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Never say never…Why we changed our minds about Boracay

November 1, 2009 Leave a comment

My fiance and I went to Boracay about four summers ago. We didn’t like it. We thought the island was overrated–being anti-social vacationers, we detested the crowd and the noise and vowed never to go back.

Fast forward to 2009. Fiance asked me to plan a getaway vacation in the middle of October. We were both stressed out from work and we needed a break. I decided to flip out my Enjoy card and checked out the affiliated hotels and resorts. On a whim, I checked out Patio Pacific Boracay’s site. I asked my fiance if he was willing to give Boracay another try. Friends kept telling me to go there on off-season to avoid the crowds plus resorts give great promotional rates at these times.

I contacted Patio Pacific then reserved a room for 4 days and 3 nights (we booked the trip a couple of weeks before Ondoy hit). Arranging the reservations with my Enjoy card perks was a breeze. All transactions were via email. The sales rep was so accommodating and was able to answer all my questions. I personally think that our stay at this resort-hotel was what made the trip so worth it.

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I Heart HK!

March 12, 2009 1 comment

I went to Hongkong a couple of weeks ago with my fiance and some friends of ours.  It was a long-overdue vacation and I just loved every minute of it!

We specifically picked a hotel in Kowloon to be near the shops since we wanted to do some serious electronics shopping. We stayed at Metropark Hotel Kowloon (booked via asiatravel.com).  The hotel room rates weren’t that expensive but our rooms were spacious and clean. We had cable, hot water and free broadband internet. I didn’t even get to use my hair drier (which I brought with me) since the hotel provided us with one. The staff was English speaking and they had a shuttle that left every half hour which brought us to the nearest MTR station or to any of the nearby local spots.

Our hotel room

Our hotel room

Transportation was a breeze. We mostly took the MTR to get from one place to another. We each got this Octopus card for HKD 150 which was good for three days (similar to our stored-value MRT/LRT cards here). I strongly recommend getting this card as soon as you get to HK. Sobrang sulit! We were surprised that we were able to use the cards on the ferry and bus rides to Ngong Ping. Plus the unused amount is refundable. I was able to refund around HKD 30 from my card on our last day.

taken at one of the MTR stations (probably at Central)

taken at one of the MTR stations (probably at Central)

Note to self: the next time I go to Hongkong I’d definitely bring more cash. I only had one credit card with me and it was going bonkers (Thank God it worked at the hotel!) so I wasn’t able to use it at the shops. Fortunately, we did most of our shopping at the Ladies Market and at the Night Market in Temple Street. I had to use my haggling powers honed by my extensive Divisoria and Greenhills experience. Both markets were blocks long filled with all the merchandise that you can imagine–from clothes to bags to toys to art work to antiques and other types of trinkets. We usually got back to the hotel late at night with aching feet and lighter wallets.

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Categories: food, personal, travel

Escape to Coffee Paradise

December 12, 2008 3 comments

A friend of mine from work celebrated her birthday by inviting us to this secluded place in the outskirts of Tagaytay. The timing couldn’t have been better since I’ve been dying to escape Manila for the last couple of weeks.

My idea of a perfect vacation is “escape”. I like peace and quiet–the less people there are, the better.

the coffee farmhouse signage

The Coffee Farmhouse was perfect. We were lucky that we had the entire place all to ourselves.  It was so peaceful and calming; there were no reminders of the outside world. I have to admit that the lack of internet access bothered me a bit but after a few hours, I settled in.

Our rooms were big and comfortable. We didn’t have television sets–the owners explained that they want to “force” their guests to leave their rooms and explore the outdoors.  The estate was surrounded by coffee trees of different varieties and there were “resting stations” all around–native duyans and wooden swings where guests can sit and relax, read a book or take a nap.

coffee farm2

coffee farm3

There was no time to be bored since there was plenty to do. The place had a lap pool which we weren’t able to use since it was just too cold. We had bikes and scooters at our disposal…I was painfully reminded that it’s been a long time since I had any exercise.

LAP POOL coffee farm

There’s a half court for basketball and areas for volleyball and badminton. I played volleyball for the first time in over ten years and it showed. It was still a blast though.

The estate also had a pingpong table and a recreation room with a dartboard and a billiard table. As if that wasn’t enough, board games such as scrabble and chess were available for our use as well. Perfect activities for couch potatoes who don’t want to spend too much time outdoors.

Best of all, there was videoke! 🙂 Since we had the whole place to ourselves, it was easier to shed inhibitions for our mini-concert that night. Kulang na lang beer. 🙂

coffee farm alone timeMy best memory of the place was when I took some time alone at the corner of the main house to just relax; the smell of coffee wafting towards me. I can’t remember the last time I felt that peaceful. I read a chapter of a book then watched a movie on my ipod (I am a techno-addict–I admit it!) before going outside to take a nap in one of the duyans.

The food was great! We felt that every meal served would fit 6 to 8 people instead of just us 4. Everything, as in everything, was delicious. We had buco pie for morning snacks, beef stew and chopsuey for lunch (yummy!), tortillas and nachos for afternoon snack, and the piece de resistance, kare-kare served with ensaladang mangga for dinner. We had to literally stop ourselves from eating too much.  The next day, we were served boneless bangus with salted eggs for breakfast. Sira ang diet!

