Posts Tagged ‘fun

21
May
14

ORIGINAL WINGS & RINGS | DUBAI’S NEWEST TASTEFUL BITES

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THE STORY

It doesn’t happen on a weekly basis that I get to spend Monday afternoon with engaging stories, crunchiest onion rings, loud laughs, delightful burgers, thirst-quenching cocktails, interesting gyros, sublime desserts and best buffalo wings ever!

THE CAST

(from left to right) – Maria, Cleo, Xaviera, Ron and Jessica.

They’re a bunch of young, restless, intelligent and fun-loving colleagues that I have in Dubai.

And yes, aren’t they good looking too? (ayos ba, mga Kabayan?)

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THE VENUE

ORIGINAL WINGS & RINGS, DUBAI,

Liberty House, DFIC, Dubai.

(It’s conveniently located a stone’s throw away from Financial Centre Metro Station).

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THE AMBIANCE

Relaxed. Hip and Edgy. Playful. Non-intimidating. Family-friendly.

The most spacious American-Sports-themed bar and restaurants I’ve been to!

The celadon green, pomegranate pink and fresh orange hues made it more inviting.

Favorite games on the monitors while you sip your cocktails, beer, fruit juices or mocktails.

House music’s not bad too!

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THE MENU

Delicious Burgers that are good enough to be shared.

Nachos and Onion Rings that won’t stop you nibbling.

Quesadilla and Gyros.

Salads and more.

And of course, dare I say the BEST BUFFALO WINGS that won the vote of my taste buds.

Level of spiciness and flavors may depend on your preference too.

We tried BONELESS Original, Crazy and Parmesan and Garlic on Mild level of hotness.

Lip-smackingly good!!!

Flavors on the menu are insanely voluminous too.

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THE BEVERAGE DEPARTMENT

We washed everything down with cocktails, mocktails and fruit juices!

Does Sex On The Beach interest you? I mean the cocktail called SOTB.

Mojito, perhaps?

Fresh fruit juices, shakes, vodka, and a lot more.

Ahhhhh…Refreshing! Thirst-quenching! :D

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THE SWEETEST ENDING

I support dessert-lovers association (if there’s such!).

I believe a great meal is always made greater with sweets.

And on that department, Original Wings & Rings doesn’t disappoint.

Toothsome, textured and ultimately delightful cheesecakes and chocolate slices

served as a tempting end to our fun-filled late afternoon.

Although with limited choices, the trio that we sampled could effortlessly trigger a healthy competition even with the popular coffee shops around.

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THE FUN PART

Foosball. That Original Wings & Rings’ Foosball table brought out the kids in all of us.

Arcade-like-race car (or something like that!).

And who knows, OW&R Dubai next time would have some darts, basketball rings and table tennis too.

Just kidding.

Seriously, we had playful time.

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The gorgeous skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai as our backdrop! How great the location of OW&R is!
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THE SERVICE

Friendly. Efficient. Quick. Service with smiles.

Rebecca, the wait staff who attended to us deserved a 100% mark on product-knowledge category!

She knows the menu by heart and smartly recommends what needs to be recommended.

Bravo!

 

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WHEN IN DUBAI,

Drop by one of the few I recommend.

I am betting my last dirham that you’ll love ORIGINAL WINGS & RINGS too just like we did.

TWO THUMBS UP!

A SURE HOME RUN!

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*Special thanks to Ms. Alena for the invitation, and for allowing me to share the fun, the onion rings, buffalo wings of OW&R Dubai to my fellows! 

*Although the meals and beverages were sponsored, the words, opinion and insights on this blog post weren’t influenced, and 100% blogger’s own.

ORIGINAL WINGS AND RINGS | website : http://www.buffalowingsandrings.com/ | facebook : https://www.facebook.com/OriginalWingsAndRings | instagram : @buffaloemirates | twitter : @buffalowingsae

>><<

 

04
May
14

CLAW BBQ | DUBAI’S FAVORITE AMERICAN BARBECUE AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

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In my utterly perplexing starting-over-again-phase-of-new-life in Dubai, I devote my weekdays to work and anticipate to celebrate weekends or at least my days off the best way possible. At times, I go to the mall, the shores, or other places where my camera, my taste buds and my feet could accompany me. I take efforts not to feel homesick and be drowned in inevitable stress, worries and whatnot.

Last weekend was extraordinary. I received an invitation via email to dine for brunch and review Claw BBQ, an American Grill and Seafood Bar and Restaurant located at Souk Al Bahar; just across Dubai Mall, near the foot of the iconic, Burj Khalifa. What made it more special was the fact that I got to share the fun and experience with 2 of my new friends at work. Happiness, as they say, is doubled when shared!

Hip. Fun. Edgy. Informal. Relaxed. Casual. Friendly. Welcoming. The mood and atmosphere inside Claw BBQ were so appropriate for the young and weary.  Too perfect for people who savor Dubai’s unspoken concept of Work-Life Balance!

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Raw photos never lie. Happy people troop to Claw BBQ for food, drinks, songs and good time!

And for those with surge of adrenaline who are seeking heart-pumping entertainment, riding Claw BBQ’s mechanical bull could simply unleash their cowboy or cowgirl fantasies! Yeehaa!
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Did I get to try it? Luckily for me, it was the bull’s day off too! :D

I was happy enough to be invited at Claw BBQ, even happier to went there with 2 of my new workmates.

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Meet Cleo and Ariane, 2 of my new found beautiful friends and colleagues in Dubai.

Let’s get down to business, shall we?  Here’s the shameless rundown of what we enjoyed, savored and indulged over our happiest and memorable hours at Claw BBQ…

Light starters landed on our table. Juiciest and fresh-tasting shrimps, nachos and dips!
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Peel and Eat Shrimps!

