December 23, 2010

ON THE NEWS: Wanna go to Singapore?

So Philippines finally won the Amazing Race Asia.

After finishing only second in the last two seasons, Fil-Am friends Richard Hardin and Richard Herrera finished first in the last leg in the race around the world.

The Richards’ easily won the race beating Team Singapore in their own home court to win the $100,000 prize.

December 9, 2010

DINING: Din Tai Fung, Shanghai, China

Din Tai Fung Restaurant was at the top of our “where to eat” list during our tip to Shanghai. All the reviews we’ve read revealed one thing; Din Tai Fung’s xialongbao is happiness.

There was just too much hype about the restaurant we couldn’t resist trying it out on our first day. And since it was located at one of the top tourist spots in Shanghai, we had no trouble finding it.


We were there a little early for dinner and a bit late for an afternoon snack so I really didn’t expect the place to be full. I should have never underestimated the goodness of those xialongbaos, the restaurant was jumped packed and we had to wait several minutes before we were seated.

Ordering was a no brainer, of course we wanted the world famous xialongbaos and just because we were in Dimsum Country, I ordered my favorite steamed dimsum, shrimp siomai that goes with the name shao mai here.


A Xialongbao is a soup dumpling and is traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets.  Xialong means steaming baskets, and baozi means bun. It is made with baozi or steamed bun with a soupy meat filling.  The thinness of the wrapper surprised me the most, it held up really well even with all the broths weight.


Make use of the ceramic Chinese soup spoon and be sure not to waste that soup. Dip it in black vinegar and ginger and enjoy every bite that is bursting with flavor. Be careful not to burn your tongue because the soup is scalding hot.


The first thing I notice with the Shao Mai was the Shrimp, it was huge. So unlike the invisible chopped up scrimped on ones that I usually get. So was it good? Superb! It raises the siomai bar for me and destroys the competition.  That good!


The food was so fulfilling and delicious we lined up once more to have our fill before flying back to Manila.

CUISINE: Chinese
PRICE RANGE: 7-15 USD
LOCATION: Unit11,2F House 6,South Block  Xintiandi,Lane123, Xinye Rd,Shanghai, China
TEL. NO.: 86-21-6385-8378


written by KIM & MJ

December 7, 2010

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: Keep 'em Safe & Secure

EAGLE CREEK TSA 3 DIAL LOCK AND CABLE (php690):

Most TSA (Transportation Security Administration) certified 3 dial locks costs about php600-900 depending on which brand, quite expensive right?

available at any Travel Club outlets

I could have just easily bought the conventional keyed padlock for 99php, I have always used it and it has always kept my luggage safe and secure. Only problem is, I keep losing the key, now imagine telling that to the airport security when they can’t examine your bag and be prepared for your luggage to get ripped apart, literally. Definitely not a scenario you’d want to get involved in.

Assuming you’re not as careless as me and you don’t lose the key of those cheaper 3 dialed locks? In my experience though, it worked fine until the 3rd day (I like keeping my luggage locked even when inside the hotel) and by the time I had to fly home, the dial no longer works and I had to get a new one, and a new one, and another one for my upcoming trips because after a disappointingly short amount of usage and time, it breaks.

Cheap locks tend to break easily and expensive but dependable brands such as Eagle Creek can last a very long time, mine is going on its 5th and still working. So the ratio of cost per wear or use ultimately surpasses the initial amount you paid for it. The steel cable that came with it is a huge plus when you have several bags, you could loop them together and not worry having them separated and losing the other. Although of course there is that risk that when you lose one, you lose all of them together but let’s not go there, shall we?


CARIBINERS (php70):


The uses of caribiners are limitless and they come really cheap. I always have one or two whenever I travel, they can link almost anything and everything. I clip it on my backpack to carry my shoes or other smaller bags, I clip it on my jeans to carry my keys, psp, ipod and water bottle but I especially like it for my tripod. Spend half a day walking around with your tripod and you’re bound to get that shoulder of yours strained, so clip that tripod in your jeans instead.

written by KIM

November 25, 2010

NI HAO MA CHINA: Jade Buddha Temple

On our last day before flying out of China, we went to visit the heavy in wow factor Jade Buddha Temple in the western part of Shanghai for 20 Yuan or Php138.

