Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hotel lovin': Java Hotel, Laoag CIty, Ilocos Norte

One of things that gets me excited when planning a trip is choosing the hotel we'd stay in. I'm a budget traveler so selecting an accommodation that suits my budget is the top priority when selecting a hotel. But of course, you should never sacrifice the comfort you will get just to get a room that's within your budget. After all, it's good to be sleeping soundly on a good bed after a long day of tour and activities.

During my travel to Ilocos, one of the things I liked about our trip was our stay at Java Hotel in Laoag City. Java Hotel is a 50-bedroom hotel situated in Laoag City downtown. The hotel boasts its Balinese and Moroccan ambiance combined with Spanish and Ilocano touches. The whole roof of the hotel is patterned after Balinese huts which makes the exterior unique.

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We were a group of six and we stayed in their De Luxe Room. There were two double-sized beds and we requested for an additional bed. Room amenities include a 21-inch TV with cable, airconditioning, mini bar, telephone, small veranda, and private toilet and bath with hot and cold water.

We booked the room for Php2800 with extra charges for 2 persons. Not bad eh?

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For the lack of a better bed photo :)
Walking in their hallway will transform you in a Moroccan setting with the arches pointed upwards. 

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The next day we had our breakfast at Eagle's Nest Bar and Restaurant. We had a sumptuous breakfast enough to start another day of touring Ilocos.

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Other hotel amenities include a swimming pool, tennis court, gym, souvenir shop, function halls, and massage services.

If there's one thing that I really didn't like about Java Hotel, it'd be their location. The hotel building is behind a gas station. The gas station was an eyesore considering the hotel's unique design. 

We only had the chance to stay there for a night and that brief stay was enough for me to like the whole hotel. I wished we could stay longer but we're off to another destination in Ilocos. When in Laoag, stay in Java Hotel for one ultimate hotel experience.

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Sitting pretty at the hotel's main entrance

Java Hotel
Address: Gen. Segundo Avenue (also known as Bacarra Road), Barangay 55-B Salet, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Phone: +63.77.770.5996, +63.77.771.5102
Fax: +63.77.770.5996
Mobile: +63.921.610.9910
http://javahotel.com.ph

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The V-day post


Happy V-day everyone! How did you spend the day? Whatever you’re relationship status, I hope you had a great time as much as I feel happy about today.

As you probably know, my boyfriend isn’t here in Manila for us to spend the V-day together. If we we’re together, we would probably have a dinner date. He’d give me flowers and chocolates which is the very usual thing to do. Erick's not here but we always find time to rekindle our romance.

He's in Singapore and I'm in Manila but thank God for YM, Facebook, Skype, snail mail, being in a LDR doesn’t seem so hard these days. But of course, there’s still a feeling that you’d wish that your loved one is just beside you. Ayt?

Well anyways, for now we’re gonna have to be satisfied with this set-up. It won’t be long anyway until we will be together again :P

Since we are exactly 1486.24 miles apart (yes I googled that), we've find ways to keep the passion alive through small ways that really means big when you're in a LDR. 

Unlimited Texting/Emails

Mundane as it may seem, regularly texting and sending funny emails to each other helps ease the loneliness caused by being apart. I love waking up in the morning and seeing that there’s 1 message received in my phone. It makes me thankful and happy that everyday I’m being reminded that I’m loved.

Skype date/YM

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We regularly talk on skype every chance we get like almost everyday. It helps a lot in updating how our day went by and if we have stories to share. It’s nice to see the face of your loved one while he is telling something. I’d die for the facial expressions Erick makes like the butterfly kisses and funny faces when we’re on Skype. It’s also heartwarming to say goodnight to my love over video chat.

Sometimes, we’d eat together while video chatting. He’d show me his food and make me feel envy. I do that a lot too. I make him feel “inggit” when I’m eating home-cooked and Filipino food like chicharon, balut, and mangoes. 

Since I am such a show-off sometimes, I would show my recent purchases from a shopping spree- may it be a dress, shoes, accessories. Sometimes I would try a dress and ask him if the dress fits me right or it looks good on me.

Just recently, we tried to sing a song to each other. I asked him what’s his song for me and I let him sing it. Erick has such a soulful voice that makes me feel giddy. Hihi.

Sending gifts

We missed celebrating special occasions together like his birthday, Christmas, New Year, and V-day. It would be understandable not to send gifts anymore since it’s impractical. But believe that these small gestures make up for not being present during these important events.

On his birthday, I sent him a snail mail, an online groupcard, and a surprise cake delivered. There was no way I can bear the thought that he will be celebrating his birthday solo so I thought of these ideas.

