August 12, 2012

MY PHILIPPINES: Kadayawan Fiest at the Apo View 2012

The Kadayawan Fiesta at the Apo View Hotel is now running on its 5th year and has become a yearly tradition for us for 3 years in a row and I must say the activities and offerings just keeps getting better. You don’t even have to be a staying guest to watch and join the festivities as it is free and open to all.


From August 7 to 19, a celebration of Davao and its neighbouring regions rich and diverse culture is showcased at the city’s most popular address.




Feast on the abundance of local produce with the Tropical Fruit and Kadayawan Food Festival, check out the local artists amazing and world class talents through their photos art exhibits, cultural presentations, fire dances, and the Mandaya tribe at work while weaving intricate designs on Dagmay Fabric. You can even buy a piece of authentic ethnic creation to bring home with you.







For the complete line up of activities, see photo below.


For inquiries and reservations, check out: http://www.apoview.com/

July 18, 2012

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: Survival and Comfort Kit

Mj teases me about how my packing for a survival kit is like preparing for doomsday.  Of course, as always, she's exaggerating. I'm only packing little comfort items and practical medical supplies enough to last while on the road. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re going to a rainforest or a remote island, or sightseeing in an urban city with 5 star hotel accommodations because if there’s anything I have learned in all my years of existence, it’s that life doesn’t always go as planned and so it’s always better to BE PREPARED.

Pre-trip research usually tells me what to pack for a trip: weather conditions, modes of transportation and the number of hours allotted for it, challenging food and health conditions, and the level of communication difficulty all play a big factor on packing but almost always I have the same items on my survival kit.

TNF ALTIMONT WINDBREAKER designed as a wind breaker but repels water like a raincoat. It’s easy to carry around all day, it folds small and flat and bounces back from wrinkles quite well.


INSECT REPELLANTS AND ANTI ITCH LOTIONS for those pesky mosquitoes. I prefer slip on anti-mosquito bands. I wear it on either of my ankle or wrist all day and forget about it. I find it more convenient and effective compared with lotions where you have to reapply every now and then. I stay away from those mosquito patches, granted that it’s much cheaper than bands or Off Lotion, but it sticks like a stubborn chewing gum leaving unsightly marks on clothes. For anti-itch lotions I rely on AfterBite, its shaped like a pen, really easy to carry around.

LINT REMOVER/ROLL OF MASKING TAPE for that persistent lint. Lint removers are a bit expensive and they come with rollers so it takes up space, masking tapes on the other hand are cheaper, packs easier and it does the job quite as good as lint removers. Plus of course you can use it for its own purpose.

NAIL CLIPPERS keep my nails nice and clean, also serves as scissors for those loose threads on my clothes and to cut off plastic wire straps that I use as extra lock to safeguard my bigger luggage.

MINI LED LIGHT OR HEAD LAMPS are always useful for those times when you’re fumbling with your things and you can’t always switch the hotels lights on.


LITE TOWEL for accommodations that don’t offer free towels. Lite towels are incredibly absorbent and fast drying, also serves a blanket on long flights or train/bus rides. And as for Mj’s case for accessorizing as a scarf.


FACIAL TISSUE & WET WIPES are great for cleaning oneself from the remnants of the road. And besides, who doesn’t need tissue?

EYE COVER/NECK PILLOWS are must haves. It doesn’t provide the comforts of a hotel but it sure as hell makes sleeping in airports and moving vehicles a lot better.


RUBBER FLIP-FLOPS for those shared bathroom instances.

SNACKS/CANDIES



MAP true I can’t read a map but it comforts me to know that I have one.

HAND SANITIZERS/ALCOHOL I buy hand sanitizers by the barrel and I like to just transfer them in small containers and refill when needed. A small refillable container usually lasts me a week. I also like carrying around those small Bath and Body Works sanitizers. There are also times when hand sanitizers just won’t do so I always also gotta have a small container of alcohol within reach.


FACE MASKS are also must haves. I’m a bit paranoid and whenever someone coughs or sneezes, I really get jittery.

MP3 PLAYER/ A GOOD BOOK to keep myself from going crazy over long rides.


SMALL NOTEBOOK AND A PEN keeps all my flight details, hotel accommodations, addresses, information and thoughts i gather while on the road.


MODIFIED FIRST AID KIT AND A POCKET PHARMACY pre-packed first aid kits available on the market contain a lot of stuff I don’t really need so I made one and modified it according to what I think will be useful.  A pocket pharmacy is a small pack of basic meds that can fit right into my pocket or Mj’s purse.

