Friday, February 18, 2011

Little Santorini of the Philippines

In the race for improving the contents of my blog, I have decided to transfer or re-post some of my articles on my other blog which I think is already dying a natural death. So here is a few of my salvaged pieces.

Philippines, as I have already mentioned, is a country full of hidden paradise. Known for crystal clear waters and white sand beaches of Boracay, Palawan and Amanpulo, the country has again added another world class white sand beach resort in the list by the opening of a hideaway that is perfect for honeymooners who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.



Take a peek into the enchanting Marinduque. Famous for its Moriones Festival, this city comes alive during the Holy Week which usually falls between the end of March and the beginning of April. This festival is a reenactment of Christ’s journey to his crucifixion and is played using colorfully crafted masks and costumes. And amidst the musically colorful festivities is an enchantress in the embodiment of an islet which beckons all weary partakers. The islet where the hush of the wind will lull you to sleep and the cerulean waters that kiss the shores will calm your nerves. To the locals this is simply known as the Elephant Island but for the outsiders, this is the little Santorini of the Philippines.



The islet is originally owned by a business tycoon who once owned a big share of the country’s airline flag carrier until a Japanese visionary bought it from him and turned the islet into the country’s version of a little Santorini. Welcome to The Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa. The resort is a 45 minute drive from the airport which cruises along the coastal road of three municipalities of Marinduque. The drive will give you captivating glimpses of the shore with gentle waves that curl with the wind. A local airline, Zest Air services the province, one flight on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. When planning to give yourself a major pampering make sure to book with the hotel before going there in order for the hotel crew to pick you up from the airport since transportation going to the wharf is quite challenging. Upon arrival at the wharf, you will be taken to the island via a 10 minute pump boat ride.



What makes Bellarocca outstanding is their service oriented personnel. The crew will welcome you by singing local songs while they hang lei around your neck. Guests will then be ushered inside their reception area with refreshments and hot towel to freshen up from the long drive. While enjoying your drink, the manager will welcome you to the Greek-themed resort while some personnel will check your reservations. After a few minutes, a golf cart will take you to the main hotel where you will be checked-in. The Suite Room lives up to the name it was given. The huge bedroom is equipped with a plush king size bed loaded with tons of pillows that felt like clouds. The small living room area is also complete with all kinds of magazine if you don’t feel like surfing the cable channels. Also, the hotel made it sure that despite the distance away from the city you can still connect online with the provision of an internet service. The bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub is big enough to accommodate 2 people is complete with the finest toiletries made from organic materials.



Villas are also scattered within the resort for those who prefer outmost seclusion. These villas will be provided with their own golf carts. Guests who will be staying in the hotel also have their own golf cart and driver upon request without any charge. The hotel opened at the early part of 2009, it has massage parlors that are located at the top of the resort where you can enjoy the view while being pampered with your choice of massage style. An infinity pool is located near the water sports shop. The pool has a sunken bar which serves any drink you’d like to enjoy while soaking in the water. The resort is also equipped with water sport paraphernalia if you are into water activities. A little tip though, snorkeling is not as enjoyable as one would expect. The water is full of little jelly fish that stings really badly. But if you are up to the challenge soaking at the infinity pool for 30 minutes will cure the itch. Water sport rates starts from Php 600 and up. Breakfast can be served in your room or at the terrace that overlooks the Mt. Malindig. Romantic meals can be set up upon request. The resort has many romantic spots that overlook the water and enjoy the twinkling lights of the fisherman at night. The chef is always available to explain the specialty of the house and recommend good eats listed in the menu. The menu rates ranges from Php 200 and up.




And if you think you have eaten all the sinfully delicious food and think of shedding some unwanted weights, the resort has also an indoor gym. For more relaxation session, a library, a coffee shop and a pool table is also available.




A week in this beautiful island is not enough, but alas, time and money can easily fly away in this place. However, it is worth all the money you paid for. The warm accommodation, the romantic ambiance and the moments you spend with your love one will truly make one unforgettable getaway.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's in Abu Dhabi Under AED 50

A few days before the V day, every flower shop is buzzing with so much redness. I don't think I could get used to seeing red in basically everything. Red stuff toy, red pillows, red balloons, red slippers, red robe - and I'm pretty sure there's more red stuff inside the shop. It could get too overwhelming. And so I was thinking, all the best restaurants here in Abu Dhabi are probably teeming with starry-eyed couples and credit cards are already too hot to be swiped. But that's the thing about this whole red letter day people often lose their mind spending everything they have for one day of bonding with a love one. (Please excuse my being a sore, I don't mean to be the Grinch of Valetine's Day. Anyhoo, there are still ways to celebrate the day without spending too much hard earned Dirhams in the city of Abu Dhabi.

1. Take out dinner. When I say take out, it doesn't have to be from the restaurant and in your flat. Pick the restaurant you really want to try, order some take out and set up a romantic dinner at your terrace, or the top of your building (if its clean). Scented candles are a hit here you can buy scented candles at the old Abu Dhabi Coop near Electra St. for AED 2. Exotic little shops where most food costs only from AED 15 - to AED 25.