The temple was first built in 1882 but it was destroyed by the revolution. Fortunately, the statues were saved and in 1928 a new temple was built in the present site and it was named Jade Buddha.  It houses precious Jade Buddha statues that are not only rare cultural relics but are also elaborate porcelain artworks.




Although the history of the temple isn’t that old, its architecture is very grand and classic. Many rare and ancient statues, paintings and Buddhist scriptures are kept in the monastery. The temple consists of several halls, Heavenly King Hall, Grand Hall, Reclining Buddha Hall, and of course Jade Buddha Hall.



Jade Buddha Temple is a functioning monastery, monks still reside, study and pray in the temple and we were lucky enough to witness the monks perform a religious ceremony in the courtyard.



The burning of incense never seems to stop and feng shui red lanterns hang all over the temple, red ribbons tied in tree trunks, railings and stone lions with hand written prayers and wishes of good luck.

 



There is also a fish pond with a beautiful landscape near the exit of the temple. For 5 yuan you get to feed Koi fishes that could live up to 200 years old. Longer than you and I could ever live!



TIP: Highly recommendable place to visit.  Must not miss when in Shanghai. 

ADDRESS: 170 Anyuan Road, Shanghai


written by KIM 

November 16, 2010

MY PHILIPPINES: Roughing it up in Zambales

A 4 hour drive from Manila to Zambales for a 2 nights and 3 days of beach, booze and back to basics roughing it up living in Pundaquit.

Pundaquit is a local fishing village in the town of San Antonio, its waters face the Chine Sea and surrounded with mountains and hills and other islands.

(photo by MJM)

 Pundaquit beach
(photo by MJM)
 
Although there are other accommodations in the area, we opted to stay in a bahay kubo with no air- conditioning and no private bathrooms (ok so that was a lie, we have dilly dallied too much that all resorts in Pundaquit were already booked and we had no other options). The bahay kubo wasn’t actually that bad, it was clean, it had a functioning electric fan, 2 mattresses, a dining table and a stray cat. My only complaint was that the bath and restroom was communal, dark, cramped and stinky and you need to build up those muscle with the poso before you could take a shower.

our home for the next 3 days
(photo by MJM)

working out

Pundaquit is also the best jump off point to Anawangin Cove and Capones Island.  Capones is well known for its rock formations and white sands, and we took a 45 minute bumpy boat ride to get there.There’s not much to do in the island except to swim in the aquamarine waters, lounge around with a bag of potato chips, set up a picnic and bake in the glorious sun. There's no electricity, cottages, toilets, store and the signal was fluctuating so it was pretty perfect for a getaway.

45 minute boat ride to Capones Island (php 700)
the bangka can carry 5 persons including the bangkero

sharp rock formations all over the island

mj showing off her climbing skills

A Spanish era lighthouse also lies at the back of the island.

 Faro de Punta Capones better known as the Capones Lighthouse
 (photo by Ice Santander) 

It can be reached after an hours’ hike or you could take the shorter way that would require you to climb a steep flight of stairs after another boat ride.

 going up
(photo by Ice Santander)

We wanted to maximize our time so we opted for the latter. What the Bangkero failed to tell us is that it would require a lot of agility, patience and energy to actually reach dry land. In addition to the ride being bumpy because of the huge waves, the boat cannot dock on the shoreline so you have to get off the extremely unstable boat with the water at mid-waist. You then have to navigate on the slippery rocks while struggling against the waves and avoid slipping on the rocky bed.

 struggling to stay on our feet
(photo by Ice Santander) 

But it was a success and worth it.
 
 At the entrance of Faro de Punta Capones better known as the Capones Lighthouse
(photo by Ice Santander) 

 (photo by Ice Santander)

After the tiring battle against the ocean, we headed back to Pundaquit in time to catch the beautiful sunset.
 