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Erick, on the other hand, sent me gifts by purchasing vouchers from groupon sites. Yey. This V day, he gifted me vouchers for a chocolate cake, a pampering deal of facial or diamond peel and massage, and a zarape. He admits that I'm the person who is quite challenging to be given a gift. I appreciate his efforts to think of something that I'd probably like because I knew he's really not used to that.
 
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Helping out each other

Since he's on his own now, he is forced to cook a meal to save him money. Eating out in SG is expensive unless you stick hawker food. I know he's a bit challenged when it comes to cooking because he only volunteers to taste the food or wash the dishes afterwards when we cook at home. He asked me to give him some simple recipes to try. I insisted he cook at least one dish. So far, he's cooked adobo..uhmmm love what else?

Erick also helps me in some of my work like creating project covers (when I'm too lazy), making my blog banner, troubleshooting my laptop, phone, and camera problems. Oftentimes, he is my support system and he always motivating me to do well in just everything. He's my number 1 blog follower.

Planning out travels

We both love traveling! I think I've influenced him to appreciate traveling more.

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Hongkong is on our top travel list
Although travel is not in our to-dos this year, we'd list down the countries we wanna go to in the future. I just really pray that our plans will go as planned this year so we can finally fulfill our travel fantasies real soooooon! 

Keeping the love despite the distance is challenging but I think if you want your relationship to work out, you will always strive to make it more exciting by doing these small gestures. These small things means a lot when you're keeping a LDR. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Loads of fun at Star City

Last weekend, my college friends and I went to Star City for some fun time. Quite honestly, I am never a fan of amusement parks especially here in the Philippines after hearing tragic death stories and yes having watched the movie Final Destination really makes me paranoid. I just can’t help it! But with my friends' insistence, I decided to go anyway. I wanted to catch up with them also since I haven’t seen them for quite a while.

We met at Star City around 3pm and we immediately purchased our tickets. Ru and I bought the Ride-All-You-Can (RAYC) at Php 350 while my other friend Kim wanted to play lazer blaster so she had the package of RAYC + 1 game of lazer blaster at Php 410. 

Here are some of the rides we tried:

Star Flyer

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I underestimated this ride. I thought it was just like a normal roller-coaster ride but hell not. It is an inverted roller-coaster ride that would actually throw your legs up in the air.
The way the ride attendant secured our seat belts, I knew this was one of the rides that I dreaded. Sure it was! The speed was just so fast that everything was a blur. When I’m scared and don’t want to see what will happen next, I shut my eyes. So you can say that my eyes were shut all throughout the ride although I can feel the intensity of the ride by the screams of others and my feet literally up in the air. Good thing it was just a 1-minute ride!

Surf Dance

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I love surfing! That’s why I keep coming back to La Union for surfing. The Surf Dance is a gondola ride which is about the height of a 5-storey building. The ride swings you upwards, downwards, and sideways just like the waves. Looks easy but it ain’t.

Viking 

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If you’ve been to Enchanted Kingdom, I assume you’ve tried the Anchors Away ride which is a pirate ship that swings backward and forward; the Viking pirate ship is a similar one except that it is an indoor ride. 
Taking this ride may seem so & so but you will really feel your gut sort of hanging in the air when the ship swings its way.

Grand Carousel
 
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Now, who wouldn’t love the carousel? I’m sure everyone enjoyed riding it as a kid. It’s  both for the young and the young-at-heart.

Balloon Wheel 

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If you’re looking for a ride to lull you down after all the exhilarating rides, it’d be the balloon wheel. It is a giant ferris wheel that offers a panoramic view of the city especially at night.

Pirate Adventure 
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The Pirate Adventure is the newest attraction in Star City. I really liked the pirate theme. The attraction consists of a boat ride where you will see the adventures of the pirates in life sized moving statues.

There are lots of rides to try at Star City both for young and young-at-heart.  There are also other rides to enjoy such as the Jungle Splash, Tornado, Dragon Expess, Bumper Cars, Bumpier Boats,  Jumping Star, Blizzard and a number of horror house and many more.

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If you're looking for weekend getaway not far from Manila and pocket-friendly, I think visiting Star City is a great idea. It offers fun and excitement that will surely keep you screaming at the top of your lungs with their adventure rides. 

Star City Amusement Park
Sotto St., CCP Complex Roxas Blvd.
Pasay, Manila Philippines 

+632 833-4483
+632 6899 3496

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

19th Travel Tour Expo 2012

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Another travel expo is coming up! I’ve always been a “suki” of travel expos because of the low airfares, cheap accommodations, and discounted travel packages you can score.

