Posts Tagged ‘family bonding

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! :)

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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! :)

16
Jun
13

JUNE 15, 2013 : ONE OF OUR HAPPIEST SATURDAYS

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Malacca Strait & George Town, Penang viewed from our little balcony last June 13, ’13, Thursday.

Two days before the Father’s Day weekend, Tina and I arrived home from our office, Gabby from school at late afternoon. We were all greeted by gusty winds and big waves from the Malacca Strait via our little balcony at our 11th floor apartment. Little did we know that scenes in Pulau Pinang were even worse as telecom tower, electric poles and numerous trees already fell to the streets in George Town, Penang. We sat and prayed together and tried to calm down Gabby who was too anxious of the sight and sound of seemingly impending storm. But for three 3 years of stay in this side of Malaysia, I know they don’t issue typhoon signals unlike in our country, The Philippines. And true enough what appeared to last as unfavorable weather for whole night, thankfully ended an hour or so. We were relieved.

The next day, we went to work again, and Gabby to school as usual with a sunshiny climate. The weather was confirmed to be Bipolar, perhaps, even Schizoid. :)  Tina didn’t rely on her instincts but googled the weather forecast online. No threat or warning to spoil our plans for the weekend. We were again relieved.  

Saturday came and we hopped on the bus at around 9AM, boarded the ferry at jetty in Penang Sentral and reached the island safely.

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All smiles aboard the ferry from Butterworth to George Town.

It was almost 10AM and (thankfully) the sun was shining its brightest. We strolled from jetty in Weld Quay to Gat Lebuh Armenian simply to see two of the 11 (soon to be established) new sets of murals with cats as theme.
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Cat mural #2 located at Gat Lebuh Armenian.  How do you like it?

Finally, we met Skippy,  the meow meow of the 11 cat murals in George Town. Have you seen a bigger cat mural than Skippy?

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Skippy the cat and the black rodent mural located at Gat Lebuh Armenian. :)

After few touristy things, we strolled our way to catch the bus at Lebuh Chulia or Chulia Street. We passed by one of the remarkable heritage sites in George Town, the clan house or kongsi of Cheah family with its newly installed gates. It looks grand as ever!

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Cheah Kongsi. Gates are open to welcome tourists at month-long George Town Festival 2013.

Rode the bus, got off Komtar and went up the 8th level of First Avenue Mall in George Town to buy movie tickets for afternoon screening. After which, we hurriedly went down and took the cab, despite the fact that our next destination can be reached by foot, we didn’t want to be late to our 11AM reservation to an eat-all-you-want-Asian restaurant in a mall that we’ve never been to.

Penang Times Square

With only lunch buffet at our initial game plan, we managed to make our weekend memorable again.

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My love. My life. :)

Haven Delights, Penang Times Square

It’s our first time at Penang Times Square and apparently, first time to dine at Haven Delights. Before someone makes a conclusion that everything here’s far from reasonable, let me be defensive in stating that it was Tina’s idea to buy discount-vouchers from groupon.my when she saw online that Asian Buffet in Haven Delights was on promosi. We only paid RM 56 (USD 17.96) for the buffet meals good for 2, and didn’t pay anything for Gabby as per text message of the manager of Haven Delights when he apologized to something I chose not to write about. After all, the misunderstanding was already settled and our eat-all-you-want-lunch turned out better than expected.

Similar to its adjacent buffet restaurant, TAO that we already sampled from another branch, Haven Delights offers a spread that includes free flow of fruit juices and iced green tea. Other than that, the rest is served upon order from their buffet menu. Surprisingly, we noticed Haven Delight’s buffet menu has wide variety to choose from. The interiors and overall ambiance aren’t cheap, although I suggest for them to have a better choice of house music that must go with the buffet theme. Nonetheless, those red lanterns, and cozy lights aptly set the mood for Asian gastronomic experience. To be honest, it wasn’t the best buffet we’ve sampled but for its price, it was an absoulte steal for the three of us! Happy Father’s Day to me! Happy me! :)

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It was also our very first time to purchase voucher at groupon.my and it was indeed a good buy!  At least, our first impressions were all nice. Now, on to business. If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you know that I have been keeping a love affair with Japanese. I like how creative their dishes are; I appreciate how Japanese cuisine provides both art and sustenance. So when Tina told me that the restaurant she chose via groupon.my in Penang features Japanese food among other Asian delights, I gave it a nod in no time! :)

This is the rundown of what we tried from the buffet menu… Drum roll, please! :)

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Miso soup from the spread. Warm and nice.

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Mussels No. 1 as they called it but to us, they’re Baked Mussels. Cheesy. We liked!

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Szechuan Beef. Surprisingly tender, tasteful, everything’s right. Recommended!

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Temaki. Soft Shelled Crab & California Hand Roll. Gabby and I shared these two; thumbs up! :)

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Santen Sashimi. Sashimi, for as long as fresh, remains my favorite so I’m biased with this bowl.

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Motoyaki Scallops. Another must-try, another personal favorite but size of scallops was a bit disappointing.

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Salted Pepper Mantis. Go order this too at Haven Delights. Bite-sized goodness!

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Orange Pork Chop. We frequently order the Crispy Lemon Chicken from a Chinese restaurant back home; this one reminded us of that.

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My world revolves and rotates for Gabby & Tina. :)

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Ebi Sushi, Salmon Sushi. Need I say more?

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Mixed Tempura. There was no Ebi Tempura alone, so Gabby opted for the next best thing.

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Haven Special Maki, Smoked Eel Roll. Improvement on the maki-making would make it better.

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Eat, Pray, Love.

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Lamb Teriyaki over Japanese Rice from the spread. Tina’s plate -she said this combo was fine.

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Motoyaki Scallops, round two : 5 orders. Yum! Yummier if only they’re bigger.

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Ebi Mango Sushi and other delightful things on our table.

 
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Haven delights customers particularly during dinner could eat al fresco with the view of George Town’s streets and diversity. Case in point, the Catholic Church stands almost behind the Hindu Temple with no conflicts, whatsoever.
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Penang, we’ll surely miss you one day! Thank you for everything!

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One more shot, with the mighty, Komatar this time. It’s the tallest building in the island. Iconic, isn’t it?

Lunch buffet starts at 11:30PM with taking of the last orders from diners at 2PM.  We finished past 1PM. Burp! :) Just when I thought we’re heading back to First Avenue Mall to watch the 2:45PM screening of the newest remake of Superman movie, Man of Steel, we saw another restaurant that was featured on groupon.my called, Full House.

Gabby wanted dessert while Tina and I were craving for our caffeine doses. We gave in. We tried Full House too, for the very first time.

FullHouse Restaurant, Penang Times Square

It’s not difficult to be charmed with the space, interiors and menu of FullHouse. It’s a lifestyle store that also sells T-shirts and some novelty items to match the incredibly dainty epicurean experience. We only had coffee and for Gabby, a serving of creme brulee but dining at Full House felt like so fresh and pleasant. I predict that we’ll drop again to sample entrees and other offerings soon.

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Best thing that we do while waiting for orders : freeze the moments via photographs. And when the orders are served, take pictures again! It’s a habit hard to break. Can you blame Tina and I if the cups of our caffeine came with art?

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Latte for me. RM8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The cute coffee art made me smile, the taste made me satisfied.
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Cappuccino for Tina. RM 8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The blend passed Tina’s meticulous taste!
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Creme Brulee RM 10.90++ (USD 3.50++) and Choco Blended RM 9.90++ (USD 3.17++) for Gabby. :)
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We left Full House in Penang Times Square with wider smiles and happier tummies. We crossed the road and took a taxi cab again, in order not to be late at the 2:45PM screening of Man of Steel.

Man of Steel at First Avenue Mall

It has been several months since the three of us last watched a movie together, popcorn (and upcoming movie, Monster University’s) tumbler of Coke are a must! :)

 
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Before and after the Man of Steel movie, Gabby made a statement to us by saying,

Ben 10 is better than Superman; he got more powers!” 

Oh well, he grew up with his breed of animated characters and fictional heroes on screen but seriously, we all enjoyed this action-packed Superman movie. The treatment to the story and twist was made contemporary different from the previous ones.  I didn’t browse anything about it prior watching, so I was stunned to see Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams casted as support to Henry Cavill’s iconic role. I was in awe in every second of the movie. We literally finished our caramel popcorn which unusually happens in other movies. It was that entertaining!

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What else can I say but I was happiest with my family that Saturday! I may not have everything but they’re my greatest blessings! :D

Till our next family bonding! Enjoy your celebrations, everyone!

*Haven Delights | No. 77-L1-34, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*FullHouse |No. 77-G-20-21,61-65, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

09
Jun
13

GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL 2013 : TAKING OFF

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Kite flying, like George Town Festival is for everyone to enjoy!

08 June 2013, Saturday, George Town, Penang.  There could never be more appropriate way to make a grand celebration soar to the heaven but to take it literally to the skies! The idea of having drums and kite making and kite flying in an incredibly massive open field, in front of Penang’s Town Hall and City Hall called, Esplanade or Padang Kota Lama, was too perfect to call people across the lifespan to gather and celebrate the official opening ceremony of  George Town Festival 2013. After all, everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity and economic status surely enjoys kites and kite flying! 

Right after spending almost half day from lunch at Queensbay Mall, my family and I trooped to Esplanade to witness the GTF 2013 official opening, aptly called, Taking Off! 

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Town Hall, George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Photo taken July 7, 2013, Friday prior to I Musici Concert.

The night before the event, I was invited to watch I Musici Di Roma (Blog post HERE!) and before I went to the musical concert held at Diwan Sri Penang, I saw, for the first time, the larger than life art installation called, Theatre of Ships made for Penang by Indonesian artist, Joko Avianto. I was happy to bring Tina and Gabby there the following day.

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Theatre of Ships. Larger than life installation. Inspiring!

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Must have touristy shot! :)
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Detail shot of Theatre of Ships. I heard more than 3500 bamboos were used to create this masterpiece!

The use of bamboos, in my opinion is a genius! This tallest of the grass species is known for being resilient at any weather, it can sway even with strongest winds and typhoons; bamboos are actually that symbolic! And to create a giant masterpiece out of it made everything even better!

I also liked the idea of involving kites as I think kites are symbolic too! Kites represent flights of many things! My family and I love kites and kite flying! My son and I flew a 5-ringgit-plastic-kite that we bought from Tesco supermarket in Penang and brought and flew it in Cenang Beach, Langkawi (Blog post HERE!). We even spent a Labor Day holiday back in 2011 in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, just to witness how moon kites, or Malaysia’s Wau Bulan are intricately made (Blog post HERE!)

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We appreciated how Wau Bulan or Moon Kites are intricately made in no less than Kota Bahru, Kelantan in 2011.

It goes without saying we loved how GTF2013 opening ceremony was done.

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Surprisingly, we saw a kite being flown from our country, the Philippines! Despite its simplicity and lack of striking and vibrant colors, it was one of the kites that soared highest against the wind that Saturday. ASEAN nations were invited to particpate in GTF 2013 opening ceremony  :)

Best of all, families of various races and ages came together one afternoon under the sun and blue sky! It was a sight to behold!

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There were many tents around Padang Kota Lama that were put up for hawker food stalls that offer affordable local and Western food. From Penang’s famous Assam Laksa, to other noodle dishes like my favorite, Char Koay Teow and Hokien Mee and others, Indian-Malaysian sweet barquillo-like Apom Manis, to Japanese sushi, Thailand’s coconut jelly inside coconut shells and Western’s pizza and ice cream. We sampled apom manis for the very first time and liked it (not on photos). While Gabby enjoyed a small pizza we bought for him, Tina and I savored bowls of warm and satisfyingly thick and rish Shark’s Fin Soup at 3 ringgit each. Delicious! 
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Shark fin’s soup from a hawker stall in Padang Kota Lama during the Taking Off event for GTF2013.

We went home with smiles on our faces and happy tummies! :)

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For schedules of events in this month-long celebration of GTF2013 : www.georgetownfestival.com

*This is NOT a sponsored or commissioned post. Special thanks to Ms. Wanida of GTF2013. Stay tuned for features about GTF2013 on this blog!

Previous GTF on this blog includes :

09
Oct
12

CELEBRATORY FEAST : GABBY’S EIGHTH BIRTHDAY

It was already late evening of Friday, October 5th, 2012 when I got a chance to view the attached photos on my Inbox sent by Gabby’s teacher & school owner taken using her iphone. I smiled and I appreciated the concern, love and care expressed to our son by his generous and thoughtful Malaysian-Chinese teacher. Thank you so much, Ms. Jasmine! The photos showed Gabby and his teacher’s son eating burgers and fries in McDonald’s after school; a simple birthday treat yet so special to Gabby and to us!  Tina and I really found it so heartwarming!

OUR SON IS LOVED; WE’RE GRATEFUL! :)

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Because his birthday falls on a weekday this year, Friday to be exact, we chose not to absent ourselves from work and school thus, another extraordinary weekend was brewed.

Little did we know that Gabby told his teacher the reason why he’s not having  that ceremonial birthday cake candle blowing over the usual birthday song singing with party hats, some pasta and loot bags in school like what he used to have back home (If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Gabby’s SPONGEBOB THEMED 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY ) it’s because we planned to celebrate his 8th birthday the way we know how : BUFFET!!! :)

Long before his big day, we already talked and decided where to spend it; and among the hotels and restaurants we’ve tried, a unanimous decision was made : G Hotel at Gurney Drive, Penang!

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UNBIASED OPINION OF A NON-SPONSORED DINING

Among the few premier hotels and restaurants in Penang that my family and I have sampled, G Cafe in G Hotel has always been remarkably pleasant. We like its polite and quick service, great tasting dishes with a wide variety but not overwhelming, and its contemporary and edgy, elegant and sophisticated but non-intimidating ambiance. Not to forget its reasonable and affordable cost for an eat-all-you-want dining on lunch, high tea or dinner. They even made it more budget-friendly as we availed of the 15% discount offer that we got for being Rapid Penang Bus commuters. :) Best of all, G Cafe staff granted my request for a FREE birthday cake with a candle to blow for Gabby! They gave an instant nod without hesitation; many thanks to that! :D

There are other restaurants inside G Hotel and at G Cafe, there are two dining spots. It’s our third time to eat inside G Cafe’s airconditioned dining area and have not favored yet their open-air eating space.

So here’s where we sat and dined…
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And here’s a portion of their eat-all-you-want-spread that evening…
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I like their simple and minimalist display and fixtures that perfectly complemented the modern and somewhat masculine appeal of the entire all-day-dining-restaurant. I also think the use of BLUE tones in lighting and glasses excellent! It’s quite uncommon choice for restaurants yet so regal.

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G Cafe offers different themed dining every night and it was our second time to try their International Cuisine-BARBECUE NIGHT!
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There were grilled prawns, grilled lamb, grilled fish, and grilled squid…
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Roasted lamb, anyone?
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Tina and I tried a few slices from the carving station but honestly, we’re not fanatics of lamb unlike the others despite G Cafe’s version was tender.

Usually, it’s a toss between salad and soup for me, I went for the latter first and enjoyed every spoonful of sweet corn and chicken soup! It was thick and superb! Really tasteful!

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But then again, I thought I am just a mere mortal and very weak to pass up on these yummies! Tee hee!
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I did not! We did not pass up on the salads. We had a little bit of everything!
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We liked the Smoked Duck Salad even though I was telling Tina how I missed G Cafe’s Prawn Salad (told you, they’ve variety every night!), the fusion of the smoked duck meat cut into strips and those mango and veggies in julienne cuts were an absolute match made in Penang! ;)

How about Smoked Salmon Salad that beautifully blended with those avocado cubes?
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Irresistible! Then you see more Hors d’oeuvre like different chunks and slices of cheese and biscuits…
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And then there’s this crunchy and sweet and a bit spicy dried fish called IKAN BILIS ISTIMEWA which to me was one of the most appetizing appetizers I’ve ever tasted! Or is it an entree? Hahaha!  FYI, istimewa means special!  It reminded me of  a locally dried fish back home called, Danggit, although it’s all salty and crunchy when fried, this Ikan Bilis Istimewa came with flavors and texture that burst every bite! Sarap! Sedap! It’s really something you’ll crave for! Delicious sans vinegar! I wish I had more servings!
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Meanwhile, here’s my salad plate…
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Tina’s seafood plate…
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Everything was fine particularly the salmon sashimi except for the scallops; they were flat and disappointing!
sushi and seafoods

While the birthday boy was certain of his choices…
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Our palates savored the sushi rolls too! I always profess my fascination to Japanese dishes. It’s amazing that they’re both art and nourishment at the same time! My love affair with sushi and sashimi makes me wonder if I’m half blood Japanese, hahaha!
sushi 1
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sushi 2
sushi 3
Tina tried the Chicken Shawarma and Roasted Lamb. I tasted their version of Shawarma before and it didn’t impress my tastebuds. I’m still partial with similar Mediterranean favorite back home.
lamb and chicken shawarma
Tina’s plate filled with grilled stuffs…
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And here are my plates…
grilled goodies
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There were a lot more dishes on the spread and a noodle station that we failed to sample. Nonetheless, we made sure we reserved gastric space for desserts.

