Posts Tagged ‘travel’

This is my way of reminding myself of the little things that recently made me happy as inspired by Helga.

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I almost did not push through with this week’s happy list because the past 5 days has been all sorts of tough. Work is outrageously busy and challenging, it’s sucking the life out of me. I’m also having post-holiday anxiety, and birthday blues, and the weather is so gloomy, and I’m getting my period soon so my emotions are going batshit crazy. I honestly struggled to complete this week’s list but got it done anyway.

  1. My 4-day visit to Bohol last week. It was raining most of our time there due to the major typhoon that passed through our country but we took it as an opportunity to relax and take multiple naps a day.
  2. My parents sent me a care package from Ilocos. The box was full with food that I love – Ilocos garlic longganisa, bagnet, morcon, and a bunch of avocadoes and dragon fruit from our very own backyard.
  3. Grabcar. I never need to worry about my ticking taxi meter in traffic because Grabcar sets a fixed rate for a desired destination immediately upon booking. This means avoiding drivers asking for additional charge on top of meter rate just because there’s traffic jams everywhere.
  4. Colleagues giving me food and coffee. For no apparent reason, people at work has been giving me food and treating me out for coffee runs. Maybe they know that I’m stressed hehe.
  5. Cris buying me food LOL. He always sees to it that he brings me home some food every time he eats out. What a sweetie.
  6. Supportive friends. As I mentioned above, work has really been very challenging and I have been doubting myself lately. But my good friends reminded me to not be too hard on myself. Awwww I love you guys!
  7. Cris buying groceries. I have been working extra late this week, hence I don’t really have time to get some essentials from the supermarket. I’m glad he’s dependable enough to pick up my momentary slack.
  8. Packed lunches for work. My mom sent me lots of ulam from the province so I always have some to bring at work.
  9. Becky Nights public chat on Viber. LOL I just like seeing how the beckies interact with one another.
  10. Soba noodles. Japanese food is life! Today, we had lunch at Nadai Fujisoba and I had my usual hot soba again. Hay naku #thisiswhyimfat.

 

When I visited Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I made sure that I would have my fill of their infamous pho or Vietnamese noodle soup. I was hellbent on trying as much pho as I could that it was actually my first meal in Vietnam (our breakfast in Ben Thanh Market). But there was one restaurant that made its mark on me, mainly because their noodle soup was really good.

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The restaurant was just an accidental discovery but it was already way past lunch time and it was the only restaurant we spotted around the area. We didn’t know anything about the place but we bit the bullet and went in anyway. Upon entering, I was appeased when I saw one wall plastered with photos of locals enjoying their food. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if locals frequent the place, yeah?

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When we got seated, we were immediately served with some sort of pastry. We weren’t exactly sure if they were complimentary but Timmy was too hungry to bother so she went ahead and ate one. I was saving room for my main meal so I only took a small bite off of hers. It was actually delicious! The pastry was flaky, and the filling (which I suspect to be minced pork) was tasty and savory.

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Also on the table were the usual accompaniment for pho – mung sprouts, cilantro and chives. There were also some additional condiments like garlic oil, sliced peppers, marinated garlic and three types of sauces that I honestly didn’t use so I never got to identify them.

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After a short while, our orders were served. Timmy and I got the same thing which had everything on it. Wantons, shrimp, pork balls, and egg noodle soup. My favorite part was the “pork chops” which were actually boiled pork reminiscent of our very own nilaga. The pork pieces were so delightfully tender and the broth was really tasty. I think the dish cost around ~Php120, honestly a fair price for such good quality.

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If I ever have the chance to go back to Ho Chi Minh, I would definitely pay this restaurant another visit. If you’re going to HCMC, this is a must-try! It’s around 8 minutes by foot from Ben Thanh Market.

Check out my previous posts on my Indochina trip here:

Late last year, Cris and I visited Cebu. It was my second time in the city, and a first for Cris. I actually saw Fort San Pedro during my first Cebu trip but I wanted to show Cris the usual Cebu City Tour – which I think always includes this stop.

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Fort San Pedro used to be a military defence structure built by the Spaniards. The fort is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and the third fronting land. It has been slowly restored throughout the years and the main building now functions as the Cebu Office of the Department of Tourism.

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The lieutenant’s quarters now houses a small museum which was not yet there during my visit in 2010. The museum holds a small collection of Spanish artefacts such as paintings, sculptures, documents and miniature models of different boats used in the olden days.

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The fort is built of stone mortar and during restoration, coral stones were hauled from under the sea along Cebu coastal towns to restore it as close to the original as possible. Fourteen cannons used to be mounted all over the fort and most of those are actually still in the area (albeit being nonfunctional).

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There really isn’t much to do inside Fort San Pedro but it is a good place to relax and people watch. It is also perfect for intimate conversations as the place is pretty quiet and solemn.

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After walking around the observatory roof garden, we circled back down to the inner courtyard. I learned that the yard also serves as an open air theater. Too bad there were no shows during both of my visits.

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When it started to get dark, we made our way out of the fort. I must say I love the look of the place better at night thanks to the yellow flourescent lights. It appears to be more mellow and somber with the night light but I could see how it could also be creepy to some.

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Fort San Pedro may not be as grand as other forts in the country but I think it is still worth the visit. There is a minimal fee of Php30 for adults, and Php20 for students.

