Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Organic Whitening Body Scrub & Massage at Mont Albo Massage Hut

I promised my bff Yana that I would treat her to a massage before she flies back to Dubai. Since both of us came from a beach trip and we're probably a shade darker than our natural skin color, we thought that it'd be nice if we treat ourselves to a body scrub and massage.

I looked for spas in Makati and found Mont Albo Massage Hut in Parksquare just in front of Dusit Thani Hotel. I browsed their website and immediately became interested with their spa menu. I called for reservation on the day of our planned spa bonding. 

Sorry, I didn't take any photos since I don't think it's appropriate plus the lighting was very poor. A spa is a private place where one can relax and enjoy the massage. I don't wanna bother myself to take pictures. Anyways, let me share our experience :D

Yana and I both availed their Organic Whitening Scrub with 1 hr massage for Php 750. The body scrub + massage lasted for 1 1/2 hours. The organic whitening scrub is composed of three natural substances, extracted from plant components, which have been proven to inhibit the production of melanin. Their organic whitening scrub is a better and healthier substitute than synthetic whitening chemicals. 

We bought some add ons like disposable underwear for Php 30 and additional massage oil at Php 50. 

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Here are some things I want to rave about our body scrub  + massage.  There are some things I didn't like though.

Raves
1. The body scrub + massage was definitely value for money. You will be treated for 30 minutes of scrub and then a  1-hr relaxing massage for Php750. Not bad!
2. Their location is very strategic to malls, offices, and other commercial establishments. You can easily go to Mont Albo to treat yourself to a massage after shopping or a long day at work.
3. I fell asleep during the 1-hr massage. My therapist was good at kneading with the right pressure at the most stressed parts of my body. After the massage, I felt like I've just waken up from a long slumber.  It was that relaxing!
4. Free hot tea and hot towel were provided.
5. They have a website which helped me decide which massage I will get. Calling to reserve a slot is also easy breezy.


Rants
1. No privacy. Massage beds are only divided by curtains. You can hear other customers' or therapists' voices.
2. Massage therapists keep on gossiping with each other and can be heard while we were getting our massage. Their voices are even louder than the instrumental music being played. I hope they will act more professional. Our therapists had to tell them to keep their voices down because there are clients.
3. No comfort room and only one shower area where you can rinse after the body scrub. I had to wait for my turn to use the shower room.
4. Old towels.
5. I'm not sure if it's the scrub or the sheets but it felt itchy on my skin while I was being soaked in the scrub.
6. Small reception area. It really is massage and go.


My verdict
I will go back for if I want a massage that won't burn a hole in my pocket. Their massages range from Php 80 for the express Massage (15  minutes) to Php 350 for their one-hour massages. A decent body scrub costs around Php 750 +.

Mont Albo Massage Hut is one example that a good massage doesn't need to be expensive.



Mont Albo Massage Hut
click here for contact details
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Surfing @ Bagasbas Beach

Bagasbas Beach is located in Daet Camarines Norte in the Bicol Region. I am a Bicolana but I haven’t really visited this part of the region. Although Bagasbas Beach is not as popular as other surfing destinations like La Union, Baler, and Siargao, it is slowly gaining name in the surfing community. 

The waves here are just right for beginners and intermediate surfers. Waves can go as low from 2-3-ft on an ordinary day and as high as 6-8-ft when a typhoon is coming. Bagasbas Beach is fronting Pacific Ocean and that explains why it has consistent waves for surfing.

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After our Calaguas beach camping, we had  a surfing sidetrip to Bagasbas Beach. We reached the beach around 3pm. It was already late for surfing but we wanted to surf anyway. Never mind the delay in the boat transfer from Calaguas to Vinzons and the boat mishap we had (the boat engine died when we were almost near the port). We had a late lunch first and settled  at Surfer’s Dine-Inn.


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Tired but still smiling
As soon we were done with lunch, we changed into our swimwear and rashguards and prepped into another surfing experience. The last time I went surfing was October 2011 in La Union and I remember catching big waves which I wasn't aware of. My surf instructor has this habit of not telling me if I am about to catch a big wave. And I never ever looked back so I won't get scared :D

We paid Php400/hr for the surfing lessons which included surfboard rental and lessons from an instructor.


