that’s so unlikely the Philippines (we certainly miss going to Greenbelt, Landmark, TriNoma, and Gateway!), we all had fun taking photos of those Malaysians who were in costumes too!
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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! :D

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20
Oct
12

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

No, this isn’t about History but something about Science. Nothing too heavy;  just about Gabby and me and a wonderful repetition of what’s done in the past.

Ages ago when I was in 4th (or was it 3rd?) grade in Marikina Catholic School, I was assigned to a Science project called, “Soil Erosion”. With only two rectagular wooden boxes at hand –one with soil, the other one with soil and plant and a small water dipper, I presented my experiement at the school’s Science Fair.  For one whole day, my classmates and I were provided individual tables inside a classroom to set up our experiments for demonstration. When guests, teachers and other students started to pour in, I remember I had to repeat the explanation to my “experiment” several times over.  Then came the nuns, teachers and a priest who all held pens and papers, dropped by each table to asked queries about each presentation. I didn’t know it’s a contest, much more I didn’t expect to win as somewhat like, the Best Science Project or so. It’s a pleasant surprise after a long and tiring day at school.

Looking back, I think it gave me the first exposure in public speaking that serendipitously led me to what I do now for a living.

Fast forward to October 15, 2012, Monday, it was time for our son, Gabby to present a Science project in school here in Penang. Nothing specific was assigned to him, only something to do with Science. The 8-year-old boy had so many things in mind.  Initially, he wanted to create and bring a model of a head that when lifted, will expose a model of a brain, then he also thought of making a volcano that would errupt and a few more of ideas that he got from watching Science-and-craft-oriented shows on TV and from reading encyclopedia in school. I casually told my family about my “Soil Erosion” project back in my days. Probably because of its simplicity, environmental and social relevance, they agreed on the suggestion. Together, Gabby and I recereated what I demonstrated in our Science Fair back in the mid 80s. :D

We didn’t have rectangular wooden boxes so we used two plastic pots –one with soil, the other one with a plant.

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Although, everything was made in a rush, I had fun helping out Gabby with his project.  I prepared a written report about his Soil Erosion; Tina helped me out to simplify the words that kids of Gabby’s age and younger could easily understand. Say, for example instead of using the word, “objectives”, we used “goals” or rather than using the word, “applied”, we used “added” and for “methodology”, “procedures”.

Apparently, it’s difficult to explain and demonstrate something that’s new to you and things you don’t comprehend so we made sure Gabby understood what his project is all about before he brought everything in school.

The boy easily grasped everything after I showed him photos of flood and landslides from the web. Gabby saw images from the Philippines that captured effects of having less or no trees in the mountains that supposed to absorb water from rainfall. His reaction was the same as mine.

I instructed him to use plastic and old newspapers as the base of his set up and told him that the roots of the plant in his experiment represent the roots of trees, and the soil in the pots depicts the Earth. Obviously, when he pours water in each pots, the one with no plant would wash down soil particles in an instant.

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After his day in school, Tina and I asked Gabby how his experiment demonstration was and our wonder boy only replied smilingly, “It’s OK!” :D

20
Jun
12

POWER LUNCH WITH THE IRELAND-BOUND

16th June 2012, Saturday.  My family and I took the bus-ferry-bus-rides from Butterworth to Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang (Penang Island) at around 10AM to just before lunch time to grace the exclusive invitation of our students who will be studying Medicine in either Galway or Cork in Ireland beginning this September as Malaysian scholars (read : everything’s FREE!). I believe this was their generous way of saying ‘THANK YOU’  to our humble efforts. Trust me, there was No-Grades or No-Marks-Attached to this occasion; it was purely a very warm and friendly get-together-party. FYI, I was a part of their Pre-Med studies and currently the soon-to-end, Bridging Course-Ireland program.

From the first set of photos on this post, one might think that we went to a park, a zoo or an aviary. Actually, the venue of our eat-all-you-want-lunch was at The Flamingo Hotel by the beach. I confess, I underestimated this hotel upon the sight of its modest lobby but when I saw the gorgeous beach, I immediately thought otherwise.

How lucky I am that my students invited even my family…

About the next photo :  With me were the English lecturers from London who are now based in Penang, Esther and Phil, they’re great friends of Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan Kok Ewe (or simply, Dato’ Chan for us) who’s seated next to them. It has been a pleasure for me and one of my best learning and humbling experiences as Dato’ Chan shared the lectures of Bridging Course-Ireland to me 2 days a week from October 2011-June 2012. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan  happens to be our school’s Pro Chancellor too and the Director of Island Hospital, Penang and not to forget that he’s the Chairman of Penang Hospice Society among the long list of his worthwhile contributions.

That’s me beside Esther and Phil with the one and only, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan

Must-Read-About-Dato’-Chan :  As Esther, Phil and I conversed, we all agreed that Dato Chan is one of the most noble & humble men we’ve ever met. His feet remain planted on the ground despite his humongous achievements (read : he’s one of the few Malaysian MD-pillars of Medical Research). Whenever I go and see him at his office to get the materials (which include powerpoint slides that he makes and videos related to our lectures that he personally handpicks), he never fails to amuse and motivate me even without trying. He’s a man beyond his titles. I would not know about the Korean Singing Pop-Group, Girls’ Generation if not for him (Do you know Girls’ Generation? If not, google them on youtube like what I did when Dato Chan made me watch one of their MTVs. When I told him that I was surprise that a guy his age can appreciate contemporary music that even I was not aware of, I noted from his reply that his age does not impose any limitations)!

Imagine inspite of his status, he managed to make cups of coffee for me and Tina on this lunch.

Not everyone does that to his subordinates.

His humility is so inspirational!

His humor and zest for life, phenomenal! :D

Meet the Malaysian scholars who are all Ireland-bound this September! *applause*

It’s not because they treated us for this lunch but I have to state, these Malaysian scholars who will be studying Medicine in either NUIG in Galway or UCC in Cork, Ireland starting mid-September 2012 until two and a half years after (then, they’ll go back to Taiping, Malaysia for their Clinicals and housemanship), are the epitome of the cream of the crop. Teaching them the few basics of Medicine has been such a breeze because they’re so responsible and goal-oriented. They attend to our classes with so much enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Proof to that is their active participation in our lectures (I cannot remember a 2-hour-class with them that was so boring) and mind you, they laugh spontaneously when I crack jokes! :)

Formal to wacky…

Tina took my photos with them…

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan with our Ireland-bound-students

Once more, everyone with Tina this time…

It was so fun talking to Esther and Phil (Afiqah and Aizat helped me and Tina go through it without epistaxis or nosebleeding, hehehe!). We spoke about almost everything from their stay here in Penang for almost 3 years now, their favorite Malaysian dishes; Esther recommended a list of hawker food stalls from various parts of Penang with corresponding specialties! I remember the most interesting part was when Esther shared their experiences with the unforgettable tsunami that hit Penang (and Phuket, remember?) and the recent earthquake + tsunami alert which made us all panic. Tina and I were amazed to learn that Esther and Phil were very cool in dealing with the latter as they even had cups of tea in their balcony while my family and I evacuated and slept the night in a hotel far from our seafront-11th floor-appartment. And of course, we talked about THE PHILIPPINES. Phil and Esther want to visit our country during the Christmas holiday and boy, they were surprised to hear when I said that Filipinos celebrate Christmas season starting SEPTEMBER! Don’t we? :D

Enough with the photo-ops and those introductions; let’s get down to business. Here’s what we chow down….

I started with this noodle soup that looks like simple mami (mamee) dish for Filipinos, but the red & spicy sauce makes it Malaysian…

The hot & spicy broth did not irritate my taste buds; I actually liked it! Then, there was tempura station near the pool side so I sampled some ebi and veggie tempura and a few fried spring rolls. Sarap! Sedap! :P

That may have been another shameless display of dietary consumption from this site, but heck, I savored this plate to bits, even made me to want more! That’s how delicious those dishes in this plate were. The omelette, chicken, fish and that lamb were all tender and flavorful! The Briyani rice was tasteful too. I’m lost for superlatives to describe each. :)

If you’re a Filipino reading this post and viewing those photos, yes, you are absolutely correct in thinking that most Nyonya or Peranakan (Straits/Chinese-Malaysian) delicacies here in Penang look like our very own sweets from the Philippines. The rice cakes we have back home appear like those glutinous treats here; the difference lies on the tastes – ours mostly satisfy sweet tooth, but some Malaysian delicacies have a hint of saltiness infused with sweetness.

At this point, I remember I was already struggling to wish I had more room in my gastric pit but truth didn’t allow me to get some fruits from the spread. :( Anyway, after this Nyonya delicacies, I had coffee made by Dato Chan himself; now that’s one for the books! ;)

It was a sumptuous lunch! The spread was mostly Malay dishes but they’re not that spicy and I truly liked it and might consider to go back for another Sunday buffet lunch with my family some other time. It’s so relaxing to enjoy a buffet with that priceless view with your love ones.

And to the 14 students (2 were not able to join us for this lunch) of Bridging Course-Ireland 2011-2012, I know I already told you this a countless times in between our classes, but would like to state it here again. Always remember that you are so BLESSED to have such opportunity to study MEDICINE for FREE in EUROPE no less. You’ll gain more than Medical knowledge but an experience to cherish for as long as you live! If you keep in mind that you are blessed and you know how to count your blessings, you will not only become what you dream of but will be an inspiration to others too.

Thank you for bearing with me every Tuesdays and Fridays from October 2011 to end of June 2012  Teaching for your batch taught me so many things beyond books and classrooms; indeed, learning has been mutual. I’ll surely miss doing lectures for you! :(

To Prof. Dato’ Dr. Chan, my work in AUCMS has been worthwhile because of you, Sir! Words are not enough to express my gratitude to you!

Thank you, Bridging Course-Ireland 2011-2012 students! We had a wonderful time! :)

24
Apr
12

METAMORPHOSIS : PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM

For almost two years of living and working in Malaysia, most of our weekends are spent either enjoying the comforts of the 11th-floor-seaview appartment that we’re renting in Butterworth, our so-called-second home or exploring what Pulau Pinang has to offer. We’ve been to a few heritage sites, clan houses, public beach, various shrines of worship, shopping malls and groceries of course, have dined in local restaurants, some hotels and street hawkers, have gone to some of those must-see-tourist-spots in this island; yet, there’s actually so much more places to visit that are reserved for our Saturdays and Sundays.

Last weekend was no exception. With my 7-year-old son in tow, we celebrated another Saturday the best way we know how (read : family bonding) and finally set foot in The Tropical World’s First Live Butterfly and Insect Sanctuary Penang Butterfly Farm.

Because my wife, Tina had to attend to a weekend medical community service required at work and my mom wasn’t feeling well to leave home, last Saturday, 04/21/2012 was another day of father-and-son-bonding. Incidentally, it was a day prior to Earth Day 2012 so I thought it was so appropriate and timely for Gabby and I to visit a nature’s theme park and passed up killing time on a weekend inside the mall. We’re happy to learn some things about nature and inevitably, ourselves too.

UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST IN PANIC

Had I not brought Gabby to this butterfly sanctuary, I would not know that he’s not that comfortable with delicately winged creatures randomly landing on his body. It was unbelievable because Gabby was even more excited than I am to go there and he himself labeled the day as our “Adventure Day” so I was very surprised that he almost panic when butteflies flew over him. I asked him to calm down and assured him that we’re safe with the butterflies and that it cannot harm us. He told me remarkably that he’s more at ease to see reptiles (Me: “What?!!! I usually freak out with the mere sight of snakes!). A couple of hours after, he’s already at home with the butterflies. I thought he was just overwhelmed as it was his first time to experience such. Nonetheless, he learned to appreciate those colorful day-flying insects before we ended our visit.

It was almost 12 noon when Gabby and I arrived at the front office of the Penang Butterfly Farm located in Teluk Bahang, near the tail end of the famous Penang coastline-beaches, Batu Ferringhi.

FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS AND MORE BLESSINGS!  

When I was about to pay the entrance fees for me and Gabby, the male Front Office staff at the window-counter inquired if I am a tourist or a Malaysian (because of different Admission rates), I told him that I am a Filipino expat working as a Medical Lecturer since 2010 in Penang. He then asked for some IDs but I didn’t bring my company ID nor my passport with me. While I was flipping my card holder….

  • Staff : “It’s OK, I saw you have Malaysian cards (referring to my credit cards and rewards-discount cards). Here you go… (He handed me two entrance tickets, 2 souvenir-notebooks, actually they’re DIY-Butterfly-garden-notebooks with a pair of tiny envelopes each containing something you put into the soil of flowering plants for it to bloom and attract butterflies, and 2 butterfly-shaped brochures).”

He only  charged us 18 ringgit for me and 10 ringgit for Gabby instead of the usual rates (RM 27 per adult and RM 15 per kid).

  • Me : ” Wow, thank you for the discount and freebies!  Sir, can i shoot some photos inside? I’ll post photos in my blog and feature our experience here.”
  • Staff : “Sure, no problem! Great! What’s your blog’s URL?” (he got a pen and a sheet of paper and was ready to write)
  • Me :  “Go check out, docgelo.wordpress.com, Sir. Thank you!
  • Me : “And by the way, my blog is nominated in the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards. You may want to vote too, haha!  What’s your name, Sir?”
  • Staff : “Edzil. Enjoy, pare! (*insert English translation of ‘pare’ here*)
  • Me : “Alright, Thank you!”

After we stayed for 3 hours inside the butterfly sanctuary, Gabby and I headed to the food kiosks just before the exit and ordered Chicken and Cheese sandwich, a bottle of cold distilled water, 2 cups of Mango juice.

  • Edzil : “Doc, I’ve checked out your blog, you take good photos, man!”
  • Me : “Hahaha! :) Thank you for your viewing my blog! What’s your name again, Sir?”
  • Edzil : “Wait, I’ll get my business card.”

Sir Edzil happens to be Penang Butterfly Farm’s Front Office Assistant Manager.

  • Edzil : “Doc, your food is on us! Don’t bother to pay them.”
  • Me : “C’mmon?!!! Allow me to pay for this, please!”
  • Edzil : “No, it’s on the house, if he (referring to the staff at the food kiosk) asks you to pay, then you pay, but surely he won’t, haha!”
  • Me : “Wow, thank you so much!”

With few minutes of chit chat; I learned that he’s actually a Filipino but raised in Malaysia and according to him, there are a few more Pinoys working as tour guides (yes, Penang Butterfly Farm provides informative, amusing and educational tour guiding but I opted to wander around with only Gabby as I took photos). We’re very grateful for his generous gestures.

CHILDREN, COCCOON ISN’T PART OF  THE BUTTERFLY’S LIFE CYCLE.

It’s always amazing to learn beyond books and outside the four corners of a classroom. It’s even more wonderful when one practically acquires knowledge hands on.  You actually get that learning set-up in Penang Butterfly Farm. The actual Science that speaks about the life cycle of these flying insects happens right before your eyes!

So the life cycle only includes EGG (those tiny yellow ones in the next photo) –> CATERPILLAR –> PUPA (not coccoon but CHRYSTALIS / NYMPHA) –> ADULT BUTTERFLY (or IMAGO).  The caterpillar normally thrives in fruity plants like passion fruit and the like, otherwise, it dies and would not metamorphose into pupa and imago.

But as soon as these chrystalis become adult butterflies,

some of its species ONLY LIVE FOR ONE WEEK. :( 

It made me wonder, how would you spend your life meaningfully if you only have one whole week to live?

Back in the Philippines, I remember going to Orchidarium in Rizal Park in Luneta where a small Butterfly garden is tucked. They usually feed the butterflies back home with bananas, here in Penang, pineapples are their favorite lunch! :)

One of my favorite spots in Penang Butterfly Farm is this Oriental gazebo adorned with everything Chinese and an interesting concrete bridge.

Gabby talking on the phone with Tina who attended a medical community service required at work.

Would you not be fascinated if you see authentic porcelain sauce dish, cups, plates and even pitcher were embedded as decors in the bridge?

A couple of Mandarin ducks basking under the bridge

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL

I must admit, the sun was scorchingly hot during our visit (at least we didn’t have a downpour) so the little airconditioned theater that incessantly shows short films about insects was really inviting; Gabby liked the movies we watched for few minutes.

After watching insect-inspired short films, we walked through the next hallway where Gabby enjoyed another interesting part of Penang Butterfly Farn called, Biodiversity. Here, kids get to stamp their notepads with the park’s mascot prints, play and learn with the interactive touch-screens that feature educational inputs about the environment as a whole. There’s also a part where reptiles and spiders are on display en route to exit towards the souvenir shops.

We went back to the garden where a myriad of butterflies await.

If you must know, I took up BS Biology prior to Medicine and one specimen in Botany that’s hard to forget is the Pitcher Plant. There’s a spot in Penang Butterfly Farm that’s devoted to Pitcher Plant. It’s quite unique for it can trap mosquitoes and other minute insects in its “mouth”, it has somewhat like a prey-trapping mechanism; interesting, is it not?

Then I guess I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two winged friends during our time in the garden. Lucky or stinky already *yikes!*, I do like how Gabby snapped this shot.

Spread your wings and soar! ;)

Just before we had our “free snack” courtesy of Sir Edzil at the food kiosk near the exit gates, we savored Magnum bar (which we paid for, haha!).

never fails to ease up a hot summer day

Nature tripping at Penang Butterfly Farm + Family Bonding + Magnum ice cream bar = simply perfect to end the day. It was another day for family.food & fun! ;)

 

Penang Butterfly Farm exceeded our expectations! We had a chance to commune with nature. It was where I forgot life’s hassles, worries and stress. Four hours spent there were indeed worthwhile; we had fun! :)

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Penang Butterfly Farm. No. 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel # +604-885 1253. (It’s accessible by car, taxi cab or by Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from George Town, Penang).

18
Apr
12

BEYOND TOXICITY X OLD MANILA WALKS IN GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

What could be a perfect welcome to a revisiting tourist in George Town, Penang but a RAINBOW! Can you spot it? ;)

My family and I wolf down plates of Restoran Kapitan's Chicken Cheese Kebab + Cheese Naan served with coleslaw, tamarind sauce infused with green mango+chili chutney. The fambam loved it! We usually order Chicken Tandoori and it's only my second time to savor this kebab dish and I personally liked the tenderness of the chicken specially when perfectly dipped in the tamarind sauce+spicy chutney; flavors just burst into mouth! :P

Roti Prata Telur or Egg Prata + Manggo Lassi.

Chicken Tandoori + Cheese Naan for Ivan

Beyond Toxicity X Old Manila Walks in the heart of George Town, Penang 04/17/2012

When I learned several weeks back that Manila’s tour-guide-extraordinaire, The Main Man from Old Manila Walks, IVAN MAN DY is revisiting George Town, Penang  after he graciously informed me via facebook, Tina and I had to think where we should treat him even just over dinner.

Tina first thought of bringing Ivan to Nando’s that specializes in Portugese Peri-Peri Chicken in either Gurney Mall or Queensbay Mall however, both of these malls are located in the tail ends of the island-one in the north, the other southbound; it means travel-commuting would definitely kill our time. I considered something authentic to Penang –the hawkers of course! But we personally prefer hawkers outside Gurney Mall for a wide range of choices but then again, location doesn’t fit the schedule. Then we narrowed the list down to  3 other family favorites –Old Town Restaurant (Malaysian cuisine), Towne’s Steamboat (Chinese) and Restoran Kapitan (Indian).  I told Tina that since Old Town Restaurant is a chain present in almost all parts of Malaysia, Ivan might have already tasted it in the airport or somewhere. While we also considered getting a table after 5PM would be close to impossible at the frequently-packed Towne’s Steamboat in Jalan Macalister, thus we agreed to take Ivan to our favorite Indian food place, Restoran Kapaitan in Little India. I think it was a good choice beacause it’s only a few meters away from the hotel where Ivan stayed.

Because his arrival fell on a weekday, we could only meet him after work hours. Too bad we failed to tour him around in some of the heritage sites in this side of Malaysia. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the limited time we spent with him. The moment was like we’re only talking, walking and commuting in the streets of Binondo, Manila, hahaha! :)

Ivan Man Dy of  Old Manila Walks :

“Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist.  Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila.  Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city’s most historic quarters.  Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.”  -Sourced via OldManilaWalks.com

If you’re a Filipino-balikbayan or foreigner who would like to explore Manila in a nutshell, joining his walking tours back home is always informative, engaging, entertaining and educational. It’s history and gastronomic treats beyond books. We have joined 2 of his amazing walking tours around Manila -

*For more of his walking tours and its details, check out their website at OldManilaWalks.com

After our simple dinner at Restoran Kapitan, we hopped on the bus to accompanied Ivan to one of the malls in George Town where he treated Gabby who didn’t say no, to a delightful scoop of Baskin n Robbins chocholate chip ice cream! Thanks, Ivan! And here’s wishing you enjoyed your days in Malaysia!

13
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : LAST DAY HIGH

19 February 2012. Sunday. It was the last day of our 3D2N grand family vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resort. And although we’re ecstatic with everything we had experienced in the Happiest Place On Earth, we tried to struggle a bit with fact that we’re leaving Hong Kong for our work place in Penang, Malaysia before dusk. It’s always hard to leave something so special that gave you many wonderful memories. Nontheless, we still had a day to enjoy so Tina, Gabby and I started our last morning in Hong Kong with ear-to-ear smiles.

Good Morning, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel !!! :)

From our room down to the lobby, we headed directly to Chef Mickey to have our buffet breakfast!

“Chef Mickey recalls the lavish Art Deco-styled studio commissaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mickey decorations and various Disney characters in sketch form are found throughout the restaurant.” (via hongkongdisneyland.com)

Here’s the nice corner reserved for my family and me…

From the ceiling, fixtures, tiled walls and the spread, there’s a piece of Mickey Mouse to delight your senses!

It was Gabby who first noticed and told me, “Daddy, look at the plate, it looks like Mickey Mouse’s pants!”

Much ado about carbo-loading : My first plate had a crusty cheese bread, a delicate egg tart, sample of fruity and fluffy pastries and a piece of Winnie the Pooh banana cake. Of course, my morning would not be complete without a dose of coffee.

Who says pizza ain’t a morning meal? Gabby was wide-eyed when he spotted an all-cheese-thin-crust-pizza on the spread; he’s a purist when it comes to pizza thus, it’s his favorite!  I asked him, “Anak, do you want some?” Of course, I received an excited positive response! I got a few slices for him, added some hash browns molded into smileys; how cute! And the basic scrambled eggs and bacon with Mickey Mouse waffles spruced up with maple syrup, while our boy favored chocolate syrup!

One of my favorites that I found so good from Chef Mickey’s various offerings was those thin slices of smoked salmon! I paired it with fresh green salad which I topped with different kinds of cheeses, some bits of cold cuts and vinaigrette and my morning instantly became perfect!

Tina and Gabby were satisfied with the breakfast too. Why, there were cereals which is a staple for my wife and son; yoghurt and fresh tropical fruits too! There were also some Chinese favorites –choices of dim sum, noodles, congee and a lot more that we wished our stomachs can accomodate. :)

After filling our tummies from Chef Mickey, we got our luggage and bags, had an early check out at 10:30AM, deposited our bags (for free!) at the Left Luggage Service of the hotel and trooped to the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden.

For the nth time, I owe some brilliant observations from our 7-year-old-kid. After first noticing those Chef Mickey’s plates patterned after Mickey Mouse’s pants, he commented about the aisle at the garden has film strips! And so I took a snap…

Bright and beautiful foliage at the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden…

The colors of the blooms – both big and small were awe-inspiring!

Pretty, isn’t it? My mother would agree (read : she loves flowers while my wife prefers food!).

It must be the great climate. It must be…

Happy moments in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel were made of these…

So happy he became buoyant on cool air!

