Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Run for Integrity

Last Sunday, together with some of my colleagues, I joined the Integrity Run which is a symbolic run for good initiative, integrity, and fight against corruption. The Integrity Run is private sector-led campaign which aims to diminish or fully eradicate rampant corruption in the Philippines which we are very aware of.

This running event was organized by the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP). As one of its members, Halcrow showed support to ECCP’s integrity initiative by sending 28 participants including moi :)

With Halcrow colleagues
I registered in the 5k category and got a race packet which included a red singlet, bib, and information brochure all for free since my company paid for it. Yey! Our office even had a Halcrow-design dri-fit shirt made for us. 

I love my Halcrow shirt
I ran the 5k race and finished it in ------. That’s because the race results haven’t been posted yet (hope the organizers will post it soon). My guess is I finished the 5k race under 30 minutes.

It was a well-organized run despite the fact that the race started a bit late. After the race, we even got free big breakfast meal from McDonalds. And yes, the raffle prizes were exciting such as the Manila Bay Cruise, overnight accommodation and tour at Corregidor Island, 3D/2N trip to Bellarocca (which I am dreaming of!), and an all expense-paid 4D/3N stay in Bangkok. For a wanderlust like me, I wish I could have won even one of these.

It always feels good to run. Will aim for 15k next time. lol. To running and beyond!

Da do run run

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Buffet Dinner at Café Jeepney, Hotel Intercon

Drink, eat, and be merry for tomorrow we die! That’s one of my favorite quotations in life. It’s the best excuse to indulge in good food. Agree?

Last Friday, I tagged along with Erick and his officemates (Paulo, Mau, Jade, Elyn, Marlon, Lhey, and Joel) to have buffet dinner at Café Jeepney in Hotel Intercon. Thanks to Lhey who got us 50% off the buffet price from her credit card rewards =). Actual price of the buffet is Php1616, so just do the math.

Cafe Jeepney with HP peeps
True to its name, Café Jeepney boasts its unique interiors with Sarao jeepney parts hanged in its walls for the Pinoy feel. The hotel coffee shop is also spacious or at least for the time we where there. The ambiance was relaxed for a hotel setting. 

Chop-chop Sarao jeepneys =)
To start off, there was a great selection of appetizers such as breads, soups, and salads. The shrimp mango salad was our favorite. Erick was delighted to try his favorite fruit in salad – watermelon tossed with greens and cheese (or so I thought). 

The grilled variety was also a feast. There were local favorites like longganisa, tocino, and bangus. The pork and beef barbecue was tender and juicy and keeps you coming back for more. It was also another favorite of our group.

Grilled selection
Too bad though, I wasn’t able to try the Mongolian barbecue as I heard it’s one of the stars of Intercon’s buffet.

The Japanese sushi table was also winner like in every restaurant, Who doesn’t love Japanese food? =P

Sushi table
Aside from the international cuisine served, we also enjoyed the live cooking and carving stations.

Pasta aficionados will love their signature pasta dishes cooked according to their preference – fettuccini, penne, and pomodoro with creamy white sauce and your own choice of seafood toppings (calamari, shrimp, and fish). 

Of all the dishes served in the buffet, I really enjoyed the fish selection especially the sea bass in lemon butter sauce and the carved fish.

Make sure you leave a room for dessert. Café Jeepney’s buffet is famous for the wide variety of desserts. It was a big treat for sweetooths like moi!

Strawberry panna cotta, white chocolate truffle, crème brulee, mango crepe samurai, mango ube panna cotta, chocolate fondue, blueberry cheesecake..these and more made my heart squeal in excitement.
Desserts galore
Strawberry Panna Cotta

Blueberry cheesecake and dark chocolate cake
You can even make your own halo-halo which we had fun doing.

Mix your own halo-halo
It was a perfect dining experience to cap off another busy workweek. I love Fridays!

Café Jeepney
Ground Level, InterContinental Manila

1 Ayala Avenue
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63.2.793.7000 loc. 6771

Friday, May 20, 2011

Groupons galore

Groupon (group coupon) craze finally hits Manila! And it wasn’t that long until I found myself checking groupon sites every single day at work haha. I bet you do too!

