More Honolulu Goodness – Part 3

Halfway through my short trip and I can say I already got the hang of it — I was waking up on island time, my body and the weather already reached an understanding, and I was raring to tick off items in my to-do and to-visit list.

DAY ONE-5

Woke up early on a Monday to go to Diamond Head! The experience is detailed here.

When I returned to Waikiki, I bought lunch at Steak Shack.

28ccba2f-b1a4-43ef-9a32-137a640315f3Steak Shack is a small food stand facing the beach at the Fort DeRussy Beach Park. They serve all-day steak plates — as low as $8 for a hefty meal. I bought a 10-oz steak plate to go which came with a generous serving of rice and salad. Didn’t manage to take a photo because I demolished it as soon as I went back to the room. I was so hungry after the trail hike and remembered I barely had anything for breakfast. I liked the steak plate moreso because I excessively put ranch dressing in it. I paid $14 I think for the entire thing. You can view photos contributed by tourists on TripAdvisor if you want to see how they look like.

I rested almost the whole afternoon and booked my tour ticket for Pearl Harbor that I planned to take on my last full day on the island. A little after sunset I took a short bus ride to Ward Village to check it out.

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When I got there I was surprised by how freakishly quiet it was. It was a Monday and I was expecting there would at least be people from work seeing that there were office spaces within the complex. It’s almost empty. But seeing that two shops (!!!) were right by the pedestrian lane across Ala Moana Boulevard, I spent more than hour in both shops, officially breaking my self-imposed rule to not go shopping in discount stores on this trip. #noregrets

I rode the wrong bus going back and I found myself in Ala Moana Center again. Decided to just grab dinner there and walk around a few minutes more before heading back. I had lots of steps per my pedometer and been to a Hawaii tourist spot so it was a good day.

DAY ONE-6

It was the chillest of all my days with practically nothing planned. I went out of the room a little after 9 am to get breakfast. I was in the mood for laksa but since I got there I haven’t seen (or probably I managed to stay away from) any restaurant possibly serving such so I was open to eating anything. On my way to Royal Hawaiian Center to participate in a free outdoor hula class, I found one soup kiosk in its food hall.

I decided not to join the hula class after breakfast. I walked around the center and proceeded to the beachfront of Hilton Hawaiian Village for a mid-morning soak.

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This is a bronze statue of Princess Bernice Pauahi, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, Hawaii’s first monarch.

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Not a fan of rubber in general (let’s not start LOL) but hey these stuff…interesting.

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Pinoy sorbetes represent!

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This was an unplanned shot while I was getting a tan and I flipped my huge body with my phone in hand.

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Since I liked Funko Pops, it’s not weird for me to travel with one so I can shoot it instead of myself.

As I am doing this update I realize how lousy my photos were. Totally not representative at all of how amazing each nook and corner of Waikiki are. You know what that tells me? There’s always another time to go back and make up for it. But let us reserve that plan in another blog post.

I was still full from the big bowl of laksa I had so after staying at the beach for almost two hours, I went to Target and Ross in Ala Moana Center to finally buy bilins and pasalubong for the people back home. I scored quite a few freebies that added to my pasalubong list thanks to Fil-Am aunties manning many stores, particularly in Honolulu Cookie Company!

DAY ONE-7

That’s my tweet when I woke up that day! My big to-do then was Pearl Harbor then cocktails at sunset. That’s it. So after a quick breakfast I took a bus from Hobron Lane going to Pearl Harbor.

The entire Pearl Harbor tour including my travel time to and back took me almost five hours. I left the stuff from the tour, freshened up a bit, and rushed to the other end of Waikiki Beach to catch my last sunset on that trip.

I settled in Royal Hawaiian Hotel and ordered their classic mai tai with taro chips and hummus. The price was steep for me but considering the location and #treatyoself nga di ba, it’s worth it. It was only one drink but I was tipsy kaagad so I walked it off back to the apartment.

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Will always carry a torch for Manila’s sunset but this one was pretty amazing, too.

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After last-minute packing, I made sure that my last night in Honolulu, at least for this first time, was fun and crazy interesting. And it was. The next day it was mostly about the straight flight back to Manila.

Overall, ahhh, it will take me a while to get over Hawaii. When you get a chance, please do visit the island. Make memories, make ’em darn good ones. The island is worth it.

Mahalo, Hawaii!!! Until next time!

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Diamond Head Day Hike!

On my fifth day in Honolulu, on a Monday morning no less, I started the day hiking the crater of Diamond Head. It is a very common must-do for tourists because of its proximity to Waikiki and that it’s a short trek for such an amazing view.

From Waikiki I took Bus #23 plying the Hawaii Kai – Sea Life Park route. I went down at the 18th Avenue + Diamond Head Road stop after about 20 minutes and right there at the opposite end of the crosswalk was the Diamond Head entrance.

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This is not yet the official entrance to Diamond Head. The concrete trail has a very clear path that even if you arrive by foot, you won’t be lost. It is common for cars or shuttles/buses to pass you by. After a semi-steep walk of about 5 minutes, you will reach the Kahala lookout.

The next two photos are views from the Kahala Lookout. You can continue walking but for me who did not have any warmup before this, the lookout was a perfect excuse to catch my breath (tipong 5 minutes semi-uphill pa lang yun ha; way to go, Juday).

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When you are ready to begin your Diamond Head trek, you’ll see this tunnel leading further to the main entrance. Corregidor feels!

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After the tunnel, there’s the small ticket station where you can pay the entrance fee of $1. It’s also where a few foods stalls, souvenir shops, restrooms, and visitor’s center are.

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Beautiful. This is at the foot of the trail. If you look closely you can make out the ridges at the top. That’s the actual trail. It’s not that high.

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One more shot about 10 minutes into hiking. You can see more clearly the trail at the top.

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Now this is something very noticeable when you reach a certain altitude in Diamond Head: STAIRS! Lots of them!

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Yup, more stairs! But this is just one way, there’s a separate way going down.

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Did I mention stairs??? This one is the last one to reach the “summit”. There’s an alternate trail at the side which was what I took going up. I took this stairs going down.

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Almost there!

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Hello, Waikiki!

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A famous landscape shot from the crater.

My verdict of Diamond Head? It is relatively easy and if you have time to spare, give it a try! The bus ride from Waikiki took 20 minutes, the entire trek from the entry point to the summit/top of the crater took me 45 minutes, photo/video-taking included. Take note that I was not fast. As I said I barely had physical preparation and was really walking slowly on my way up. Gee, there were kids and elderly people (mostly Japanese) who were overtaking me!

At the visitor’s center, you can avail the audio tour if you wish. I saw there were docents, too. But the hike’s relatively easy to follow and can be absolutely explored alone.

Aside from the view, there’s a structure which used to be the fire control station where you can explore for free. It involved crouching to fit and walk inside so I passed on it. There’s also an option to have a personalized certificate made stating you made it on top of Diamond Head. I heard it was $12 each.

For the essentials, as common short dayhikes require, have your sunblock and hydration ready. Wear comfortable shoes. It can be windy at the top so hold on to articles of clothing that could be easily swept away like caps/hats and shawls. It may be best to go there when it opens at 6 a.m. so it won’t be too harsh on the skin. I got there a little after 11 a.m. so it’s really very hot already. Or maybe go in the afternoon? Although the park accepts visitors until 6 p.m., permission to hike ends at 4:30 p.m. so plan your visit accordingly.

It took me a shorter time going down mainly because I wasn’t taking photos anymore. Overall, I enjoyed that morning, and if ever I would travel with someone who has not been there, I’d be glad to accompany him or her. After Diamond Head though, I wish to visit other volcanic craters in Oahu like Koko Head and the Punchbowl Crater, and of course the infamous Ha’iku Stairs or Stairway to Heaven!

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That Honolulu Trip – Part 2

Aaaand my island adventures continue. Note that I am writing this nine months after they happened. The nostalgia and the longing bite me hard. I really should have finished writing this sooner, as in as soon as I was flying back home.

DAY ONE-3

Still not waking up early, and a part of me kind of regretted a huge chunk of the morning wasted. But what can I do, I was on vacation, so forcing myself’s way below my list talaga.

After breakfast I felt like going to the beach again for a mid-morning soak, so I took the bus (yay, finally) and stepped off the stop nearest to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. It was a bit on the other end of the shore where I baked myself burnt the previous day. Maiba naman. Not sure if it’s because it’s a Saturday but more people were on the beach. It was surreal seeing different people enjoying themselves under the sun. No drama intended but the feeling na you’re traveling solo but you’re not alone…that kind of feels.