Then, at the back of those “Hollywood Hotel” signage is somewhat discreet walkway where vintage cars are parked, excellent for photo-ops. What is Hollywood without them anyway?

Now, here are the exhibits of our “not-our-car-photos”….

Gorgeous cadillac coupled with those lovely smiles…

We’re almost ready to leave the garden when Gabby was fascinated with this movie ticket booth…

Gabby was inspired to do role-playing with his mom. Tina as the movie-goer and Gabby sells the tickets. Guess who’s their director? Definitely, not me! I played the usual camera man; Gabby himself called the shots! And all the while we thought his mind’s already fixed in becoming a chef, hotelier and restaurateur in the future. He got other talents, baby! ;)

The moment came when he thought of dancing in the middle of a turntable-designed ground near the poolside. Elvis Presley songs were on air. He was then more of an entertainer with the grooves more than just an actor-director! haha! :D  (I captured all of his moves in photos which I will probably post on a separate entry soon).

Time to bid goodbye to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. Thank you for that warm and family-friendly accomodation! :)

As we planned to collect our luggage from Disney’s Hollywood Hotel at around 3PM before heading to Hong Kong International Airport to catch our 5:45PM HK-KUL flight via Air Asia, we rode the resort’s free shuttle bus and went to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Public Transport Interchange (PTI). 

TRANSPORTATION IS ALSO WHIMSICAL AT HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! 

Here are some info and tips on how to go about the MTR Disneyland Resort Line

Getting to and out the park is as easy as counting 1, 2 and 3. :) From Hong Kong International Airport, one can opt to ride a bus, a car, a taxi cab or a train to reach Hong Kong Disneyland and vise-versa if you’re leaving the Happiest Place On Earth.

We’ve been to Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland quite a few times already but we were always on a package tour (read : there’s a tourist bus that pick us up to and from the park) and we have not experienced riding that Mickey-Mouse-windowed train running on the MTR Disneyland Resort Line. And so we did not let the chance pass last month to enjoy such experience.

It’s always great to ask whenever you’re in doubt. So I went to the counter of the MTR Disneyland Resort Line to inquire how to go to Ting Chung via Sunny Bay. He instructed me to buy tickets from the machines located at the laterals of the station just before the turnstiles. He generously broke my bills into coins for the train ticket machines; very HKDL-friendly! :)

The ticket machines are touch screens; you need to identify and press the point of your origin before you touch the point of your final destination. Say for example, touch first Hong Kong Disneyland Resort then Tung Chung. The ticket price for adult and kids are different but the machine monitor will show the amount per person and you just need to press the total pax (e.g. 3 adults, 1 kid).  Et voila, you collect the tickets to be inserted (or swipe if it’s loadable) on the turnstiles!

Convenience meets Fantasy.

That’s my first impression on Disneyland Resort Train Station.

It made me wish that all train stations around the globe would be as neat and pretty as this.

“Travel on the railway network of MTR and interchange for the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.

  • Only 23 minutes from the Hong Kong International Airport, MTR Airport station,
  • 30 minutes from MTR Kowloons tation and
  • 33 minutes from MTR Hong Kong station where Guests can pick up  Park Tickets too!
Operating Hours between Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort Station
From Sunny Bay: from 6:15am – 12:45am the following day From Disneyland Resort Station: from 6:20am – 12:40am the following day
Frequency 4 – 10 minutes.” (-via hongkongdisneyland.com)

Just wonderful. :)

And at an instant, we fell in love with the train! Those train handles are one of the many reasons why one should visit and experience Hong Kong Disneyland! :)

Among the many train couches, we were lucky to randomly seated near that Mickey Mouse bronze statue.

There’s Tink’s and many other Disney characters immortalized in bronze enclosed in capsules.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort line runs until Sunny Bay. From here, you wait and take other trains that will take you to your destination.

Doing the “tourist thing” at Sunny Bay Station….

Now, where did we go and what did we do after Sunny Bay would have to be posted next!

With that, I’d like to thank the people who made our Hong Kong Disneyland trip very memorable and fun-filled!  Thank you to Jaclyn, Nicole, Catherine and Purple –you guys are the BEST!

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers and their families and friends who were nice companions on this trip -Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker, Thammie of ThammieSy.com, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, Laureen Uy of Break My Style, and Kyrz of KyrzUy.com.

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers with their families and friends! Thank you to Gael of The Pinay Solo BackPacker and her sister, Juvy, Thank you to Thammie of ThammieSy.com who came with her entire family, Pastor Dennis of Act Like A Man and their two adorable daughters, Alyanna and Mika. Thank you to Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later who came with her friend, Ms. Elizabeth (not in photo but Thank you, Maam for giving Gabby a lego-Buzz Lightyear watch!), Thank you fashion bloggers and celebrities, Laureen Uy of Break My Style  who came with her special one, Robbie, and Kryz Uy of KryzUy.com who went with her sister, Jack.  Maraming Salamat! Don’t you wish we meet again in some similar trip like this? Better yet, let’s go to HKDL again someday! :)

Last but not certainly not the least, THANK YOU SO MUCH to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND for being the venue of our FAMILY bonding, offering more than expected delicious FOOD and providing us never-ending FUN!

In so many ways, this Hong Kong Disneyland vacation was truly an exceptional one! 

Whether it was our first time or we’ve been to the park and hotels several times over, reasons are beyond words to go back and revisit the Happiest Place on Earth!

Let this last set of my photos speak of those remarkable reasons why WE SO LOVE HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

As Shakespeare had put it, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.”

It was an enormous blessing that we got a chance to revisit Hong Kong Disneyland and experienced family bonding, food and fun beyond our great expectations!

Thank you so much, our dear God!

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

Till we meet again, Mickey Mouse! ;)

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This Blog Series Includes :

07
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : GLORIOUS DAY 2

18 February 2012, Saturday.  Tina, Gabby and I woke up early from one of our restful sleeps in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and excitedly prepared for our Day 2 in the Happiest Place on Earth! 

It turned out to be  glorious! :)

From Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we hopped on the resort’s shuttle bus and headed to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. We had a table reserved under our names at Enchanted Garden Restaurant for our breakfast buffet and Meet and Greet with the Disney characters! Everything seemed so thrilling particularly for Gabby!

As we went down directly to the  basement of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel where the Enchanted Garden Restaurant is housed, this beautiful space greeted us…

Enchanting, indeed!

We came in too early at 8AM (read : apparently excited!) and found from the Cast Member at the door of the restaurant that our table would be ready at around 9:30AM (so that’s the time that was reserved to us!). Without a hint of worry, we went out the door from the restaurant and spent time almost unnoticed in this perfectly manicured garden at the back of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

The gazebo looks inviting as a perfect venue for couples to exchange “I dos”.  Imagine a wedding with all your favorite Disney characters led by no less than Mickey Mouse! Amazing!

A more interesting part of the garden is the hedge maze that Gabby, Tina and I tried finishing…

This is called, “Mickey Maze!” :)

Our kid totally enjoyed every second inside the maze…

Spot us in the Mickey Maze…

Let’s play “Hide and Seek!”

More cheesy but priceless bonding moments in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel…

Must be so happy? You bet!

After almost an hour at the garden, it’s time to freshen up and hit the tables and the spread. On way to Enchanted Garden Restaurant, we spotted super cool and nice things.

Exhibit #1 : Wooden high chairs for kiddos. They made me smile.

Exhibit # 2 : A room near the Enchanted Garden Restaurant will surely entice parents and their little daughters…

In “My Little Princess”, little ladies may be transformed into a Disney Princess of their choice.

This was just a “one proud daddy scene.”  The moment reminded me of our wish (I and Tina’s) to give Gabby a little sister. (read :If it will come, it will in His time.) :)

Exhibit # 3 : Spotted Cinderella at the lobby of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with Alyanna and Mika (the beautiful daughters of Dennis and Thammie who were with our group in this HKDL trip).

Finally, a walk under those trellis! Splendid!

Being ushered to our reserved tables and seats felt surreal! Not that we’re excited to binge eat, hehe! but the ambiance exceeded our expectations!

The spread had Asian and Continental breakfast favorites. Everything looked tasteful and a must-try. There was more than enough for us to savor and be energized for another whole day at the park!

And then a thought popped out…

You don’t go to Hong Kong without sampling good bowl of noodles

and some tasteful dim sum and dumplings.

You just dont.

I just wished they had toyomansi (soy sauce + lime/calamansi) for the dim sums.

And because it’s Disneyland, Enchanted Garden boasts of Mickey Mouse figures in their waffles and pancakes! These made me stare at my plate for several minutes before I dunk my fork and knife at them. :)  I had some of the goodies in pair, yum, yum!!! :D  One of my plates had waffles, pancakes, hash browns and french toasts. Appreciate if you won’t calculate the calories! This is when my weakness in Math comes to be most useful! hehe!

The next set was mostly Tina’s and my plates. I had no chance to take photos of Gabby’s because he’s preoccuppied with excitement and huge appetite. ;)

Known in local Filipino TV series, “My Binondo Girl as”Amethyst” that Tina religiously followed online (Malaysia has no TFC!) and more popular as a fashion blogger-celebrity and sister to Liz Uy, we met the charming and beautiful, Laureen Uy.

One Stellar Moment

More stunning episodes happened as some of the best loved Disney characters went to our table for us to take photo-ops! Diners of Enchanted Garden need not to queue to have memorable pictures with Mickey, Pluto and Goofy (and other characters). It’s another VIP treatment that we enjoyed in Hong Kong Disneyland!

Widest and sweetest smiles from my family as we posed with Pluto and Mickey…

Must have one more shot with Pluto…

After that one-of-a-kind-breakfast experience at Disneyland Hotel’s Enchanted Garden, it was time to explore and enjoy Hong Kong Disneyland Park again!

To those who are planning to experience HKDL for the very first time and have doubts if you can enjoy it in one whole day, actually, you can! But would you not wish to double the fun if you can be there on 2 consecutive days?

Weather forecast checked : 14 to 16 degree Celcius. We loved the climate; we didn’t have a downpour! God is truly great!

We wore various hats : A Cast Member volunteered to take our family pic just before a quaint door in one of the pastel-colored structures at Main Street, U.S.A..

Hot. Fresh. Delicious!

Then our feet brought us to Tomorrowland!

As Tomorrowland intends to give park goers a creative experience of being in the future, the moments became nostalgic to us. :)

Here’s how we looked five years ago…I guess only pounds and kilos of happiness were added! ;)

Inside the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, we have been warned. :)

We had FAST PASSES to this awesome ride!  It was so cool when Buzz Lightyear himself introduced us to Astro Blasters!

Emperor Zurg! :P

Shooting robots. robots and more robots! We liked it here!

After that exhilarating Astro Blaster ride, we trooped to the largest restaurant in the theme park with over 800 seats, the Starliner Diner and grabbed a lip-smackingly good fried chicken and fries for lunch!

Over and beyond the food, what Tina and I liked was the fact that Hong Kong Disneyland’s Starliner Diner prioritizes sanitation and cleanliness by providing plastic gloves given inclusive of the food tray. You’ll find them folded and pack neatly with your tray. So eating chicken with hands was no-worries at all!

One more time on this car, Gabby! :D

2007 on the left ; 2012 on the right –Take a look at Gabby’s Then and Now photos and appreciate what 5 years have done!

Another ride within Tomorrowland available with Fast Passes is Space Mountain. We gave our Fast Passes to Laureen and her friends as we’re not fond of rollercoaster rides (read : Tina has Vertigo, Gabby’s still uncomfortable and cannot ride alone and I might throw up!). But if you’re adventurous and somewhat fearless, by all means, Space Mountain will surely give you the thrill!

We bid goodbye to Tomorrowland and strolled our way in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade for the second time! That 30 minute Hong Kong Disneyland parade really left us in awe!

Just before the parade started, Tina thought of a clever strategy. Since we didn’t have priority pass to the musical, The Festival of the Lion King, she suggested that together with Gabby while I am still drowned capturing the parade on photos, they will head to Adventureland just before the parade ends. In that way, while people are still busy watching the parade, they’ll be the first on the queue to that another must-see-musical..And true enough, it was a wise move.

The Festival of The Lion King at Adventureland

The scene became more fascinating after the stage lights were turned off. Let the show begin!

“It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle,

The Circle of Life….”

It’s visually stunning! The songs and their voices are overwhelming too. We have seen this musical at HKDL more than a couple of times already and performance gets better and better! My particular favorite was the gorgeous air stunt of this lady-bird character; the act was so graceful; almost breathtaking!

These live musical shows (The Golden Mickeys and The Festival of the Lion King) make Hong Kong Disneyland specially different from the other Disney Theme Parks!

Then, it’s Gabby’s time for some Mickey Mouse ice cream! Sarap!

Few more steps, we found oursleves in Liki Tiki…
These “leaky” tiki jungle poles squirts water like fountains; look how our little one enjoys the drizzling effects…

Playing with tribal percussion instruments entertained Gabby to the fullest!

Tina and I are the happiest when he’s happy.

OK, so we left Adventureland with a smile and moved on to Fantasyland with even wider smiles!

This Pixie Dust area where Tinker Bell usually drop by for photo-ops wasn’t existing yet way back in 2007 (Gabby’s first trip to HKDL).

Time for some Mickey’s PhilharMagic! This colorful 3D movie adventure about how Mickey Mouse lost his wizard hat and what Donald Duck has to do with it never fails to amuse us. You never get tired of great attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland!

3D glasses on!

Our last Fast Passes on our hands were for the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh...Gabby was only 2 years old when he first rode the track to the story of Winnie.

Cinderella’s Carousel has 60 graceful, prancing horses!

I learned that last year’s celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland, Tink had showered Sleeping Beauty Castle with her pixie dust… The effect is even more magical at dusk!

After Winter Must Come Spring… Is it Spring yet? :)

Smiles and blooms perfectly blend…

Ahhhhh… another stupendous day at Hong Kong Disneyland is about to end…

Thank You, Lord for another magical day!

We made sure we remember this trip not only through photos and video but mementos and souvenirs from HKDL shops itself. Other than the Disney character-hats that we bought, Gabby got himself a rubber Mickey Mouse wrist watch (When we got into the hotel room, he received a gift from one of our new friends in our group–a lego writs watch with Buzz Lightyear design! Thank You, Ms. Elizabeth for such generous gift!).

Before exiting the shop, Gabby called my attention, “Daddy, picture!” hence, this…

Before 7PM, we left Hong Kong Disneyland Park with almost a heavy heart. It’s our last day in the park and surely we’ll miss all the fun!

Thank you for the memories, HKDL!

We had our last dinner in Hong Kong at Disneyland Hotel’s WALT’S CAFE. I’m almost lost for superlatives to describe how great the overall gastronomic experience we had. First thing came to mind : The dinner was EXCELLENT!

I think diners of Walt’s Cafe can opt to enjoy their meals at the lobby…

I checked the reservation and we’re instantly led toward the end of the restaurant where everything seemed perfect.

This is the beautiful corner reserved to our group. Isn’t it divine?

Looking at my photos after the trip made me wish I have sampled a bottle of their wine…

The view from our table… The ambiance and the look of that by-gone era was almost ethereal!

The smiles to live for….

Now, let’s get down to business. We loved everything we chowed down; starting with this crusty bread that looked like a hot air balloon when you work your imagination; it’s baked to perfection and can be enjoyed sans butter.

Gabby favored one of Mickey’s Kid’s Meal -Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Macaroni with carrots and green peas, fresh fruit salad and a choice of drink; our kiddo got himself a hot chocolate.

For Tina, she savored, Grilled US Beef Tenderloin and Simmered Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom and Pinot Noir Sauce, HK$ 268.

Let me tell you, I had a great time from browsing the menu to having a taste of everything my family had. Here’s my preferences and recommendations from Walt’s Cafe..

Chicken Breast Fillet with Poached Crab Meat with Papaya and Mango Salad served with Honey Lime Scented Dressing, HK$ 128.

My palate was satisfied with its texture and flavors. The fusion of  freshest and sweetest fruits complemented well the crunchiness of the greens. And the Chicken Breast Fillet? Heavenly!

I requested the wait staff to provide extra small plates so I can share my order with Tina and Gabby. I also sampled one Walt’s Cafe’s soups -

Double Boiled Black Mushroom with Kam Ha Wam Soup, HK$ 78.

The soup’s tasteful. I like the flavor of the Chinese ham and the black mushroom. Beautiful combo! The mushroom was shaped into Mickey Mouse’s head too! Amazing!

Then for my main entree, a huge plate was served first with one of the prettiest veggie side dishes I ever had…

To people who think amusement parks and their resorts only offer fast food junkies, think again!  Hong Kong Disneyland’s Corner Cafe and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Walt’s Cafe proved it otherwise. Their menus are beyond sumptuous! The ambience, sublime!

Seafood Platter for Two. (Grilled or Poached. I wanted it grilled). Lobster, Scallops, King Crab Legs, Squid, Salmon, and Cod Fish with Lemon Dill “Beurreblanc” and Crustacean Sauce, Assorted Garden Vegetables, and Boiled Potatoes. HK$ 538.

One word : Outstanding!

Just take a look at that lime gorgeously wrapped with golden tulle and ribbon; wonderful!

The entree, Tina, Gabby and I shared….

We cannot be grateful enough! :)

Moving on to desserts…

My choice : Penny’s Bay Mango Pudding with Mango Puree.

Tina’s sweet preference : White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Gabby’s dessert plate was the most divine!

Oreo Cheesecake never tasted this great! :D

It’s one FUNtastic dinner to end one glorious day of everything that this blog gives reverence for :

FAMILY. FOOD. and FUN!

———————

I cannot help but marvel at the immense scale of blissful experiences we had in Hong Kong Disneyland! That 3-day-2-night vacation extremely gave us unforgettable memories that Tina, Gabby and I will cherish forever.

Hong Kong Disneyland spells H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S! :D

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

*Up Next : The concluding post of this Hong Kong Disneyland Series! Stay Tuned!

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This Blog Series Includes :

 

23
Feb
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : ARRIVAL & LUNCH


DOCGELO  X  MICKEY MOUSE

FAMILY.FOOD.FUN @ the Happiest Place on Earth!

Similar to a shot of  adrenaline, the thought of revisiting Hong Kong Disneyland increases the heart beat and quickens the pulse, at least for Tina, Gabby and me. :D It’s incredibly different and NOT physiologically tiring but a special feeling of excitement that my family and I would love to go through over and over again, despite and inspite of everything!  Hong Kong Disneyland has that positively addicting charm that effortlessly draws the young and equally attracts the young-at-hearts! It’s a Nirvana for family bonding, food indulgence and lots of fun! :D

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND : DEFINITELY,  A  STRESS ANTIDOTE

Before Tina, Gabby and I immersed ourselves in a worry-free-three-day-and-two-night-fun-filled-vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland, we had to travel a day before from our current place in Butterworth, Penang to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flight earliest in the morning. We all thought it’s wise to travel via KL if you’re coming from Malaysia because the trip from Penang would take us to Hong Kong International Airport at around half hour past 8 in the evening hence, we’ll lose a day. :( Either we go a day earlier  to Hong Kong which will be more expensive or take the alternative route of via Kuala Lumpur.  We opted the latter. However, since we didn’t reserve a flight from Penang to Malaysia’s capital city  because of  steeper cost (read: we are 3), we chose to take the 5-hour-road trip via the public tourist bus from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya, Kuala Lumpur, then with our luggage and bags in tow, we hailed a taxi cab from Puduraya Bus Station to KL Sentral where buses that take passengers to KL-LCCT airport are parked.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal at around 8 in the evening of Thursday via Aerobus after an hour trip from KL Sentral.  My family and I had to spend the night inside food and coffee shops. After our quick family dinner and some coffee for Tina and me, chocolate frap for Gabby, we found a corner inside LCCT and called it a night (Actually, it was only Gabby who slept for few hours; Tina and I rarely shut our eyes).  And few hours after midnight, we took turns in taking showers, changed into new clothes and queued to check in at 4 in the morning.

Some may find our travel very stressful but believe me, we’ve experienced more difficult instances than you could imagine.  So this Hong Kong Disneyland trip is definitely a stress antidote for me and my family. We cannot thank the good Lord enough for such opportunity! :D

We took the flight from KUL to HK at 6:45AM, Friday, February 17, 2012 and arrived at HKIA 4 hours after. Before I slept in my seat, I accomplished the Immigration Arrival forms for Tina, Gabby and myself as what I used to do on our few travels.

That long travel to Kuala Lumpur from Penang and finally to Hong Kong, those frequent air pockets and lack of sleep were absolutely NOT enough to kill our excitement and enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Finally, we set foot again at one of the biggest and most impressive terminals in the world! Sweet! :D

Hong Kong Disneyland, here we come! :D

Passing through HK Immigration was a breeze, so did the luggage pick up from the conveyor belt. I wish all terminals particularly that of the Philippines would have such remarkable efficiency. Upon arrival at the HKIA lobby, we trooped immediately to the Train Information Counter. Our initial game plan was to take the MTR from the airport to our hotel but after learning that the waiting and transfer period from one train to the other will take us around an hour, we decided to take a cab.

After paying the metered taxi HKD 150, we arrived at the hotel lobby all in one piece. Yahoooo!!!

DISNEY’S  HOLLYWOOD HOTEL : FAMILY FRIENDLY!

From its exteriors that reflects similarities with Pan Pacific Auditorium, the art-deco theme reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood echoes to the interiors of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel to every detail in the lobby and in its rooms.

And since it’s Disneyland Resorts, the head of Mickey Mouse with other Disney figures including Minnie Mouse’s of course, are a constant decor. Wonderful!!!

Tina and I have lately developed the appreciation for boutique and themed hotels. It’s nice to see how people put so much attention to details. The first sight of the lobby of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel was definitely a feast to our senses!

 

Just before those bilateral lifts take Disney’s Hollywood Hotel guests to their rooms, the Disney magic manifests with the voice of Mickey Mouse no less, welcoming everyone to their room-level, night and day. So cool! :) It makes you think that Mickey Mouse doesn’t sleep too! *kidding*

Certainly, the glass etching on the doors of the lifts also has the same Hollywood art-deco theme and to make it distinctly Disney’s, there are so many Mickey Mouse embedded on it. Can you spot some?

 

We’re checked in at the 8th level where the view’s fantastic! The blurry hazy skyline at the backdrop confirmed that we’re about to experience a misty cool Hong Kong climate despite the clock already hit 12 noon. And coming from the tropical state of Penang, that for me, was so inviting! Thankfully, we didn’t have any downpour, God is really great! :D

 

The view from our room offers a relaxing sight of Lantau island, its bay stretching to South China Sea and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel’s swimming pool. Can you feel the cool atmosphere despite the clock hit 12 noon? It’s Hong Kong, baby! ;-)

Another view from our window gives you a glimpse of how Disney’s Hollywood Hotel back lot looks like…

I wish I’ve photographed it too at night. Some other time perhaps (that’s another little reason to go back!).

Tina and I basically want few essentials in a hotel room; just nice and comfy bed and pillows to provide us a restful sleep, an insect-free-airconditioned and clean room, toilet and bath and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel doesn’t disappoint. Its theme is continuously obvious. The play of colors are vibrant and definitely puts everyone into the Disneyland euphoric mood! :D

I guess each room with a twin-deluxe beds has a black and white cartoon of Mickey and Minnie from one of their movies.

How sweet it was to sleep with worries and stress far from your cerebrum.

A little while later, Gabby felt so at home!

From Malaysia to Hong Kong, this 7-year-old-Filipino kid loves his Disney cartoons!

