Posts Tagged ‘fun

19
Oct
13

SINGAPORE | THE ELIZABETH HOTEL EXPERIENCE

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Allow me to begin this post by commending the Reception staff of The Elizabeth Hotel in Singapore by the name of Bernard.  That guy needs an applause, a promotion, a salary raise or perhaps, even an award for Best Hotel Service or whatever appropriate title, in my own opinion.

Why?

Picture this – We had more than 9 hours of travel via bus from Penang to Johor Bahru to Singapore, crossing borders and Immigration proceedings on foot, barely slept comfortably, took the 45 minute-MRT-ride from Kranji Station to Newton and finally, a short taxi cab ride from Newton to Mount Elizabeth Road where The Elizabeth Hotel is secluded.  And did I already mention that we brought a heavy luggage and several bags with loads whose weights were illogical for a 3D2N trip? To make the scenario more dramatic and worse, it rained heavily just right after we boarded the taxi cab en route to the facade of The Elizabeth Hotel.

And then we got the warmest and friendliest reception service from Bernard.  Because my request of early-check in was granted, everything else seemed icing on a cake.  Bernard attended to us professionally with smile and concern with our luggages; he immediately offered to keep them safely behind the concierge as he informed us that our room’s still being prepared. Bernard upgraded our Family Room to a Suite free of charge, which we found the sweetest! And until after we checked out the next morning, he carried our luggage to the taxi cab despite there were other staff that could do that for us.  In case he gets to read this, thank you for everything, Bernard! You made our stay memorable!

Over and beyond the elegant and well-thought-of-interiors, accessibility and outstanding and quality service are what I like the most about hotels of Far East Hospitality.

Just so you know, it was not my first time to check in at one of their hotels in Singapore. Together with my family a few years back, we spent a lovely accomodation in Quincy Hotel (blog post HERE!) and when I came back to Singapore exactly a year after, I enjoyed a 3D2N stay in Oasia Hotel (blog post HERE!).

And so on my 5th visit to the Lion City,

you cannot blame me if I set my expectations high with

The Elizabeth Hotel.

Now, meet my travel buddies.  They’re first-time-tourists in Singapore and it was their very first time to travel abroad together. They’re sisters to each other, with no other siblings in between.
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My travel companions for this Singapore trip : my maternal aunty and my one and only mom. :)

After waiting comfortably for about half an hour in the lobby (while the staff were preparing the room), we were finally led to our suite.

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The name of the suite says it all!  I cannot be grateful enough!

The size of the suite was just fine, never intimidating.
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Its white and a blush of pastel color-interiors was very soothing to vision.

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The complimentary Mini Bar

I immediately checked out the wifi connection with my mobile, then laptop and found out that it’s fast & free!

The Master’s bedroom was simply inviting.
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Handsome lines, classy & minimalist interiors. Wonderful, isn’t it?

The only little thing I didn’t like was the airconditioning that was pre-set to a colder temperature than expected and we couldn’t modify it ourselves.  You know my relatives are in their senior years, so almost everything must be regulated and in moderation.

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The gorgeous bed where restful sleeps and dreams were made!

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Details that deserve a second look. 

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Almost all you need are in the wardrobe!

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A peek at the Living Room and Mini Bar from the Master’s Bedroom…

I’m very particular with hotel toiletries. They must be hypoallergenic and olfactory nerve-friendly.

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Similar to Oasia Hotel Singapore, The Elizabeth Hotel also provides one of my favorite lines of bathroom essentials with citrus-masculine scent, Thann made in Thailand!

The toilet, shower and bath were all built in fine marble, almost spotless with only little hints of age.

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Too bad, I failed to sample the tub! :(

Our accomodation was inclusive of breakfast buffet at Modesto’s, the Italian Restaurant at the lobby of The Elizabeth Hotel.

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Where first meal of the day is served; an all-day-Italian restaurant too!

This is where we had breakfast.

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The view from where we sat. There’s a flowing water on the glass windows by the greens.

I honestly like those large framed paintings; something unusual from buffet spreads, or at least, it lives up to being Italian themed restaurant. However, breakfast menu also includes a few local dishes, some continental ones and staples.

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Can you spot where we dined?

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Like an Art Gallery! A visual & gastronomic treats. Nice!

Here are what my mom and aunty had on their morning plates…

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And mine…

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And man created BACON! I was a happy boy with bacon! Oops, with healthy salad too! hehehe!

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My plate : Fried Noodles, Roti Prata and some Blueberry & Chocolate MUFFINS to die for! Believe me, those bite-sized ones are a big reason for you to dine at Modesto’s!

We didn’t pass the chance to visit the swimming pool area just a few steps from Modesto’s.  For a tropical country such as Singapore, a dip in the pool is always a pleasure.
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But we only settled for photo-ops by the pool side.
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Thank you, The Elizabeth Hotel Singapore! My aunty, my mom and I were all delighted with our stay!

With its walking-distance-location to Orchard Road and its proximity to Mouth Elizabeth Medical Center and Paragon Mall (and other upscale shopping complexes along Orchard Road), excellent hotel service, accomodating and friendly staff, minimalist yet classic interiors and homey ambiance, do you think The Elizabeth Hotel met my great expectations?

It even exceeded.  :)

>><<

Check out this blog’s features and reviews on other hotels by Far East Hospitality :

The Elizabeth Hotel | 24 Mount Elizabeth, S228518 Singapore | For more details and reservation, kindly visit the website of The Elizabeth Hotel by Far East Hospitality : http://www.stayfareast.com.sg/en/hotels/the-elizabeth-hotel.aspx

Thank you to Far East Hospitality & particularly to The Elizabeth Hotel for sponsoring our overnight stay at the suite. We really appreciate it! Special thanks goes out to Ms. Ericia Li, Ms. Christina Tan  & Mr. Mike Cheong for generously responding to my emails and request. 

06
Oct
13

HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE TO MALAYSIA?

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Prayer Pavilion, Khoo kongsi, George Town, Penang

After three years, two months and a few more weeks,  how do you say goodbye to the most unforgettable days of your life? How do you say goodbye to the country who welcomed you with open arms, despite you’re initially clueless about her, except for the image of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers? How do you say goodbye to the state who embraced you and gave you so much opportunities to work, travel, eat, learn and experience her culture? How do you say goodbye to the few people who expressed selfless and priceless concern, love and generosity particularly in your lowest moments and trying times?

I don’t know.

As my son’s already in the Philippines now, continuing his studies with his mom, I try my best not to dwell in sadness, while I bid farewell to a lot of things that matter to me, including the three years of my life in Malaysia.  In spite and despite of my family problems that I opted not to disclose publicly (Don’t ask unless you’re one of those pathetic gossipers and hypocrites I know, who thrive in divulging private issues of others, that made them to me, much like receptacles of feces. Rectum personified. Are you?), I chose to celebrate my last days in Penang, the humble state that I considered my second home, by touring my mom (she’s back in Penang!) and her only sister, my aunty who’s currently enjoying her very first vacation abroad.  After all, it’s so much better to be positive and happy on my last weeks in Malaysia, rather than to just abandon everything and everyone who made our stay in Butterworth worthwhile.

After I officially tendered my resignation from work, I’m savoring my last days in Penang at work with my current students during weekdays and revisiting the places I loved with my mom and aunt every weekends.

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Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam

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Burmese Buddhist Temple that enshrines The Standing Buddha in Pulau Tikus

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Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam

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Thai Buddhist Temple that enshrines The Reclining Buddha in Pulau Tikus

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Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam

My Mom and Aunt in Malaysia

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur via LCCT.  And if you’ve been following this blog, you probably remember that my mom has been to Malaysia last year, but as for her one and only sister, who happens to be my godparent as well, we needed to introduce to her the country that has been so good to us by only the best ways we know how.  So first priority after arrival at the terminal : EAT MALAYSIAN FOOD!

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Noodles from Old Town Restaurant in Low Cost Carrier Terminal. Delicious! Sedap! Sarap!

Then came the unexpected travel-blooper of my aunt’s luggage that she only borrowed from one of her daughters. Just before we boarded our KUL-PEN flight, my mom noticed that its stitching collapsed that pushed me to buy packing tape from the airport’s bookstore.  The next photo exhibits the result of our effort to bind her luggage back! Hehehe!

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Boarding time! Picture muna!
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We arrived in Penang on a Saturday late afternoon, almost dead tired of the whole day flight-and-waiting-at-the-airports, so having dinner at the cafe in front of our apartment was really called for! We’re tired but never fatigued to smile! :)
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Sunday morning, my aunt went with me to the pasar (public market) via hopping in the Rapid Penang Bus few minutes after 6AM. If you must know, I am one of those rare breed of family-men who take efforts to go to public market to shop for the week’s food supplies, wash dishes, (I also know how to cook!), do laundry, iron clothes, carry gallons of water from the water dispenser from the mini-mart to the apartment on top of working for a living.  All that I experience in being an Overseas Filipino Worker that gave me deeper meaning to the song’s lyrics, “I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough!”

From the public market, we bought a few Malay breakfast goodies : some local delicacies and Nasi lemak!
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We wasted no time after breakfast and rode the bus and ferry and trooped to George Town…

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Ferry Ride from Butterworth to George Town

We had lunch at one of my favorites, Restoran Kapitan, Pitt Street, Little India, Lebuh Chulia…

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La Coppera : Chicken Briyani

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Buttered Chicken Masala, Garlic and Cheese Naan, Dahl, Chicken Tikka, and Mango Lassi! Yummy!

Must remember Penang forever with her absolutely amazing street arts!
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Must have photo-ops with Penang’s remarkable symbols and touristy spots. From trishaws, clan houses, temples and mosques, I believed my mom and aunt were happy strolling and touring the heritage trail of George Town.
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Inside Prangin Mall near Komtar Building, we had Ais Kacang!
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Ais Kacang! One of Malaysia’s refreshing desserts!

The next weekend, I brought them to Kek Lok Si Temple.

KEK LOK SI TEMPLE in Air Itam

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We ended the day by having dinner at one of the most affordable eat-all-you-want restaurants in the globe! At only RM 52 (more or less PhP 700) for the total charge for the 3 of us (the two got discounts as senior citizens!), we enjoyed food, food and more food complete with bottomless ice cream and other desserts!


DINNER AT TOWN STEAMBOAT BUFFET RESTAURANT in Macalister Road

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The next day, Sunday – my aunt & mom prepared and cooked lunch. We stayed home the whole Sunday eating & relaxing!

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The following weekend, I brought them to the Burmese & Thai Buddhist Temples in Pulau Tikus, then to Gurney Paragon Mall, G Hotel and Plaza Gurney Mall. Photos need not to be captioned. Their smiles say it all!

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God is so good! When life gives you trials, the Lord makes His presence felt by sending people who care so much about you and in my case, these people aren’t only my immediate relatives but a few Malaysians who really made me experience Divine Intervention in truest sense of the word.

There are no words to sufficiently express my gratitude to those Malaysians who have been so nice to me.  That includes my students! I shall never forget my days conducting lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes in Anatomy and Physiology, Basic Pathology, General Medical Microbiology, Applied Medical Microbiology, Immunology, Basic Molecular and Cellular Biology, Group Project-Case Study, Medical Parasitology, to future doctors of Malaysia!

Special thanks goes out to my students in FMS April 2013 Intake Group D who gave me a ceramic fountain as a gift (not in photo) and to my students in DMS April 2011 Intake who gave me Baju Melayu, the traditional attire of Malaysian men, complete with a very nice hand-woven songket that they bought in Perak as their gift to me.  Thank you very much! With or without gifts, I really appreciate everything!
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Baju Melayu, given as farewell surprise gift from my students of DMS April 2011 Intake. Terima Kasih!

To all Malaysian colleagues, friends, fellow bloggers, students, sponsors,

Thank you very much!

In Shakespeare’s words, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow!” 

There will be no goodbyes, but see you again in the future!

Terima Kasih, Malaysia!

Thank you for both GOOD and BAD TIMES!

I LOVE PENANG!

I LOVE MALAYSIA!

>><<

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

~ Melody Beattie

PS : The remaining weeks prior exiting Malaysia, I still have to attend to generous invites to sponsored accomodation from two premier hotels in Singapore and a luxury 2 bedroom serviced apartment in Kuala Lumpur!  It’s so nice that the good Lord gave me an opportunity to tour my mom and aunt not only in Penang and KL but it will be their first time too in the Lion City soon!  God is so good!
 
19
Aug
13

PATAN : THE CITY OF FINE ARTS IN NEPAL

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Chyasim Deval Krishna Hindu Temple, Patan Durbar Square, Nepal.

Comparable to those in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, Patan Durbar Square is poetic, almost lyrical.  Its unique medieval charm emanating from ornately carved and beautifully built 16th and 17th century-old temples, impressive palace, museum with lovely and expansive courtyards, could seduce any first-time-visitor effortlessly. Most picturesque corners offer an alluring venue where one can sit all day, while away the time and never get bored or hungry (the last word is a joke, obviously!). :D The exquisite beauty of Patan Durbar Square and its quaint community complements the friendly smiles of its people.

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Gabby with a friendly Nepalese woman who sells bird feeds for 20 rupees (US$ 0.20 or PhP 9) per plate.

August 08, 2013. Thursday. Our third day in Nepal.  With my wife, Tina and our 8-year-old son, Gabby in tow, I left our accomodation in Thamel, Kathmandu at around 9AM. Despite the monsoon season in Nepal would last for 30-45 days more, as per word of one of the staff of Thorong Peak Guest House, the weather was glorious as the sun was up on the day we left for Patan.

“Namaste. Good morning! How much would you charge going to Patan?”  I asked the taxi driver standing in the tapered alley, a few steps from the hotel.

“Four hundred Nepalese Rupees, Sir.”  he replied.  With my poor Mathematics ability, I did mental computation and agreed without hesitation.  I silently reminded myself to be sensitive and considerate, so I didn’t bother to haggle, with the thought that I might deprive the man of his day’s earnings.  Four Hundred Nepalese Rupees at present, is only US$ 4; reasonable, I think for a 7km ride to south of Thamel.

After 2 days in Nepal, the three of us became used to riding small Suzuki hatchback taxi cabs, rolling along narrow muddy, if not dusty alleys and bumpy terracotta brick roads. Minibuses, as mentioned in the previous posts, may be a cheaper option to some but we regarded a little more convenience and comfort.

The taxi driver dropped us off right in front of the ticket booth. Initially, I was relieved, thinking that similar to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, what comes after the ticket booth is the entrance to the square itself.  I forgot that Patan is another world within the Kathmandu Valley.

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Admission tickets and tourists’ IDs  for Tina & me; Gabby’s free as usual.

Tina asked me if I know the way to Patan Durbar Square, I responded by inquiring directions from a local man who just finished paying respect to his god by the Buddhist temple along the road.

“You walk straight and then turn right at the end.”  said the Nepali.

I missed reading the fact that there are 2 ticket booths and entry sites to Patan Durbar Square. We were brought by the taxi driver from Thamel to the ticket booth located south of the main plaza, thus it required us to walk around several meters to reach Patan Durbar Square.

I thought of Tina and Gabby, of course. More than my worry that they might complain, I became a bit paranoid that they may experience fatigue and hypoglycemia after walking long with empty stomachs. Thankfully, nothing eventful happened. The three of us didn’t feel exhausted from the seemingly endless constricted streets and no one complained.  As always, they’re my most understanding travel mates! :)

Vividly painted doors in blue and green hues, intricate carvings, gorgeous wooden windows, peddlers, vendors, pedestrians, Thangka painting school and shops, vehicles that tried to squeeze itself within the thin to thinner roads, all those became our morning sensory stimuli. Walking towards Patan Durbar Square was a blessing in disguise!

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We don’t see this everyday. Thangka paintings seen on display in shops;  geriatric peddlers still busy earning a living.

What seemed to be a common weekday in Patan for the many, became an extraordinary and memorable day for Tina, Gabby and me.  I personally felt stepping into another old world again.

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These streets are made for walking.

The moment we set foot in Patan Durbar Square, we were drawn in by another diversity of culture that allowed Buddhism and Hinduism to flourish harmoniously.
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Gladly, Tina and Gabby trusted my choices of itineraries so I NEVER heard any of them saying, “What?!  Another durbar square?!”

I smiled seeing the two wonder in awe with the sight before us. Tina began taking her photos and videos via her smartphone while I saw Gabby standing in one corner, visually inspecting the place.

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Manga Hiti. The water tank that made Tina and I curious about.

The next thing I saw was the scene involving Tina asking a few Nepalese about the the sunken cruciform-shaped water tank.

I was  surprised when she suggested that we should go down.  I refused. She saw people drinking the water too. With due respect to the faithfuls and their belief, I didn’t want to entertain the thoughts in my mind and be haunted by the colony counts of microorganisms and vectors that were possibly proliferating in Manga Hiti.  Although the three amazingly carved dhara or water spouts in the form of makara or mythical crocodile-elephants were truly inviting.

We saw Patan Durbar Square as busy as Kathmandu Durbar Square.  It was flocked not only by its resident pigeons but local people and tourists of all ages as well.  Vendors selling bird feeds, old Nepali men watching the world and time go by,  young cyclists roaming to and fro, students enjoying their break time from school, who made me think if they have idea, or at least a hint, that they’re very fortunate and blessed that their playground is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Patan was so busy but rich and colorful and a true sight to behold!

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Engaging  sights. Fascinating place. Interesting people.

Namaste. Welcome to Patan Durbar Square!

It’s never too much to see another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu Valley!

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King Yoganarendra Malla’s statue in brass atop a tall concrete column, installed around 1700.  King Malla is depicted with his queens, and a cobra with a small brass bird. According to the legend, as long as that tiny bird remains in place, the king may still return to the palace.

Behold, the Krishna Mandir Hindu Temple in Patan Durbar Square.  According to the Lonely Planet Guide to Nepal that I read, this three-tiered temple was built by King Siddhinarsingh Malla in 1637.  The man-bird, Garuda, the god’s vehicle is seen kneeling with hands on prayerful position on top of a column erected in front of the temple. Non-Hindus are not allowed to set foot inside to view the image of Vishnu as Krishna, the god’s incarnation. Nonetheless, admiring its architectural magnificence puts anyone to a breathtaking once-in-a-lifetime-moment!

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Krishna Mandir Hindu Temple. One of my favorite corners in Patan Durbar Square.

A world away from theme parks, carnivals and fastfood joints and just like what he did on our first day in Nepal, our little boy wonder found delight once more in chasing and running after pigeons.  This time, he asked Tina and I if he could buy bird feeds, we replied positively.

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One of the few women at the square who sells bird feeds.

It was a parent’s joy to see his child savoring  a moment!
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Gabby’s framed by the flock as he tried to chase and tease them. I love this photo!

Didn’t I mention, we went to Patan without having breakfast? We walked our way to the nearby Cafe du Temple and had our light brunch.

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My favorite travel buddies, who else but my family – Tina & Gabby at the rooftop of Cafe du Temple, Patan. :)

One remarkable thing that I read before coming to Nepal was eating in rooftop restaurants is a must-experience!  We religiously obliged. My family and I ate our first meal in Nepal at Cosmo de Cafe in Kathmandu Durbar Square, and in Patan, we hit the stairs up to the rooftop of Cafe du Temple.

The reason is obvious and self-explanatory.

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Patan Durbar Square as viewed from the rooftop restaurant, Cafe du Temple.  Breathtaking, isn’t it?

However, most tables, seats and the floor itself, despite under huge umbrellas, were wet because of the drizzle, so we just took a few pictures and went down to the roofed dining area of Cafe du Temple. Here we met another Filipino. Not a person, by the way, but San Miguel Beer, one of Philippines’ famous exports (perhaps, next to Manny Pacquiao? *kidding*).  I only took a blurry photo of that SMB bottle using my phone so I didn’t bother to post. Besides, we didn’t ordered it, enough for us to smile that it stands side by side with Everest beer bottles inside the fridge of that eatery.

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Funny how Gabby’s used already to taking photos first prior devouring any meal.

After a quick bites by the window, we went back to the square. We attempted to go inside Patan Museum but immediately found simple contentment in just taking photos a few steps after its facade.

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All smiles in Patan!  :)

Instead of going through artifacts par excellance all housed in Patan Museum, we chose to be with the people outside the museum. There were a volume of old Nepali men, proudly wearing their Nepalese traditional hat called, Dhaka topi while watching a random show of live singing and local music in the middle of the durbar square fronting the Royal Palace. Women talking with fellow women. Mothers carrying children close to their bosoms.  More peddlers walked by with muddy feet, trying their best to earn a living.
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All those grandiose Newari cultural and religious heritage, those friendly Nepalese smiles, those simple meals and drinks we savored, that life in Patan that we witnessed will all linger in our memories forever.  I only spent less than 6 hours in Patan, but spending it with my family made it worthwhile.  

“Journeys are gifts we give ourselves. Even if you are very lucky and have someone else footing the bill for your journey, you are still giving yourself a gift just by going. Too many people have opportunities to travel, but choose to stay home, fearful of the unknown, shackled by their everyday rut, tied down to commitments that don’t have to tie them down if they would seek creative solutions.

We can’t always travel right away, but we can always be planning, scheming, chiseling away at the things that keep us home so that someday in the hopefully not too distant future, we can go explore places we dream of visiting.”  

~ Dave Fox

To be continued.

*A life journey of mine, an epiphany of travel for you, made possible by Malaysia Airlines.

This Nepal Blog Series includes :

>><<

11
Aug
13

OUR UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY FROM MALAYSIA TO NEPAL

Nothing is more amazing than making decisions that unexpectedly leads to memorable and meaningful experiences.  Our journey from Malaysia to Nepal officially began when my wife, Tina gave her elusive green light to travel with me and our 8-year-old-son, Gabby to Kathmandu, Nepal from our current home base in Penang.  It came dramatically after I already considered choosing from a handful of fellow Filipino bloggers to join me.  When my persuasive skills won over Tina’s anxiety about Nepal’s safety and security, particularly to tourists with kids,  I was silently jumping for bliss!  I couldn’t explain the excitement I felt down my spine when my lovely and very understanding wife finally agreed to explore and discover one of the places in South Asia inscripted not only in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites but more so in my bucket list.  I couldn’t thank her enough. God knows, I was even more thankful to Gabby who had no hesitation with the trip and didn’t even bother to ask me or his mom, if there’s a theme park or at least a branch of his favorite fastfood joint in Kathmandu.  :)

I intentionally planned to stay in Kathmandu for 5 days that coincided with our forced-holiday from work in celebration of this year’s end of fasting season, the Eid. Prior to our August 5 to 10, 2013 Nepal trip, I somehow prepared by reading a travel guide book and online sources; I also inquired some helpful tips and suggestions from a few Filipino travel bloggers who already set foot at our chosen itineraries. Days went by so quickly and before I do another countdown-post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter about the trip,  Tina already packed everything for the three of us. Nice and sweet.
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Packed and ready to go!