The 19th Travel Tour Expo will be from 17 – 19 February 2012  at SMX Convention Center, Halls 1,2,3, and 4 at the SM Mall of Asia Complex. Entrance fees  are PHP 50/day for general admission and PHP 20/day for senior citizen.

Last year, we were able to book a 3D/2N hotel accommodation with daily breakfasts + 1 night free accommodation at La Carmela de Boracay.  For a 4D/3N trip, we paid around Php840/person. Great deal! Read the related blog entry here.

Although I promised that I won’t book anything, I’m still excited with all the travel promos and discounts offered during the 3-day travel expo. There’s no harm in looking and I’m really gonna try to control my impulsive self to buy anything. Haha. Wish me luck!

 Seeing the list of exhibitors makes me ecstatic! For the full list, check here.

Anyways, I will be there on the 18th. See you  travel junkies!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An afternoon treat of dimsum + tea at Shi Lin

Since I changed jobs a little less than two years ago, I don’t usually go to Ortigas anymore where my previous office is located unless I have to meet a friend or there’s an important errand I have to make in Mandaluyong or Pasig. The first time I ate at Shi Lin was when I was with my former officemates and we watched the movie Captain America at Podium. I knew I just had to go back and check out their other menu. 

Shi Lin  serves Taiwanese food mainly dumplings and noodles but they also offer other Taiwanese dishes in small plates. It's interesting to know that the name of the restaurant actually came from one of the largest night markets in Shilin district in Taiwan.

So what brought me to Podium one Saturday afternoon?

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Shi Lin menu
Definitely, it’s their Xiao Long Bao!

It was a little past 4pm and since we’re in Megamall we decided to eat merienda at Shi Lin found at the nearby Podium. 

What's on our table?

Of course, there’s Xiao Long Bao.  It’s a steamed bun and is traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets. Xiao Long Bao is also called as soup dumplings because of the broth inside the dumplings. The broth is really tasty that you’d wished there was more you can sip. The dumpling itself is a sure winner for me. The taste of the pork and the rich broth is a good combination. 

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Xiao Long Bao,Serving choices: 6 pcs/Php 138, 10 pcs/Php 230

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How do I  eat thee?
How do you eat Xiao Long Bao?

1. Xiao Long Bao is best eaten while hot. You can enjoy it with sauce or try it in its original flavor without sauce.
2. To make the sauce, combine ginger slices with vinegar and soy sauce according to personal taste. 1:1 ratio is suggested.
3. Delicately use chopsticks to dip the Xiao Long Bao in the sauce. Be careful not to puncture the thin flour wrapper.
4. Place the Xiao Long Bao in a spoon and bite the top to slowly sip the hot soup within.
5. After tasting the soup, you may add some ginger slices doused in a little sauce to the Xiao Long Bao and eat it in one bite. Enjoy

We also ordered Noodles with Shrimp and Pork Wanton. The noodle soup was kind of bland. You have to concoct your own sauce or mixture to add flavor to the noodles. It may taste bland at first but when you sip the soup you'll know that the noodles were freshly made as well as the other ingredients.  

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Noodles with Shrimp and Pork Wanton (Php 188)
We had Passionberry and Plumberry iced teas for drinks. Both iced teas tasted so natural and freshly-brewed. The passion berry is sweeter though thus I liked it more. I’m loving tea these days. It’s just naturally good and healthy too!

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Passion Berry Iced Tea (Php 60)
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Organic Plumberry Iced Tea (Php 60)
Shi Lin has an open kitchen where you can see the chefs/food attendants prepare the food. I found it amusing looking at them. You can see their serious or rather ‘game’ faces when wrapping the dumplings. Cute!

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Overall, I’m satisfied with the food, price, ambiance, and service we got from Shi Lin. So no questions asked, I highly recommend it and I will be returning to try their other Taiwanese dishes.

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And oh I'm lovin' these lanterns

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My little black boots

Just when I thought this day was turning out to be a really bad day, my officemates and I dropped by at Promod, Greenbelt 5 and this juicy black boots suddenly made my day into a good one..

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It’s ankle-length, made of suede, and iluvit
The best thing is it’s on SALE – one of my fave 4-letter word aside L-O-V-E. SALE is LOVE. Luvitttt!

Without thinking twice, I bought it. After all where would you find a branded boots 80% off the original price? Konti na lang libre na! haha. The original price is Php 2695, you do the math :)

On an afterthought, this day wasn’t so bad after all!