It may not be the most spacious toilet and bath that we had experienced but nonetheless, its cleanliness and the generous volume of towels are truly noteworthy. It’s expected that Disney Hollywood Hotel would be family-friendly and we proved it correctly. How many hotels have thought of providing kid-sized slippers? This hotel has it making Gabby simply delighted. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and some wipes and cotton buds are provided in a pack inside 3 paper cups capped with Mickey Mouse ears.  Even the toilet is richly themed! :D

And again, the little artsy details made us smile and utter, “so cute!” :D

Cast members (or those who work for Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Hotels) are amazingly creative at these towel crafts. They even refill it everyday in different colors and adorable animal and alien-designs. We brought home some pieces, actually! ;-)

Riding the theme park’s own resort shuttle buses for FREE was definitely convenience in its truest sense of the word. After checking in and quick freshening up in our room at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we went to the resorts’ other hotel, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for the much needed lunch.

The HK Disneyland Resorts Shuttle Buses take passengers for FREE from the theme park to Disneyland Hotel then to Disney Hollywood Hotel in 10 minute interval. It spells convenience particularly when you’re traveling with kids. It’s so nice when you’re worry-free of going back to the hotel and theme park or hopping to a restaurant located at either of Disney hotels.

Experiencing two hotels of Hong Kong Disneyland was so awesome! Both hotels have unique themes, one takes you back in time to Hollywood’s golden years and the other is lavishly Victorian-inspired.

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL : ENTICINGLY ELEGANT!

We saw luxury and sophistication at every corner of Disneyland Hotel… Our little-big boy, Gabby’s so amazed! I wonder what other kids think of  Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Surely, most of them believe that it’s a magical mansion!

what a gorgeous pair of chandeliers!

Everything’s so fanciful!  Even the men’s toilet melted all my worries away, haha! :D

While Tina and Gabby were checking out the merchandise at the hotel’s souvenir shop, I walked towards the concierge and didn’t pass the chance of capturing the framed paintings hanging at the back of the counters.

I asked permission from the Cast Members who are at the reception prior to snapping my cam; made me smile when they gave me a nod.

Aren’t these paintings fascinating?  I remember the Mark Twain’s steamboat that we saw in Disneyland Anaheim on the next painting.

Those bursts of colors are too beautiful in my eyes!

Sincere to their work place, I noticed Cast Members of Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resorts are all service-oriented, warm and friendly. Just when I was thinking for someone who could snap a photo of us, one male hotel staff offered to take our family pic even without asking him. That’s marvelous! :D

Look at my very own Minnie. Lovely, isn’t she? :)

The hedge maze in the garden of Disneyland Hotel fronting South China Sea really caught Gabby’s attention.

Did Gabby and I try and finish the maze? Find out on my succeeding posts! :D

Meanwhile, can you spot Mickey Mouse’s profile on this green maze?

LUNCH at CRYSTAL LOTUS RESTAURANT, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL.

What warmed our souls and filled our stomachs after that long tiring trip from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya and KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, to Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal to Hong Kong International Airport then finally to Hong Kong Disneyland apart from seeing Mickey Mouse again at the theme park was a sumptuous and divine Chinese cuisine at Crystal Lotus Restaurant.

With rich, classy and exceptional ambience, coupled with prompt and attentive service and a delightful menu, Crystal Lotus Restaurant is the best option when you feel like indulging in some Chinese favorites with Disneyland’s kiddie appeal.

Modern and sophisticated Oriental ambience of Crystal Lotus Restaurant. We’re so blessed to have experienced it.

Tina, Gabby and I met a few bunch of Filipinos who own blog sites too; Mom and Lifestyle blogger, ThammieSy, Fashion bloggers Laureen Uy and Kryz Uy of Break My Style and KryzUy.com respectively, Foodie blogger, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, and travel blogger Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker. We communed with our families and friends and with delicious gastronomic treats at this luxurious room.

Crystal Lotus Restaurant brought our taste buds to a variety of Chinese dishes that we all happily took in.

stunningly gorgeous chandeliers

Now, let your eyes feast on the set meal we savored….you might need tissues to wipe your keyboard when you drooled! *kidding!* A glass of ice cold water beside you might be helpful. :D

If it’s Chinese, there must be Jasmine Tea.

We started our delicious dimsum lunch with Roasted Suckling Pig with Cucumber and Sweetened Paste in Steamed and Piggy Mask Buns…

Crisp and flavorful. I’m in heaven! ;-)

Family bonding comes in different packages. At this moment, it came with authentic Chinese cum Disney’s culinary. :P

 Next on the menu brought to our table was Disney Dim Sum Platter. Consisting of Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Bun, Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Bun, Mickey’s Glutinous Seafood Pancake which Gabby liked so much! :D

Eating Dim Sum has never been this cute! :D  It took me several minutes to take them with chopsticks and bite, haha!

I see harmony in steam basket, haha! Then I gave these 2 cute buns a peaceful death via taking them in, LOL!

Pink ears or orange ones? Doesn’t matter, both are appetizingly delicious!

Then came Braised Seafood Soup with Crab Roe. This warm soup dish won my palate! Tina liked it too.

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S

The meal got more interesting when the next dish was brought in. It’s called Wok Fried Chicken and Longan with Sweet Sour Sauce.

My palate is familiar with the fusion of pineapples and chicken meat in a dish but with longan, it must be fascinating! And it is!

With Wok-Fried Shrimps and Disney Root Vegetables, Disneyland and Crystal Lotus Restaurant really know how to make vegetables and seafoods appealing to kids. The dish to me is so impressive!

You know how some children have aversion to veggies and making the ingredients of this dish cut into Mickey Mouse’s gloves and head is pure brilliance!

Who says eating veggies is never fun?

Blessings continued to pour on our table with this golden crab dish…

This one really brought out the kid in me. I was in awe with the plating of this crab dish. Indeed, a crab plated in gold, hehe!

Flip the golden shell of this crustacean plate et voila…

Baked Tasmanian Crab Meat Fried Rice in Whole Crab Shell : Eating crab has never been this edgy!

And of course, a meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Crystal Lotus prepared and offered us Chilled “Mickey’s” Red Bean Honey Pudding and Chilled Mickey’s Green Tea Jelly. 

Gabby like these desserts and so did Tina. As for me, I like the fusion of textures and its light flavors.

Must take a detail shot… :D

Did I mention that we EACH received a full course meal? What Gabby cannot finish, Daddy Gelo’s there to rescue. hehehe! Immediately after our very first meal at Hong Kong Disneyland, I thought I gained a few more pounds! Who wouldn’t with such hearty Dim Sum lunch set?  :D

It’s not on a daily basis that we get to eat Disney-themed Dim Sum nor a crab dish on a golden crab shell and of course, not everyone is given the chance to have such indulgence in very sophisticated food place thus, Tina, Gabby and I are grateful for this great dining experience. THANK YOU, LORD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS! THANK YOU, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel : Such a Magical Dreamy Place!

After our sublime Oriental lunch at Crystal Lotus, we headed directly to the Hong Kong Disneyland Park via the resort’s shuttle bus. We got our fast passes to Space Mountain, Astro Blasters and The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh rides and tickets to the theme park for 2 days!  Excitement soared the highest! :D All that and a lot more in the part 2 of this blog series! Stay tuned! :D

————————————-

*for more information about Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Crystal Lotus Restaurant, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, kindly visit the theme park website at http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com

This Blog Series Includes :

20
Feb
12

BACK TO HOMEBASE

And we’re back in Penang with so many wonderful and fun experiences from Hong Kong Disneyland.

Will prepare a blog series about it;  stay tuned!  *wink*

16
Feb
12

LESSONS FROM THE TREN EXPERIENCE

When you’re unfamiliar to a place and you choose to take the unknown, you have to be ready to digest the consequences. :D This thought dawned on me when my mom suggested for us to take a train ride from our cheap hotel in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur to Petronas Twin Towers-Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex instead of the affordably reliable taxi ride. We all gave in with a smile to my mom’s suggestion so no one’s to blame. We all took the path without the aid of a techie gadget that shows direction; worse without googling the how-to-get-there thing. We should have asked guidance from the spirit of Dora the Explorer before we embarked on such common adventure, LOL! :D

Smiling to our own little misfortune, I took a photo first of our family! With such sweet smiles, who would have thought that we didn’t know where to go next? hahaha!

Perhaps, the idea that the train line of Kuala Lumpur looks quite similar to Manila’s LRT and MRT systems gave us the kick that we would not be lost and we could find our way easily.

Other than I am used to taking the MRT and LRT systems in Manila, I was also fortunate to experienced 2 of the world’s most efficient railway commuting systems- the multi-leveled subways in Tokyo and in Singapore. With some similarities of these trains in mind, I never expected that a portion of KL’s train would give us an unexpected TREK.

We never walked, we didn’t stroll en route to train platforms, we trekked!!! hahaha!

Without a clue of what’s in for us, we were happy to pay RM11 (PhP 154) for the 2 train rides that would take us from Puduraya to KLCC-Suria Shopping Complex; the amount covered 2 adults (Tina and me), a senior citizen (my mom) and a 7-year-old kid (Gabby). It’s really cheaper than taking unmetered taxi cab but it cost us our thighs and legs!

These are the chips the counter gave us that passengers need to tap at the turnstile at the entrance. We thought it’s like chips in slot or vendo machines, hahaha! After asking a man in uniform before the turnstiles, we learned that these chips are only for tapping and there’s no need to drop it until you reach your final destination (sounds like a title of a scary movie! heheh!).

Right or left? What escalator should we take? We had to ask again and confirm. Better to be sure than to assume! We rode the escalator on the right and we took the path to the platform that’s far than you could imagine!

On our search for that train platform, we saw fascinating views…

Signs are there to guide you but nothing stated we’re in for a walkaton…

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish” -John Quincy Adams.

OK, so going down the stairs was easy.

When we reached Masjid Jamek station and rode the first train, we had to alight the next station to transfer to another line that would take us to KLCC-Petronas Twin Towers. This is it! :D

Again it was not a walk, nor a stroll but a trek! hahaha!

forrest gump, is that you? hehe!

We got in the train at no fuss except for the long walk to its platform. Had I googled something about it, we could have been more ready. Nonetheless, it’s a fun experience!

After struggling for directions and being surprised at the ups and downs, literally,  my family and I were still all smiles of course! Look, I captured that moment, haha! (parang hindi pagod!)

Just when we thought that the challenges are over, we’re in again for a new one!

Then Miley Cyrus began humming in my mind : “There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna make it move.  Always gonna be an uphill battle; sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Aint about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb!”  hahaha! :D

Mamy, Tina, and I, more so Gabby are not ready yet for trekking. It’s not our cup of tea for the moment. Imagine it was only a long walk to the train platforms, up and down steps to the flight of stairs and we were laughing down to our knees! What more a real trek that adventurers and travelers do.

Finally, our destinasi!!!

Napabili tuloy kami ng fresh fruit juices! :D

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” – Orison Swett Marden

“For every mountain there is a miracle.” -Robert H. Schuller. :D

27
Jan
12

CAVES AND BEARS

Hindu God, Murugan at the entrance of Batu Caves

SATURDAY MORNING : JANUARY 21, 2012

Our Day 2 of our Kuala Lumpur trip was devoted to explore caves and experience the sight of bears but definitely NOT in one location.  We left our budget hotel in Chinatown at few minutes after 8 in the morning and headed to KL Sentral via taxi cab. At the KTM Komuter train station, we paid one-way-fare of RM 1 (PhP 14) each for adults (Mamy, Tina and me) and 50 sen or RM0.50 (PhP 7) for kids (Gabby); cheap for an almost 40 minute ride en route to Batu Caves.

The KTM Komuter train apparently looks old but still functional nonetheless, and resembles like our local MRT / LRT back home. After 4 to 5 stations, we finally arrived in Batu Caves.

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur is probably the largest Hindu temple outside of India. It is expected to be packed every Thaipusam, the counterpart of Holy Week amongst us, Catholics. Thaipusam this year is scheduled on the 7th of February, a public holiday in Malaysia; thus expected to have thousands of people particularly from the Tamil community to flock to Batu Caves to venerate.

It is wise to visit this Hindu temple early in the morning; we’re happy to reached it few minutes past 9AM. The sun then was not that scorching hot yet.

Indian shrines like Buddhists’ that are frequently vivid in colors and covered with gold are always a visual feast!

Must have that detail shot…

Our noses led us to these leis for offerings…

Leis made up mainly of Jasmin or Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) to us Filipinos are also common offerings to the Hindu Gods.

Mamy Tessie who loves and adores flowers so much was delighted to see those leis.  I love my mom’s energy during travels; she never ceases to pose for photo-ops as if she doesn’t feel arthralgia (read: pain in the joints! :D -she might kill me for this!

My mom was overjoyed and gamely posed even with those pigeons! She so liked it! I know even without telling us, she's imagining she's in Italy or somewhere in Europe, haha! :D

Must have that souvenir shot…

doing the tourists' thing!

That was our last photo before we ALL conquered the 272 steps of Batu Caves. Yes, even Gabby who was quite hesitant to climb and afraid of heights (who doesn’t?) successfully made it to the top and back down the grounds! He had no choice but to come with us (with no coercion or force, mind you! haha!), otherwise, he’ll be left alone and wait for us (which Tina and I would not do of course).

The facade before the flight of stairs has this fascinating icons…

Then we met our challenge.

The 272 steps!

Here we go.

The steps fell short for my feet. :(

I wish they constructed the stairs with consideration to those with big foot.

On way up, we saw more interesting sights…

Their faith is inspiring!

…And finally we reached the caves!

Like other tourist spots, vendors of various souvenir items are found present even in a temple like Batu Caves. At least these stalls are far from what’s considered as Holy grounds for the Hindus where they walk barefooted.

I'm no seasoned traveler and not fond of trekking (yet) either; I believe it's my first encounter with stalactites.

If you will look closely at the next photo, you’ll notice another flight of stairs on the left side that takes visitors and faithfuls to the a shrine at the center of the Batu Caves. I died seeing another challenge! I almost yelled “No way! Not again!” while catching my breath.

*panting! gasping!*

Needless to say, we went down few minutes after. Among the four of us, it was Gabby who was so relieved when we got off the caves. He never liked the experience of climbing Batu Caves, neither did I.  It was damn too tiring for all of us! I salute and bow to those who go up with religious loads like this…

or this…

I always find myself clueless each time my son asks questions about other religions. Like, how will you deal when your own kid inquires about this Hindu creature?

Often, I tell Gabby, each religion has their own belief. Safe answer, huh?!  I know he’ll understand it more when he grows older. For now, we’re just grateful that he’s exposed to a lot of diversities around him.

Young Devotion

Reaching the grounds again, we saw lots of fresh coconuts being sold at RM4.00 each (PhP 56) too perfect as refreshments after a tiring climb. However, none of us did sample those coconuts, haha! :D Guess what we did immediately after going down the caves? We had BUFFET of Indian breakfast (to be posted on a separate entry at the end of this series)!

Then just before lunch time, we hopped in at KTM Komuter train again heading back to KL Sentral.

From KL Sentral, we took a cab and for the first time, we met a taxi driver in KL who offered a metered trip. Usually, we pay RM10-20 (PhP 140-280) for a 5-less than 10 minute cab ride. Thankfully with an honest driver, it only took RM5 (PhP 70) to get to this shopping paradise…

The 147 United Buddy Bears on exhibit at Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON : January 21, 2012

Pavilion Mall wasn’t included in the itinerary that my mom prepared  for this KL trip but I insisted we have to pay a visit. Not to burn cash on shopping (we had less budget than you think!) or anything but just to experience the “Rodeo Drive” and “Shibuya or Ginza” of Malaysia.

Upon getting off the cab, I heard wows, sighs and amazement from Tina, Gabby and Mamy. All of us were in awe at the sight of the upscale shopping district in Kuala Lumpur.

Adding to our heightened excitement was an astonishingly beautiful, one-of-a-kind, ongoing exhibit of United Buddy Bears just in front of the Bukit Bintang entrance of Pavilion Mall. We felt so lucky and happy to see them all! :D

We were only expecting to see dragon and lions because of the Chinese New Year celebration but we got more than that! Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang is currently the venue of the first exhibition in Southeast Asia of the 147 United Buddy Bears. They are so adorable!

After a quick glance at Wiki, I found this -

“United Buddy Bears – Worldtour

On 6 November 2002, the bears were moved to new locations, including their respective countries embassies in Berlin, or back to country that they were based on. Some of the bears were auctioned off to raise money for UNICEF.

After the circle of “United Buddy Bears” had been such an overwhelming success in 2002, a new circle was created in 2003. The idea was to send the circle on a global tour.

On their global tour, the “United Buddy Bears” promote peace, love, tolerance and international understanding. The circle changes every time it reaches a new city. This is not only due to the local conditions, but also to their constantly changing order, as the bears are always set up in alphabetic order, following the local language of the host country. This always leads to new and sometimes politically very interesting proximities”  (sourced via Wiki)

So these bears promote peace, love, tolerance and international understanding. We all need that, don’t we? :D

happiness!

Kidding around the Philippines Bear featuring the Philippine Eagle by Artist, Pierre F. Patricio, sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Berlin.

Bear Love!

We can’t get enough of these bears!

Don't you wish to bring home at least one bear? hahaha! :D

Our fatigue from exploring Batu Caves was gone in a heart beat; thanks to these incredibly FUNtastic United Buddy Bears!

These colorful larger than life buddy bears have gone to countries like Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Turkey, Japan, Korea, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Poland, Argentina, Uruguay, Kazakshtan, Bulgaria and as mentioned, first in Southeast Asia : Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! :D

Now, when will these bears visit 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila? LOL! :D

On right photo is the bear from Malaysia! :D

The quote on the bear states, “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” –Albert Einstein

Walk Like An Egyptian!

Tina, my mom and I were all happy to see Gabby enjoying these bears!

sexy back

Fun to look at with messages that cut through you…

Stay tuned for more posts about our fun moments at KL. :D

*This blog series includes : Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge Visit

21
Jan
12

OUR FUN HOMAGE TO MALAYSIA’S MAGNIFICENCE

It was actually love at first sight. :D She’s so iconic; mesmerized me effortlessly and blew me away the first time I saw her from the foreground back in 2010.  She has an identical twin who’s equally gorgeous; they’re both breathtaking!

21 January 2012, Saturday : The view at EIGHTY SIXTH LEVEL is incredibly STUNNING!

I can’t help but fall in love with Petronas Twin Towers every time I see her. It’s my 4th time to be in Kuala Lumpur, Tina and Gabby’s second and my mom’s first (except she passed by the city with my dad en route to the airport last year). We grabbed the chance to revisit Malaysia’s capital city again to celebrate this year’s long Chinese New Year weekend (we’re on holiday until Tuesday, 24 January 2012) and to accompany my mom (who’s visiting us from UAE) in (re)exploring KL.

Believe it or not, Gabby’s Lola did our itinerary for this trip. My mom surfed the net for top 10 must-visit sites in KL, personally called contact persons of each destinations including our budget hotel concierge to inquire about the whereabouts, transportation and whatnot; after which, she spoke to me of what’s best to do to maximize our 3D2N break et voila! After casual deliberation, our priority’s to experience the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge Visit. :D

It was around past 6 in the morning of Saturday, 21 January 2012 when our 5-hour-bus-ride from Butterworth, Penang reached Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya) at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Thank God we slept comfortably on the midnight trip so we headed directly to our budget hotel in Chinatown. Since regular schedule for check in is at 2PM and we arrived early at dawn (sunrise in Malaysia’s later than you expect), we just dropped off our luggage and bags and hurriedly trooped via taxi cab to KLCC-Petronas Twin Towers.

My mom was right. Tickets to the Skybridge Visit should be paid and claimed the earliest possible time, ideally in the morning of the day of your tour. We already saw groups of tourists heading to the basement of KLCC to queue for tickets; we followed suit. I went on queue and asked my family to freshen up at the tandas and grab something for breakfast from the nearby convenience store; we took turns in doing so.

Tandas or toilet at the basement of KLCC : simple and clean. I wish to see the same in NAIA 1 and all terminals in Manila.

The zigzag lines of people grew so fast!!! Look, at half hour past 6AM…

and just before the office opened at 8:30AM…

Despite the many tourists, there was no stampede, no loud noises, discipline was observed. Very good! :D

When the gate of the office opened and the line moved at a nice pace, photo-ops are limitless…

Team Docgelo ;-)

Finally, after almost 2 hours of waiting, we got our tickets for the 9:15AM visit!  I believe they’re making a census out of the number of citizens per country who came to appreciate Malaysia’s iconic towers. I smiled with pride when I saw the name of our country on our tickets!

As of present, the schedules for the Skybridge Visit are as follows : 9AM, 9:15AM (the one we availed), 10AM, 10:15AM, 11AM, 11:15AM, 12PM, 12:15PM, 1PM, 1:15PM, 2PM, 2:15PM, 3PM, 3:15PM, 4PM, 4:15PM, 5PM, 5:15PM, 6PM and 6:15PM.  So the visiting hours stretch from 9AM to 7PM every Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. *Phone and advance bookings are not be entertained.

Entrance fees for Malaysian adults and kids are cheaper at RM 25 per pax (PhP 350) than for foreign tourists, RM 50 per adult (PhP 700) and 25 ringgit for kids like Gabby (7-12 y/o, ages younger are free!).

Before 9AM, we noticed the monitors displayed, "All tickets for today are SOLD OUT" a few minutes after we're done with the cashier. The people on queue probably will get tickets for the next day but I doubt, as per brochure, "advance and phone bookings are not allowed."

Soon after we got the tickets, we brought our feet to the Check In area where like any terminals and highly restricted places, all our bags and things were scanned on an X-ray machine; all visitors were subjected to body-check; everyone was provided a color-coded ID, stickers for kids, and those with bags were advised to leave them at the package counter except for valuables.

Adult vistors s are provided with color-coded IDs, kids with stickers.

Then still few steps at the Check In area, the tour commenced with a brief hologram presentation of the history of the Petronas Twin Towers and some few reminders of what to expect and how to move  during the entire visit.

A guide led us to the lift en route to 41st floor where the Skybridge is located. It’s actually a double decked Skybridge–41st and 42nd levels connecting the two towers.

Taken at 7PM of the same day from the front foreground of Petronas Twin Towers

My heart silently pounded for extreme excitement. Like a kid of Gabby’s age or probably younger, I was quietly jumping for joy as we took steps to the Skybridge.

Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge 41st level : 170 meteres above street level

But upon hearing from the staffs that they ONLY allow 15 MINUTE-STAY per 20 visitors, PANIC ran through my veins, became too ANXIOUS in a heart beat; worried of how to capture the moments, the SPECTACULAR VIEW from the Skybridge on such limited time. Do you know how?  Like my mom, who more often than not is tensed with tons of things, I really had no “grace under pressure”, LOL! :D

I am no engineer nor architect, but my jaw dropped in amazement with such magnificent structure.

Can you spot the fountain at the park in front of the Twin Towers?

I just snapped my cam without a concrete plan in mind how to properly stretch the 15-minute Skybridge visit. I was caught by circumstance and drowned by awe but nonetheless, the moment was so surreal! Definitely one for the books!

The view and everything in sight was definitely spectacular! My photos cannot give justice to the exact beauty that we marvelled about.

The view of the garden at the back of Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex at 170  meters above street level…

While I was so excited taking photos, Tina’s busy capturing almost everything in video via her little gadget (from her dad). Then we meet at the moment to pause and smile for photo-ops, haha! :)

I love this shot!

One more shot before leaving Level 41 and take the lift to 86th floor…

The floor to the lift has photo-sticker of the image of the fountain and park in front of the towers.

Level 86th is the 2nd observation floor aside from the Skybridge. We were given 20 minutes to savor the amazing view.

“The design of each tower’s floor plan is based on simple Islamic geometric forms of two interlocking squares creating a shape of eight-pointed stars. Architecturally, these forms reflect important Islamic principles of Unity within unity, Harmony, Stability and Rationality.”  -–Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.

"Pinnacles : House the aircraft warning lights and external building maintenance equipment. Features: each of the 2 pinnacles is made up of a spire ring ball, a 23 segmented mast and ring ball (14 rings of varying diameters)."-Sourced via "Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised" brochure.