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From Target the previous day: Quaker rice crispies (flavored ampao, in short LOL), some pretzels, and blueberries. Then cranberry juice! This is something I would not spend time buying and putting together back home but as they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions.

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Told you, nice view.

After an hour at the beach I walked to Food Pantry in Kuhio Avenue to buy more essentials, and oddly enough unti-unting pasalubong, and also grabbed lunch from HI-Steaks.

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HI-Steaks ranks high on Yelp and compared to similar restaurants in the area, they serve very affordable yet hefty meals. After buying groceries, I bought my lunch to-go.

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This is their original steak and BBQ chicken combo ($11 more or less). I opted for the chimichurri sauce which I was given generously. Look at that brown rice and greens to complete the ensemble! If I wasn’t in a hurry to make it to my next stop, I would have taken my time with it.

In the afternoon it surprisingly rained, lakas makasira ng sleeveless romper outfit because of the lamigin me. However I still went ahead to Leonard’s Bakery to try their malasadas.

From the nearest bus station from my apartment I took Bus #13 and got off in front of Leonard’s. Other buses like #1 and #9 also have dropoffs near Leonard’s but not as near as #13’s, so that’s something to consider. Other people, such as the guy I met while there (aka who chuckled while I was hilariously Boomerang-ing my malasadas), actually walked to the bakery from Waikiki Beach! Going back to Waikiki, take the same bus number at the station in front of Safeway in Kapahulu which was a block away from Leonard’s.

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Anyway, malasadas. It is basically deep-fried dough sprinkled with granulated sugar. Think bicho-bicho back home. Leonard’s offers other varieties like the cinnamon-sprinkled ones, and some coated with li hing or Chinese dried plum. They have malasada puffs with filling, too. I tried their original and cinnamon-sprinkled bread. They’re okay. I mean, it’s soft on the inside and it was still warm when I got my order so it’s good. I ordered a lot for one so I ended up eating it for breakfast and merienda the next day.

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I accidentally deleted the photos of my Leonard’s trip save for my IG stories so all I got now our screenshots. See, parang tinapay lang na may asukal di ba?

It started raining again on my way back to Waikiki so I just hit the mall and went to B&N again. Still didn’t do a lot but I was happy with my day.

DAY ONE-4

Finally, I was able to wake up early enough to enjoy the first half of the day. I spent it inside the room to enjoy my breakfast with a view. Cannot complain.

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Leftover malasadas, cranberry juice, and a banana. If you know me well enough, you can tell this was very new to me.

I walked a few blocks around the area and began to feel feverish. I knew it was days of wonky sleeping and getting rained on. I rested until late afternoon and walked to find a place to eat rice. You know that very Pinoy feeling na you need to eat something before taking your meds and “eat something” means kanin and ulam? So off I went walking along the shore. It was a very good afternoon. 

I made a premature left turn going to the Royal Hawaiian Center and found Pau Hana Market. It’s a small lot with food trucks. I heard it’s closed now. I hope they just moved elsewhere. I planned on getting the famous garlic shrimp but they weren’t ready and I was hungry. I chose Hoaloha’s fried chicken meal of the day.

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Chicken, lots of carbs, fruits. For a hungry stomach it was quite a feast. The beer-battered taste of the chicken was ordinary. The fresh pineapple juice was a delight. I shelled about $30 for this late meal. I devoured it while i placed a quick video call to my mom and watched about half an episode of Hawaii Five-O. Hihihi, “for the feels”.

I walked a lot to make up for the heavy meal. Before I knew it it’s dark outside so i just went back to the room to rest some more. I was reviewing my photos and I was convinced I didn’t take plenty of shots for a tourist. But you know what, I still remember them all in my head. I don’t know how much longer I can retain them in but right now they’re all vivid. The place really made a mark in me.

Three more days to go!

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Hawaii, Why, Why (Why Not) – Part 1

That’s got to be one of the most forced titles ever. But hey, let us still talk about it. Because why not?

One of my bestfriends is traveling to Honolulu in a few weeks and I cannot help but envy that she’s going, so I am pushing her way all suggestions that I possibly can so I can live vicariously through her in the meantime.

At this point I would like to write about a few things I did while on the amazing island. Granted, part of what made it amazing were a few experiences that are too personal, but man, taking that away, the trip was still many levels of awesome.

What did I do while in Honolulu?

DAY ONE

As I mentioned in my first round-up, I got to Honolulu mid-morning of Thursday, after 10 hours of a smooth and uneventful flight (the best kind) from Manila.

I rented an Airbnb room and my host allowed me to check in as soon as I arrived in the building before lunch. I wasn’t jetlagged, wasn’t sleepy, but suddenly very hungry and the creature of habit in me walked to Ala Moana Center to eat.

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Taken at the Ala Wai Canal on the way to Ala Moana Center. There were buses from my airbnb to the mall but I chose to walk because per the map it was a simple inverted L route ergo very easy to follow. Took me longer but it was worth it. I was there barely an hour pa lang but I felt that I was gonna like it and boy, I was right.

Ala Moana Center is said to be largest open-air shopping center in the world (not too clear on the ‘largest’ and ‘open-air’ bits because from a Pinoy window shopper’s point of view. . .using MOA or SM North or SM Cebu as references. . .anyway, irrelevant). I could have taken the bus but I opted to walk so I can familiarize myself with the area. If you have traveled with me to any U.S. location you will know that my default first food is always orange chicken-honey walnut shrimp-white rice from Panda Express.

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Tourist comfort food, for the win. I have had this same combo each time I touched down any U.S. city. When not very hungry days later, I take away the shrimp, but really, when all else doesn’t cut it, my palate always goes back to Panda Express. Tignan natin when they open here in Manila if it’s gonna be the same.

As this mall is huge I went around, shopped a few, and settled at, well, you guessed it…Barnes & Noble. Alam mo yun, I knew I just arrived and had seven days to go but #priorities and #addiction, so yeah. Two hours went by too fast and with a plan to catch my first sunset in Waikiki, I left B&N with quite a few loot, then I headed to Target for my essentials.

As a solo traveler who has ‘starvation’ among her top fears in life, I always troop to the nearest supermarket or grocery because you’re surely saving money on food this way. Grocery shopping is fun for me, too, and one more cheap thrill which we don’t have yet: self-checkout.

The island of Oahu in general is survivable for non-drivers like me because they have an efficient transport system. With plenty of bus routes it could get confusing though, so one tip I have is to download the transportation app (if available), bus map, or anything related to it, and of course connect to Maps to know how to get to your destination without losing time.

With my bookish time and grocery time — both times well-spent — I missed the sunset. I still walked (and walked and I mean walked) both in the dim light by the shore (only those with restaurants fronting the beach were well-lit) with muni-muni in between, to the people-filled Kalakaua Avenue.

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This was around 8 pm already. I missed the sunset and the fireworks display by Hilton Hawaiian Village every Friday. It wasn’t as crowded for a Friday. I took a leisurely walk para sulit ang mga pinaplano ko nang kainin that night.

I walked back to the apartment which was a good 15-minute walk along Kalakaua Avenue. It was ok, felt safe, there were people from work, tourists, and joggers sharing the sidewalk with me so it was good. I ordered food to-go from Tony Roma’s because it was conveniently in the way. I cannot feel my feet when I got back to my apartment but it was really fun for a first day!

DAY ONE-2

I woke up at 11 am because my body clock was still adjusting. I had breakfast in the room and walked the strip of Ala Moana Boulevard to reach Olive and Oliver.

Olive & Oliver is a small coffee bar and boutique that serves coffee to-go. Their coffee drinks are classic and no-frills; they come in artsy cups like the ones above. If you search for recommended coffee places in Waikiki, they usually made the list so I was glad it was on my walking route when going to the beach.

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Ah, Waikiki. There’s also the Diamond Head crater making this canvas more beautiful. The waves were a bit rough the afternoon I came but it was also warm and sunny so it wasn’t as scary. I failed to capture a panoramic video. I did it without a camera though and until now I feel it as if I was still there. Ang drama ano, but really, that’s how it affected me when I was there. Dahil yata mahal pamasahe kaya ninamnam ko ng bongga. Chos.

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The other side. You can see the Ala Moana area and Hilton Hawaiian Village. This photo remains my wallpaper until today. Didn’t capture the beauty of Waikiki Beach, I swear.

It was a bright and sunny day so I took lots of photos para sa obligatory IG na ganyan, then I sprawled in front of Fort deRussy for my first taste of Waikiki beach.

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I stayed until I was able to witness the sunset.