THE LONG ROAD TO KATHMANDU

Travel lesson number 1 : Never underestimate the traffic jam anywhere.  In our case, I did.  :(

If you must know, my family’s middle name is punctuality, so needless to say, we’re rarely late at anything.

Our flight from Penang to Kathmandu via Kuala Lumpur was set on an evening of Monday, August 5, 2013.   I told my family that there’s no need to hire a cab from our place in Butterworth to Bayan Lepas in the island where the Penang International Airport (PIA) is, because we could leave the apartment early at 4 or 5PM via bus and ferry rides.  Too early in my approximation for our 9:45PM local flight.  I was wrong!  The moment we rolled our Barney-colored luggages to the bus stop in front of our place, I regret the fact of not leaving earlier.  It took us a while to reach George Town via taxi cab and a ferry ride, even worse when I asked my family to hop on the Rapid Penang Bus from Weld Quay in George Town to PIA instead of taking another taxi.

Traffic jam around George Town that day was terribly horrendous. I began uttering prayers silently; asked to ease the road congestion with divine intervention. My entire Sympathetic Nervous System went haywire! Heart beat became tachycardic, pulse rate was bounding and rapid, tension made my breathing fast and deep. While I was seated at the back of Tina and Gabby inside the bus, I was blaming myself the whole time for deciding not taking a cab from George Town to the airport, or better, from our place in the mainland directly to the terminal. Thankfully, my family was there to somehow calm me down.
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Aboard Rapid Penang Bus from George Town to Penang International Airport.

It felt forever when we arrived at the airport at 8AM exactly. It seemed like we traveled by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang! Can you imagine that? Nonetheless, I was the most relieved upon being at the Departure Area.  My worries were eased immediately after the staff at the counter of Malaysia Airlines confirmed our online reserved seats and checked in our luggage directly to Kathmandu.

A LOT OF FIRST TIME MOMENTS FOR US

First time to fly with MAS and we’re impressed.  Our 50-minute-flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur International Airport went uneventful.
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Smiles of excitement, love, gratitude, wonder!

First time in KLIA too.  Our excitement for the trip ruled over the fact that we have a 10-hour-layover prior to our KUL-KTM flight the next day, August 6, 2013, Tuesday at 8:55AM. Say, what?!  Ten hours inside the terminal?  Yes, baby! First time to have that longest transit time in our not-that-frequent-travel history. And for the record, none of us complained.
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Hello, Kuala Lumpur International Airport! Selamat Malam! (Good evening!)

I could’ve paid for a brief but more comfortable accomodation in a hotel within KLIA but my suggestion was vetoed by Tina for practical reasons. Ten hour-layover was spent having dinner and coffee in one of Gabby’s favorite fastfood joints, checking out our social networks and necessary bladder breaks.

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Someone already reached Dreamland while the other was killing time on Instagram.  :)

Not long after…

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Total knockout!  Zzz  zZZz Z  z z zz z…

Fast forward to the morning after, my family was all-smiles again aboard Malaysia Airlines. The flight took a little more than 5 hours from KLIA to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

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Feels great to board Malaysia Airlines again! Kathmandu, here we come!

Travel lesson number 2 :  Never compromise eating and drinking on time (despite lack of sleep).  We had some bites at the same fastfood for breakfast prior boarding but we welcomed the brunch served 36,000 feet.  Who needs enough sleep with such gastronomic feast?

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Tina and Gabby’s choice of brunch at 36,000 feet!  Omelet and Chicken Sausage and everything else. Yum!

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While I went local with Boneless Chicken Curry and Chapatti.  What a way to satisfy a discriminating palates!

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We chased Wau Bulan or Moon Kite (that serves as logo of MAS proudly inked at the tip of its wings) making in Kota Bharu, Kelantan via bus from Penang back in 2011;  unbelievably, we’ve flown by the “Wau Bulan of Malaysia” to Nepal!  We can’t be grateful enough!

IS THIS MOUNT EVEREST?

A few turbulent episodes,  a Tagalog-mushy-movie,  and a bladder break after, I gazed out my window and saw the most incredible apparition I had during my flights.

Try to contract your eye muscles and look closely at the center of the photo below, you’ll see a triangular peak that’s too bizaare to be a cloud. Of course, you can accuse me of being overly imaginative anytime. I am guilty. :)  Et voila!

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It’s magical to see you!

To anyone reading this who plans to go to Kathmandu via Malaysia, and would love to see the peaks of the roof of the world, you need to remember a few things. Firstly, make sure, by all means you book your seat on the right side (seats F in Malaysia Airlines); better if you could reserve seat 5F in Economy class, or if you’re in Business class, any seat on the right window side. In our case, my family was generous to let me sit in 20F.  That’s located after the wing of the aircraft, nonetheless, didn’t disappoint.  Secondly, you may opt to travel to Nepal by the months of October as it’s no longer cloudy and the Himalayan range can be seen to her full glory. In our case, we took the risk of going to Nepal in the middle of its monsoon season; thankfully, we only experienced a few minutes of drizzle. God is so good! All the time!

TOUCHDOWN, NEPAL!

NAMASTE.

Located in South Asia, bordered by China up north and India in south, east and west, Nepal is 2 hours and 15 minutes late than the clocks in Malaysia and our country, the Philippines. After we left Kuala Lumpur at 8:55AM, we safely arrived Tribhuvan International Airport in KTM before 11:30AM (Nepal time).

Nepal, obviously doesn’t belong to ASEAN countries but to SAARC or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.  So being a Philippine-passport holder, my family and I needed to fill out a Visa Application forms upon arrival, attach a passport photo with white background and pay US $ 25 as Visa fee for 15 days each, and free for Gabby with multiple entry valid for 30 days.

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Ultimately well-spent US $25 to date! Our experiences and moments together are priceless!

Trips to FOREX counter to have our limited US dollars change to Nepalese Rupees, Immigration and Visa proceedings, plus collecting our luggages at the conveyor belt inside the Arival Aea uniquely built of terracotta bricks, were all done in a breeze. The next thing we saw was our names printed on an A4 paper held by the staff of our chosen hotel in Thamel.  I did the hotel reservation online weeks ago.

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Namaste. Welcome to Nepal!

OUR ACCOMODATION IN THAMEL, KATHMANDU

Staying in Kathmandu at this time was inexpensive and so affordable. Case in point, I could’ve opted to reserve as cheap as 15-ringgit-room per night (US$ 5) but considered comfort, convenience and security of my family.  With so many accomodation within Thamel, the touristy area in Kathmandu where most eateries, mini-supermarkets and hotels are located, I decided to reserve a suite room with a king-size bed, an airconditioning unit (Warning : power and internet connection are intermittent in Kathmandu. Choose a hotel with a generator that could support electric supply during brownouts), an ensuite toilet with hot & cold shower, cable TV (a must for Gabby!).  The suite I reserved at Thorong Peak Guesthouse, tucked strategically within the laterals of Thamel, away from the noise of the streets only cost a little over RM100 per night with taxes included (US $ 31+).  It’s a steal for the rate of a suite that also comes with a balcony, if you ask me.
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Restful sleeps in Kathmandu were made on this.

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Our private balcony at our suite at Thorong Peak Guesthouse, Thamel, Kathmandu. See those prayer flags? We must be in Nepal.

Travel lesson number 3 : Set priorities and know your limits. In our case, we gave importance to our itineraries, considered budget, security, safety, eating and drinking enough fluids (and sleep for Tina & Gabby).  So the next important thing to do upon arrival at the hotel is to freshen up! We took quick showers and dressed up and immediately hit the roads to Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Travel lesson number 4 : Be familiar with the place you’re traveling and its transport system.  From my religious readings for a few weeks about Nepal, I missed out the data about the taxi cabs and the dusty, terracotta brick roads that could be too muddy after a drizzle. We were a bit surprised when we hailed similar taxi cab that picked us up from the airport to hotel, a small suzuki hatchback that usually run without aircondition on.

COSMO DE’ CAFE, A ROOFTOP RESTAURANT IN KATHMANDU

Travel lesson number 5 :  Know where to eat best and eat local. I read that one pleasing experience in Kathmandu is to savor delightful local (and continental) dishes in any rooftop restaurants of your choice. We found one in Cosmo De’ Cafe, just before the ticket booth where visitors pay reasonable fee to Kathmandu Durbar Square.

It’s enough for me to see my family comfortable, satiated and happy.

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My very own goddess relaxing at Cosmo De’ Cafe before we saw Nepal’s Living Goddess, literally.

Tina was looking at this unbelievable heritage site…

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Behold. The absolute creativity and brilliance of Newari architecture.

LEARNING ABOUT CASTE SYSTEM IN NEPAL

The moment our Nepalese waiter, Dil, welcomed us to Cosmo De’ Cafe, we felt at home in Kathmandu. I, myself, didn’t expect to learn a little thing about Nepal as early as our first lunch.  While looking at the windows that intricately framed the sights at Kathmandu Durbar Square with handsome wood carvings and browsing the menu for choices, I asked Dil his complete name.

“My complete name is, Dil Pachabhaiya Magar. I’m 20 years old,” he replied verbally and voluntarily wrote it on a sheet of tissue paper.  Dil smartly explained that Dil is his name, Pachabhaiya his surname, and Magar his caste.

Something hit my cerebral arteries that instantly brought me back inside our classroom when we were discussing caste system in India, Nepal etc. way back in my High School days. My goodness. How clock ticks so fast, that it was only upon casual conversion with a Nepalese waiter, that made me remember about the social stratification system observed in Nepal. In this age when almost everything is digital and controlled by a flicker of a finger, people around the globe must be reminded that in certain areas of the world, some human beings are still socially classified by caste system. Admittedly, I had mixed emotions ordering my food from someone living a certain social status.

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Dil, our Nepalese friendly waiter made us remember about caste system in Nepal.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people,

you might better stay at home.” 

- James A. Michener

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here’s our very first family happy meal in Kathmandu!
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Mo:mo, a Nepalese (Newar) dumplings.

We had vegetable momo instead of chicken momo (others offer buffalo momo) simply because there’s bird flu in Nepal during the time of our visit. How exciting, isn’t it? Going back to momo; We had it two ways – fried and steamed and found it just okay, nothing to rave about. What made it unusual or special perhaps, was its dip compared to the soy and chilies of Chinese.

Tina and I ordered Cosmo Special Noodles that was served with ham and vegetables. Delicious actually! Gabby asked for a Mexican Burrito that came with red beans and cheese stuffings. We washed down everything with Mango Lassi and small bottles of Coke.  What made Nepalese cuisine by the way, is also affordable than you can imagine.  Big servings at a cheap prices.  Burp! :D
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Cosmo Special Noodles. Reminded us of Pancit Bihon back home in the Philippines and Malaysia’s Beehon. :)

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Majestic, isn’t it?
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Pleased to have a family photo taken by a Nepalese.

And then the electricity supplying the TV and electric fans died down but not the wifi as it’s connected with the solar energy source.  Establishments were seen to have been using solar panels against the intermittent electrical power supply in the city. The brownout signaled we have to be done eating and leave.

KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARE

We finished our lunch before 3PM and trooped down the road and paid the admission rates (Gabby’s free!) at the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal that we visited. The Kathmandu Durbar Square.

With all the 16th century-Hindu temples built in grandeur that we’ve never seen elsewhere, I told Tina it felt like we stepped into another world, a time machine or a Hollywood movie set. It was surreal!

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The intricately carved wooden pillars of Maju Deval Hindu Temple framed another temple across.

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Who would’ve thought we’ll be standing at Shiva-Parvati Hindu Temple that was built in the late 1700s?

Time, space and life as a whole, within the vicinity of Kathmandu Durbar Square, away from the busy streets of Thamel, seemed like frozen for centuries.

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Strolling around the durbar square (or plaza), Gabby found pigeons that delighted him for a while.

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Glad to see our own kid enjoying the moment. Surprisingly, he never complained of fatigue, dusty and muddy roads, small taxi cabs, and lack of theme parks.  It must be signs of maturity at a young age of 8.

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A lot of touts that offered tour guiding within the complex approached us but to be fair with them, they were so courteous and never pushy. They speak fluent English too, however remarkably, the three of us were often greeted with, “Ni Hao!” mistaken as Chinese, or Thai and Malaysian but never Filipinos. One also wrongly asked if I’m Nepalese; because somehow, we look alike.

Basically, Nepalese people are friendly and hospitable. They smiled at us despite a few elders couldn’t express themselves in English. They were warm enough to grant us a greeting of Namaste! And a touristy photo-op.

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At one point, I found a chance to do lectures, would you believe? LOL! :P

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Two friendly Newar elders listened attentively as I do an impromptu lectures in Microbiology and Parasitology.  Now that’s a joke!

Of course, we didn’t let the chance to pass without a class picture with them. Seriously, we’re honored and privileged to have sat and talked with them; we felt so welcomed in Kathmandu!

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We gave tribute to their warm welcome by wearing traditional Nepalese hat or Dhaka topi. We shall never forget the Nepalese. They’re one of the most beautiful and kindest people we’ve met!

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Kala (Black) Bhairab.  Bhairab is Shiva’s 6-armed destructive form; crowned and with garland of human skulls, crushing a corpse, symbolic of human ignorance. It was used ages ago for trial by ordeal, as telling lies while standing in front of this statue will bring instant death.

KUMARI, THE LIVING GODDESS

Yes, I read about Kumari, the Living Goddess in Kathmandu. She’s chosen from a group of girls age 4 to 6 who successfully passed an ordeal and regarded as the Living Goddess until she reaches her puberty. Her menstruation is the sign for her to go back to normal life and leave the Kumari Ghar. It’s also a signal for the authorities to select another Kumari. What we learned from the touts in the square was the time when Kumari will show herself at the window inside the Kumari Ghar. We were told it was 4PM; and so we didn’t miss and had an extraordinary opportunity to have a glimpse of a living goddess!

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On most souvenir shops : Hand-crafted puppets depicting gods and deities of Hinduism. The right-most on the photo represents Kumari, the Living Goddess.

We had a glimpse for Kumari, the Living Goddess here at Kumari Ghar…

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Kumari showed herself at the middle window, uttering somewhat a mantra, while all travelers, tourists and local guides, including the three of us who were there, held hands in prayerful position.  Silence lorded for few minutes, then before we knew it, Kumari left the window.  A local guide mentioned to his tourists, it’s a good Karma to be blessed by Kumari. We felt blessed even before her blessings.

There was a signage inside the courtyard that photographing Kumari is prohibited, so we were content in showing respect. I just bought some postcards at 10 Nepalese Rupees each (US $0.10) with her image taken probably one of those few festivals when Kumari is carried onto procession outside Kumari Ghar.

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Kumari, the Living Goddess.

BASANTAPUR

Gabby, Tina and I felt thirsty so we bought a liter of bottled distiled water. Then we set foot at Basantapur just outside Kumari Ghar. Nothing was different except for more vendors of exotic souvenirs.  At Basantapur, there were also intricately built Newar structures with beautiful woodcarvings. Everything and everyone were still at a slow pace.

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This scene affirmed that priceless little moments make the best happiness!  :)

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Tina told me her heart melts for poverty in front of us at that moment.  I told her, we can only be emphatic and it’s not easy to render sympathy.  She mentioned that we are still blessed despite we, believe it or not, are still struggling Overseas Filipino Workers. We’re grateful for the chance that showed Gabby the value of appreciating what he has, no matter how little it is.

On a lighter note, we’re also thankful to taste what others considered as Starbucks Coffee in Kathmandu – the Himalayan Java Coffee that has branches all over the town. We had a few blends at Basantapur, before leaving Kathmandu Durbar Square.

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At around 5 to 6PM, we rode a taxi back to Thamel, strolled our way down the dusty and narrow alleys of one of the busiest touristy areas in Kathmandu. We found plates that satisfied our cravings for dinner at a restaurant secluded inside Mandala Street.

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With placid smiles, sleepy eyes and growling stomachs, we wolf down our first dinner in Nepal! :)

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Served with red wine, this plate of Fish and Chips could’ve been better if not overcooked.  We liked the Pineapple juice though (it’s rather rare in Penang!).  In spite we’re not that impressed with food we had,  we understand It’s not much of the food but our dining experience that matters.

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It’s amazing how time spent less than a day, from our trip that commenced in Penang to Kathmandu, had already taught and reminded us so many life’s lessons. Emphaty and sympathy. Beauty in simplicity. History and heritage. Culture and beliefs. Kindness in strangers. Poverty amidst genius minds and artistic and skillful creativity. Respect for diversity. Happiness in little things.

Apparently, there is always something to learn beyond books, particularly from the people we meet and the people we travel with. What we become out of these learnings and experiences is all that is significant.

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

- Jon Krakauer , Into the Wild.

To be continued.

*A life journey of mine, an epiphany of travel for you, made possible by Malaysia Airlines.

This Nepal Blog Series includes :

>><<

08
Jul
13

WINE & DINE BUFFET DINNER AT SARKIES, E&O HOTEL PENANG

I’m no food and wine connoisseur but I absolutely trust my senses and personal favorites. I’m also proud that my young and beautiful family acquired their very own personal preferences. We’re all grateful for the chance to experience again, another delightful challenge to our taste buds and appetites.  Last weekend, July 6th, 2013, Saturday, we went back to Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang for another casual yet memorable gastronomic feast at Sarkies! With the warm and friendly service, remarkable of E&O, we felt so home already!

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My wife, Tina & our son, Gabby at one charming corner of the Heritage Wing, E&O Hotel, Penang.

We were there to try their Wine and Dine Buffet Dinner that’s offered at Sarkies every Friday and Saturday. Free flow of red and white wines, beer and fruit punches. Children in tow could also indulge in fruit blends and other beverages that perfectly paired Sarkies’ buffet spread.

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Red or white? a can of beer, perhaps?

But why do we love Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang? 

Allow me to count the reasons in random order.

Elegant Yet Casual Ambiance.

Either al fresco dining with the priceless view of the Malacca Strait and the tropical Malaysian breeze caressing you while you indulge during sundown, or dining inside the airconditioned areas near the spread, it’s always a visual treat to see tasteful interiors patterned after the history of this heritage hotel. Fixtures and furnitures are simply impressive!

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The Live-Kitchen-Stations

It’s entertaining to see how chefs turn your choice of ingredients into a culinary masterpiece! Sure, it’s a common thing among food & beverage outlets in other hotels but what makes that of Sarkies different from the rest is the friendly service of their staff, from the ones handling the pans to those courteous staff who sets and clears up the tables.

Talking about Live Kitchen Stations, Tina delighted herself with a tasteful bowl of koay teow soup, filled with freshest seafoods that the chef whipped up from those raw ingredients she selected at Sarkies’ Noodle Station.

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Go Local!

Even Malaysian dishes are cooked, grilled, fried and whatnot upon request. Beef or lamb chops, chicken satay, anyone?

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The freshest and the widest variety of seafoods on this side of Malaysia!

Mostly are imported with great quality and taste! Tell me, how many hotels around offer these kind of seafood goodness? Alaskan Snow Crab Claws, Spanner Crab (those hairy curacha crabs we call back home are a new addition to the seafood spread at Sarkies) Poached Black Mussels, New Zealand Mussels, Duo of Gravlax, Norwegian Salmon, Barramundi or Asian seabass, Oysters on Ice, Prawns to name a few.  All for a dinner price that’s surprisingly reasonable; far better than what our family sampled from buffets in premier hotels back home. Sarkies’ seafood choices are simply glorious!  Continue scrolling down,  just be mindful not to drool. :P

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Quick Refills! Eye-candy!

The spread is frequently refilled; you won’t see any station screaming for generous and quick refill; no need! Furthermore, the presentations of dishes are simply enticing!

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Favorite of locals and foreigners alike!

Res ipsa loquitor. Back when I was having my haywire med-school days, I learned this Latin phrase in Legal Medicine that literally means, “the thing speaks for itself.”  Apparently, each time we get a chance to dine at Sarkies in E&O, we see hungry patrons -both local and foreign alike packed the dining areas once the doors open at 7PM for dinner. A proof that Sarkies’  food choices, service, ambiance and all are worthy of thumbs up!  

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If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you should expect that this is the part when the site shamelessly displays what we wolf down! For what purpose, you may ask?  Must there be a reason for everything we do? Life is damn short so cut the logic and just indulge with this visual feast! Inhale deeply. Exhale forcibly. Get yourself a tall glass of cold water and you know the drill: Thou shall not drool! :P

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Some are used to prawn and steak or lobster and steak version of Surf and Turf. Here’s my own Surf and Turf plate - I paired that very tender and delicious Roasted Beef with Cheesy Baked Scallops (which I think, was a dish considered upon our family’s suggestion the last time we had dinner at Sarkies; blog post HERE!). Sedap!!! Sarap!!!

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We also sampled Sarkies’ lobsters! It was generously served at our table by the staff. One may find this lobster dish on the dry side, particularly when you prefer those steamed and juicy ones but this from Sarkies was made more flavorful with the special gravy that came with it (not in photo); that dip/gravy was a fusion of mint, assam or tamarind with other secret herbs according to our taste buds. 

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We also enjoyed those savory chops of roasted duck! Those duckie slices tasted they’re cooked in two ways. Both delicious, you wouldn’t wish it to be wrapped anymore.

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After our 8-year-old-son, Gabby finished his handsome plate of Roasted Beef, he also had Angel Hair Carbonara served directly to our table upon request to the Chef.

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Heavenly Desserts.

Sarkies has Ice Cream Bar that looks nothing but classy with those dark wooden shutters as backdrop (you don’t get that Heritage-style interiors from an ordinary food place), cakes and pastries that could challenge the foodie in you!

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Our dessert plates…

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Such a friendly dining place!

Best of all, Sarkies provides a non-intimidating venue where special and memorable moments beyond our home are made!

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We’re happy diners! :)

Gabby met Dylan, son of one of the hotel’s managers. This boy’s presence and his mom and dad made our dinner extra-pleasant! People of E&O Hotel Penang, in general are the friendliest!

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And by the way, we brought along with us THE well-traveled, Manila’s Heritage expert, Ivan Man Dy of OldManilaWalks.Com who revisited Penang for this year’s George Town Festival. Tina and I were so glad that Ivan also found everything at Sarkies at par with his standards (or I bet, even beyond his expectations!).

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Ivan Man Dy (center) went wacky with Sarkies’ authentic Chicken Satay! Visit Penang again and savor more of Sarkies & the rest of E&O, Ivan!  We certainly spent good time during that dinner at Sarkies!

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I had Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Australia Utah. Cheers! :)

Special thanks to Ms. Eileen for the invites and of course, to the people behind Sarkies at E&O Hotel Penang for this wonderful dinner!  For each time that we go to E&O and its F&B outlets, remarkable moments are always experienced!