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Chips and Salsa

Although these starters are common in most American-themed restaurants, Claw’s version doesn’t disappoint.

We met Philip, the wait staff who was tasked to attend to our table. Friendly, smart and knows everything on the menu. Right there and then, I surrendered to his recommendations. We trusted his suggestions of what to drink. Then, I left Cleo and Ariane for a while and did a random quick check of the entire food place. Impressive bar, quick and efficient staff, inviting menu. Great songs played live on a mini-stage. What more can you ask for?

Alas! I discovered early what Philip and the bar tender were preparing for us. I, myself spoilt their surprise! Huge glasses of Margarita, individually infused with passion fruit, raspberry and cherry, finely blended ice, topped with Dos Equis beer.
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Passion Fruit, Raspberry and Cherry.

Philip (not in photo) mentioned that we could order beverages from Claw BBQ’s promo package :

  • Freshman – 195AED for soft drinks and light drinks.
  • Varsity – 295AED for soft drinks and selected house beverages
  • Pro – 345AED for the above plus premium house beverages

We opted to go Pro. The amateurs went Pro!!! Let the drinking begin! :D
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A bunch of happy kids at Claw BBQ! :)

Apart from the shrimps and nacho chips served earlier, we also had 3 different starters to sample. From Claw BBQ’s Brunch menu, Ariane picked Buffalo Hot Wings, Cleo’s choice was Nacho Libre, while I had Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail.

We had the luxury of tasting all dishes on our table. The three of us were unanimous in stating that everything’s good except for the Buffalo Hot Wings. From its name, we’d appreciate more some kick and spice but it tasted a bit sour and tangy.
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Buffalo Hot Wings. Fried Chicken Wings tossed in Hot Sauce, served with celery and blue cheese dip.

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Nacho Libre. Mountain of Tortilla Chips topped with chili, cheese, jalapeno, tomatoes, scalions, guacamole, black olives, and sour cream. Once you munch, you can’t stop!
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Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. Icy Cold Jumbo Shrimps, with traditional cocktail sauce. So good!
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Ariane’s apparently thrilled to sample the starters! Let’s dig in! …Attack! :D

The drinks at Claw BBQ are at its best! Those humongous glasses were surprisingly light and refreshingly good!

Our second round of beverages were not photographed. Blame our engaging talks and euphoric mood at Claw!

Ariane obviously liked the Southern American flavors and chose still went for Sizzling Chargrilled Fajitas as her main dish that she split into chicken and shrimps. Clever!

Cleo had the best tasting plate. She opted for Half Rack of Smoked BBQ Ribs. I honestly wanted to order it too, however, for us to try other dishes from the menu, I silently let Cleo have it. Anyway, I knew she’d generously share it to Ariane and me and of course, she did, even without asking her to.

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I had Blue Cheese Bacon Burger instead. I loved it the first time I dunked my fork at it and toyed a piece of classic hamburger crusted with blue cheese and bacon in my mouth.  But I got so engaged in talks with Cleo and Ariane as if we’ll not be meeting in the office again! In order words, I regret the fact of not finishing my burger until its last bite. Oh well!

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The most fork-tender, fall-off-the-bones, well-marinated ribs I’ve ever tasted. Good choice, Cleo!

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The girls are ready to wolf-down their plates! My appetite was challenged. Let’s go!

Philip and the other wait staff cleared our table and served its second and third sets of beverages under the PRO-list.  I swear, these girls were not tipsy yet! On Neuro exam, they’re still conscious, coherent, oriented, with intact sensory and motor reflexes. LOL! :P
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Second and third round of drinks. Tipsy and satiated now? Naaah! Brunch’s not over yet. :)

Forgive me for not jotting all the names of those cocktails; I’m sure from quick recall that Long Island Iced Tea was at the middle of those enticing jars.

Like many beautiful and sumptuous meals, it had to end with mouth-watering desserts. We tried all 3 listed on the Brunch menu.

  • Classic American Brownie
  • Key Lime Pie Baby
  • Mama’s Apple Pie

The two ladies voted for the Classic American Brownie as their top favorite among the three, and I could not agree more. I ranked those sweet slices in similar order as mentioned. Claw BBQ’s Classic American Brownie was indeed divine.
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What’s an epic meal without sweet endings?

I highly recommend Claw BBQ to those in Dubai, particularly when you’re craving for tasteful American Grill and Seafood!

Coming to Claw BBQ without expectations and ending the day with cheerful memories over an unforgettable brunch and drinks were signs of more positive things to come!
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So is it odd to feel happy at the expense of my homesickness? I don’t think so as my new found friends, new work and newly discovered fun places like Claw got me covered. ;)

>><<

CLAW BBQ | Souk Al Bahar (across Dubai Mall and near the foot of Burj Khalifa) Dubai, United Arab Emirates | Tel # +971 04432  2300 | website : http://www.clawbbq.com

*The meal and drinks seen on this blog post were complimentary, but the words and opinion of the blogger remain unbiased and 100% his own.  Special thanks goes out to CLAW BBQ, their staff and to Mr. Tom Watterson for the invites.

Incidentally, this blog, BEYOND TOXICITY @ http://www.docgelo.com  is celebrating its 7th Anniversary on 8th May 2014 and will be ushering on its 8th year of blogging. Thank you very much to all readers, fellow bloggers, and to all generous sponsors in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Philippines and in UAE who have been sending invites for blog features and offering priceless and awesome experiences!

Terima Kasih! Xie Xie! Maraming Salamat po! Shukran! Thank you very much!

>><<

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 :

eastern & oriental hotel penang
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 :




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