2. Share a Sundae. Despite the cold temperature here especially at night, still it would be interesting to share a Sundae. Baskin-Robbins shops are everywhere. Make your own Sundae for as low as AED 30. So bundle up and heap those ice cream sundae of your choice.


3. Stroll along the Corniche. From Hamdan to Corniche you just take Bus No. 5 and you are on your way to romantic spot of the city and it only costs AED 1. Although its still cold in that area, sharing a seat with your lovey-dovey eases up the temp and hopefully warm you up. Enjoy the night lights while it reflects on the water.

4. Share a Grande. If you can share a sundae why not a grande right? Coffee shops are scattered here everywhere. Starbucks coffee will not cost you more than your day's allowance. Pick any coffee and share it with your loved one. Top it of with a big dollop of cream to make it extra special. Or you can also try Turkish coffee if you are a heavy caffeine taker.


5. Shisha Trip. Most coffee shops and small shops everywhere in Abu Dhabi have shisha or hookah. With just AED 10, you can inhale away the night. Shisha and a little chitchat makes a good Valentine date already. :)


6. Home Spa. After a day's work, anyone would welcome a foot rub or shoulder massage with jazz music in the background. Turn down the lights, spice up the mood with music and candles, buy those massage lotions at any supermarket. I found a packet that only costs AED 5.50. This one is for foot massages with cooling effect. Let him or her sit down ask them about their day then rub away!

7. Movie marathon. I know you'd say movies are expensive, you don't really have to go to a cinema to watch movies right? Try renting. Or try buying DVD's. Most DVD's cost AED 35 in Carrefour and Virgin Records. There are some which is on sale which only costs around AED 25 or less. Cook your own movie goodies like nuts, popcorns and a bag og M&M's and a liter of soda and you're good to go.  Nachos and dips are even available on the groceries.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the love day. You just need to be creative and make the most out of the place where you are currently located. Or you can just forget all about it and work till you drop. Valentine's day is not even a holiday so why make a fuss right? Well, fine, I'll shut up killjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

White Sand Paradise in the South

The countdown for the red letter day is still ticking, but I have to say, I'll save my Valentine thoughts for later. Right now, I'm heading straight to sunny Philippines since its almost summer there now in this part of the world. Well, I think it's almost summer despite the frequent rains that sprinkles the city. Summer in the Philippines starts on March right after classes close out. So vacation plans are in order. This is where the picture of white sand beaches of Davao comes in.

Summer vacation always equal to white sand beaches, and Philippines has lots of white sand beaches to choose from. Top in the list is the infamous Boracay. But, for some who wants to unwind on the beach without the wild nightlife, but simply the natural feel of the beach, they go somewhere else, like Davao.



Davao is famous for its white sand beaches too, although not as white as Boracay's still its white sand. Okay, not really white, just dirty white? Brownish white? Oh well.



Pearl Farm Beach Resort: This is the ultimate beach paradise in Davao. This must-visit resort in the South, is frequented by local and foreign tourists. A 45 minute boat ride from the wharf, the resort is set on an island where you will experience a world class accommodation of pampering and eating. For those who prefer to stay in the city, a day tour package is also available. Buffet lunch is served with the package, however, if your reservation falls on a day where only a few guests are listed, food is usually plated instead of the buffet type. Better booked your getaway on a weekend to ensure those seafood buffet.

Chemas: This resort is famous for its infinite pool. It gained popularity like 4 or 5 years ago. Tourists frequent this place because it has the perfect for family outing, wedding or simply a romantic overnight stay.

Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort: This is one of the first white beaches that opened in Samal which has a great facility to all beach goers and continues to improve. The beach is just 10-15 minutes boat ride from Davao. Its port is near the old Airport site. The boat ride costs Php 15 each but you have to wait until there are 10 passengers before the boat leaves. However, if you think you can't wait that long, you can pay extra Php 50 pesos so the boat will leave even if there are just two passengers. The entrance fee is Php 145 or more for adults and Php 85 for kids. Free amenities include a lounge chair and some tables and chairs. Other activity equipment will have to rent from their office within the resort. Overnight stay accommodations are also available.

Costa Marina: When Paradise Island became a hit to the beach lover public, it was already too stuffy for my anti-social family (I know the harsh description, to put it simply, we just don't like big crowds). So we shifted to the adjacent resort, Costa Marina. We usually go here to have a peaceful breakfast on a holiday. The boat ride starts at 6:00 a.m. same port with Paradise Island and same cost. Charter boat as I've known is already Php 100. You can order from their listed menu for breakfast and lunch.

Isla Reta: If you like more white sand beaches Isla Reta is another resort but quite far. The boat ride would take almost an hour to get there. The boat is at the Sta. Ana wharf. When you enter the Sta. Ana wharf, you turn left, rows and rows of bangka or small boats that will charter passengers to any resort or municipality of Samal. The resort's boat can be found with a big name of the resort painted on it. The last time I went there, the boat ride fee was Php 60 per head. Also, when you are just staying at the resort for the day, the boat that goes back to the city leaves at 4 p.m. no more no less. Otherwise, you take a really, really small boat to take you to Samal island, and from Samal you take the habal-habal or a motorcycle that carries 3-4 passengers where you will be taken to the public port for baots going to the city. Since this is a public port, the fee is just Php 5.00 That is adventure I might say.