I specially liked how the owners of the place personally took care of us. They made it feel like home. They were so maasikaso. This informal, yet very warm hospitality made the Coffee Farmhouse more charming. There were no uniformed waiters, no room service, not even a front desk, but somehow, we never lacked for anything.

Of course, the best part of the entire trip for me was the endless supply of brewed coffee. Being a coffee addict, this place was my idea of heaven. Nothing beats smelling freshly brewed coffee all day long.

I will definitely go back there. The place is but a few hours’ drive from Manila and it’s the perfect escape from everyday stress. Great place, great food and bottomless coffee. It’s just perfect.

duyan

Ramblings (on death, vampires and coffee)

December 11, 2008 5 comments

As the title of the post implies, these are random thoughts I just had to put on paper (or on cyberspace to be exact). No coherent sequencing of ideas took place–my version of guerilla blogging. 🙂

  • I liked Marky Cielo. Personally, I think he was the best among the Starstruck graduates–the kid can act and boy, can he dance! I found out about his death last Sunday at around 3pm through an sms from my mom. Of course, I was surprised. You just don’t expect someone so young to suddenly just die. Sayang. Sobrang sayang. He had so much potential. It’s so hard not to feel affected when someone so young dies. There were more than a few people I know who shed a tear or two for him. Dead and 20 years old should not be included in the same sentence.
  • I watched Twilight last Monday. Not worth the hype. I watched the movie with mixed expectations. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a dismal rating and I got disjointed reviews from friends–some liked it while others thought it was trash. I guess I’m leaning towards the “I-think-it’s-trash” mindset. The acting was okay but the script was just so…crappy. The best lines in the film were those taken from the book. The establishment of Bella and Edward’s love story was too rushed…when Bella blurted out her realization that she’s in love with Edward, I was like, “Yun na yun?” I was so disappointed with the casting of Edward’s family especially with the actress who played Rosalie. I haven’t made up my mind about Carlisle yet. I mean, he does look like a GQ model but he lacks that “old soul” look. Production design was good and there was a kilig moment during the prom dance. But the direction was poor and the editing was a bit lousy. Maybe the next film from the Twilight saga will fare better with a different director.
  • Thanks to a friend, I was able to get that much needed break. I went to the coffee farmhouse in Tagaytay last weeked with friends from work. Loved the place, loved the food, loved the company, loved the coffee, loved everything! I’ll make a separate post about this when I get the pictures.

lessons and experiences from Singapore (on a budget!)

June 5, 2007 5 comments

I recently visited my best friend in Singapore. Here are the stuff I learned and experienced in my trip:

– Singapore has decent and effective modes of transportation. For the tOn the trainhree days I spent there, I only took the cab twice: the first time when I arrived from the airport and the second time was when we (my friend and her friend) went to this night market. I basically relied on the buses and the MRT/LRT trains. This enabled me to tour the city on my own on my second day (my friend had to work) without any trouble.

– No jaywalkers. It amazed me that despite the lack of the big signages with “BAWAL TUMAWID, NAKAMAMATAY”, people there crossed the streets in the areas provided for pedestrians.

– The ipod (or any other decent mp3 player for that matter) can be your best friend. As I me and my ipodmentioned earlier, I toured the city on my own on my second day. Armed only with my ipod, a map and several “tourist” brochures, I was able to visit the Changi Museum (a must-see for history buffs) and the Singapore Zoo. My friend lives in the east end so travel time was about two hours more or less.

– When visiting a country that just advertised a nationwide sale, bring your credit card.

– Allot a big part of your budget for food and transportation. Both are expensive in Singapore. An average meal cost me around $4.00 while a bus ride cost me 90 cents per ride. Ginto ang taxi. The cab ride to the night market alone cost us $18.00! (SGD $1 = Php31.00)

underwater world– Do not scrimp on experience. The entrance to Underwater World in Sentosa is $20 while the entrance to the Singapore Zoo is $15. Both are worth seeing.

– Don’t be afraid to get lost. My friend and I stumbled on the Mint Museuat the MINT Museum of Toys (entrance)m of Toys on our way to a sale she heard about. It’s a great place for avid toy collectors and kids-at-heart.

– If you’re into home furnishings, kitchen stuff and the like, another must-see is IKEA. But be warned: this is one of the best places where you can be tempted to buy something you don’t really need. 🙂  Oh, and the food here is quite good too.

– The cable cars in Sentosa have automatic doors. Do not close them yourselves. 😀 Although it will take a while, the doors will close soon enough. Try not to take matters into your own hands (unless you want to look very stupid or very tourist-y).

– There’s a mall in almost every train station. I eventually got sick of shopping malls on my last day. They all started to look the same.

DO NOT FORGET YOUR CAMERA!!!

– Fashion should come second to comfort. Do not wear high heels. I learned this the hard way. 😦

I was also able to visit Malaysia (for a few hours) but I don’t think I saw the best of that country yet.

All in all, I spent around Php10,000 (excluding the air fare) for three whole days. 🙂 Not bad, if I do say so myself. 🙂

Categories: personal, travel