A Masterpiece of Architectural Design : "The exteriors is made of multi-faceted walls, 33,000 pieces of stainless steel and 55,000 pieces of glass panels form the towers' wall cladding. The vision glass panels are laminated light green. To shade the interiors against strong sunlight, stainless steel sun visors shaped like teardrops line the vision glass." -Sourced via "Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised" visitors' brochure.

*Quick Facts :

  • Number of storeys -88,
  • Height of each tower -452 meters above street level
  • Length of Skybridge : 58.4 meters
  • Height of Skybridge (Level 41 from street level) : 170 meters
  • Lifts : 29 double-decker high speed passenger lifts in each tower
  • Escalators : 10 in each tower
  • Stairs : 765 flights
  • Car park : 5,400 parking bays on 5 levels of basement parking
  • Steel used : 36,910 tons
  • Weight per tower : 300,000 tons
  • Usable space : 213,750 sq meters per tower
  • Two annexes : 186,000 sq meters of space  *-Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.

*Milestones of the construction of Petronas Twin Towers :

  • June 1992 ………………..start of project planning
  • Mar 1993………………….start of foundation works
  • Apr 1994………………….construction of the superstructure
  • Jul 1995…………………..lifting of skybridge
  • Jan 1996………………….fitting out of the interiors complete with furniture
  • Mar 1996…………………jacking of the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2
  • Jan 1997…………………moving in of the first batch of Petronas’ personnel
  • Aug 31, 1999……………official opening by YAB Dato Seri Dr Mahatir Mohamad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia -*-Sourced via “Petronas Twin Towers A Vision Realised” visitors’ brochure.

The 86th level observation area is kid-friendly.  See how Gabby played his ticket lifting the hologram structure of the twin towers. Aliw ang bata!  The other foreigner-visitors waited for Gabby to finish for them to use the monitor to play too! :D

Our almost half an hour spent at the 86th level of Petronas Twin Towers was definitely unforgettable! It gave us uniquely beautiful kind of high!

High na high!

I would not mind paying the two towers a visit again in the future. And again. and again. Because I love them so. :D

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*This is a part of a blog series on our 3-day-Chinese New Year holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As of this posting, the family & docgelo have returned to Penang.

 

 

10
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 12 : WE WENT TO FARMVILLE

Our Christmas Break 2011 Series includes :

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28 December 2011, Wednesday.  To be honest, I extremely enjoyed our trip to my in-law’s farm!  Our entire day spent there was definitely a breather from the common mall ratting and absolutely far from our usual work-home-routine.  Inhaling fresh air and savoring cool mountain breeze was definitely a fantastic treat for all of us.

The whopping 4.6 hectares of farm of various crops owned by my brother-in-law and his family is located at Boso-Boso, Antipolo Rizal.  A roughly an hour and a half drive from Pasig City and Ortigas took us to this beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of the urban life.

Meet one of their farm caretakers….

who lives in this paradise…

The place reminded me of  my maternal grandmother’s hometown, Barangay Halayhay, Tanza, Cavite where we used to visit every Summer of our growing up years; where houses were built separately from their toilets (the ones that require you to walk before you pee or poop) and where life is incredibly simple.

Aren’t these puppies, despite the lack of breed (or so called, askal aspin or asong pinoy) and a dumalaga so fit for Tinola, too cute for words? :)

The farm has a family house too where toilet is much comfortable. (There’s our Tita/Ninang sa Kasal on the photo).

Seeing a white cow grazing in grass doesn’t happen on a daily basis –definitely another treat! :)

Next photo reveals how my father-in-law who came home for the holidays from Missouri attempted to enjoy fishing.

And our Tito/Ninong sa Kasal became too busy too snapping his camera at this nature’s best. BTW, this is the bahay-kubo where we ate our sumptuous lunch. Very Nice! Cool eh?!

Another shot of that beautiful bahay-kubo…

One of the abundant crops are coconuts. Photo below exhibits Gabby’s amazement on how Kuya Boyet, one of the farm caretakers climbed and tried his best to get us freshest coconuts.

Coke and distilled water were rivaled by delicious coconut juice and pulp. Thirst-quenching!

Sarap ng buco, lalo na libre! :)

Other than coconuts, rice, some mangoes, there are also grapefruit trees. I’m not sure but it tastes and looks like grapefruit and tastes like pomelo as well.

Abot-kamay ang mga prutas! :)

Meet Gabby’s cousin, Raphael (left), the heir to this farm. :D

Look what’s cooking…

Preparation always comes before success. And my sister in law prepared and cooked on the spot a very tasteful Sinigang na buto-buto!  The tender meat almost effortlessly fall off from its bones. The sour broth  and the veggies were just perfect! Sarap! Success! :D

Here she is, doc bibsy, a.k.a. my former classmate in med school and Tina’s sister; that makes her my sister-in-law who happens to be the haciendera of this vast farm. Sarap ng buco, bibsy! :D

Tina and Gabby obviously enjoyed it too…

Jun, my brother-in-law and owner of this farm provided one of the best tasting barbecued liempo (pork belly). His recipe –a marinade of mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Imagine, it was my first time to eat liempo sans soy sauce and vinegar. Ang sarap!!!

While the adults were busy cooking, the kiddos were having their own business.

Another addition to our feast that afternoon was 2 kilo-takeaway/takeout by my dad-in-law enroute to the farm; its packaging says, Malutong. Masarap. Masaya! :D

tadaaaaa…. (nagsebo na kasi malamig sa farm!)

More artery-clogging delights : Crab fat, bagoong, salted eggs. Extra rice, please! :)

Tina must have her favorite green mangoes that she personally sliced into pieces.

It was Gabby’s first time to eat on banana leaves and it has been a while for me.

The lunch at the farm was surreal.

Shameless display of my plate, err, leaf. :)

Burp!

Gabby : “Daddy, how do we use this cable car?”

Me. : “CABLE CAR?!!? What cable car?”   Then I looked around and found an old swing. :D Kids loved it!

To Jun, Bibs and Raphael, Papa Chito, Tito Mars and Tita Emma, thank you so much for that fun afternoon at the farm! Wonderful! :D

Despite we spent a day WITHOUT mobile signal, NO WIFI, no cable TV because the farm is located uphill the barangay in Antipolo City, the experience was still memorable. Food. Family Bonding. Nature. Surreal!

The 4.6 hectare private farm is on the planning stage of progress, either to keep it as crop-producing farm and/or part of it will be converted to a resort. Regardless, it’s a clear gem from Mother Nature. :D

04
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 14 : HOTEL CELESTE

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

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*This is not a paid post for Hotel Celeste. The blogger and his family spent for their overnight stay and this blog’s simple review and staff commendation attempts to be honest and fair.

Celeste (pronounced with silent last e) means heavenly. And Hotel Celeste in Makati City is just that. Celestial. Stellar. Heavenly! :D

30 December 2011, Friday. Exactly 2 weeks after we arrived from Penang, we availed of the deluxe room I reserved a few weeks ago at Hotel Celeste, a European-inspired boutique hotel in the heart of Makati City.  Now, before someone raises his or her eyebrows and comments that we’re spending a fortune on this overnight accomodation, think again. We only availed of the hotel’s promo called CELESTIAL WEEKENDS that I luckily spotted at their website last year. Besides, give us a break, will you? It’s already 2012 and it’s our 8th Wedding Anniversary on Sunday, January 08, 2012, hence this simple indulgence. :D

I asked first my commander-in-chief’s go signal  (who else but Tina) if I can book a hotel room even for just a night in honor (naks!) of our 8th years of being officially married, 11 years of togetherness and as a part of our Christmas vacation in Pinas.  And man, I was in cloud 9 when I got her nod.

It was already the night of December 8, 2011 when I emailed Hotel Celeste to make a reservation. One night for us (December 30-31) and the other date this January 2012  as gift certificate that we gave as present to our first inaanak sa kasal (sponsored newlyweds, Nicole & Carlo). Tina and I thought it’s a decent wedding present for them more than the classic golden chamber pots (ginintuang arinola) *pun intended* :D

Incidentally, this is the first time I’ll be acknowledging the names of the people who served us beyond expectations.  The hotel service was excellent!

First to be applauded was the front desk officer, Ryan Lacerna. We never met him but he was the one who promptly replied to my email-request and immediately sent a reservation under my name on my preferred dates on PDF form. Thank you!

Second was the door man/bell boy, Dexter and the couple of guards outside. Mabuhay po kayo! Dexter’s Indigo blue marvelous uniform was perceived by Gabby as those worn with Samurai. (Our son mixed Japanese with Old World European–you know how kids watch so many cartoons these days, haha!).

And of course, the nicest people who man this small but ever efficient reception should be regarded as well.

Thank you to Em and Ethel who smilingly received me when I first personally went there to settle our bills in advance. Believe me, they’re the friendliest front desk ladies I’ve ever encountered.

Thank you to Jiggs Garcia who texted to inform me that the GC that I requested was already ready for pick up.

Not to forget the front desk people who were on duty during our stay, Gracie and the tall male front desk man who’s with her and whose name I forgot to ask, he also didn’t wear his nameplate that time, nontheless, thank you too!

To the Celi’s restaurant wait staff -morning and night shift, hats off to you for being courteous!

All of you made our brief stay so remarkable and memorable! Maraming Salamat! :D

Honey, lower your eyebrows, please. Umabot ata sa 3rd floor. Why? hehehe! *she'll kill me for this*

Needless to say, Hotel Celeste impressed us –not only the jologs in me who’s easier to pleased but Tina who has more discriminating taste. With only 30 rooms –in Suites and Deluxe that vary in their interiors (I think no room is designed similar), this charming hotel is an absolute respite amidst the hustle and bustle of Makati City and a great competition to the premier hotels around. It’s a few steps away from our favorite malls -Greenbelt and Glorietta. :D Very accessible too for tourists and balikbayans who likes a nearby accomodation from the airport.

Wacky Gabby posed for Tina while I check in at the counter.

Gracie, the front desk officer on duty didn’t ask anymore for the PhP 2K refundable deposit when I checked in for my family. I don’t know, either she forgot about it or I’d like to think she trusted me because of the 2 letters after my surname (ehem!).  She just requested me to provide an ID; I gave her my passport and after she scanned and returned it to me, I found myself with Tina, Gabby and the bellboy/doorman, Dexter inside the lift. Even the lift was elaborately decorated with DAMASK  TEXTILE and mirrors. Nice! :D

We’re assigned at level 3, room 305. Here’s the corridor…

The lateral view from the door of our room…

We were welcomed by spotless wooden floors and simple yet amazing fixtures.

I'm happy when my family's happy.

The mini bar isn’t free of course unlike QUINCY HOTEL SINGAPORE but nevertheless provides with complimentary bottled water, coffee and tea making facility.  Personal fridge also available.

The quality of pillows and the size of the bed for me are relatively important whenever slumbering in a hotel.  I want my pillows not too soft but a little firm.  Tina and Gabby like it otherwise.  We all love a king size bed instead of a twin, so much room to cuddle and curl up.  And in Hotel Celeste, we’re grateful that we had one of our restful sleeps. Fantastic!

Tina noticed the wardrobe has a long umbrella for the guests to use. We both think it’s uncommonly provided by most hotels unless you ask for one and Hotel Celeste was thoughtful in doing so even without a request.

The tandas (toilet) at first glance was instantly perceived as covered with wall paper but a closer look revealed it’s beautifully stenciled.  Thank God it’s no floral design but leafy. The Deluxe room has no bath tub but the rainshower dutsa with comforting hot and cold water was good enough.

The banyo may be small but almost sterile. It’s so important to be kept clean.

L'Occitane hair and body wash are provided, must of all, I like it when hotel choose Colgate to include in the box of toothbrush (despite we always bring our own gum needs).

The Celestial Weekend Promo package that we availed comes with a foot and leg massage upon arrival that we failed to enjoy. Tina and I opted to have it in the morning just before checking out however, it’s already late when we learned that the service is only available from 3 to 5 in the afternoon.  Our fault. No worries. But definitely, Gabby and Tina savored the welcome drinks; they chose ripe mango shake and iced chocolate. :)

vouchers for fee welcome drinks that were handed to us upon check in.

Fast forward to dinner : Most deluxe hotel room packages would only offer buffet breakfast, but Celestial Weekends treats guests to set dinner as well. When we’re almost ready to choose from the set menu, Gabby asked me to accompany him to pee.

This is how the toilet at the lobby looks like…

waiting area just before the toilet at the lobby

the male toilet : I wish I had mural painting of a knight to in our comfort room. :)

Admittedly, the set dinner may have been better if the servings are a bit bigger. But I’m not complaining; just saying. As mentioned, it doesn’t happen all the time that set dinner is inclusive in a hotel package unless it’s an ALL INCLUSIVE (Read : QUINCY HOTEL SINGAPORE again FTW!).

Inside CELI’s  Restaurant just by the lobby of Hotel Celeste…

There's a male acoustic crooner who's set we adore : love songs from the 80s sang and popularized by male foreign singers. Ang husay!

The view from where we sat…

From the set menu, Tina and I chose, focaccia and another high-fiber bread with buttered spinach and rock salt as starter, then roast chicken for me that’s sadly too salty and so minimal serving (I should’ve ordered the salmon!). Tina had carbonara which we gave a thumbs up but wished for, yes, a larger serving, hehe (note to self : it’s free and included in the package, remember?). She shared some pasta to Gabby but he likes the desserts better. We all love the chocolate ecclairs but the creme brulee’s too sweet for my sweet tooth. :D

If the set dinner was just OK, we were greatly surprised with the buffet breakfast! :D

A knock at our door at few hours before we went watching last full show of Gabby’s choice from 2011 MMFF at Greenbelt 3 cinema (guess what movie? haha!),  made me opened it and saw 3 people, wearing white collared shirts and pants (correct me if I’m wrong but they struck me as on OJTs or HRM interns) who handed me 2 sheets of paper to fill out.

It's all in the details.

The paper had the menu for breakfast but it allows the guests/diners to customize their dishes. It’s like tick the ingredient you want in your omelette; tick if you want Belgian waffle, croissants, danish pastries, cinnamon, smoked fish, pork tocino, bacon, chicken frankfurter, eggs benedict, fresh fruits, cereals, yoghurt and a lot more choices with various tea and coffee.

The jologs couple in us were puzzled after reading the instruction on the paper. It simply state tick your preferred dish to be served either in Celi’s restaurant or right inside your room. We’re not dumb or anything but we want to make sure before filling it out and submitting it to the front desk before 11PM.  So Tina called the front desk to clarify. The OC in me followed to verify.

Tina :  “Hello, this is room 305, We just received 2 sheets of paper for us to select our menu for breakfast. So how do we fill it up, will it be, we choose one per dish category or we can select more than one plate?”

Front Desk :  “Maam, you can select all po.”

Tina : “Ah, OK, Thank you.”  …puts down the phone and turned to me, “‘ney, pwede daw lahat? haha! Ikaw nga tumawag!” :D

To cut the funny story short, I confirmed that it’s like “select-all-that-apply” kind of thing. SARAP! :D  Alam nyo naman, we have to eat like a KING during breakfast! hehe! :D

We’re glad to have tasted their SMOKED BONELESS BANGUS… This is one reason why we love Filipino dishes!!!

Admit or deny it, this is how a typical Filipino buffet plate looks like : mix-mix! haha! ...There's that gorgeously delicious Smoked Boneless Bangus (we opted it instead Daing), Omelette, Beef Tapa, Pork Tocino, Hash Browns, Bacon strips, Chicken Frankfurters which we all shared.

Then Tina loved their Eggs Benedict…

And then seriously, while being served with one of our delightful breakfast meals, Gabby began feeling sick (he and I really got sick, NOT because of Hotel Celeste but perhaps of pollution/bacterial/viral exposures or change of weather temperature),  so Tina requested the wait staff if we could have all the food to be served in our room in order for Gabby to have ample and more relaxed time to eat. Et voila!

We didn't finish everything! Ang dami..so we take it home by buying microwavables from Landmark when we went grocery shopping before checking out at 12noon. Sayang naman itapon! haha..

Our stay in Hotel Celeste’s Celestial Weekends only cost us PhP 5,399 nett (the promo runs every weekend until January 15, 2012).  Some may accused us of overspending beyond our means, but hey, it ain’t your money we’re using. So chill. Some may say it’s too much for an overnight stay, well I say it’s a steal from the original deluxe room price of almost PhP 10K+ exclusive of what we enjoyed.  And above all, price for as long as you can afford, shouldn’t be an issue when you spend for family’s happiness and family bonding. Memories are cherished forever. Money can be earned.

I love you honey and Gabby! Cheers to our 8th year and here’s to more traveling, delicious feasts and fun-filled family bonding! :D

For more details on Hotel Celeste, visit their website at www.hotelceleste.ph

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02
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 11 : OUR STUDENTS’ WEDDING

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

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27 December 2011, Tuesday.  This was the day I first stood as one of the Principal Sponsors to the wedding of our 2 former students, Carlo & Nicole. The event was surely one for the books because I became a Ninong sa Kasal for the very first time at the age of 35. :)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Quezon City

Without hesitation, I accepted their invitation to become one of their godparents because they’re two of our good students. Tina and I became their clinical instructor and lecturer respectively back in the days when they’re still studying Nursing.  They’re remarkable in the sense that they were never late to my classes, didn’t have any failing marks, and were obedient even if I asked them to do a multiple page homework. hehe :)  Despite my age is considerably younger for the part, i took it as a pleasure as they wanted to regard me as one of their second parents.

You know it's Christmas season in our country when leaves of Poinsettias become red. And it's nice to see them lining one of the longest aisles in the Metro.

I like looking at stained glass windows

Team docgelo was ever present, of course! :)

My beautiful family wearing Punjabi dresses, steal purchases from Little India, Penang.

To be honest, the wedding could’ve been perfect if not for the uber toxic wedding coordinator who also stood as mass commentator. I’m sorry if she’s a relative of the bride or the groom but in my book, if you chose to assume the job, then you should be the one in control of everything, not the very first person to be anxious.

When the part that the entourage needed to queue, she started reading the names for us to line up.  I asked her, “Miss, saan ako?” without a smile and worst, without looking at me she replied, “Kahit saan na lang po, di na sunod-sunod iyan.” And then the unexpected happened –Everyone has a partner except me. :(  I was looking for the lady-coordinator but she’s out of sight already. When I was about to walk, I told a man in red shirt (who happened to be one of the choir), that I don’t have a partner. Thankfully to him, he graciously asked one of the couples’ aunt to stand as proxy.

Meet Mrs. Cuchapin, a relative of the couple who came home from Italy. She was so generous to walk with me down the aisle to the altar. Mabuhay po kayo, Maam! At Maraming Salamat!

I was true to my word that I will photograph the bride before she walks down the aisle…

Best wishes, Nicole!

And then there’s that obligatory respect for the parents…

Mano po! FYI, we share the same gesture of respect with Malaysians.

And before the couple became one, my cam was busy snapping at these kiddie fun!

cheers!

This was my "I wish we have a baby girl too-moment."

And then they became one…

Having experienced the same momentous event 8 years ago with Tina, I remember one of the most essential things in coming up with a successful wedding –the church or the wedding venue should be proximal to the reception. And Nicole and Carlo made the right decision in choosing Mount Carmel Church and Oasis, Manila; these 2 areas are just stone throw away.

More photo-ops for Team docgelo at Oasis. :)

Their 3-tiered deconstructed cake…nice!

I had the honor of sitting at the VIP area…

The program was lively hosted by a lady who could effortlessly pass as a trainer at call center office because of her wonderful pronunciation and a sing-songal diction.   :)

As the newlyweds became busy with photo-ops with all their guests, and people started lining up the spread….

I also enjoyed the pleasure of being served at our table and didn’t need to queue for the food.  The set from Hizon’s was delicious;  Carlo and Nicole had chosen a great menu to fill our tummies. :)

(This isn’t Beyond Toxicity without digestive feast!) I liked how a simple salad was served with 2 dressings -Caesar’s and Thousand Island.

Entrees included Fish Fillet with Honey Mustard Sauce, Hawaiian Chicken BBQ, US Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy, Vegetable Lumpia with Peanut Sauce, Roast Pork with Apple Raisin Sauce and two pasta dishes…

Everything's fine except that Lumpia was served with bean sprouts or togue. I was just surprised. My favorite was Roast Pork with Apple Raisin Sauce; it was to die for!

The disadvantage of sitting at the VIP area : nakakahiya humingi ng second round, LOL! :D

Desserts were simple yet satisfying.

I loved everything in this set!

Another unexpected thing happened. I mean, despite Nicole requested me to be ready with a speech for her wedding on behalf of the male Principal Sponsors, I didn’t prepare one. I thought, it’d be best to be spontaneous. However, I was caught off guard at the timing! haha! :D While I just happened to insert a chunk of pineapple covered with luscious chocolate from the fondue served right on our table, my name was called to give a short message to the newlyweds. Of course, I had to swallow everything down in a blink. :D

The program at the reception got livelier when the host requested some names to be in front with the couple for some photo-op. But lo and behold, it was a pure trap for the single ladies and bachelors. They dished out that old bouquet throwing ceremony and settled to a more modern and quite surprising activities.

For the single men, they were asked to drink a bottle of beer with two straws –one inside and the other outside the bottle making it a bit harder to sip. The one with the less volume drank was declared the winner. He happens to be the groom’s brother.

For the single ladies, they were instructed to insert their right index finger to the mouth of the bottle of beer strategically placed in between the thighs of the groom’s brother. How naughty! Each lady who successfully inserted her finger onto the bottle was spared from the “punishment” este, was eliminated from the game.

Then the host asked the groom to dance his way from the door of the reception to his bride’s leg where he had to remove the garter using his teeth. :)

Did you find what you're looking for down there, Carlo? :)

One last photo-op with the newlyweds and the rest of our former students…

Nice to see you again, kids! :)

To Carlo & Nicole, our best wishes to both of you! Remember that wedding is just a day and marriage takes a lifetime of commitment. No Return No Exchange Policy sana! hehehe! :D  Whenever you need help or anything, huwag lang siguro financial, hehe, we’re just a message or a call away! Enjoy life’s very best! God bless.

23
Dec
11

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 : EN ROUTE TO PINAS

*This blog series includes : Christmas Break 2011 Day 2 : ULINGAN, TONDO

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16 December 2011, Thursday night.  I arranged a pick up from our place in Butterworth to Penang International Airport via SMS with an Indian taxi cab driver whom we frequently call whenever we need a ride prior to departure and arrival.  He came at around 7 in the evening and with the expected rush-hour-traffic jam, we arrived before 8PM at the terminal.  Dropping of our 49 kilo-luggages and bags was such a breeze because I did the online check-in already and had our boarding passes printed from the web days prior to our flight.  And because we’re on a very limited budget and value practicality above something else, we went home via Malaysia’s budget airline, Air Asia (May kamahalan na din ang nakuha naming ticket kumpara sa karaniwan at promo airfares dito –humigit-kumulang PhP 35K kaming tatlo, one way from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK).

I set to use my annual work leave in spending Christmas season in Pinas. I didn’t go home or utilized my paid days off else where (read : our breaks in Paris, New York and London *kidding!* I wish but we only went to Kelantan, Malaysia, Singapore and  Hatyai, Thailand this year were all enjoyed during public holidays) but saved it for the yuletide. After all, it is Christmas that Tina, Gabby and I consider as the most wonderful time of the year, the happiest season of all!

Despite Penang is only1545 miles away from the Philippines, there’s no direct flight yet to connect my current work place and our home. So it’s either you fly Singapore or Hong Kong first –which would cost you your arms and legs at this time of the year, or either take the cheaper but longer route by the bus or train or fly from Penang to Kuala Lumpur first that we usually do.