Bali Bali: I haven't been here but my cousin did. He has no good word for the resort because, as he said, they were not accommodated very well by the staff. Although they went there for a day tour only, those who have overnight reservations were given more attention. I guess, its up to you guys to be the judge of this resort.

Hof Gorei: This resort is a 45 minute boat ride from Sta. Ana wharf. The same wharf going to Isla Reta. The resort is a small hideaway tucked at the back of the Samal island. Enjoy late lunch with a superb line up of international cuisine. Meal rates ranges from Php 150 to Php 200. At night enjoy the barbecue buffet at Php 400 per head. Downside though, the resort don't have its own boat dock way back in 2008.

Bluejaz: My niece and nephew love to frequent this resort. Aside from the beach and the pool, the resort has slides where they can play around till they are overly tanned. The entrance fee cost Php 90 per head. inclusive of use of the slides and the open cottages. The resort is 15 minutes boat ride from the city. It's wharf is located at Beachside resort in Lanang. A Jolibee restaurant serves as a landmark.

Cannibad Resort: This resort is often one of the stops if you are planning to have a island hopping package. This resort is semi-developed. A few cottages are put up for guests who will be staying overnight. Warning though, no electricity is available in the area. This is because it is located farther back of the Samal Island. The cottage costs around Php 200. Camping would be good too. If you are planning to go here, better be prepare for a camping trip. You have to cook your own food too. Going here is quite a challenge. You have to have your own car or you rent a "multicab" to charter you there. From Samal poblacion the trip would take almost an hour or so.

So if you like to have your adventure plus a very good tan, jump into the next ferry going to Samal, it is full of white sand beach resorts and you'll have plenty of stories to tell after a day or two.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cold Coffee and My Sweet Tooth

After a sumptuous meal in the city, next to hunt is the best hangout place where you can have your night cap while digesting your dinner and a little lick of sweet indulgences. Since coffee shops are everywhere in Davao city, you can have a pick whatever your mood may be. Here are some of the coffee shops and cake shops that could help escalate your calorie intake for just one night.



Lachi's
This shop started as a small stall under the Values Education school in Marfori. They are famous for their Sans Rival. This pure sugar and butter dessert have elevated in the dessert status, aside from being the after meal partner, this has been given as gifts as well. As the little shop extended, their menu have also grown. Desserts that you should try is their White Chocolate Macadamia Bar (mouthful but its definitely a good bar), Mudpie (despite the name it is way way too delicious to be considered as muddy), chocolate symphony, carrot cake and their cheesecakes. Sans Rival small size costs Php 300. The slices ranges from Php 45 to Php 60. Also, try their Unforgettable Pot Roast and Melt-in-your-mouth Spare Ribs.

Mini Cakes
A few steps away from Lachi's is mini cakes. This cake shop is famous for their - what else? - mini cakes! They have this cupcakes that are so good. Strawberry shortcake, blueberry short cake, Boston Cream mini cake, the list could go on. A must try in their shop is their mini Apple Crumble. This little cake delights can also be packed and given as gifts. Prices ranges from Php 50 and up.

Sugar Munch
Still in the same area - particularly same road but different building is the Sugar Munch. Sugar Munch also features mini sizes of their cakes. They are famous for their Chocolate Mouse cake and Banoffee Pie. Their mini cakes cost ranges from Php 80 to Php130. This mini cakes and actual size cakes are perfect for gifts.

Margie's
Not so far from these heavenly area is Margie's. Just a few years old in the city, Margie's cakes are already gaining popularity. They sell cakes and cookies. Must try is their Chocolate Monster cake. Their Praline cakes should also be in your list. The shop is located at corner Torrest St. and C.M. Recto St.

Tiny Kitchen
A homey bakeshop that sells foccacia, tiny kitchen had been flocked by bulk buyers on Christmas. Their boxed goodies are given away as Christmas gifts. Among their must try is their flavored sans rival. The bakery is located along Torres St.,

Bistro
Still in Torres St., not far from Tiny Kitchen is the old timer Bistro. Bistro cakes are the best, in my own opinion, cake in the city. Well, of course my wedding cake supplier is still no. 1 in my heart. Their birthday cakes ranges from Php 600 to Php 1000. Depending on the design and size. Their chiffon has just the right air and the butter filling complements the chiffon cake. Even the icing makes you forget its all sugar. Another best seller for this shop is their charlotte cakes. The blueberry charlotte that I think is not actually a cake, but it definitely looks like one just melts in your mouth. They also offer other flavors of Charlotte cakes in case they ran out of blueberry which is usually before 7 pm. Charlotte cake cost Php 400 and below.

Blugre
Enough with the pastries, we move now to its partner - coffee! Blugre is the pioneering coffeeshop in the city. Its best seller is the Durian flavored coffee. You can have the Durian Latte, Durian Capuccino or the Iced Durian Coffee. Durian in any coffee mix. They also have goodies that would perfectly go well with their concocted caffeinated drinks. Coffee costs ranges from Php 90 to Php 200.

Kopi Roti
Located at Jacinto Ext., this franchise shop serves the best kopi bun I have ever tasted. I've been to Singapore and back Kopi Roti beats them all. Kopi bun costs Php 80 per piece. They also serve kopi and kaya toast. Must try is their home made iced tea. Smack! Smack!