Group buying, as you probably know, is also called as collective buying where goods and services are sold at discounted prices such that a number of buyers would make the purchase.

So far, they are doing me good by letting me save some bucks on my purchases. Here are my buys lately.

1. Our first groupon buy is from Pakyaw. Remember our Corregidor day tour? Yes, we got that deal through group buying. It wasn’t bad at all, Php 998/person for a day tour which consisted of Manila-Corregidor transfers, buffet lunch, and a guided tour. It’s original price was Php 2150/person.

2. Freska set meal for two from Ensogo. Perfect for usual weekday dinner dates with Erick. Remind me to contact customer service because I still can’t print my vouchers.

3. Waxing services at Lay Bare Waxing Salon from Buyanihan which I will be using in lieu of my upcoming Bora trip =D

4. Lunch or dinner buffet at Manila Pavilion from Ensogo. Yum yum , I can’t wait to raid the dessert table with my favorite chocolate donut. Heaven!

5. Food and drinks at Cheesecake Etc from MetroDeal. Got sweet-tooth? I do! I’m excited to use this one.

I almost bought the Bellaroca 3D/2N stay sold at Deal Grocer. Whew, good thing I didn’t because it was still expensive. If there was one coupon I regretted not buying, it would be the concert tickets for the Switchfoot concert from Beeconomic. Boo.

At the moment, these are my groupon buys. If I would let impulsiveness rule over me, I probably would have brought more and save nothing. There were lots of deals I’ve let passed but with new and more exciting deals coming more each day, I’m not sure if I could say no to groupon buying.

How about you? What’s your best groupon deal by far? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yakimix Sushi-Smokeless Grill-Restaurant

Erick and I had the chance to eat at Yakimix last weekend. We’ve been hearing raves about how great their food is. We wanted to eat there for the longest time but every time we decide to eat there, the place is always packed and we have to wait to be seated.

Last Saturday, after we bought our LFS movie tickets for Thor, we decided to try the much-buzzed Yakimix. It was only 7:30 pm and the movie won’t start until 11:15pm. We literally have three whole hours to spare! We had our names listed on waiting list. We were #25 on the list so we strolled in Greenbelt and Landmark to check on something. When we came back at 8:30pm, we learned that our names were already called. They’ve given our table to the next customer. Fine, we just had our names our listed again! Fortunately, we were called in less than 20 minutes. That was fast!

Yakimix is a sushi-smokeless grill restaurant that offers buffet lunch and dinner. It’s mainly a Japanese restaurant but they also serve a wide selection of dishes.  

It's the mix, it's Yakimix!

What really is unique with Yakimix is that you can grill your food at your own table. So you have the freedom to cook it according to your preference.

Now grilling
We had fun grilling our own food and we can’t get enough of the seafood. But I really craved for the meat and chicken. They were cut in small portions and were bite-sized, so you get to taste all of them without getting full quickly – which is the ultimate goal of eating in a buffet resto. I loved the black pepper chicken, spicy bacon, roll fat beef, and US fat beef in black pepper. I indulged in an all-meat buffet. I love cold cuts and having all these meat selection is the next best thing. I am definitely a meatarian. The grilled seafood was great too. Erick enjoyed grilling and eating of course the shrimp, squid barbecue, crabstick, bangus, salmon belly…What a feast!

What's cooking?
As a Japanese resto, they had a buffet table solely for sushi. I am not fond of eating sushi but tried tuna sashimi anyway. It took me almost five minutes to chew it . I had to focus eating it or else I might throw up.

Other dishes from Yakimix are worth mentioning as well such as the Korean japchae (chapchae), shrimp tempura, lechon macau, etc.

We didn't try their salads because we aren’t really into salads, besides we wanted to make the most of our buffet experience so we skipped it. 

For dessert, we just devoured on the ice cream with lots of toppings on it and then tried their home-made chocolate desserts. Nothing really impressive but that was okay since we are too full already.

Overall, our Yakimix buffet experience was superb! We will definitely come back. For its price and quality of food, it’s worth to try not just once.

*We weren’t able to take photos of the actual buffet table because it was not allowed (so we heard). Besides, we were too excited to eat! 