HYPERGLYCEMIA  : REDEFINED

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In our third time to dine at G Cafe in G Hotel in our more than two years of being expatriates in Penang, we’re loving the fact that we have experienced the evolution of dessert offerings. Let the photos do the talking. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest! :D

desserts 8
desserts 9
desserts baskin robbins
Who knew my family and I could enjoy an eat-all-you-want Baskin Robbins ice cream? I don’t know about you, but for jologs like me, it’s a big deal already! A BIG PLUS for this buffet actually! ;)
So my sweet tooth became happier again with every scoop of Baskin Robbins included in the buffet spread. I had Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla which are two of my favorite flavors, I also had Strawberry Sherbet and Green Tea. I was content with just the scoops sans toppings and syrups. I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream or at least in this occasion.
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While Tina was in bliss with her gummies toppings over her Baskin Robbins…
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I wish all the sweets in the dessert spread had labels. Because there were none, I relied on my gustatory skills. These bite-sized cakes that tasted peanut butter at its creamiest earned my thumbs up!
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Another must-try at G Cafe’s dessert spread is this beautiful pastry. Believe it or not, the filling inside those dark chocolate cream icings is a tiny strawberry –just imagine the tug-o-war of bitter-sweet taste of the dark chocolate against the sour-sweet taste of strawberry. The combination’s brilliant! Then each was sandwiched by a light chocolate meringue. Wonderful! The toothsome flavors and luxurious textures were so amazing! I’ll bring back my family there for these!
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How about a munch-all-you-want macarons? Heavenly. Just heavenly.
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The birthday boy loves cheesecake…We all do!
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Mini Cupcakes, FTW!
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I’m now lost for superlatives to describe these…*drooling*
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One of Tina’s dessert plates… yes, one of them! :)
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While here’s a shameless display of mine…
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After a great and hearty meal, must have coffee.
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And before you forget it’s Gabby’s 8th birthday celebration, here’s the documentation of that special moment…
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G Cafe at G Hotel became uberly generous again in granting my request to provide a FREE birthday cake with a candle for Gabby to blow. Thank you so much, G Cafe! …And just so you know, Gabby held the bread knife to slice his birthday cake just like a CIRUJANO would do an incision; we didn’t coach him to do so. :)
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The necessary family portrait…
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Happy 8th Birthday, son! WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!

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*This is NOT a sponsored post for G Cafe at G Hotel, Penang. We wish! :D

 

31
Jul
12

OUR ROCK & ROLL FAMILY WEEKEND @ HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG

It started with a simple tweet. It ended with grand quality time with the family. I posted on twitter that I was craving for Restoran Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and Cheese Naan. I was really wishing to grab a bite of that favorite Indian dish and unexpectedly, I received a wonderful response from Hard Rock Hotel Penang. My  casual tweet received an extraordinary invite. Hard Rock Hotel Penang replied that my craving’s a good one and they invited me and my family to experience their lavishly unconventional beach front hotel and resort located at the heart of the famous Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia. How could you say no to such offer, when in fact, its location in Batu Ferringhi is so accessible by car or via Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from Weld Quay or jetty in George Town.

Admittedly, I am happy that I gave my nod to the invitation. The entire experience redefined what Penang means to me and my family. The 3D2N staycation in Hard Rock Hotel Penang made us realized that Penang is bigger than being one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, more than being our current work place, larger than having diversities and multicultured communities; it’s actually greater than meets the eye! Penang truly deserves the vast attention it gets from local and foreign tourists. Our short but sweet weekend escapade at Hard Rock Hotel Penang proved that the island is made extra special by having a FAMILY FRIENDLY premiere hotel, a great advantage above the rest.

Let me begin the sharing of our family’s experience and my personal review of Hard Rock Hotel facilities, services and its food and beverages by showcasing one of my favorite shots I took from the balcony of our seaview deluxe room…

Enticing, is it not? :)

Simple but lovely touches like this personal note made our stay so special…

My recall of Hard Rock dates back to the Philippines’ HRC in Makati City and our short visit to Las Vegas ages ago. Hard Rock Hotel Penang and its Hard Rock Cafe located at its facade reminded me of those stupendous memories.

We liked how they enshrined the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson ala-Abraham Lincoln right in front of HRC, so cool! :)

The iconic Hard Rock logo recreated in this fine drop-light chandelier dominates the entrance to the lobby.

Tina and I love Beatles, who doesn’t? We grew up hearing their songs on air and from my parents’ turntable. Thus, it’s amazing to see Beatles-inspired artworks, sculptures and mosaic-tiled-paintings all over Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s lobby and Hard Rock Cafe.

The sight of the check-in counter with a reception bar concept might be intimidating and discouraging for some guests with families and children, or perhaps to non-alcoholics, but I, myself marveled on the fact that Hard Rock Hotel Penang is absolutely, FAMILY-FRIENDLY bar none. Read and view this entire 2-part-blog-series and I need not convince you.

Few steps from the reception area at the lobby are fascinating memorabilia from music icons of rock and roll and other genres. From a 500-collection of costumes, to musical instruments, awards and whatnot,  guests and visitors would surely feel being in one of the most relaxing hotel and resort and at the same time, a funky museum that houses an unparalleled treasure that highlights the wide span of rock and roll era.

Immediately after the staff at the reception handed me the magnetic keys to our room, we went up to 5th floor.

No, we’re not booked at the Rock Star Suite, but there’s always a next time, isn’t it? hahahaha! :P

We were provided a seaview deluxe room that opens to a private balcony that’s too perfect for watching sunset, reflecting on life’s simple pleasures, meditation, savoring cups of coffee or even to while away time and think of nothing. The room and the view are definitely glorious!

This is one of my favorite corners of the room as it kept me relaxed and at the same time a bit busy in keeping in touch with my virtual world. I don’t think I’ll be at ease when I’m not hooked online. Thankfully, Hard Rock Hotel Penang provides FREE wifi/wireless and wired/broadband with rapid accessibility. The connection’s fast, it made me and my family happier! :)

“Rockin’ Rooms : Hard Rock Hotel Penang has 250 tastefully designed rooms including 17 suites. Most rooms are with sea views and private balconies. Lagoon view rooms come with direct pool access. All rooms and suites are well-equipped with DVD/CD players, interactive LCD, TVs, iPod docking stations…”

The size of the seaview deluxe room and the height of the ceiling spell the difference…

While pillows are available in various softness, the bed isn’t too firm nor too soft; it has the right feel to provide utmost comfort.  I like the immaculate white sheets too. All in all, my family had restful sleeps for 2 nights in this bedroom.

Flat iron and iron stand, a safety deposit box (not in photo), 2 pairs of slippers, bathrobes are all made available inside the wardrobe.  Coffee and tea making facilities, bottles of distilled water are replenished 2x daily.

The toilet and shower also compliments everything in the room. Despite the lack of bath tub (Who needs a bath tub if there’s so much to explore in this resort hotel?), cleanliness, frequent replenishment of toiletries, hand-held and rainfall shower with hot and cold water make every bathroom visits worry-free.

There’s a peek-a-boo-sliding divider from the toilet that to me, appears as a necessity in times of emergency. Oh well, others would consider it sexy; I don’t have problem with that too. ;)

As I first saw the huge mirror inside the toilet, I didn’t notice the framed black and white painting…

The rock and roll theme’s spontaneous! Hail to the King! There’s Elvis!!! :D

I think it’s the first photo that I posted on my facebook as a teaser to this blog series on Hard Rock Hotel Penang. I even captioned it as “I wanted it as a takeaway freebie, LOL!” :P

We left our room to meet few people from Hard Rock Hotel Penang and the other Malaysian bloggers invited. Tina, Gabby and I also checked out the hotel and resort’s facilities and amenities. Man, we were blown away! My personal expectations were met, even exceeded. I never imagined Hard Rock Hotel to have the most kid-friendly swimming pool that we’ve seen to date! It has the largest free-form swimming pool in Penang at 26,000 sqft.  The kiddie swimming pool is a playplace cum swimming pool with both sand and tiled floors for children’s preference! Tina and Gabby were greatly satisfied and happy too! We felt so blessed to have experienced and enjoyed Hard Rock Hotel Penang! I am overwhelemed by the fact that my family and I got to spend quality time in this beautiful resort. At this point, let my photos do the talking…

Spot the rainbow. Hard Rock Hotel Penang must have a pot of gold! The happiness that it brings its guests and visitors across all ages is as precious as gold.

The joy that Tina and I felt when we’re watching Gabby savoring his time in the pool and its playplace was priceless!

I also had a fair share of my own me-time. :) I think it’s healthy and far from being greedy to observe quality time too for ourselves, don’t you think?

I wish moments like this could be infinite. ;)

The premises of Hard Rock Hotel Penang ends just before the public beach nonetheless, its guests and visitors can delight themselves in the sand, sun and waters. To some, particularly foreigners who haven’t seen our country yet, the public beach of Batu Ferringhi, Penang is already a paradise and I cannot contest on that. But  for Filipinos like us, who have high standards when it comes to beaches (read: the Philippines, if you must know, is an archipelago of 7,107 islands), I must be honest enough that we’ve seen far better shorelines in our country (Boracay alone is Nirvana to sun beach and sun worshippers). At least the location of Hard Rock Hotel is a beach front one, it gives its clients options to dive into the pool or bask under the Malaysian sun. Watersports like jetskiing, parasailing, banana boat ride, boat rides to nearby islands and other fun outdoor activities are also available from operators stationed in the public beach.

Gabby also enjoyed his time in the sand… and I mean literally in the sand! :D

My family also availed of the Rock Spa’s foot and leg massage for half an hour (the other option included in the package’s neck massage).  After strolling in the beach, dipping in the pool and taking aimless walks around the hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Penang really knows how to retune and pamper their guests like rockstars! :)

Filipina receptionist at Rock Spa, Niniya with my wife, Tina. :)

Special thanks to the very warm and friendly staff of Rock Spa, Amy, Fifi and Niniya. It’s a pleasure meeting you! :)

HRHP also has Body Rock gym that offers a soothing sight of the pool and lush greens for those health buff hotel guests.

Family friendliness doesn’t stop at the kiddie swimming pool and playplace. Little ones can have their own fun time at Li’l Rock…

While our almost 8-year-old-kiddo who’s in his awkward age (not a kid anymore but not yet a teenages) fits the Teen’s Club to tee!

Tina and I loved the Beatles mania all around Hard Rock Hotel Penang! Even the Teens Club has these iconic figurines. Amazing!

When dusk falls upon us…

Rockin’ and rollin’ of the live band perks up the night and puts everyone at the lobby to the beat!

Live band music, ultimately relaxing and chill out ambiance, what more can you ask  for? :P

We cannot let the day pass without buying a memento. Luckily, Rock Shops, the souvenir stores of Hard Rock Hotel Penang had their Tshirts and other merchandise at 50% off during that weekend!

We bought 2 identical dad-and-son T-shirts in blue. :)

Stay tuned on the next post : GLORIOUS FOOD & BEVERAGE PORN at Hard Rock Cafe, Starz Diner, Sand Bar and Pizzeria of Hard Rock Hotel Penang!

I’d like to echo the words from one of the brochures of Hard Rock Hotel Penang,“It’s all about first class entertainment, impeccable service and center stage attention. It’s an ultimate rock retreat!”

My family and I cannot agree more. Everything in Hard Rock Hotel Penang is an epitome of colossal excellence! :D

Hard Rock Hotel Penang | Batu Ferringhi Beach | 111oo Penang, Malaysia

http://penang.hardrockhotels.net/

Take the Hard Rock Hotel Penang VIRTUAL TOUR HERE! :)

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Up Next : Food & Beverages at Hard Rock Hotel Penang!

Hard Rock Hotel Penang offers Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Buffets

Buka Puasa at Starz | Starz Diner | Mondat to Thursday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM 60++

Great American Buffet With A Twist | Starz Diner | Friday & Saturday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM108++

Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Barefoot BBQ | Pizzeria | Sunday | 6:30PM to 10PM | RM60++

For reservations call +604 8811 711 ext 8703 or email fb.penang@hardrockhotels.net

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*Thank you to Ms. Danielle Fung of Hard Rock Hotel Penang for making this grand family weekend experience possible.

22
Jun
12

CARPE DIEM

As I wanted to seize the day with my family after we had lunch buffet at Flamingo Hotel  last weekend, we gave in to my son’s request to finally conquer Toys R Us at Gurney Plaza Mall…

Exhibit  A :  Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo

If you must know, Gabby has monthly earnings. Since we don’t have a car and our 11th-floor-seaview-appartment here in Penang comes with a car port, we’re having it leased by our neighbor for RM50 or almost PhP700 (USD 15.66) per month and the rental fee goes directly to Gabby’s toy fund personal savings. Whenever needed, I borrow money from Gabby too, so it becomes an emergency fund, hahaha!  (yes, the world revolves clockwise sometimes!) :)  But last weekend, opportunity presented itself when we found our feet inside Toys R Us and Gabby got hold of that Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo action figure for 70 ringgit (Too expensive if you ask me, but it has been a while since Gabby had a new toy so Tina and I allowed the boy to be happy, he saved the money anyway). He walked away from Toys R Us with Ultimate Echo Echo despite Tina and I were eyeing on those Avengers plushies at the backdrop, hahaha!

Exhibit  B : Gabby in long pants

Yes, our soon-to-be-8-year-old-kiddo bid temporary goodbye to his cropped pants (puruntongs) for denim long pants and corduroys.  He’s no longer a baby! *cue in crocodile tears*

Exhibit C :  Mangoes and Strawberries

We had afternoon coolers from Chatime; took some photos of course….And I believe my family can pass as Chatime’s ambassadors, don’t you think? hahaha! :D

Exhibit D :  Eating Japanese favorites for FREE!

We had our early dinner at Sakae Sushi in Gurney Mall and used our 50 ringgit (PhP 700) vouchers which I got when Tina and I attended the invitational Bloggers’ Event at Sakae Sushi First Avenue Mall (view blog post HERE).

Since Tina and I had already tasted Sakae Sushi’s 2012 newest menu during the Bloggers’ Event weeks ago, our choices for this early dinner were our personal favorites. My wife had Chicken Teriyaki which according to her was tender enough and tasteful however could have been better if they added more sauce on the rice toppings. Our wonder boy, Gabby had his default order of Ebi Tempura and had him smiled ear to ear. My mom savored grilled salmon with mentaiko mayo; the dish is called Salmon Mentaiyaki. And I opted for my favorite Japanese noodle dish, Sukiyaki. I liked it but sadly not as close as the authentic ones I’ve tasted in Tokyo back in 2010 (view blog post HERE get ready to drool, hehehe!)

Happiness from Tokyo 2010

Apparently, our family life isn’t perfect and challenges come and go. But come hell or high water, Tina and Gabby remain my life till I breathe my last.

*When did you last experienced moments you wanted to freeze?

Carpe Diem, everyone! ;)

12
May
12

BUKIT BINTANG, KUALA LUMPUR

If I have to narrow down my list of preferred places in Kuala Lumpur, other than the very iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC-Suria Shopping Complex , I would definitely include Bukit Bintang in my personal must-visit-places-in KL-list. The first time we went there was during the Chinese New Year holiday this year and with so much fascination, my family and I promised to go back again. And every visit has been rewarding with tons of fun memories to cherish.

This upscale shopping and business district in Malaysia’s capital city is comparable to few favorites that I have been to. In so many ways, Bukit Bintang reminds me of Rodeo Drive in LA, Downtown Auckland in New Zealand, Shibuya and Ginza in Tokyo, Canton Road in Hong Kong, Orchard Road in Singapore and our very own Makati City back home. It may be on a smaller and simpler scale compared to those cosmopolitan places but overall, it’s such a vibrant and exciting venue to stroll, shop, dine around or simply while away time during a stay in Kuala Lumpur.

For someone who’s been living and working in a rather more laid back but utterly rich in heritage sites like Penang, a visit to Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur is and will always be refreshing! :)

***Photos were taken in the streets of Bukit Bintang and Pepper Lunch in Pavilion Mall where we savored our lunch last May 8th before heading to the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Awards. We wolf down Beef Pepper Rice (for Tina, Gabby and me-a plate each!) and Salmon Pepper Rice for my mom. Obviously, it’s not only Tina and I who love Pepper Lunch but it’s one of Gabby’s favorites -not only here in Malaysia (Can someone bring PL to Penang, please! The Pavilion Mall branch in Bukit Bintang is the only one in Malaysia as of the moment) but in Hong Kong and Manila of course!  While the small slice of sublime chocolate cake from Lavander (which we opted prior seeing a branch of Bread Talk) was my celebratory dessert I had as takeaway in the hotel to rejoice this blog’s 5th anniversary. :D

15
Apr
12

CHILD’S PLAY

“Daddy, thank you for bringing me there at the playground!”  –I was the happiest man alive when Gabby uttered those words in verbatim. A simple one hour stroll to that nearby park cum playground became a memorable late Saturday afternoon for the two of us.