*Wine and Dine Buffet Dinner at Sarkies, every Fridays and Saturdays, 7PM-10:30PM. RM 148++ (or US$ 46.15 per adult), RM 65++ (or US$ 20.27 per child) with free flow of wine, beer and fruit punch.

Check out the other offerings at E&O’s food and beverage outlets :

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eastern & oriental hotel penang
eastern and oriental hotel penang

Sarkies is also having Jamuan Buka Puasa from July 9 to August 7, 2013 at 7PM-10:30PM, with rates of RM 96++ per adult and RM 48++ per child from Sunday to Tuesday and rates of RM 110++ per adult and RM 65++ per child from Wednesday to Saturday. Spend breaking of the fast during this year’s Ramadhan season at Sarkies in E&O!

For more details and to make your reservations, contact : Sarkies at Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang | website : www.e-o-hotel.com/sarkies

This blog’s other posts about Eastern and Oriental Hotel include :

29
Jun
13

HALF YEAR REPLAY : 2013

Looking back could strain the neck literally, but not when you realize that you have so much pleasant memories to be grateful for! When I painstakingly bent backward over my blog posts in the past 6 months, everything gradually flash back. The places we visited. The food we enjoyed. The people we met. The moments we experienced. 

It has been an overwhelming six months and I am so looking forward to greater things to come! 

JANUARY

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Chiang Mai Blog Series :

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Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
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penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via docgelo.com
BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013

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My Nyonya dinner plate at  Pearly Kee's home
 

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Stay tuned as God willing, the next months will be more awesome! :)

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.

02
Jun
13

INSPIRING SINGAPORE 05/24/2013

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Memories of not so distant past. Singapore Food Trail, Singapore Flyer.

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En route to board Singapore Flyer.  Photo taken by my lovely wife, Tina.

Years before 2010, I never expected to experience Singapore, neither I thought I’d set foot on one of the most expensive cities until chance made it possible to go in and out of the Lion City a few times over with Tina and Gabby  for holidays, because of its proximity (if that’s the proper term for 1 hour ride via plane or 9 hours via bus on a night trip) and accessibility to our current home (and work) base in Penang. We’re grateful for everything and appreciate all the lessons and memories we’ve collected, all the flavors we’ve tasted, even more thankful for the people we met within the past trips.

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The Helix Bridge, patterned after DNA, viewed on board Singapore Flyer. May 24, 2013, Friday.

Singapore has been so inspiring! :)

Who would’ve thought that a small fishing village would become what it is today?

To see her from the top at 360 degrees for the second time was nothing short of wonderful!

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It was drizzling when we boarded Singapore Flyer last 05/24/2013.

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Isn’t that baby too cute to pass as Gabby’s little brother? hehehe!
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We reached Singapore Flyer via taxi cab from Orchard Road where we met our good friend, Gina who’s based in Singapore for 3 years now. She generously waited for us at Jollibee Lucky Plaza from 10AM to 12 noon because we arrived at ibis Hotel on Bencoolen a bit later than expected from our 9-hour-bus-ride from Penang. After we feasted at Gina’s Jollibee lunch treat, she even accompanied us to Singapore Flyer that made our kamustahan even longer. We bid goodbyes and promised us she’ll find time to visit us in Malaysia soon. We like her so much because despite her accomplishments on being an IT-expert in Singapore, MBA-certified from ADMU, US-Registered Nurse and all, she remains humble in every sense of the word and so fun to talk to. More like the Lion City, Gina’s inspiring! :)

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Before Gina left that Friday-Holiday (Wesak Day) afternoon, I went my way to the counter at Singapore Flyer to collect our iVenture Cards. We were fortunately invited by iVenture Card Singapore and were provided 2-day-See-Singapore Unlimited Attraction Pass package to sample in all the theme parks included on their list. Details of iVenture Card, its packages and inclusives on my blog post HERE!
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By availing iVenture Card See Singapore package, you’ll enjoy savings because it’s truly value for money, and will delight in the volume of choices and absolute convenience.

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Gabby posing as unofficial endorser of iVenture Card. Pwede? :)

Just before boarding the capsule, inside Singapore Flyer, the kid found a paradise.

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Thank you, iVenture Card Singapore!

After our 30-minute-Singapore Flyer-flight, we trooped to the ground level and I led Tina & Gabby to Singapore Food Trail. I liked it the first time I saw it last year when I was invited to attend Singapore Blog Awards. The food court was impressively patterned after famous streets in the city with replicas of hawker stalls selling local must-eat. It was still early to have dinner so we opted to have something to beat the bipolar Singaporean weather. I thought Tina & Gabby would like the Ice Kachang and Ice Ball and they did but not the Bird’s Nest Drink I bought for them. At least we try to sample something local whenever we go somewhere. It’s best to travel using all of your senses. :)

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After the almost obligatory bladder break just before we head to the next tourist spot included in the iVenture Card See-Singapore package, I randomly spotted a very fascinating and charming corner inside Singapore Food Trail. It was a small but quaint area where all the memorabilia and treasures of the recent past were beautifully installed. No fees needed, it’s a free visual treat! We were happy like kids who first saw playgrounds and playmates! :)

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Vintage bottled beverages.

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Old school cam. Just gorgeous.

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AM-FM Radio.

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Caption not needed.

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Soda/Softdrinks wooden cases.

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Turn table, baby!

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Cash register, the coolest we saw!

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No typographical error, please! hehe! Thanks to evolution, blogging was born!

And many more eye candies…
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We found happy moments between Sinagpore’s past, present and future on board the capsule of Singapore Flyer and inside Singapore Food Trail.

Everything was made cost-effective and easy with iVenture Card See Singapore Package; thank you very much!
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Happy times in Singapore.  May 24-26, 2013.

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

*This family staycation in Singapore is made possible by :

iVenture Card Singapore | website : www.iventurecard.com

and ibis Hotel Singapore on Bencoolen | website : www.ibis.com

This post is a part of Singapore Blog Series : May 2013.

22
May
13

TIMELESS ELEGANCE AT EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL PENANG

Time stood still when I was reading the generous invitation of E&O Penang sent via email, to a luxurious 3D2N family staycation at one of the five Corner Suites spanning a whopping 123-square-meters of pure elegance and convenience, with breathtaking view of the Malacca Strait, located at the newly opened wing (barely 2 month old), that houses a total of 122 sea-view suites, the Victory Annexe.

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The Lobby, Victory Annexe, E&O

As I was trying my best to recollect my thoughts and bring myself back to my senses, my excitement heightened when my mobile rang, and the voice on the line was asking me if I wanted to stay at E&O with my wife and son for one or two nights. On a trembling tone, I replied, “Two nights!” of course. The next thing I heard on the phone was an invitation to review everything about E&O’s fine dining restaurant, 1885. Date and time of the dinner were set, emails were sent. Heart and pulse rates went haywire.

And just like that, the most unforgettable dinner and an incredibly sophisticated accomodation await us at E&O. We’re very grateful!

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Classy and contemporary, yet details reflect the opulence of colonial British era.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia Built : 1885. Historical hospitality giants, the Sarkies brothers are credited wuth founding the iconic hotels including Singapore’s Raffles & Myanmar’s The Strand, but it all started in George Town, Penang back during the Malaysian island’s days as an outpost of the East India Company.

The grand dame of all Sarkies brothers’ hotels was initially two separate accomodations – the Eastern Hotel, built in 1884, and the Oriental Hotel built a year later on an adjacent piece of land.

The hotel simply became known as “Eastern & Oriental” between 1889 and 1990.” sourced via E&O Edition Issue 13.

chandelier, e&o hotel penang lobby

17 to 19 May, 2013. Tina and I filed a half-day leave from work, days before that memorable Friday, while our kiddo, Gabby left his school before lunch time too with permission from his teachers. After being refreshed at our home in Butterworth, Penang, with our luggage and backpack in tow, we all trooped to George Town in the island via bus and ferry and took a taxi cab to the lobby of E&O.

After a brief but warm reception by the staff at the lobby, we were escorted to our 7th floor-Corner Suite by a butler.

Can you imagine we owned this beautifully oversized space for three days and two nights?

Unbelievable!

My family and I felt so home!

THE CORNER SUITE at VICTORY ANNEXE WING, E&O PENANG

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The Living Room. Fantastic, isn’t it?

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The most gorgeous mini-bar we saw.  To wish for it to be all-complimentary might be too much.

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Gabby, the explorer. He initially explored the mini-bar! :)

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Coffee Making Facility : Lavazza. All day FREE Lavazza Coffee, Twining’s Tea, Milo & canned soda.

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The goodies on the woven tray weren’t free as noted on a card by the bar clearly. No worries.

Among the many inclusives at the Corner Suite package, the one that we like the most is the hotel’s complimentary wifi. High-speed wifi broadband connection kept us attached to our social networks and to the rest of the world. I dislike other hotels that charge high rates of wifi access. At E&O, it’s fuss-free!

On our second day, look how sweet our son was! He volunteered to make me and Tina cups of coffee! Moments spent with family were absolutely more precious than anything!

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Photos taken by my lovely wife, Tina. :)

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Two complimentary fruit platters were delivered by the butler during our stay. Sweet!

It’s difficult not to admire the details put at every inch of this Corner Suite. We all like the Victorian theme done in a very tame and minimalist way. The fusion of materials used in the fixtures and furnitures was sublime. Expensive wood parquet floors mixed with luscious marble stones,  regal carpets, Solihiya-woven chairs that scream Asian, brass and porcelains; every spot looked so delicious!

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With utmost humility, my family and I have stayed in a few hotel suites in the Philippines and other countries but I must state that the most spacious and gorgeous to date was E&O’s Corner Suite! If the living room’s more than remarkble, the toilet and bath’s beyond words. I cannot think of superlatives to properly describe the Corner Suite’s banyo; it’s the prettiest we’ve seen! So comfy I think anyone can doze off at the tub effortlessly. Tell me if there’s a word more appropriate than perfect to describe it.

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Spotless. Almost sterile.

There’s a separate guests’ washroom tucked strategically between the living room and the main toilet and bath. The bathroom features double vanity counters -somewhat like his and hers with pedestal ceramic basins, a claw and ball long bath with separate unique rainforest showers. Beautiful!!!

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Quality bath time it was!
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Perhaps because the suites at Victory Annexe were just new, only 2 months old since it opened to public last March, a few more things, we think are lacking. It would be better if these wardrobe, besides having a safe, 2 sarongs, and several hangers for clothes, would also keep a flat iron and an ironing board, plus a couple of long umbrellas. Those were usual things we spotted in a few suites in Singapore and in the Philippines that we’ve been to.  

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How edgy and modern to have digital and glass weighing scale and how traditional it is to provide woven slippers in dark chocolate color for Daddy, Mommy and Baby! Cool! :D

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Little details with thoughtful impact : Cards with proverbs, wisdom and quotes supplied daily, placed on bedside.

It says,  “He who smiles rather than rages is the strongest.” ~ Japanese Wisdom

Inspiring!

If you think the toilet and bath is ethereal, the bedroom is divine!

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We love the entire bedroom and all its details! I love this reading lamp! Reminds me to look up the stars at night! Stellar!

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After settling in :  Riot! Told you, we owned it! ;) Seriously, we had restful sleeps for two nights on that bed.

The seafront 270-degree-expansive-private balcony offers a sweeping view of the Malacca Strait, skyline and shoreline of Pulau Pinang. Here are some of my amateurish photos taken at the Corner Suite’s balcony at different times of day. Believe me, these captures don’t do it justice.

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Malaysian sunrise from E&O’s Corner Suite last May 18, 2013, Saturday, around 7AM. I missed the sunrise the following day because of that handsome bed. Sue me! lol

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An afternoon shot from the balcony. From here, we could see our apartment across the Malacca Strait!
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I went down the facade of the hotel before 7PM and the Malaysian sky turned royal blue. #nofilter #nophotoshop #tripod :)

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I wish we could’ve spend more time on this balcony. Who knows, we’ll have another chance to be here again?

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The staff of E&O were so thoughtful and generous to provide extra bed for Gabby even before I made the request.

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Gallery-themed hallway. Almost museum-like. I love the elegant display of crisp photos that depicts everything about Penang! It’s always excellent to go LOCAL! Kudos, E&O!

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Tina, Gabby and I felt very privileged for experiencing not only the Corner Suite reserved for us but for having the opportunity to tour the Heritage Wing, its suites and amenities, and the other facilities of Victory Annexe Wing. We were escorted by a pretty and friendly staff whose name slipped my poor memory. Her name may have been forgotten but her  service rendered was memorable. The Heritage Wing and the other facilities and suites on the next post! Moving on…

We were ushered to the gym at Victory Annexe. Modern equipments, simply amazing interiors with the view of the sea await physical buffs at E&O’s newest wing. There’s also another gym at the Heritage Wing.

FITNESS ROOM

Part of the Victory Annexe Experience is the Invigorating Yoga session on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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One of our favorite areas in the Victory Annexe of E&O was the Deck Pool or what we aptly call, Infinity Pool at its 6th level.

Come, let Gabby lead you the way…

THE EXCLUSIVE DECK POOL

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Because the swimming pool at the Heritage Wing and the charming bath tubs in the suites are not enough : Infinity Pool at the 6th level of Victory Annexe Wing! Best enjoyed at hours past 3PM, in our opinion. Forget all worries and hassles, stretch out your limbs on the pool chairs and submit yourself into the caress of the cool Malaysian wind and the sea breeze. That’s what we did while we’re here. Although we didn’t take a dip, we truly had a relaxing time here.

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Spectacular view, isn’t it?
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We could see our apartment across Malacca Strait from the Infinity Pool…
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It became our habbit for few days to drop by the Deck Pool either before or after the evening cocktails at its adjacent Planters’ Lounge.

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Impressive set of furnitures, isn’t it?

THE EXCLUSIVE PLANTERS’ LOUNGE at Level 6

All guests at the 117 Superior Suites and 5 Corner Suites of E&O Penang’s Victory Annexe have exclusive access to avail of their complimentary breakfast, all-day-coffee-and-tea and evening cocktails from 5PM-7PM at the Planters’ Lounge at the 6th level.

Diners have options of dining inside the airconditioned Planters’ Lounge or al fresco by the sea at its balcony .

Its high ceiling and entire interiors were awe-inspiring.

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On our Day 1 : Friday Evening Cocktails, The Planters’ Lounge

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Al Fresco Dining Area at the Planter’s Lounge. Again, with priceless view of the Malacca Strait.

On our Day 2 : Saturday Evening Cocktails, The Planters’ Lounge

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All guests at Victory Annexe Wing are entitled for complimentary breakfast at either The Planters’ Lounge or at Sarkies. Of course, we sampled both!

Our Day 2 : Breakfast at Sarkies, Ground floor, Victory Annexe Wing 

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Live Cooking Stations for Noodles and Dim Sums. There are also stations for Omelette, local flavors like Roti Canai, etc.

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There were free-flowing juices and coffee and…
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fresh fruit juices, coffee and even local teh tarik (pulled tea) and mixed beverages upon request.
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Bakery Corner with lotsa bread, muffins, cupcakes and pastries

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The Live Cooking Station where I requested my noodle dish. I remember I cannot decide between types of noodles so I had them both and the result was textured and delicious!
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Must have detail shot! Sedap! Sarap! Delicious!
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Our favorites: Chicken Ham, Beef Pastrami and Norwegian Salmon!
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Photo by Tina, plate by Tina! :)
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Roti Canai and Dahl Curry. Malaysian favorite! Our favorite! Gabby had two plates of this!
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Having assorted dims sums and dumplings for breakfast doesn’t happen on a daily basis for us because of work and school. So we indulged!
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I requested one of the chefs to cook my most favorite Malaysian dish….
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Spicy Char Koay Teow! I LIKE!!!! I LOVE!!!
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Fruits. Indubitably healthy! Mandatory!
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Ending the awesome breakfast with coffee!

Our Day 3 : Breakfast at Planters’ Lounge

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Chicken Ham, Beef Pastrami, Norwegian Salmon, Sushi! Rerun of everything scrumptious!
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Round 2! lol
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Over and beyond great food and incredibly pleasant ambiance, is Planters’ Lounge at E&O’s warm and friendliest service. We observed how Ms. Izzie, or Nurul Izzreen, the Assistant Manager of F&B at E&O, attended to her guests with courtesy, fast and flawless service. It was so nice of her to spend time with almost all diners, table per table, making sure everyone’s having a great time. She even shared a personal bits and pieces of her life to us, making us more comfortable and welcomed at E&O. Hats off to her and to E&O’s remarkable service! Bravo!

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My family with Ms. Izzie, Assistant Manager, F&B at E&O.

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Fresh fruit juices (orange, watermelon, honey dew) and soya milk for the three of us to complement, rather to maximize the breakfast experience!

We’re all full and satiated when Ms. Izzie asked us if we want hot or cold chocolate drink for Gabby and coffee or tea for Tina and me. We were weak to resist. One more round of drinks before we head back to the swimming pool area to unwind.

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Gabby working with his pot of hot choco prepared by the wonderful people of E&O.

We could have availed of E&O’s complimentary Shuttle Service to explore more of Penang, from E&O to Straits Quay to Lone Pine Hotel and return, as the gracious staff emailed me the schedule upon request (also available at the concierge), but since we’re also currently based here, my family and I opted to stay inside our suite and savored every second of it!

Incredibly beautiful interiors,

world-class amenities,

unparalleled customer service

in a heritage hotel with illustrious history,

all these make E&O Penang

greatly different from the rest.

Malaysia and her people must be so proud to have E&O!

Thank you very much for adding memories to cherish to our days here in Penang! We love you, E&O! We will remain eternally grateful!

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This E&O Penang Blog Series includes :

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

Special thanks to E&O Hotel Penang, to Ms. Eileen Chong and Mr. Criz Lai.

PS : If you must know, E&O provides a guide map of the Heritage Trail of one of UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites, George Town, and it’s conveniently located at the reading nook at the suite, but you can also read my blog post, My Mini Guide to George Town Penang. Thanks!

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

17
Apr
13

MELAKA! MALACCA! FOOD PORN!

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*My family – Tina & Gabby at Restoran Famosa, Jonker Street, Malacca

Our three days and two nights unplanned trip to Malacca was made memorable not only because of the sights that we enjoyed exploring for the very first time but more so,  tasting its local dishes and a few personal favorites.  So many foods, so little time! I wished I did a little research prior to the trip and of course, it could’ve been better if we stayed longer. Nonetheless, we’re grateful and wouldn’t mind traveling 7 hours from our current base in Penang to revisit Melaka when time, chance and budget allow.

To say that Malacca is a food haven is absolutely an understatement. Similar to George Town, Penang, Malacca is a gastronomic paradise! Almost every corner has something to delight even the ones with most discriminating taste. Here’s this blog’s usual shameless display of what we feasted…

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*Chicken Rice Balls from a restaurant in Melaka Sentral Bus Station

The moment we arrived in Melaka Sentral via 2-hour-and-19-ringgit-bus-ride from Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru, Tina, Gabby and I decided to do the first in the list of our priorities. EAT! While the kiddo was busy buying his 7-11 slurpee and I attended to our luggage and backpacks, the wifey scouted a few restaurants inside the bus station complex and selected one. That awesome moment happened! The very first time for us to eat Chicken Rice Balls that, correct me if I’m wrong, uniquely Melaka.

I’m guessing those rice balls paired with steamed chicken meat, were boiled in chicken stock. I liked it, Tina did not. To each his own.

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*Chicken Chop and Noodle dish with name that slipped my memory but with a delicious taste to remember! Naks!

After several minutes and camera clicks in front of Christ Church Melaka, we crossed the street and saw this stall by the Melaka River selling freshly fried Spiral Potatoes. It was 3-ringgit and sour cream flavored happiness for Gabby! :D

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*Savoring his Sour and Cream Spiral Potato from Melaka!

Second day was Easter Sunday and after having simple but incredibly charming dining experience at The Baboon House Malacca (blog post HERE!), we effortlessly killed time by doing crazy things (Tina was Instagramming) and sipping milk teas and iced blended fruity drinks from Ochado. Refreshing! Best, they got free and fast wifi too! :D

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*I left a mark on the graffitti wall. :)

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*Instagram moment! :)

Go try Ochado whenever you find yourself in Melaka! It’s easy to spot as it’s located at the corner where Jonker Street begins.

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*Cappuccino, Mocha and Iced Blended Chocolate from Casa Del Rio Cafe.

After dinner at Restoran Famosa in Jonker Street, we opted to stretch more our last night in Melaka. We walked and walked and next time we knew, we were all seated inside the very romantic and hip, Casa Del Rio Cafe.

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*Romantic and relaxing ambiance by the Malacca River.

Located by the Melaka River, in the facade of the premier hotel, Casa Del Rio, we were never intimidated by its stylish and inviting interiors; surprisingly, prices were even pocket-friendly than our favorite Starbucks Coffee. The menu’s promising too! They serve breakfast meals, lunch and even steamboat buffet for dinner.

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*Hollywood legends and icons on the walls! If only walls could talk…. Don’t you just love this corner?

Tina had cappuccino, Mocha for me, Iced Blended Chocoalte for Gabby. They also have cakes and other dishes but we’re very satiated with the dinner we had at Restoran Famosa.

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Just before sitting inside Casa Del Rio Cafe, we had our dinner at Restoran Famosa along Jonker Street. Here’s what we ordered :

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*Beancurd in Oyster Sauce.

Tina found it too salty while it’s fine with my palates. I also liked the consistency of the beancurd!

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*Roasted Chicken.

Either roasted or steamed, ayam or chicken is almost obligatory to eat when you’re anywhere in Malaysia.

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*Chicken Rice Balls from Restoran Famosa

They’ve got smaller versions of Chicken Rice Balls compared to the ones we had in Melaka Sentral. Restoran Famosa’s menu had it at 30 sen (cents) each.

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*Pork Barbecue.

It was a consensus decision to order Roasted Pork. When we did, the waitress told us, “Finished!”  The next best thing was to order the second best, BBQ. It was a different flavor compared to BBQ we have in Manila. It was like the common pork asado or Chinese pork something in Chinatown eateries in our country.

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*A simple Easter Sunday Malaccan Family Feast! :)

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*My plate!

No Malaysian meal is complete without chilli sauce!

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*Hotta! Hotta!

The highlight of our Malaccan food tripping was to taste their version of Cendol. To start with, I loved it. I fell in love it on the first scoop! Sorry Cendol in Penang Road, I liked you but Melaka Cendol won my heart and taste buds! Presentation-wise, each bowl looks clean and hygienic, the ingredients composed of red beans, finely shaved ice and that green thingy-cendol, were all better tasting than, dare I say, the one in Jalan Penang.