Price list
Php 499/580 - eat all you can buffet lunch/dinner
Php 55 - unlimited drinks
No service charge

1.  3/F, Greenbelt 3, Ayala, Makati City. Tel. No. 998.8039, 475.5153
2.  Hobbies of Asia, Macapagal Blvd. Pasay City. Tel. No. 387.8120, 387.8112 
3.  G/F  SM Mall of Asia, Entertainment Mall, Pasay City Tel. No. 836.1535,836.1536,  836.1537
4.  270 Tomas Morato Ave., Forum Bldg. Quezon City Tel. No. 385.7500, 393.9100, 352.1866, 332.8073
5.  4/F, Trinoma Mall, Quezon City. Tel. No. 475.5154

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fourth day in Bangkok: Bangkok shopping is love (Part II)

We spent our last day in Bangkok SHOPPING!

By 8-9am, we were already on our way to the shopping malls. It was really convenient that we booked our accommodation in the Pratunam area since it is a shopping area in itself and it’s quite near from the other malls. We've done a bit of shopping in between our tours but on our last day, we wanted to shop to the max until our feet can still walk and our pockets can still afford it.

It's dress day for the girls..passing by the colorful tiger faces (they're actally huge recycle bins!)

Our first stop is MBK (Mahboonkrong) in National Stadium Station. MBK boasts as the most visited shopping center in Bangkok with eight floors and more than 2,500 shops and stalls. The mall has various stalls similar to Greenhills/St. Francis Square and they have their own department store and supermarket, Tokyu.

I bought lots of stuff in MBK as usual. I chanced upon really nice office bags sold at factory prices. I bought a gray bag which I often get compliments from co-workers. It’s just a really simple and no-frills office bag yet classy. Haha if they only knew how much was it. And I can vouch for the quality as well. I also bought a mustard-colored bag for my mom and she liked it too. 

MBK, here we are!
I love shoes especially flats so I didn’t hesitate to buy a pair of gray flats which suits most of my office clothes. Erick, on the other hand, bought a BodyGlove polo shirt. I didn’t know that it was a branded shirt until he told me. hehe

Another thing that I wanted to buy in Bangkok was meds – supplements to make my skin clearer and whiter. A pack is sold here in Manila at Php 600 was only THB 220 (Php 330) in Watsons in MBK. So I bought enough to last for the next six months. True enough, as my friend told me medicines are a lot cheaper in Bangkok.

We transferred to the nearby malls – Siam Center and Siam Paragon via the elevated walkway. Both malls are on the high-end scale selling branded stuffs.

Strolling around Siam Center

In Siam Paragon now
At Siam Paragon, Converse sneakers are sold equivalent to Php 1500+. Whoa. Even other branded stuff are sold cheaper here. Thank goodness, the Wacoal underthings I bought in Platinum are same-priced in Siam Paragon or else I’d feel really bad.

To sum it all up. Shopping in Bangkok is something you must be prepared of. From walking, haggling, and looking for the best deals. You will never run out of things to buy in Bangkok but surely your cash will disappear in less than an hour.

Shop til' you drop!

Third day in Bangkok: Patpong Night and the Pingpong Show

I thought I would get a good night’s sleep after our shopping spree at Platinum. But Tata insisted we go to Patpong, which is the red light district of BKK, to watch the pingpong show. I’ve heard of the pingpong show before. It’s a popular sex show in Bangkok where the women use their pelvic muscles to hold, eject, blow objects from there ****. And I’ve heard as well of pingpong show scams where tourists are ripped off when watching these kind of shows.

I hesitated going to Patpong because I was really tired and we didn't know where exactly it is. I honestly don’t feel safe going out at night in Bangkok and what more if we are going to Patpong. But Tata really wanted and I was getting more curious. What the heck, we are not going back to Bangkok anytime soon. And so we went.

Patpong, near the night bazaar
Abby opted to stay at the hotel, so it was just me, Erick, and Tata. We were supposed to take the BTS to the nearest station in Patpong. But as soon as we went out from our soi, a tuktuk driver seemed to read our minds hehe. Yep, he drove us to a dark alley where a pingpong show is running. We agreed that we would only watch the show if its THB 250-300, otherwise forget it.