Kasagingan
This coffee shop used to be along Torres St., with the interiors decorated like a "kasagingan" which means banana plantation in vernacular. Among the feature os this shop is their coffee made from organic ingredients and their banana. Their desserts or coffee partners are all made of banana. Must try is their maruya and turon. The shop has moved to C5 building in Roxas Ave., near Ateneo de Davao University.

Kangaroo
Just within the buzzing night life area in the city is Kangaroo coffee shop. It has the Australian theme thus the name Kangaroo. Like all coffee shops in the city, it should have something else to offer other than the usual cafe latte or cappuccino or whatever you want to have in your usual caffeine fix be. And that is their civet coffee. If I remember correctly, their civet coffee costs Php 300 per cup. Besides the expensive cost of this coffee, I don't think I'd like to try it though, knowing that this coffee bean is basically the Civet Cat's poop. Anyway, its clean because that is what they only eat.

These are jsut a few of the must stops and must haves in Davao City.  Maybe next time I'll update you with what the city added in the MUST-list.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spoon it out in Davao

Good food and good ambiance makes up a good Saturday night out. But good eats is not limited to the weekend only. Whatever day of the week deserves a visit to Davao's restaurants and coffee shops. Here's the rundown:

Chinese Restaurants:

Davao Famous
Location: R. Magsaysay Ave.,
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :) :)
IMOP: This is the oldest Chinese restaurant in the city. It serves the best Sateme Pancit. Downside the place needs a little renovation and a lot of housekeeping.

 
Dencia's
Location: Gen. Luna St.
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :)
IMOP: Started out just like Davao Famous but it evolved and moved to a better location to accommodate a better building and ambiance. The food as always is great best tokwa't baboy in town. Downside: your order may take some time to graze your table. Better not be soooo hungry when going to this place or call in advance so you don't have to wait that long.

Lotus Court
Location: 2nd floor Marco Polo Hotel, J.P. Laurel Ave.,
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :)
IMOP: I don't have anything to say but visit it when you're in Davao!

Dimsum Diner
Location: Guerero St.; Ilustre St., Gaisano Mall,
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :) :)
IMOP: This is the happiest place on earth! This is the pseudo fast food of Chinese food. My family frequents the place every Sunday or during rainy days. Try their salt and pepper riblets, chopsuey and their yang chow fried rice. Worth every penny!

Mandarin
Location: Guerero St., Gaisano Mall, NCCC Mall
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :) :)
IMOP: Dimsum's competition for fast service and good quality Chinese food. They have almost the same menu as that of Dimsum, the difference is its more affordable. Plus, when you order rice toppings you can choose plain rice or fried rice.

Emerald
Location: Victoria Plaza Parking Compound
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :)
IMOP: Though this place serves very expensive menu still a lot people flock the place. They have exclusive rooms if you want to have a cozy area for 20 or 50 heads. They also serve set menu for as low as Php 3,000.00 Try their fried pigeon for a change.

Sen Ton Wahn
Location: Victoria Plaza Parking Compound
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :)
IMOP: Their set menu and their prices is just similar with Emerald. Not much I could tell. Their fried pigeon tastes the same.

Ahfat
Location: Victoria Plaza Parking Compound
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This has got to be a must visit when you are in Davao City. The food is absolutely lip-smacking! Everything on their menu is a mus try. I love their spicy pork chop, garlic chicken, fried noodles and bird's nest soup. The place is full everyday of the week. Try calling in advance for reservation.

For the Bottomless Pit Eaters:

Chippens
Location: Roxas Avenue near Ateneo de Davao University
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This is where we usually go if something special happened to one of the family members or when we feel like celebrating little things. The buffet costs Php 328 per head inclusive of one drink. The menu changes everyday, but their specialty and will always be on the buffet table are lumpia ubod, lumpia shanghai, chocolate cake, crema de fruta and buko pandan. Noodles would also be present. You can also order out their lumpia ubod and lumpia shanghai for Php 7 pesos each. They also sell frozen one so you can have your lumpia supply at home.

Nanay Bebeng
Location: Marfori Heights, along the road going to Values Education school
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :)
IMOP: This place used to rock the buffet world in the city. Unfortunately, it sort of went down the popularity scale. I don't actually know what happened, but I think because their menu is no longer that appealing. Most of the time, they serve vegetable viands, and only one for pork and one for chicken and one for beef. Not much variety. Although, my all time favorite is their crispy kangkong. I love the sound of the crunchy fried water spinach dipped into mayo. Buffet costs Php 248.00 per head. Open lunch and dinner.

Buffet Palace
Location: Matina
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: They serve very good siomai. That's what I remember most of this place. Most of their menu is seafood so I didn't enjoy it much. If you love seafood you'd like to eat out here. Buffet costs Php 230.00 per head. Open for lunch and dinner.