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The difference lies on their use of Gula (sugar) Melaka…
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Caramelized Gula Melaka in coconut milk : Killer combination! It reminded me of muscovado or unrefined brown sugar from my country. Sarap! Sedap! Delicious!
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*Yummy!!!

We loved everything we ate in Melaka! We cannot wait to go back to eat more! :D
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*Follow Tina on Ig @teenasantos, follow me on Ig @iamdocgelo ;)

This is NOT a sponsored post.

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

 

 

12
Apr
13

MELAKA MEMORIES : MALACCA RIVER CRUISE

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*Ornate details of the elegantly handsome Victoria Regina fountain in front of Christ Church Melaka

The words on the tip of the fountain (not in photo) reads:

Victoria Regina 1837-1901, erected by the people of Malacca in memory of a great Queen 1904.”

In so many ways, Melaka is as a family-friendly destination. Along with her heritage trail that preserved colonial structures from her historic past, is a bunch of modern attractions from theme parks to charming coffee shops and teeming with food stalls and eateries and night bazaars and whatnot, that effortlessly appeal to all ages.  I must admit, Tina, Gabby and I were happy with our entire experience despite the fact that our three-day-two-night-family-trip was so unplanned, without hotel reservation and a limited budget at hand, everything surprisingly went smoothly and what really mattered most :

we all had fun! :D

In case you missed the previous posts on this series : On the afternoon of Black Saturday of 2013, we found ourselves in Malacca instead of crossing the southern Malaysian border on foot to revisit Singapore for a supposed sponsored trip (which was rescheduled last minute to fourth week of May due to unforseen circumstances; we cannot wait!).  Cliche as it may sound, it was truly a blessing in disguise as we finally discovered Melaka; we loved every moment we spent there to bits.

One of the highlights of our short break to one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, was embarking on the touristy boat ride via the Malacca River Cruise.

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*Doing that touristy thing!

Before we rode the boat for that famous river cruise, we paid an almost obligatory visit to the iconic landmark, the Dutch Protestant, Christ Church Melaka…

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*Arguably, one of the most photographed places in entire Malaysia, the Christ Church Melaka

We admired that Queen Victoria fountain in front of the church…

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And never missed to take tons of photos, of course (oh, one of those things we do best! lol).  

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*Heavily armed and dangerous! lol

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*Happy we were here!

Christ Church Melaka, the Clock Tower and the Stadhuys Museum that was previously the administrative office, all in terracotta red color make up the Dutch Square or Red Square.

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After quick homage to those must-visit-spots, we walked our way to the jetty where ticket booth to the Melaka River Cruise is located.
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*I love this photo! While my lovely wife was ever ready for a close up, our adorable son’s busy with munching! Behind my family are another tourist drawers to Melaka -those overly adorned trishaws!

Few steps more, et voila! The area where the 45-minute-river-cruise starts. No, we didn’t ride that galleon ship, hahaha! I wish!

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We bought 15 rinngit per adult tickets and 7 ringgit per kid.  This is Malaysia so admission rates are higher foreigners. No further questions. ;)

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Finally, we had a glimpse our ride…
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It was our first time in Melaka and I was the most excited.  “Hey, wait, honey, Gabby.  Picture!”  :D

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The sight reminded me of  the title of a movie of my youth, “A River Runs Through It.”

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All aboard! Here we go!

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The boat passed under several pedestrian bridges that were vividly lighted by greens, blues and a few more hues at dusk.
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“On your right is the St. Francis Church…. on your left is….this…and that…”  heard from the recorded tour commentaries. With a reasonable price for the tour, I could not hope for a better interactive and live tour guiding. Or perhaps, there’s a boat with an actual tour guide but we had it otherwise.

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Moving on, the river is cleaner than I expected. I personally liked the presence of few pedestrian bridges that link streets along the river. Even delighted with the fact that no bridge was built the same. Each has its own design and character.

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River trees and mangroves keep the river alive.
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Here’s hoping the authorities could do more efforts in maintaining cleanliness in and along the river.
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Read somewhere that Melaka River was called, “Venice of the East.”  Wow! Thankfully, it didn’t stink. Keep up the cleanliness, please!

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Major attractions to the Malacca River Cruise were the colorful murals on the shop houses and inns and restaurants and residential and commercial buildings along the waters. It was something we had not seen before! Beautiful!

Spot the following : Vegetables, Moon Cake, Dim Sums, Rafflesia…
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Look, there’s a monorail!

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Monorail by the river. Amazing!

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The 45-minute-10-kilometer-river cruise could also be a hop-on, hop-off for passengers as there are a few jetties at one side. One group of tourist from our boat decided to alight after the boat took a turn at the river’s end to go back from where we started.

And it’s true that the best way to experience Malacca River Cruise is between 6 to 7PM (or onwards) when the sky starts to become blue. If you must know, sun down in Malaysia comes after 7:30PM or so.

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May not be a perfect photo but would love to share!
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I’m guessing, this is the Eye of Malacca…
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Passed under those well-lit pedestrian bridges…
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More murals…
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Blurry and imperfect and I’m so embracing it!
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Red, red, red!
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Then my family and I opted to hop off just in front of Christ Church Melaka in the Dutch Square…
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Eenie minie miny moe…
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There were a choices of restaurants and coffee shops on both sides of the river that apparently offer a romatic ambiance at night. I asked Tina if she wanted to have a dinner in any of those but she thought it might be more costly. We didn’t waste time and strolled our way to the nearby Jonker Street (I’ll have a separate blog post about it).
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For now, here’s a glimpse of Jonker Street…

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In my opinion, the Malacca River experience is never complete if one only saw her beauty from the boat. The river is totally different when the sun is up! Murals provide you another perspective at daytime.

Oops, do you see those dilapidated walls on the photo below? Something’s crying out loud for an urgent and careful restoration!
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Small inns and guesthouses for backpackers (If we only knew they’re here!), mini-groceries and eateries are where the murals on. We spotted a mini-pasar (mini-mart) and had some thirst-quenchers. Look at us, mag-ama, tambay sa Melaka! lol :P
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I was saddened by the sight that my most favorite mural along the Malacca River was dilapidated too! Authorities, when can you restore this? :(

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Had we known that guesthouses and inns are what most of these painted walls are made of, we could’ve spent our two nights in one of them.

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Stroll. Pause. Smile. Picture. Repeat. It’s a vicious yet happy cycle! Therapeutic actually! :D

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The Malaccans know how to do it! Look at these orchids and other blooms and greens! Bravo!!!
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Food murals along the Melaka River. Nice!
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Photos, more photos!!!
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My favorite mural, that Chinese Lion!
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Another mural not to be overlooked…
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Worries were melted, nothing in mind but fun, fun, fun with the family!
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We’ll cherish all our fun and colorful memories from Melaka forever!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

*Since we had a CHANGE of travel destination from supposed Singapore to Malacca, this is my entry to WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : CHANGE

10
Apr
13

WE WON A SMARTPHONE AND MORE!

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*Photos taken in our apartment in Butterworth, Penang.

Two Malaysian delivery men came to my desk at the Faculty Room to hand in the parcel containing the smartphone that I won unexpectedly, after blogging our experience when we joined local bloggers here in visiting 3 orphanages in Pulau Pinang (Penang Island) last February.

I volunteered to be a part of the activity via facebook and was happier after they gave their nods for Gabby to tag along. Except the fact that lunch was provided by sponsors, Subway sandwiches and Chatime Malaysia, I had no idea that the other sponsor, Ninetology Malaysia would give out 3 tablets (one was given away to a lucky blogger-participant inside our shuttle bus just before we parted ways after the activity) and 6 smartphone units after blogging the 3 orphanages we visited for people particularly from Penang to be aware of them, and at least reach out to those who could render help.

As I mentioned already on my facebook post, I didn’t expect anything in return when Gabby and I decided to spend an entire Sunday to visit the 3 orphanages in Penang and participate in the feeding program but GOD IS GOOD!!! The experience taught and defined to Gabby what charity and generosity are all about plus, we got to win a smartphone! Yeehaa!  It might not be an iPhone but the memories that came with it were absolutely priceless! :D

If you’ve missed those blog posts, here are the links with details about the orphanages :

Special thanks to Ninetology Malaysia and to the organizers of this worthwhile activity, Responsible Blogging 2013.

07
Mar
13

2013 MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD!

2013 March 6th, Wednesday.

2013 Malaysia International Tourism Conference & Blog Awards | MITBCA

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Beyond Toxicity @ docgelo.com is named

2013 Best Expat-Malaysia-My-Second-Home-Blog Award Winner!

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
Awarding the trophy was the honorable Tourism Malaysia Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen

The scene was surreal. Almost deja vu of what happened last year…

May 2012 BlogAwards
2012 MITBCA blog post HERE!!!

It’s truly an honor to receive another recognition for this personal passion, particularly of which 80% came from public voting. I cannot be grateful enough to all those who follow and read this site since I started this virtual home back in 2007 in the Philippines, to those who remain loyal readers and commenters after we have moved to Penang, Malaysia to work and of course, thank you to those who voted for my blog to win last year and this year’s MITBCA! Your support is absolutely priceless!

Terima Kasih to Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and all the people behind MITBCA for appreciating and lifting the spirits of movers of Tourism and bloggers in Malaysia in general. Awards like this is certainly inspiring and motivating!  Maraming Salamat po at Mabuhay po kayo!   

Similar to last year’s event, MITBCA offered two-day-bloggers conference for free, but because I chose to limit my absences from work in Penang, I decided to attend the awards night and skipped the meeting of the like-minds and international movers in social media including a bunch of fellow Filipino bloggers. That was a wrong move from me. I could’ve learned so much from them but to regret is futile. Nonetheless, I met them in the Gala Dinner & Awards Night that was far better than last year’s. Proof that collective efforts have been put just to nail this year’s success of MITBCA! Kudos to everyone involved! The ceremony was nothing short of fantastic! :)

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The venue was bigger and more sophisticated. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, no less!
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I arrived of course, with TEAM DOCGELO; who else but my loving wife, Tina & our bundle of joy and pride, Gabby!

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We’re so happy to meet again Ms. Emila Yusof of emilayusof.com, two-time-winner of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award from MITBCA and who happens to be the Malaysian Illustrator and Children’s Book Author who custom-made my very own blog header! I am one of his huge fans and she remains an inspiration!

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After the cocktail, came the Gala Dinner & Awards Night proper. The mood inside the venue was festive!
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The view from where we sat.

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Drum roll, please! Let the show begin! :)
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The honorable people behind the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Social Media Chamber and MITBCA shared engaging and powerful words about the reasons of our gathering.
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Beautiful and talented Malaysian performers lorded the stage!
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While local entertainers were doing their great parts on stage, we were busy dunking our forks and scooping our spoons to the delightful dinner they prepared. There were visual and gastronomic treats! It was a complete sensory feast!

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Speakers in the Bloggers’ Conference were awarded by plaques; I wished I captured them all.
Here’s Malaysian Celebrity Chef (second from left of the photo below), Nik Michael Imran…
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And the speakers from where I came from, the Philippines! Here’s Vince Golangco (second from left on the photo below) of www.wheninmanila.com.

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Blogie Robillo (second from left of the photo below) of www.robilloblog.com

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Tonyo Cruz (second from left of the photo below)  of tonyocruz.com

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It was flattering when one of my fellow Filipino Bloggers shouted, MABUHAY! when my name was called as one of the winners, even overwhelming when Tonyo Cruz himself, told me, “kinikilabutan kami to see someone in Barong on stage” (kindly seek Google Translate, thank you!)

BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013
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Blogger-winners included Best Tourism Travel Blogger, Squall Chin of www.wretch.cc/blog/squallczk whom I first met in Singapore Blog Awards last 2012.

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And again, Ms. Emila Yusof of emilayusof.com, winner once more of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award. Bravo!

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For complete list of winners, visit www.mitbca.com.

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More than the awards and recognition, I thank the Lord for my loving and supportive family!

They’re my LIFE!  I love you, honey! I love you, Gabby!

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After the wonderful awards night, we walked a few steps to pay homage again to Malaysia’s magnificence, what else but the Petronas Twin Towers. En route, we dropped by Aquaria…

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And just before midnight, our eyes set on those incredibly stunning twins again!

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Malaysia, Thank you very much for everything!

To God be the Glory!

>><<

23
Feb
13

CHASING LIONS & DRAGONS IN GEORGE TOWN, PENANG 2013

If I have to narrow down the reasons to be thankful, for living and working in Penang for almost 3 years now, being personally exposed and immersed to diversities in this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site will absolutely be on the top of my list. It’s always amazing how spending few hours in this quaint area of Pulau Pinang, either in an ordinary sunny day or during a very auspicious occasion, can be utterly enriching! Every experience exceeds expectation. Each visit has been a sensory feast! And this year’s Chinese New Year Cultural and Heritage Celebration in George Town, Penang wasn’t an exception!

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*The tremedously beautiful, Khoo Kongsi is one of the clan houses in George Town worthy of visit.

I’m sure my wife, Tina (who had to stay again in our apartment during our visit for CNY to the island, for her to do the usual chores and get enough weekend rest), is also grateful for the countless times that our 8-year-old-son, Gabby has been discovering Malaysian tradition and cultures beyond books.

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*Street art @ Armenian Street and the rest of GT rocks!

How could you not enjoy entering an art gallery for FREE? :D

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*Metal sculptures Gabby and I really liked.

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*Sitting on a trishaw, like a boss!

Because I knew our afternoon will be packed, a bladder break was a must! So before we continued our CNY-merriment in the streets, I invited Gabby to walk towards Chinahouse restaurant just to have a decent minutes in toilet.

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The streets of George Town were filled with murals and new steel-rod- art installations that are great addition to the existing ones. Those whimsical caricatures on most walls mention a bit of something from this town’s past and present lifestyles and whatnot. It’s certainly a refreshing and innovative approach in bringing art, history and culture readily accessible to both local and foreign tourists. They easily appeal even to kids like Gabby!

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*Our very own wandering wonder boy!

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*Theater was brought again in the streets! Bravo!

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*Talents and skills were overwhelming!

On the spot demonstrations of Chinese arts of sculpting, painting, weaving and even clay-molding were definitely crowd-drawing!

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*Gabby and I loved those clay masterpieces! And you?

Needless to say, it was effortless for me to further enhance our son’s appreciation to the arts and someone else’s culture and tradition and more so, the need to value and constantly hone one’s skills and talents for self-improvement, forever and ever, Amen! LOL! :D

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*Infectious smiles!

How often do you see a volume of men dressed as Chinese God of Wealth?
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*What a sweet welcome to the year of the snake!
Regardless of our ethnicity and belief, we all wish this year to be more prosperous one!

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*Rub those golden nuggets, Gabby! And our kid didn’t forget to get some candies! :)

No CNY celebration would be complete in any Chinatown without those traditional dragon and lion dances. And this year, Gabby and I were happy to witness an incredibly different performances in Kapitan Keling Mosque street.

It was a pleasure watching the performers from the time they prepared their acts, even happier of the fact that we savored everything in a very strategic spot. Despite my captures were so amateurish, the event was so momentous!

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Vibrant colors, dynamic and synchronized moves are common to dragon and lion dances, but performing them on top of stilts or tables (one group had steel tables, the other was more daring dancing on wooden ones)  made it more thrilling to watch!

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I wish I had better shots! Everything was so awesome!

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Can anyone confirm if these yellow and colorful creatures are what they called, Pi Xiu?  Excitement heightened with their performance!
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Enter the Dragonsssssssssssss! :D

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*Twice the fortune, double the fun!

Photographers and other people with camera (like me!) tried to obstruct our best view of the event, thus I had more difficulty in documenting the scenes. I cannot blame them, it was really exciting!

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*Culture in motion!

Happy to take this shot….
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*Fantastic!

The celebration continued with a 68-drum-performance from an all-girl-group! Amazing!

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*By their stance and synchronicity, you can tell that these are not your ordinary girls!

They’re beaming with passion!

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Definitely stunning!

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“Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!”

I kept on shouting with the crowd behind us and for a while, Gabby kept clapping his hands too! It was truly an outstanding performance!

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No matter how imperfect the photo was and the dusk was upon us, I just had to snap my camera with one of those wonderful drummers and Gabby.

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*Gabby’s ear-to-ear smile says it all!

And just before we thought we’ve seen everything, a live performance of Chinese Opera was on stage along Chulia Street.
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Because the roads in these areas were temporarily closed to traffic, public buses and cars were rerouted making us walk and enjoyed some more minutes in George Town. Our feet brought us to Chinahouse again and this time not only to void but to grab some bites before hopping on the ferry and bus to go home to Butterworth.

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*Chinahouse’s Tiramisu which has been a personal favorite plus Gabby’s choice of Chocolate Cake and tic tac toe really made sense!

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It was another happy day in George Town! We cannot be grateful enough!

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How was your Chinese New Year celebration?

>><<

28
Oct
12

INSPIRED BY THE WALKING DEAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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02
Oct
12

SIX PLEASANT THINGS LAST WEEKEND

29 September 2012. Saturday. Gabby and I spent almost a day in a mall; we also went to a seafront retail marina in Penang called, Straits Quay and found these six pleasant things that definitely spell happiness when viewed through a child’s heart.

[1] Kindergarten Dragon Dance. They’re too cute for words! They’re young, passionate & inspiring.

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[2] Gabby’s new treasures : Lego Spongebob Squarepants The Flying Dutchman set, one of his parents’ advance birthday gifts to him.

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[3] Mooncakes because it’s Mid Autumn Festival. Doraemon Mooncakes in Corn and Chocolate Lotus Oreo Almond flavors!

mooncake 1
mooncake 2

[4] Wushu. Traditional with competitive spirit.

wushu 1
wushu 2

[5] Straits Quay, Penang. Fresh air. Fun.Food & Festivity in this seafront marina.

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[6] Charlie Brown Cafe. Our second time there to sip a cup of coffee and chocolate and indulge in some slices of cakes! And because Gabby will turn eight in few days’ time, we had an advance and simple celebration! There’s more to come for this little-big boy! A brilliant and promising future awaits him! :D

charlie brown cafe 2
charlie brown cafe 1
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Advance Happy 8th Birthday, anak! We love you so much, Gabby!

02
Oct
12

OCTOBER FIRST TWENTY TWELVE

After conducting three lecture classes at 2 hour each,  I finally got a chance to sit in front of my desk at the office and finally exhaled.

Then the phone rang.

The office’s receptionist : “Hello, may I speak with Dr. Angelo?”
Me : “Speaking. May I know who’s on the line, please?”
The office’s receptionist : “(After mentioning her name)…I received a parcel for you. You may collect it from here in Block C. Thank you!”

I knew it’s from Legoland Malaysia as they mentioned it on their email a few weeks back that they’d send a media pack to me & for my family. I claimed the package, gave it to Tina and waited for us to arrive home before opening it.

Upon arriving home…
legoland malaysia package
legoland malaysia package 2
The package contained 3 T-shirts for Tina, Gabby & me, a larnyard, a USB-flash drive disguised as a baller band and some stickers all put inside a Legoland Malaysia media pack bag. Thank you so much, LEGOLAND MALAYSIA!  :D

legoland malaysia package 1

After dinner, Gabby’s wish to rise our tiny Christmas tree came true.
christmas decors 2012
gabby october 1, 2012
christmas tree 2012

We welcome all blessings, big and small to our home! :)

*PS : My blog post about our LEGOLAND MALAYSIA experience –> HERE!

29
Sep
12

A SATURDAY IN SINGAPORE : CROSSING BORDERS ON FOOT

love in marina bay sands

Love in the Lion City. Photo taken at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

Despite various challenges of expatriate living in Penang for more than 2 years now, we’ve been counting our blessings continuously. Big and small blessings are all blessings to be grateful for! When I left Manila back in 2010, my only goal was to work for my family; I never thought that earning a decent living in Malaysia would give me an opportunity to bring my family to my work place, to live abroad and be with me, more so, to go to neighboring countries with them with travel expenses less than you imagined.

Flying to another country by all means,  is considered the most convenient way but indubitably, doesn’t come cheap in spite of so many seat sales every now and then. Apparently, we’re a family of 3 so all costs are always multiplied by 3. You do the Math, I’m weak at it. :) Fortunately, Malaysia is a gateway to other Southeast Asian countries that can be explored by crossing borders on foot via commuter buses or trains without spending an arm and a leg. We already experienced crossing Malaysia-Thailand borders on foot last year when we went to HAT YAI and just recently, when we revisited BANGKOK. But it was the first time for us to head south by bus and cross the Malaysia-Singapore borders sans air tickets.

Another grace from living in Malaysia is delighting in a volume of gazetted public holidays within a year. On our last long weekend, we savored my invitation to review LEGOLAND MALAYSIA in Johor Bahru, the Malaysian state a few kilometers away from the Lion City. Expectedly, we grabbed the opportunity to visit Singapore again. My family’s very first trip to Singapore was in August-September 2011, and I came back solo in mid-July a year after to attend to the sponsored trip by OASIA HOTEL and SINGAPORE BLOG AWARDS. It always feels good to go back to the city and unwind.

THE NIGHT SPENT INSIDE SUPER NICE DOUBLE DECKER BUS

The bus liner’s called Super Nice and it truly lived up to its name and our expectations. We availed of our bus tickets to Johor Bahru from Penang Sentral in Butterworth a day before our trip (it’s wiser to purchase an advance tickets, about a week or two prior to schedule; tickets are easily sold out like hotcakes particularly during long holidays).

night trip

Reclinable seats ala-Lazy-boy, super comfortable leg room and uninterrupted sleep made our night trip very remarkable. For a 60 ringgit (USD 19.60) per ticket, we got to rest entirely and became ulitimately ready for a day in Singapore.

nice bus liner from penang to johor bahru

We left Penang around few minutes past 9PM, Friday, September 14, 2012 and arrived Johor Bahru via direct trip (did not pass by Pudu Raya bus station in Kuala Lumpur) at 6:30AM.  Nine hours after, we found ourselves in LARKIN BUS STATION in JB. We hit the restrooms to freshen up and filled in our tummies with much needed breakfast.

Our first meal in Johor Bahru were roti canai with egg that came with Indian-Malaysian tamely spicy dip that even Gabby learned to love, coffee for Tina and me, and a canned soya milk for Gabby. Solb! :D

breakfast at larkin

After grabbing some bites, we hailed a taxi cab and went straight to our hotel in Johor Bahru. Believe it or not, I only made the reservation online few minutes prior leaving our apartment in Penang. Most hotels in Johor Bahru were fully booked because of the much-anticipated-public opening of Legoland MY thus, even the recommended hotel of the said theme park was packed. I luckily chanced upon ZENG ZENG BUDGET HOTEL and paid RM 80 (USD 26) only for one night in a deluxe-twin-bed-air-conditioned room with breakfast for two.