We were greeted by an old man with cigar; he priced the show at THB 400. No way, we haggled to THB 300 and insisted that it was our last night and we had no money left. He rudely said in Thai accent “No, it’s THB 400 already cheap for tourists like you, caucasians we charge THB 800”. We declined and walked away. But another man supposedly his son agreed to give it to us at THB 350 (Php 490). And we’re in!

It was really dark inside and it looked that this establishment is hiding something illegal. So anyways, there was a small stage and a pole on the stage itself. The chairs are circled around the stage. The show already started. If we were only allowed to take pictures, I would happily post them here to save me from describing what I saw. Really something unbelievable. 

There were 7-10 girls with their own solo act/exhibition.

A girl inserted a blade connected by a string to her **** . Ouch! And then pulled the string out..

Another girl opened a bottle of coke using her ****. You can actually hear the sound of the bottle opening. She even let the audience mostly the guys touch the bottle cap to check if it’s really closed before inserting it. She passed the bottle to Erick and I hissed to him “Don’t touch it or else you’re dead”. So being an obedient boyfriend, he didn’t.

A plump girl inserted pingpong balls in her **** and sort of ejected them and let them bounced to shoot in the bowl. WTH. How she did it, I am not sure! And if the ball didn’t shoot in the bowl, the ball is returned to her so she could try once more. Poor girl!

Okay here’s another one, an old lady.. yes she’s tad old to be your nanny..She drew and wrote using her ****. She wrote "Welcome to Thailand". The pencil was inserted in between hers. Sure, that was a warm welcome!

And as if there’s a birthday celebration, a girl blew candles using you know..haha. Happy birthday to me btw.

One more, ever wondered if the **** can smoke? Yes it can! I saw it puffed smoke as the cigarette was tucked inside. It was really crazy.

For the show’s finale, this is IT. It was a live show between a real woman and man. Imagine the act without the guy’s member not being removed from the girl’s after they’ve tried so many different positions. Our guess? 100 unique positions.

These are just some of the things that my virgin eyes saw.. hehe. They’ve done several other tricks which I choose to forget. The show lasted for an hour and then it would start again with same set of tricks and exhibitions. And yes, same performers.

This is probably the grossest post I’ve ever written. Sorry dear readers, I just wanted to share my Patpong experience so you will be prepared when you decide to see the show.

Awkward moment for us but for the heck of it
If you want to watch it, go in groups. Haggle the price, if they offer it at  THB400-500 haggle until they give you 50-60% price off.

One last note, if the tuktuk driver offered you to bring to the pingpong show don’t expect that he will wait for you after the show though he tells you that he will. They get commissions by bringing guests to the show so if they got their commission..bye bye to you. Make sure you can still manage to get out of Patpong safe and sound.

Third day in Bangkok: Bangkok shopping is love (Part 1)

Bangkok is a paradise when it comes to shopping.

We devoted the rest of our afternoon to shopping after we had our elephant zoo tour. We asked the driver to drop us off at Platinum Mall in Pratunam.

Welcome to Platinum Mall!
From there, my girlfriends and I decided to shop separately and agreed we would just meet at the main entrance of the mall. 

Platinum mall floor map
Armed with my desire to find the best bargains, Erick and I started scouring the fourth floor of  Platinum Mall. When shopping in Bangkok, start with the topmost floors first because they sell cheaper than those in the ground floor.

My first buys are the Wacoal underthings for moi and my mom. I was really planning on buying Wacoal in Bangkok because it’s a lot cheaper. Good thing that we instantly spotted the Wacoal store because I wanted to purchase them first before I spend my money on clothes and bag.

Wacoal is cheaper in Bangkok
I got really excited because they were really less expensive in Bangkok than in Manila. I bought five all in all; two for my mom and three for me. It all amounted to THB 2800 and for every five items or more bought, I got at 10% discount. So make it THB 2520. If you convert that to peso that’s Php3600 (Php1 = THB1.43). Yey. One Wacoal bra here in Manila costs around Php1000 –up. What a huge savings!

To sum it up, I bought the following: 3 long necklaces and 1 pair of dangling heart earrings – perfect accessories for office and night-outs, 2 high-waisted shorts, 2 sheer blouses,1 red-striped blazer, 2 belts, and 1 floral dress. What else? And yeah 5 Wacoal bras. That’s about it. More shopping the next day for sure!