At the Penang International Airport which has on-going renovations (hey look, NAIA 1, terminals outside our country are on the road to improvement, and you?) we had dinner from one of Gabby’s favorite fast foods. It was a simple delight to have twister fries and quarter pounder before a flight. :)

After dinner, the waiting period began. Our local flight from Pen-KUL was supposedly 11:15PM but was delayed for 30 minutes. What can we do but bear with the waiting game. Are you fond of waiting for your flight/s at the airport?  I do except when it’s not on time. I mean, I maybe impatient at other matters but killing time at the terminals for me is not that bad.

We safely reached KL-LCCT after 45 minute flight. Everything’s fine except the looooong walk from the tarmac to the airport itself. The fatigue and lack of sleep were gone withe the sight of this heavenly food place that we’ve been wanting to try…

The Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur may not be one of the best, perhaps not even included in top 10 great terminals in the world and in my opinion has also its share of inconvenience but nontheless has decent choices of food places. We passed on Starbucks Coffee, Mary Brown Fried Chicken (Malaysia’s answer to KFC), and some other few but we failed to resist the charm of Theobroma Chocolate Lounge.

the ambiance is casual and inviting.

Forgive us for indulging chocolates before 2 in the morning. Sinful is it not? :D

Look, everything looked nice and tasted great too but they served the knife & fork with its tips exposed and the handles wrapped with tissues and before you wrongly judge Theobroma, let me inform you that this is a common practice in restaurants around Malaysia; and frequently, availability of tissues is a rarity in hawkers too! (read: I am not a foodie expert neither have a degree in culinary but my common sense dictates me that it’s best to wrap and cover the  parts you’ll put in your mouth rather than expose and drop it directly on the table. Spell HYGIENE and CLEANLINESS, people!).

Moving on…Tell me, how can you resist Theobroma’s Belgian Waffle with Ice Cream?

Me speaking to the waiter : “What are your bestsellers here? What can you recommend?”

Waiter pointing to the menu he handed us : “Ah, eto po ang masasarap, ok po ito, iyan…”

Me : “Ah, Kabayan! Saan kayo sa atin? Ano ba masarap dito?

the eyes tell you that they're sleep deprived but hungry. hehe! :)

Our verdict : The waffle’s tasteful! The strawberry slices rippled with chocolate were divine. And it’s so amazing that the scoop of ice cream took several minutes to melt which made us ask ourselves, is it gelato?

Gabby went to the counter and checked out the cakes. I believe he wanted Oreo chocolate cake but we were served with Orange Chocolate slice. We did not complain; I felt there’s no need to because we also wanted to sample such flavorful combo.

Gabby’s taste buds were a bit purist. When he wants chocolate, he wants nothing else. In fact, our kiddo doesn’t want any nuts when eating anything chocolate. But the cake was a delight for me and Tina. It reminded us of one of Haagen Dazs’.

Tina asked our kabayang-waiters (we talked to 2 of them-one serving us and the other at the counter) their recommendations. One of them highly suggested QUEEN OF ROCK AND ROLL.

Me asking Tina :” ‘ney, design lang ba iyong nasa cup or chocolate ripple talaga?

Tina : “ano ka ba, chocolate!”  –tapos ngumiti iyong waiter sa clueless moment ko.

We trusted our kabayang-waiter and the suggested cup doesn’t disappoint! Queen of Rock and Roll (left photo below) went to Gabby and he loved it! That chocolatey creamy drink indeed rocks! :) While Tina opted for a coffee-chocolate blend called MADAME ESKIMO which was beautifully served with a coffee bean on top. My lovely wife, despite sleep deprived was happy! :)

Thumbs up for Theobroma's blends!

As for me, I needed to have something warm; I settled for FLAT WHITE.

Sarap! Nakakawala ng antok!  Someone should bring home Theobroma Chocolate Lounge to NAIA Terminal 1 please!

The prices are comparable to Starbucks Coffee. Service is efficient. Goodies are yummies! :)

The Air Asia check in counter didn’t open until it was past 4AM. Maraming PASAWAY sa pila na ibang lahi. SINGIT! I didn’t allow them to get in over my queue. Our international flight from Kuala Lumpur to Clark Field, Pampanga was scheduled at 6:45AM. And so I thought, di ba 4 hours dapat bukas na ang airline counter kapag international flight?

Waiting, waiting and more waiting.  After few bladder and bowel breaks, yikes! (hey, it’s part of morning rituals, right?), we decided to spend our last hour prior to the flight and our few remaining ringgit in OLD TOWN WHITE COFFEE restaurant also in LCCT.

Tina and I had a plate each of this noodle dish that the name slipped my memory.

I may have forgotten its name but the taste was etched on my palate. Sarap! It’s so comforting to eat hot noodle dish in the wee hours of the morning.

I was fortunate enough to avail of our RETURN FLIGHT on the first week of January 2012 last April 2011 at its promo sale. It only costs me PhP 8K nett for the 3 of us with 40 kg check in luggage and I think that’s a steal! :) However, due to tight budget, I only purchased our airline tickets from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK last week of November for our Dec 16-17 flight. Understandably, most of the aircrafts servicing Malaysia-Philippines route are alreay full because of the  holiday season and prices of tickets are expectedly steep than usual. Nonetheless, come hell or high waters, Tina, Gabby and I have to spend Christmas in the country we call HOME.

From the arrival area of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), we claimed and paid our reserved bus tickets from the friendly ladies of Philtranco bus liner kiosk located at the lobby. I googled their website and did the reservation via email; a ticket from DMIA to SM Megamall (even up to Pasay City) costs PhP 400/pax.

The trip was only an hour and a half and everything went OK except for the traffic from Balintawak in Caloocan after NLEX to EDSA then Ortigas approaching SM Megamall. But hey, it ain’t home without the traffic! *pun intended*

The next morning, we savored one of our missed breakfast meals…

Nothing spells the Christmas celebrations better than spending it in your home country with your love ones. Walang katulad ang Pasko sa Pilipinas! :)

From Tina, Gabby and me, Maligayang Pasko po at Manigong Bagong Taon! :)

11
Dec
11

RECYCLED GEMS

Never underestimate things from rubbish for you might find gold in them.  I told Gabby this while we walked our way towards Armenian Street in George Town after alighting the ferry from Jetty. The little-big boy, at first was puzzled until I simplified what it means.

I was surprised when our 7-year-old wonder boy is already familiar with the triple R -recycle, reduce, reuse. Apparently, his mom and teachers have been doing their duties wonderfully. Our casual father-and-son conversation became more meaningful when we spotted several used bath tubs now serving as plant boxes lining the street. Whoever thought of that must have been so environmental-friendly.

As Tina usually wants to spend her Sunday at home whenever possible (for she  thinks and I also agree that she deserves a rest before she begins another work week), it was only Gabby and I who went out to the Island primarily to run some errands (we needed to go to a money changer to have our ringgits changed to pesos as we’re going home to Pinas for the holidays, we also had to buy some ingredients for Tina’s home cooked siomai and a few more pasalubongs for our relatives and lastly, I was asked by my lovely wife to bring her old denims for a change of zippers in a repair shop). However before doing all this, I decided to drop by AMELIE CAFE and grabbed the opportunity to expose my kid to something totally different.

that gem in the mirror

Located in #6 Armenian Street beside a famous tourist spot, Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong that we have yet to explore some other time, AMELIE CAFE is a hole-in-the-wall cafe that serves quality Western food in the heart of George Town.

At  first sight, one would not imagine that this tiny food place can provide a charmingly beautiful gastronomic experience. It actually looks like an ordinary carinderia outside, housed at the ground floor of a pre-war building except that its simple facade was made attractively beautiful by those lavish green potted plants and its unique hand-made sign boards express that there must be more than meets the eye. :)

Amelie Cafe is open from 10AM daily except Mondays

Having been an expat for more than a year here in Penang, I completely know that this Malaysian state, particularly in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, George Town, offers diversities not only in race, religion and color but evidently in culinary department as well. Like mushrooms in the woods, hawker food stalls, restaurants and coffee shops are having healthy competitions despite they thrive side by side.  Food in this part of Asia is more than substantial but a lucrative business too.

With the commercially available kedai kopi like Starbucks Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf including the popular local kopitiam and the like, AMELIE CAFE, in my honest opinion has greater advantage above all these giants.

It’s edge –the highly creative atmosphere out of recycled materials.

Take a peek at what we had enjoyed inside…

It’s like we entered a hole-in-the-wall eatery-slash-museum-slash-art-gallery. Amazing’s an understatement! :)

No corner was overlooked; even its humble ceiling deserves a glimpse.

On top of the door were tin plates displayed beneath those water plants (I’ve known them as celia as told by my old relatives; we have some at home in Butterworth cut from the jetty/ferry station) placed in old bottles of various branded fruit jams.

What’s great with all of these decors, I think they’re highly mobile as the owners can move them from one corner to the other making the interiors of Amelie Cafe uniquely different in a snap.

There’s only one ceiling fan without unusual look but nonetheless functional.

Must have that detail shot…

i want to take that dog & cat painting home!

On the left side by the door is a table and this wall…

Who says you cannot create remarkable things out of rubbish?

As we stepped inside Amelie Cafe, we found out that it only has 5 small tables filled with mostly foreigners dining their brunch. Fortune was on our side when we spotted an available table located at the end, just by the kitchen. No worries for Gabby and I because astonishingly, smoke from the frying pan is handled professionally. I didn’t mind being welcomed by the gentle wafting scent of the bacon at late morning; it was so welcoming actually! :)

The limited 5 tables with 3 to 4 stools each do not come in set. Even their plates, cups and saucers never look alike but when put together they contribute to ones’ fantastic dining experience.

Don't let the simplicity of the table and stools fool you; the total dining experience here is more than you can imagine.

The finish of the walls, floor and ceiling was not made perfect but it added to its enticing appeal.

We were greeted by Yen, one of the owners of Amelie Cafe. It’s only Yen and her husband, Hung run the entire show at their very quaint food place. The wonderful duo serve as wait staff, at the same time, do the preparation of food, do the cooking and tender the cashier counter and if chance permits, entertain their diners.  Fantastic! :)  I just failed to ask them if they have formal education in culinary or in related fields nevertheless, I think it’s no longer important as they’ve been managing everything at Amelie Cafe smoothly and successfully.

As Gabby and I sat down, Yen handed in the menu…

menu with hand painted cover, made out of cut-out cartons.

She told us, pointing with her thumb (the way Malaysians do it-not the common use of index finger or for us Pinoys, with a pouting lips, hehe!) to the uber artistic dessert menu board beneath the stairs.

After getting our orders, I asked if they have tandas (toilet), Hung pointed towards the back of the kitchen. The kitchen looks like this…

The Kitchen : Everything's prepared and cooked here. Nothing more, nothing less. Isn't it amazing?

These are some of the artworks located above our table. Other than the use of recycled materials, did you notice the recurrent theme?  Mother Nature must be super happy! :)

Can you spot that solitary little fish inside the jar that was made into its aquarium and a plant vase too?

Humor in recycled art : Old wooden planks nailed side by side painted with fish spines and dog bone noted with “meow” combined with “oof oof !” ….Nice! :)

I believe the couple also did all those colorful pieces. And it looks like they’re also responsible designing the whimsical interiors of Amelie Cafe. How many businessmen do their work with complete hands-on?

With all those eye-catching things, waiting for our orders to be delivered and boredom inside Amelie Cafe didn’t become an issue. After 15 minutes, Gabby and I were already sharing these…

I gave him the liberty to go over the menu and choose whatever he wants. He selected carbonara, hazelnut chocolate parfait and chocolate banana milkshake. That was pure carbo-glucose fix!

After that candid shot, my boy asked me to dunk my fork and eat all those crispy cut bacon strips from the pasta because he doesn’t eat bacon and seldom he likes ham. Sure, I replied to him; I became easily submissive with his wish. :)

As Gabby continuously dreams of becoming a chef, a hotelier, restaurateur someday, I told him that putting up a carinderia as gorgeous and attractive as Amelie Cafe would do. Thinking of owning something like this is more than surreal!

Hazelnut parfait was a perfect ending to our mini-brunch. It came with fresh cranberries that Gabby wrongly thought of cherries. The pasta plate was also satisfyingly good, although minimal in serving and less creamy than usual–the taste actually made the difference. And the milkshake?  Refreshingly delicious!

Honestly, the food doesn’t come that cheap compared to what you might expect. The price is comparable to Starbucks Coffee’s. A little more expensive than the common fast food joints. But hey, you don’t get all these visual treats from those commercial food places.

Then the moment of “must sample their coffee” dawn upon me…

The first sip of this cappuccino was for Tina. Yeehaa! :)  I really wished she’s with us with this (another) extraordinary experience.

The table where we enjoyed everything…

Just before ending our meal at Amelie Cafe, Gabby told me that he liked everything he ate and appreciated all things he saw inside.  Like me, he loved all the artworks, all the delightful clutter including the simple presence of that fish solitarily swimming in that old jar.  The sense of recycling old things and turning them into great use rather than considering them as useless junks was reinstilled in his young mind. The exposure brain-washing, I guess was successful! :)

04
Dec
11

KAPITAN

There must be something about Little India at the heart of George Town, Penang that irresistibly attracts me. Like most tourists who come here on foot or via riding a trishaw, we all find this spot uniquely charming.  Perhaps,  a thousand and one reasons include that Bollywood music being played in its loudest volume by shops that sell audio CDs.  Seeing little girls and women from the Tamil community, wearing those unstitched and colorful sarees proudly (on a daily basis) like having their tradition and culture on their skin makes an early morning stroll in Little India nothing less than inviting.

Indian-Malaysian women washing their feet prior entering the temple in the morning of Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of lights; taken at Queen Street, George Town, Pulau Pinang.

My eyes usually go on a feast with the sight of various interesting things…

Lantern fascination

And of course, what tops my list is my young love affair with some Indian dishes.

One has an option to enjoy it via hawker food stalls…

or in my case, from Kapitan…

As of the moment, I am partial to Kapitan, an Indian restaurant with branches all over Penang Island; serving the hungry and craving ones for 24 hours, 7 days a week  (read : I rarely eat Indian food here if it’s not from Kapitan. Tina, Gabby and I tried the one in front of our appartment’s building and it’s not worth it).  The one that I frequent is located at the corner of Little India and Lebuh Chulia (Chulia Street which is commonly flocked by foreigners touring Penang).

My Indian Power Breakfast from Kapitan in the morning of Diwali : Tosai Keju (Cheese Tosai) with dips and chutneys, Roti Telur (Egg Prata with curried eggplant dip) and Mango Lassi to wash down; all for only RM 8.60 (USD 2.75 or PhP 120).

Because I had eaten several times in Kapitan and loved it each time, I was raving about it to Tina and Gabby and wished that they would go with me to Little India to try my favorites too. It came true last Saturday as we had our lunch in Kapitan after I bought Tina and Gabby’s choices of Punjabi dress and shirt (no, not a saree) that they will wear in one of the functions that we will attend in our days off in Manila soon.

Our family's love affair for some Indian dishes at Kapitan begins.

Huge servings, quick and attentive service, best of all, English-speaking staff complimented Kapitan’s tasteful dishes.  Those essential qualities in food places are sadly, a rarity in most local restaurants here so one can easily imagine happiness and satisfaction in dining in Kapitan. There’s one wait staff  in Kapitan-Little India who doesn’t forget to offer spoon and fork and table napkins –this little gesture, believe me, doesn’t exist in others even in fast food joints unless you ask for them.

Personal favorite : Chicken Tandoori set comes with cheese naan and a burst of flavors -tamarind dip, green mango+chili chutney, fish head curry served with freshly sliced onions and lime.

We chose to eat in the open-air-beside-the-street dining area rather than Kapitan’s second floor that’s airconditioned. Tina and Gabby browsed the menu but they trusted my recommendations.

Tina sampled my usual order from Kapitan : Chicken Tandoori set that comes with chicken delightfully marinated in yoghurt before grilling it with spices and butter.  She had Garlic Cheese Naan to pair with it.  With my wife’s discriminating-hard-to-please-taste buds, she smiled ear to ear after making the first bite. :)  Gabby enjoyed the same set but only with Cheese Naan less the garlicy flavor Tina had.

Although I knew it’s a perfect opportunity for me to try other dishes from Kapitan like their Biryani, Mutton and others, I stayed within my comfort zone of having chicken again but this time not a Tandoori but a Chicken Cheese Kebab. :)

New found love : Chicken Cheese Kebab with double order of Cheese Naan! Sarap! ;-)

Tender. Flavorful. Loved it. The waiter suggested for me to have 2 Cheese Naan instead of one. I became submissive as resistance was futile at that time. :)

We did have spoons and forks, but since an area for handwashing is available, Tina opted to eat it traditionally; Gabby and I followed. Look at those fingers pinching those Naan-goodness…

I was in cloud 9 when I saw my family enjoying their meals at Kapitan. It’s a refreshing breather from our usual fast food and restaurant dining.

it was a lovely lunch!

Because they liked it too, it’s definitely not our last time dining together in Kapitan-Little India.

—————

Have you tried Indian food?  What’s your favorite?

13
Nov
11

ITLOG NA PULA, ATBP

Whenever clock hits few minutes after 5PM on a Monday-to-Friday-basis, Tina and I head to the bus stop just in front of our work place to hurriedly go home. And while on our 30-40 minute ride, we wait for Gabby’s call to inform us that he’s on his way home too via his service-van from school.  During this time, I usually ask Tina what’s on her mind for dinner. :)  Her answer of course, depends on the contents of our fridge and pantry.

Recently, I’ve been craving for some salted eggs on a bed of chopped fresh tomatoes seasoned with either salt or fish sauce (yes, to make it more salty!) so I made sure I bought some.  I grew up liking this Filipino favorite combo and was so familiar with ready-to-eat-red-coated-salted eggs back home. Imagine our fancy when I brought home these from the public market here in Penang…

Those black and monstrous looking eggs are raw salted eggs and they're edible by the way, LOL!

Apparently, salted eggs here in Penang are traditionally Chinese. Unlike the ones sold in the Philippines that are dyed in red to easily distinguished them from fresh duck eggs, salted eggs here are covered in black sand and soil (in some parts of Asia, I read, in salted charcoal paste).

I paid 8 ringgit (PhP 112 or USD 2.54) for 10 pieces of raw salted eggs from the Chinese-Malay vendor at the public market here in Butterworth; cheaper than my recall to its price from Landmark Supermarket in TriNoma about 2 years ago (How much are they now in Pinas?). 

After throughly washing them one by one under running water, these salted eggs were boiled before peeled to perfection to look like these…

Craving satisfied!  :)  The orange-red yolks are rich in cholesterol, I know. We only eat it once in a blue moon! *defensive* LOL! :D Meanwhile, Tina was up for something more…

Salted eggs + freshly chopped tomatoes coupled with fried fillet of cream dory and mangoes were part of our meal at home.

Another day, another feast.

Tina's fresh lumpia with sweet peanut sauce + chopped roasted peanuts & minced garlic toppings, steamed prawns, slices of papaya and some bananas.

Regardless of the dishes on our table, wherever we eat, we consider being together the most appetizing part of our dining! :D

10
Nov
11

GABBY’S CHRISTMAS TREE

With no imposed obligations from them, I’m trying my best to give back to my parents by doing things to Gabby what they did to me and my brothers. It’s one of the simple ways I know to show gratitude to the people who raised us well.

Before I got married and raised a family of my own, I used to put up a Christmas tree with my mom, siblings and cousins on either the last day of October or after Undas (All Saints and All Souls’ Day).  Like ordinary Filipino family, it has been a tradition for us to welcome and usher the yuletide season in our home by gathering around our living room to assemble one of the most famous holiday symbols, the Christmas tree! :)

From malls to shops in Divisoria, we usually update our decors almost every 2 to 3 years back then. Once, our mom even brought us to a specific distributor of Christmas decors and novelty items somewhere in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City (a company called ‘Unique’ that supplies National Bookstores and some department stores in Pinas). We used to have 6 feet Christmas tree with decors that are older than my nephew and nieces.

While on Tina’s end, my in-laws are also fond of sprucing up the house with holiday cheers. Last year, Tina, Gabby and I unboxed my in-laws’ collection of Christmas village that they have purchased over the years from US. (View them HERE!)

Now that I have Tina and Gabby, it’s more apparent that a simple activity as raising a Christmas tree can foster family bonding. :)

With only 150-cm- Christmas tree and its decors, he did not contain his happiness! The moment was priceless!

Except for the Christmas lights, Gabby decorated the tree himself, piece by piece…

S & J, a novelty shop in Queensbay Mall, Penang issued their free quarterly “Bento magazine” to promote their items on sale. For the 3 of us, the most interesting items on the pages are the Christmas tree packages with mostly European themes.

There were a lot to choose from; themes were inspired by the key cities in Europe and few from other parts of the globe. There’s Barcelona, New York, Paris, Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, Edinburgh, and the one we brought that the three of us selected in its medium size (4 feet+) -Black forest (in Germany).  The ‘Black forest’ tree was described in the Bento magazine with phrase, “Mesmerize with fairytale toys of wonderland Germany.”

Not only with their themes, but sizes of these Christmas trees vary from small (120 cm), medium (the one we got at 150 cm) and large (180 cm).

Here are detail shots of our tiny Christmas tree….

We love Christmas balls in any color, in any size!

The Black forest Christmas tree package from S & J was lacking of stocks of two types of Christmas balls so the sales ladies asked us to choose from their shelves. Tina singled out little mirror-balls for our tree.

From Mr. Snowman to Santa Clause and reindeers, the decors are a delight to our eyes! Gabby enjoyed putting them on the tree that’s only a bit taller than him.

Got to believe in.... Santa Clause! :)

Putting the star on top of the tree is somewhat symbolic. We also wanted Gabby to do it however he told me that he’s already tired so I did the job for him. The boy’s energy was exhausted in our first Christmas activity, hehe! :)

Et voila….Gabby’s masterpiece! :)

With no explanations needed, Christmas goes beyond those glittery and sparkling decors. We anticipate more our celebrations of the reason for the season as we do this earthly preparations.

Our Christmas tree heightens our excitement to come home to the Philippines on the 3rd week of December.  We cannot wait to see how Manila and our relatives’ places have been decorated for this season!

29
Oct
11

HALLOWEEN IN PENANG, 2011

At two years old, he was dressed as a pumpkin. The following year, as Count Dracula. And with his 3 years in Preschool –Nursery, Kindergarten and Preparatory, he wore ninja, scarecrow and tiger-chef costumes with appropriate face-paint makeups done specially by Tina.

From his school to malls in the Philippines such as our favorites, Greenbelt, TriNoma and Gateway, Gabby enjoyed collecting candies wearing his costumes we fancied every Halloween. He was even awarded as a student with “Most Creative Costume” in their school parties for 2 consecutive years.

Being abroad with limited budget doesn’t deter him from celebrating Halloween with other kids. Despite the fact that his school here and our appartment do not have similar activities, some malls here in Penang also conduct such events that add to priceless childhood happiness.  Although admittedly, it’s still best and more FUN doing all these things in our own country (read : we miss the malls and almost everything in Pinas!).

29 October 2011, Saturday –We arrived 10AM, so early at Queensbay Mall and headed directly to Starbucks Coffee, not only to grab quick morning drinks and bites but to be strategically near to the venue and stage where the Halloween Costume Contest for kids would be held. As I went to the counter to order a couple of ventis of frappuccinos (chocolate for Gabby, and dark mocha shared by Tina and me) and a plate of sausage roll, Tina didn’t waste any second and prepared her stuffs to do Gabby’s face paint.