We checked in and paid additional RM 45 (USD 14.70), took shower, freshen up again. The staff of Zen Zeng were so friendly, they were even ready to provide us embarkation cards for Immigration purposes. The staff at the reception counter advised me to take a shorter trip via taxi to the bus station closer than Larkin. Around 11AM, we found ourselves in KOTA RAYA Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru en route to Singapore.

kota raya

As first time travelers by bus from Malaysia to Singapore, we learned that other than those more expensive tourist buses that one can avail from travel agencies, the best option is to take either of the two public bus numbers that transports passengers in and out of two countries in less than an hour with frequent trips until midnight. These are SBS Transit Bus # 160 that takes travelers from Johor Bahru to Jurong East and the one we rode, SBS Transit Bus # 170 that took us to KRANJI MRT STATION in Singapore from Kota Raya in JB. The fare’s SGD 1.70 per pax (USD 1.38).

bus 160

There’s a FOREX within (Larkin and) Kota Raya Bus station; we changed our MYR to SGD. Good thing I didn’t forget to bring my few SG coins; they’re necessary for purchasing bus tickets.

Inside SBS Transit Bus # 170…

take 2 beautiful smiles to singapore

*TIP : Take all your belongings before you hop off the bus. You only need to pay for the bus ticket ONCE. Keep your bus ticket and alight at Departure Hall/Malaysia Exit border for Immigration purposes. After having your passport stamped (or as they frequently termed it here, chopped), go down the escalators and turn left as you reach ground level. Look for the signage of the SAME BUS NUMBER but NOT necessarily THE SAME BUS (either 170 or 160 if you took SBS Transit), wait and queue. The waiting will not take few minutes. Hop on the bus and no need to pay again, just present your ticket previously purchased. The same process is repeated as you reach Arrival Hall/Singapore Entry border where you need to present passport again and an embarkation card.

beautiful smiles to singapore

Walking towards Arrival Hall/Singapore Entry Border…

arrival hall in singapore

*Repeat : Hop on the BUS with the SAME NUMBER but NOT necessarily the SAME BUS. You only pay once. Get it, children? :)

bus 170

It was a Saturday, and the following Monday is a replacement holiday in Malaysia so it was not surprising to experience traffic jam in the short bridge connecting Johor Bahru and Singapore. It took us almost an hour and a half exiting Malaysia to Singapore including the Immigration formalities. But on our way back from Singapore to Zen Zeng Hotel in JB that night, traffic was already eased.

bus while traffic

Finally, Singapore! We meet again!

woodlands

SBS Bus Transit # 170 took us to KRANJI MRT Station and from there, we purchased a reloadable MRT cards. It was only one long-45-minute-train ride from Kranji Station to our destination.

“Gabby, look here! Look at the cam!” :)
from kraji mrt station to marina bay sands

It’s impossible to tour Singapore in a day, so we only chose two spots. Because Tina and Gabby had only seen the most luxurious hotel in Singapore from afar last year and they were not with me when I went there last July, I opted to bring them to Marina Bay Sands this time for our late lunch. Yes, it sounded like, we only went to Singapore to eat lunch and dinner and to use their spotless toilets. :P The other place we went to was City Hall Mall to meet a Singaporean friend.

The scenes inside MRT from Marina Bay Sands Station to Bayfront.

marina bay sands mrt

Look how Gabby enjoyed his time inside those highly efficient MRT trains…

bayfront mrt

Et voila! We’re inside THE SHOPPES AT MARINA BAY SANDS…

sampan boat

I’ve been to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands thrice and was invited by the MBS PR Officer to experience Sands Sky Park last July so somehow, I became a bit familiar with this iconic Singaporean landmark. I told Tina and Gabby the dining options in MBS and we knew where to go. With only limited budget, we can only dream of dining in CUT by Wolfgang Puck someday. :)

cut at the shoppes marina bay sands

It was not Mozza by Mario Batali nor Cut by Wolfgang Puck nevertheless, it was a family favorite! We decided to savor what’s not found in Penang. It was a sumptuous late lunch at PEPPER LUNCH! The last time we had those sizzling-cook-it-yourself-beef-pepper-rice with ultra yummy honey brown sauce and butter was in TUNG CHUNG, HONG KONG last February and in its sole branch in Malaysia in Pavilion Mall, KUALA LUMPUR last May. Gabby’s favorite in PL is Beef Pepper Rice, I always have it double beef servings, while Tina tried PL’s Beef Yakitori with a hint of spicy sauce.  Sarap! :)
double beef pepper rice
yakitori beef at pl
pepper lunch beef pepper rice
PL in MBS
pepper lunch favorite
After having our late lunch, we went outside MBS and I brought them to ArtScience Museum…
gabby and docgelo marina bay sands
artscience museum at mbs
lotus

Because Harry Potter The Exhibition which I saw (with Andy Warhol 15 Minutes Eternal Exhibit on media pass) last July was still on display, I was glad Tina and Gabby became excited to see it. It’s a must for fans of HP movie/novel series to experience whenever they find a chance. (The show in MBS runs only until end of Sepetember 2012).  We went on queue, paid SGD 24 per ticket for Tina and me and SGD 14 for Gabby. Despite no photography’s allowed inside the exhibit, it’s a bliss to see Gabby enjoying everything, specially pulling those mandrakes from its pots and shooting balls in that Quidditch set up. Tina had fun going through all those props and costumes used in the actual movies as well. It felt stepping inside the movie scene and it was more exciting for me the second time around. :)
artscience museum
hp tickets
my family in HP @ MBS
HP @ MBS
harry potter the exhibition

Love Marina Bay Sands… Definitely, a breath of fresh air!
love in the lion city
the shoppes at marina bay sands

DINNER AT CITY HALL MALL

We left Marina Bay Sands for City Hall Mall via MRT at around 5PM. We strolled around City Hall Mall and met our Singaporean-blogger-friend, Mag with her friend, Angie. I asked her recommendations for dinner and we all opted to try the offerings at The Hand Burger. Everything looked nice and tasted OK too except the Chicken Cajun Cordon Bleu which Gabby and I ordered was surprisingly spicy; our boy’s taste buds were too young for such.

menu the hand burger
the hand burger singapore
the hand burger
*The  last four photos without watermarks are posted with permission from its author, Mag, the awesome blogger of fashion, food and funfinds @  www.modgam.com. Thanks, Mag and thank you for the dinner and coffee treat!  :D

photo by modgam.com 6

Meet the wonderful blogger behind  www.modgam.com, Mag, our Singaporean friend whom I consider the twin sister I never had because in so many ways, we think alike. Surprisingly to a new found friend, she was there when my family and I experienced one of our lowest. Behind those bubbly smiles, colorful locks and stylish outfits lies a true person with a heart of gold. :)

photo by modgam.com 5

Mag came to meet us that Saturday night with her good old friend, Angie who’s extra pleasant too.

photo by modgam.com 1photo by modgam.com 3
Thank you so much, Mag & Angie for taking time to meet and dine with us! We had so much fun! :D

We left City Hall Mall via MRT to Kranji and went back to Johor Bahru that evening. We reached our budget hotel and got to freshen up again before midnight. It was one of our longest days nonetheless, memorable. The following morning was spent in Legoland Malaysia, and on the evening of Sunday, we hopped on the bus at Larkin Station, slept on the bus again and wake up the next morning in Penang. Ahhh, it was still holiday. A Monday-holiday for us then! :D

Singapore, until we meet again! :D

14
Sep
12

LEGO LOVE

Here are some of Gabby’s treasures…
lego 3
He got most of them as gifts. Those Lego Star Wars came from his maternal grandfather and that Buzz Light Year Lego watch was given by a generous travel buddy in Hong Kong, February of this year while some pieces were bought by his loving parents. :)
lego 4

Lego reminds me of childhood; I grew up with those colored bricks. And now that my son’s also into it, the fascination continues!

lego 2

Apparently, Lego toys nowadays are more fancy and edgy. They don’t come inexpensive too. From only simple building bricks of my wonder years, Lego has creatively evolved into various themed pieces, mostly from movies and TV series. Talking of which, Gabby’s into Ninjago Lego, Master of Spinjitsu. Have you heard of it? He watches the series chronologically per season both online and on cable TV every Friday night! He began collecting toys from Lego Ninjago; the toys that he has now are the villains from that computer game and animated series; he still has to look  for and collect those good Ninja-go.
lego 1
lego 6
lego 5
Imagine my excitement when I received this from Legoland Malaysia via facebook and yahoo mail.
legoland sept 1

Gabby, Tina and I became extremely thrilled when they graciously included my name in the list of media and bloggers to be invited to attend the Legoland Malaysia Media and Family day last September 1st, 2012. We’re all psyched up to troop to Johor Bahru to experience Legoland Malaysia weeks prior to its official public opening.
legoland invitation

But our attendance to the said event never happened due to unforseen and unfortunate circumstances. Nonetheless, Legoland Malaysia’s PR managers have been continuously emailing me of updates about the opening. They even invited me again for the exclusive Media event on Sept 14, Friday and to witness the public opening the following day. However, due to work commitments, I had to deny my attendance again.

Tina and I saw some maturity in our soon-to-be-8-year old son. Gabby didn’t show tantrums nor obvious upset when we had to cancel our trip to Legoland in Johor Bahru. Despite everything, he remained hopeful. He constantly says his wish outloud in  his prayers nightly, for our visit to this newest kiddie paradise-theme park that’s a first in Asia to push through.

Will Gabby’s wish be granted?

ABANGAN. ;)

04
Sep
12

BANGKOK 2012 SERIES : HEICHINROU

Flashback to January of 2004, Tina and I flew to Bangkok and spent honeymoon in Amari Watergate Hotel. Nine months and few days after, Gabby was born.
amari
Fast forward to August of 2012, we went back to Amari Watergate Bangkok with Gabby. :)
tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
gelo & gabby at amari watergate bangkok august 2012
amari watergate bangkok august 2012

Weeks before we left Penang for Bangkok for a few day break, I emailed Amari Watergate to inquire about the rates of their buffet in one of their restaurants where Tina and I spent our first meals together as married couple, the Promenade. Unfortunately, the Filipino hotel staff who promptly replied to my query informed me that Promenade is closed on the dates I specified. He recommeded another restaurant in Amari Watergate that serves eat-all-you-want-lunch, the Heichinrou.

heichinrou bangkok

Located at 5th level of Amari Watergate Hotel, the Cantonese restaurant, Heichinrou that actually originated from Yokohama has been keeping its branches in Japan, Hong Kong and this one in Thailand. I was told they’re offering a Dimsum Buffet and ya ol know that eat-all-you-can dining is such a kryptonite to me and my family and dimsums are one of our favorites. So I asked Tina if she wants to try Heichinrou in Amari and with its reasonable price, we both gave it a nod!
chinese rickshaw
heichinrou bangkok, amari watergate
entrance to heichinrou
heichinrou menu
Despite the fact we failed to eat again in Promenade for the reason that they’re preparing for a reserved function that day, it was a nice coincidence that we were led to sit in Heichinrou in a table with a view overlooking Promenande, exactly the place where Tina and I had breakfast buffet 8 years ago.
overlooking promenade
We seldom engage in ala-carte-buffet where you can order all you want and everything from the menu is unlimited to your stomach’s content. :) We liked it actually. We didn’t have to check the spread and queue. Time was spent in pure indulgence!
chopsticks

Soon after the senior staff of the restaurant handed us the menu, everything was served to our table less the dessert. I didn’t remember asking him to do it but no regrets, no complaints. We certainly loved it! :)
dimsum love
It wasn’t overwheling; it was lovely!
dimsum galore
We started with Sweet Corn Soup with Crabmeat. It was impressive! Thick and tasteful just like what I want in my Chinese soup. There’s generous servings of real crabmeat too! When the staff asked me if I want another serving of the soup, my knees became too weak to say no! :D Then we tried Steamed Barbecued Pork Bun. Delicious! We call it Asado Siopao in the Philippines!
siopao

If you must know, whenever we have buffet-dining, we rarely order drinks and frequently go for just a glass of cold water to wash everything down. We usually make sure to have less intake of sugar-rich beverages from a glass of iced tea or soda but this Heichinrou Dimsum Buffet was an exception. Gabby and I ordered Fanta Orange and thought it went well with those yummies. ;)

Steamed Spare Ribs
spareribs
Fried Noodles with Shredded Chicken
unusual noodle dish
Steamed Cream Buns…
pao
Deep Fried Spring Rolls
fried rolls
Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Crab Egg Dumplings, Steamed Bean Curd Skin Flakes with Oyster Sauce
dimsum dimsum!
The only dish that I didn’t like (Tina agreed) was the Deep Fried Taro Dumpling; it wasn’t greasy and it looked fine but it’s just me – I am biased to savoring taro as an iced pudding :)
taro puff

The dessert from this buffet menu set was heavenly. Deviating from the common mango and tapioca; Heichinrou Dimsum Lunch Buffet offered Chilled Sago and Cantaloupe Melon topped with Coconut Cream. I had two servings. Need I say more? :)
melon sago

One may find it so peculiar to enjoy dimsum in the land of Pad Thai but it’s a great breather from all street-food-and-spicy-eats. All in all, we’re delighted with Heichinrou Dimsum Buffet and it felt really wonderful going back to a place that etched a memory in us. ;)
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok
characters! chinese characters!
gabby and tina heichinrou bangkok

*This is NOT a sponsored post. ;) For details and contact information about Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok and Heichinrou, visit there website by clicking THIS!

This Blog’s Bangkok 2012 Series includes :

13
Aug
12

A WEEKEND OF MOVIES, FOOD & A DENTIST

August 10-12, 2012. Our weekend officially kicked off at home last Friday night with a mug of coklat (pronounced as choklat, “chocolate” in Bahasa Melayu)-flavored ice cream. Look how Gabby spruced up his own mug. :)
gabby and his chocolate ice cream, august 10, 2012

The morning after, Tina, Gabby and I took 2 bus rides and trooped to Sunway Carnival Mall, one of the few malls in mainland Penang (the others are in the island).  We were supposed to watch the movie, The Bourne Legacy. We first went to the cinema counter and found out that the said movie was rated R18; Gabby’s not allowed obviously.  The next best thing was the Dark Knight Rises (which was rated PG13 but with violence too! Good thing that Gabby understands never to pick up bad elements from anything he watches and most importantly, he listens whenever advised); we purchased tickets and pyched up ourselves to be in Gotham City. :)

Before Batman movie, we needed to chow down. The decision was unamimous. Burger King topped the list.
burger king, sunway carnival mall, penang, august 11, 2012
burger king, sunway carnival mall, august 11, 2012
Yes, those two large onion rings were my order! The kid-in-me longing for onion rings was satisfied happily! While I am a self-confessed onion-ring-monster, Gabby enjoyed his Grilled Chicken burger meal and Tina savored her Double Mushroom Melt burger combo. I also surrendered to Double Whopper large combo which I didn’t finish and had to take home or as they say here, takeaway! :)
double whopper burger, onion rings

We liked The Dark Knight Rises. We liked the twists and turns of the plot. Unpredictable! There was no scene that left us yawning. Bane was a very powerful and compelling villain! With Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, the movie’s more than enough to keep me awake. And with those last parts of the movie, we could only anticipate for a sequel.  Despite we’re all entertained, I was still yearning to watch The Bourne Legacy and I know Tina wants it too.

We went to the grocery to shop our supplies for the coming weeks. Soon after, we’re hungry again. We kept it low and simpler this time by choosing the affordable restaurant, IloveYoo. We had the fried bread, yoo tiao that’s too perfect to be dipped in warm and fine bowl of congee, so we had dry scallop-flavored congee, some taho or what they call here, too foo far (did I spell it correctly?), chilled soya drink and a piece of lotus ball. Solb! :)
yoo tiao, dry scallop congee, i love yoo, sunway carnival mall
taho or too foo far and lotus ball

Last Sunday was even more memorable for the three of us, specially for Gabby. It was his very first dental check up. We know it should have been done at his younger age, but as they say, better late than never. It was Tina who made all the arrangements with the dentist whose clinic is located accessible to our place. The appointment was set at 10:30AM but since punctuality runs in our blood, we’re all there few minutes past 9AM. Excited lang perhaps! ;)
gabby and dentist # 1, maxcare, raja uda
gabby & dentist # 2, august 12
gabby & dentist # 3, august 13, 2012, maxcare, raja uda, penang
gabby & dentist # 4, august 12, 2012, sunday, maxcare, raja uda

Probably like children of his age, Gabby was a bit anxious to go to the dentist. Because it was his first time, he was not  afraid nor hesitant but very curious with many queries! Tina and I brought him there for consult and we decided, if and when the dentist would find a tooth for extraction or filling, we would just bring Gabby back to her clinic.  After a quick but thorough dental exam, the dentist cleared Gabby as he doesn’t need even dental cleaning; his set of teeth is clean and fine!

Gabby to us : “Mommy, Daddy, nagulat ba kayo, clean ang teeth ko?” (“Were you surprised to know my teeth are clean?”)

Tina and I were laughing our hearts out! :D

And because his teeth are in good condition, we celebrated our late breakfast at the hawker-restaurant several steps from the dental office.

sunrise restaurant, raja uda, penang
koay teow soup
gabby enjoying his koay teow soup, raja uda, august 12, 2012
gabby's ice cream soda
pork pau and koay teow soup
lychee drink
gabby's drink
cheers, gabby!
sarap na sarap sa siopao!
It really looked like his teeth are in good condition, don’t you think so? :)

After that hearty meal of Koay Teow Soup and Pork (Sio)Pao, we all walked towards our apartment. Because Gabby can’t be admitted to The Bourned Legacy and Tina had to watch him over at home plus she had to do some chores and acquire much needed weekend rest, I got an approval from them for me to watch The Bourne Legacy alone in the island. Tina and Gabby bid me goodbye then I hopped on the bus and went my way to the cinema.

I am certainly not a movie critic but just like the food I eat, I know my taste so well.

As I posted on facebook and twitter, it’s incredibly amazing to watch Manila portrayed as Manila in a larger than life Hollywood film! It’s high time the Philippines gets the spotlight. Gone are the days when the Philippines is shown as Vietnam or Thailand on the big screen. I’m not sure if you remember that 1999 movie, Brokedown Palace which starred Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman. It was also shot in Manila but depicted as Thailand. Although to some, it may be versatility, I found it weird and unacceptable to watch my country’s capital city back then, shown as other place. At least now, Manila is Manila in The Bourne Legacy. I agree with one of The Bourne Legacy’s bit players, John Arcilla, who’s a Filipino stage and character actor, when he commented on one of his interviews about the movie that “it’s surreal!”  According to him, it’s unbelievable to see himself as a part of a Hollywood movie with jeepneys and all, filmed in the streets of Manila.

I swear the movie almost made me lost my blinking reflex! From that airport scene where the characters of Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner had to enter NAIA’s Immigration counters, to those breathtaking motorcycle chase scenes shot in the cities of Pasay, Manila and a public market in Marikina, until the movie ended in one of the Philippines’ paradise islands, Palawan, I was absolutely stunned! It was an awesome movie that I will repeat over and over again. I hope Tina and I get a chance to watch The Bourne Legacy together next time!

Have you seen it already? What’s your take on the movie?

How’s your last weekend?

The next weekend will be more exciting as our family will engage on a much needed loooooong holiday! It’ll be Hari Raya here in Malaysia or the end of Ramadhan on 18th August and the vacation from work extends until August 26th! We’ll be crossing borders of two countries once more! We cannot be grateful enough. It’ll be another weekend of family, food and fun! ;)

08
Aug
12

INFINITE DOSE OF SPRING : GARDENS BY THE BAY

Supertrees, Gardens by the bay, Singapore

With their height of 25 to 50 meters, comparable to 16 storeys high and almost trying to reach the sky, no explanation is needed why these amazing installations are called, Supertrees. They’re one of the spectacular attractions in Gardens by the bay; one of the reasons why Singapore’s literally blooming these days.

I was fortunate to pay it a visit on the last day of my 4D3N trip to Singapore last July 2012, barely few weeks after Gardens by the bay officially opened to the public. I was even luckier because my Singapore-based Filipina friend, Gina, who’s a former colleague back in Manila, accompanied me and offered to treat me to Gardens by the bay, Marina Bay Sands and all the way to Sentosa. It was Gina’s suggestion for us to see Gardens by the bay first thing in the morning so we could maximize my last hours in the Lion City.

Accessibility’s definitely not a problem even to a first-time-visitor-commuter like me; locating it was such a breeze. Coming from Oasia Hotel  in Sinaran Drive, Novena area, I walked my way to the MRT station right across it and took the train going to Marina Bay Sands. I alighted at Bayfront Station and strolled my way to Gardens by the bay.

My good friend, Gina and I agreed to meet up at the ticket counter.  We individually walked through the path from Bayfront MRT at Marina Bay Sands and thankfully, the weather was at its finest, the sun shone its brightest. I only regret 2 things in this visit, one of them was forgetting to bring the 3-fold-umbrella that my wife prepared inside my luggage which I left in the hotel’s concierge and the second one was failing to capture the grandeur of Gardens by the bay at dusk. Anyway, at least we didn’t have a downpour and there’s always a next time to further explore this unique botanical park on our future visits.

Marina Bay Sands from Gardens by the bay, Singaporesupertrees, gardens by the baymarina bay sands, gardens by the bay

Few days prior to our visit, I personally saw and captured the vast stretch of this garden in the city as I first appreciated Gardens by the Bay’s Conservatories and Supertrees from the Sands Skypark at Marina Bay Sands…

cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
supertrees from sands skypark, mbs

Gardens by the bay is attractive from a bird’s eye view, even more impressive up close. It’s a showcase of Mother Nature’s most colorful blooms and lush greens amidst progressive city. However, due to limited time, Gina and I only opted to visit the two conservatories, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. What I love the most about these two conservatories is the fact that they’re airconditioned; they’re kept cool to maintain the required temperature for the flowering plants to thrive. Most on the display are imported species from *Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world.

Flower Dome is the cool-dry conservatory while the Cloud Forest is the cool-moist conservatory.

This blog has never published a volume of photos of flowers after my blog post about Shibuya in Tokyo back in 2010 (blog post HERE!). Be ready to be overwhelmed! ;)

FLOWER DOME

*Facts from their website :  “The world’s largest columnless greenhouse, the Conservatories’ glass sits on a steel grid that acts like an eggshell. With 3,332 panels of 42 varying shapes and sizes of spectrally selective glass, the Flower Dome is like a giant puzzle!  Air is cooled at the lower occupied zones through chilled water pipes in ground slabs, while warm air is vented out at the top.”

roof of flower dome, gardens by the bay
floral bed, gardens by the bay

Now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

meet my beautiful and intelligent Singapore-based-friend,

Gina! (applause!).

Of course, everyone agrees that she best complements those bed of flowers, doesn’t she? 