The father-and-son-date-at-the-park was originally set in the morning of Saturday, 04/14/2012 but despite Gabby woke up early on a weekend with a statement, “Daddy, I’m on time!” -referring to his punctuality to our morning call time of 7AM, it didn’t push through because he chose to play with his mom’s ipod leaving me to a cup of coffee while surfing the web and the cable TV channels.  And so I told him, “If we’re not going to Taman Riang  (Riang Park which is several blocks away from our appartment) this morning, if you want, we’ll go there late this afternoon when the sun is almost down.”  Then he replied casually, “OK!”  

After I spent hours post-lunch time on marking mini-test papers of my students which I brought home and other stuffs to while away time, I almost forgot my agreement with my son. At few minutes past 3PM, Gabby reminded by requesting me, “Daddy, punta tayo sa playground!” (“Daddy, let’s go to the playground!”). I told him, “Anak, mamaya, mainit pa!” (“Son, it’s still hot; we’ll go there later!”). 

If you must know, our present appartment here in Butterworth, Penang also has its own playground however, Gabby’s interested to explore Taman Riang for he sees and passes by it daily with his service-van-driver, Aunty (the usuall petname of Malaysian older women, as Ate or Manang to Filipinos) who picks him up to and brought him back from school every morning and afternoon.  Finally, I assured him, “Gabby, we’ll go to the playground around 5PM.”

As Tina chose to stay home to prepare and cook food and continue her devotion to watching “The Vampire Diaries,” Gabby and I geared up and got ready to go. Then the unexpected happened. It started to drizzle. And not for long, it rained hard. So I told my son that we can postpone again the stroll to that place.  But I felt he really wanted to go, hence we both waited for the rain to stop.

Apparently, what we saw, what we did and how he and I enjoyed the moment were all documented of course, on those photos.

Quality time for family however long or short is absolutely important. I am blessed that I have my family here with me. ;)

03
Apr
12

DAYBREAK AT PENANG HILL

Years ago, my only concept of Penang Hill was one of those restaurants that my family and our good old friends sampled at the 5th level of Shangri La Plaza Mall back home. I was completely clueless of Penang back then, more so about the entire Malaysia. I never thought I could bring myself and my family on top of the real Penang Hill one day. It wasn’t really a big deal climbing the Penang Hill via its 73 Million Ringgit newly renovated funicular train however, that Saturday morning when we went up there was one of our best in Penang! We were overwhelmed.

Penang Hill at 6:45AM, Saturday, 31 March 2012.

The longest bridge in Malaysia at 13.5km, Penang Bridge connects Pulau Pinang or Penang Island with the Seberang Perai or Penang main land; it's more stunning at 833 meters above sea level!

Can you spot Komtar, the tallest and cylindrical building in George Town, Penang? With its 232 meter-height, this 65-storey tower remains to be iconic in the island.

A little while later…

Cloudy, according to the online weather forecast that day and it was accurate. At least, it didn't rain. God was great!

still hazy and cloudy at a few minutes past 7AM.

The memories of our little family trips to Antipolo, Tagaytay and Baguio Cities in the Philippines during my wonder years resurfaced as I was  stunned at the breathtaking view 833 meters above sea level.  Penang Hill has an absolutely cooler climate than its lowlands in this tropical Malaysian State. With its 16 to 21 degree Celsius weather, it’s enough for any tourists, locals and expats to be enticed to go up once in a while.

I arrived in Penang, Malaysia some 20 months ago and have been working as a medical lecturer since then. I immediately learned that Penang Hill was closed for much needed renovation of its system and track and replacement of its 87-year-old coaches. The wait for it to be fully operational again took almost a year but Tina, Gabby and I didn’t try to experience the ride and the hill itself last April 2011. Tina felt and still believed that 30 ringgit per pax round trip fare on the train up to Penang Hill wasn’t cheap (current rates for Non-Malaysians and Malaysian tourists are noted at the end of this post). I constantly tell her, family bonding is always memorable and priceless.

“Gelo, Huwag kayong aalis ng Penang nang hindi nagpupunta sa Penang Hill, ang ganda!” (“Gelo, Don’t leave Penang unless you have gone to Penang Hill, it’s beautiful!”) …These were the words directly told to me by one of the colleagues who already resigned from our work last year and went back home to the Philippines with his entire family.  He was definitely right. Penang Hill is really something. It’s one of the must-visit sites when traveling to Penang, Malaysia.

The game plan: I initially thought of reserving an overnight accomodation in a 3-bed-family-room at Bellevue Hotel (which has a rate of RM242 nett or USD 79.45 inclusive of breakfast), the hotel located exactly in Bukit Bendera or Penang Hill boasts of its simple aviary and garden, that offers great views of breathtaking sunset and sunrise. The suggestion was vetoed by my ever loving and practical wife. I easily accepted, supported and succumbed to her decision, despite the fact that I already communicated with the hotel staff via emails, because I felt her excitement and her want to experience Penang Hill too with our family. That was enough for me. :)

The second best option I had in mind which I brought up to Tina and my mom was to go up to Penang Hill on the first trip of funicular train at exactly 6:30 in the morning, so we could reach the summit at still dusk and witness the daybreak after. I was silently jumping for joy when they both agreed to prepare, wake up and be at the ticketing area prior to the first trip!

I laid her all the possibilities and means on how we could get there at few minutes before 6:30AM. We all thought taking a pre-arranged cab from our place in Butterworth, Penang at 5:30AM and head directly to Bukit Bendera was the finest choice over taking the bus-ferry-bus-route. And we’re grateful that we’re not wrong.

Our roundtrip tickets to Penang Hill, punched with holes just before our descent at lunch time, Saturday, 31March2012.

We left our place in Butterworth before 5:30AM and arrived in Bukit Bendera when the gates were still closed. We waited for several minutes until it officially opened at around 6:15AM. Have I told you that punctuality freely flows in our bloodstream? haha! :D

After purchasing our round trip tickets for the 6:30AM first funicular trip for the day, we finally saw that blue-air conditioned Swiss made coach! She was so gorgeous!

And the fingers in two hands are more than the volume of passengers on that trip, there were only 2 passengers and 2 train staff plus the four of us. We occupied the first cabin next to the train captain to get the greatest view of the ascent, I think it’s a must if one gets a chance (The train can be filled with 80 passengers when some would ride it standing). The smooth inclined ride via the 2,220 meter track length was definitely exciting!

There’s no way but to go up! ;)

After more or less 5 minutes (there were no stops during our ride that morning), we arrived at the summit.

The passage through the white tunnel is a sign that passengers need to alight few seconds after.

It was still darkness when we arrived in Penang Hill.  We strolled and I tried to find a best spot to capture the stillness of the dawn. My mom first saw a concrete stairs guarded by an opened wooden gate; we didn’t read its signage that it’s the David Brown’s English Restaurant and Tea House at the Strawberry Hill (yes, the signage reads Strawberry Hill!).  No one was there yet, so we went in. Tina and Gabby followed.

My wife began taking photos and videos using her ipod and mobile phone. I further went up the concrete stairs until I reached the restaurant and garden proper of David Brown’s.

I didn’t expect we would experience how colorful Penang Hill is.

These are the viewing telescopes located in front of the huge signage of Bukit Bendera at the foot of David Brown’s Restaurant.

Take a closer peek at George Town for 1 ringgit (USD 0.32 or PhP 14).

The flora and foliage of Penang Hill that we found in David Brown’s English Garden and Restaurant

At this point, I wished I have a lens and skills for macro photography.

If you must know, the  five petaled brilliant red Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis or to us Filipinos, gumamela, is the National flower of Malaysia.

This is David Brown’s Restaurant and English Garden at Penang Hill. I just wished we were not tresspassing as there were no people when we went here. We didn’t touch anything but only took photos however, tons of it. :)

L = LOVE!

My beautiful mom at almost 60! ...Strike a pose, mother! hehe! :)

Gabby : “Daddy, piktyuran mo ako!” (“Daddy, take my pictures!”)

Me : “OK!”

Then the kid ran a few meters away from us then ran forward and took a jump on air.  He attempted for a “jump shot” several times and his mom and his grandmother and I we’re all giggling because Gabby’s too chubby to float higher on air. :P

levitation? haha! :)

It was almost 8:30AM and the sun was already up so we left that part of Penang Hill and went on to explore the others. We needed to take a bladder break and we’re glad to see a few steps down the David Brown’s Restaurant a simple tandas or toilet that’s well kept and clean with tissues and liquid soap.

After another stroll, we found a swing.

The swing is located at the facade of the newly opened, The Owl Museum at Penang Hill. It’s an owl-swing actually! hehe! :)

Lola Tessie and Gabby bonding!

Before we headed to to the museum, we needed to chow down first. Good thing that the newly built museum has multi-leveled eateries, drink, desserts and souvenir stations where one gets to fill his/her tummy with the best view in Penang.

fresh air, spacious clean dining areas, fantastic ambience, great tasting and affordable Malaysian foods, drinks and desserts, what more can you ask for?

To me, one has never been to Malaysia when he/she has not yet tasted the country’s National dish or staple food…

Tina and I once again, sampled NASI LEMAK for our breakfast in Penang Hill! Sarap! We liked the dilis so much that it made us crave for more (so the following day, I went to market to buy more dilis!) Good thing was, the sambal (spicy red sauce) wasn't mixed with the dish so we somehow tapered to taste. :)

One of the best tasting Fried Rice we've tasted! The smokey flavor makes it so delicious!

After our simple breakfast, we trooped down the stairs and went to the very first museum in Southeast Asia that pays tribute to and promotes awareness about that nocturnal bird, THE OWL MUSEUM in PENANG HILL. To our surprise, we were greeted by two staff at its entrace who informed us with a smile, that the fees were waived for the reason that they just opened few days back. How lucky can we get? Indeed, best things in life are free! :D

What to see in The Owl Museum? Over a thousand Owl-inspired arts and crafts as masterpieces of creative artists from different parts of the globe.

I liked this paper-cut-out-chandelier; it made me think if it’s owl-inspired too. Perhaps, patterned after the eyes of the owl? Is it? It must be.

The museum is made of a thousand and counting collection of owl in various materials-metals, wood, paper, plastic, porcelain, semi-precious stones and a lot more that came from different countries, however, Tina found out from one of the staff that they’ve yet to acquire something made from the Philippines. There are also paintings and other art works that are owl-inspired. Here are some of those that caught my eyes…

For coffee lovers like Tina and me…

I like this for obvious reasons…

 

I perceived this owl-metallic art as a knight in shining feather, hehe! :P

I saw this at the souvenir shop. I was almost tempted to buy as it winked at me, haha! but I held on to my very thin budget and it was a success! I just captured him on photo (what a better and more practical option!).

Even the tiniest of the stuffs are oh-so-charming…

Their colors are vivid and bright, the details are eye-candy!

United Colors of Benetton, Owl edition? ;)

One display window has these owls from London, England with title, “Nature’s Gift”. These figurines are made of feathers, straws, twigs, bark and seeds.

Pardon my shadow, these were “flown” from Paris, France…

 

Owls made of metallic materials and crystals are very interesting too…

Even the flower pot is owl-inspired. This museum is really “owl-some!”

Owl-kites…

Ladies would be delighted with these owl-themed accessories. I asked Tina to mimic how fashion-celebrity-bloggers whom we’ve met in our HKDL trip recently do it on their sites, hehe!

Modelo na ang asawa ko ng mga kwago! *She'll kill me for this!* :P

More Owl-accessories…

I could have bought a few if these were fridge magnets but they are rings for the girls who are edgy.

Now, children, meet The Royal Owl

 

I swear, it’s really called The Royal Owl! :) It does look regal!

There’s this corner so called The Artist’s Station where one can sit for photo-op like what Gabby did…

He's working on his materpiece to be on display soon in The Owl Museum in Penang Hill, hehe! :)

But this one’s for real : When Gabby saw a chalk and board (he even asked his grandmother to request for an extra chalk from the staff), his world stopped for several minutes as nothing else mattered but finishing his own masterpiece! :)

Et voila…

Will he become a chef, a hotelier, a restaurateur or an artist? Que sera, sera! :P

Then our seemingly like  never-ending photo-ops continued! We’re picture-addicts apparently! :D

We had fun inside The Owl Museum. Moving on, we walked our way to the other attractions in Penang Hill.

OK, now, kids, say “Taman Kanak-Kanak!”

Taman Kanak-Kanak

Taman Kanak-kanak in Bahasa Melayu (Malaysian language) simply means Children’s Playground (apparently on the photo, right? hehe!). Most communities in Penang (I don’t know in other Malaysian states) have this colorful playground even at 833 meters above sea level! Penang Hill even have its own POS or Postal Office at the hill itself. Impressive, isn’t it?

What’s even more amazing is the presence of PEACE among the diversities here. Imagine this : Masjid Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill Mosque) lies a stone throw away from the Murugan Temple (Hindu Temple); they’re almost located side-by-side and the only structure in between these two different religious shrines is this Taman Kanak-kanak. There’s no obvious tension, neither conflicts between them.

One of the Deity-altars outside the Murugan Temple in Penang Hill.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was one of the 87-year-old coaches that used to run up the hills of Bukit Bendera..

I already rode such wooden tram in San Francisco ages ago but it's not inclined as Penang's. Now with the very STEEP train track in Bukit Bendera / Penang Hill, I would think a thousand times first before hopping in if the funicular train remained the same as this in photo and wasn't renovated. Thank God for technology and innovation!

And then the time came for us to bid goodbye to Penang Hill. It was a memorable weekend morning!

Another funicular train just arrived in Penang Hill. It's the same train we rode downhill.

Tina recorded a video of our descent using her Samsung mobile…CLICK THIS!

Time when we hopped off the funicular. Bye, bye Penang Hill! Till our next visit!

I believe the best time to go up to this tourist spot is either daybreak like what we did or a few hours just before sunset. It becomes too crowded on a weekend, particularly hours past 8AM. Whether Penang Hill is a great tourist spot in this side of Malaysia or not, I know perception of beauty is so subjective but in my humble opinion, anything that’s breakthtaking is beautiful!

After that morning in Penang Hill, I think my family and I look at Penang in more different light. And I have to take back my statement mentioned earlier, it is a big deal to go to Penang Hill. It’s a must-visit place when you’re in this side of Malaysia! :D

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Directions to get to Penang Hill -One can take his car directly to Bukit Bendera or preferrably take a 45-minute bus ride from George Town, Penang via Rapid Penang Bus # 204 and hop off the gates of Penang Hill funicular station or take a taxi cab from any areas in George Town which will be more costly of course.  One may also take a 3-hour trek from the foot of the hill at Penang Botanical Garden or drive/ride a 4×4.

Round trip funicular fare for Non-Malaysian tourists : 30 ringgit or RM30 (USD 9.78 or PhP 421) and RM15 for children aged seven to 12. For Malaysians, the fare for a round trip ticket is RM8 per adult and RM4 per child aged between three and 12. Senior citizens and students will enjoy cheaper fares at RM4 per person.  Train Schedule : 6:30AM to 9PM daily unless notified.

The Owl Museum, Open Daily 9AM-6PM. Admission Rates : RM10 per entry, RM 5 for Senior Citizen, FREE Entry for Children below 12 years old (as mentioned, we had no entrance fees because according to the staff at its gate, they just opened few days prior to our visit). 

16
Mar
12

IN TUNG CHUNG

Parang Nasa MRT / LRT lang sa Pinas (less the stampede and the bomb threats! *no pun intended*)

Closed. Sarado. Tutup.

Siklistas are mall rats, train riders and bargain hunters too!

To the Left. To the Left

Finally, we reached the CityGate Outlets located at the terminal end of Tung Chung Station via what else but Hong Kong’s very efficient MTR lines (Mass Transit Railway). Although it’s just a ride away from Sunny Bay Station where we hopped off from that awesome Disneyland Resort Train Line, you know what a new place can do for some first-timers-unseasoned-travelers like us. Luckily, our feet didn’t get lost.

CityGate Outlets is one those must-visit spots in Hong Kong particularly when you only have limited time to kill or you’re on a hunt for some branded merchandise on a super bargain price (read : 50 – 70% off, which to us wasn’t a surprise because in malls in Penang, discounts also go as low as those during sale season).  As for us, our game plan for this short trip to CityGate was simply to see the place and while away time as we wait for our 5:45PM flight back to Malaysia. Oh, and to fill our tummies too!