Caught in the act shopping
We spent around four hours in the mall until closing. Malls in Bangkok close a bit early around 7pm, at least Platinum. 

We were kinda broke so we decided to just buy streetfood for dinner and then watched a movie later that night.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Third day in Bangkok: Samphran Elephant Zoo

It’s a day with the elephants!

We were fetched by the van around 9am. We traveled for less than an hour to Samphran Elephant Zoo. The zoo is located at the west of Bangkok in Nakhon Pathom Province.

Immediately after we arrived, our guide claimed our tickets. We paid around THB 450 for the ticket and transfers.

Samphran Elephant Zoo

Every opportunity that we get to buy Thai iced tea, we never missed it. But the Thai iced tea in Chatuchak was still the best. 

Thai iced tea again!

The elephant show started in an hour so we toured around the zoo first and had some photo ops with the elephants. I was surprised to know that they actually have thick black hair which you can only notice if you look at them closely.

Sweet elephant
Hairy elephant
The show finally started with a magic show. Then, the elephants paraded one by one. They re-enacted the history of Thailand. There was also a scene called Yutha Hathi which is a great royal battle where the actors fought each other while riding the elephants. 

Elephants perform

Yutha Hathi
The most fun part of the show was when they played football and danced.

And yes it's a goal
We had the chance to feed them and take pictures with them.

Love 'em, feed 'em
We didn’t watch anymore the wrestling show anymore because the people were crowding the area. The wrestling show featured a crocodile and a catcher performing many different stunts.

See the crowd
 Around 1pm, we headed back to Bangkok for our next activity. Shopping!

Second day in Bangkok: Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise

And here comes my favorite part…the highlight of our second day – buffet dinner cruise aboard Chao Phraya Princess.

It was also my birthday so I was looking forward to dining out with Erick and my girlfriends. Earlier that day, we had a last-minute booking at Seven Stars Travel Agency for the cruise. The dinner cruise was THB 1000. It was cheaper  than booking it online or by reserving thru phone. Prices range from THB 1200-1600. Probably, the travel agency gets bulk discount.

As soon as we arrived from our Chatuchak shopping, we claimed our boarding tickets at the travel agency. At 5pm, a van would pick us up and bring us to the boarding area for the dinner cruise.

We only had two hours to spare and I am dead tired from walking in Chatuchak. When I finally managed to take a shower and get dressed, it was almost 5pm.  I was really excited because for the first time we aren’t running after the time. We don’t need to worry about the directions and all sorts. Hassle-free for the birthday girl :)

All prep
The van fetched us a little more than 5pm and we arrived in the docking area quarter to 6 just enough to have our pictures taken in our nice dresses :) 

Roses and thorn
We boarded Chao Phraya Princess IV at exactly 6pm and was seated at the top roof deck. I liked the location of our table. Besides the fact that its location is very strategic to the buffet table, we also had an unobstructed view of the Chao Phraya River stretch. Yihee. 

Chao Phraya Princess IV
There was a wide array of food selection..Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Western cuisine. They all have it there. Just by looking at all the dishes made me full. I don’t really have a big appetite. I focused more on the dessert table. I love desserts! Pastries, chocolates, cakes, fruits, sweet salad..weee love it.

Buffet food

Dessert comes first :)
I finished eating in less than an hour and went to the open deck solo since Erick is still enjoying the buffet. I took some pictures of the temples we passed by – Wat Arun which we missed on our first day and all the other temples. Little did I know that my friends were cooking up something for me.

views aboard Chao Phraya Princess
The whole dinner cruise lasted two hours. We spent the rest of our time chatting, taking pictures, and just enjoying each other’s company. At the end of our dinner cruise, the singer/host suddenly asked everyone to sing a happy birthday for meee.. Whattt?????????????? I'm really not into surprises that involved everyone’s attention. What a surprise from Erick and my friends!! So the host went to our table and told me to blow the candle on a cake as they sang HBD for me.. Thank you dear friends!

What can i say? But thank you :)
After our dinner cruise, we were dropped off in our hotel. I promised my friends that I would treat them to a relaxing foot massage at the hotel spa. We’ve been walking non-stop for 2 days already and our feet need some lovin' too.

Foot massage for the ladies
And that ends our day :)