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On the way back to my apartment, the classic black and white stripes lured me in. This was a very busy street and the shop was easy to miss but I didn’t. Bought a few essentials (essentials daw o). Meron pala sila sa Ala Moana Center which I missed the day before.

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On my way back to my apartment (ang tibay di ba, hindi pa ako nag-bubus ulit), I went to Maguro Brothers, a popular hole in the wall that serves delicious poke bowls. They open from 5 pm to until after midnight. They are situated unassumingly along Lewers Street, so much so that I passed it the first time. In my tired and nervous English I managed to throw in the “It’s my birthday!” card (though it was a day after, what a hustler) so the guy at the counter smiled and added more spicy mayonnaise, which if you also know me enough, something that I like my food to be swimming in. It was a big win for me.

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So yeah, back in the room, with amazing view of Manoa, was my happy dinner. You can see my leftover chips and artichoke dip from the night before. My room doesn’t have a TV which wasn’t a big deal to me. The wifi was strong so I just watched Def Comedy Jam 25 on iFlix and some Parks and Recreation episodes. Simple forms of happiness, I tell you.

A day and a half, done! See the next post for days three to seven!

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Shoestring Adventures (A Teaser)

I am off to a different continent with one of my bestfriends in a few days. To say that I have prepared for this well won’t be true. I may write about the trip upon our return, and I’m sure highlights will be in my Instagram stories, but at this point  I’m practically not ready in many aspects. The only thing good to go is myself; as in the body and the willingness to explore.  Maybe for now that would suffice.

I may feel that it’s really happening when I’m almost there. One of the first phrases I need to learn and will probably use particularly when dining is “No onions, please” but in Spanish. I’ll then take it from there.

Life is short, go to Hawaii!

I just came back from an amazing Honolulu trip! I was there for seven full days. I planned it six weeks before my departure date which left me with a few expensive options but overall it was worth it. Besides, any travel I make in January will always be worth the damage to the pocket. For this one I even left on the afternoon of my birthday and arrived in Honolulu mid-morning, still on my birthday!

For this post I want to share my travel tips and activities should you wish to visit Honolulu (which you definitely must, it’s so amazing!)

Getting there: Going to Hawaii, sigh, isn’t cheap. If you are for comfort and duration, Philippine Airlines offers the shortest flight to Honolulu and back. It takes less than 10 hours going there and less than 11 hours going back, and more importantly, it’s a straight flight. I left in January which is still the tailend of the peak season so the lowest I got it for was still around $1,200, travel tax included. Ang mahal nya, actually, pero well, birthday trip!

From the airport to your hotel/hostel/Airbnb: Shuttle services, if you do not have a host or you did not avail your hotel’s pickup option, are very much available as soon as you step out of the airport. So far, I noticed there’s SpeediShuttle and Roberts Hawaii Express Shuttle. I took Roberts Hawaii Express Shuttle going to my rented condo unit. These shuttle services accept card payments only so make sure you have your debit or credit cards handy. I paid $16 for the 30-minute trip. I learned from the shuttle driver (a beautiful half-Filipina, half-Hawaiian named Danielle!) that Roberts Hawaii also owns the building I stayed at, so it’s a convenient dropoff.

Going to the airport for my departure, I availed SpeediShuttle’s service. I booked a reservation the night before I left. It costs $15.48 which is also charged to your card. When you choose a pickup time, consider the time of your flight and expect that there will be other pickups other than you which could extend your travel time to the airport. For this trip though, the driver took the backroads and in 20 minutes, I was dropped off at the PAL checkin gate. So kanya-kanyang diskarte din ang mga drivers but it’s always safe to allow more time.

Of course if you are with a group and you can comfortably fit inside a car, you can take a taxi or an Uber. They also have Lyft, too. The bus is also an option.

Accommodations: I booked a lovely studio apartment through Airbnb. It won’t be visible in the listing but you will discover that many of the Waikiki units, whether studio apartments, rooms, or couches, are within the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel. It’s a property that was converted into half-condo units, half-hotel and many condo owners rented theirs out. My host lives in the same unit — we share one main door, and there are two keycard-activated doors after; one is her residence and one is the studio space she rents out.

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Look at this cute and cozy place! The wooden design and fixtures provided a unique and homey touch. It has no kitchen but there’s a microwave, a mini-ref, and lots of dining utensils. The bathroom is also very clean and has clean towels and bathroom products for you to use. The host also has beach bags and beach towels in the closet. Super homey! And don’t get me started on the view. That right there by the window is not a painting!

My favorite part of this unit is the view. I can never get enough of it. It is directly facing Ala Wai Canal and being on the 35th floor, it gets an amazing view of Manoa. I was also treated to plenty of rainbow sightings (which I was told are quite often in the island) because of its location.

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View from the room at daytime. I don’t get scared of heights but this one made me a bit woozy.

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View at nighttime. Very therapeutic.

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The first morning I woke up early enough. That’s not a canvas, that’s a real view!

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The building was at the corner of Niu and Ala Wai so when you go down the street, this is easily what you can snap. Ah, the memories of it just by typing this.

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One more rainbow view after it rained. Love.

Let me know if you want to get this same accommodation and I’ll point you to this listing. 🙂 The host is very easy to talk to and very accommodating.

I walked around a lot while there and checked the location of the hotels and apartments and their distance from the beach. While I really liked Hawaiian Monarch’s location (from there you can walk to the convention center, Ross (ahem), Target (ahem ulit), a bit far but still doable – Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx (yaaay) and the huge Ala Moana Center!), it is at the far end of the beach kung walking ang pag-uusapan. I spent 15-20 minutes walking just to go back. I could have taken the bus, sure, but overall, malayo siya if you speak of the beach. I enjoyed walking a lot though.

If your priority is to be near the beach front, consider the ones along the shore — from the Kahanamoku beachfront of Hilton Hawaiian Village to the end of the Waikiki Wall (a long beachfront stretch which would take you 30 minutes by foot; I tried it!). The parallel streets adjacent to Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues are great locations and perhaps a bit less expensive than the 5-star ones. What’s better is it’s also near the main strip where they have all the shops and food places.

Going aroundTheBus! It is their main commuter transport service which is efficient, if I may say. You can buy passes for unlimited rides for different durations or just pay $2.75 per way — the bus does not give change so always bring an exact amount. This is where I disposed of all my coins!

Before you start your day, think of your activities and check if they will require bus rides. If you need more than 2 bus rides, whether short or long ones, consider buying a day pass para sulit, kesa $2.75 ng $2.75. I did that when I when I went to Diamond Head and to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center; both entailed two rather long round trips and still left me with a pass to ride a bus to and from my errands for the day.

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There also bikes for rent but I didn’t bother checking it out. They are operated by Biki so if you are into biking, you can check out their rates, locations, and covered routes.img_1162

I also took an Uber twice and it’s efficient. Mahal lang rate nila, or maybe because I’m thinking in Philippine pesos; my ride ranged from $7 to $9 for two very short distances. But then again, birthday trip!

I spent majority of my time walking. Google Maps proved to be a very helpful friend. I downloaded an offline map of Honolulu so it was easier for me to navigate. Even with the bus routes, it’s very informative; of course if you access its offline version it will not give you the real-time schedule of the buses arriving, but you’ll still be fine.

Other notes: I did not stay long enough but the place was pretty safe for me. The sidewalks are wide and pedestrian-friendly. Their pedestrian crossings are plenty and accessible. Depending on the time of the year, it can get chilly at night so if you are sensitive to the breeze (aka lamigin like me), better to bring anything to cover you up when you walk. I brought tank tops and sleeveless sundresses which were suitable during the day but when nighttime came, I felt chilly. It probably contributed to my feeling ill on my 3rd day of vacation.

Hawaii is 18 hours behind the Philippines. Expect your body clock to act up after a few days, unless you’re the kind who adjust easily (lucky you!).

Unless you have mapped food places to get your meals from, it helps to go to Target or Food Pantry to buy groceries to save. Stock up and just refill your water, buy fruits, bread and spreads, juices, and other daily nourishment essentials.

I stayed mostly in Waikiki so people from different countries and persuasions abound. It’s very exciting to see. Connect and talk to them when you can! The residents there are very friendly, too. At least the ones I encountered; I was lucky there’s no untoward incident at all. And hey, it’s Hawaii, so expect a lot of Pinoys!

I’ll be sharing my experiences about the spots I went to in the next posts. For now in case it’s not getting across as I intended, I fell in love with Hawaii! I am definitely going back. You should, too. I promise, it’s worth it.