If you must know, Tina doesn’t have any formal training, whatsoever on doing make ups. In fact, she only began wearing them few weeks after she first met me (she’ll kill me for this!). Apparently, she’s doing great with her face and with Gabby’s, isn’t she? :) This proves that Tina has many skills and talents. My wife isn’t only a diligent Operating Room nurse, a dedicated mother, a passionate educator herself, but also a creative makeup artist in her own right! :) She even managed to work well with the face paint I bought from Toys R Us here despite it was far from the brands she told me to buy (supply of those things is rare in this part of Malaysia).

In character before he ate his lunch!

Gabby requested one of his favorites, Pizza Hut for lunch. We’re delighted with a pitcher of Mountain Dew, a small loaf of garlic bread, soup of the day and a large 7-cheese-pizza!

Pizza Hut's Seven Cheese Pizza : Romano, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Provolone, Mozzarella and Cheddar. So heavenly!

Gabby remains to be a purist when it comes to pizzas so he wants it nothing but cheese.  This new offerring from Pizza Hut was welcoming to him and in fact, we all found it sublime that I am craving for another slice as I write this. 

We finished lunch a few minutes prior to 1:30PM call time for all participants. We went back near Starbucks, confirmed Gabby’s attendance and got his number-tag. He was contestant # 6 out of 33 (or was it 34?) kiddie participants all in all.

His royal blue Chinese-inspired satin tunic was a hand-me-down costume from his eldest cousin, that was worn at our wedding reception almost 8 years ago. We only added a few accessories that Gabby chose himself from a store also in Queensbay Mall for him to look more like a Chinese pirate (uniquely wearing a Beijing Opera mask).

Each contestant was called, asked to walk on the ramp and introduce themselves a little and greet everyone a “Happy Halloween!”. It was the very first time we saw Gabby became shy on stage (read : he doesn’t have stage fright for he had won and placed in several declamation contests in his former school back home).

They paraded on the entire Ground floor before the winners’ names were announced.

He lost but nonetheless, we’re definite that he enjoyed the experience this year. Tina and I had fun too being with these kids! As token of participation, we’ll be issued after a week, a  free 8R picture officially taken by Queensbay Mall photographer during the event.

Honestly, when Tina and I saw her and her props, we knew she deserves to be the contest’s grand winner, but this 10-year old girl geared as a ‘Halloween dinner table’ only bagged second place.

First place went to…

Tina and I told Gabby that he had done a good job on stage and made him feel our very own champion. He is and he’ll always be, of course!:)

Group shot!

One more time!

Gabby had fun, he even retained his face paint and costumes on until we reached home; except the fact that he only got candies and chocolates from the organizers of the event themselves because the shops and stores inside the mall didn’t prepare sweets like the way it’s done back home and else where.

How’s your Halloween?

Because obviously, we cannot visit cemeteries of our departed, we’ll just utter prayers for our late grandparents and relatives. It’s what we practice back home on top of trick or treating.

02
Oct
11

ON GABBY’S SPECIAL DAY


“I love you, Ma, I love you, Daddy!”
These phrases never fail to melt our worries and stress away. And now that Gabby is turning 7 years old this Wednesday, 5th October, Tina and I cannot be grateful enough to the Lord for giving us His greatest blessing; we love our son beyond words.

Because his birthday falls on a weekday (we have work, he has school), we decided to celebrate it in advance last weekend. Tina was suggesting for us to dine at T.G.I.Fridays again but of course, the birthday boy’s wish prevailed.

He has been craving for some bites at an all-cheese-pizza from Pizza Hut so we gave in to his request…

He’s a purist when it comes to pizza as his preference is exclusively partial to 3 to 4-cheese pizza; like he really doesn’t like anything on top.
Gabby also favored calamari and garlic bread from the menu…

I maybe a doctor and an educator but I honestly don’t know everything. I’m not sure if the love for great-tasting food (read : huge appetite) can also be transferred via genetics, can it? Gabby might have been blessed with good genes, don’t you think? LOL! :D
My choice : Pizza Hut’s Honey Barbecue Chicken Wings –sarap to the bones! :)

We washed everything down with iced cold water, canned light Pepsi for Gabby (yes, I know sodas are junkie too!), and a tall glass of citrus flavored drink infused with calamansi and champoy at its bottom–uniquely refreshing; an eye candy too!

After that hearty lunch (we didn’t finish everything; we had some slices as takeaway *defensive*), Tina went to the department store and bought Gabby a new shirt while I headed to the mall’s barbershop for that much needed haircut. We met about an hour after, and had some grocery shopping too.
Then the time to blow candles on a birthday cake came; we sat inside Secret Recipe and the rest was momentous…

While waiting for Gabby’s cake, Tina took this photo on a whim. A littly grainy but I just had to post it because Gabby’s too adorable, isn’t he?

Chocolate Indulgence cake landed on our table with a cake slicer and 7 pieces of candles. Our little big-boy didn’t waste time and made his wishes…

The multilayered and richly textured chocolate cake was truly to die for; there’s no other name more apt for it but Chocolate Indulgence. It’s one of our favorites!

At seven, Gabby’s still a baby. He still likes toys a lot! Good thing he knows how to profess what he wanted to receive so we know what to give. Best, it’s afforbale and functional too. Uhm, I think so… hehe..

He could have asked for a remote control aircraft but opted for his second wish. With these, you now have a clue where we’re heading next weekend, if and when weather permits…

We left Queensbay Mall last Saturday with happy faces and full tummies.

The simple celebration continued the next day on our humble abode here in Penang. Tina cooked another irresistible dish – creamy carbonara with lotsa bacon bits on penne, yummy!

We’re joined by my dad whom we picked up from Penang Airport after we spent our entire Saturday at Queensbay Mall. With his Lolo Ben around (who went home 2 months ago to Manila with my mom for some important matters), Gabby will have longer sleeping hours again before he goes to school daily. The birthday boy’s smile reached ear to ear when his Lolo Ben brought out from his luggage a gift imported from Pinas from his Lola Tessie (my mom).

And there was a candle on a birthday cake again; he really enjoyed blowing candles on his cake. There must be something special about it.

What made his birthday preparation this year a bit different from before, he took the initiative and the efforts to pack his simple loot bags for his classmates and teachers on Wednesday (his actual birthday)…

Alone, he segregated candies and packs of chocolate bicuits piece by piece and put them on these loot bags. Such heightened his excitement to share his special day with his Chinese and Indian schoolmates too…

But we made known to him that he’ll only have loot bags as giveaways and no party will be thrown in his school here (read : we’re cutting on expenses, seriously!). Nontheless, it’s fine with him, after all, he understands and loves us so.

Our family life, although far from being perfect has been incredibly special and seems like there’s always an everyday-celebration because we have you, anak! We love you very much, Gabby! :)

25
Sep
11

IN A KEDAI KOPI

As parents of an almost 7-year-old wonder boy, Tina and I always consider Gabby’s preferences whenever we eat out (read: he’s like our big boss). We frequently ask him of what he likes before deciding where to dine. Are you the same when you go out with your own kids or nephews and nieces? Good thing with Gabby, he knows what he wants despite he’s a littly picky when it comes to food but has been keen on his favorites. He’s very particular with what he eats, like he wants his pizza with only cheese and no other toppings (the four-cheese pizza tops his list).

At home, he eats some veggies; he likes kangkong whenever we have sinigang (sour broth) on our table. Gabby eats practically most greens and fruits that we offer him. But whenever we go out, expectedly like kids of his age, he usually craves for fast food meals.

You can just imagine whenever Gabby gives his nod for us to try other food places over Mcdonald’s and Pizza Hut…

Some few months back, while we’re walking at Lebuh Chulia in Georgetown, we found a seemingly ordinary looking Kedai Kopi (coffee shop).

We’re a family who likes Starbucks Coffee and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf but beyond their frappuccinos in venti, we also enjoy some bites from these coffee shops, even from coffee nooks less famous and commercial than those two.

There’s always something special about simplicity; about places where pretentions do not exist, venues that allow you to be as casual as you are.

Inside Trois Canon Cafe, I found a charming painting of Shanghainese woman (kamukha ni Ate Vi, hehe!)…

Good thing I captured the menu on our table, without it I won’t recall the name of this hole-in-the-wall Kedai Kopi.

The menu contained a combo meal that passed Gabby’s taste : a thick buttered toast, oatmeal infused with maple syrup and milk and Milo ais (meelo iced!).

It’s great that this kedai kopi also serves a variety of all-day-breakfast meals; it gave me the chance to load my gastric pit. I picked from their menu something called East meets West combo : Oriental fried rice topped with fried egg, served with pork luncheon meat strips and frankfurter (yes, they’re non-halal).

While my lovely wife was content with her ham sandwich that tasted better than it looks on photo; the buns were slightly toasted with butter that made it different from the usual burger or sandwiches in common fast food joints.

I felt we also must try something that’s soothing; so I also ordered a warm bowl of beef noodle soup.

It was so good and too bad to resist.

The dining experience in a Kedai Kopi like Trois Canon Cafe would not be complete without trying their signature white coffee (actually, it came with my combo meal…)

We indulge once in a while but indubitably, we also like the simplicity in dining space and the delight in eating uncomplicated and affordable foods. And if Gabby says yes to it? It’s always icing on the cake!

24
Sep
11

NANDO’S

How often do you receive judgment before you eat?

Do you also feel some people easily label you by what you eat or drink? Neither I can blame them nor give importance to what they think. I know my palate so well that their words do not affect my appetite. But I had my widest smile upon receiving my ordered plate in one of our dinners at Nando’s. I almost burst into laughter after reading the label of the Lemon and Herb Chicken with “NOT SO BRAVE” tag. I cannot agree more! I and Tina (and Gabby of course) had developed the aversion to severely spicy food that others prefer. To each his own, I guess.

We had our very first taste of Nando’s from one of their branches near Botany Mall in Auckland, New Zealand when we stayed in that beautiful city with our family and relatives for 7 week-break in 2005. And since then, that flavorful flame-grilled chicken goodness remained a memory for a while until we enjoyed it again here in Penang.

Nando’s became one of our favorites and usually serves as one of our default restaurants whenever we feel like induluging a bit over affordable casual dining particularly when Gabby allows us to skip his fast food preferences.

“Nando’s is a restaurant group originated from South Africa with a Portuguese/Mozambican theme. Founded in 1987, Nando’s operates in thirty countries on five continents. Nando’s specializes in chicken dishes with either lemon and herb, medium, hot, extra hot or extra extra hot Peri-Peri marinades (properly known as Galinha à Africana). In some countries, Nando’s has other flavour options like mango and lime or Mediterranean.” (sourced via Wiki)

“Nando’s specializes in flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken. Peri-Peri is the Swahili word for the African Bird’s Eye chilli, a chilli indigenous to Africa.”(sourced via Wiki)

Without a word, you know who ordered this plate, and he enjoyed it, i think.

Gabby likes chicken dishes too but he favored those peri-peri flavored processed delights than those grilled ones. He paired it with a plateful of creamy chicken soup…

Now, children, altogether say, E S P E T A D A!  :D

“Espetada has been a favorite in Portugal for years. In fact, it has been rumored that it was one of Christopher Columbus’ favorite meals! Espetada means, “pierced”, referring to how the meat was pierced onto skewer. Undoubtedly, Espetada is the most famous dish to emerge from the Madeira region.”

It was quite an experience eating Espetada. The presentation was apparently appealing to the senses. I just felt short of its serving.

At Nando’s, there’s always a reason to engage in protein & carbo-loading
(as if we’re diet-conscious, hahaha! *evil laugh*)…

Tina and Gabby love french fries while I will dunk my fork onto potato salad at any given time!

We can’t handle too much spicy foods but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t try a little…

After all, we can always wash it down with cold beverages. Gabby’s iced Milo (or as they say it here, Milo Ais; pronounced as meelo ice) and iced tea never fail to be refreshing.

And end it with irresistible melt-in-your-mouth-textured-chocolate cake…

Regardless where we eat – be it on our humble dining table, at Nando’s or somewhere else, we make sure our dining experience is always simple yet memorable and less ordinary.

17
Sep
11

SINGAPORE : MY LAST THOUGHTS ON OUR FIRST VISIT

Is there any other terminal in the globe cleaner than Changi airport? Educate me.

Call me shallow and easy to please but Singapore’s Changi Airport is just simply impressive!

Notoriously known for being almost sterile and so strict on implementing rules, Singapore’s orderliness works for them and for their tourists too (My wife and I are so envious and felt the Philippines and the Filipino people deserve such system too), and we’re just fortunate to experience it for the first time ever. Needless to say, our 4-day visit to Singapore was indeed a memorable and pleasant one.

From the spotless airport to its very efficient immigration service (read: our passports were stamped smoothly in and out), i cannot complain a thing.There’s just spontaneity in everything.

Where else can we find cleanliness meets creativity?

My family and I were happy to see lush green amidst the city’s most famous shopping district. Apparently, even the air and the atmosphere are being kept fresh and clean by all means…

In this very expensive city where almost all luxuries are within reach and really come alive right before your eyes, you have the options to splurge or guard your expenses tightly. And for a less seasoned traveler like us with a limited budget on our pockets, we’re left with frugality and being wise to maximize the experience.

Case in point : I booked our roundtrip flights via a budget airline (Air Asia), even waited for their promo rates months prior to our break. We decided to visit only one theme park with entrance fee and just opted to go sight-seeing at those tourist spots free for public. We deviated our ideas of shopping spree to trying their MRT and riding the bus, at times, taking the cab and of course exhaust all energies at strolling and eating! Hahaha! :D

But then again, I thought it’s  also practical nice to stretch the range of our vacation by experiencing best of both worlds. I chose to bring my family to both upscale and budget hotels for our accomodation.  And so our little dreamer, Gabby who aspires to be hotelier-restaurateur-chef someday had a unique dose of exposure.

We all loved Quincy Hotel Singapore‘s all-inclusive-concept, its hip and edgy amenities and impeccable service. At S$405++ (USD 327++ or PhP 14, 122++) package includes Airport pick up by a chauffeur and a Mercedes Benz E-class limo, buffet breakfast for 2, set meals for lunch and dinner + appetizer and salad spread, free flowing coffee, tea, canned soda, exclusively bottled distilled water, complimentary mini bar, cocktails at 6-8pm, Molton Brown, London toiletries and more cool benefits any guest would enjoy…

Happy to relied on tripadvisor.com Trendiest Hotel Travelers’ Choice Award 2011. Now, we are one with those tourists who have tried Quincy and have appreciated everything about it.

But our warm and safe stay in the budget-friendly, Strand Hotel on our second to fourth day in Singapore was also noteworthy.

Glad that I took the recommendation of fellow blogger, Cza to try Strand Hotel. It’s a good choice if you only need a decent place to sleep and keep your things during your travel.

Located at Bencoolen Street, Strand Hotel’s strongest point is its accessibility to bus stops, MRT stations, restaurants, convenient store and must-visit spots in Singapore. At S$160 nett (USD 129 or PhP 5,580) inclusive of Deluxe accomodation for 2, set breakfast + buffet spread of fresh fruits, bread loaves, noodle dish, sausages, cereals, tropical fruit drinks, coffee and tea.

On our first morning at Strand Hotel (day 3 in Sg), we ordered a plateful of french toasts with maple syrup for Gabby (S$6) because our hotel package only included 2 food stubs per day; we were then unaware that the breakfast spread (other than set meals provided for guests) is already sufficient for a kid’s first meal to jumstart his day. So the following morning, Gabby just shared plates with us.

The S$160 nett hotel package at Strand was really a value for money although I bet tourists would be more appreciative if they would do some improvements like updating their interiors a bit, changing their “welcome to the jungle-sort-of-theme” curtains and headboard to a more plain and simpler hues.

The choice of hotel accomodation truly depends on your preferences, travel needs, and of course, your allotted vacation expenses.

We may not have visited the beaches at Sentosa Island and were not able to watch the city’s attractions–Songs of the Sea and The Lion King musicale, didn’t ride the cable car, failed to go to Singapore Museums, Botanical Park, Night Safari and Zoo, passed on the chance to try the Singapore Flyer and the Luge, thus, these remain to be the reasons to find time and save money to go back to this beautiful city again soon.

All in all, it boils down to the fact that vacation need not to be too expensive neither it should be lousy and restrict you on having fun memories with yourself and your love ones. The possibilities of enjoying a break whether in Singapore or anywhere else is just limitless!

Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

10
Sep
11

DAY 3 IN THE LION CITY…

 

It’s our first time to attend a Prayer Rally that drew a huge crowd on our 3rd day in Singapore!

*kidding!* Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with going to prayer rallies but we really spent our entire 3rd day in the Lion City at Universal Studios Singapore.  The photo above was taken at one of the featured live attractions we watched – Waterworld.

We continue to dream. And dream big...

On Thursday morning, 1st September 2011, I initially brought my wife and kid to the riverfront near One Fullerton via bus from Bencoolen Street. However, since the sun was unforgiving (at least Mr. Sun was up after days of downpour prior to our trip), we opted to head directly to USS via cab.
And did the much-needed tourist thing, haha! :P
It was ages ago when I stepped foot in Universal Studios Hollywood; I was still single then, and apparently didn’t have Gabby yet to share the experiences with. Nonetheless, the memory remains vivid and it’s so apt to relay the fun to our son when we got a chance to bring him in a similar venue.

With Marty, Melman, Alex and Gloria of Madagascar!

A day in most if not all theme parks would not be complete without photo-ops with those lovable mascots…
Wonder where Shrek and Princess Fiona were that day. It was only Puss whom we saw in Far Far Away. :) We watched Shrek 4D Adventure though, and tremendoulsy enjoyed the simulations of splashes and spiders crawling on legs.
Then we also caught a birdie mascot (Is this Woody Woodpecker?)…
Whe we heard the growling of our stomachs, it signaled us to immediately chow down.
Of all the restaurants inside USS, we chose Goldilocks (not the local cakeshop that we grew with) and ordered some delicious fastfood junkies…
We shared these tray of chicken burger, criscut potato fries and 3-piece chicken seasoned with 7 spices done just right! :) Ang sarap! But it made me miss our very own Max’s Fried Chicken back home. :(   
Moving on…
There was a souvenir shop where we tried on some novelty hats just for the cam…

While Gabby wore an Egyptian hat, Tina can pass here as a Miss Universe contestant representing the land of milk and honey sans visa or citizenship, haha!

There were so many hats to choose from and almost everyone at the facade of the store wanted to try them all. 

He is my King and I am his Knight...

We still wanted to escape from the heat of the sun, so we took the chance of queueing at Monster Rock that featured the Universal Classic Monsters in rock-and-roll extravagant show.  I had a mixed feelings and thoughts watching (performers wearing costumes of) Frankenstein, Count Dracula, Lady Mummy and others doing Lady Gaga and other contemporary pop songs on stage, nevertheless, it’s fun! They pulled out the show.  But prior to their production numbers, Tina and Gabby had their own show…

If there's a casting audition that day for the best act in sleeping roles, Tina and Gabby could have won it, hands down! hehe!

I’ve told you, we also watched Waterworld before lunch time. The show has death-defying stunts, pyrotechnics and explosions on water.  I’ve seen it first in Los Angeles and concluded then that the USS show is even better than its movie version. 

Since I knew that there will be parts of the show where actors would intentionally wet the audience with splashes and pails of water, I told Tina and Gabby to sit in the so-called-”dry area” of the bleachers.  I noticed improvements from its USS Hollywood version; this one in Singapore has more humor and stunts. 

We continued to while away time and went to the part of USS called Sci-Fi City. Here, the famous buwis-buhay (life-threatening) ride called Battlestar Galactica can challenge fear in anyone…

Are you daring enough to ride this?

We’re not! :( We’re just content in watching the actions from the ground. At least there, we’re surely safe! :) 

“Battlestar Galactica -Human or Cyclon? Choose your side on the world’s tallest duelling roller coasters. Prepare to engage in aerial combat between two coasters. The Cyclon (blue track) suspended coater goes up, around and upside down with an intense corkscrew and a cobra roll, while the Human seated coaster zooms at speeds of 82.8km/h and propels you over fourteen storeys into the air!” -sourced from the USS Studio Guide.

In Ancient Egypt…
one funny thing happened to us…
 
Overwhelmed with excitement, we went to the locker area and left all of our things at hand -bags,camera etc, to the designated locker by the ATM-looking machine for free. We went on queue for the Revenge of the Mummy absolutely clueless that it’s another buwis-buhay-ride. Why? Well, we went inside without reading anything! *bummer!* So we hurriedly exited the building after reading a warning sign that stated it’s indeed an indoor roller coaster ride. It really pays to read, hehe!
 
At around 4PM, we decided to leave USS.  And just before exiting the turnstiles at the gate, we saw Marilyn…

better hands off...just smile! :)

 
Outside USS, was a paradise for Gabby and Tina….
 
My family has sweeter tooth than I am (OK, we all have!). Imagine their bliss upon seeing a volume of shops of chocolates and candies…
 
I know Tina’s number 1 fan of Jelly Beans; she can eat it as if there’s no tomorrow!
 
 Those enormous Hershey’s bottles are plastic coin banks that I wanted to take home. However budget and logic restrained me, it costs S$25 each! Nevermind, haha!
 
Now, these are happiness to me (Tina, Gabby and Reese’s)!
 
At the Hershey’s store, they have these biggest chocolate bars available at whopping price of S$60 each! As I took it from its shelf to hand in to Gabby just for fun, I told him to hold it carefully for I didn’t want to be jailed if he breaks it, haha!
 
Honestly, I expected to ride an open-air tram that takes guests to different studio buildings inside USS.  I thought it’s similar to that in Hollywood with backlot filled with studios where famous movies were shot and where simulations of scenes can be experienced but I was totally wrong.
I even inappropriately compared the size of USS to Disneyland in Anaheim, Disneyland and DisneySea in Tokyo but it’s no match. Perhaps, not even half of Disneyland in Hong Kong. That was my mistake making me felt short of USS.
 
What’s important for Tina and me was the fact that Gabby enjoyed his day. :)
 
So much for a day in Universal Studios Singapore. We went to Merlion Park, Esplanade and Makansutra at dusk that same day which will be featured and posted soon…  

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Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

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07
Sep
11

CHINATOWN, SINGAPORE

On a limited budget and with only enthusiasm and a game plan to spend more time & lots of fun with my family in my pocket, I brought Tina and Gabby to Singapore.  On our second day in the Lion City, we headed to Chinatown ! :)

 

After checking out at 12 noon from Quincy Hotel where we stayed the first day, we hopped on the bus along Orchard Road and alighted at Bencoolen Street. We transferred to a more affordable hotel (which deserves a separate post) and more accessible to our itineraries. And like what we did the first day, we just left our luggage to the hotel room and utilized the rest of the day in exploring Singapore.

I am grateful that former colleagues and online buddies (credits at the end of this post) suggested one of Singapore’s most helpful websites particularly for tourists and first timers on the island like us (read: without gadgets with GPS). The site gives you details on your trip from point A to point B from mode/s of transportation (either by bus, train, taxi cab), estimated total  travel time(including waiting and walk time), to total fare (click the link and be enlightened!).

http://gothere.sg/

The Lion City’s transport system is impressively efficient.

I googled http://gothere.sg/ and lifted details of our itineraries for the remaining days of our stay. We walked through the train station from our hotel,  purchased MRT cards from the touch-screen machines (with refundable deposit of S$1 on top of our fares) in the subway.

Subways of Singapore are clearly wider than Tokyo or it might be just me. But creativity is present at every turn in Singapore, so apparent in the mosaics and murals in the train stations…

We told him but I’m not sure if Gabby realized the thought that we were literally underground when we boarded the train. 

The Dhoby Ghaught MRT station bound to Harbourfront was just few minutes-and-one-train-ride away to Pagoda Street, Chinatown.

Upon getting off the subway, we were in awe and together we uttered, “WOW” in amazement! Our eyes feasted on a burst of colors…

I read from online reviews of tourists that Singapore has the cleanest Chinatown in the globe, knowing the city implements strictest rules on fines and penalties (read : thousands of dollars), everyone is disciplined regardless of the place in Sg.