Entree
Location: Ground Floor of Apo View Hotel
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :)
IMOP: This is the hardcore of every buffet eaters. This elegant place is perfect for intimate dinners and family gatherings. We visit this place whenever there is a uber important occasion or uber important visitor. Buffet costs Php 780.00, I know it's kind of too much for Davao price but I tell you its worth it. I particularly like their pasta corner, a chef is always on standby to make your own pasta. You can choose the kind of pasta, sauce and the toppings you'd like to include. Their appetizers are also to check out because they always feature different kinds of cheese.

Cafe Marco
Located: 2nd Floor of Marco Polo Hotel
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :)
IMOP: If we are feeling very extravagant on a particular occasion, we head to Cafe Marco. The buffet here is something you should prepare yourself, because it offers a wide variety of food you could think of. They have Japanese, Pasta corner (same as Entree, but I still love Entree's), They have the breakfast menu. You can order omelet with whatever topping you like. Their desserts are to die for. I love their bread pudding. Tastes like heaven that melts in your tongue. Truly their dessert is something you would just like to look at and you'd feel guilty if you'll take a bite. Buffet costs Php 890.00 per head inclusive of drink.

Let's Crab Eat
Location: Torres St.,
My Tummy Says: :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: Honestly, I haven't tried out this restaurant yet and I have no plans of checking it out in the near future. I'm asthmatic, so shoot me! But a few friends said, the eat is great. So if you love crabs - then you better CRAB EAT now!

Greenhills
Location: Corner Gen. Luna St.,
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: If you are out of cash but still wants to have a heavy load, Greenhills is the place. Most of the menu are vegetables and some meat. The buffet costs Php 99.00 per head. That was the last time I went there, about a year ago. The food was okay and the money you pay is not so heavy on your wallet.

Stadium
Location: Matina, near Ateneo Grade School
My Tummy Says: :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: When my brother and I decided to check out the new buffet place in the city, we head out to Stadium. The place is quite far from our house, but still we went there just to have a go on their menu. However, when we got there, what we saw was not that appetizing. True, the cost is cheap Php 125 per head, but its not worth the money we will be paying, thus we didn't had our lunch there.

Apung Kula
Location: Bajada and Ynigo St., (in front of UP Mindanao Graduate School)
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :)
IMOP: This is where my classmates and I usually have our lunch during graduate school days. The buffet costs Php 99.00 per head. They serve mostly seafood and some chicken and pork. Basic vegetables and noodles are on the menu. Good pay and good eats.

Smoking Grilles

Gerry's Grill
Location: Gaisano Mall
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This is a hangout place for the beer drinkers, order anything from sizzling plates to grilled meat. Perfect for hanging out with friends.

Penong's
Location: Near Central High School, Sta. Ana St.,
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: If you are part of the group who can gulp down multiple cups of rice for a just a small amount of viand that goes with it, this is the place. Penong's offer unlimited rice for one meal order. Most of their order consists of barbecued meat. Price ranges from Php 50 to Php 80. All these meals are entitled with unlimited servings of rice.

Dencio's
Location: Bonifacio St.,
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This is one of the pioneering restaurants that features barbecued pork and chicken. They have this "pares-pares" Where two types of barbecue per meal. They also serve grilled seafood. Price ranges from Php 80 to Php 130 per meal. The includes soup and one glass of soda.

Ranchero's Grill
Location: Arellano St.
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: The place is a bit fancier than Dencios' and Penong's but basically is serves the same menu. They are famous for their pinakbet. Price range ala carte is Php 100 to Php 250.

Jack's Ridge
Location: Shrine Hill Matina
My tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: Still serving grilled goodies, what really makes up for the food is their location. Jack's Ridge has the overlooking view of the city. So you can enjoy a romantic view of the city while enjoying their food. Try their liempo. They also have a coffee shop where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of dessert.

Seafood

Luz Kinilaw
Location: Boulevard
Their Tummy Says: :) :)
Their Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: I haven't been here because, again, I am not a seafood fan. But this is where most visitors of Davao are brought to enjoy fresh seafood. Downside though, the place is kind of old and needs major renovation.

Marina Tuna
Location: Pampanga, along the road going to Old Airport
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This is the the alternative for the seafood lovers who prefer air-conditioned restaurant. This place is best known for its grilled Tuna belly. Must try. They also serve lugaw (congee) with tuna flakes for breakfast. Currently the restaurant is undergoing renovation and expansion to accommodate the growing seafood lovers that flock the restaurant.

Yellow Fin
Location: Ecoland Road
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :)
IMOP: One night we decided to check this restaurant. The place is well known to be the hangout place of Davao's famous mayor Rodrigo Duterte. You would need to call the restaurant for reservation. It could get a bit crowded when you get there by 8 pm. The price ranges from Php 100 and up. They are famous for their grease-less fried chicken and adobong tuna buntot (tail). There 5 of us who dined there and it only

Molto Italiano!

Picobello
Location: 5th Floor Gaisano Citimall, Ilustre
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :) :)
IMOP: This simple but elegant little restaurant at the top of the Gaisano Citimall in Ilustre is quite a charmer. The cozy ambiance is perfect for dinner dates. You have a good view of the city, albeit its dirty rooftops, the lights at night makes up a romantic flair. Owned by an Italian Chef, they offer very good pizza and pasta which is very affordable. During idle time in the after from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. they serve buy one take one pizza. Pizzas cost around Php185 to Php 240. But if you think its too early for dinner, you can order your pizza around 5:30 and request it around 6 pm so it still fall under the buy one take one promo. Pizzas bought under this promo are not for take outs.