Related posts:

Where I Ate: Bacolod’s RIBSHACK and LORD BYRON’S

I recently went to Bacolod and one of the highlights of my trip was indulging in the back ribs craze of the city. I love meat and a big bonus in Bacolod is that their food there is relatively cheaper. And it’s not as if they scrimp on size and taste because oh boy, they don’t.

I scoured food blogs about Bacolod and back ribs were popular posts. I tried two of the more popular ones and was so impressed.

First, Ribshack. I read it’s originally from Cebu and opened its first branch in the city in SM Bacolod. The one I tried is in the 2nd floor Food Court of 888 Chinatown Mall which is very near the inn I stayed at. Ribshack also offers other grilled foods like chicken and fish, but ribs are, of course, their specialty. My Instagram post said it all.

The next day I specifically hunted Lord Byron’s newest branch nearer the city proper. Lord Byron’s original and bigger one is in Homesite which is a place I haven’t gone to, but a jeepney destination anyway (which is one of the best things in Bacolod, imho, mobility-wise — almost all places can be reached via jeepney!).

I went to pray at the Redemptorist Church and walked a few minutes and found its location in San Agustin Street (basically an extension of the street opposite Colegio San Agustin – so if you see the school, turn right and you’re near the restaurant). A bigger landmark — Riverside Hospital. The restaurant is beside other dessert places which are also very popular in the city.

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Another shot of my Lord Byron’s plate. Partnered it with cold Pepsi Max for good measure. This ribs meal plate is 159 pesos only.   

More than sumptuous chicken dishes, Bacolod is also strong in the backribs restaurant game. 🙂

 

 

 

Six Months of Itchy Feet

bitmoji-1452480305The first half of 2016 didn’t fly as fast as the past years and I can attribute it to opportunities to travel since January. Hindi pa din naman jetsetter levels but knowing me and my attachment to sleeping in and my catatonic extent of TV and movie marathoning, this has been a welcome change.

I was ready to book my solo trip to Penang for my birthday in January when I learned that my office bestfriend R was being sent to DC for training. We had talked about going to NYC for years so I definitely had to join her! Looking back, my first decent lunch on that trip (we were graciously hosted by R’s sister’s friend) was in Penang Malaysian Restaurant in downtown Boston so it’s like saying, “Sorry Penang, this shall do for now!”

It was all fun and new adventures from Harvard, Boston Commons, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, the 4-hour Amtrak ride to Penn Station, snowy tour of the common NYC touristy spots, the Hamptons, more DIY tourist walks, to my forever love affair with San Francisco and its famous spots, wineries in Napa, burgers and more burgers, Tselogs (which serves the best Pinoy comfort food in all of the West Coast), and basically more food and time for friends and family. Some photos below:

BOSTON

NUEVA YORK

SAN FRANCISCO

April saw me in Bangkok for a leadership training. I skipped the usual Thailand tourist activities because I did them 10 long years ago, when without wise counsel I booked a flight to Bangkok because it’s my birthday. It was all kinds of, “What the hell am I doing in this area of Bangkok?” and “I’m naively stupid, let us just charge it to experience.” So when I went back, it felt familiar, save for impressive urban developments (which made me slightly jealous). I didn’t pay for it so I was housed in a fancy hotel with an incredible view while having breakfast, kung saan a fancy buffet breakfast had me eating their anchovies for seven straight days. I tried almost everything in the buffet spread AND PUT DILIS ON THEM. Ang sarap ng anchovies nila doon, I swear — even the ones I bought at a 7-Eleven to munch on at night! Dilis-cious. Ay, ang corny.

We’re lucky my office observes legal holidays of two countries, so when we chanced on a cheap fare to Guam, kaladkarin as usual, off we went. With all these traveling I also had to make it up to my mother, so from a big Cebu Pacific sale in March I scored HK tickets for almost 6K. Yes, 6K for two adults, round trip. Hindi ka pa ba pupunta? By the way, I am about to finish short travel tips in both places, as my very small way of giving back to the blogosphere where I got many of my valuable itinerary tips from.

“Travel now, pulubi later,” said this one funny photo I saw in Facebook. Traveling, while not necessarily expensive all the time, still requires you to spend. And with very little gaps in between trips, tipid mode ka talaga, to the level of jeep na lang and carinderia after each one. 🙂 But is it worth it? YES. I’ve known it for so long and I remember one guy I had a super crush on telling me that I should travel more because the experiences will last longer than a good book, a hearty meal, or a great outfit. That was nine years ago. I didn’t heed it until three years ago. God always provides naman.

I will be quieter this second half although there’s one booked trip long ago (mura eh, sabi naman sa inyo, just be on the lookout, and have a friend with a credit card, LOL) which I can save up for until it’s time to go.

If my budget permits, I still intend to pursue Penang before the year ends. I have researched it and I think I am ready. If I delay it, baka mawala yung momentum and all the information I mapped out eh. Maybe it’s also because I conditioned myself I will go and I didn’t, so closure, I guess? Mga ganung first-world personal dilemma. Let’s see.

A big part of me still wants to travel more locally, solo or otherwise. There have been plenty of tourism jingles but what’s stuck in my head until now is Regine Velasquez singing Biyahe Tayo whenever I travel within the Philippines.

Anyway, that’s six months of relieving the itch of my feet. As always the case when something itches, kamutin lang! Pero sa pagkamot alalay lang, para walang damage, only relief. Naks!

January Wrap Up

One month down, eleven to go!

The first month of the year swished just like that. It was fun though. And fast.

Let’s see, what was I up to last month?

January holds a soft spot for me mainly because of my birthday. Cash-strapped but adventurous, I managed to enjoy my 32nd birthday up at a mountain in Benguet. The first two weeks of January were actually spent scrimping and buying [yes, that’s possible], and mostly preparing for the Mt. Pulag trip. Not so much, physically…to the detriment of my legs. But I survived. My separate blog update is still in the works so I will link it up when it’s done [hopefully, within this century].

One hour into the trek, we saw this. This does not do the place justice. It's majestic, magnificent, and when we went, insanely cold.

One hour into the trek, we saw this. This photo does not do the place justice. It’s majestic, magnificent, and when we went, insanely cold.

I started the year on staycation because of forfeitable leave credits from last year. I cut it short by two days, much to our office timekeeper’s cute annoyance, because I got bored. Yes. I got bored. Plus it was crazy hot that week. Had it been this semi-chilly, I would not even think about the office.

My book haul is at a modest six — five bought, one received as a gift. I think it was conservatively countered by my Kindle. I don’t want to speak prematurely though. As I said, we have eleven months to go.

Four out of six books hauled in January. I picked up MIDWIVES to add to my Chris Bohjalian pile, WEAVEWORLD to add to my Clive Barker I-will-see-you-in-my-horror-reading-month pile, FAR NORTH by Marcel Theroux because it's dystopian that's less mainstream, and WICKETT'S REMEDY because I need something to pair with Midwives to avail the Buy One, Take One sale. Not in photo are JOYLAND by Stephen King [gift] and THE ANTHOLOGIST by Nicholson Baker.

Four out of six books hauled in January. I picked up MIDWIVES to add to my Chris Bohjalian pile, WEAVEWORLD to add to my Clive Barker I-will-see-you-in-my-horror-reading-month pile, FAR NORTH by Marcel Theroux because it’s dystopian that’s less mainstream, and WICKETT’S REMEDY because I need something to pair with Midwives to avail the Buy One, Take One sale. Not in photo are JOYLAND by Stephen King [gift] and THE ANTHOLOGIST by Nicholson Baker.

As for books read last month, I book-ended it with 7 books. That’s just right for my 75-book challenge this year. I try to keep a sane balance between e-books [a swooning post about S. Eloise, my Paperwhite, is in the works, too] and printed books so as not to start a jealous fit. Yes, my thick, thin, page-foxing books have feelings!

One highlight of the last month was the first book session of my book club at The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. I loved it! I also cannot forget the yumminess of 9 Spoons’ tokwa’t bagnet. It’s a take on tokwa’t baboy but they substituted, obviously, bagnet, but more than that, the vinegary spice made a huge difference. The flavor seeps through the bagnet strips and tokwa cubes. Oh man, I’m drooling just typing about it. Will definitely come back. You can actually order off the 9 Spoons menu even when you are at the SkyDeck. It made the experience more interesting. Hint to my future date! Although it probably wouldn’t be wise to ravage tokwa’t bagnet on a first date. 🙂

Taken from the Skydeck of The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. I love my city!

Taken from the Skydeck of The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. I love my city!