Pundaquit sunset
(photo by MJM)



HOW TO GET THERE: Victory Liner buses travel daily from Manila to Zambalez.  Be sure to take routes going to IBA (Cubao to Iba php336.), it will take you to San Antonio bus station, from there take the tricycle to Pundaquit beach.  For schedules of Victory Liner trips visit there website: http://www.victoryliner.com/schedules/


November 12, 2010

SARTORIAL: Suzhou

HARDWARE

MY PHILIPPINES: Lemlunay Dive Resort, Sarangani

Lemlunay roughly translates to “the good place one goes to in the afterlife” in the T'Boli dialect.

This dive resort situated in a precipice overlooking Sarangani Bay is some 33 kilometers from General Santos City Hall, so should only be about 20 minutes scenic drive.  Disclaimer: time is not to scale, just an approximate based on my driving skills.



Not far from the cliff where the resort is located is part of the Tinoto Wall that has become home to an abundance of diverse marine life and beautiful corals, attracting a lot of divers.  Paul Partridge, the resort manager/owner gives out diving classes with certificates.




Sarangani Governor Migs Dominguez


For non-divers, there's an infinity pool and a seaside restaurant that serves great tasting home cooked comfort food. 








ROOM RATES:
Poolside rooms P3,000
Ocean View rooms P2,500
*all rooms good for 4 person, maximum of 6 in a room.
Additional person P200.00 




HOW TO GET THERE: Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies daily to General Santos City, from the airport, Lemlunay Dive Resort is only about 15 minute cab ride.
  
LOCATION: Brgy. Kamanga, Maasim, Sarangani Province 
TEL. NO.:  +63(928)524-4528 / +63(83)228-1704
EMAIL: lemlunayresort@yahoo.com


written by KIM & MJ

November 10, 2010

DINING: Barbeking, Davao

Was pulling out of Victoria Plaza’s parking lot when a new sign caught my eye.


The timing was just perfect as my stomach was already grumbling, Korean for dinner it is!

Barbeking is a relatively new resto that opened last July 28 of this year and is owned by a Filipino doctor with a Korean chef and Korean consultants. The Korean manager greeted us at the door and within seconds we were seated. It was just past 6 and the only other patron is a family of 5, but as our dinner progresses the place was soon packed.

The menu came with an assortment of appetizers as Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (Banchan). Of course there was Kimchi (traditional Korean fermented dish made of varied vegetables and seasonings) some sweet potatoes, tofu, kaktugi (fermented raddish, tastes like kimchi but less spicy) and bean sprouts.

complimentary banchans

Main meal was Bibimbap, which literally translates to mixed rice. It is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned veggies with chili pepper paste and diced meat. A pretty deep yellow farm fresh egg yolk was at center of the dish while the veggies are laid out in such a way that the colors complement each other making the presentation visually appealing. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.

Bibimbap php240

We also had Sam Gyup Sal to go with our rice dish. Sam gyup sal means 3 layered meat - thick, fatty slices of pork belly, similar to uncured bacon. The meat is not marinated or seasoned, and cooked on a grill at our table. The grilled piece of meat is then dipped into sesame oil with freshly cracked pepper then to a mildly spiced bean curd paste before wrapping it with a fresh lettuce leaf together with a few slices of grilled onion rings and garlic.

Sam Gyup Sal on the grill php290

Sum Gyp Sal dip -  sesame oil with pepper and bean curd paste

fresh lettuce leaves for wrapping
 
JOEL the very knowledgeable and attentive waiter working the grill
ask for him on your visit

A tall glass of fresh ripe mango shake is at hand to cool off our palates when we get too enthusiastic with the chili paste.

Dishes are good for sharing and we paid 600php for the whole meal including drinks.

Haengboghan sigsa! (happy eating)

Enjoying the gustatory delights of Korea.


CUISINE: Korean
PRICE RANGE: php140-820
LOCATION: Victoria Plaza Compound, Bajada, Davao City
TEL. NO.: (082) 224-2238

written by MJ

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