Calda Pizza
Location: Gaisan Mall Davao and Matina Town Square
My tummy Says: :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :)
IMOP: I have just recently tested their pizza and I must say, despite the long wait it was pretty decent. The taste was good. The oven baked dough was perfect. The topping was not really that unforgettable but it was already worth the pay. They have sizes from small to super large which could feed at least 20 hungry men. The price range is from Php 180 to Php 250 for large pizzas. Super large can cost from Php 990 to Php 2000 depending on its toppings.

Mama Maria's
Location: C.M. Recto, near D'Leanor Hotel
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: The pizza was good, but was not as I expected it to be. But then again, it was ok for a light dinner. Their carbonara was creamy and one seving is not enough for just my brother. They also sell, big pizza where you can share with 5-8 buddies. Price range from Php 200 and up.

La Toscana
Location: Quirino Ave. walking distance from Davao Doctors Hospital
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: This cozy little restaurant, is not so famous with the motorists, maybe because it is not that visible. If my sources are right, the owner of this little place is also a friend of the Italian priest who manages the city's Boy's Town. This is a home for boys who were abandoned or were found along the streets of the city with no families. The boy's town is famous for its brick baked Italian Pizza. They only sell it during Sundays. But for those who does not know where the Boy's Town is, similar pizza is sold in La Toscana. They also sell superb spaghetti alla puttanesca and ravioli. Price ranges from Php 180 and up. Open for lunch and dinner, no in between. :)

Just About Anything

Majid's
Location: Rizal Street
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :) :) :)
IMOP: If you are looking for something exotic in this city Majid's is highly recommended. I first discovered this small place near our graduate school in Ynigo Street. A classmate of mine brought me here, and told me to try their biryani chicken. A quarter slice of chicken, with dip, a small salad and a rice with vegetables. The meal costs around Php 85.00. It was a good meal, the chicken was tender and the meat is really really tasty. I also like their yogurt. Unlike most yogurt sold in the grocery which is too sweet for my liking, this yogurt is sour and perfectly complemented by a dash of salt. Also try their kababs with their house sauce.

Cecille's
Location: Ynigo Street, near UP Mindanao Graduate School
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :)
IMOP: Another after school favorite is Cecille's. A few steps away from UP Mind - Grad School, this little shop is one of the oldest shops in the city. It sells the best chocolate eclair at Php 20 a piece. They also have the best palabok or luglug whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately, this luglug is very expensive per plate. One order costs Php 60 pesos. But if you are craving for some, you wouldn't mind to pay extra cash for an appetizing meal.

Bigby's
Location: Jacinto Ext., near Assumption church and SM Mall Davao
My Tummy Says: :) :) :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: When you are on a date to impress or just mild chatting with a very good friend, visit Bigby's. The ambiance of the restaurant is that of a traveler. Souvenirs from all around the world are displayed on walls. The effect is just cozy and friendly. Must try's in their menu are the chix ahoy - sizzling chicken steak smothered with rich gravy. Also, their club sandwiches and soups. Price ranges from Php 180 and up.

Yahong
Location: Torrest St., near Davao Convention Center
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: From the ilonggo term Yahng meaning an deep serving dish, Yahong features ilonggo food. They are famous for their crispy tuna buntot. It is often offered as a must try in their restaurant, as well as their "apan-apan" or adobong kangkong with alamang. It is really good, but very bad for my allergies. Price ranges from Php 150 and up.

Swiss Deli
Location: Damosa, Lanang
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: I love going to Swiss Deli since it was just a walking distance from where I used to work. They sell cheap ciabatta and muffins. This little shop sells, all kinds of imported goods that are used for gourmet cooking. They have a wide array of cheese you can choose from. They have a big selection for wines too. The shop also feature's Davao's Cheese Maker Olive Puentespina's products. Must try in their menu is their sausages and ostrich steaks. Their mashed potatoes are so creamy they even provide extra gravy for your mash. Price ranges from Php 150 and up. Ostrich steaks costs around Php 280 to Php 300.

Papa Ching's
Location: Lacson St., Bo. Obrero
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: Among the residential area of Obrero, this house converted to a restaurant boasts of its own grease-less chicken. One order of their grease-less chicken consists of one half slice of chicken seasoned and fried to perfection, a cup or rice and a small side dish. This meal costs Php 200. They have two types of chicken, the original flavor and the spicy one. I highly recommend the spicy flavored chicken. Other than the chicken, they also serve other soups and noodles. But with a half slice? I don't think you'd want to order more.

Buona Terra
Location: Torres St., near Holiday Gym and Spa
My Tummy Says: :) :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :)
IMOP: This restaurant only opens on lunch and dinner. Lunch time starts at 11 am to 2 pm. Dinner at 6 pm and onwards. Their honeycombed pasta and crepes. Price ranges from Php 180 and up.

Gardena Fresca
Location: Morales Subdivision
My Tummy Says: :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: For those who want to hide from the prying eyes of public, this is your spot. Tuck inside the Morales Subdivision, this open air restaurant, provides the ambiance of being hidden. the entrance has this willow tree looking with its vines basically curtains the entrance. Torch lights and candles are scattered everywhere to give that romantic mood. They serve grilled food. Must try their grilled spare ribs.