On the work front, I marked my 11th year in the office. There are days when I think it’s time to move on, move forward. I don’t know; it comes and goes. I’ll see. As always, I will actively seek and wait for the chance to present itself. I also welcomed a new staff so if only for this new addition, this change, there’s something fresh to look forward to. Plus yummy friend is going back to the building in a two weeks! My lunchmate will be back.

Speaking of people, someone makes me smile everyday, more often lately.  Meh, I’m just going to enjoy it. And of course if I’m doing anything else about it, I will not tell you. Well, that is, assuming you are interested.

So, how have you been?

Thank you, 2013.

Happy New Year! When I did a rundown of the first half of my 2013, it was quite eventful and hopeful. The last half of the year was pretty much the same. Of course, there’s still the “Another year has passed, what now?” vibe  by December 31.

ON TRAVELS

tigger-picnic-03October saw me, and friends Rach and Carms in Bacolod for Rach’s birthday. The Peace Cup was also the same time so a live football game of the Azkals was a bonus. We went there for a gastronomic fix – Manokan Country, Calea, Pendy’s, Felicia’s – we tried them all. And they’re all good. Plus even when we were only three, the thrill of surprising a birthday celebrant when the clock strikes 12 will always be fun for me.

December brought me to Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. It was a sudden training opportunity which gave me the chance to meet colleagues from the East Asia Pacific bureau, catch up with friends, and be with family. Cramped, short, but very fun. Walking around downtown San Francisco (well, the stretch of Market Street and its environs, at least) is the most memorable for me.

ON READING

I gave my reading report for the year and I tried to forget all about it. All I can say is I’m going to do better this year. Itaga mo yan sa matigas na bato. 😉

ON FINANCES

Turbulent and messy! The income tax spectacle started this. I also do not know what happened except that I spent a lot. And just when I thought I’m the only one, I hear people who are in the same boat, and frankly, it makes me feel a little bit better. Hahaha! I told my friend it’s a problem I brought to myself anyway. I could blame the government, I could blame the economy, but ultimately, I’m to blame. During the last quarter, my ledger’s a mess. It’s not attractive for a thirty-something to ask money from her mother yet I have done it last year many times. In one of my holiday dinners, I asked one of my best friends to pay for half of my dinner. That’s how terrible it was…is. Though really, it is annoying to complain about having very little money [compared to past Christmases, at least] when many people do not have anything left at all, right? But selfishly speaking, it’s really a tough time, and if you are a relative or a godchild from a distance, you would have felt it. 2014 will be spent restructuring my finances, or whatever’s there to salvage.  It’s just in the way you look at it, Judie.

ON ATTEMPTS TO BE A PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY

tigger-alphablock-03I opened my year with a reading day at a public school, courtesy of my bestfriend, on my birthday. I also dabbled into a teaching session with kids living in Manila North Cemetery with the help of the people from ATD Fourth World (thanks, Laine, for this). Of course, everyone has heard of the terrible Yolanda/Haiyan devastation and at least for two sweaty days I got to assist in repacking goods for the casualties within the week after it happened. I also worked with organizations in collecting monetary donations for the victims. It’s an ongoing project and with that is the desire to be there until everything slowly rebuilds.

ON MY LOVE FOR TV SHOWS

What kept me glued: The Newsroom Season 2, big Sherlock re-watch before season 3, Scandal, The Blacklist (aha, my daddy issues — Lizzie IS Raymond Reddington’s daughter, dagnabbit), The Goldbergs, regained love for Mike & Molly. Plenty more kept me entertained. If you noticed, Homeland is conveniently missing. It was pushed back in my to-watch list until season 3 ended without me noticing. This year I plan to go back to it. Save money, watch TV! LOL.

ON ROMANCE

tigger-sleephearts-01Hahaha! Anong meron? 2013 actually started off fun then it became not fun and I admit it’s my fault and I was genuinely sorry. See, when there’s someone you think is available, then it turns out he’s no longer available, the next logical course is to stop. I did not. I had fun provoking and posting stuff because I know the girl was reading until it became a bit messy. Was it right? No. Was it fun? Yes, to an extent, THAT TIME. The “it’s never gonna happen” part was clear to me so I wasn’t provoking because of that; it’s that if you know me, at times I do not like the appearance of losing, or in this case, being caught off-guard and embarrassed like that. [What a vindictive bitch.] I did not regret what happened afterwards between the guy and me even if it’s just a bibliophile kind of friendship because we like very different things. Oh well, I just laugh at it now. I’m not doing it again though. I promise. Life is short to be spent doing things like that.

I may be shallow (and vindictive) at times but really, I also get pleased very easily and gets satisfied with small amounts of affection. That’s why simply acknowledging I was always there, as small a gesture as “favoriting” my tweets, always appreciating anything I do, it warms my heart. But it’s not meant to flourish anyway and there was never any indication it will. He’s back in Sweden and if he thinks it’s for the best, I believe it.

Right now, it’s simple but promising (and a tad funny in a giggling fit kind of way), this romantic landscape. I said it before and it’s still the same. I’m happy with whatever is there. I do not take myself seriously the way I did in my twenties; too much insecurity back then because of my weight and overall appearance, too much apprehension because of my supposed image — all deserves a “WTF was that?” right this moment and a shower of yucks.  If nothing’s going to happen, well, I have ways to make myself happy, hehe (I have my books and pirated TV shows, ano ba, get your mind off the gutter). 🙂 Plus I have my own problems to sort and maybe a man will just be a distraction this year (see plan of action in ON FINANCES, above). Let’s see. All I want to do this year is to have fun in everything I do. Nakakapangit ang stress.

ON WORK AND MY CAREER IN GENERAL

I tried applying for another job early in the year but was turned down. I took it as a sign to stay put and possibly do something more to polish my brand. I don’t know if it worked. Hahaha! I was sent for training so even if there’s nothing in print about having to stay, I still feel the need to be more productive to be worthy of the training I got, no matter how short it was. Ten years, man. I may feel lacking and ignorant and clueless at times but I also cannot deny my institutional knowledge and how useful I am in my organization. A decade. Wow. Of course, if a better opportunity comes along, I will definitely consider. “Better” is strictly relative and even when I’m in dire need, taking a job with a higher pay but is obviously not a good fit for me or it’s in a bit of a messy environment, I will pass. Happiness is more important. Yay, where did that come from? 🙂

ONWARD, UPWARD, FORWARD

tigger-confetti-01I plan to work harder (emphasis on -er, LOL) and just be happy each day. I will be out of the calendar, as a popular Pinoy joke goes, in a few days, and frankly, I do not feel any different. If anything, I feel more confident and secure than when I turned, say, 22 — that was the age when I said I’ll take my life more seriously — be it in my romances and hooking up, school activities, work plans — and look where it got me. Only the “work” part paid itself nicely. Gah. 🙂

2013, overall, you were good. Emotional, freaky, fun. Thank you.

On to a new year with hopefully better prospects, more hugs, more books, and more bacon. And French fries. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

HALFTIME REPORT

Half of the year is over.  If you think it went too fast, I say it’s just about right.  It’s been an eventful ride.

Bouncing TiggerHighlights?

You may have read about THE pox.  The rollercoaster of emotions involving my one true love: reading books.  I also climbed Mt. Batulao.  Helped in a bay cleanup in celebration of Earth Day.  Went to Hongkong with friends.  Watched  a live improv show which stirred my theater performer tendencies.  I also passively took part in a monthly office project which enforced the Mackenzie McHale in me [I love the adrenaline rush – I’m that easy].  AND PLENTY MORE INTERESTING, HEARTWARMING, DEPRESSING, SHOCKING, MOSTLY FUNNY EVENTS:

If there’s one thing I want to leave, it’s the growing rumor especially in my family that I am not single anymore.  I guess it’s because of some Facebook photos, and hunches — which when passed on to others became varying versions of the “truth”.  While I appreciate people looking out for me, or curious about what’s happening to me, I just laugh at them instead of defensively parrying questions one by one.  Some people imply it, some are blunt enough to drop names, and very recently, one was opinionated enough to let me know there’s something uncomfortable in “going out with someone prettier than me”.  Wow. Gah. I understand where said person was coming from [uhm, I tried].  See, the guy in question is your usual dapper and dandy type, and yeah, I probably look like a taong grasa beside him. LOL.  Anyway, there’s nothing to it.  We were in several pictures together in and out of the office, we always talk, and maybe to a degree, I like being with him because he’s filling the gap left by someone who was with me for a while [still not a romantic partner, mind you].  There were also other men I decently posed with in several events, and I said, parrying the matchmaking attempts is futile.  I bet if I posed beside a giant balete tree, they will still start speculations.  In some twisted way, I appreciate their endless support to see me be happy with someone.  This, not knowing that serious, major romantic developments unfold in my life without people knowing.  It’s not that I’m not proud of it, it’s just that my innate introversion comes alive because I take my relationships seriously. [Take that LOLWHUT face out, please.]