KIDDIE TEMPTATIONS  AHEAD!

Amongst the many branded stores of rubber shoes, bags, clothes offering huge sale, nothing seemed so enticing (to someone whose wallet was well guarded because the budget is uber limited!) to us than this kiosk…

LEGO. Eye Candy to Gabby and Me. And you? Do you dig Lego too?

Gabby's eyes popped upon the sight of this kiosk filled with Lego goodies. While he was asking Tina and I to buy him at least a piece (read : he still has a new large box of Lego which he got as a gift from my father in law last holiday and he just received an exactly similar Lego-Light Buzzyear watch from one of our fellows in our HKDL trip) I held on to my wallet tight and kept my will power. Success! haha! And although those keychains are cute, I passed the chance of buying for I am not much into keychains.

The Star Wars Lego gift that Gabby got from his maternal Lolo last Christmas was as big as this. He has yet to explore and build it soon!

If you must know, I frequently rise up early and always beat my alarm clock- even weekends and holidays, mind you. I believe I don't need a large one as that in my old mobile still does the job perfectly. But these Lego-movie-themed alarm clocks were such an enormous temptations that greater will power to held on to the budget was a must! :) I know I only wanted them but don't need actually (why do we buy things often times we don't need anyway?) . But then again, they're so cute, aren't they? haha! :)

FOOD REPUBLIC,

CITYGATE OUTLETS,

 TUNG CHUNG, LANTAU ISLAND, HONG KONG.

Yes, Food Republic is the CityGate Outlets’ food court!  And I apologize for thinking that we might smell like the food they offer after eating inside; I was so wrong!  It must be a great food place for it’s almost packed when we arrived.

Thou shall not judge people by their hairstyles. There are 5 types in this shot, can you count them all? *snickers*

hip and edgy... i like the hoody more than the hair

It's a must when in Hong Kong

Ate, ano ginagawa nyo sa dim sum?

Bibili na sana ako Kuya, pero parang galit ka. Why?

HCR = Hainanese Chicken Rice is happiness. But we passed up because hawkers offer this in Penang anyway or perhaps, we're craving for something else.

Korea House : Tina's choice

Milo or Ovaltine? Guess.

Tina's Korean Lunch : A Bowl of Beef & Veggies. It was OK according to her.

I almost ordered a Korean Bento Box from that Korea House where Tina bought her lunch set but I decided to hop from one food stall to another and tried  to feel what my gastric mucosa’s craving was.

Food Republic’s made of various Asian cuisines -Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and my palate opted for a Japanese fastfood favorite!

Impeccable Teamwork : While a lady-crew tends the cashier, these two create our very own favorite that was sorely missed (read: it has been more than 2 years!) Japanese fastfood sizzling yummies in a few sec. However, because queues and orders pile up, customers and hungry diners like Gabby and I need to wait despite the two's perfectly coordinated moves in the kitchen.

They're making Gabby's lunch!

I know.

When in Hong Kong, one should savor Chinese dishes –dim sum, noodles, and anything cooked Cantonese or Sichuan.

But it has been years since we last enjoyed cooking our own food in a sizzling plate with lotsa butter and pepper on the rice meal.

We love Pepper Lunch! We miss their Shangri La Plaza and Powerplant Mall branches back home (We have not tried Greenbelt branch yet). We even won in one of PL’s promo contests years ago (CLICK THIS!). I know now that PL has a branch in Malaysia, but it’s in Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur! That’s 5 hour-away via bus ride from Penang. So when opportunity presented itself, Gabby and I didn’t think twice, we had PL Rice for our last lunch in Hong Kong!

Gabby's Pepper Lunch favorite : Beef Pepper Rice (I can still hear my boy saying, "Daddy ang sarap! Favorite ko ito!")

My Pepper Lunch Meal : Cut Steak and Hamburger Combo. With butter beneath and over the meat, plus that favorite HONEY BROWN SAUCE, a cup of Japanese rice seemed not enough! ANG SARAP!!! Miss na miss!

 We loved those moments in Tung Chung!

Before 3PM, we went back to Disney's Hollywood Hotel, collected our luggage and bags and rode a cab to the HKIA. Bye bye, Tung Chung! Bye bye Hong Kong. Thanks for the memories! They're one of our coolest! See you again in the near future! ;)

*PS : LEGOLAND MALAYSIA in Johor Bahru (near Singapore) opens end of 2012 (view HERE!)

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!

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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 :

 

27
Feb
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : SPECTACULAR BURST OF COLORS

He's the major reason to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade at Hong Kong Disneyland!

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND IS  UPON US!

You may think I have lost my sanity but granting that I am still single and hypothetically speaking, one could marry a theme park, without a doubt, I would definitely wed and give my forever commitment to Hong Kong Disnyeland, bar none! haha! :P  I could not see any reason why anyone would not dare LOVE Hong Kong Disneyland; everything a kid and kids-at-hearts could ask for is present there–day and night! It’ll be a never ending happiness! Life would be more colorful and whimsical!  But then again, I LOVE TINA and GABBY SO MUCH and TOGETHER, WE ALL LOVE HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

Out of the 5 Disneyland Park locations around the globe, I am grateful to have experienced 3 of them already–Hong Kong, California & Tokyo (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) making only that in Florida and Paris still on my bucket list.

Every Disneyland Park has uniquely beautiful charm but that in Hong Kong remains close to our hearts.  Reasons are beyond words, let our photos on this blog entry convince you why.  So are you ready for some 80+ photos to view and some raves to read?

Don’t ever think I am overwhelming you…

I believe there’s NOTHING TOO MUCH in HONG KONG DISNEYLAND’S MAGICAL EXTRAVAGANCE!

Ready?  Here we go!

After our memorable long trip from our present place in Butterworth, Penang to Kuala Lumpur to our arrival in Hong Kong Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and our fantastic Dim Sum Lunch at Crystal Lotus Restaurant in Disneyland Hotel, we excitingly trooped to Disneyland Park via the resort’s shuttle bus.

Tina and Gabby at the entrance of the park. Happy much! :D

Because we already have our 2-day theme park tickets (and fast passes to 3 rides), passing through the turnstiles at the gate was fuss-free.

Gabby to me : “Daddy, jump shot! :D

And because he’s on the healthy-chubby side, Gabby wasn’t able to jump high, but nevertheless his smiling eyes said it all! hehe! :D

After a brief photo-op at the entrance of the park, our group was led to the Main Street, U.S.A., the first of the five lands inside the park where Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad, Animation Academy and the City Hall are located and where Main Street vehicles are parked. Food places like the Market House Bakery, Main Street Market and the restaurants, Corner Cafe (that offers premium American menu; it’s where we had our dinner on our first night which I will post soon!), and Plaza Inn (that provides Cantonese cuisine hosted by Maxim’s) plus a number of novelty and souvenir shops are housed.

Walking through Main Street, U.S.A. again instantly brought back blissful memories! It was surreal!!! I smiled when I remember my first visit to that same park when my parents brought me and my siblings there. :) I also recalled our trip about 5 years ago when I got a chance to bring my own family–Tina and Gabby to the Happiest Place on Earth. “Time flies so fast,” I silently uttered. Then I looked at my wrist watch and it’s almost few minutes before 3:30PM, the FLIGHTS OF FANTASY PARADE is about to start! 

MAIN STREET, U.S.A.

With a very fine and cool weather (Thank God, we didn’t have a downpour!), the welcoming atmosphere was very apt for fantastic parade-watching!  People of all ages already found their own areas to watch the parade at one end of Main Steet, U.S.A. just in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Everyone was organized and was patiently waiting for the floats of our favorite Disney characters to pass by.

While everyone was anticipating the magical parade to begin, we were ushered to our reserved exclusive viewing area for the Flights of Fantasy Parade…

Notice the rope and pole that secured our reserved exclusive viewing spot?  We absolutely felt more than VIPs with such treatment! You too can enjoy the experience of DISNEY’S PRESTIGE TOUR that includes :

  • Direct Entrance to All Attractions (including RC Racer, Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and Slinky Dog Spin at the park’s newest attraction, Toy Story Land which I will post soon!)
  • Reserved Seating for Theater Shows
  • Exclusive “Toy Story Land” Themed Pin Box Set
  • Exclusive Viewing Area for Flights of Fantasy Parade
  • All for 3 consecutive hours for up to 6 guests (HK$3,888)

or you may opt to avail of DISNEY’S SUPREME TOUR that includes :

  • Direct Entrance to All Attractions (in Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland only),
  • Reserved Seating for Theater Shows
  • Exclusive Viewing Area for Flights of Fantasy Parade
  • All for 3 consecutive hours for up to 6 guests (HK$ 3,200)

It’s a wonderful experience to meet the warm and friendly, Disneyland’s Tour Hosts!

Our group’s exclusive Disneyland’s Tour Hosts were Janice (far left on the photo) and Danny (the only guy on the photo).

THANK YOU SO MUCH, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! :D

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Hong Kong Disneyland, 17 February 2012

*Because Tina, Gabby and I were so amazed with the Flights of Fantasy Parade, we watched it twice on 2 consecutive days in 2 different spots. Thus, some photos here were taken on Friday, February 17, 2012 at the VIP area at the MAIN STREET, U.S.A., and some were snapped the following day just in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

FLIGHTS  OF  FANTASY  PARADE

Expectators know that the parade’s about to start when the Grand Marshall’s car rolls on the street…

Dumbo and Timothy Mouse in “Dreams Take Flight”

Who would be more fitting to open the Flights of Fantasy Parade but the cute elephant with ears that make him fly, Dumbo!

Dumbo’s even cuter when he flips his ears and blinks his eyes!

Then came the Disneyland Marching Band, oops, let me rephrase that –the Disneyland Marching and Dancing Band! :D

They surely have the tunes, the moves and the smiles!

A quick glance at Wiki : “The Flights of Fantasy Parade premiered on January 18, 2011 as part of the Celebration in the Air, celebrating the 5th anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland. The parade celebrates the dreams of Disney characters and includes Disney characters such as Mickey, and friends, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Baloo & King Louie, Tantor, Simba, Tinkerbell, Stitch and Woody and Buzz Lightyear. The parade includes seven floats which include Mickey’s Magical Airship, Caught Up in Daydreams, Romance Takes Wing, Jumpin’ Jungle Jam, The Magic of Pixie Dust, Hangin’ Ten and Ridin’ High, and To infinity and Beyond. This parade replaced the former Disney Parade which had been running since the park opened in 2005.”

Don’t you just love those wind instruments?

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A.  Wonderful feeling,  Wonderful day!”

…Alright, I’m still having a hangover of the parade! :D

The colorful flags and ribbons thrown and swirled into the air by dancers in virbant costumes were followed by the float of Mickey Mouse and his friends!

Mickey’s Magical Airship

Mickey’s giant airship called, Flights of Friendship has his friends on board –Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Chip n’ Dale.

Chasing rainbows with Minnie Mouse!

Witness Mickey Mouse dance on  air! Click photo to enlarge.

Seeing Mickey Mouse up close never fails to bring out the child in us!

Mickey Mouse is an epitome of every child’s fantasy!

You're the mouse, Mickey! You're the mouse! ;-)

We so love his float!

Chip or Dale?!

Let’s salute Donald and Goofy! :)

If you must know, Flights of Fantasy Parade is exclusive to Hong Kong Disneyland. And one thing unique with it is its being interactive. I didn’t see that awesome parade-perfomer-audience interaction in parades in Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea when I went there in 2010 nor in Anaheim, California back in 2000; perhaps things have changed now for the better.  In Hong Kong Disneyland, dancers, performers and cast members encourage the kids to participate in the fun of the parade!  Even some from our group joined the limbo rock!  It’s just that our very own Gabby was so shy to actively involved himself in the street fun! Perhaps on our next visit. :D

The float of Mickey’s Magical Airship was followed by the float inspired by The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh.

Caught Up In Daydreams

Eeyore and Tigger were ever present with their friend, Winnie.

An eye-candy for me were those prostheses used by Tigger-dancers for jumping and hopping!

Those cast members must love their job of hopping and jumping with those cool-leg prostheses! I want a pair, haha! :P

There are specified areas in the park where a certain unit or float would take its full stop to fully entertain the audience.

And in Winnie the Pooh’s Caught Up In Daydream colorful float, four bungee-jumping performers rise and somersault in the air and do their tricks!

She may not be one of the Disney’s Princesses but she’s definitely Winnie the Pooh’s hunny! :D

Romance  Takes  Wing


After that playful Winnie the Pooh float, comes the Disney Princess unit called, Romance Takes Wing.

Regal, elegant and lovely. These words seems an understatement to describe the cast members dancing in the street, ushering the Disney Princess float.

A crowned swan airboat nestled on a bed of roses takes the Disney Princesses : Cinderella, Snow White, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast), and Princess Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty).

The sweet smiles and fine movements of these Disney Princesses makes the afternoon even more enchanting!  They smile and wave and move perfectly like those in the cartoons.  I wonder what happens if anyone of them needs to sneeze. *just kidding!* :D

Jumpin’  Jungle  Jam

Vivid and bright Safari-inspired costumes of cast members with their impressive moves can immediately put anyone into that “Lion King” mood! :D

Precision in dancing coupled with widest smiles must be pure talent!

Baloo & King Louie from Disney’s The Jungle Book, Rafiki and Timon and of course, Simba -all from The Lion King and Tantor from Tarzan bring life into the Jumpin’ Jungle Jam float!

Hail to the Lion King!

After that African-designed float comes various fairies and Tinker Bell!

The  Magic  of  Pixie  Dust

It’s Tink! :D

Tinker Bell is on board a cotton float, ushered by four fairies driving bug cars and two flower girls following the unit.

I love that feather-dart detail at the back of Tink’s The Magic of Pixie Dust float!

I like this photo; looks like Stitch is chasing Tink!

Even the Hawaiian themed animated characters, Lilo and Stitch participates in Flights of Fantasy Parade with their windsurfing float!

Hangin’  Ten and Ridin’  High

Hangin’ Ten and Ridin’ High  proudly features Stitch windsurfing in the air and beneath his image are two daredevil acrobats that swing a rattan-looking airboat up in the air!  Amazing!

It’s fun to watch them rock that airboat! While leading the Haiwaian street dancers are no less than Lilo and Stitch!

Beautiful Oriental lady-dancers dressed in pink grass skirts smile and say, Aloha! :D

I like to have those sneakers in various hues, one for each day of the week. But then again, without Hawaiian shirts and shorts and a beach or a parade like this, one may appear histrionic! hehe! :D

While my mom was viewing these photos at home, she became so particular with the picture below, so she called and asked me, “Is this boy, Gabby?”  

Our articulate son, told his grandma, “Lola, I’m not that boy; look at his shoes, I’m not wearing those shoes and jacket in Disneyland.”

And then, there’s the handsome cowboy, Woody…

To Infinity And Beyond

Admittedly, Toy Story is a personal favorite! Tina and Gabby love it too! If I could have a collection of huge toys, it would have to be Buzz and Woody!

The newest attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland is Toy Story Land which will be included in my next post. It is expected to see Woody and Jessie and Buzz Lightyear leading the float representing Toy Story Land and their memorable fun and touching movies, of course.

Hi there, Buzz! ....To Infinity And Beyond!!!

Green Paratroopers, Rex and Hamm adorn the eye-catching float of Toy Story!

Wonderful parade, isn’t it?

Flights of Fantasy Parade is more than enough reason for people to visit Hong Kong Disneyland. It’s such a visual feast; a burst of colors that everyone will surely enjoy!

You may have viewed the photos of the parade on this humble site but being there and experiencing the parade itself as it happens before your eyes is totally a different overwhelming experience! Indeed, fantasy comes alive in the Flights of Fantasy Parade! Whenever you find time to go to Hong Kong Disneyland, the parade is always a spectacular you should not missed!

Stay tuned on this blog for more fascinating features about Hong Kong Disneyland! The magic continues soon! *wink*

DocGelo, Tina and Gabby are extremely grateful to Hong Kong Disneyland! Thank You So Much! Until our next visit! :D

         Watch out for more posts about Hong Kong Disneyland! –there’ll be more of Family bonding.Food.Fun soon!

———————————

About Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort offers immersive, unique Disney experiences for all families, generations and ages to enjoy. Hong Kong is one of only five locations in the world that is home to a Disney themed park and the many Disney characters that are beloved the world over, such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Stitch and Buzz Lightyear. Since the Grand Opening in September 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has received more than 31 million Guests from around the globe. Through the unique product offering and the world-class service provided by the 5,000 strong Cast at the theme park and the two hotels, the Resort has received outstanding Guest satisfaction ratings and a range of awards from the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

If you want to know more about Hong Kong Disneyland and want to enjoy a unique magical experience, click on to http://www.hongkongdisneyland.com for more information.

For the latest news and photos from Hong Kong Disneyland, please visit our media website at: www.hongkongdisneyland.com/news.