(note: she’s presently available and unattached *just trying to play cupid here!*).

gina at gardens by the bay, singaporerare bloom
5
10

It has been two years since Tina and I last met Gina in Manila. We’ve been keeping our lines open via where else but facebook. She remains to be the same old charming and thoughtful friend we used to know. One thing’s sure, I  noticed that she gained extra skills and talents in being host to tourist-guest like me. She wanted to update Tina so using her iphone, Gina immediately checked in our location via facebook and began taking our photos and tagging my wife who was left in Penang with Gabby. I even lost count of the times she asked me if I wanted to be photographed the whole time we’re inside the conservatories. I burst into laughter a few times and told her that I am used to clicking my cam to shoot photos and not otherwise. In the end, I gave in; she won in capturing this… ;)

docgelo @ gardens by the bay

I know. It’s neither I nor Gina who’s the star of this post. We’re not worthy! :P Indubitably, the spotlight for this blog post is directed onto those vibrant petals. Here are some of my shots that I hope could make you smile or at least, lighten up your mood even a bit. Enjoy! :D

orange & pink flowers, gardens by the baygorgeous blooms!roses are red :)more pink blooms, gardens by the bay, sinagpore
orange bloom, gardens by the bay
sea of flowers, gardens by the bay
bed of flowers # 2, gardens by the bay, singapore
bed of flowers # 4, gardens by the bay, singapore
bed of flowers # 3, gardens by the bay, singapore
a pop of yellow

Those yellow creeping beauty made me remember Gabby while inside the Flower Dome. Spongebob’s color is Gabby’s ultimate favorite. And he’s correct; yellow brightens up any mood. I smiled instantly when I saw it. :)

Then, God created pink…

pink petals # 1
pink rose, gardens by the bay, sinagpore

I am recommending Flower Dome to people who wish to pause and smell the flowers, literally! Time, inside the Flower Dome could stand still effortlessly. It’s a perfect venue for those worry-free-forget-about-all-hassles-moments!

After we felt we’ve savored enough, we exited the turnstiles and headed to the second cooled conservatory located right across. It’s the Cloud Forest!

CLOUD FOREST

Gina liked it better than Flower Dome. I thought so too. Whoever made the blueprint and constructed Cloud Forest must have been so inspired by the fantasy world in the movie, Avatar! To me, there’s that avatar-ish mood inside! I felt like I stepped into a new foresty world of another dimension! Or perhaps, it’s just my imagination. :) I must have over imagined it because there’s that lovely mist when we entered Cloud Forest and it made the entire atmosphere inside cooler and fresher! The moist-loving plants are anchored to a mountain-like installation. There’s that tall waterfalls that greets every visitors at the entrance. There are lifts and escalators that bring visitors to various levels of the Cloud Forest; there’s even one level devoted to crystals and crystal-mountains! And walking through different levels, admiring the many species of orchids, bromeliads and other exotic and vibrant flowering plants made our visit to Gardens by the bay really worth it! If visitors have to choose only one from the two conservatories to visit, Gina and I are both recommending, Cloud Forest!

cloud forest, gardens by the bay
cloud forest
yellow little orchids
avatar-ish!
boat!
tiny beautiful purple
purple
anito in cloud forest, gardens by the bay
more orange blooms
delicate blooms at cloud forest

It was almost noon time when we left Gardens by the bay. We left the appreciation for those Supertree groves to our future visit. We felt our stomachs growling and the urgent need to fill them up. We strolled our way back to Marina Bay Sands and trooped to its food court.

supertrees and gina :)

I offered to pay the bill for our lunch, but Gina was so generous and didn’t allow me to pull out my wallet. :) She treated me to one of the restaurants at Marina Bay Sands that has the mood of TGI.F but was noted to have originated in Korea. The food place’s called, Kraze Burgers. We thought we need to sample the KB Original Burgers so we ordered two, plus a plateful of french fries generously topped by chili-con-carne and 2 glasses of iced tea to wash everything down. Everything in that burger tasted fresh! Our lunch was satiatingly good! :D

kraze burgers, marina bay sands
french fries with chili con carne, kraze burgers singapore
gina in kraze burgers, marina bay sands
original burger, kraze burgers, marina bay sands

From Gardens by the bay to Kraze Burgers at Marina Bay Sands, we rode the MRT and cable car all the way to Sentosa. And since I have another Singapore-based friend to meet for early dinner, Gina was even thoughtful and more than willing to accompany me to my next meeting place before she took her own way to hear mass that Sunday.

I hope I could bring Tina and Gabby back to Singapore and visit our friend, Gina once more. :)

—————–

Happy 47th Birthday, Singapore! Happy National Day!!! :)  | 09 August 2012

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Gardens by the bay |   18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 | Outdoor : 5AM – 2AM daily, Free | Conservatories : 9AM-9PM, daily, S$ 8 to S$ 28 | OCBC Skyway : 9AM-9PM |For more details, click THIS!

Kraze Burgers | Kraze Burgers @ Marina Bay Sands is located at 2 Bayfront Ave, #B2-54/55, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956 | For more details, click THIS!

*sourced via Gardensbythebay.com

01
Aug
12

GLORIOUS FOOD PORN @ HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG

Indulgence is a must when spending quality time with the family or with friends. My family and I are very grateful to the people of Hard Rock Hotel Penang for they perfectly know how to pamper their guests across all ages by providing A COMPLETE SENSORY EXPERIENCE.

You’ve probably read my first post about our family’s grand experience (blog post HERE!). Now, here’s the conclusion of my 2-part-blog-series about Hard Rock Hotel Penang; I’m ending it with everything that satisfied our digestive tracts. :)  WARNING : FOOD PORN AHEAD! You may want to drink a glassful of cold water first before scrolling down this post. FEAST YOUR EYES! ENJOY! *wink*  

OUR FRIDAY DINNER @ STARZ DINER :  THE GREAT AMERICAN BUFFET with A TWIST

Shameless dispaly of indulgence. My plate # 1 : Fresh green salad, prawns, crayfish, salmon sashimi and cheese on a biscuit. Nom nom nom!!! :)

My plate # 2 : Mini Lamb Burger, Chicken Fingers, Mashed Potato, Chicken Wings and the most delicious and tender Smoked Beef Rib I’ve ever tasted! Tender. Delicious. *sigh*

Sarsi Longgan, anyone? Surprisingly, I liked it. It’s light, fruity and refreshing! :)

Our little-big-boy’s preference : chocolate fondue goodies!

HAPPINESS!!! …Can you imagine a world without ice cream?

This trio melted all my worries away, seriously!!! :D

Res Ipsa Loquitor means the evidence speaks for itself. Here’s a proof that Hard Rock Hotel Penang is beyond rockstars and adult-fun. People of HRHP are certainly KID-FRIENDLY TOO! ;)

The next day was made for another gastronomic adventure in epic proportions! ;)

OUR SATURDAY BREAKFAST BUFFET PLATES  @ STARZ DINER

LOVE! This platter on the buffet spread is just love. Smoked salmon and salted fish are so right in the morning!

My plate obviously. Smoked salmon FTW! :)

Tina sampled the do-it-yourself-congee.

Our kiddo is a cereal-monster! :)

Apparently, Gabby’s :) Don’t ask me if appetite is hereditary. LOL!

Early Weekend Morning Look! hahaha!

Dim sums in the morning? I had it for 2 consecutive weekend mornings. First in Singapore, then at Hard Rock Hotel Penang. It’s habit-forming and I’m not complaining! :)

Fiber-rich fresh fruits : A must for digestive process. Nutritious too!

What Gabby does to express happiness. :P

Tina’s.

My world revolves around them. End of story. :)

OUR SATURDAY LUNCH @ PIZZERIA

There’s so many nice things to experience in Pizzeria at Hard Rock Hotel Penang. For one, diners get to enjoy watching the chefs tossing and flipping the pizza as per order.  It’s entertaining in its own way! The wannabe-chef in Gabby and me enjoyed it a lot! Having an open-air-ambiance, located few steps by the beach provide a very relaxing and casual dining feel; it’s non-intimidating. :) Italian dishes on the menu look and taste authentic too! Highly recommended, a really must-try in HRHP! :)

Watching the chefs prepare those hand-tossed pizzas is an extra special treat!

Antipasto combo includes that tender baby octopus, mushrooms and diced eggplant that are complimented by that mayo-based dip. :)

All about Pizzeria’s pizza : I liked the thin crusts and the fact that toppings are served generously!

My family’s (Gabby’s) choice : Pizza Contadina, 14 inch for sharing. Tomato-based topped with chicken, mushrooms, onions, the works!

My plate : Pasta Aglio Y Olio (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers- very Italian? eduate me!). My verdict : I liked it except that my tongue does not favor too much spice, nonetheless, I finished the entire plate.

Gnocchi for Tina. If you must know, this pasta dish called Gnocchi is made of potato-pillows. Those worm-like-pasta are actually made of potatoes and starch.

Hot chocolate for Gabby on a hot weather. Why not.

Our blogger-fellows from Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Isaac, Chris and Emily with their companions savored these Italian goodies…

Gamberi pizza. Prawns in tomato base.

Calzone = folded pizza. Can’t get enough of that Pizzeria pizza-goodness! I’ve tasted this and I gave a thumbs up!

Tomato-based spaghetti.

Calamari. Classic. :)

Pizzeria also offers local Malaysian dishes…

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce. One of Malaysia’s favorite dishes.

BEVERAGES compliment tasteful dishes best. Either alcoholic-based or otherwise, Sand Bar and Pizzeria in Hard Rock Penang, as well as Hard Rock Cafe have a long list of choices from their beverage menus. There’s something special for everyone; even Gabby was happy with his Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Smoothies drinks. :D

Fellow Blogger Chris’ choice : Mojito

For our Saturday Lunch : Watermelon and strawberry-based smoothies for me, Tropical Paradise, a fruity shake for Tina, and Hot Chocolate for Gabby.

On the very first weekend evening that we met the invited Malaysian awesome bloggers, Isaac, Chris and Emily with the very hospitable people of Hard Rock Penang, we had a few drinks at Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s Sand Bar, a very apt spot in the resort to chill out and watch the gorgeous sunset.

Gabby had his Chocolate Smoothies from the Sand Bar. While admittedly, Tina and I are non-alcoholics (and non-smokers too), we’re not kill-joy-junkies when an occasion calls for it. I made Tina sample the drink from Sand Bar’s menu called, PICKLED TINK which is an infusion of Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka, Pina Colada Mix and Fresh Strawberries Served Frozen and garnished with two Maraschino Cherries. ;)

Guess who had what.  ;)

OUR SATURDAY FAMILY DINNER @ HARD ROCK CAFE PENANG

Didn’t I tell you that the entire Hard Rock Hotel Penang including Hard Rock Cafe is very family-friendly? Gabby’s delighted at the sight of specially tailored menu for kids his age. He immediately scan it and made his choices. Oh and by the way, he had two cups fresh milk that went perfectly with his preference. Can you believe Hard Rock Cafe has fresh milk for kids? They have actually!  :)

Gabby’s choice # 1 : Ceasar’s salad

Gabby’s plate # 2 : Mac and cheese. This is a favorite-kid-friendly-plate. Agree? :)

The scene early that evening. It became packed with hungry diners in a blink.

I went up the mezzanine of Hard Rock Hotel Penang and a volume of Rock and Roll memorabilia are on display too to delight the music-loving patrons. Can you spot that Madonna costume?

Now, I have a confession to make. It’s a lame excuse, I know but because of my hectic schedule from my social media commitments for two consecutive weekends (Singapore Blog Awards 2012 and this Hard Rock Hotel Penang invitation), not to forget the stress that my wife and I are currently getting from work, I committed an isolated glitch. It slipped my memory that we’re instructed to try the “Hard Rock Cafe Eats Platter” special offering from HRC during the Fasting Month (Breaking of the Fast or Buka Puasa during Ramadhan) and for that I’m really sorry. :( What I remembered from the invite they sent in pdf via email and a printout form was the phrase that made me smile ear to ear :  “if you wish, you may order other stuff.” I forgot to memorize the phrase that came before it (“After the platter,” ) toinks!!!  We came earlier at Hard Rock Cafe that Saturday evening than our fellow blogger-buddies, thus my family and I were done with the last meal of the day earlier too. I immediately emailed Ms. Danielle Fung of HRHP to explain and verify everything after our sumptuous dinner. And I must say, they’re really generous. Everything’s waived and we didn’t pay a single ringgit. :D THANK YOU SO MUCH, HRHP & HRC! I just had to be honest about it. Now, continue to feast your eyes on our dinner that Saturday night…

Tina ordered this thick prawn-based soup. It could have been better if it’s not too salty.

Gabby got MILK. Fresh Milk. Two Cups. From HRC Penang! :)

We did not expect it too be in HUMONGOUS servings! I ordered JUMBO APPETIZER COMBO that includes Fried Spring Rolls, Chicken fingers, Potato Skins, Onion Rings and Buffalo Wings with respective dips! SEDAP, SARAP!!! The HRC EATS PLATTER that my family and I failed to sample (please see posted below) has similar offerings except it has Mini Lamb Burger and the others.

DISCLAIMER : Tina and I did NOT finish everything we ordered; we had most of them as takeaway (or in our words, take-out, take-home). It’s good that our seaview deluxe room in Hard Rock Hotel Penang has a personal fridge to temporarily store those delicious leftovers. We literally took them home the next day after check out. :)

Tina was astonished with the serving size of her order. TRIO COMBO. BBQ flavored Chicken, Beef Ribs and Roasted Beef Brisket (Believe me, it’s the most tender beef dish that I’ve tasted! Flavorful too! We loved it! The chicken’s OK too however, it’s so frequent for us to eat chicken so the beef ribs and roasted beef tantalized our taste buds effortlessly. )

My HRC Surf and Turf dinner plate : NEW YORK BEEF STEAK with PRAWN SKEWER. I had it medium well and I lost superlatives to describe it. I finished the side dishes that were also remarkably delicious plus the prawns, a personal favorite! I had the rest of the steak as to go.

I just had to take one more shot. Beautiful plate, isn’t it?

What’s a rock and roll meal without a sweet ending? DESSERTS we had included this CHOCOLATE MOUSSE, it’s Gabby and Tina’s choice. I liked it too!

My choice from the HRC dessert menu : Haagen Dazs Sundae Trio. Simply divine!

OUR SUNDAY BREAKFAST BUFFET @ STARZ DINER

Our last meal enjoyed at Hard Rock Hotel Penang during that 3D2N sponsored staycation was our breakfast buffet at Starz Diner. There’s a vast selection of bread for those who want to have carbo-loading. There’s a station for free-flowing morning drinks -from coffee, tea, fruit juices, fresh milk and chocolate. The difficult part was choosing what to chow down! So many food, so little time and limited gastric pits! Nevertheless, I’ll state it again that we’re very blessed to experienced all this. Thank you, God! Thank you, Hard Rock Hotel Penang! :D

I told you, that smoked salmon got my taste buds seriously. I love it to bits.

Tina and Gabby’s Roti Canai, one of Malaysia’s famous breads for breakfast, actually, it’s all good anytime of the day!

There’s only one thing that Tina and I regret of not doing in Hard Rock Hotel Penang and that’s failing to watch the Filipino Live Band called, Tiempo who plays at Hard Rock Cafe at 10:30PM that (every) weekend. We like watching live bands however the show’s strictly for adults 21 years old and older and Gabby didn’t allow us to sneak out leaving him in the room, even for an hour. Oh well, parenthood duties!!! We’re not complaining. At least it became one of the reasons to go back to HRHP and HRC in the near future. :)

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG! :D

———-

Part one of this 2-part blog series : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/31/our-rock-roll-family-weekend-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Buffets | Hard Rock Hotel Penang offers a wide array of dishes specially prepared and cooked by their rockstar chefs in time for Buka Puasa (breaking of the fast during Ramadhan season) and Hari Raya.

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

http://penang.hardrockhotels.net/

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

———-

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

05
Jul
12

DEFYING STRESS : YET ANOTHER FOOD PORN

We defy stress from a weeklong work and some bizaare challenges that come with living in another country by spending quality time together, either simply being lazy at home or going out on weekends. It breaks the monotony of our seemingly routinary lives here in Penang on weekdays (home-school-home for Gabby and home-work-home for Tina and me). Needless to say, we enjoy our togetherness longer every Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and during holidays, thus, we usually have efforts to make the most out of it (In Tagalog, SULIT!).

And whenever my family finds extra time and budget to go out, gastronomic adventures have been integral part of the fun! Frankly speaking, savoring good food has been therapeutic and a delightful measure to combat all the hassles away. Of course, the choice of food places and menu should always be unanimous among us!

Subway never fails to unleash the sandwich and cookie monsters in us. My family and I always opt to make our Subway sandwiches into a meal so that we get a cup of drink plus 2 cookies per sandwich, which we favor over a bag of Lays potato chips. Tina and Gabby love Chocolate and Double Chocolate cookies. While I also like their choices, I frequently go for Macadamia cookies; it’s deliciously good! Admittedly, Subway has been a favorite of the family. At reasonable and affordable cost, we get to savor freshness in every bite! :)

Before the clock hits 7PM when we watched Upin & Ipin, Live! at a carnival in AutoCity, Juru, Penang one Saturday, our tummies were filled by early dinner-cum-late-afternoon snack at Subway.  Gabby had Roast Chicken-no veggies, just mayonnaise (I know, he should eat greens and he usually does at home but not in Subway), Tina had Roast Beef while I chose Subway Melt and both of our sandwiches contained everything except Jalapeno and olives.

Dinner came at past 9PM. We had eat-all-you-want and this time we went Japanese! But because we only had reservation on the same day at around half hour past 5PM, the Japanese food place was already packed hence, we were assigned to a table at their open-air-area. It turned out to be a better option because Tina, Gabby and I got to watch a live band show plus Gabby experienced dining while his legs crossed. :)

Because we became preoccupied looking at the menu, we failed to note the name of the band. Toinks! :) However, Tina and I had a strong hint that the two lady lead singers are voices from the Philippines. We might be wrong of course, but the English accent that landed on our ears when they sang their repertoire almost confirmed it; we just failed and was too shy to ask. Nonetheless, they threw a remarkable performance of a variety of songs mostly from classic hits of Whitney Houston (Indaaaaaaay, will always love youuuuuuuhuhuuuuuu!) to the very now, Adele (Someone Like You) and so much more!

Tao Restaurant’s Japanese buffet specializes in ala-carte-eat-all-you-can. Simply put, food is only delivered on the table upon order. In a way, we liked it because it assures the freshness of the dishes compared to the ones found on a spread. We already experienced it once in Manila when we dined at Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino in Bonifacio Global City several years back.

These were the dishes from Tao that earned thumbs up from the 3 of us. :)

Temaki : Hand rolled Soft Shell Crab (2 orders), California and Smoked Salmon. They’re satisfyingly good, a visual treat too! This is why I love Japanese food -they’re both art and sustenance.

Ebi tempura : Gabby’s default choice. I didn’t sample it but by mere looking, the prawns had too much batter nonetheless, our son munched it happily!

Sushi Moriawase : Took me to heaven! :)

Sashimi Moriawase : Fresh cuts! …Salmon and tuna sashimi are happiness!

Fried Crabmeat with Cheese : The cheese lover in Gabby liked this.

Tina ordered Ika Spicy Age : A fried and crunchy-spicy squid dish. Just okay.

I think this is called Beef Bacon Skewer : We liked it too! :D

Salmon Teriyaki’s another just fine.

And if there’s one dish that’s worthy of visiting Tao again and again, it’s this Scallop thingy-I-forgot-its-name but never its taste! Toink-Toinks! :D

It’s creamy, sweet and spicy; what more can you ask for? WE LOVED IT! Tina and I consumed 3 plates!!! There you go!

And these were the ones that FAILED to stimulate our palates… :(

A bigger scallop-let-down-dish-so-unremarkable-i-didn’t-bother-to-note-its-name. Glass noodles and scallops fusion wasn’t good on this plate.

Pickled Papaya Salmon. #ayokonito.

Cheese-something. #anotherforgettable. Gabby, Tina and I are fond of cheese but this one didn’t hit the mark.

Beef Ribs that looked like pork chops had nothing to rave about. Sorry.

Ebi Fried Kani Mayo. I so love prawns, crabs and mayonnaise but the combination didn’t worked on this dish. #soggy #supersaturated

Tina ordered this Mushroom dish but I so believe my very own home cooked buttered garlic mushrooms is far better than this variety.

Lobster sandwich. I ordered this when I thought I was not struggling on satiation yet. The end point : I didn’t even taste it. #whatawaste!

My bad comments on several dishes from the menu of Tao impose a challenge for enhancement. I’ve to be honest and far from being biased on my review.  On a positive note, we loved Tao’s bottomless drinks (we only had iced tea, but Tiger beer was also free-flowing), and dessert included in the rates. The cost of the buffet for the three of us was reasonable; in fact, was only equivalent to half of an adult-rate in a hotel buffet in Manila. Another plus point of Tao was the courtesy of the wait staff. Prompt and friendly service without being pushy makes every dining experience commendable.

The raspberry flavored ice cream was such a wonderful ending to this meal! Tina and I loved it but Gabby passed it up.

I had an arrangement with our usual taxi cab driver to pick us up at around 11:30PM so while waiting, we had to give in to Gabby’s request for him to have his share of dessert. We left Tao before 11PM and walked few steps towards Starbucks Coffee.

Since Tina and I were so full, it was only Gabby who enjoyed his Chocolate Chip Frappuccino and Chocolate Marble Cheesecake.

For few minutes while waiting for our cab to take us home, I chanced upon this magazine inside the coffee shop that featured one of Malaysia’s pride, Penang-born-world-renowned-luxury handmade shoemaker, Prof. Dato’ Jimmy Choo. I’d like to end this lengthy family-food-fun blog post on one of Jimmy Choo’s quotes from that featured article…

Until our next stress-busting-family bonding! ;)

——————–

01
Jul
12

GABBY IN UPIN & IPIN, LIVE!

When I was in the Philippines some 2 years back, my descriptions of Malaysia only revolved in three phrases. Their country’s very effective Tourism tag line, “Malaysia, Truly Asia!” that’s so compelling to make you feel the urgency to fly to Kuala Lumpur in a blink. Next was the incredibly iconic, Petronas Twin Towers that never fail to mesmerize me at dusk until now; they’re magnificently stunning! And lastly, the most popular animated characters from Malaysia, Upin and Ipin. Our 7-year-old son, Gabby has been into Upin and Ipin even long before coming to Malaysia. He has been watching the show religiously on Disney Channel and made it as one of his favorites. Believe it or not, our kiddo had suggested for the two Malaysian cartoon characters be included in the parade in Hong Kong Disneyland when he was asked by one of the staff during our last visit to the theme park early this year. It’s how big Gabby’s admiration to these duo. And as for me apparently, after I became an expatriate here in Penang, my perceptions about Malaysia have been improved but I still associate the identity of the country with those few phrases, specially Upin and Ipin! :D

30 June 2012, Saturday.  Imagine our joy that night when we saw Upin and Ipin, Live at AutoCity, Juru, Penang! What’s even happier was to see Gabby performed an impromptu dance with Malaysia’s famous cartoon characters on stage with the other children (my wife, captured the stint on video at the last part of this post). Despite the weather didn’t allow us not to perspire, excitement was upon us! :)

We were lucky to be accomodated warmly by Farhan and Daniel, two of the many men behind this seemingly modest yet fun-filled carnival who gave us a VIP access that allowed us, particularly Gabby, to enjoy the rides for free! They even gave us a nod to have a special photo-op with the two mascots after the show but we had to bid goodbye for buffet dinner (blogging next!).