Pocket Pharmacy:
Ponstan
Advil
Diatabs or Imodium
Zantac
Benadryl Anti-Histamine
Topical Analgesic

Modified First Aid:
Band-AidsPaper Tape
Alcohol Wipes
Sterile Gauze Bandage

As for my carry-on survival kit, it mainly consists of my pocket pharmacy, hand sanitizer, face mask, a few munchies and my ipod.

Most of the items don’t take much space and weight and they really make a difference on my travels so I make sure I pack each and everything little thing. Next kit, my Zombie Survival Pack. Kidding.

June 5, 2012

DINING: Cellar de Oboza, Davao

It was a beautiful quiet weekend after several months of whirlwind events and what better way to cap it off than by a simple but delicious dinner in a charming restored grand old house.

Cellar de Oboza is located at the ground floor of a 2 story impressive ancestral house of the Oboza’s that dates back from 1929 and, sits regally along Rizal Street. The French restaurant Claudes’ occupies the 2nd floor. Cellar de Oboza used to be a favorite old haunt in Habana compound but was then known as the Italian bistro Salutti. We were saddened when it closed so just imagine our glee when we stumbled upon its reincarnated better and bigger self.





To celebrate this re-discovery, we had the usual – chicken breast fillet in mushroom cream sauce with a side of mashed potato for Kim and steak ala pobre (it’s a fillet mignon actually) cooked medium well with steamed white rice for me.

I tried Kim’s chicken and it’s exactly how we remember it to be. The chicken was cooked perfectly tender and was the perfect vessel for the delightful creamy mushroom sauce. The mashed potato has that smooth consistency that I favor. My steak was 3 pieces of tenderloin wrapped in bacon with a good sear on the outside and a still pink juicy inside. The meat was packed with flavor and very tender.




We would have ordered our usual dessert, that decadent chocolate fudge cake if only we weren’t too full. There were also a few additions to their menu that we did not get to try, another reason to go back I suppose.

May 27, 2012

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: Headware, Keeping Heads Happy

This review is looong overdue. Even that is an understatement. There’s no excuse for that really except that words are coming up short to describe how ingenious this multipurpose accessory that has been sent to us early on in the year and how important Headware has become not only on our travels but even on our day-to-day real life and work activities.

This cool tubular piece of lightweight cloth greatly complements our active work and lifestyle and marries design and practicality seamlessly. Amazing how something this simple could work so great and in so many ways. Pure genius!

So far, here’s some of the many ways we've been putting our Headware to good use:

It provides a pop of color worn as an armband and doubles in wicking away sweat 
while managing to keep hands free especially at shoots. 
This has even eliminated Kim’s constant problem of losing a handkerchief.


 A headband/bandanna to keep the hair off the face with a carefree stylish vibe.
And to mask those bad hair days;-p


A neck wrap as an accessory and it did provide 
warmth on a foggy cold day in the highlands of Bukidnon.


 An effective eye cover/blind.


A mask as protection to dusts and other elements especially during transits.


Packing has always been an important enjoyable process before a trip but I could get cerebral on the item that goes in my suitcase. Headware though has made it easy as this piece of clothing takes too little space yet transforms the most basic wardrobe into something more fun, imagination and creativity is the limit. Some travelers I know even uses it as a belt, and if you're fun size - a tube top or a mini bondage skirt. Plus of course this clever item works for all ages, any size and caters to all gender with its ever widening range of colors and design. Oh yes, we're a fan and Headware do keep these Lakwatseras happy!


In Davao, Headware is available at the following stores: 

Adventure Xchange
Bisikleta Davao
Bisikleta JP Laurel
Brat Pack - SM Davao
Brat Pack - Abreeza Mall
Chris Sports - Abreeza Mall
Everest
Habagat
Kurv Davao
Planet Sports - Abreeza Mall
Riverone Davao
Sports Depot
The Athelete's Foot - Abreeza Mall
The Travel Club - Abreeza Mall
The Travel Club – SM Davao

To know more about Headware, like their page on FACEBOOK and their official web page HERE.

May 13, 2012

AW KOON CAMBODIA: Angkor Temples 1 Day Itinerary

Angkor in the local dialect means “Capital City” or “Holy City”.  It was once the capital city of the Khmer Empire that existed in the 9th and 12th century AD when military and economic dominance was at its height and Khmer kings constructed massive waterworks and grand temples as a testament to it. Won't bore you with history so fast forward to the "NOW" -  even as it stands in ruins, its architecture and artistry remain remarkable. The place too became hugely famous partly because of Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider.