Around two weeks ago, Vlad mentioned that he was planning on a weekend getaway with his High School friends. Since I was also free, I happily tagged along.

They initially planned on going to Cagbalete but a storm signal was raised on Thursday and the Coast Guard were not allowing boats to sail off. Everyone else was hell bent on hanging out at the port and wait til the Coast Guard raises the sailing ban. However, given my previous mishap with Quezon’s Coast Guard, I insisted we settle with a different beach. Our Plan B was Kuwebang Lampas and that is where we spent our Saturday night at.

We broke camp early on Sunday and after a very filling brunch at a floating restaurant, we made our way to Kamay ni Hesus. They persuaded me to climb up to the very top (never again LOL) and then we rewarded ourselves with Pancit Habhab at Buddy’s (Lucban.)

I managed to capture most of the weekend on video and condensed it in a 4 minute montage. Check it out below.

 

Have you ever been camping? Where is your favorite camping spot?

 

This year’s Holy Week vacation, I brought along Cris and our friends (Tina and Timmy) back to my hometown – Ilocos Norte. I took them to places my family usually visit when I am home or if we have visitors over. Most of the places we visited are at most 10 minutes away from home, including the small mountain/hill that we climbed to get a sweeping view of the newly-erected windmills in our town. I also took them to the infamous Paoay Church and Malacañang of the North. Please watch the video below – though Youtube butchered the video quality. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Have you ever been to Ilocos Norte? What is your favorite tourist spot to visit there?

While looking for a hotel in Alaminos, I came across numerous posts with recommendations to try the food at Maxine by the Sea’s in-house restaurant. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to eat good food, we decided to book a room and stay there for the night to be able try out as many of their meals as we can.

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Before I get to the restaurant and the food, I will quickly talk about their room accommodation. We reserved a room that could fit all 7 of us because we wanted to stay in just one room. We’re clingy like that, LOL. The room we got had 3 double beds and we requested for an extra single bed. With all the beds in there, the room didn’t feel too cramped – we still had space to move around. It was pretty basic, exactly just what we needed.

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The restaurant is built on the water and it offers a vast view of the distant Hundred Islands. You are able to smell the sea breeze as you eat in their al fresco dining area. It was quite perfect to beat the summer heat. It is also extra calming to stare out into the open sea while you wait for your food to be served. Service could get real slow during busy hours so you really need to calm yourself down LOL.

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Our accommodation came with a free breakfast which we eagerly gobbled down upon waking up. They have a selection of the traditional -silog meals and I had the Bangus-silog. When in Pangasinan, eat bangus! It was perfectly deep-fried and the marinade was mild yet tasty. We also ordered a platter of fresh fruits in season and everything was so fresh and sweet. The day before that, we all had our fair share of their fresh fruit shakes – I especially loved the ripe mango shake.

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But my favorite was the SEAFOOD GRILL PLATTER. Capslock para intense haha! This was what we ordered for our lunch during the whole day island hopping tour and OMG it tasted even better than it looks. It had grilled eggplant, boiled okra, grilled shrimp, bangus, liempo, squid, chicken, seaweed ensalada, kinilaw na oyster, fried saba and unicorn blood and glitters. HAHAHA. I am seriously drooling right now! We also brought bottles of gourmet tuyo and bags of chicharon. I mean, heaven right? It was a VEEEERY satisfying lunch.

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We all thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Maxine by the Sea and especially loved their food. I would definitely stay there again if I ever go back to Alaminos and I highly recommend you stay there, too. Or at least taste their food because it was THE BOMB DIGGITY.

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Maxine by the Sea Lodge & Restaurant is located near Lucap Wharf and you may check their website out for more information –> http://www.maxinebythesea.com/home/

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After our mini trek to the top of Governor’s Island, we made our way to our next destination – Quezon Island, which was named after our late President Manuel Quezon.

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Out of all the other islands, Quezon Island seems to be the busiest. There are large concrete huts all over the island dedicated to all sorts of recreational activities. When we got there, all tables were already occupied mostly by families and we did not even bother fighting for one because we were more interested in swimming rather than just lazing around. We plopped our things under the rock with the Alaminos City sign, and immediately got into the water.

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We swam all the way to that floating gazebo (pictured below) mainly because we had nothing else to do, and also because the water near the shore is a little murky due to more construction still ongoing all over the island. I’m afraid this island will be over crowded and abused in a few years’ time. 😦

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Midway, we realized that we underestimated the distance of the gazebo from the shore. Not wanting to let our efforts go to waste, we pushed through anyway and made it after quite some time (the strong winds didn’t help much either). It was like a private party in the middle of the sea because not many people dared to swim that far off. When we got back to shore, our boatmen led us to where the giant clams were, but no photos because I didn’t have an underwater camera with me that time. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the view of the Giant Clams and corals inhabited by a variety of fishes.

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After that long swim, we were quite worn out so we spent some time rolling around the fine white sand, people-watching while trying to get re-energized.

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By this time, we were more than ready for our lunch but our boatmen insisted that we just eat when we get to our next destination – which I will share with you next. 🙂

Edit: LOL scratch that last part. As it turns out, I do not have any photos from the day’s last destination but believe me when I say it’s amazing. We rolled around the beach’s powdery white sand and hiked up a hill just to jump down a large basin of water inside a cave. I swear it was amazing. But no pictures, bummer! 😦