 

This Blog Series Includes :

31
Jan
12

FROM CENTRAL MARKET WITH LOVE

I believe that a good way to know a place is to visit its market.  That is why whenever we find chance on our few trips, we often try to drop by to some of community’s economic center.

I remember how I admired one of the most photographed public markets in Malaysia…

About 4 and a half hours from Penang, the SITI KHADIJAH MARKET, or central public market is located at the Northeast coast town of Kota Bharu, in the state of Kelantan, Malaysia. Tina, Gabby and I visited Kelantan last May 2011.

There’s really something so special about local markets. They usually define a place either rural or urban. While Siti Khadijah Market in Kelantan offers a wide variety of fresh produce and dry goods, the Pasar Seni in Malaysia’s capital city-Kuala Lumpur, boasts of anything from creative handicrafts, fascinating arts, even live cultural performances at almost every night plus a piece of country’s history.

The art-deco- Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur, taken Chinese New Year 2012

Our short trip to Central Market in KL provided a different kind of visual feast. The challenge was to hold on to our wallets prior to impulsive purchase.

Central Market is a walking distance from Petaling Street, the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. It’s easily accessible by bus, train or by foot.

The right lateral to Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market is called Katsuri Walk, the latest outdoor addition to the more than-century-old Pasar Seni. Many souvenir items, street foods, arts and crafts and local snacks, even ice cream are being sold and showcased for haggling at the Katsuri Walk. Care for some scoops of ice cream in DURIAN flavor? :D  We didn’t dare but we already sampled durian ice cream sometime last year in a buffet restaurant in Penang. If you love durian, you’ll certainly like durian ice cream too.

Lanzones, longgan, rambutan, kyat-kyat (I'm sorry I don't know their Malaysian names)... Sige, Mamy, tawad pa sa lanzones! She bought a kilo of sweetness. ;-)

We personally liked Central Market better than Katsuri Walk simply because the former is airconditioned. It certainly makes window shopping and shopping itself less tiring in this tropical country (the weather mimics that of Philippines EXCEPT Malaysia doesn’t have any typhoons, neither any weather disturbances; its location is unlike my home country in the typhoon belt).

Fully airconditioned stalls inside Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.

There must be tales from every carving and color.

Most Malaysians don’t know that we, Filipinos came from Malay race. That is why many of them are a bit surprised whenever we fill out forms and write Malay as our race. Malaysians and Filipinos share some similarities clearly apparent even with local handicrafts. Notice the sepak-takraw or woven sipa, colorful banig or sleeping mats and rattan crafts on the next photo.

Better to haggle than come home with an empty wallet. Bear in mind that this Central Market is one of Kuala Lumpur’s tourist spots; having said so, prices of items can be affordable and at the same time soar up to the high heavens.

More than the usual souvenir items like key chains, T-shirts and fridge magnets, a lot of interesting crafts are on stalls inside Pasar Seni. Even our kiddo, Gabby enjoyed the sights; he was even looking for a toy to take home.

Stalls are enticing; hold on to your wallets firmly, hahaha! :-)

We were just strolling around, looking at commodities until my haggling power was tested at one of the stalls.

Irresistible for me.

I owe it to Gabby and Tina who found the stall with CONGKAK or SUNGKA to us Filipinos…

This LOVEly portable and light-weight-wooden-rabbit shaped-dark blue-batik-painted Malaysian congkak (pronounced as chongkak) was first priced at RM99 (PhP 1,386) which was way too much for my budget. Finally, the lady vendor agreed to my last price (a little more than the half of the original price).  There were a few more designs but I just fell in love with this blue one. Isn’t it gorgeous? Gabby and Tina also gave me their approval. Nice!

It came with free tiny glass marbles but I certainly preferred sigay or small seashells -the way we played it with my brothers, cousins and Lola during our wonder years. We have roamed most markets and craft stores in KL and Penang the past weekend but no sigay in sight. Perhaps those stalls near the seaside of Batu Ferringhi have it. But no worries, for as long as we have another family bonding to savor.

Back in Renaissance Hotel in Kota Bharu, Kelantan last May 2011, Tina and I were left in awe at a  vividly colorful double-headed dragon-designed congkak at the concierge of the said hotel. It was put on display with no seashells neither marbles but mentos candies for all the guests checking in. I asked immediately the receptionist where they got that beautiful congkak, and to our disappointment, it wasn’t a craft bought from their town but bought from Indonesia.

Almost a year after, we got no dragon-designed sungkaan, but a better one, at least for me. It reminds me so much of our late maternal grandmother, Lola Idang, who taught us how to play and enjoy the game.

While our kiddo at his young age flickers his fingers in playing various apps, I’m so glad he also finds time to play sungkaan with me.  Guess who’s always winning and who’s asking a rematch frequently? LOL! :D

This Kuala Lumpur blog series includes :

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.

 

 

09
Dec
11

HONG KONG

How would you react if and when your weekend morning’s greeted by this message?

yee-haa! :)

I am a strong believer of the cliche that “best things in life are free!”  And you?

That message simply made my Friday morning. I immediately emailed the sender and noticed her email address and company’s name are both from Malaysia. I got an “out-of-office-automated-reply” but few seconds after that, I received an actual email-response from Ms. Jaclyn. What even delighted me was the fact that she mentioned that the blogger’s wife and 2 kids (I only have Gabby now) will be sponsored too. Ang husay! :) Tara, let’s go! :)

If you must know, I have been with famous Filipino bloggers and media people, the lovely couple of hanna and vince whose names were mentioned on the email-invite when we went to (my lone sponsored trip) that Grecian-inspired, lavishly beautiful beach resort in Northern Luzon last year; it was days before I went to Penang (peek at my blog post about Thunderbird Resorts,HERE! ). And after reaching home, I sent a PM to hanna and she confirmed that Ms. Jaclyn is actually her friend and the invite is legit. Now, I am really EXCITED! I hope it pushes through because it’ll be a great treat for GABBY! It’s been 4 years since the 3 of us went to HK Disneyland.

Talking about Hong Kong, I remember we enjoyed an early dinner in a Hong Kong-themed restaurant here in the island of Penang months ago.

With casual but stylish ambiance, CANTON-i in Queensbay Mall is simply charming.

bird cages used as lights adorn the ceiling of Canton-i.

When Chinese, it must be RED! I like the red-painted walls and ceiling infused with those white gorgeous floral and butterfly and dragonfly panels. It definitely draws attraction and makes diners more eager to eat! That auspicious color seems to be so enigmatic! :)

Appetizer was nutty.

Canton-i has a sister-company, another Shanghainese food place with branch on the same mall called Dragon-i (view our dining experience at Dragon-i HERE!)

My bowl : the photo can't give justice to how good it was.

While Tina shared a wanton-soupy noodle bowl with Gabby…

And apparently, we’re keeping a love affair with dimsum…

One of our favorites : Hakao or shrimp dumplings.

Siomai-mommy! :)

fish roe-delight on shrimp-pork siomai

Let’s see next year if we’ll take our love for dimsum back to HK….*crossed fingers*

family over Chinese food = simply awesome!

28
Nov
11

THE WEEKEND THAT WAS

On my IELTS -Speaking Test   last 5th November in George Town, Penang, one of the topics that we randomly talked about was ‘weekends.’  The stunningly beautiful British lady-assessor asked me, “How do you spend your weekends?”  ….”What are your plans on the coming weekend?”
Nothing has changed. My answers remain the same.

Part of the Christmas decorations of Prangin Mall, in Komtar, George Town, Penang. Reminds me of one of our family's favorite movies, the 2009 animated love story of Carl and Ellie and the Wilderness explorer, Russell.

Because my wife and I work from Monday to Friday and our son, Gabby goes to school 5 days a week too, weekends for us are remarkably priceless!

I consider myself  lucky and blessed compared to other expats and OFWs because I have my family with me.  Thus, my weekends are special because I get to celebrate it with Tina and Gabby.

Almost every Friday night, simple things such as dining together and watching TV shows or movies at home define the start of our weekend break.  Restful sleep follows with the thought that there’s no need to wake up as early as 30 minutes before 5 in the morning because there are no clothes to iron, food to prepare and Rapid Penang bus number 601 to catch, all done in a rush (these are true for Tina and Gabby but as for me, I allow them to enjoy sleeping and curl up in bed until late Saturday morning so I designated myself  responsible in going to public market which is a couple of minute-one-bus-ride-away from our place.  And I chose to do it before the clock hits half hour past 6 every weekend morning. No complaints otherwise we won’t have a thing on our table for the next week; besides, it has been a habit).  We always look forward to every weekend because of all this.

After such personal weekend ceremony, we either hit the roads to catch the bus, hop on the ferry to reach George Town and its malls, museums and whatnot, or spend lazy hours at home with food, TV shows, movies to ourselves.

With or without conscious efforts, Tina, Gabby and I usually have varied forms of family bonding during Saturdays and Sundays. And last weekend was another fun…

The most celebrated season is for kids and kids at heart.

Seeing these Christmas-related displays in one of the malls in Pulau Pinang confirmed that there’s no stopping the season. Even a predominantly Muslim Malaysian state respects and allows Christians to celebrate the commemoration of birth of Jesus.

These are the holiday decors of Prangin Mall in George Town. The simple and non-intimidating mall is standing side-by-side with the tallest building in the island, Komtar. How does it look like?  It’s unique but it reminds me of Isettan Recto, Ever, Manuela (Star Mall) back home. In the words of my in-law, “masang-masa!”

Regardless whether Prangin Mall is jologs or not, its Christmas cheers made Gabby excited for a moment and happy! :)

His happiness continued as we eat lunch in the fast food that he requested…

One of Gabby's simple pleasures : Happy Meal Toy

Although there were hassles in between like, Tina and Gabby forgot to bring their cellphones, so it took me a while to look for them when I went to the ATM machine, and when I tried to remit to my brother in Pinas, I failed to do the transaction via Moneygram for their system was offline at the moment, thankfully still, the family’s main agenda were fulfilled. Last Saturday was all about movies and TV shows. We had movie and TV show-marathons inside a mall and at home.
From McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, the fun went on to First Avenue Mall (across Prangin Mall in George Town) cinemas. First movie was what else but Puss in Boots…
Verdict : Entertaining.  A famous fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk complete with that gold pooper-duck and her mommy giant duck is incorporated to the story of this animated furry character that sprung from Shrek movie series; Puss in Boots’ heroic and fraternal acts and motherly love are something to watch for.
 With an hour gap, we transferred movie house in the same mall to watch…
Verdict :  OK lah however, I expected more vampire vs wolves encounters but what we got was cheesy honeymoon scenes that made Gabby cover his eyes with his hands without peeping.  We don’t read its books so we’re clueless about the saga. Nonetheless, like Harry Potter movies that stretched to a decade of following from us, and so did Pirates of the Carribean and Narnia chronicles, we felt a little obliged to watch it since it became a part of our movie-going history. The Brazilian paradise-venue for Edward-Bella honeymoon was a refreshing though.
Have you watched these movies? How did they appeal to you?
At home, after that movie date with Tina and Gabby, our eyes were glued to the TV series we follow.

“A mouth-watering dramatic musical TV series packed with hit songs, delicious recipes and vibrant choreography, set in a fast-paced and cut-throat world of culinary arts. Taking place in The Avilon, a famous restaurant, The Kitchen Musical is a story about Maddie, a rich, young girl straight out of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and her journey of self-discovery. Despite being the daughter of the restaurant owner, Maddie chooses to get the support of her colleagues by winning their trust. Featuring Pop Idol and Star In A Million finalist, Christian Bautista, as sous chef Daniel.

The Kitchen Musical is 100% Hot & Spicy!”  text and photo sourced from AXN’s  The Kitchen Musical

It’s a delight for a Filipino family like us living few miles away from Pinas to see Filipino talents on a Pan-Asian musical series (READ : Malaysia’s not covered by TFC (The Filipino Channel) thus we rely only on live streaming websites for TV shows and movies from Pinas).  Although they have varied accents that for some may be disturbing, we consider it part of entertainment. I personally like the genuine artistry of its musical director and arranger, Gerard Salonga who managed tocreatively infused amazing songs from different musical genres to the delicious flavors and fascinating scenes this show have been offering.
Sunday was about Gabby’s cartoons from SpongeBob Squarepants, Little Einstein, Mickey Mouse Playhouse, Mr. Bean and others. And since we only have one LCD TV, we usually take turn in watching our favorites.
Another show that defines our weekend is The Amazing Race. Seldom we catch its primetime screening on weekdays because of preparation for the coming work days, so we make up for its episode reruns every Saturday and Sunday.  The adrenaline rush while traveling and competing makes this reality show a sure hit that’s difficult to miss.
Tina, Gabby and I also follow another reality show but uniquely inclined to culinary. It’s on Asian Food Channel (AFC) by E&O (Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang) Next Celebrity Chef where some of its contestants are recruits from the Philippines.
Those shows, movies and a lot more in between had occupied our hours of family bonding last weekend.
There are so much reasons to anticipate and look forward to another weekend!
And (as I write this) did I tell you that we’re still enjoying a long weekend, because today, Monday is a holiday here in Malaysia?  :)
Gabby and I continue to have fun by playing this simple toy I bought fro less than 2 ringgit (less than PhP 14) in the public market last Saturday…

Pick Up Sticks : Guess who's winning?

How’s your weekend?
25
Nov
11

THE DAY WE HAD BIGGER APPETITES

A few months back, there was one weekend morning that Tina, Gabby and I woke up with a great drive for eating. You might be thinking that there’s nothing uncommon about it as my family and I truly have passion for dining (READ : Gluttony is far different from being self-declared food enthusiasts or foodies; spelling pa lang po magkaiba na!)  but that day was totally exceptional. We oddly tried two Steamboat and BBQ buffet restaurants in a day.

The marbling of the meat says it all. Tender, moist and flavorful!

Lunch was at Asian BBQ located at Prangin Mall, George Town, Penang. It was less ordinary compared to Yakimix in SM Mall of Asia, Manila, more so with Don K! Yakiniku Buffet in Tokyo  which absolutely earned a spot in my taste buds. :)
With its price less than 50 ringgit (PhP 700 or USD 15.63), Tina chose a package meal that allowed Gabby to practice his “cooking expertise” (Consider this part of his chef-wannabe immersion). 
This was our table. Clean and almost spotless however the grill isn’t smokeless. :( 
But wait, I know we shouldn’t be complaining because grilling and barbecue are 2 different things. Agree? (READ : Muli, spelling pa lang po, magkaiba na!). To those who are still in the dark, allow me to enlighten you a bit (Violent reactions are welcome on the comment thread but you’re too much if you expect a reply…*biro lang!).
If you must know, I read somewhere that if and when there’s use of direct high heat, it’s grilling.  And cooking meat, fish, or anything you fancy over a low heat slowly with a smoke is barbecuing. Ergo, what we had for this lunch was actually barbecue, not to forget the name of the restaurant’s Asian BBQ, hehe! :) 
Res Ipsi Loquitor : The evidence speaks for itself.  

Smokin' !!!

Despite we smelled like what we chow down, the fambam had fun!
After stuffing ourselves with that Asian BBQ package that came with cups of rice, we burned those calories by strolling inside the mall and another mall across the street and hopped on a bus to spend the rest of the afternoon at a public beach in Tajung Bungah, a coast line 12 km away from George Town.
Sunset signaled us to take dinner somewhere. And because it will take a while before we reach our home here in Penang, Tina gave her green light for us to pay Town’s Steamboat  Buffet Restaurant a visit again. 

A sight of a packed food place is always an indicator that we're in the right venue.

If you’re following this blog for some time now, you should be familiar with this food place in Jalan Macalister (Macalister Road) in George Town where (binge) eating is best just disregard the disturbing presence of those LPG gas tanks beside each table (If you’re suffering from paranoia, you’ll instantly entertain the thought that these tanks might explode while you munch and digest a feast–morbid!).
The fantastic and voluminous spread of this place makes up for its lack of proper ambiance.  Food choices and value-for-money are the things that make us go back here once in a while.

Piping Hot Dimsum and Dumplings : Bottomless and Self-Service. YUM! :)

Tong tong tong tong pakitong kitong….
 

There are spreads of cooked and raw ingredients. You either barbecue or throw them down and simmer on a hot soup base. We always do both!

 How sweet it is to end a day with sweets! :)

Not the perfect Portugese egg tarts but nonetheless can satisfy one's craving.

 We never had dessert at lunch that day so I we downed cups of ice cream and ice  drops for Gabby (not in photo).

The strawberry and chocolate flavors were mediocre however the coffee ice cream was excellent!

Food is and will always be a substantial part of our great appetite to engage in family bonding.  
Until our next one! :)
13
May
10

CAFE BOLA

From the interiors…

to the tables…

everything in Cafe Bola is simple, delicious and refreshing…

Iced Tea has a taste of freshly brewed tea with a nice kick of lemony-pandan flavor.