One doesn’t need to be Chinese to expect to see mostly reds in any Chinatown…

or Oriental lanterns that doesn’t fail to fascinate…

Souvenir items cost usually 3 for S$10… I got a nod from Tina in purchasing fridge magnets we bought for 6 for S$10. :)

Of all the things being sold in the stalls of Chinatown, I found these glass balls most interesting. Agree?  Do you know what they call these?

Few steps more and another surprise (well, not actually, I included it in our itinerary) caught our eyes…

“The Sri Mariamman Temple is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. Located at No. 244 South Bridge Road, in the downtown Chinatown district, the temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans in the city-state. Due to its architectural and historical significance, the temple has been gazetted a National Monument and is a major tourist attraction.”  –Wiki

A lion and holy cow guard the roofs of Sri Mariamman Temple…

Fantastic sight amidst the high noon…

The doors to this Hindu temple…

We opted not to go inside the Sri Mariamman Temple, we continued walking in Chinatown.  We spotted the famous Ann Siang Hill…

Vivid colors paint the structures built in Ann Siang Hill. Unfortunately, my wife and kid didn’t want to explore it so we went on walking to Sago Street and reached the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. After a Hindu temple comes a Buddhist temple… both equally stunning!

If the exteriors of Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is magnificent, the inside’s trully awesome! I’m almost lost of superlatives to describe its interiors,haha! :)

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”–Buddha.

I’m left speechless.

Almost right across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a famous hawker food place, Maxwell.

When in Singapore, must try Singaporean foods! Our late snack-early dinner were made  of noodles….

Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House became a word of mouth when Anthony Bourdain gave it a thumbs up.  It’s famous for one of my favorite chicken dish –Hainanese Chicken Rice…(believe me, this plate tasted so much better than it looks on photo)

The rice was cooked with chicken broth and seasoning, it’s delicious sans ulam.

For drinks, a fellow blogger, Dyan and former colleague Gina who’s based in Singapore never failed to remind us not to forget to try water chestnut. We’re obedient. I bought a cup, it tasted like sweet pandan; refreshingly good!  I took a photo on a whim…

Then we felt it’s time to bid Chinatown goodbye…

but can’t pass the chance without a photo-ops with this Buddha statue…

We finally found our way back to the subway and rode the MRT again.  We had Starbucks Coffee break in a mall on way to our hotel (not in photo) and called it one fine day. :)

 

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Singapore.

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Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

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*Thank you to fellow bloggers, Dyanie (she did my initial itinerary!), Cza (recommended the other hotel we stayed in), Chyng, Sards , Dom/Dong Ho, Annevdns, Bambi (all of their blog posts about Singapore and replies to my queries served helpful references for this trip) and former colleagues, Ms. Gina (who provided useful links online about her work place), Dr. D. and former student, Lea for replying to my questions about the city we all like.

31
Aug
11

WE LIKE IT HERE!

30 August 2011, Tuesday.  We left our place in Butterworth at around half hour past 6 in the morning to catch our flight scheduled at 12 noon. It’s a holiday that I planned several  months ago, when days were less troubled and airfares were sold at discounted rates.

useless photo : they're wearing crocs, i'm wearing my old school reliable sneakers....perhaps, by the time you get a chance to view this entry, those happy feet have already explored some parts of a place so rich, clean and orderly.

Time check: 1:30AM, I have to doze off now. In a few hours, we shall have a long (and fun) family day again! Our arrival was a blast. We can’t wait to seize the remaining days. :)

27
Aug
11

MY FAVORITE PHOTOS TO DATE

And so the weeklong break has come. We’re up to enjoy the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) vacation from work (for Tina and I) and school (for Gabby) beginning today, 27th August until 4th September. I will take my wife & kid on Tuesday next week to a short trip in a neighboring Asian country for the very perstaym, but since it’s too early to pack our luggage and bags, we’re just happy to spend more time together for more than a week (repeat : no work, no school, yahoo!) and do things we’d like to do. 

De-stressing at home : As Tina’s busy preparing our meals, she also finds more time to play her favorite computer games. Gabby’s doing a cartoon marathon on TV (making me miss to watch one of the series I follow, The Amazing Race but that’s OK of course) while I go online to do a little research on our itinerary next week, making last-minute reservations and bookings (akala ko ba de-stressing?) and blogging and blog hopping in between.

I’m happy that a popular Filipino website called spot.ph featured few of my blog pictures of the Japanese restaurant back home called, Zensho, with, permission, proper credit and link to my post (back in 2009),  I was inspired to browse my photo files once more.

I chose to repost my favorite photos taken after I purchased my Nikon D7000 early this year. They may be far from your standards, but I’d like to share them again to you as my favorites to date as these captures simply make me smile when I browse them in files. Comments for improvements, particularly free tips on this hobby called photography (I consider it a big word for I am a neophyte with still so much to learn –blame my laziness to read the few photography books and magazines I acquired) will be appreciated. :)

And of course, my main reason for owning a camera is to capture moments with them with their precious smiles…

I don’t know of the technical aspects of photography yet but I like these pictures not only because of the subjects but the memories that come with them.

PS: I agree with what I have read before that “owning a DSLR doesn’t make you an instant blogger more so a photographer”.  My 2-cents-worth: It’s not really the camera that matters for it’s only a tool; it takes passion, talent and the will to learn new things for you to love and improve on these hobbies. :)

04
Aug
11

DISCOVERING HAT YAI, THAILAND : CROSSING BORDERS, FLOATING MARKET & MORE

Thailand to many tourists and travelers frequently means Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai and only few have heard of Hat Yai. This is otherwise to many Malaysians and even Singaporeans; Hat Yai to them is a famous weekend getaway spot.

“Hat Yai (Thai: หาดใหญ่, pronounced [hàːt jàj], also Haad Yai or Had Yai) is a city in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border.  Hat Yai is the largest city of Soongkhla Province, the largest metropolitan area in Southern, and third largest metropolitan area of the country. It is often mistaken as being the capital of the province, but Songkhla is the capital and the center of administration and culture, while Hat Yai is the business center. The two cities are considered as twin cities due to their close connection, and accordingly, Hat Yai and Songkhla form the Greater Hatyai-Songkhla Metropolitan Area.” (sourced from Wiki)

With our luggages and backpacks in tow, we left Penang Sentral bus station (5-minute-bus-ride from our place in Butterworth) via KKKL double decker bus bound for Hat Yai, the city nearest to the Northern Malaysian and Southern Thailand border; it’s our first time to experience crossing country borders by land!

Unlike seasoned travelers who take efforts in planning and learning the ins and outs of their itineraries, I only had  little knowledge about Hat Yai from 2 senior colleagues who have been there already and from googling some details of must-visit-sites thus, I marveled like a kid when we reached the Malaysian exit border in exactly 2 hours; I didn’t expect it would be that fast! (FYI, trip to Kuala Lumpur from Butterworth, Penang takes around 6 hours by bus, 9 hours by night train that departs 11PM usually, and our trip to Northeastern Malaysian town known as Kota Bharu in the state of Kelantan which is also near the Thailand border took us for 5 1/2 hours).

We left at 1:45 PM in Butterworth, Penang with bus tickets that were bought a week in advance at regular rate of RM 35 each (USD 11.76 or PhP 497) one-way, and found ourselves at the bus stopping station near the border a couple of hours after, we’re asked to submit our passports to the bus captain for embarkation and other immigration procedures, and we’re advised to eat and exchange ringgit to baht at the said station too.

Malaysia’s Char Koay Teow meets Thailand’s Baht. I don’t know with you, but I like CKT’s smokey taste.

First-timers to reached Northern Malaysia and crossed the border to Thailand by land…

Exiting Malaysia and entering Thailand went seamless. We needed to get in the bus again after leaving Malaysia and be at the Thailand border for our passports to be stamped. It only took us less than an hour to do the process. Nonetheless, the arrival cards were already filled out by our bus driver so it really lessens the hassles. In less than 4 hours after leaving Penang Sentral, we finally went off the bus at its main office in the heart of Hat Yai where I bought return tickets for us at RM30 per pax; a little cheaper because the vehicle that would take us back to Penang isn’t an 18-seater double decker bus but a 12-seater fully airconditioned van.

After asking directions to get to our hotel, we hopped into tuktuk (bigger than those we saw in Bangkok back in 2004 during our honeymoon; yes, Gabby’s Bangkok-made!), paid 100 baht (B20 per pax or RM2 or PhP28 each).

The main thoroughfares in Hat Yai reminded me of streets back home like Mabini in Malate, Ongpin, Binondo and Divisoria in Manila.  It really looked so familiar!

I made a reservation for 3D2N for 2 deluxe rooms in New Seasons Hotel after reading its good reviews at tripadvisor.com. There’s nothing much to rave about, in fact, I even complained to their front desk just before checking out (which will be included on my next post) about a miscommunication (yes, it’s a huge problem every time you travel to a country where the use of English language is a rarity) with our breakfast meals. At least our rooms were pretty clean and decent for an affordable rate. Not bad, actually but it’s nothing special either. I am just thankful I have chosen a hotel where rooms provided firm queen-sized beds with white linens and fluffy pillows—those to me are very essential. And yes, I wasn’t surprise to see packs of durex in the minibar alongside Lays potato chips and nuts, haha! (check out last photo in the set below); we were in Thailand, remember? *no offense meant*

The same tuktuk driver who brought us to New Seasons Hotel offered us a tour at the Floating Market immediately after checking in, which was actually included in my must-visit-list. He quoted us B500 (RM50 or PhP700) for the 5 of us, in roughly 3 hours with little shopping and some bites. Everything sounded OK to me, since we can maximize the day.

These are the scenes at Klonghae Floating Market at past 5 in the afternoon when we arrived there last Saturday, 30 July 2011.

Fruits in this tropical country are abundant! It was so like the Philippines!

It’s durian season in Penang and Hat Yai; do you eat durian? I don’t. I mean, I haven’t tried.

What about rambutan and lanzones, do you like?  …Lanzones only for me.

Thank God for the sweetest Tamarind on the planet! I’d say if there’s one thing in Hat Yai that is worth revisiting, it’s their sampaloc! ang tamis-kakaiba! :)

Oh my, they’re selling pork barbecue in Hat Yai ! yum, yum! *wala ito sa Penang!*

Walking several steps more towards the bridge that will take you to that famous Hat Yai tourist spot…

My first glance at Klonghae Floating Market…

Back in 2004 when we headed for Bangkok, Tina and I didn’t get a chance to experience their Floating Market located hours away from the city; luckily we had a chance to go to its counterpart in Hat Yai.

I wished we had the same Floating Market in Pinas (Do we have like one that I am not aware of?). 

I appreciate the efforts of Hat Yai authorities in keeping the tourism spirit alive at Klonghae Floating Market, so does the opportunity to provide livelihood to the vendors and peddlers.

Honestly, I was more excited to click my cam for extraordinary captures rather than to do some shopping and eat, haha!

The energy from the atmosphere was so high! There’s a burst of colors everywhere!  This sight never appears on a daily basis!

Whenever you decide to sample and buy something, just point and ask for whatever you want, then the goods will be placed in a basket with long handle, and with an outstretched hand, you have to place your payment in the basket and get your goodies. et voila! Transaction is done!

Business must be good!

And almost all people from all walks of life visit and enjoy the vibrant mood at the Klonghae Floating Market.

Crepes, anyone?

Almost all sorts of flavors and textures are available in this part of Hat Yai…

I should have remained in my comfort zone and avoided becoming adventurous when it comes to food. It may appear so attractive to the senses but it’s actually otherwise. Case in point –this seaweed salad which almost made me throw up!

The bad and the beautiful —Although I never liked the taste of this seaweed salad, we all loved the crunchiness and all of this “KFC” chicken fillet; just right to save the day! yum, yum, yum!

I therefore conclude, not everything floats at Klonghae Floating Market, haha!

And from these choices…

we sampled some…

Noticed those fried quail eggs –sunny side up pa, ang husay! :) The hotdogs were nice, but the sauce was too spicy for our palates!

Do you fancy corn on the cob?

Tell me, what’s the difference of yellow and purplish corns?

I have a sweet tooth hence, I gave my thumbs up for this Thai salad…Delightfully good at 20 baht (RM 2 or PhP 28).

And perhaps, it will take me to be casted first in Fear Factor and be paid big bucks before anyone can force me to eat exotic…  and you?

Not all kids will find merriment in Kloghae Floating Market but Gabby…

When dusk falls, this area becomes more lively! 

Grilled prawns were really tempting!

It was almost 9PM when we decided to end our first day in Hat Yai…

We were on our way back to our tuktuk when these soda bottles caught my eyes, they’re too cute for words for non-diabetics!

Then, we arrived in our hotels with few souvenirs…

Four colorfully handmade and sturdy Thai rectangular pillows, all-for B200 (RM 20 or PhP 280) and the sweetest sampaloc on planet Earth for B50 (RM 5 or PhP 70) per pack. We also bought lanzones (not in photo).

And one thing I like in most Thai hotels (Tina and I had the same bottled water in Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok back in our honeymoon in 2004) is their usual provision of complimentary agua in beautiful bottled packaging…

I brought all bottles at home and reused for our water plants.

All in all, it was what I’d surmise as one fascinating day!

We retired to bed early and got ready for more sun exposure on our second day…up next! :)

PS : Malaysia and Philippines share similar timezones while Hat Yai, Thailand is one hour ahead of those 2 countries.

19
Jul
11

MAMY’S BIRTHDAY @ G CAFE, G HOTEL, PENANG

my wife & kid : just getting lovelier!

All we wanted was to see my mom 3 years after she left for work in Middle East but the good Lord provided more!

I never thought that our family reunion will be in my work place abroad. God works in mysterious ways... In this photo, we missed my 3 brothers- Capt. Mike and his family, Mac & JC. *photo taken by my wife, Tina at G Hotel, Penang*

15 July 2011, Friday.  It’s my mom’s birthday and she decided to celebrate it with us here in Penang! After 3 years of working in Middle East, she’s having her much deserved holiday and we’re having a happy family reunion!

Because Tina and I had less time to prepare for a special dinner for Mamy’s birthday (she requested for my wife’s baked macaroni, actually) due to work schedule, I thought of bringing them to the hotel-restaurant that became one of our favorites in this side of Malaysia  –G Cafe at G Hotel, Penang.

 Cheese, anyone ?
Gabby likes cheese so much that he didn’t forget to sample them.

Hors d’ oeuvres on my plate : some fried dumplings, prawn rolls, fried oysters, beancurd salad & one of my favorites from G Cafe, prawn salad…

I texted Mr. Alwee of G Cafe, the friendliest and most efficient restaurant manager I’ve ever met, to inquire if they offer buffet lunch on Fridays and to make a reservation for 5 (Tina, Gabby, Daddy, Mamy & me).  He responded via phone call few seconds after I sent my SMS.  He often amazed me with his Tagalog words, like “Kamusta?” (How are you?) every time I converse with him. I learned that lunch at their hotel-restaurant on Fridays are only given ala carte but themed dinner is Seafood Barbecue, eat-all-you-want!

I made a reservation for the 5 of us and took my chance of requesting a slice of cake as a little surprise for my mom’s birthday. He told me the cake-request was no hassle and even gave me an offer hard to refuse. According to him, I’ll only pay for 2 pax on the buffet because he promised an invitation to dinner for me and Tina weeks ago after we ate lunch (and blogged about the fantastic experience) at G Cafe.

G Cafe at G Hotel for me stands for Great food & service, Good Ambience, Generous people.

Because it was Seafood BBQ night…

Tender & toothsome : grilled udang (prawns), sotong (squid) and salmon plus choices of dips and sauces — tamarind sauce, tartar sauce, BBQ sauce and more!

The friendly chefs are ready to hand you your choice of grilled seafoods…

Freshest tuna and salmon sashimi, prawns, mussels, oysters to enjoy…

Daddy’s seafood plate overload!

Have you ever tasted a Fish Shawarma? Tina and I loved Beef Shawarma particularly from small food kiosks in supermarkets back home; this variation of shawarma was new to my palate, found it not bad.

Desserts are always divine…

Heavenly pieces on my plate…

Would you say no to a chocolate fondue?

Was so happy to see Tina and Gabby liked it!

While I had fun in a scoop.

But Mamy Tessie had the widest smile that evening especially when Mr. Alwee and his warm associates led by Mr. Arnel, a Pinoy staff, sang the birthday song for her and brought in a huge slice of chocolate cake.

We cannot thank G Cafe, G Hotel, Mr. Alwee and his staff enough; my mom was in wonderland that night! :)

best chocolate cake in the world! velvety, melt-in-your-mouth goodness; my mom wanted to order a whole piece!

Because we’re already full after about 2 hours of indulgence, my mom opted to bring her cake at home. Where in the world would you have a takeaway or take-out or however you put it, in an eat-all-you-can dining? Isn’t G Cafe sweet? :)

As we reached home, another surprise was waiting for Mamy.

A bunch of flowers with a solitary piece of ferrero rocher was waiting at the security post sent by my cousins and niece and youngest brother all working in UAE.

Thank you! You all made Mamy’s day wonderful.

—————————————-

Visit G Cafe and G Hotel when you’re in Penang. My family and I highly recommend it. View their website here –>G Hotel, Malaysia

G Cafe, G Hotel
168A Persiaran Gurney 10250 Penang, Malaysia
Tel +604-2380000
17
Jul
11

BLESSINGS KEEP POURING IN

We’re counting blessings, however simple and remain grateful. 

Dubai and Manila met in Penang

Gabby’s probably the happiest grandchild in the entire universe after his lolo and lola arrived in Penang for an unexpected family reunion. On the first week of July, my dad (who had been an OFW for almost 2 decades in KSA) came from Manila to be with us and watch over Gabby while Tina and I go to work, especially when he goes to school next month. Few days after, my mom who’s working in Middle East followed suit. We’re glad that she’s having her vacation with us after she left for work 3 years ago. 

Lola Tessie's first Rapid Penang Bus ride :-)

Indubitably, no material thing can surpass the bliss of being together. Not even a brand new TV. :)

Happiness of family-togetherness is incomparable to enjoying ice cream.

 

…even to planned trips to neighboring countries.

On top of these blessings, we pray for continuous health and safety. Amen.

12
Jun
11

DINING IN G CAFE, G HOTEL, PENANG

In the heart of one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, where century-old structures fused harmoniously with modern and restored ones, a gorgeous hotel stands proud and celebrates its contemporary and stylish designs with non-intimidating ambience.
Saturday, 11 June 2011.  When you’re living an expat life with your wife and kid and you both work 5 days a week with a daily routine that can be almost utterly boring (read : home-work-home-work routine), you strongly need to be creative in spicing up your weekends to break and prevent monotony.
 
Last Saturday, Tina, Gabby and I woke up at 5AM to go to an event that I will post next.  After being sun-kissed, walked up and downhill and felt fatigued, we decided to reward ourselves by trying out the buffet lunch at G Cafe at the lobby of G Hotel located in Persiaran Gurney, Penang.
 
Tina, being modestly frugal as she is, reminded me to be conscious of our budget.  So after we all went to the toilet to freshen up, I approached the counter at the entrance of the restaurant to inquire the rates of their buffet. We were keeping our options in mind in case the price is beyond our taste.
 
At around half hour before noon, a friendly and courteous banquet manager spoke to me and informed me that their International buffet lunch on a Saturday for adult costs RM 52++ (PhP 743++ or USD 17++) inclusive of free flow of fresh fruit beverages, coffee and tea, and kids of Gabby’s age eat for free. Well, that sounded like music to my ears! The price is definitely a steal and imagine, our little-big boy would eat for free! We gave it a nod and reserved a table for three at 12 noon.  
The cool and edgy atmosphere at the lobby is spontaneous. Other than the use of various wonderful and comfortable seats, I like the air of having tall ceiling and the presence of glass walls to stimulate appreciation of huge trees and lush greens outside surrounding Gurney Mall. Yes, if you are familiar with Greenbelt Mall in Makati, Philippines, G Hotel in Gurney Drive Penang reminds me of home.
 
The interiors of G Cafe also boasts of simple lines, repeated circles and other geometric patterns which are also apparent in the use of modern yet ergonomic chairs and tables.  
 
The use of those striking royal blue drop lights on the walls somewhat like echoes and matches with the drinking glasses of the same hue; isn’t it nice?
Who would not want a breather from the usual homecooked dishes, or worst, the repeated consumption of fastfood value meals? Luxury sometimes, comes reasonably affordable as we always keep in mind that our pocket dictates indulgence need not to be expensive.
 
Who would not want to dine under these lights?
Without idea of being rushed (as in quick bites every breakfast and that 1-hour lunch breaks at the office except on Fridays, 12-2:30PM) and most importantly, dining comfortably with your family with foods you love eating, the experience was truly divine!  
And so Tina, Gabby and I took our taste buds to another gastronomic adventure at this sumptuous lunch buffet at G Cafe.
 
I started with their creamy corn soup; i like its light buttery taste with thick and textured consistency. 
Salad comes next : My plate had prawn salad, cheese, mix salad (tossed with crab sticks) and one of my favorites, potato salad… everything was superb! the prawn salad’s flavor wasn’t overpowering; it wasn’t too spicy, neither too oily. Sarap! it was like a perfect prelude to this wonderful dining experience. 
I tell you, I can eat this seafood plate everyday! hahaha! :D
Although there were no sushi and sashimi, which God knows I am biased with (Japanese foods are only offered every Thursday nights at G Cafe as of present), and notable absence of carving stations except for some Peking duck and smoked chicken,  Tina and I concluded that when you enjoy every bite, everything seems to be complete.
 
At the spread, these burst of colors reminded me of my favorite season of the year, Christmas!
Defensively, we know buffet plates should not be stuffed with most from the spread to effortlessly look like you’re eating as if there’s no tomorrow, hahaha! but Tina had this plate because she wanted to share those dishes she preferred with me and Gabby, isn’t that sweet? :D
My wife recommends this Chinese prawn dish and comments,“It feels like eating in Ongpin (Manila’s Chinatown).”   My palate dictates that it’s the sesame oil that makes most Chinese foods taste Chinese.  I miss having some dimsum and dumplings, though.
You can never go wrong with Peking Duck and smoked chicken with honey syrup… Yum! :D  *unless you’re allergic to it*
Baked vegetables, spring rolls and calamares, anyone?
Delightful desserts!
Irresistible temptations!
Guinataan! Wow! :D
As I’ve always stated it, the world is so incomplete without ice cream, agree?
 
Fibers are essential, we know.
And coffee is a must to end our meals.
 
Above all, my family is happy. It was indeed, a happy weekend!
Tina and I were so impressed at their highly efficient wait staff. Our glasses were refilled with freshly squeezed fruit punch promptly, attended to our needs in a blink making their service almost impeccable!
 
I almost forgot to tell you that Amex credit card holders receive 15% discount  on top of the reasonable cost of this lunch buffet. :) We only paid RM102 (PhP 1,458 or USD 33.7) for two plates as Gabby ate for free, I know it’s the usual price of one buffet plate in some hotels when I left Manila last year, so it was truly a steal!
 
It won’t be our last time to dine at G Cafe in G Hotel, definitely.
I wish to bring back my family there to experience their room and amenities too someday.
After all, the view from their 300+ rooms include priceless sight of Penang bay and the tourist-famous Gurney boulevard. *wishful thinking*
——————————-
G Cafe, G Hotel
168A Persiaran Gurney 10250 Penang, Malaysia
Tel +604-2380000
07
Jun
11

ITCHING TO MOVE IN

We’re moving in to a new appartment-to-rent in July. 

About couple of months back, I texted a Chinese agent whom the other Filipino expats relied onto to find and look one for us during lunch time and just before dinner that same day, Tina, Gabby and I found ourselves appreciating this simple yet quaint appartment owned by a Chinese-Christian landlord.