The UNESCO World Heritage site of the Angkor Archaeological Park stretches to over 400 square kilometers and has more than a couple of dozens of temples and ruins. The Angkor Wat is just one of them actually and a one day itinerary isn’t gonna cut it if you wish to explore all of these temples.

TIPS WHEN VISITING THE ANGKOR:
  • Before visiting any of the temples, purchase admission passes at the main entrance on the road to Angkor. A 1 day pass costs 20USD, 3 days pass at 40 USD, and If you wish to explore all temples even those in more remote places, then a 7 day pass  for 60 USD is best for you. The 3 day pass is valid for3 days in a week, not necessarily consecutively. The 7 day pass is valid for 7 days in a month, not necessarily consecutively.
  • If you purchase admission passes after 430pm to be used the next day, you can already visit Phnom Bakheng right after purchase.
  • Best place for sunset: Phnom Bakheng, but be reminded that temple gates close at 530pm.  Best place for sunrise: Angkor Wat, gates open at 530am. 
  •  Do not lose, tear and crumple your pass.  It will be checked at every temple entrance.
  • The temples are far from each other (like kilometers apart), hire a tuktuk or a cab to take you around; rates start at 15USD for the whole day.
  • A tour guide is a really good investment; rates start at 20USD, additional 5USD if you wish to catch the sun rise.
  • Wear really comfortable practical shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, most of them on uneven and sometimes steep surfaces. 
  • Always have a bottle of water with you.
  • SUNBLOCK, SUNBLOCK, SUNBLOCK!
Most of the significant and popular ones are within the main park area (Angkor Archaeological Park) including the iconic Angkor Wat. Because of the heat and humidity though, we only got to visit a few of them, starting at sunrise and quitting before lunch. By few I mean 4, all of them within the main park. Phnom Bakheng, Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Phrom, all these can be fitted in a 1 day itinerary and is called the Small Circle or Little Circuit.


PHNOM BAKHENG was done the day before though when we purchased our pass in the afternoon right before sunset.

Located on a hilltop, it is the 1st major temple to be constructed in Angkor and is always crowded in the late afternoon as tourists start to race up the hill to catch the setting sun. Prepare for an unpaved and rather tiring hike. Again, bring a bottle of water with you. Gates close exactly at 530, be there a minute late and they won’t allow you to enter. You can opt to visit the next day if you want and squeeze all 4 temples in one day, make it your last stop if you can, after all there’s no better way ending a day than spending it on top of a hill watching the sun set all over Angkor.







And what better ways to start the day than watching the sun come up on ANGKOR WAT? We got up at 4 in the morning, had a little something to eat at the hotel and at 415 we were on the road to Angkor. We opted to book a tuktuk to take us in and around the temples, it’s much cheaper plus there’s just something about tuktuks that says “you’re on vacation.” By the time we got to Angkor Wat, hundred other tourists were already waiting and positioning themselves for that perfect UNESCO World Heritage sun rise photograph. Too bad the sun was a tease that day and didn't really showed his fiery ball of glory.


 




Angkor Wat is huge that an hour isn’t nearly enough to cover all grounds.  It is the biggest and the most important temple in the entire archaeological park so you might wanna dedicate at least 2 hours to it and one important thing, get ready to sweat buckets!

Now most tourists would prefer to go back to their hotels for breakfast right after sunrise but we choose to continue with the tour while it isn’t too sunny and humid yet and have breakfast outside Angkor Wat at some local eatery.


Re-energized from breakfast, we headed out for Angkor Thom  (Great City) stopping at the great city’s SOUTH GATE.  The gate was imposing with its towers carved with faces and the causeway lined with gods on one side and demons at the other.




There are quite a number of temples within the Great City, and at the middle of it is BAYON.  Famous for its 54 towers with 4 faces facing the east, west, north and south totaling 216 faces and its outer walls  carved with bas-reliefs depicting its history and ancient daily life.






One kilometre outside Angkor Thom lies the ruins of TA PROHM and its gigantic centuries old trees.  Unlike most temples in Angkor which has been restored, Ta Prohm for quite some time remained intentionally in almost the same state that it was found - in ruins.  The combination of fallen stones, cracked walls and doors entwined with giant roots and massive trees growing out of the temple somehow made Ta Prohm even more amazing and fascinating. Restoration is now actively being done in partnership with India and its team of experts.





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