First and only ride we tried as dad-and-son was the bump cars. Admittedly, I had fun more than Gabby! He was a bit surprised on how speedy those cars could go on a single step. He swore he’ll never ride bump cars again but I bet his spur-of-the-moment-decision would change once years are added to his age.

   

After a few carnival rides, we trooped to the venue of the show and while Upin and Ipin were still out of sight, Tina and I were delighted to take turns in capturing the kids who pre-enlisted to join the Upin and Ipin Coloring contest.

Then the much-awaited stars of the show arrived and strolled their way to the stage…

One thing that’s definite about Malaysia : almost the entire country, if not all, love Chicken Dance! It was one of the dances that our company introduced to us during a few-day-workshop years ago; even Gabby instantly learned it when we attended the 2012 MITBCA Blog Awards where no less than the Minister of Tourism led the audience to groove to Chicken Dance! Its popularity to Malaysians perhaps, properly equate to the love for Upin and Ipin.

Now here’s a run down of how Gabby and other children savored that minute on stage dancing Chicken Dance with Upin and Ipin! No rehearsals needed! No kidding! :P

Fastforward Play : Now, please yourself for a minute or so and watch Gabby and the other children’s on-the-spot-performance of Malaysians’ favorite, CHICKEN DANCE with Upin and Ipin on stage!

The children’s happiness was infectious! :D They cheered and danced with Upin and Ipin tirelessly! What a worry-free night it was!

If you’re in Penang, Malaysia (also in time for George Town Festival 2012) or nearby states, and would like to experience “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin”, catch the shows and the carnival that runs from June 30 to August 6, 2012 at 6PM-12MN daily at AutoCity, Juru, Penang. Admission rates are only 4 ringgit for adult and 2 ringgit for kanak-kanak or children. Tokens are sold at 2 ringgit each. *Special thanks goes to “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin” particularly to Farhan and Daniel for everything! :D

 —————————-

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! ;)

10
Jun
12

A DAY AT THE MUSEUM

9th June 2012, Saturday. If  you must know, Gabby already joined an educational trip back home when he’s still in his pre-school years, so this one’s his second but his very first in Penang. Despite the fact that I have already been to the itineraries before, Tina and I made sure that we attend to our son’s because it’s one way of spending quality time with him. It wasn’t only Gabby and his schoolmates, a few parents and teachers who enjoyed their field trip; Tina, my mom and I also had fun! Oh, yes, the entire family was there! It was an absolute breather from our routinary work-home-work-home-life during weekdays and there’s no brighter day than seeing our child happy. Moments like this are non-negotiable.

Everyday, there’s a ton of things to be grateful for. The weather’s fine and we received little acts of generosity from people who have a ready hand even without asking. We didn’t need to call a cab to transport us from our place to Gabby’s school as both his school’s Principal and his service van driver offered to pick us up. The day was too perfect to start by breakfast in one of our favorite food places, Old Town. After filling in our tummies, we took few steps towards Gabby’s school and hopped on the tourist bus.

There were two itineraries for this field trip : The Penang State Museum and Fort Cornwallis. I have been to these places before but not with Tina and Gabby. Going back to places rich in heritage, history and cultures with family and schoolmates is definitely a learning experience. And as for Gabby and the other kids, they were given a task to complete before lunch; answers to the questions on the “quiz” provided can be all found inside the museum. Hats off to Principal Jasmine for doing such! :D Going through the display in the museum became twice the fun!

 

A lot of things in this two-level museum can easily fascinate anyone. Although it’s filled with things that Malays, Chinese and Indians of Malaysia’s history used in ages, present generation including our kids can relate to them. Case in point, those luggages and trishaws for traveling, and children realized without saying that their tablets, smart phones and other gadgets would have not been brought to market if these things of the past had not been used.

TYPE ko ito, what about you?

It also houses a modest but beautiful collection of art pieces…

In the Peranakan or Straits Chinese chamber, one of the highlights is an intricately designed Wedding Bed…

And an authentic photo of a Peranakan couple taken on the day they tied the knot…

The Penang State Museum also has interactive sections that Gabby and Tina tried…While watching them play congkak or what we call back home as sungka, it made me wonder how many children nowadays still know how to play or at least, care to learn these games amidst online games and applications available now?

Photo-ops is a must in a field trip…

The group proceeded to Fort Cornwallis, in Esplanade, Penang; it’s the largest standing fort in the entire Malaysia.

If you’re Filipino or someone who has gone to Manila, this would make you feel like it’s Fort Santiago, although I would proudly state that the forts in the Philippines are far better built and preserved.

History and Wikipedia stated that Sir Francis Light initially took possession of Penang Island from Kedah and built the original fort. At present, his monument stands proud near the gates of Fort Cornwallis. The fort is one of the favorite tourist spots in George Town, it’s also used as a venue for cultural shows, and a park where most prenuptial photos here have been taken…

On a much lighter note, Fort Cornwallis became my family’s venue for kulitan (*insert english translation here*…google it if you please)…

When the clock turned into lunch time, we all had to go back to the tourist bus and head back to the mainland to wolf down one of those kiddies’ favorites, McDonald’s…

Because of work (for Tina and me) and school (for Gabby) during weekdays, we only get to spend more quality hours together as a family every weekends, so activities like this that promote family bonding, learning and fun are always welcome! It’s always a priceless treat! :D

How was your weekend, everyone?

25
May
12

HAPPY BLOGGING

Looking back, the first 5 months of 2012 have been more exciting and fun filled for me & my blogging. To others, these things may be ordinary but of course to me, the following events that transpired mean the moon and the stars already! :P

Let’s have a trip down recent memory lane, once more!

February 2012 was about docgelo x Mickey Mouse! The family and I were invited to a 3D2N sponsored adventure in Hong Kong Disneyland. We’re thankful for the opportunity to revisit the wonderful island and theme park for free.  It was glorious!

Two months after, I was almost blown away with the hits this blog generated in one day. Considering I am not a celebrity, neither I blog sensational stories, nor national-level events or global issues, an almost 7,000 hits in a single day was beyond surprising!

On the same month of April, I stumbled upon an info on twitter that THE Ministry of Tourism Malaysia is holding its very first Malaysia International Tourism Blog Conference and Awards. I took a chance to nominate my blog and eventually it won under the Best Expat Blog 2012 category. And meeting the gracious and honorable Minister of Tourism Malaysia on stage was really one for the books! Accepting an award because your blog was voted by the people and was approved and confirmed by professional judges was indeed surreal! And FYI, the trophy was literally solid-heavy!

The event was featured in some newspaper within Malaysia and God knows if it also got to foreign shores. Obviously, it felt like weird and unusual to be on paper and to make matters more amusing, I can’t read a character because I don’t know Mandarin! I had to source out to instant friendly translators from my facebook list – a friend in Hong Kong and a Penangite blogger translated that it’s all good so I need not worry. It still felt weird, nonetheless I take pride as the only one wearing Barong Tagalog on that stage. My nose that night became an inch taller! hehehe! :D

The award was too perfect to celebrate my FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING; the date of the awards night, May 8, 2012 coincided with the exact anniversary of my blog. Sweet victory, is it not?

Then came last week when I got my blog a dotcom, finally!

A week after I got my own domain, my new blog header banner was delivered.

How could you not be happier? :)

Presenting, my newest blog header banner….taaaaadaaaah! :)

Do you like my new blog header?

Does it shout out what I blog about- family, food and fun? :D

Thank you to my sponsor for this blog header banner, no other than my lovely wife, Tina! *applause!*

Tina and I like it a lot. I love it to bits actually! I even appreciate how my receding hairline was immortalized in this digital masterpiece, hehehe! It’s unbelievable that I have collaborated with an amazing Malaysian artist who generously agreed to do it for my site! Her name is Ms. Emila Yusof, a mother, a wife, a seasoned traveler, an Illustrator, a Children’s Book Writer and an Award-Winning-Blogger! Her blog was named as 2012 Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog at the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Award. It was literally on stage where we casually and briefly met! And the rest as they say, is history or in our case, an online collaboration. I emailed Ms. Emila heavily about my design in mind and it looks like she effortlessly illustrated everything I want.  All my request and suggestions, even my last-minute-revisions were granted and delivered professionally!

Terima Kasih, Ms. Emila! Thank you for being so kind and patient on all my request. It’s my pleasure to own a piece of your awesome talent! :)

Know more about Ms. Emila Yusof, her art works, books, worldwide exhibits and her portfolio via her award winning blog :  http://emilayusof.com/

There are certainly a lot of things to celebrate and to be grateful for!

Thank You, Lord! :)

14
May
12

ON RED PLATES

Dining out with a 7-year-old-kid who absolutely knows what his palate wants and a wife who can whip almost everything in the kitchen with her disciminating taste, in Malaysian states where predominant dishes are richly flavored with herbs & spices (read : ultra hot, hot, hot!) may be a little challenge.  Because of this and due to limited budget, we don’t really go out to eat on a weekly basis nor as frequent as others might think.

For someone whose family’s gustatory sense was not accustomed to spicy cuisine, I often bring them to something we’re familiar with. Our priority has always been Gabby’s preferences or something that he would agree where he can also eat and enjoy dining.  Luckily, there are those food places that we all favor that usually reminds of our eating-out-moments back home. One of those restaurants we used to go to in Glorietta in Makati City and Trinoma in Quezon City that has a branch here in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur is T.G.I. Friday’s. ;)

Gabby’s favorites include that Cheesy Macaroni with tomato dip (5th photo above) and Cajun Chicken Fingers with fries and honey mustard dip. He also likes TGIF’s Caesar’s Salad. While Tina’s choices aren’t constant, I am otherwise. My default option if it’s TGIF has been Jack Daniel’s Chicken that’s fire-grilled and basted with that sweet Jack Daniel’s glaze. Sarap!!! :)

*Photos were taken randomly from TGI Friday’s branches in Paragon Mall in Gurney Drive, Penang and in Pavilion Mall, Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur.

13
May
12

DATARAN MERDEKA, KUALA LUMPUR

On our way to the hotel in Chinatown after we graced the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Awards in Saloma Theater and Restaurant, I asked my family if they want to go to Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square early the following morning and understandably, because of fatigue from our Penang-to-KL-trip, strolling around Bukit Bintang and lack of sleep, Tina and Gabby chose to curl up longer under the sheets in the hotel and passed up the plan. However, my mom gave me a nod and was ready to go with his son’s itchy feet.

I promised Tina that we’ll be back at the hotel in time for the breakfast buffet that’s included in the package we availed, so we could eat the first meal of the day altogether.

Just before clock hits 7AM, my mom and I took a taxi cab from Chinatown to Merdeka Square and reached the park roughly after 5 minutes. My mom and I strolled around Merdeka Square or literally, Independence Square for less than an hour, took those photos and headed back to our hotel in Petaling Street before 8AM.

If the Philippines has Rizal Park, formerly known as Luneta, Malaysia’s capital city has Dataran Merdeka. It’s a vast park, even more massive than you could imagine! I just wished we had more time exploring the vicinity of the park; there’s always a next time anyway.

Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest including the Royal Selangor Club Complex which is situated on one side of the square, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the National History Museum (formerly the Chartered Bank Building) and the Memorial Library, a building dating back to 1909, St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral, a Gothic style building which is more than a hundred years old, the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (next to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building), the 102-year old Sanitary Board fountain and the impressive modern Dayabumi Complex.

A 95-meter flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, marks that spot with a flat, round black marble plaque. It is located at the southern end of the square.

The quasi-Tudor style timber structure was built in 1890 and remains a place to watch a game of cricket on a Sunday afternoon.

The Royal Selangor Club’s Tudor-style building, originally built in 1890 is in stark contrast to the Moghul-styled Sultan Abdul Samad Building across the square. -Sourced via Wiki

I also found out from a quick glance at Wiki that this Indepence Square was the starting line of The Amazing Race ASIA 1 back in 2006…Enjoy the photos! :)

09
May
12

2012 MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA BEST EXPAT BLOG

There are moments in our lives that can be described as

unforgettable,

priceless,

SURREAL!

In my 35 years of existence and in my five years of blogging,

this once-in-a-lifetime-event is one of those special moments.

I am very blessed to have experienced it with MY FAMILY. :D

It’s my honor, joy and pleasure to receive the 2012 Malaysia Tourism International Bloggers Awards -Best Expat Malaysia My Second Home  Blog from the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia in the Gala Awards Night held at Saloma Theater in Kuala Lumpur, 8th May 2012.

I share this blissful moment with the people I live for –MY FAMILY,

with this blog’s readers and followers,

with my great friends

and all of my students in the Philippines and in Malaysia,

with the generous and selfless people who took time and efforts to vote for this humble site,

with my fellow Filipino bloggers who mostly remain an inspiration.

I am grateful to the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for including an Expat blog category in this international event. I am also thankful to the esteemed panel of judges and to the honorable Minister of Tourism Malaysia herself, Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen (the beautiful Malaysian lady in light blue gown in the photos), for empowering social media particularly, blogs and bloggers with such event and recognition. My greetings and congratulations go out to the other 15 blogger-winners of this prestigious event. This achievement will serve as a motivation for me to continue what I have considered a passion and a part of my lifestyle.

To God be the glory!

Mabuhay!

05
May
12

ARMENIAN STREET, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

The initial weekend plan was for my wife, Tina to relax and stay at home while our son, Gabby, my mom and I head to the island to run some errands. Then, they all decided to just enjoy the Saturday without leaving home so it ended that I went alone for a half day of buying some things we need for the coming week. There’s nothing to complain because it gave me the chance to go back to that unassuming but uniquely appealing street in George Town, Pulau Pinang en route to destination.

I already lost count on how many times I’ve walked through Armenian Street. It’s one of those frequently visited laterals of George Town, particularly by tourists who exactly know what to experience in a place inscribed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The most memorable ones were when I took a stroll with my camera during George Town Day, celebrated every July 7th, for the past 2 consecutive years and I think the latest was when Gabby and I sampled the quaint little hole-in-a-wall-restaurant, AMELIE CAFE December of 2011. Then there were those random visits last year on way to other places in the island.

The chance presented itself for me to personally devote several minutes of my lazy weekend to admire and capture the most recent mural cum street art installation fantastically done by the artist, Ernest Zacharevic (visit his website here –> http://www.zachas.com/artwork/walls/).  I even waited for some tourists and passers by to complete their photo-ops before I savored mine.  It’s such a joy to see this pleasant work of art!

Must have that detail shot ;)

Doesn’t it look so alive yet whimsical? :P

Moving on… Armenian Street also houses one of the kongsis or clanhouses of migrant Chinese families who lived an opulent and illustrious era in this side of Malaysia.  Just beside Amelie Cafe is Cheah Kongsi that I also got to visit last year. Will try to do a separate post about Cheah Kongsi soon.

Immediately after Cheah Kongsi is a garage-looking-area-turned into a very extraordinary souvenir bazaar called  14 LIVING STORY (their facebook account here –> https://www.facebook.com/14livingstory?ref=ts).  I have dropped by their shop several times already and in every visit, I always hold on to my pocket and try my best to resist buying their beautiful paintings. The problem lies on the limited budget against a big temptation. I don’t think I’d be happy with just one frame, that’s why. :)

More murals along Armenian Street. These older ones were made of wrought iron creatively depicting Penangite tradition via caricatures and cartoons. The style and technique are so effective that even the young generations, such as, ehem, I am,  could relate and be fascinated too. :D

At the junction where Armenian Street meets Kapitan Keling Street, there’s this yellow painted building with mural too.

I told you, tourists usually flock here for the same reasons I have.

 

Still on the same building, another wrought iron caricature that’s not only entertaining but informative too.

The stretch of Armenian street is still long but I had to walk through Kapitan Keling Street to wait for the bus to Komtar to go to Prangin and First Avenue Malls.

The walk from jetty in Weld Quay to half of Armenian Street wasn’t that tiring because of countless reasons to indulge your sense of vision into. :)

04
May
12

KHOO KONGSI

In this age when everything is almost digital and largely anything is possible with just a flick of a finger,  it’s amazing fact that there are still people who are drawn to heritage sites beyond the lure of beach resorts, kiddie theme parks, shopping malls and cinemas.  There are still a volume of seasoned travelers and adventurous backpackers who go out of their ways just to experience and appreciate history, culture and the arts.  Admittedly, I am far from these type of people several years back, as my exposure was limited to a few educational field trips to museums and commercial tourist spots back home but thankfully, my immersion in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites after I became an expatriate in this part of Malaysia, gradually enticed me to explore these unique and charming places. They’re mostly a bus, a ferry and a stroll away from where I live as of present.  And after going to a few of them, I believe indulging in these heritage sites once in a while, greatly nurtures the mind, delights the eyes and fuels the spirit.

This was one of the beautiful structures adorning the ceilings of the temple that caught my eye in delight.

One of the not-to-be-missed-heritage sites in George Town, Penang is the so-called,

“The Heritage Jewel of Penang”

The Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi.

Khoo is this distinctive Chinese clan’s surname and Kongsi means clanhouses.

The ancestors of the Khoo clan who emigrated from Hokkien province in South China built this marvelous Chinese clanhouse with all creative artisan work that remains to be unparalleled anywhere in Malaysia. It was noted that the majestic temple was built surrounded by clanhouses in 19th century and was refurbished in 2001.

Despite nearly its closing time at 5PM during my visit one weekend, I was surprised to see a few volume of people, mostly Caucassians and some with chinky-eyes within the vicinity of one of the largest, if not the grandest compound of clanhouses in Penang, Malaysia. I felt a bit of excitement to humbly document the so called “The Heritage Jewel of Penang” with my lame photography skills. I have been to the compound of Khoo Kongsi more than a couple times in the recent past but I didn’t take the chance of savoring the interiors of the temple.  The moment I stepped inside the temple, I was completely blown away with Khoo Kongsi’s grandeur!

There’s something about oriental lanterns that I find them so attractive, charming and poetic. My fascination was satisfied in a heart beat with what I saw at Khoo Kongsi.

The intricate details of almost everything inside the main shrine mesmerized me. For a moment, I felt I froze in gold! The interiors of this temple was simply awe-inspiring! I was lucky to take everything all in and had a quick but ample time to appreciate the opulent ambiance and the tranquil atmosphere.

And the facade’s equally impressive….

It’s impossible that the middle wooden structure would symbolize, “Rock On!” or “Rock and Roll!”  With Chinese known to have various beliefs, its use must be to ward off evil spirits. Quite fascinating, eh?! :P

My gut’s telling me that there are a hundred and one interesting stories behind each concrete sculptures. There must be.

How could you not admire these details? In my eyes, these are stunning!

 

At the basement of the main hall, there’s a museum that further enlightens visitors with the history of Khoo Kongsi. There’s that genealogical tree showing respective names of the Khoo clan. I breezed through the museum and just captured whatever pleased my eyes.

 

The exteriors of Khoo Kongsi is equally magnificent. The temple is built facing a huge stage oftenly used as open-air-Opera theater; in between these structures is a spacious courtyard that can be rented for special events and dinners and banquets.

The traditional use of shards of broken colored porcelain made the Chinese roofs undeniably beautiful!

With Khoo Kongsi’s fantastic interiors and over-the-top architecture and detailed craftmanship, there’s so much more to see and absorb but  unfortunately, I needed to leave at 5PM and so I didn’t get a chance to capture its grandiosity at dusk.  However, I am ending this post with a photo I snapped inside the museum at the basement of the shrine. Enjoy! ;)

Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi. 18 Cannon Square, 10200 Penang, Malaysia. Daily Opening Hours 9AM-5PM. Admission Rate : RM10 (PhP 140 or USD 3.28). Khoo Kongsi is accessible by car, or commute via Rapid Penang bus that passes by Lebuh Chulia, then stroll your way around from Pitt Street / Kapitan Keling Mosque to Cannon Street.

29
Apr
12

BATU FERRINGHI

Located at the northern coast of Penang, Malaysia, Batu Ferringhi frequently charms tourists with its long stretch of beach resorts, premier hotels, street bazaars and serves as a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of a routinary life.

Admittedly, the first time I went to a public beach in Batu Ferringhi about a couple of years ago was a total disappointment; it’s either because the Filipino in me who came from a country with the best and the most pristine beaches in the world has a strong discriminating taste or the place was just a public beach and not a commercial resort itself. Either way, I know I still have to be thankful that there’s a nearby place like this, that offers respite amidst stress and worries that goes with living and working in a land foreign to me and my family.

No, I have not soaked my feet in the sand and shores of Batu Ferringhi beaches yet; I should bring along my family with me when I get a chance to do that again.

The photos were taken while I was waiting for Rapid Penang Bus #101 across Holiday Inn Resort in Batu Ferringhi. It took about 15 minutes of waiting which I barely noticed because while doing so, I chanced upon gazing up and saw a lush collection of various textured leaves and twigs and branches of must-be-century-old trees lining the main road. It’s a simple visual treat to me. The sight was simply refreshing.

P.S.

Did you spot two primates in one of the pictures? :P

28
Apr
12

ANOTHER WEEKEND IN PULAU PINANG

I’m sure you have already experienced a weekend made extra-special by unexpected little happy moments. My family and I spent another Saturday that’s totally different from the ones we already had here in Penang. It was a delicious, action-packed, gripping and charming weekend we all enjoyed.

28 April 2012, Saturday.  I was fully motivated to wake up early (despite the fact that I am such a morning person even on weekends!) because we planned to watch the Marvel-comic-superhero-movie that’s everyone was raving about. The Avengers!  After I’ve read countless superlatives to describe that film on facebook and twitter, and even heard 2 Filipino hilarious-radio DJs via online live streaming of their program from the Philippines, talking of wrong spoilers about it, I personally built an excitement to watch The Avengers with Tina, Gabby and my mom on a wide screen.

So we left our place again in Butterworth, traveled the road via Rapid Penang bus, crossed the bay and reached George Town via ferry (where Gabby met a bunch of my Bridging Course-Ireland-PreMed students en route to see the same movie too!) and rode another bus to Komtar. *whew!* :)

Why, hello there again, George Town! It’s weekend once more!