Have you ever munched on TARO CHIPS after dipping it on garlic mayo?

Their CHICKEN LOLLIBALLS with PINK MAYONNAISE are well-marinated if not, tastefully seasoned…

Other than the fact the branch we tried was in the vicinity of Araneta Coliseum where Basketball games are frequently held, I’m guessing that the resto is called Cafe Bola because of those incredibly delicious meatballs on their pasta.

SPAGHETTI with MEATBALLS, Bolognese Style…

Desserts like MINI BOLA FLAN are just too pleasant for the palate…Gabby finished 2 1/2 servings on this plate! It was that good!

Our nagkahiyaan moment… :)

I’ve read from somewhere that the famous restaurateur, Margarita Fores who also put up CIBO which is one of our family favorites, and Pepato in Greenbelt which we have yet to experience, also owns and manages Cafe Bola.  And one can easily tell the positive contrasts between her restaurants. Cibo offers great Italian favorites with awesome presentation while Cafe Bola combines Italian, Mexican and Pinoy cuisines that are reasonably priced.

The entire set we had (above photos) was on the promo rate of only PhP 700+.

Service is quick, food servers are courteous and friendly; ambiance is relaxed and food choices needless to say, are satisfyingly yummy.

On our future visit, we’ll try their Adobo Flakes with Kesong Puti and perhaps other dishes on their menu that gives a new twists in Pinoy taste.

I only see her on magazine and broadsheet spreads and read features about her on blogs and haven’t personally met, Ms. Gaita Fores yet; but her dedication to her work as a restaurateur and florist among other hats she wears, is indeed an inspiration for people like us who aspire to put up a food place someday. :)

Now, excuse me as I daydream of  having our own restaurant too, with Chef Gabby leading the kitchen crew. :)

————————————<@

Cafe Bola, Araneta Coliseum Arcade, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.

25
Apr
10

MUCH ADO ABOUT SUMMER

I have a confession to make.

This may disappoint most of you but Tina and I are not fond of going to the beach during Summer. We prefer to soak under cold shower (together? that’s another story that does not deserve a blog post! LOL!)  rather than bathe and immerse on water under the scorching heat of Philippine Sun. 

  

Other than budget consideration during peak season, we enjoy sand, water and what beauty that nature has to offer when it’s not thickly populated.  As you may know, my family’s recent beach adventure was last week of October 2009  when BORACAY was in its quiescence…

Tranquility echoed every morning during our days in the island…

Ah, Boracay! When do we get to enjoy your crystal turquoise water and powdery sand again ?  It’s not only the beach that’s glorious in this island but digestive feasts too. Summer heat reminds me of spoonful cold treats we had from Boracay’s HALOWICH.

And since we’re not hitting the beach anytime soon, you may now have a clue of how we define SUMMER in our own way…

Yesterday, Tina, Gabby and I went to Iceberg in their Timog Ave. branch to have bowls of Halo-Halo. 

What’s a Summer in Manila without it? 

For only PhP 98, I enjoyed macapuno balls, slice of peach, sweet plantain, corn kernels, corn flakes, jackfruit strips, ube jam, gulaman on shaved ice topped with ube and strawberry-flavored ice cream!    

While Tina and Gabby chose to savor Caramel Flan with Mangoes and Vanilla Ice Cream. Yum! :)

Summer for us, is a great excuse to devour on these cold gastronomic pleasures.  :)

What’s your favorite food fit for Summer?

How are you spending your Summer?  I bet most of you are busy treading on most shores of this archipelago. 

Have fun!  :D

25
Jan
10

10 YEARS MORE TO A CENTURY

:) FAMILY + FEAST + FUN = Sundays never get better than this! 

Yesterday, January 24, just before the clock strikes 12 noon, my wife, Tina with our son Gabby and I were already at the venue to attend my paternal Lola Tentay’s 90th birthday celebration with almost all of our relatives from my dad’s side.

Yes, there was the queen of the Pinoy feasts ~ lechon (roasted pork), courtesy of my cousin, Dr. CSM from New Jersey and a simple lunch buffet to everyone’s delight.  Check out my glutton’s plate, lol :D  (click photos to drool more  enlarge)

My dad got the lechon plate for us to share :D  Nevermind the cholesterol content; a reunion like this doesn’t happen on a daily basis!

Our Tita/Ninang Glo with her husband, Tito George who both came home from LA, Ca sponsored and provided us color-coded T-shirts with embroidered logo for the occasion. Yellow for all apo (grandchildren) and mga apo sa tuhod (great-grandchildren) and red shirts for all of Inang Tentay’s children.  The venue :  Calumpang Gymnasium in Marikina City. 

Who would have thought that this gym was deluged few months ago by the unforgettable Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)?  The Calumpang gymnasium is located literally along the Marikina River…

The simple spread was provided by a relative-caterer, Martha’s Plate.  The feast was unpretentious; nothing fancy but deliciously satisfying! :D

 

There were Chicken-Shrimp Sotanghon, Fresh Lumpia, Fish Fillet, Chicken Pastel, Beef Morcon, and of course, a cake!  Everyone had Buco-Pandan for dessert (which I forgot to capture).

After lunch, our balikbayan-uncle hosted the program with more than greetings and well wishes for our Lola but fun parlor games too! There were games for everyone!  Even the guests participated and all had nothing but cheers and widest smiles!  BTW, Gabby had his share on stage with his 5-stanza poem that garnered applause. Tina and I are so proud of him! :D

 

The reunion-birthday party could have been happier if all our love ones abroad could come home especially my mom in UAE; and our relatives whom we visited in NZ before but now all living more comfortably in Melbourne.  Nevertheless, it was indeed another family gathering to remember. 

We all went home with similar wishes for our good Lord to bless our Lola Tentay with more years to be with us.  

:) Aren’t you proud as a Filipino that we value family and family-ties?

Till our next family-bonding moments!

23
Jan
10

FIELD TRIP 2010 : PART 3

After a wonderful animal-encounter at Ocean Adventure in Subic, the 5 buses of preschoolers (Gabby & his batchmates) with their parents (including me and Tina of course) and teachers trooped to Clark, Pampanga and had a brief exposure to Filipino history & culture.

 

We already heard few years ago that NAYONG PILIPINO which was previously located in Pasay City near the airport, is now in Clark, Pampanga but we only got to see it last week.  This TEMPORARY RELOCATION of the famous replica of most tourist spots of the country was done to give way for the building  of the 2 Ninoy Aquino International and domestic terminals.  And the latest we’ve known from our trip,  plans have transpired to push through with the new construction of Nayong Pilipino near the SM Mall of Asia area.  Have you heard of this news?

First stop : the replica of church in Bulacan imprinted on Philippine Ten Peso-Bill.

 

MALOLOS CHURCH served as venue for so many Philippine Constitutional Conventions.

Then there’s also those WALLS of  INTRAMUROS and what appeared to look like a river however, there was no running water but a rock bed.

The Nayong Pilipino guide informed us that this Clark’s version is divided into 2 parts : Precolonial and Post Colonial eras.

At the Precolonial area, the simple Pinoy lifestyle before the Spanish regime is depicted. We were greeted by an Ifugao native dance…What a warm welcome for all of us!

The short performance of the natives was a fresh sight to the kids who were used to gyrating pop music. 

The simple and creative way of living of Filipinos long before we were under foreign rules were shown in these huts built without a single nail or screw and amazingly can withstand any typhoon.  I guess these native shelters truly represent what early Pinoys were – imaginative, resilient, simple.  Do we still have these qualities at present ? :)

“Movable Ladder – Walang Akyat-Bahay! Ang galing ng ating mga katutubo!” (click the picture to enlarge)

Weaving of textiles with intricate and colorful patterns was also demonstrated.

Panggatong, anyone ?

This is a replica of an upscale Muslim house that’s suited for a Sultan or Datu, the village chief in Maranao, Mindanao. It’s called TOROGAN.

The Torogan House has colorful and intricate butterfly-like end beams that protrude in front of the house; apparently gorgeous Maranao artwork! 

There are also monuments inside Nayong Pilipino to honor Philippine History and Literature…

On the left is  Ang Alamat ni Malakas at Maganda… And on the right is Lapu-lapu, the chieftain of Mactan, pardon the pun, appeared to us as depressed in his stance… (click photo to enlarge) I believe Lapu-lapu deserves to be depicted victorious having been considered as the country’s first hero.

There are also monuments for Philippine Folklore’s goddesses – the likes of Mariang Sinukuan and Maria Makiling; but I didn’t take photos for I personally didn’t like how they were created. Imagine a statue of a women who look distraught complete with a dress-slit nearly up to their inguinal areas!

Moving on… The Post Colonial Era…

As far as I recall, there are replicas of houses of Filipino heroes – Apolinario Mabini’s, Jose Rizal’s and others’ that played significant role in Philippine History.

Note the features of houses during post colonialism greatly evolved and was then inspired by Spanish architecture. 

As parents, Tina and I are always trying our best to be well-rounded with Gabby. We appreciate joining his field trip for we know that there’s more to life that kids should learn outside the corners of their classrooms and beyond reading their books.

We left Nayong Pilipino at around past 5 in the afternoon to head for our last pit stop : Puregold Duty Free for some shopping.

Another family fun-bonding time enjoyed. :D

PS :  Because we as a family have experienced being in few amusement parks abroad, Tina and I wish that local authorities would exert more efforts in putting up and maintaining quality and cleanliness in our very own tourist spots. 

18
Jan
10

SEVENTH HEAVEN

Despite the mild U.R.T.I. (Upper Respiratory Tract Infection) and a ton of uncertainties I’m experiencing, God knows how grateful I am to Him and for all the love and support from my family and closest friends that Tina, Gabby and I are getting; it’s just overwhelming. :D

Allow me to keep my hopes high and let’s all start the new week with wonderful things.

On the last quarter of 2009, my family and I were invited to HAAGEN-DAZS BRANCH OPENING in ROBINSONS PLACE MANILA where we received GCs. :D  We enjoyed and shared with you via this blog our first experience with HAAGEN-DAZS FONDUE.  Then weeks  after, it was followed by MORE VELVETY ICE CREAM MOMENTS.  And this will be the third but definitely not the last of those heavenly pleasures.

:) Have you been to Seventh Heaven? 

Well, we haven’t too, but not  long ago, we’ve tasted it at least…  

SEVENTH HEAVEN, PhP 680+.  Seven scoops of Haagen-Dazs ice cream of your choice, fresh seasonal fruits adorned by sweet strawberries and rich chocolate sauce, served in a mist of indulgence. 

Scooping those balls of ice cream with little spoons and looking at each other’s faces while enjoying the plate together spelled another family bonding moment for us. 

The only difficulty lies on the selection of the flavors.

My wife, Tina, our son, Gabby and I chose our 7 :  

:) Vanilla,

:) Dark Chocolate Orange,

:) Cookies and Cream,

:) Macadamia Nut,

:) Vanilla Caramel Brownie,

:) Choc-Choc Chip,

:) Cappuccino Truffle.

This ice cream creation was just too divine for words.  I actually ran out of superlatives to describe the slow-melting-process and the delightful taste of each flavor, LOL :D

Sure, we like yogurt and gelato but cannot resist ice cream temptation, can you? 

Worries are forgotten when moments are shared with the family especially with ice cream!

:)  Have a great week everyone!

:)  God bless us more!

————————————————

Haagen-Dazs SM Megamall Atrium, 2nd Level Mega Atrium, SM Megamall Complex, Ortigas Ctr.

11
Jan
10

SUBLIME BURGER EXPERIENCE

Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, buns and patties. What makes a hamburger really special ?

Our family (Tina, Gabby and I) with my brother, JC had a great lunch in SM Megamall Atrium yesterday! It was a bit different from our usual Sunday meals for we savored great tasting burgers and surprisingly delicious other treats from BROTHERS BURGERS.  It wasn’t  my first time to taste BB but nevertheless, was excited to try their latest offerings.  

One may not resist the poster at this burger joint that says : BROTHERS BURGER, Burgers By Design introducing DESIGNER BITES for only PhP 285!  Each Designer Bite set comes with your choice of French Fries or Onion Rings… These Mini Designer Burgers are perfect for small cravings!  The only problem is the difficulty in choosing a set of yummies! :D

Tina and JC considered ordering  regular huge-sized burgers, while I had done the same,  I also gave in to my craving to try these Designer Bites. And it took me few minutes at the counter to select from the 3 sets;  then finally….

SET 2 : LAMB BURGER, SANTA FE, and BISTRO won my palates!  I love this set, particularly the Santa Fe! Every bite has a distinct taste that you’ll surely enjoy. :D   The other 2 sets that you may try are : 

SET 1 : Bistro, Ranchero and Blues Brothers

Set 3 : Santa Fe, Ranchero, and Blues Brothers.

Santa Fe has the half-pound flame grilled patty accompanied by tangy and hot jalapeño rings, chili, chopped white onions, three types of cheese, farm fresh lettuce and tomato, with all that spicy bounty contained within a toasted Kaiser bun.

Blues Brothers, a Brothers classic of half-pound flame-grilled patty topped with creamy blue cheese, golden sautéed mushrooms, crispy honey cured bacon, tangy Dijonnaise dressing, farm fresh lettuce and tomato –all between a Kaiser bun.

The Bistro, where the natural sweetness of caramelized onions, sautéed champignons mingle with the sourness of Dijon mustard and the brackish creaminess of Brie cheese, on top of the freshly grilled Half-pounder in a Kaiser bun.

The Ranchero has crunchy onion rings, crispy strips of honey-cured bacon on the freshly grilled Half-pounder, smothered with the smokin’ sweetness of Texan barbecue sauce. Tempered by fresh garden lettuce and tomato, it’s an interesting mix of textures that will surely delight.   

Burgers continue to be the banner products of Brothers but there are other items in the menu worth trying like Brothers Cheese Steak, Crispy Fish, Fried Crispy Chicken, and Grilled Chicken.  Options for dessert are brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Cool Bites. Also recently introduced are the Chicken Fajita Sandwich, Roast Beef Sandwich, Vegetable salad, Brothers Signature Pasta and soup. 

We ordered Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate Shakes, Lemonade and Iced Tea–all refreshingly good!

What really surprised us were the desserts from BB.  Indubitably, their premium burgers are superb, but the sweet treats that tickled our taste buds were also far from being less.

BB’s Home-Made Choco Chip Cookies, PhP 55 is soft and chewy-melt-in-your-mouth chocolate treat!  Tina and Gabby loved it! Honestly, it’s one of the best cookies we’ve tasted!  (the cookie-monster-in-me was unleashed!)  BB’s brownies, Php 40 also doesn’t disappoint.

Another must-try from their menu are the HOT BITES and COOL BITES! :D

HOT BITES, PhP 90 are tender chicken strips with crispy breading that comes with sauce of either gravy or teriyaki.  The serving was big enough to be shared by 2 or even 3. And since we’re so fixed with our burger-indulgence, it was one of those we had to take home. :D  

COOL BITES, PhP 80, is a Vanilla Ice Cream sandwiched in Oatmeal Cookies! We all like it! I personally love how different textures of this sublime dessert blend so well in one decadence!

Now, if those delicious Mini Designer Bites will make you crave for its real-sized counterparts and more, I suggest you shouldn’t supress the urge of tasting any of these burgers…

WAGYU BURGER, PhP 350+.   My first bite on this Designer burger patty sans mayonnaise, catsup and everything took me to pause for few seconds and analyzed -what makes this Wagyu Burger special above the rest?  Its tenderness was expected. Its grilled Wagyu Burger taste, impeccable! :D

My brother JC was overwhelmed with what he order…

BLUES BROTHERS BURGERS, PhP 265+.   I cannot blame him for being biased with his plate.  It has sliced button mushrooms and bacon strips that were combined in wonderful unison with lettuce and that BB hamburger. 

On that moment, I was hoping our stomachs have botomless pits, lol.  Because she was already full, Tina’s order had to be join our HOT BITES as another to-go…. 

BLACK ANGUS BURGER, PhP 250+.  Just like the other Brother Burgers patties, this Black Angus’ that we had for breakfast on Monday morning was tender and juicy absolutely perfect for meat-lovers!

We love Brothers Bugers! We love their French Fries, Onion Rings and their desserts! Next time, we’ll try their pasta and others. :D

So what makes a hamburger really special ?  I think it’s in the purest flavor of its burger patty;  in particular harmonious symphony with different textures of other ingredients inside a bun. 

….Hmmm, makes me want to grab another bite, don’t you?  :D

———————————-

BROTHERS BURGERS, 4th fl. Bldg B, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.

Visit their website –> here  for their menu and list of branches.