Speaking of major developments, one of the best parts of the first half of the year is seeing one of my bestfriends N get married.  It was a very intimate event where all of us had roles.  I haven’t cried in a wedding before that event.  It’s a very significant milestone for all of us.  No one’s going to follow suit soon, that I’m sure.

StarStarStar

One of my bestfriends M [we’re six in the group, okay, haha] paved the way for me to fulfill one of my dreams: read to schoolkids and share my love for books [and learning in general].  We did it on my birthday which made it doubly special.  M, during her spare time, organizes reading programs targeting far flung public schools in our hometown of Imus [with the help of our other bestfriend L as photographer].  It’s not big in magnitude but what makes me so proud about doing it with her is that we did everything ourselves, sans huge tarpaulins, VIP speakers, commercial donations.  We may not have given a lot, but I know we made a difference even just for a day.  I promised I will do it with her again soon.

One of my college friends T also gave me a chance to speak in front of university students [her students, pursuing the same major as ours] and speak about my life after graduation.  It made me look back and assess where I am now.  Not bad, I thought.  Not bad.  More importantly, after that visit to our mother college, it made me realize it’s important to give back.

One of the ways I gave back is by helping once again my book club to mount a fundraiser so we can assist UP students in need.  With our busy schedules, a movie screening is our tested project to generate scholarship funds.  Planning started a bit late for us so we took IRON MAN 3 off the table.  We were left with STAR TREK and FAST & FURIOUS 6; “sellability” and planning time considered, we chose the latter.  Long story short, we were able to assist six students this semester.  We’re looking at CATCHING FIRE this November to carry them through the next semester.  Let’s see. Most of you, my readers, are my ticket buyers, too.  Yes, I know!  And I’m forever grateful. Winking smile

StarStarStar

My job is still the same but I can say I’m happier now after the workspace reorganization.  Live action and constant chatter and activity did good to me.  I tried venturing out once more but was again turned down.  It’s cool, it’s fine.  I didn’t lose anything.

If anything, I even learned a lot by not moving out.  The past months had me digesting legalese after legalese, I swear I could work for the international tax division when there’s a chance.  I love the “senior” roles thrown my way, too.  So far, so good.

I also started going out with some of my foreigner-colleagues for lunch and some night-time activities.  It’s been fun.  I hope they feel the same, though I haven’t felt anything at all to make me feel otherwise.  I don’t know why I, or many of us local employees, haven’t done – or stopped doing – this.  I am learning a lot.  Sometimes I may look creepy just listening in but I like it more.  I speak when I want to.  WE’RE BUILDING BRIDGES!  [There’s a not-so private joke about this in the office complete with a funky dance move.]

StarStarStar

Tigger with open armsI started football training for my workout.  I  don’t know yet if I’m going to continue but the Saturdays when I played, I really felt energized.  Oddly, two of my vampyre disease attacks occurred during outdoor football events [February and May].  Maybe I’m made for indoor football.  Should I start learning futsal instead?

Oh, many more things happened from January to June.  That’s how fruitful it was.  They all made me very excited for the second half of the year.

What about you, what happened to you in the past six months???

Judayski’s Best of 2012 (And A Few Unfortunate Events)

The year is about to end so what better way to bookend it than a list of great, wonderful things I experienced this year.  I may have had setbacks which I took really seriously but overall, it’s a very blessed year for yours truly.

best of lifeBest Event: Turning 30.  It’s just a number, yes, but it’s a big one for me.  I threw the  imaginary blueprint I formed in my twenties and created a new one in my head.  It didn’t feel much differently, save for new emotional depths I now have (I swear, hahaha).

Best Work-Related Event: More stability within my team, compounded by the addition of a new member.  I suffered a great loss toward the end of 2011 but five months later, I knew I made the right choice, considering all aspects surrounding  the dynamics of my immediate workplace.  Ah, basta.

Most Wasted Opportunity: I wasn’t able to sustain my social media volunteer work with Visayan Forum Foundation.  I thought it’s going to be breezy and handy but it didn’t come easy.  Maybe it’s the subject matter; maybe I chose an advocacy that while very timely and worthy, isn’t necessarily my cup of tea.  Sayang.  But now I know, and I can cross it off my list.

Best Azkals/Local Football Moments:  (1) Advancing to the semi-finals of the Suzuki Cup  (2) Global FC’s UFL championship game vs. Loyola Meralco Sparks last June — oh, my emotions that night, (3)  winning the Peace Cup.

Terrible Football Moments: (1) Loss to Singapore in the semi-finals stage of Suzuki Cup.  If we were trampled early on, it would have been easier to accept.  But I know everyone did everything they can.  (2) The sexual harassment case against Angel Guirado and Lexton Moy.  Come on, I’m a woman who will fight you to the death if you offend me, but I can also see what’s overreaction when I see one.  Enough said., (3) Global FC’s loss to Stallion FC in the United Football Cup championship.

Best Outcome of Football Fangirling: My football core group.  We dearly call ourselves Fandesals, the meaning of which will be kept to ourselves. 🙂 I love the friendship we formed that transcended football (o, Rach, transcend!).  I love all the games we watched together but the better part of it is our “debriefing” sessions.  I love you all, guys.

best of futbolBest TV show discovery:  The Newsroom.  Consider this: Aaron Sorkin.  News.  I don’t need to say more.  Runners up : Suits, seasons 1 and 2.  The Walking Dead season 3, after a crapfest called season 2.

Best (and Worst!) Physical Activity I Participated In:  Merrell Trail Run on June 2, 2012.  I thought my Corregidor experience was it but no!  For this one, we braved 10 kilometers of extremely muddy, mountainous trail in  Timberland Heights.  For four freakin’ hours.  It’s like a military bootcamp.  Immediately after that, I can barely feel my lower extremities.  When I got home after the event, I slept for 14 hours straight.  But the best part? The experience with my friends.  I will do it again, if the chance presents itself.  Seriously.

Best Out of Town Trip: Bacolod, last June.  Sure, it was for football, but it was also a chance to explore that interesting city.  We had an amazing host who brought us to most of the worthy spots.  The best part was the food trip.  I think I gained the size of a toddler after that trip.  Runner Up : Baguio in March with my Mom.  We stayed inside the Embassy compound.  The fact that Baguio is my second favorite city in the Philippines is why it’s great to begin with.  No ghosts, contrary to rumors, so it’s cool.

Best It’s-Long-Overdue Action:  I had glasses fitted.  I no longer squint just to read all my correspondence!

Best Charity Work Out of Just Using My Big Mouth: Sending five scholars to UP from the proceeds of our The Avengers screening.  I just sold tickets to a movie people wanted to watch anyway.  I’m so proud of my book club, Ex Libris Philippines, for staging this project.  Next year ulit!

Best Achievement:  Successfully going through a six-month book-buying ban.  I’m so proud of myself.  I didn’t die!  However…

Tiny Bibliophile-Related Setback:  I was allowed to buy books on July 1 so between that time and this writing, I amassed 77 books already.  That number excludes the books generously given to me by my former boss, I won on giveaways, and given by friends as gifts.  I don’t know what to say.  This is my eternal love, in case you just met me today.

Worst Losses: Deaths of an uncle and an aunt who loved me dearly.  My familial setup is not your boring and conventional kind so growing up, having people who care for you genuinely is one of the best coping mechanisms. One of my bestfriends also lost her mother and as I said, this kind of loss for us is a different league of its own.  My mentor’s husband, with whom I shared the same birthday and never failed to make me remember it, also passed on.  A consolation in my heart is that I know, they are with my father now in heaven.  They can swap stories up there.

Worst Abandonment Experience: Denoy leaving for a new job over at the other compound — five kilometers away.  I know, abandonment is over the top, but what do you want me to use?  I was left behind?  Okay, that will do.  Seriously, when he left in July, I thought it’s going to be easy.  My friend got a job he actually wanted to do!  But hey, it wasn’t easy.  Imagine losing the most constant, everyday fixture in your life for five years.  It helped that I avoided going to the 2nd floor since he moved.  For a time I was at a loss, even if I know he’s just a phone call away.  It sounds corny, but even if we annoy each other most of the time, he’s like a gum under my shoe that just won’t go away.  I still miss him especially when there’s something — serious or shallow — I want to tell, a guy problem I want his opinion on…and then I’ll realize he’s not there anymore, available by 11:30 a.m.  I have other male friends but they can never replace him.  Anyway, lately, I think I have accepted it fully.