As Penang Rapid Bus commuters, my family and I have been accustomed to these road signs in Komtar Tower. The sight is an almost weekly breather from our usual daily routine.

We arrived in First Avenue Mall around eleven in the morning with almost nothing in the tummies. We only drank coffee and hot Milo for Gabby before we left home.

Then just at the entrance of First Avenue Mall, our almost growling stomachs were satisfied in a heart beat by one word –BRUNCH! :)

With his Lola (my mom) during our brunch before the movie.

Of course, Gabby must have a photo with my lovely wife. ;)

kulitan! (*insert english translation here*) :P

I thought that the last time I had a bite from Subway was ages ago when I was on a date with Tina who was my, ehem, girlfriend then in Powerplant Mall cinema in Rockwell, Makati City. Or was it the only remarkable Subway experience I can recall? I digress. Anyway, important thing is, Subway opened an additional branch in Penang in this First Avenue Mall and our hunger was remedied.

My mom had her default choice for sandwiches -what else but Tuna, Gabby selected his own, while Tina and I had the same option to have 6-inch-Roast-Beef each.

We had two orders of 6-inch-Roast Beef sandwich; one for me, the other one for Tina. She had Parmesan bread while I chose Honey-something-bread. But we both agreed to have everything with Roast Beef except two things –black olives and jalapenos.

My 6-inch-Roast-Beef-sandwich came with 2 options -either potato chips or 2 cookies. Apparently, I had the cookies and loved these double chocolate and white chocolate macadamia cookies. Sarap!!! Sedap! My family ordered more for takeaway. :)

Mas Mura Sine Dito Sa Penang!

If you must know, movie admission rates in this Malaysian state (I don’t know with the others) are cheaper than in the Philippines. I only paid 43 ringgit (PhP 14= 1 rinngit, USD 0.32 = 1 ringgit) for the four of us; that’s RM12 per adult x 3 (Tina, Mommy and I), plus only RM7 for Gabby. You don’t pay almost half the price for a 7-year-old-movie-goer like Gabby back home but in full adult price as well. And according to Mamy who lived and worked in UAE and Qatar in the past few years, movie tickets there are more expensive compared to rates here in Penang. That’s another simple reason why we should be grateful in this side of Malaysia. :)

The Avengers movie was incredibly awesome! The super hero characters were expectedly intersting but gripping action scenes, sophisticated computer graphics and hilarious storylines made it more amazing! What an unforgettable movie! We wish a sequel would be filmed soon.

I liked all the characters but that of Hulk and Iron Man were hilariously funny!  Have you watched The Avengers? I’m definite you’ve enjoyed it too! If you have not, c’mmon, give yourself a fun treat! :)

And look who we saw at the first level of First Avenue Mall few minutes after we exited the cinema…

This little boy was too cute for words, he made me feel envious that Gabby should have worn such fantastic costume too. See his smile? I’m sure even the monstrous Loki’s army will easily melt by this boy’s charm!

Who would have thought that the characters would come alive immediately after you watched them on the big screen?  What an amazing surprise! A cool unexpected treat to me. :)

People of the world, here’s a proof that Malaysians know how to do it too! Here’s Thor and Loki -Malaysian versions!

The Marvel Superheroes came in full force! How fierce! In characters! hahaha!

My mom and his uber-gwapito grandson had that photo-op with Storm and Captain America. Then Gabby became a bit moody; perhaps he was shy too be photographed with the company of Marvel Superheroes. Well his father was otherwise! hehehehe (view next photo…)

I don’t know about you but to me, the chance of being in the company of Marvel Superheroes does not come on a daily basis, does it? Wait, where’s Hawkeye? Had I know that Jeremy Renner’s character can’t make it, I could have brought bow and arrows to complete the casting! hahahaha! :D

That Captain America little boy was really charming! He’s a stand out in his group!  I’m sure Tina would agree that Gabby would look more handsome in that same blue-red-white-superhero suit!

So much fun for that unexpected mall visitors! We left First Avenue Mall and went to Prangin Mall just across the street where Tina and Gabby bought some stuffs. We ended our very special-superhero weekend by savoring one of our favorites…

One cone of Mcdonald’s CHOCOTOP is perfect enough to end a weekend!

Another weekend of family.food.and.fun in Pulau Pinang was wonderfully spent.

It’s MARVELous!

Happiness continues tomorrow. :)

27
Apr
12

SOME THINGS ABOUT KUALA LUMPUR

I received the message above from a friend way back in Med school via facebook last week. I thought of publishing my lengthy reply here that I also sent to her email for somehow, it may serve as a RAW-guide to any first-time-tourist visiting Kuala Lumpur (particularly those coming from Manila or Clark). Any suggestions and corrections to the information below will be appreciated.
hello! as promised, here’s a list of you can do, places you can visit when in malaysia (these are just based to where we’ve been to, of course, i cannot recommend the ones we haven’t tried yet hehe!). i also included some info which i hope you may find useful.
 
if you’re (from Manila) coming from the airport -KL-LCCT (kuala lumpur low cost carrier terminal) via either cebu pacific that flies everyday but i recommend you take 10am flight from manila every tuesdays, thursdays and saturdays (the rest of the weekdays, cebu pac flies at 9pm so you’ll arrive 1am in KL -medyo hassle!), or via air asia from naia 3 or clark, you have to take a bus from LCCT to downtown KL called KL SENTRAL (a bus station).
 
the buses kiosks are located just before you exit, after the immigration officers in the KL-LCCT. the fares are either 8 ringgit (RM1 =roughly PhP 14) in AEROBUS buses, or RM9 in Skybus of air asia. the buses are parked after McDonald’s at the airport (left side).  they leave every 15 or 30 minutes from the airport and will take you to KL SENTRAL at about an one hour. 
 
when in KL Sentral, try to remember the spot where you will be dropped off by Aerobus. this will be the same place where you should take the same bus (leaves every 15 min to the airport) when leaving malaysia to airport again when you go home. Once you got off the bus, you take the stairs (makipot sya, hehe! walang escalator doon), then walk your way up to 1st floor (in malaysia, our 1st floor is their ground floor, so yung 1st floor nila ay 2nd floor na sa pinas!) and look for the TAXI COUNTER just before you exit KL SENTRAL.
 
taxis (or teksi in bahasa melayu, Pinoy-slang! hehehe) from KL SENTRAL are provided with tickets, so you have to purchase the fare/ticket at the counter. Tell the counter, chinatown kayo or petaling street (assuming na doon ang hotel nyo) and the counter-staff will give you a ticket around RM 12 to 15 siguro ang  fare of taxi cab. Then, the stub/ticket shall be given to the teksi driver who will take you to your destinasi (destination, hehehe!).
 
yes, chinatown is a good choice –cheap and affordable hotels available (you can choose from agoda.com  if you have not booked yet), then pagbaba mo, palengke agad, tyangge like recto and greenhills! dami restos, foods! malapit pa sya sa pudu raya or PUDU SENTRAL (a bus and train station that will take you else where).
 
kami nag stay sa chinatown boutique hotel the last time we’re in KL. medyo maliit pero malinis naman at gabi lang naman kami nagstay doon, maghapong lakwatsa (*it’s a bit small hotel but clean, just enough to spend the night; anyway, you’ll wander around during the day)  check it out if you like . if not, we tried breakfast buffet at SWISS IN HOTEL also in Chinatown, KL. that’s also nice to stay, i guess.
 
since may kasama kayong 15 years old, she may like GENTING HIGHLANDS. it’s the theme park in KL but dont expect disneyland-like ha. ang ok doon, malamig kasi it’s on top of the mountains, you need 1 day at least or two, in Genting. May cable cars sa foot ng genting highlands where you can take after you ride bus from Pudu / KL Sentral to Genting. May indoor at outdoor theme parks doon, 5 atang hotels at madaming casinos and buffets. We took a bus direct from Penang to Genting when we went there 2 years ago kaya di kami nakapag cable car. here is the link to my post just in case you want to peek
http://docgelo.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/our-days-in-genting-part-one/
 
i also suggest you go up the Skybridge of PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS. it’s a must-experience when in malaysia -or at least in my vocabulary, hehehe! We queued at 6AM, yes tickets sell like hotcakes at the basement of Petronas / Suria-KLCC Shopping complex, daming turista lagi, kaya go there before 6am then purchase your tickets, RM 50 per pax then you get to choose the time of your SKYBRIDGE VISIT –either morning, lunch time or gabi. We got the 9:15am visit;  blog post and photos here http://docgelo.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/our-fun-homage-to-malaysias-magnificence/
After nyo ng SkyBridge Visit, you can go shopping in Suria KLCC (mall in between the foot of Petronas).
 
If you’re feeling like to indulge sa Suria, kain kayo sa Harrod’s kasi sa UK lang mayroon noon di ba? Pero 2 naman ang food courts sa Suria, dami choices, may mga restos din, Chilis etc.. here’s our merienda in Harrods’s http://docgelo.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/harrods-cafe-celebratory-indulgence-in-kuala-lumpur/ (photos were then taken using point and shoot kaya medyo blurry hehe!).
 
Pwede din kayo punta sa  Aquaria pero Manila Oceanarium in my opinion is far better. Nasa ilalim or basement sya ng Suria-KLCC.
 
If you dig tourist spots and some Indian flares, you may want to go to Batu Caves too. I suggest you do that in the morning (before 9am para di pa mainit). You may take KTM Train from KL Sentral (so from chinatown, you may take a cab to KL Sentral), buy a ticket for 1 or 2 ringgit lang ata one way at KL Sentral to Batu Caves. Mga 40 minutes ang byahe. After Batu Caves, we went to Pavilion Mall and other malls in BUKIT BINTANG (it’s like the Ginza of Tokyo or Beverly Hills of Manhattan or Makati of Pinas). Bukit Bintang is accessible via cab from Chinatown or from anywhere. Ayos sa Pavilion Mall, malaki, but I still miss Greenbelt and Glorietta there, hehe! Here’s my blog post about Batu Caves and Pavilion Mall.
 
There’s also KL Bird Park, Orchidarium and other Nature Park in downtown KL which we passed up kasi lack of time the last time we went there.
 
I read from fellow bloggers that Malacca is so nice, when you like heritage/clan houses/old-world-appeal kind of thing. Never been there. It’s 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur or a 7-hour bus ride from Penang (Sungai Nibong).
 
Then there’s Langkawi which I heard is the Palawan/Boracay of Malaysia. It’s near Penang but we haven’t explored it yet too.
 
Let me know if you’re going to Penang and we shall talk. If you plan to go to George Town, I wish it’ll be on a weekend, para masamahan namin kayo umikot, kasi may work at weekend lang kami libre. :)
 
Hope this long suggested and info list helps.
 
19
Apr
12

LET’S DO THIS!

Beyond Toxicity  X  Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards 2012

Here we go!  This personal blog that gives reverence to life’s simple pleasures – family, food and fun,  is one of the official entries to 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards 2012 under the Expat Malaysia My Second Home Category. You know how I love my country, the Philippines but living and working in Penang for almost 2 years has made Malaysia my second home now. 

There will be a 2-day conference set on May 8th and May 9th, 2012 at Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur that will highlight and feature talks, workshops and panel discussions on tourism and social media to be conducted by a list of esteemed speakers. Registration is FREE! To know more of the details and schedules of the event, visit MITBCA website at http://mitbca.com/conference.php

I’d like to thank MITBCA 2012 and Malaysia Ministry of Tourism for having this event to honor the people behind social media and their humble contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia. I take pride in being one of the MITBCA 2012 nominees under EXPAT Malaysia My Second Home Category!

“Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)” sourced via MITBCA 2012

The awards shall be given on 8th May 2012 in Saloma, Kuala Lumpur (the date incidentally coincides with this site’s 5th birthday! Yes, Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 5th anniversary soon!). As mentioned, voting accounts for 80%  so if you think this blog deserves to win, show some love, support and care -tons of them by CLICKING THE VOTE BUTTON on this LINK :

VOTE FOR BEYOND TOXICITY http://docgelo.wordpress.com!

Maraming Salamat po!  Terima Kasih!  Thank you so much!

*to browse or review my blog posts about our Malaysian adventures, click the links on my sidebar under Another Day In Malaysia category. :)

*EDITED : Voting ended before midnight of May 1, 2012. Thank you so much to those generous people who expressed support! :)

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. ;)

11
Apr
12

RANDOM VIEWS FROM THE BALCONY, THE TOWER & THE FERRY

*Edited : This blog post was published midnight of April 11, 2012, several hours before my family and I felt the 8.9 magnitude earthquake here in Penang, Malaysia with Aceh, Indonesia as its epicenter. We needed to evacuate our 10th floor seaside appartment temporarily after 2 strong quakes felt in the late afternoon and a tsunami alert that was also lifted 9PM, same day. Swing back for the story soon.

__________________

One of the little things that my family and I enjoy whenever we’re at home is cloud watching…

Amazing how they form puffy cotton-candy-like formations against the gorgeous blue sky…

Last Easter Sunday, I woke up early as usual and was greeted by this almost cloudless view overlooking George Town, Penang from our 10th floor rented appartment’s tiny humble porch…

If you'll look closely at this photo you'll see that cylindrical and tallest building in George Town, Penang, captured in the middle of those "yellow industrial giraffes". That iconic building in this side of Malaysia is called KOMTAR.

Later that day…

A quick glance at Wiki: “Komtar Tower, or Menara Komtar Complex is Penang’s tallest building and the sixth tallest building in Malaysia located in the heart of George Town, dominating the island’s skyline. KOMTAR is a portmanteau of Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak.

Komtar is a multipurpose complex consisting of retail outlets, transportation hub and administrative offices for the Penang State Government. An acronym for Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak, KOMTAR was named after Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the second prime minister of Malaysia.

The 65-storey tower is a 232 m (761 ft) 12-sided geometric block atop a 4-storey podium. The complex comprises office and retail commercial space as well as public and recreational facilities.” ~Sourced fromWIKI.

2 days back :  As Catholics, we’re allowed by our office to observe Good Friday by sending us home after a half day at work; while Gabby’s Principal, being a Baptist-Christian herself, made a self-declaration of school holiday before the weekend. So around half hour past 2PM, Tina, Gabby, my mom and I got a chance to troop to George Town once more. And since we were too early for the scheduled Station of the Cross and Holy Mass at 6PM in St. Francis Church in Penang Road, we decided to drop by Komtar first and went up its viewing deck on its 60th floor (which is only open for public on weekdays). With 5 rinngit per pax entrance fee (RM5 = PhP 70 or USD 1.62), we’re ushered to the lift and off we went—up!

My clueless self was expecting that the Komtar’s viewing deck would have an open-air-area or something with grills at least but I just scratched my head when I saw a full-glass-60th floor. Oh well, pardon the glass-glare on my photos.

However, wherever, whenever, the view from the top is always marvelous…

And if you’ve been following this blog for quite sometime now, you probably know that for almost 2 years, we’re living in Butterworth which is a bus-ferry-bus-away from George Town when commuting. Thus, taking the 12-minute-ferry ride (not to forget the waiting time of about 15-30 minutes for the ferry on jetty) has also been a part of our weekend (and holiday) trips to and from this Malaysian state. The ferry looks something like a version of RORO-ships back home (roll on/roll off).  At times, Tina doesn’t enjoy the ferry rides because of her vertigo.  On the contrary, I consider it relaxing (unless so crowded, of course) and somewhat symbolic because each time I set foot on that Butterworth-George Town ferries, I take another adventure.

En route to George Town while we’re on board the ferry,  I took some photos of various vessels passing by…

The ferries that transport passengers and private vehicles from Butterworth and George Town and vice versa are either painted multicolored or monochromatic. From my 7-year-old son’s keen observation, ferries that only have one color (such as the yellow one shown above), accomodate both people and cars, but mostly if the ferries appear to have 2 colors or more, they’re exclusively for those with wheels who opted to board their cars and motorcycles on the ferry than drive along the Penang Bridge. Roundtrip rates of ferry is only one ringgit and twenty sen for adults (RM 1.20 =PhP 16.8 or USD 0.38) and half of the rate for kids. Coins are to be dropped directly on the turnstiles before the waiting area. Senior citizens, pregnant women and children are always given priority.

Dale Carnegie quoted, “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”

I say, we don’t have blooming roses yet in our windows but despite we all miss the Philippines so much, literally, we have fantastic views of the Malaysian horizon that we see when we ride the ferry, go up tall building and ascend to high place (PENANG HILL!!!or something that we simply enjoy in the comforts of our present abode. We’re savoring and seizing it while it lasts! ;)

28
Mar
12

WELCOME TO CHEW JETTY

With my 20-month-stay in Penang, Malaysia on working visa, I still consider myself a tourist. There are more to explore in George Town, Penang than meets the eye. That is, if you’re like me whose interests go beyond malls, shopping and dining. Penang is more than a gastronomic haven in Malaysia. The island was not listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for nothing.

Out of curiosity why a certain modest place is part of the list, I strolled my way to one of the laterals of a busy thoroughfare, Weld Quay. A few meter-walk from Rapid Bus Station, I saw two other jetties; these are the Ong Jetty and the Lim Jetty. Then the third one is situated just across Armenian Road, this is the famous, Chew Jetty; so popular among backpackers, travelers and tourists, and that after online surfing, it caught my attention too.

Believe me, I have been passing this main road a countless times during weekends and public holidays but I have not noticed Chew Jetty neither I have thought that a Heritage treasure is tucked in this unassuming area.

A common sight of groups of old Penangite men spending lazy hours of the afternoon in hawker food stalls greeted me as I entered the vicinity. Then few steps more, I turned my back to capture the facade of a small Taoist temple right in front of the entrance to Chew Jetty. This effortlessly confirmed that this waterfront community has been flocked by a Chinese-Malaysian families.

Established in the Mid 19th century, this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site that is considered to be the biggest of the waterfront settlements in Penang had Ancestors’ origin from Xinglinshe Village, Tong An District, Quanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, China. Chew Jetty is divided into 2 parts (Part 1 and Part 2); each has length of 182 meters and 122 meters respectively. And there are a total of 75 houses within this preserved and protected Heritage Site (Note : These facts are posted at the entrance of Chew Jetty).

I enjoyed my late afternoon walk inside and snapped photos of things I perceived as fascinating. I had FUN!

Who would find ART in various lines of those century-old wooden planks but ME, MYSELF & I? haha! ;)

In case of and Emergency, this Chew clan community is ever ready!

Thou shall not underestimate this community built over the years by the Chew clan; they know how to decorate their houses on stilts.

HOMESTAY in some parts of Malaysia is common. They offer much affordable and competitive rates compared to commerical hotels. The greatest advantage, I think is you get a chance to be up close and personal with people of the town or city where you stand as a tourist. And Chew Jetty’s homes offer Homestay too! One can even get an online reservation from agoda.com or other travel-hotel websites. Another big plus when you opt for a Homestay in Chew Jetty is you’ll have an opportunity to wake up in a place where according to many, has an excellent view of Malaysian sunrise. However, you need to have no apprehensions and must have an adventurous mind when sleeping in houses on stilts. To each his own.

Nonetheless, the security is way better than you could expect. Nikilado ang mga pintuan dito, mga stainless pa ‘ata, gaya ng pagkaraniwang pinto ng mga bahay sa Penang (Doors of houses here are nickel-plated, perhaps stainless steel were used, similar to common doors of most houses in Penang).

One of the corners in Chew Jetty’s a stand out.

Not because it has Astro Cable TV, haha! No, definitely…

I found this small alley so quaint because of its colorful wooden walkway…

Proof that Chew Jetty's a topnotch tourist spot (Well, at least for me and them who also did what I enjoyed at Chew Jetty!)

Imagine, you can step on a rainbow…

and view a Sunshine with LOVE…

Here are some more little things that made me smile…

and reminded me that simple things can definitely make you happy!

But of all the features that this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site has to offer, I definitely love the boats! (Read : I have a thing for boats) It would not be a jetty without them, right? toinks! ;)

I love boats and I love planks.

Send them greeting cards, love letters, not emails and SMS. Don't you miss those days when emails and texts are not yet in existence?

Deities’ flags at the end of Chew Jetty

One of the best spots to adore the sunrise in Penang…

I saw various groups of tourists and a team who took photos of a bride-and-groom-to-be. Oh yes, Chew Jetty also serves as one of the favorite backdrops for those prenuptial pics.

Admittedly, I envy people who live in Chew Jetty. Although I and my family have been savoring glorious sunsets from our tiny porch at our 10th floor appartment, Chew families enjoy waking up with the best view of the sunrise in Penang and they get to rest and relax the way they want to.

She's living the life I want to live. Worry-free, that is!

It’s a wonderful stroll in this wooden pier without an entrance fee; it’s where I experienced a living heritage and an inspiring treasure.

13
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : LAST DAY HIGH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It must be the great climate. It must be…

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

So happy he became buoyant on cool air!

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

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

Gorgeous cadillac coupled with those lovely smiles…

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

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

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

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

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

TRANSPORTATION IS ALSO WHIMSICAL AT HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! 

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

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

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

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

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

Convenience meets Fantasy.

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

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

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

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

Just wonderful. :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much, our dear God!

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

Till we meet again, Mickey Mouse! ;)

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This Blog Series Includes :

07
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : GLORIOUS DAY 2

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

It turned out to be  glorious! :)

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

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

Enchanting, indeed!

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

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

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

This is called, “Mickey Maze!” :)

Our kid totally enjoyed every second inside the maze…

Spot us in the Mickey Maze…

Let’s play “Hide and Seek!”

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

Must be so happy? You bet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, a walk under those trellis! Splendid!

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

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

And then a thought popped out…

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

and some tasteful dim sum and dumplings.

You just dont.

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

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

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

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

One Stellar Moment

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

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

Must have one more shot with Pluto…

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

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

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

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

Hot. Fresh. Delicious!

Then our feet brought us to Tomorrowland!

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

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

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

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

Emperor Zurg! :P

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

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

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

One more time on this car, Gabby! :D

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

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

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

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

The Festival of The Lion King at Adventureland

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

“It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle,

The Circle of Life….”

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

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

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

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

Playing with tribal percussion instruments entertained Gabby to the fullest!

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

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

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

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

3D glasses on!

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

Cinderella’s Carousel has 60 graceful, prancing horses!

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

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

Smiles and blooms perfectly blend…

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

Thank You, Lord for another magical day!

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

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

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

Thank you for the memories, HKDL!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The smiles to live for….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One word : Outstanding!

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

The entree, Tina, Gabby and I shared….

We cannot be grateful enough! :)

Moving on to desserts…

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

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

Gabby’s dessert plate was the most divine!

Oreo Cheesecake never tasted this great! :D

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

FAMILY. FOOD. and FUN!

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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 :

 

26
Apr
11

EAT.SMILE.SWIM