Special Thanks to Ms. Nadal for the invites to try Brother Burgers’ latest offerings! :D

29
Dec
09

THE ART OF HAVING FUN

About a couple of weeks before Christmas, we met up with our friend, Rob at Shangri la mall where he treated us for a lunch and sponsored his godson’s activity without me asking it.  :)  Gabby was really delighted spending time again at COLOR ME MINE.  It’s a paint-your-own-ceramic-studio where the environment offers relaxing & inviting ambiance. How’s that possible in a mall?  Color Me Mine has wooden furnitures and shelves where ceramics are on display.  One can spend his time alone or with his families and/or friends to unwind by painting ceramic/s;  it’s actually a nice bonding activity.

Although prices of would be ‘art-pieces’ vary depending on size and design,  clients are only required to pay PhP 180+,  for the use of the venue until their ‘masterpiece’ is done, all-colors-of-paint-you-need, use of brushes, paper stencils, sponge etc. and the glazing and baking of the finished product in their pottery kilns by their staff.         

Gabby, inspired by the holiday season, personally hand-picked a ceramic plate with Santa Claus’ face embossed design that costs PhP 780 all-in.

Our last visit to Color Me Mine prior to this was February of this year when we had our second art activity that can be viewed here

While I was coaching Rob for his Nursing exam and Rob were catching up on the other table, Tina and Gabby were busy being ‘artists’. :D

After painting job is done, client submits the ceramic to the staff, pay and claim the receipt with specified date when to redeem the finished art work.  Baking on pottery kilns enhances the colors of the paint, making it glazed and more vivid.

Here’s the ‘before and after’ look of the posterior part of the plate.  I wrote all our names including another friend’s who was a-no-show that day. 

Tina gave Gabby freedom to choose most of the colors and only guided him on taking strokes with the brushes. Clients need not worry if they’ve no artistic inclinations for there are pencils and small paper stencils that would serve as patterns for the designs.  

Another ‘before and after’ photos of the plate taken on its anterior side…That’s our son’s handwriting there of his name! :D (FYI, he knows now how to read and write at 5 y/o).

Whether it’s an art activity or something else, spending quality time is always the best gift we can give our love ones. :D

Let’s keep our New Year celebration peaceful, safe and healthy!

Hope you enjoy the rest of the holidays! 

_______________

Color Me Mine, 5th Level Shangri La Mall, Mandaluyong City.

12
Oct
09

GOING SOMEWHERE

gabby's beach play set

I know it’s off season.

But we all need a break.

Our son is excited.

And so are we.

It will be his first domestic plane ride. 

It will be his first travel to the beach.

It will be our first time to be there.

Weather, please behave.

You’ve been furious lately.

We had enough.

Give us a little time to relax.

Can’t wait for Sunday :D

19
Sep
09

A QUAINT RESTO : REVISITED

Our munch plan for my birthday : 

               Friday late afternoon snack/early dinner + Sunday hotel buffet = family bonding :D 

This is the first of two celebrations I had with my wife, Tina and our son, Gabby…

It took us seven months before we revisited this quaint Italian restaurant tucked in the low-key area of Cubao (our first can be viewed  here ). I like  its interiors and ambiance more than their food.  OK, their menu may be authentic, as the owners are a former paparazzo who married a Filipina; but I guess my palate has been biased with other restaurants that serve similar cuisine.  Nevertheless, I always  find BELLINI’s  pleasing… 

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These aren’t paintings on the walls but murals on the ceilings. 

Check out how enticing  the interiors is…

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Bellini’s, owned by Roberto and Ma. Luisa Bellini, has been a location of a local movie  because of its romantic appeal…

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It’s like a small piece of Italy in the heart of Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, Quezon City… 

Bellini’s delightful atmosphere is artistically beautiful but I just wish the service will be friendlier. The two wait staffs who attended to us were discreet and courteous; but smiles were inapparent. I like food servers who always flash their best smiles while at work. For me, smiles mean that they love and enjoy what they do.  It lessens my appetite if the servers are apathetic.  

I always expect waiters and waitresses to be acquainted with the menu. I usually ask something like the serving size and the restaurant’s bestsellers; and I admire staffs who are familiar with the food they serve.  Yesterday was not my lucky day at Bellini’s; for the querries I addressed to our waitress were all thrown to her colleague.

I ordered one of my favorite breads, focaccia; even asked the waitress the dip that comes with it, but got no reply from her but from other waiter.  And when I checked the bill before paying, the focaccia bread was charged but it wasn’t served.  To be fair, I’d say the waiter was apologetic and did the necessary changes on our bill; but there’s no room for mistakes to render remarkable dining experience.

Poor me, I just thought that the waitress was new and still untrained, and I just swallowed my temper and remembered that it’s my birthday.

Enough, and on with the food… :D 

IMG_3690BREADSTICKS, Complimentary :D    House Iced tea, PhP 50+; it tasted like Peach flavored Sola Iced tea, not bad for me; i love peach!

Last February, we ordered a pasta that won our hearts, so we had another plate for my birthday!

IMG_3702BUCATINI AMATRICIANA, PhP 250+ (bacon, tomato and onion sauce).

We love its thick strands of pasta and its simplicity made it so tasteful.

What’s an Italian dining without pizza?

IMG_3712QUATTRO FORMAGGI, PhP 250+ (mozzarrella plus 3 different kinds of cheese; tomato based).

All of Bellini’s pizzas are mozzarrella and tomato based. We had Bellini’s special pizza seven months ago.  It was fine combination of most toppings in super thin crust.

Yesterday, we chose this 4-cheese-pizza because we considered our son’s preference. He doesn’t like any toppings on his pizza but cheese.  We all liked its flavorful thin crust;  but we all thought that Amici’s version is far better.  

IMG_3710POLLO ALLA DIAVOLA , 1/2  PhP 280+(grilled chicken breast with herbs and chili).

I ordered this grilled chicken breast with herbs and chili just to taste how different it is from other chicken recipes I’ve sampled from other restos. I like its well-marinated meat that was so tender that once you dunk your fork into it, it easily shreds off from its bones. I like it but not to point it’ll become my favorite.  Unfortunately, my wife gave this dish her thumbs down.  She was probably not in the mood for some spice.  

IMG_3723TIRAMISU : GELATO CAKE, PhP 170+

Gabby immediately recognized that it’s a combined mocha and coffee ice cream cake. For a barely five-year-older, we’re proud to raise Gabby as a food enthusiast too (with the hope that he’ll pursue his early dreams of becoming a chef one day).  But to my wife Tina, this gelato cake is a dissapointment; not of its taste, but of its price.  I have to agree with her that it’s pricey for its serving. C’mmon, with its price more expensive than a pint of ice cream, the cost is just too steep! Look how fancy the layers are but its tiny size of slightly bigger than a teaspoon drowned all its glory…

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Although we’re full after that meal, I felt something’s missing.  I never experienced the excitement of dining I had during our first visit.  Perhaps because of the gloomy weather, or can I attribute it to the service and some dishes that can still be improved? 

Anyway, there’s still tomorrow for another day of gastronomic adventure. 

Abangan! :D

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Bellini’s Italian Fast Food and Restaurant / Stall 68-69 Marikina Shoe Expo, Gen. Romulo Ave., Cubao, Quezon City/Tel #s (63-2) 913-2550.

08
Sep
09

GREAT BALLS OF FUN

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I never thought a box of multi-colored balls could give so much happiness to a kid and kid-at-hearts :D
No, they’re not chocolate balls or sugar-coated candies :D 
Do you have any idea of what we did to while away our time last weekend?
Our preschooler, Gabby had an hour of fun somewhere in Robinson’s Galleria last weekend.  He posed with his cartoon idol, Ben 10 ….  and sat with the  place’s mascot…
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After we bought our tickets from Cebu Pacific office for our October trip and enjoyed those plates of ravioli, our son didn’t pass the chance to ask us if we can bring him to an arcade.  He likes going to Ayala Mall’s Timezone but Robinson’s Toys R US and Tom’s World also gave Gabby reasons to smile :D
We usually play table hockey; my wife, Tina and our little boy had so much fun on hitting that puck. 
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And those colored wooden balls were used in this perya-game, lol…
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He had successfully hit 11 holes to the tummies of those animals that paraded in front of him and as a consolation prize, he got a small mobile phone…….trinkets, lol. 
It’s not only the activity that we enjoy the most but the quality time we spent with each other. :D
06
Sep
09

XXX

My wife Tina, our son Gabby and I trooped to Robinson’s Galleria in Ortigas yesterday afternoon and purchased something from this office…

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Now that we have our tickets ready and seats reserved, all we have to do now is pray, pray, pray hardest that forces of nature will allow us to enjoy the sun, the powdery sand, sunrise and sunset, fun activities and of course,  gastronomic delights and freshest seafoods in one of the most pristine beaches in the world…

Can’t wait for 3rd week of October….

I’m sure it’ll be an  XXX :  eXtremely eXciting eXperience!!! :D

28
Jul
09

ABOUT LAST WEEKEND

IMG_2955Last Saturday, after a quick stop at my folks’ place in Pasig, I brought my family -Tina and Gabby to Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City.   Look how crisp the interiors of the Eastwood Mall is…2Other  than having those functional and stylish lounges, Eastwood Mall boasts of having mall butlers clad in black suits who’ll offer to carry your paper bags throughout the duration of your shopping.  Although we haven’t bought anything yet from our previous visits there LOL :D,  and still to try the cinemas (we commonly go to the Eastwood City cinemas – haven’t watched a movie yet at Eastwood Mall cinemas),  we usually go there for few reasons :  to get a load of Starbucks, for my preschooler son to enjoy Timezone and what else but  to CHOW! 

Perhaps, next to Glorietta & Greenbelt in Makati, Shangri la mall in Mandaluyong,  and Gateway and TriNoma in QC, this Eastwood Mall is becoming one our favorites.  Why not?  it isn’t as crowded as Isetann Recto (patawa lang po). :D

Before deciding where and what to eat, we asked Gabby to pose as I click the cam.  He knew he had so many photos taken already from this site from our previous visits hence the awkward smile…

   

From its exteriors, a row of upscale restaurants always appear so inviting however last weekend, Mr. Kurosawa won our votes.

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It’s one of the chain of restaurants that the local celebrity Marvin Agustin partly owns.  One similarity between John and Yoko in Greenbelt 5, SUMO SAM in Shangri la and Power Plant Malls, with Mr. Kurosawa besides being contemporary-Japanese in the menu,  is the interiors.  All of these food places have hip and edgy atmosphere having subdued lighting, the evident constant use of purplish hues, and lots of things in black  which I like.  The servers too, wear dark sexy short dresses in heeled shoes/boots;  and you won’t expect any kimonos and obi belts just like in traditional Japanese resto. 

I like the idea of glowing Japanese posters up in the ceiling…

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My wife and I noticed food is basically the same.  Their menus probably only differ in covers, but has less variations.  I don’t know about your palate, but IMO, one thing is sure - the food in those three spots are delicious if you welcome a fusion of taste between the East and the West,  however a bit reasonably pricey.

We  keep coming back to  SUMO SAM  once in a while because I personally like this dish that we’ve also tried ordering at John and Yoko, now tasted the plate in Mr. Kurosawa —> SEAFOOD OMELET RICE, PhP 228. 

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Tina and I both agreed that Mr. Kurosawa’s version of Seafood Omelet Rice is BETTER than Sumo Sam and John and Yoko. The Japanese rice is stickier; the taste yummier.  Common among the 3 restos : generous servings for this dish.

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The serving was too large for our appetite (honestly) that we have to asked the wait staff for us to have it as to-go.  OK, I admit we have huge appetite but far from being gluttons we failed to finish this favorite because we sampled another hit from Mr. Kurosawa…

The pizza that we enjoyed after the last bite is  called IWO JIMA, PhP 279 …

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It’s thin crust pizza which I like, and what made it uniquely savory from most pizzas we’ve tasted was the presence of sweetest mango cubes as one of its toppings.  Imagine the saltiness from cheese had married the sweetness of mango bits. It’s Euro-Japanese on a plate!   That  one last slice I had came from this good-for-three servings…

IMG_2971If my taste buds served me right, the mango and cheese combo in IWO JIMA pizza was also mixed with cubes of chicken teriyaki and sesame seeds.  It’s so flavorful enough for you to forget worries of daily living, lol :D IMG_2979Another must-try from the menus of either Sumo Sam, John and Yoko and Mr. Kurosawa, are  the 3 -colored-iced teas.. They’re in green (lime), red (calamansi), and my favorite – in blue (dalandan)…

They’re refillable until whatever volume you can handle at PhP 108.

Apparently, we liked our merienda last Saturday; look how my wife and our son smiled after being satiated…:D

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MR. KUROSAWA, G/F Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City.

26
Jul
09

FACEBOOK THAT BINDS

When I became a daddy tatay-doc to my son at the age of 28 about five years ago,  I never thought that one day, an on-line social network would be a source of wholesome fun and family bonding.   Now that almost everyone is into facebook (including the Pope, no less), our family is not an exception.  Initially, I was clueless about facebook, until my wife Tina and our 4-year-old son Gabby opened their individual accounts and introduced me to facebook applications that unobtrusively led to uncontrollable addiction!  We’re simply hooked especially to its applications – RESTAURANT CITY and FARM TOWN.  But we make sure that Gabby gets to play it only after his preschool homeworks and reviews are all done.  It serves as his reward whenever he performs well in his studies.

In Restaurant City (RC), a player is given the basic requirements in a food place : a couple of tables and chairs, a stove and a set of menu - one starter, a main dish and one dessert.  As diners come and eat at your virtual restaurant, you earn coins that are needed in feeding your wait staff and cooks; coins are also useful in acquiring additional decors and other essentials of a  restaurant. Upgrades and innovation can be done not only to your menu as recipes are completed by trading an ingredient with your facebook buddies but also modification to your restaurant’s  interiors and exteriors is also exciting  thing to do.  In short,  everyone can be a restaurateur and a foodie at RC which my son, wife and I want !!! :D

Since our son Gabby, at his young age, already professed his dream of becoming an iron chef one day, enjoying RC at Fb is a pleasurable means of motivation and inspiring him more to pursue his aspiration. I think with Gabby having fun with his virtual restaurant and as we gradually exposed him to actual grand buffets in few hotels, and in various restaurants and fastfood hopping, we’re sure he’ll soon develop his own appreciation of food and everything about it, and most nice things that life can offer. :D

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This was my virtual restaurant’s former exteriors.  I named it Chef Docgelo’s;  it’s an upscale carinderia, lol, with a viking’s roof before.  It took me a week before I got bored with it so I had it renovated by means of several ‘left-clicks’ at the mouse and transformed it into an all-glass food place…

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But I still maintain the same interiors…

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I put two ponds (made of water-tiles) surrounded by plants and awards in between a walkway to the main mess hall.

Look how diners are satisfied and satiated with the dishes I serve, lol…

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It was Tina who first discovered RC and introduced it to me and Gabby.  Below is her restaurant’s present exteriors with a roof of a submarine that she bought with her virtual coins for 9,000 I guess.

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 Cool, isn’t it?  Now the interiors of my wife’s food place called TINA-PIE-yan, looks like this…

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I know you’ll find our son’s restaurant the grandest cutest! I can’t blame you. :D

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Because we have 2 laptops and 2 broadband connections -one with a cable and a prepaid broadband access, we can play fb’s applications all together simultaneously.  This idea of using internet as a source of family bonding had won my entry 3rd place in one of the local bloggers I follow, Anton Diaz’s Our Awesome Planet Digital Daddy Contest (see previous post below). 

As we improve our restaurants, we maintain healthy fun competition.  Actually, we help each other by trading ingredients to further our menus.

And did I already tell you we’re also in Farm Town?  Here’s the little hacienda I maintain…

I had several plants and trees that bear fruits and crops. I have to catch up with my colleagues and friends with FT. 

Do you also enjoy facebook applications ?  

Please excuse me as I update my Farm Town and Restaurant City…

25
Jun
09

TAMIS

I know it isn’t healthy.  But what do you do if your own child tells you he wants it and he smiles to you his sweetest ?  Can you say no with a grin?  What if there’s also that kid-in-you who wants to taste a pinch from your child’s sweet pleasure?  Do you give in easily?

Life is short. And making the most out of our family bonding by giving in to the simplest request  of our son that he doesn’t ask all the time won’t hurt but can make him even the happiest for the moment. 

When we went to a mall last weekend, my son’s eyes were glued to a colorful cart that appeared as an irresistible magent to him.  He asked me and my wife if we can buy him cotton candy.  It’s only PhP 20 a piece and it’s  not everyday that he  gets to taste it, so we both agreed.  Then we saw the biggest smile on his face. 

While my wife and our 4-year-old son Gabby were waiting for their order to be given,  I was fascinated at the posted menu of flavors of those colorful cotton candies…

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And look, you can have toppings on them too. How innovative! LOL.

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Gabby opted to have SUPERMAN RASPBERRY without any toppings. 