Best Full-Size Aortic Pump Moment: I have moved on from SG.  After a year.  He’s not coming back and even if he does, it’s better this way.  I never regretted the last seven years (especially since not every single day of those seven years was just about him — I had diversions, LOL).  But seriously, it’s fine now.  I know that the lines will always be open, and he constantly proved that to me, so I take comfort in that and I’m ready to face the other direction.  Time to find a new one.  Pwede na. Bigyan nyo na ako ng listahan ng pagpipilian.🙂 I have short-listed names.  Hahaha.

Super Duper Bestest Part of 2012:  I’M STILL ALIVE.  Healthy, employed, loved.  Nothing can beat that.

So, how’s your 2012?

My 2011 Corregidor Race Experience

I capped my “running” year when I crossed the 10K finish line of the Corregidor International Half-Marathon last December 10.  As I mentioned last month,  this was my last run for 2011 and I could not be more satisfied.

The 10K race was only a side event to the half-marathon. It was both challenging and fulfilling on my part; the race route was how exactly I imagined it would be: it was a challenging combo of uphills, downhills, mud-drenched forest trails, and curved roads.  It was the most exciting race route of my 2-year running career. 😉  When I crossed the finish line, I really felt so happy.  There wasn’t any feeling of discomfort nor stress which only told me I was super fine!

By the way, I intended to accompany this post with more pictures but unfortunately I lost my camera in Rizal Memorial Stadium on the afternoon of December 10, right after I came back to Manila from Corregidor. 😦

Anyway, along with my friends Aldrin and TJ, we traveled to Corregidor on a rainy Friday morning (December 9), because both of them were running 21K, so they didn’t want to travel at the wee hours of December 10, then run the half marathon right after.  We were supposed to stay in Sea Calm Inn, a last-minute addition of Sun Cruises to the accommodation options, even though it was initially disapproved by the race organizers.  I had qualms about it after reading a not-so-good blog post about it in 2010’s CIHM.  By a stroke of good luck, on Wednesday afternoon, I got a message from Lhen of Sun Cruises, asking me if we want to transfer to Corregidor Inn (the “only” hotel on the island) because someone cancelled their reservation.  We gladly took it, of course!

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One Night In Malaga

My friend Rachel and I spent a night in The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences in Makati.  We were given one of the Malaga rooms on the 7th floor, thus the blog title. 🙂

The main purpose of an overnight stay was to find a place to watch the first leg of Philippines and Kuwait’s World Cup Qualifier game which aired at 12:30 a.m., Sunday.  We decided to pay for a place where we can be cozy instead of going to a restaurant to catch the game.  That way, we can also take a well-deserved rest with more amenities than we have at home. Hahaha 🙂

We got a good deal from AsiaTravel for P4,500 a night.  It did not include breakfast though.  The amount included free wi-fi access (which was a consideration in looking for a place, and a flat screen TV, which we got as well) and use of the gym, which we didn’t use anyway.

The Malaga Studio is a 45-square foot room with one king size bed, one 32″ flat screen LCD TV, iPod dock, kitchenette, big and clean T&B, balcony, among other amenities.  Our room did not have silverwares though and we didn’t bother asking for them because, well, tinamad na kami. We also had their technician fix our wi-fi access because each occupied room is equipped with a router but ours had none.  We were getting the strong protected signal of the other rooms (the password was all the same anyway) but we insisted on getting ours.  It wasn’t as fast as, say, the one I have here at home, but it was enough for us to live-tweet and do other online stuff during our stay.

The entire building is so artsy.  There are paintings hanging on each floor and in the lobby as well, some of which are for sale.

Since the place is smack dab in the middle of the business district, we were not left wanting for food places when we got down to have dinner.  If you want to have room service or not go far, the hotel has Brasserie Boheme, a fusion restaurant which is worth a visit some other time.

We grabbed a quick dinner at ArmyNavy in Valero and went back to our room to rest, rest, and rest.  We watched the All Star basketball game of our own PBA players versus the visiting NBA stars, the Azkals documentary on ANC, then the game itself after midnight.  We slept enough and checked out at 1 pm.  Except for an inadventent  mobile phone call charge (later, we just thought it was the tech guy who called his supervisor about the router), which was discovered on time, all else was great.  I wouldn’t have second thoughts coming back anytime.  Maybe next time, I’ll try one of the suites!

The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences is located in 119 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.  For inquiries, you can call (02) 828-4774 or visit www.picassomakati.com.

 

Bohol-Cebu: Days 3 & 4

See Bohol Day 1
See Bohol Day 2

On our last day in Bohol, we woke up a little late to have breakfast.  After that, we took more pictures and checked out.  We were picked up by our ride at 10 am.  We bought pasalubong near the pier.  We bought OceanJet ferry tickets for P500 each and waited until 12:30 pm for our 2-hour trip to Cebu.

We got to sunny Cebu and rented a van for P150 to take us to Radisson Blu.  Our friend Yvonne arranged our accommodation.  We settled in, cleaned up (Finally! No more saltwater!), and headed to SM Cebu to buy more pasalubong.  We didn’t have time to see tourist spots because we’re leaving the next day.

We had dinner in Port Restaurant in Waterfront Lahug.  It has delicious buffet selections of Filipino food.  Lechon Cebu cannot be left out, of course.  Once again, we stuffed ourselves silly!

We burned what we consumed (or tried to!) by swimming in Radisson’s pool.  The deepest is only 4 feet and it has a small jacuzzi.  We did mini-laps and took more pictures (of course).  We retired by midnight.  All I remember was that I slept through an episode of Pretty Little Liars.

      

The next day, everyone except me did laps in the pool again.  We checked out early to make it to our 12:45 pm flight to Manila.  Half of us had lunch in The Tinder Box in the airport.  Flight was uneventful and frankly, we’re not ready yet to be back in rainy Manila again.

For days two and three, expenses were the following per person: P500 (OceanJet ferry fare), P30 (share in van rental), P200 (Cebu International Airport terminal fee), P500-P1000 (pasalubong, food – this is relative, of course)

Overall, it was a fun trip.  Still less expensive than my previous dual-province travels even with surprise expenses.  Can’t wait to have the next one!

 

Bohol Trip: Day 2

Day 2 in Bohol started early for us.  We were expected to be up and about way earlier but we were tired the previous day so we decided to sleep in a little longer.  We had free breakfast at 7 am and proceeded to a 45-minute boat ride to Balicasag Island.  We missed the dolphins and the boatman said it’s wavy anyway so they’re expected to stay away.

Our tour package only included the fee for the boat ride to and from the resort and snorkeling privileges for two guests.  Since we’re 5 people, and 2 begged off from snorkeling, we had to pay for one more person’s gear.  We didn’t avail the flippers though because the spot wasn’t deep (as in waist-deep) and well, we’re cheap.   

Balicasag is a good spot to see marine creatures but in my opinion, Coron is better, because it’s more colorful underwater.  But this was still a great spot, especially for first-timers.  The corals were impressive.  I am for all efforts to preserve them.  Since it’s a very shallow part of the ocean, we had cuts and scrapes from the corals and our soles weren’t spared because we didn’t have flippers, remember?  However, it’s worth all the bloody, mahapdi mess.

After the morning activities, we asked for the food to be served.  Before snorkeling, we reserved a kilo of fresh squid to be cooked three ways – adobo, calamares, and inihaw.  They were served promptly with rice for P15  a cup.  It was yummy.  It’s rare to go wrong with fresh seafoods.  Anyway, the vendors did not mention that they charge P250 as cooking fee, so you have to consider that when you mentally total your bill.

After lunch, we looked for a sari-sari store because we’re thirsty.  A few meters away from the shore, we saw a store and an elementary school.  The price of the goods were a little steep but we understood – to get those merchandise, you have to ride a boat for 45 minutes then travel 45 minutes more to get to the city, and back!

We left Balicasag a little after 12 noon.  After 30 minutes, we were in Virgin Island.  We stayed there for about 20 minutes only.  We just took pictures. 

     

We’re back in Whites & Greens early enough to enjoy the waves of its beach.  I liked it because it’s not full of seaweeds.  It has lots of pointy rocks near the shore though.  But overall, we had a grand time frolicking under the sun.  After this, we took time to fix our things, talk, and freshen up for dinner – although, “taking a bath” in saltwater did not really make a difference.