Rai Rai Ken
Location: 4th Floor Gaisano Mall and 2nd floor SM Mall Davao, Robinsons
My Tummy Says: :0 :) :)
My Wallet Says: :) :) :)
IMOP: I have been wanting to try this noodle shop for quite sometime. And recently I have that opportunity, this Japanese retaurant, has fast service despite that a few of their staff are available. I ordered Noodle and the Terriyake Chicken Rice. Plus Gyoza, which I absolutely love. I love the soft and dry feeling of the wrapper with its soy dipping. Perfect, I'd go there again and order the same thing. Price ranges from Php 100 to Php 300.

Davao the Hideaway of the South

For most people, Davao may appear to be the exotic getaway of the southern part of the Philippines. Or Davao may be the melting pot of cheap but absolutely good fruits and vegetables. But for me, Davao is simply home.

My hometown is not the sleepy kind where everything moves in a languid motion and its not also a fuzzy buzzing city, it has its own movement of beat that most visitors love to inhibit when they leave the city. The Davao beat is simply unique like the city itself.

Let me tell you more about my home. Davao is the biggest city in the Philippines in terms of land area. It boasts of a buzzing city surrounded by lush greenery and white sand beaches. Davao is the home of the Philippine's National Bird - the Monkey-Eating Eagle. These beautiful birds can only be found at their natural habitat at the foot of Mt. Apo the highest mountain in the Philippines. This is what I am particularly proud of, our city holds a lot of 'est' after each adjective. Friendliest City. Cleanest water. Cheapest city to live in. The list could go on.

A quick tour. If I have some guests, coming over I usually take them to these spots and do touristy activities. And I try to fill the day with activities to make their visit worth the plane ticket.

Food Trip:

If my guests are particular eaters, plenty of restaurants and bars are scattered in the city to hang out. Buffet restaurants are a big hit in the city because unlike Metro Manila the price range here are affordable. There are buffets for formal occasion and semi formal occasion. Price ranges from Php 300 to Php 1000. All of which are good eats. You don't have to look for hotels to find good buffet eating, because from breakfast, to lunch and dinner the city can plate in all in for all heavy eaters. The list of restaurants with my reviews is on the next page.

Nature Tripping:

Another good thing about Davao is that typhoon can not enter the city. Unlike the rest of the country, the city only gets wet during heavy rains, but that's all. Lucky though because we don't have to worry about flash floods and other tragedies that go with typhoons. So since its typhoon free, the vegetation is in tact. For guests who are a big fan of nature and finding relaxation in its environs visit Eden Nature Park, Malagos Garden Resort and Seagull Mountain Resort.

Eden Nature Park is located in Bayabas, Toril. It is an hour drive from the city proper. You would need your own car to drive there. Or you can opt to renting a van if you are going there as a group. Some even contract taxi cabs for the trip. Most of the traxi cabs in the city are willing to strike a deal with any passengers who want to visit the place. Eden is quite far, so taxi cabs don't frequent the place to pick up passengers. Enjoy the beautiful view of Eden and the fresh breeze while staying overnight at their cabins. Plenty of activities for the whole family. Take a 45-minute tour in their resort for only Php175. Horse back riding, zipline and swimming are among their offered facilities. Cabins and cottages vary to accommodate the number of people and suit anyone's budget. Buffet lunch is also serve both for the overnight guests and daytime guests.  For the health consciou, their buffet food is prepared using organic vegetables from their garden.



The Malagos Garden resort is somewhat similar to Eden except that the temperature here is similar with the temp of the city. Eden is located on a higher elevation. Malagos is also an hour drive from the city proper, however this is more accessible. Tricycles passed by along the road. The resort is also near the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary. If you feel like taking a forest adventure visit the sanctuary which is 15-20 minutes drive from the resort. The resort also has cottages and 2 restaurants to keep you relax and well fed while staying there. On Sundays, they have bird show which is very informative and perfect for kids. They also have pools where you can frolic while the sun is up and about.



Last mountain or nature theme resort in Davao is the Seagull Mountain Resort. Now this resort is way far from the city. The drive could stretch into two hours depending on your speed. But basically, it is more than an hour drive. This resort also has cottages for overnight guests. A beautiful falls is located at the heart of the area. The walk going there would be a bit tedious but its worth the walk. This resort is already at the boundary of Davao and Bukidnon or known to the locals as Buda. The climate here is more colder than the two previous resort I have mentioned. Again, you would need your own car to visit this place. Or you can take the bus going to Cagayan de Oro. Just tell the driver to drop off at Seagull resort or you get off on the first stop and take a short motorcycle ride going to the resort.


Beach Bodies:

If you are those travelers who like to constantly refresh their tan, Davao city can still cater to that need. A few minutes of boat ride and you are already whisk away to another hideaway. The Samal island is home to the perfect getaway for families and honeymooners. Resorts may vary depending to your budget and needs. I'll make another list on another page for all the resorts and how to get there. But for some who prefer to be under the water than being above the water, many diving shops are also available if you want to check out the natural undersea view. The Carabao diving shop offers diving class, diving session and even island hopping so you can check all the beautiful spots in the island in one day.