We bought my son’s happiness for that moment for only PhP 20.   *:D

If you’re to pick your cotton candy, what flavor would it be?  Care for Spider pandan? LOL.

01
Mar
09

AFTER THE WIN

The morning after Gabby’s win from his declamation contest, Tina, Gabby & I went Eastwood City, Serendra & Bonifacio High Street just to have another weekend of family bonding.

We went to Something Fishy in Eastwood to avail of their buffet breakfast. It wasn’t our first time to dine there but after today, I’m not sure if it’ll be our last.

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I & Tina are very picky on food taste & service. Both of us are very particular on courtesy and smiles from waiters & resto staff. It makes dining a better experience if all of the crew is as pleasant as the food they serve. The service crew & staff of Something Fishy Grill & Bar did not offer a smile or welcoming gestures except for their security guard who also serves as their door man. IMO, the food on the buffet table of Something fishy was not that impressive. It’s just too plain for me & ordinary or something like “you-only-get-your-money’s-worth” kind of thing. It’s perhaps one of the cheapest eat-all-you-want-breakfast at PhP 114 per pax, exclusive of drinks, inclusive of charges, offered from 12MN till 10AM. We gave it a second shot after our rush buffet breakfast there a couple of weeks ago thinking that there might be changes on the menu list or at least a little improvement. We were disappointed because we were wishful thinkers hoping there would be new addition to their buffet menu list, but there was none. There was NO corn cereals, bacon, ham, fresh fruits, fish fillet, longanisa, tocino, pan de sal & other Pinoy breakfast favorites. Although I admit there are many food choices offered at their breakfast buffet, the taste is just mediocre for me. The fried eggs contained NO salt at all or at least there should have been a salt & pepper at the tables, the daing na bangus was less salty as well, the beef tapa was too oily, the palabok (or was it pancit malabon) was too bland. The price is ofcourse affordable but it should not discount the taste or the food quality. I believe there is always room for improvement & I just wish this establishment will consider doing this.

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Moving on from a not-so-impressive dining experience, we walked around Eastwood City & made Gabby pose for some photos before goint to Serendra…

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Then at around 7:30AM we were in Boni High Street already. Since most of the shops there open at 11AM, we took a stroll, read the Sunday broadsheets (FYI, I read Manila Bulletin, PDI, Phil. Star every Sunday AM), did some people-watching, just enjoyed the morning….

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Tina took this photo while I was scanning the papers & Gabby was busy with his gameboy…

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care for some green telephones? these tubes conduct sounds from end to end…

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The fountain that looks like something from outer space. I so like it. Neat and edgy !

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Bonifacio High Street also has these unusual but creative & playful stuffs, something for kids and the kids at heart…

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Wish we have puppy(ies) to walk here. We both wanted a PUG, but aren’t sure if we can maintain it.

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EYESOLOVETHISBANNER!!!

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If God wills it one day, Tina & I with our kid(s) will have our own place in Tagaytay or wherever, definitely we’ll find a space for this trellis…

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We found a store that sells toys, mostly collectible items & I just love these YODA icon and bubble heads…

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These are sold in this store…

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Our bonding is not complete without getting a dose of caffeine from wherelse but Starbucks Coffee…

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We allowed Gabby to stroll alone, even tested him of what he’ll do when we leave him. We left him walking ahead of us in Serendra & we hid from him. When he found out that we’re out of sight, he quickly ran back towards where we were. What a reflex from a 4-year-old kid. Tina & I were glad to see he did not cry nor panic given the situation.

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This is one of Ramon Orlina’s glass sculpture masterpieces which serves as a fountain & Serendra’s public attraction…

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We tried CUPCAKES by Sonja in Serendra for the first time & liked it !!! The place, though small, is attractive with retro interiors in pastel colors. The cupcakes are good as they look. But again there were no smiles or kind gestures from the staff. I feel sorry for them because they’re not as pleasant as their work place & work gears…

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Tina had the PEPPERMINT PATTY cupcake, PhP 68 (the one with pink whip, the base was tasty but the cream whip was too sweet), Gabby had the VANILLA SUNSHINE cupcake, PhP 55 (the one with a powder blue whip), & I had the PISTACHIO BERRIES & CREAM, PhP 85 (the one with white whip & green cupcake with thin slices of strawberries in between); we all agreed it’s the BEST among the 3, so yummy, flavorful & not to sweet… I did not expect cupcakes can be this yummy!

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The fridge of Cupcakes by Sonja is so hip in its light blue color…

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They bake their cupcakes just before store’s opening and flavor it with these sweet treats…

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And just before going home, we went to a public toilet in Serendra right across where Cupcakes is located & Tina can’t resist but to document how Ayala management keeps everything at its best. Even restrooms are posh, similar to toilets of premium hotels, fully airconditioned, clean, well-maintained with supplies of tissues & liquid soap with sensors, even had a landscaping of some greens at the center…

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All in all, we ended the 2nd month of the year grateful to the Lord for everything & we’re happy & hopeful to start the month of March. =)

28
Feb
09

ONE PROUD DADDY

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God is really BEST! We were only praying this morning for Gabby not to forget his lines as he go up on stage to deliver his 2-stanza-poem entitled, “For My Country” but He made it possible for my son to win 3rd place out of 51 Nursery students, of two sections, mostly 3 1/2 to 4 years of age, in 2009 Twinkle Toes Academy’s Declamation contest held at the auditorium of Stella Maris College, Quezon City.

Not that the venue was far from our place, in fact it’s only 5-minute-drive, perhaps we were only excited for Gabby’s first scholastic/extra-curricular activity so we woke up at four in the morning to prepare for the 7:30AM call time as stated in the school’s memo to parents, that Twinkle Toes Academy teachers intended to promptly start the contest at eight. True enough we were the earliest birds at the venue, we got there an hour before their call time; at least we never rushed for we’re not late and got ample time to smile for the cam…

Gabby & my lovely wife, Tina…
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Gabby looked even more contest-ready when he wore his Barong complete with buri hat and met his classmates who were also geared up for the competition. I was telling my parents who sat with us at the auditorium that I don’t remember having such activity as early as preschool. Kids now really take one-step ahead in all aspects compared to our generation who were mostly brought up timid & shy, unaware of public speaking & who mostly lacked self confidence during those wonder years…

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That’s MY BOY!!!
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GABBY with his classmates/co-contestants…
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the new cast of Going bulilit, err Sesame Street…Batibot???!!! we wish!
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BACKTRACK last December, just before they had their Holiday break, teachers distributed randomly, the different poems to each kids for them to memorize. That’s when Gabby started reciting his piece even during showers.

FOR MY COUNTRY
I surely love my country,
the land in which I live.
And to my own dear homeland,
my trust & faith, I give.

But just to love my country
is not all that I should do.
I must be strong & noble,
courteous, brave & true.
Being a Filipino,
that’s all I should do.

Here’s the video of his award-winning piece, “FOR MY COUNTRY”…

After the 51 nursery pupils declamed with some went up the stage with not only costumes but backdrops & props, there was a 20-minute break before the program host gave the floor to the 71 preparatory kids’ declamation contest. And about an hour before noon time, we just found ourselves walking Gabby to the stage to accept his 2-feet trophy. It was really an amazing experience. Imagine, an achiever at an early age. We can’t help but be proud of him. He’s the champion for us.

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This one’s for the books, err blog!!!
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And Gabby’s equally proud Lola & Lolo (my parents!)…
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Then my parents gave their apo a VICTORIOUS lunch treat at Super Bowl of China in Gateway Mall…
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We munched on DIMSUM PLATTER…
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BEEF with BROCOLLI, YANG CHOW FRIED RICE…
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CRISPY LEMON CHICKEN…
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and a bucket of TAHO for Gabby…
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YOUR MOM & I ARE REALLY PROUD OF YOU, SON!
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21
Feb
09

BEFORE & AFTER…

Just before lunch time today, we went back to Color me-Mine in Shangri-la mall to claim & bring home our ceramic plate which we painted 10 days ago (see my previous blog entry : color me nori)…I just want to share the before & after photos of our “masterpiece” as a family… you can try it too, it’s a worthwhile bonding experience, kinda artistic too!

BEFORE….

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And AFTER we painted it ourselves and left it to the staff of Color me-Mine for them to glaze it and bake it in their pottery kilns, alas! here’s what we crafted for 4 hours of fun… We had Gabby’s right hand imprint at the centermost part of the plate making it as one of the souvenirs of his childhood.(colors are more emphasized after glazing & baking…)

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This is our second painted ceramic with them, and Gabby is still asking for us to go back next time and color again another art work…

Color me Mine is a franchise from the U.S..

11
Feb
09

BLUE WHALE !

Nope, this is neither the biggest marine mammal nor something about the ocean but a restaurant and a party place at Fun Ranch, in Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave, Pasig City. Fun Ranch is a place where everything is for kids and kids-at-heart. We’ve been to Fun Ranch before but haven’t explored its entirety. One of the restaurants within Fun Ranch is Blue Whale Grill. Beside Blue Whale is Ark Avilon where we enjoyed having close encounter with zoo animals before.

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My son Gabby and my niece KC…

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We experienced dining at Blue Whale last Sunday, February 08 when we attended a family friend/colleague’s son’s 1st birthday party. Kevin, the celebrator, was in a BEE costume since it’s his 1st BEE-DAY (B-day, get it?!) His parents and family members wore the same hues – black and yellow.
Balloons and giveaways were also of the same shade. And it was cute!

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The party was awesome. It featured kiddie games, acrobatic and magic acts, face-painting, carts of bottomless iced teas, cotton candy and different flavors of ice cream that served as “appetizers” to the main entrees. Just before lunch time, we were asked to queue in the buffet; one on the 1st level of Blue Whale & another at its second floor. Party yummies included ebi tempura, calamares, chicken teriyaki, burger steak and ofcourse, spaghetti.

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We chose to bring our plates outside the restaurant and tried dining at floating huts (again!) this time not on bamboo stilts but on plastic drums in a man-made mini-lake complete with water lilies. And on its other side were bumper boats to ride & enjoy. How cool was that?!

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BLUE WHALE @ FUN RANCH
Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave, Pasig City
(63-2) 706-3029

http://funranch.com.ph

11
Feb
09

PIG-OUT FAVORITE

FOOD TRIP = satisfying your taste bud’s cravings for affordable/reasonable yummies.

Dad’s Ultimate Buffet with Saisaki & Kamayan in Glorietta is one of our favorites in casual dining. It serves a long stretch of food items from Western, Japanese and Filipino specialties. We’ve tried their other branches but it’s the one in Glorietta that we’re a usual patrons because of it’s diner-friendly simple arrangement of what to eat. I, Tina and Gabby usually dine here whenever our domestic budget allows it to satisfy our gastronomic cravings. We’ve completed already a frequent-diner’s promo card that offered a FREE ADULT-PLATE after 10 validations regardless of number of visits (1 validation = 1 adult buffet plate). Each CROSS-OVER (Ultimate) BUFFET PLATE costs PhP 500 plus tax inclusive & for kid’s buffet plate PhP 200 plus also tax inclusive. Their Merienda Buffet from 2PM to before 6PM price is at PhP 139 plus.

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Here’s a list of my favorites :

Dad’s :
1. Lengua. very tender and the mushroom sauce is simply delicious.
2. Assorted seafood kebab in pesto. 2 of my favorites : pesto & shrimps in one dish!
3. Garlic mushroom. an always good appetizer.
4. Salads : potato, fruit, ceasar’s, apple & walnut.
5. Pasta
6. Nachos & dips.
7. Carving station : ham, turkey, roast beef with gravy/sauces.

Saisaki :
8. California maki
9. Tamago maki
10. Ebi tempura. lots of it..sinfully delicious!
11. Kani tempura. my son Gabby’s favorite!
12. Japanese rice.
13. Grilled pork in bacon wrap.
14. Cakes & pastries : blueberry cheesecake, creme brulee, creme puffs, chocolate cakes are a must-try.
15. Ice cream : vanilla, mocha, chocolate, strawberry.
16. FRUITS : watermelon, pineapple slices to aid in digestion as we pig-out

Kamayan :
17. Assorted seafod cream-based soup.
18. Bibingka. melts in your mouth, served hot with muscovado sugar, margarine & coconut shavings.
19. Crispy fried kang-kong with mayo dip.
20. Embotido.
21. Sisig.
22. Kare-kare.
23. Halo-halo.
24. LECHON !!! with their hot sweet & spicy gravy.
25. Buko-pandan
26. Maja

I just wish I can have a larger stomach-capacity to try these yummies every visit (GLUTTON’S WISH!).

10
Feb
09

OUR ISLAND COVE ADVENTURE

It’s natural for mothers to constantly make efforts for family bonding. And my mom is no exception. She usually schedules trips, eat-outs or anything for us to do or to go somewhere and enjoy. On the same month of last year, she booked a hotel accomodation for 3 days and scheduled a trip to Baguio for us to experience Panagbenga Flower festival. This year, we agreed to go to Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite; a small town of about an hour drive from Manila (less the traffic). My parents went there 2 weeks ago to celebrate the anniversary of their elopement. We saw their photos taken from their overnight stay and did not expect that our whole family will be there 2 weeks after.

Last Saturday, February 07, we were fetched before 5AM to catch the buffet breakfast at Something Fishy at Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City. The buffet breakfast is offered from 12MN to 10AM daily at PhP 114 pax exclusive of drinks; reasonable price for a wide variety of breakfast yummies. It’s a favorite not only of families but most employees usually call center agents around the area. Something fishy’s buffet breakfast includes arroz caldo, mami, sausages, mini pancakes, beef tapa, boiled and fried rice, fried scrambled eggs, palabok (local pasta with rice-based sauce), pancit canton (chinese noodle), tinapang bangus (smoked dried milkfish), adobong manok, kakanin (rice cakes) like bibingka, biko or some call it sinok-mani, and maja and others.

As we were escorted by the staff to our reserved seats for 11 adults and 4 kids, my brother’s fiancee’s eyes quickly spotted Sam Milby as he dines with his friends. And before he went out of the resto, my mom, as candid as always did not miss the chance and asked for a souvenir shot from Sam with my son Gabby and niece Kelly who are frequent viewers of his teleseryes. One of Sam’s friends was nice to volunteer to take the picture for them.

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After Eastwood City we headed straight to Kawit, Cavite where Island Cove is located. It’s a leisure park stretched in a 36-hectare island with swimming pools, animal land that includes an aviary, a butterfly house, a monkey & aligator farm, recreational facilities for badminton, volleyball, basketball, tennis, billiards and even a gym. It also has function rooms, bars where concerts are held, a spa, playground for kids, and a 96-room hotel other than the 17 cottages where one can relax. I also found out recently from a broadsheet article that the managing director of this tourism spot is the TV celebrity & former Congressman Gilbert Remulla. No wonder Island Cove is apparently well maintained to be a place where one can commune with nature.

I was so impressed with the cleanliness & availability of facilities; never expect to find electric sockets even in cottages & huts to plug in mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets. Island Cove is also a wi-fi area so I got to check my e-mails and did some updates on my social networks. My favorite part of Island Cove is the Fishing Village where we had our lunch in a hut on stilts, enjoyed the sea breeze, while being serenaded by roving local string band and singers. Those dining and resting areas on huts on stilts are the best part of Island Cove where one can feast on Filipino food and get to breathe fresh air and think of nothing but enjoy nature. It’s really a relaxing sanctuary. I really appreciate that I had a chance to forget my worries at least for a day when we were there. You have to experience it, or at least, enjoy first my photos here…

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I tried feeding the ostrich myself with leaves I found on the ground…just for a photo-op of a kid-at-heart

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Ostrich remains to be the biggest flightless bird and probably with the biggest avian egg as well…

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My 4-year-old son Gabby & his 7-year-old cousin KC : who’s taller err, longer than crocs & ostrich ?

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And here’s the ultimate gateway to relaxing dining experience : the entrance to the Fishing Village…

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That’s our hut #20 on stilts ….

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What’s a Fishing Village without trying to catch something to grill or fry; but luck was not on our side…

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Gabby with his Lolo Ben (my dad) did some fishing…

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Three generations of fishermen-wannabe…

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Staff of Fishing Village doing the fish bait made from flour & water as a substitute to an actual fish feeds…

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Another sight to behold : Fishing Village’s menu…

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Here’s a peek at what we had for a family feast…

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Post-prandial smiles… perfect kodak moments (LOL !)

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My son, nephew and nieces enjoyed the swimming pools with clean and impressive facilities of Oceania Water Park within Island Cove. Swimming or not, one has to pay the entrance fee of PHP250 which includes the entrance to animal land and aviary etc.

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Proof that amenities & facilities are available in Island Cove…

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We left Island Cove at around 4PM and decided to take merienda at Digman in Bacoor, Cavite on the way back to Manila. Digman Halo-halo with sandosenang halo originated in Cavite before they branched out to SM malls nationwide.

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