We had dinner in Kan-anan Restaurant in Dumaluan Beach Resort.  We thought we’re hungry so we ordered coma-inducing food – kangkong with bagnet (more like bagnet with kangkong!), shrimp slathered with crab fat, bangus ala pobre and grilled liempo.  We decided to walk the shore after dinner for fear of killing ourselves from heart attack.  The food was good and the price was reasonable.  Ambience was very satisfactory, too.

Today, we spent the following per pax – P130 (lunch in Balicasag, total is P650 including tip), P200 (share in extra snorkeling gear), P400 (Kan-anan gluttonish dinner).  Plus less than a hundred, give or take, from the sari-sari store drinks and junk food purchase.  

See Bohol Day 1
See Bohol-Cebu Days 3 & 4

Bohol Trip: Day 1

On July 7 to 9, I went to Bohol for the second time and for this trip I was with my friends instead of officemates.

We booked our tickets through Air Philippines’ rainy day promo last November.  I made a mistake in booking the flights as I booked our return on the same day.  My error paved the way to plan a trip to Cebu after Bohol.  More on this later.

We were left by the plane (see how we wasted both Air Phil promo fares? LOL) on the morning of July 9 because KG arrived at 9:05 am.  Our flight is at 9:40 am which required us to check in an hour before.  We pleaded to the AirPhil guy at the counter but he insisted we take the next flight available.

We scouted for one-way fares and still settled with Air Phil for P1,800.  We left at 11:50 am and got there around 12:45 pm, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.

The weather was unbelievably warm and sunny in Bohol compared to rainy Manila.  We were not allowed to take pictures by the plane because it needed to be prepped for the next flight out to Manila.  We would have wanted to take pictures with the airport’s name but the huge letters were white.  I hope they’re planning on painting over it because it’s unreadable in pictures, no matter how big.

  

We were met by Paul, our tour guide/driver.  We missed a huge chunk of the tour because of the change in itinerary but he squeezed everything he could the entire afternoon.

First stop was the real and fake Blood Compact site (real was where the ship actually docked, fake was where they placed the giant statues depicting the event; I guess it’s a territorial issue what with private land owners in the area), Baclayon cathedral and museum, man-made forest, butterfly garden, and of course, the world-class Chocolate Hills.

My friends also did the zipline.  I didn’t because I was dizzy the entire morning.  They all had fun even when they all felt the first round was scarier.  It was a kilometer in total of ziplining with a view of the forest and the river.

Last stop for the first day was the Loboc River dinner cruise.  The food selection was limited than the lunch buffet but if I were to compare it to my lunch cruise experience four years ago, I’d say this one was better.  No, not because the dishes were cooked merely minutes before the cruise nor we’re just plain starving.  For one, I rarely like breaded fish fillet but in this one, it was yummy and there’s no oily and malansa taste to it.

The lights adorning both sides of the river were simple yet attractive.  The cultural dancers were energetic and talented.  Most of them were kids and I really hope they have work permits for them because a few could only be as young as 5 years old.

    

Our dinner cruise ended after 8 pm so the driver decided to bring us to the resort to rest.  On the way to Panglao, he said he wanted us to see a famous night spot.  At first he said it was a ghost in the highway so he stopped and rolled the windows down and urged us to look.  Cowards as we were, we were shrieking for fear of seeing a ghastly creature outside.  It turned out he wanted us to look at a flock of fireflies in two tall trees by the main road!  It was magical, hihihi! Too bad we’re not as talented in playing with our point and shoot cameras.  Our shots turned out to be one dark photo with a glimmer of a half-moon.  Sayang.

We settled in Whites & Greens Beach Resort, a fairly new resort beside Dumaluan Beach Resort and Bohol Beach Club.  The amenities were satisfactory.  As usual, only saltwater is available in the bathroom.  It also has bookshelves in the restaurant which, of course, appealed to me.  There’s a small hammock, wooden beach chairs, and nipa huts by the beachfront.  It also has free wi-fi which gets a little hard to connect to.  The resort manager informed us about it, so if only for honest disclosure, it’s good.

We were tired on the first day and factor in ‘freshen me up’ times for five people sharing one room, we got to sleep past midnight.

In total, we spent the following per pax – P1,800 (one-way Air Phil ticket to Tagbilaran), P200 (terminal fee), P3,000 (accommodation for two nights and two-day tour), P350 (zipline).  Other miscellaneous expenses were for food and souvenirs.  Not bad! 

See Bohol Day 2
See Bohol-Cebu Days 3 & 4

Taipei Trip (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

This next (and last) installment will be shorter because even I thought the previous one was very lengthy!

Anyway, here it goes.

Day 2, January 17

We began the day by waking up late on purpose.  We checked out of the hotel close to 12 in the afternoon.  We left our stuff in the hotel lobby and we walked to Modern Toilet restaurant for our brunch.

Modern Toilet‘s concept is not new and we had a little discussion on whether it will be worth introducing to the Philippine market.  Anyway, the food was just ordinary and the ambience was also respectable.  We ordered their pork teriyaki on rice and it was swimming in sauce, it’s a bit hard to eat.  Their lemon chicken wings was just fine; not too ‘lemony’, more like…’dayapy’, hahaha!

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet dessert

After lunch we took a cab to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial.  I was impressed by their ‘government’ area.  I wish we could have seen more students and bureaucrats.  The concert and theater halls inside Liberty Square, near the memorial hall, were impressively huge.  Construction was ongoing in front of the memorial for a light festival, similar to the World Light Expo we had in 2007.  The memorial itself was simple and intricate, particularly the ceiling.  The actual Chiang Kai Shek image was of the Abe Lincoln-type construction.  A highlight of our visit was the changing of guards.  Tip to tourists:  go to the memorial before the top of each hour.  The changing of guards was interesting to see.

Liberty Square National Concert Hall

National Concert Hall Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

Shilin Market Fox Star Chicken

Hot Star Chicken for NT$50

After that, we took the red line of the MRT (Chiang Kai Shek Station) so we can go to Shilin Market.  Since it was only 5 pm, the stores were barely opening, including the street of the dry goods market.  Since we have an 8 pm pickup to the airport, we decided to go back after a short tour of the shops, but not without buying the famous Hot Star chicken cutlet.  For NT$50, you can buy a huge slab of crisp and juicy breaded chicken.  You will also have a choice of regular or spicy; both were already spiced with pepper/paprika, and if you request for spicy, they will sprinkle some curry powder on one side of your order.  Locals and tourists alike flock this small stall which was just in front of the Shilin Market.  One of my most memorable parts of this trip was the three of us ‘attempting’ to finish our chicken while sitting on a pedestrian bench in front of the busy Zhongzhan N. Road.

looking around Shilin Food Market Shilin Market Shilin Dry Goods Market - daytime

When we got back to Ximen, Dennis finally decided to buy an Esprit CNY shirt he had an eye on, then we proceeded to Chin May Taiwan Buffet three blocks away for dinner.  When you dine there, you simply get a plate (or a box for to-go orders) and point to whatever kind of dish you like.  You get charged for what you got.  There’s nothing extraordinary in the menu but their fish fillet was not bad.  I ordered fish fillet, pork slices with gravy, sweet and sour chicken, and a cup of rice, and paid NT$110.

caramelized fresas and tomatoes Chin May Taiwan Buffet

We finally were brought to the car that will take us to the airport at 8 pm (we arranged for it at the hotel’s reception the day before; we paid NT$1000).  We overlooked our departure time and said it was at 11 pm, thus the 8 pm pick up.  Our flight’s not until past 1 am!  Anyway, we thought we can go around the airport and kill time.  Sadly, the check-in counter of Cebu Pacific opened at 11 pm already and not one store was open when we got inside. 😦  Hungry passengers only had vending machines of beverages (only!).  The airport was also under construction so it was a little uncomfortable to roam around.  Good thing we had left-over food (donuts, chicken – from Shilin!, chips) and they got us through till boarding time.

A few minutes before boarding time, at 12:58 a.m., I announced I’m officially 29.  Dennis and Rach handed their gift which they secretly bought in Page One the day before.  Such sweet friends 🙂

Our flight took off on time and was uneventful.  We were all home by 4:30 a.m.  Overall, it was a fun trip, although it’s really short.  I am very open to coming back to explore other places.  For one,  I didn’t get to eat xiao long bao!

To Dennis and Rach, here’s to future travels with you guys!  I wish Lalaine could come next time.  Thanks for being with me when I officially marked my birthday! ❤