Adventure Seekers:

For the thrill seekers, ziplines are almost everywhere here in the city. The first zipline is 2 hours away from the city in the province of Davao del Sur. Camp Sabros is the first park/resort (I'm not entirely sure what the place is really about) that has zipline. If you like the idea of flying with the feeling of being hanged this is your place. Outland Adventure is also an outdoor activity resort. Perfect for team building activities. Trekking is also part of the package. Another new activity being featured in Samal is the All-terrain Vehicle adventure. Though I still have to inquire about the whole package but I'm sure it is already gaining popularity in the city. The shop is located in Bajada, right in front of the Main MM Marble Building.

Night life or Nightcap:

When the sun sets, the party still continues in the city. If you belong to the nocturnal crowd, the city can still offer you a refuge. A famous area is the Torres St., strip. This street is lined with bars and restaurants that could cater to everything you need from ice cold beers of Bakbak, a spa massage at K1 and night cap at Blugre which features Davao's exotic fruit Durian and blending into a steaming and delicious coffee or latte. Another area where nightlife is blazing with fun is the Rizal Promenade and Matina Town Square in Matina.

Alas, the day is through. 24 hours is not enough to have a fill of the Davao beat. You need a week or a lifetime to fully understand and inhale the lifestyle of the Dabawenyos, but if you vacation leave only allows you a week, well, before that week is over might as well, schedule another one. The city will always welcome you just make sure to leave the cigarette butt on its proper place.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Buying Groceries in Singapore

Part of the daily activity when living in Singapore is buying groceries. Now, groceries are basically everywhere. Grocery stalls are available everywhere specially near HDB's to cater the needs of every household. They sell basic needs for cooking, cleaning the house and washing the clothes. But if you are a particular buyer of groceries there are big names you should try and visit. And believe me, they are worth the visit.


When I was still living in the Tampines area, I did my grocery shopping at Fairprice of Tampines Mall. One because their prices are cheaper by S$1 compared to the small grocery near the HDB I'm staying at. Two because its the nearest grocery store when I alight from the Tampines MRT before taking the bus going to the HDB where my rented room is located. One time, my housemates and I went to this Fairprice supermarket located in Hougang area. It was a big branch and there's a bigger wet market where it sells chicken, pork, beef and seafoods. It is open for 24 hours, I think. The last time I checked it was. But then I have to move house and change grocery store.

My second and last home in Singapore was in Sengkang. There are three grocery stores I frequented depends on my mood. One is the nearest to our HDB, just right across our building. I don't know its name, but its part of the compound where small stalls are selling merchandises that are needed for a house. A kopitiam is also in that compound. The grocery is only good for quick buys that you forgot to buy in the grocery store but need it for your dinner menu. The other grocery store is the one at Compasspoint in Sengkang MRT station. What I like about Cold Storage is that it offers wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Though its a bit pricey than the former supermarket I have mentioned, the accessibility is also a plus.

The second grocery store I like to spend my time roaming around and looking at their products is Giant Hypermarket. This supermarket is right in front of IKEA Singapore. Though a bit inaccessible. Free shuttle bus from Tampines MRT station going to Giant Hypermarket and IKEA is available. But since, I'm already residing in Fernvale, Sengkang, I take two bus rides going there. The nearest bus stop is at the opposiste side of Pei Hwa Secondary School. Take Bus 163, alight after six (6) stops at Block 203B then take Bus 27. After eight (8) stops alight, you'd know you reach the place because you can see the the IKEA and Giant signage outside the buildings. Take the pedestrian overpass. the good thing about Giant supermarket is it has promos and discounted items everyday plus big space for the cart to roam around. Also, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They also sell other dry goods that are very cheap. They sell fish, chicken and beef except pork. This is the only grocery where its the first time I saw a black dressed chicken. Mix emotions on this one - amaze because of the type of chicken and sad because it looked like a chicken which has bruises all over its body.

The last supermarket which I think is the ultimate supermarket in Singapore is Mustafa Center. This 24/7 supermarket/department store has everything you need. From jewelries, to gadgets, to expensive watches, perfumes, household wares, grocery and souvenir items. You can spend the entire day here without even getting board. Plus they give GST receipts wherein you can refund the taxes you have paid for in your items once you leave the country. The grocery section is located at the second and third level of the building. The only thing I don't like about Mustafa even if they sell cheap stuff is that the aisles are too small. One grocery cart would have difficulty in maneuvering along it. Tip to al those who will be visiting Mustafa Center: don't go there on Sunday - it's full packed! But if you have to go there, try going there around 11 pm of Sunday. So how to get here. Mustafa Center is located in Little India and Farrer Park area. So let us just assume that I will be coming from Sengkang, I will be taking the MRT heading to Harbourfront Station but alight after 7 stops at Farrer Park Station. Walk a little and you will see Serangoon Plaza, behind that building is Mustafa Center.

Since I have discovered the fun of traveling, I learned that one way of knowing the culture of a certain country is through their food. And discovering food is not just through restaurants and hawker stalls, good food can also be found along the aisles of their eclectic grocery stores.