Sharing with you some snapshots before we do some cleaning in few weeks time and perk it up a bit…

The kitchen and the laundry areas…

I am guessing that this will be Tina’s most favorite spot…

This fully furnished 3-bedroom-2-toilet & bath located at 10th level of an appartment may be far from being a mansion, but definitely we’ll make it a “HOME”.

While condo units and appartments (what’s the difference?) located at Roxas Blvd in Manila-Pasay City would cost a fortune, this seaview appartment in Butterworth, Penang has reasonable monthly fee with a priceless view of Penang bay…

Any suggestions for the interiors? I mean, little add-ons?

Salt. Rice….hmmm… what do we need to bring in first to a new home?

We’re like playing bahay-bahayan in Penang!

This will be a new exciting chapter in our lives.

Pray for us, thank you!

13
May
11

KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN SERIES : RENAISSANCE HOTEL

At almost an hour before 10PM, we’re already in Penang Sentral bus station in Butterworth; ready excited to enjoy the long weekend (last 30 April – 2 May 2011).

It took a 5 1/2 hour bus ride for us to reach Kota Bharu in Kelantan, a quaint town in Northeastern Malaysia bordering Thailand. From the station in Kota Bharu, we took a cab that brought us to Renaissance Hotels where I booked an overnight stay for a reasonable (read: very affordable) price.

After interrupted uncomfortable sleep in the bus, it was heaven we felt on this beautiful bed.

How could you resist such volume of comfy pillows?

Tagged as the only 5-star-hotel in Kelantan, Renaissance Hotels run by Marriott doesn’t disappoint.

The front desk officer was so generous enough to talk to her manager for us to be allowed to check in at 5AM instead of early check in I availed online which was supposed to be at 7 in the morning (and not the regular check in sched of 2PM) for free! The half-day rate that we’re supposed to pay for checking in 2 hours before their “early check in time” was waived. That’s  beyond efficiency in customer-service!

Kami naman ni Tina basta may kape kahit 3-in-1 solb na! :D

But the Deluxe room we got has more to offer than 3-1 coffee…

Free use of gym (which we passed on in favor of laziness), steam bath, whirlpool but Tina and I separately sampled their sauna after Gabby had his time on the kiddie swimming pool.

We really had fun time at Renaissance. Did I already mentioned we also tried their dinner buffet? *That deserve a separate post* And everything –from the accomodation plus dinner buffet inclusive charges and taxes cost less than you imagine. :p

————————————————————–

——-This blog series includes :

26
Apr
11

EAT.SMILE.SWIM

The 2 storey-5 bedroom penthouse at this appartment has been our temporary home in Penang for the past 8 months (but for my wife and kid, only after they’ve arrived last mid March).
Although Tina, Gabby and I are extremely excited to transfer to our “new home” before the month of July ends (oh yes, we thank the Lord we already found a new condo unit to rent- deposit given!), Gabby still likes it here because the place has swimming pool and playground too… nice, isn’t it?
Our little-big boy usually spends his afternoon frolicking in the pool.
But when a party for all Pinoys and our families was planned, the venue was hands down given to our colleagues’ ‘home-away-from-home’ called Kondominium Cassia at Raja Uda, Butterworth, Penang which has more gorgeous facilities than our present humble abode.
The Filipino MD-lecturers and our families opted for this beautiful resort-like appartment as the venue of our casual get-together party for our kids and some birthday celebrators few weeks ago.
Tina, Gabby and I didn’t miss the fun! We shared reasonable contribution for the party and even volunteered to bring 2 sets of these :
pâte de crevettes, mangues vertes et aubergines frites (sa madaling salita : homemade bagoong, hilaw na mangga at pritong talong!) Tina sauteed the shrimp paste, sliced the green mangoes and ehem, I fried the aubergine! sige na nga, pritong talong! LOL!
The get-together made us feel we are one with the world, hehehe… My wife felt she’s in a beauty pageant representing the Philippines…

beauties all! from right to left : Dr. Phoo from Myanmar, Ms. Tina and son Kostyk from Russia & Zamboanga, Lyn - Phoo's sister also from Myanmar and of course, my very own -Tina & Gabby from the Philippines

Tina candidly told me that she could have won it effortlessly if there’s any pageant if the contest would give more points on talent portion rather than question and answer! haha! *nose bleed* daw sya, LOL!

Definitely, a party, simple or grand, would be incomplete without something to pig-out.  The spread contained these yummies…

It felt like a feast for all of us Pinoys!

their sweet smiles say it all

Tina and I didn’t take a dip (read : I was a cat in my past life, LOL!) so Gabby was accompanied by his floater and our colleagues at the pool.

floating happily at the wonderful swimming pool of Kondominium Cassia

The moment of being a kid again is priceless!

Life will be so much better if we can only live our lives as simple as children do. *easier said than done, though!*

Imagine a dreamy life where problems and hassles do not exist and all you need to do is to eat, smile and swim!

Tina and Gelo's pride!

How is your summer or whatever season you’re having in your part of your world?

24
Apr
11

CHOCOLATES ON GOOD FRIDAY

I am not complaining but as a Catholic, I consider working during Holy Week particularly last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as one of my atypical experiences to date.  The fact that I have been exposed to  several activities like watching and at time, participating in religious procession in Marikina City, and to my wife’s family tradition of chanting the Lord’s Passion or pabasa during these Holy days for several years, and doing Visita Iglesia (visiting churches to pray and do Station of the Cross) with her and my immediate family before, I needed to remind myself that we’re now based in foreign shores amidst religious and cultural diversities therefore things like going to work on previously celebrated holidays in our own country are just mundane and ordinary. Resistance as they say, is futile. Acceptance is difficult at first but offers great relief.

The Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, George Town, Penang on Good Friday 2011 where Holy Masses are celebrated in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Tagalog (every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month)

This year’s Holy Week has been personally different in the sense that the turn of events kept me grounded. I sincerely said my apologies to my Creator, and to those people I’ve wronged and received some sorries in return too. Admitting your fault and taking the blame may be a sign of weakness for some, but I believe otherwise. I feel, it takes tons of strength and courage to say you’re sorry about something and far from being arrogant. Humility in this day and age is still alive or at least, we take efforts in keeping it viable in our bloodstream.

Chance officially led me last Friday to leave work earlier to spend some time with my family and reflect. Before dusk, we attended the Station of the Cross delivered in English and Mandarin at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in George Town, Penang. This is one of the churches here where I find solace and peace of mind amidst uncertainties of living an expat life.

On a lighter note, just when every Catholic soul on Earth was fasting, my family and I only observed total aversion to pork for almost a week as our annual sacrifice; our appetite has been as usual :D 

Sinfully, we indulged a little.  Below are the proofs of my confession.

Although Beryl’s chocolate has been a favorite of most tourists who visit Malaysia, the diversity of choices from other brands is almost limitless.

We found this store called Cocoa Boutique located at Jalan Bagan Jermal, Pulau Pinang; it’s a stone throw away from Gurney Mall.

Vezzo Chocolate has wide unique variety : chili chocolate, curry chocolate, fruity chocolates (durian, banana, rasberry, apple, orange), tongkat ali chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, nutty, tiramisu, milk and dark and the list goes on…

I gave my wife and kid the liberty to choose their preference. We got (from top left to right) orange chocolate, tiramisu, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cappuccino, almond+white & dark chocolates (Penang and Malaysian mini-bars) and rasberry chocolate.

Exquisite. Exotic. Exceptional. These are the 3Es on the label of these sweet-tooth temptation.  I have to state, these handmade chocolates are luscious enough to clear out your worries and make you feel stress-free even for a bit. Its texture and flavors are enticingly delicious.

The important thing about Lent is not giving up chocolates but it’s to give up sin.

How was your week?

Happy Easter, everyone! God bless!

01
Apr
11

LOVE KO ‘TO!

:( Dahil walang Jollibee dito :

At Mcdonald’s Prangin Mall, Georgetown, Pulau Pinang…

Life is so much better with hamburger,chicken nuggets and french fries, is it not? haha

And family loving too! naks! :D

What are your plans for the weekend?

Have fun and be safe! :)

19
Mar
11

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD

Another chapter in our family life will unfold today.

My life in Penang will be happier for this late afternoon, my wife, Tina and our kid, Gabby will arrive from Manila via Kuala Lumpur. They’ll be staying here with me on dependent visa until (my work visa expires) God wants us to be here.

I certainly know how difficult it is for my wife to leave Manila for she will be missing two valuables in her life -

-her Ate who’s a doctor and a medical educator too (happens to be my classmate-friend back in Med school) and is the only immediate family she got in Pinas; the rest of my in-laws are based in the US and

-her job as a clinical instructor and a skills laboratory lecturer for Nursing college students in which Tina have been passionate about for some years (I think she didn’t resigned but only filed an indefinite leave of absence).

My wife shall begin to work here in Penang as an Operating Room Nurse once her license from MNC is issued. While waiting, she’ll continue to be the best personal and private teacher to Gabby as we prepare him for schooling here (read : we need to save first for Gabby’s private foreign school because its cost is so steep although the cost of living isn’t).

I know that with my family’s presence, I’ll be more inspired to wake up every 5 o’clock in the morning to hit the roads to work.

Another reason of my excitement is the fact that someone close to my family will pay a  visit next week.

I already filed a replacement leave in our HR office because by mid next week, one of my best buddies of 18 years and counting, Rob of Sensory Replays  will have his lone backbacking trip for a week in Malaysia. He’ll start his leisure tour in Kota Kinabalu on Monday, then we’ll fetch him at the airport on Wednesday and will serve as his tour guide here in Penang until the next day before he leaves for Kuala Lumpur on Friday.  Rob is one of Gabby’s dutiful godparents so we expect pasalubong from him of course. haha! :D

It’s a whole new world for my family; a new life to begin. I am certain that there are reasons why the good Lord made all this possible. We cannot thank Him enough.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ll have to prepare to go to the island, kill few hours in the mall before fetching my family at the airport.  yeehaa! :D

20
Jan
11

SCHOOL IS COOL

I was smiling from ear to ear when I saw these last Saturday…

Too cute for words?

As a father to a preschooler, I cannot help but imagine how those innocent little hands molded these amazing creation. Impressive, isn’t it?

I and my 2 senior colleagues found these stuffs in one corner of the school we visited last weekend.

We were hunting for possible school for our kids here in Penang; for Gabby’s first year in Primary (or Elementary), and Primary and Secondary levels for the children of my colleagues.  (FYI, our son is finishing his last year in Preschool and is about to enter Grade 1).

From our respective places in Butterworth, we took an early bus trip and met up at the ferry waiting area at 8AM. Oh yes,  if you’ve been following this blog for sometime now, you know that we’re now used in crossing the sea via ferry for 12 minutes if we want to have a life go to the island where everything is.

Let’s put it this way –Malls, tons of restaurants, hawkers and eateries, Tina’s future work site and school for kids and other establishments are all located in the Island. So I’m afraid we have to live in the Island after my contract with our condo in Butterworth expires on August. Everything is still on a planning stage and we’re still keeping our options open, hopes sky high! :D

Who would not want his kid to study in this conducive for learning environment?

Because the school is located inside a seminary-retreat house and situated on hilly parts of Tanjung Bungah, it reminds me of Ateneo campus in Quezon City and Calleruega in Tagaytay…

So we inquired about details of intake (enrollment), uniforms, provision of service bus, medium of instruction (English for it’s a private school for foreigners), extracurricular activities (oh there’s a lot –from swimming, table tennis, musical plays, football, camping, family day, learning to play musical instruments) and of course, school fees…

Expectedly, we were given figures way beyond mediocrity and possibly at par with standards of teaching, location, and whatnot.

I recall, I had a deep long sigh and thought, “Kakayanin ba namin ni Tina?”

And just before I utter a word, the male senior colleague who have already raised professionals told me, “Ayos lang iyan; ikaw nga nag-uumpisa ka pa lang (magpaaral)…” I sensed the reality of  my parenthood in his statement.

Enough with the money matters. If it God’s will for Gabby to study there, then it shall be done. If it’s not, then we know, there’s a better plan.

I know Gabby will like these desktops…

Kids enrolled here get to learn their swimming lessons from the nearby Penang Chinese Swimming Club and other sports like football from their enormous playing field…

Apparently, kids here are taught more than what’s written on books…

Check out the school’s web page, they just staged Wizard of Oz production involving all their students. –>Sri Pelita. Faith.Hope.Charity

“Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.”
– Sir Claus Moser

It would take a lot of money to send our son to this private school, which is already considered reasonably priced compared to others we scouted.  But we only have 2 options –(1) Send Gabby to this school and work, work, work or  (2) Leave Gabby to my relatives in Pinas for him to continue his studies there as (Tina and) I work here in Penang.

The second option is rather painful.

As much as possible, Tina and I want to be with Gabby during his formative years. It’s so hard for any parent to miss the growing years of his kid.

If you are in our shoes, how would you come up with a critical decision?

C’mmon, educate me, please.

——————————————————o

12
Jan
11

REVISITED THAT TADPOLE-SHAPED ISLAND

I don’t know what charm this historic island has but like a magnet, it draws attraction from everyone, foreign and local tourists alike.  Never did I thought that in my recent brief vacation from work in Penang  that I’ll get another chance to revisit this tadpole shaped island located at the entrance of Manila Bay.  It’s my 3rd time to be there but the experience has always been unexplainably worth it.

The tram buses as usual, welcome tourists at the shores of Corregidor Island and like a magical time-machine, transport each visitors to the historic past.

Do you know that General Douglas MacArthur’s famous line, “I shall return” wasn’t uttered at the island itself as he exited Corregidor’s backdoor to Australia but during his Press Conference already soon after he left the archipelago?

It was a sudden trip; it was my father-in-law who served in the Philippine Marines for more than 10 years and who came home from Missouri, also for the holidays wanted to revisit this Island. Like most of us, he also have been to Corregidor several times; but his experience in the military can effortlessly explain why he wanted to take his grandchildren to one of the most frequently visited tourist spots of the country.  Libre kami ni Lolo Chito, ang saya! :D

However, we’re not that lucky that day for the light and sound show where the late Francis “Ka Kiko” Evangelista’s (of the original TV Patrol cast) voice was used for the annotation at the Malinta Tunnel had a technical problem thus was called off.

Those tram buses that mimicked the orginal mode of transportation during those years when Corregidor Island was used as reservoir of coastal artillery and ammunition magazines that defended Manila Bay and the city of Manila were still there to bring tourists to the rest of the hills of Corregidor.

It was only that day when our tour guide was at his best that I understood that Malinta Tunnel has tracks where those trams used to railed…

Tina and I wondered how one of the laterals of Malinta Tunnel served as a hospital in those critical times…

We’re glad to taste improvements on the buffet spread from the Corregidor Inn where we had lunch inclusive of the package tour (now worth PhP 1900+ per pax).

The ruins of the barracks were still there, weathered by times…

This used to be their cinema at the island…

Other than the small museum, I like this place in Corregidor the most…

This sacred altar built in honor of the heroes of Corregidor who fought for freedom is strategically installed under a hole of its dome where sun can exactly shine directly sometime on the first week of May at high noon coinciding with the anniversary when the island surrendered its glory.

Inside the Pacific War Museum…

The best part of our day trip : family bonding of course!

With his Lolo, Tito, Tita and cousin, Tina and I were happy for Gabby had fun that day…

Unknown to Gabby, the island surrendered to the war and many lives were lost.  I’ll let his history teacher someday to do the works.

For now, at least he knows that the whole world needs…

Have you been to this historic island?  I’m sure. 

What do you like most about it?

====================================

*photo of map of Corregidor was sourced from Wiki
25
Dec
10

HARRODS CAFE : CELEBRATORY INDULGENCE IN KUALA LUMPUR

Because it’s Christmas and everyone’s busy being generous and nice, by the time you read this post, we’re probably heading to the Kuala Lumpur-LCT airport to catch a flight back to Pinas or already enjoying the comforts of being home. 

Few hours before Noche Buena, I brought my family to a special restaurant inside Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex to grab quick bites of what this London-based food place has to offer.

 

Since I cannot afford to take my family and travel to Europe yet, experiencing a taste of it with Tina and Gabby  is the second best thing for me.

 

Tucked within its gift shop, Harrods Cafe is a serene and relaxing food place (noxious on the pocket though but its excellent food and impeccable service made our dining experience all worth it –*pikit-mata sa budget*)

Everything inside was fascinating.  The English ambiance that I and Tina only experience in few movies and literatures, to the little details of its interiors, table setting and foods that were served were truly note-worthy. 

Tina gave me the freedom to order for the 3 of us to share.  Our set included…

Complimentary pieces of  bread served with (herbed) butter.

Potato and herbs soup : Although thick and creamy, our tastebuds were quite alienated to it for I think we’re all biased to pumpkin.

I reckon Fish and Chips as a classic that one can never go wrong with.  And so does Harrods’ version… Never greasy, no foul-fishy taste; served with long and chunky potato fries and freshest green salad tossed in vinaigrette.  *sarap!*

A day in Gelo and Tina’s lives isn’t complete without a dose of caffeine.  We shared a cup of cappuccino; foamy as usual, the difference lies on its taste and presentation.  

Sugar cubes or brown sugar?  Gabby smiled his widest when he tried the tongs…

Tina was delighted too with those sugar cubes! :D

I’m happy to share the table again with my family.

Nothing really beats being with your love ones.

Happy holidays, everyone! :D

——————————————————–o

PS :  I wish to bring my family to Europe one day and compare how does KL branch fares with the original.

*wishful thinking* …malay nyo lang, this year KL, next Christmas Europe na, LOL! :P

20
Dec
10

LAST FRIDAY AT GEORGETOWN

Friday night was a blast, at least for my family and I. It was the eve of our trip to Genting Highlands Resort, the so-called mini-Las Vegas-mini-Disneyland of Malaysia. Excitement ruled as I brought my wife and kid for an overnight stay in a budget-friendly hotel in Georgetown, Penang Island.

“Wow, sosyal!” exclaimed Gabby soon after he tapped the card-key and opened the door of our room. Tina and I were smiling ears to ears with Gabby’s astonishment. It’s nice to see our kid happy and knows how to appreciate simple things.

There’s nothing grandiose but Tune hotels is still consistently clean, fresh and a real value-for-money.

It was already my second time to spend a night at Tune in that same branch and for only RM 88 per room (USD 27.9 or PhP 1240), one can have a restful sleep and worry nothing about catching a flight, or in our case, a bus trip to Genting the following morning.

I highly recommend Tune Hotels for those financially-conscious but won’t sacrifice quality of service and cleanliness. *do i get a discount for this, Tune?* :D

After few minutes, we walked through one of my favorite eating places in this part of Penang. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Santorini…

I wanted Tina and Gabby to experience what I and my colleagues/friends have been enjoying here in Penang. So I ordered my usual-Santorini meal for Tina; it’s Combo plate of various seafoods tossed in a delightful sauce with veggies.

I’m not surprised she liked it. I know her taste of course. :)

After filling our tummies, we strolled a few more steps from Santorini and found ourselves looking at aquarium tanks with fresh and salt-water fishes, dogs, cats and other domesticated animals in a 3-floor-pet shop. It was just too bad that cameras are not allowed in the store but nonetheless, Gabby was content seeing large kois in a pond and all those feathered and haired and scaled friendly creatures for free!

We left that airconditioned pet shop at its closing time at few minutes before 10PM and walked to Komtar, the tallest building and famous landmark in Georgetown. We dropped by at Prangin mall and marvelled at their holiday decors.

I honestly never expected a Muslim-predominated country will also dressed its establishments to a Christian-inspired festivity such as Christmas. We like it so much! Don’t you?

prangin mall, georgetown, pulau pinang

Their smiles = my bliss! :D

It’s truly almost Christmas even in this part of Malaysia!

Up next : Our Genting Highlands Adventures!

16
Dec
10

PRICELESS MOMENTS

If you’re following this humble site for some time now, you’ve probably read in my previous posts that I share a huge 2-storey-5-bedroom penthouse with 4 male Pinoy MD-lecturers who aren’t only my colleagues but my friends as well. Our appartment is located a stone-throw away from the bay and is within a well-off community here in Butterworth.

Other than the fact that they’re generous enough to let me occupy the master’s bedroom since I do have a family, one thing that attracted me to live here is the handsome ambiance of the lobby…

Last Tuesday, I was so excited to go home from work after I received Tina’s text message stating that she has captured Gabby’s fun moments at the swimming pool. Obviously, our son did not contain his happiness when he dipped into the pool and tried stuffs in the playground.

Even if he doesn’t know how to swim yet, it was pure bliss to see him having fun.

I like this shot; ang gwapo ng anak ko! kanino pa magmamana? :D

He met a Malaysian boy who lives a level lower than our floor.

Believe it or not, Gabby’s new found friend is a year older than him. He’s already 7, Gabby just turned 6 last October.

ang laki ni Gabby for his age, hindi halatang hindi kami mayaman, hehehe :D

He’s adorable, isn’t he?

The fun continues this weekend as Tina, Gabby and I go to that so-called mini-Las Vegas and Disneyland-inspired theme parks here in Malaysia. :D

==================================

13
Dec
10

FOOD PARADISE: HAWKERS AT GURNEY DRIVE

This isn’t our very first family-reunion meal in Penang. I’ve reserved that on my next post. I chose to showcase first what makes Penang so charming to tourists and first-time visitors like Tina and Gabby -the stalls of street foods called hawkers.

A visit to Gurney Drive particularly before dusk isn’t complete without sampling what hawkers before the bay have to offer. Food choices are as numerous and diverse as the volumes of cultures, religions and colors here in Penang.

Over those fancy and high-end restaurants and varied fast foods, I was glad that Tina took the initiative to ask me to bring them there last Sunday afternoon.

After her appointment at a nearby medical institution (that also deserves a separate entry), we strolled the streets going to Plaza Gurney mall; roamed for a while, and finally headed to the hawkers just beside it.

She tried her luck on finding tuknene and kwek-kwek here, but I guess it’s unique to the streets of Manila, or at least their names. We found skewered quail eggs actually but less the orange-tinged coating.

Sun sets in this side of Asia later than you think. Darkness falls around 8 in the evening. These photos were taken during our dinner-snack at half hour past six and it was still sunshiny.

Without biases to spicy and curried dishes (read : I had enough; believe me!) Tina, Gabby and I sampled and shared these few non-Halal yummies…

Fried Lok lok : deep-fried seafood balls, chicken pandan and few veggie+seafood goodies which are sold at RM 2/stick (PhP 28)…

Yong Tao Foo : A variety of food selection like fish balls, dimsums, crab sticks, meat balls, tofu, and many more in a mildly salted broth with your choice of noodles.

Freshly extracted sugarcane juice, anyone?

To wash everything down, I got freshly chilled coconut complete with its juice and pulp (RM4/PhP 56).

With a bottle of mineral water, we only spent RM 21 (PhP 294), not bad isn’t it?

Foods are so affordable here in Penang hawkers but my family’s smiles remain priceless*namiss ko ito!*

Although we were not adventurous in tasting Malaysian and other Asian delicacies available there, we left hawkers at Gurney Drive satiated and happy.

More of our food trips and travels on succeeding posts…

23
Nov
10

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY!

To the woman who makes my heart beat purposely and the one who makes my days meaningful,

‘Ney, you know how Gabby and I love you dearly; cliche it may sound but our lives aren’t complete without you.  You and Gabby are my greatest blessings!  

Sorry for all my shortcomings and thank you for all the love and understanding you’ve been giving me for almost 7 years (+3 years prior to our marriage) and counting.  

Happy Birthday to the woman who rules my universe! :D  ILOVEYOU+Gabby so much!

I’ll see you and Gabby here in Penang in 18 days! :D 

Sundan na natin si Gabby?!!! :D




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