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Learning the basic moves again
Since I started surfing in 2009, I was officially hooked to it. Although my surfing skill is still for beginner, I still enjoy the sport and I don't have the intention to take it to the advance level. On the good side, I think my skills have improved since I can now ride shortboards and I am able to do a back stance and maneuver my surfboard sideways. I actually don’t know how to swim that’s why it’s important to me that I surf in shallow waters.

We caught a few good waves that day.
The waves are gentler that afternoon compared to what we normally experience in La Union.

Here are some of our best rides caught in cam. 

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Yana's lucky day. She caught almost all the waves she tried.

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 Ru. I love the facial expression!

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Jervin, the new recruit. Yeah!

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Et moi! Getting stoked again. 
We surfed until sundown to our heart’s content.  I will come back when I get the chance. 
Bagasbas beach is another surfing spot we discovered. 

What's the best word to describe this experience?  STOKED.  
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Hang loose!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Calaguas lovin'

I've been hearing about Calaguas Islands in Camarines Norte for the longest time. My curiosity grew more upon reading various travel blogs boasting Calaguas' white sand and blue turquoise-waters.  I was secretly wishing that someone would organize a trip to Calaguas and tagged me along having known that only beach camping can be done in the island. There's no electricity, mobile signal, and any commercial establishments in Calaguas. 

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Luckily, I was able to find a tour organizer arranging beach camping trips to Calaguas. I booked an overnight camping trip with Calaguas Hullabaloo together with my bff Yana who’s vacationing from Dubai and other good friends. We got the 2D/1N package for Php3200 inclusive of roundtrip bus tickets (Manila-Daet), land transfers, boat transfers, tent accommodation, and camp meals. A surfing sidetrip to Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte was included in the package. It’s been more than six months since I last went surfing and I missed the feeling of getting stoked. This trip was what I exactly needed to break away from the city life.


My beach excitement  slowly started creeping the night we left Manila. We boarded an Amihan Liner bus in Shell Magallanes and it took 8 hours travel to Daet. I dozed off all throughout the travel. 

The road to Bitukang Manok (zigzag road) in Cam Norte as we fondly call it woke me up the next day. Feeling nauseous from all the sudden turns the bus made, I had to wake up or else I would probably vomit. 


The Saturday weather was perfect for beach bumming. We met my bff Yana in Vinzons Port since she’s already in Bicol and we came from Manila. After being assigned to our boat, we wrapped our backpacks in trash bags and loaded them to the boat.  We were finally bound to Calaguas! 


Contrary to scary stories I’ve heard, the sea was generally calm. I was bracing myself for a rough boat ride with waves that could go as high as 4-ft as I overheard.  Waves are strong in this part of Camarines Norte since the sea is already part of the Pacific Ocean. 
 
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Calaguas is a group of islands composed of Tinaga, Guintinua, and Maculabo islands. We camped in Mahabang Buhangin or Long Beach as it is called. 


After 2-hrs of boat travel, we reached Calaguas in mid-day. The moment I stepped into Calaguas beach, I felt nostalgic and felt that I've already been to this beach before. 

Calaguas reminded me of Boracay's blue-turquoise water, long beach stretch of Pagudpud, and powdery white sand of Panglao. Calaguas is more than what meets the eye. 

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It was scorching hot with the sun brightly shining. I love sunny days but the summer heat is unbearable these days. We settled into our tents and immediately changed into our swimsuits. I usually don’t swim in mid-day because it's freaking hot and I don’t want to get sunburned. But there isn’t lots of shade in the island. You can choose to stay inside your tent which felt like being baked in an oven or you can swim in the cool water.


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Here some of the activities we did in the island. There's not much to do actually but beach bum! I love it!

Swimming. You will enjoy swimming in Calaguas waters. The sand is fine and the water is very clear, perfect for underwater camera shots. You can swim a few meters away from the shore but beyond that there are coral reefs in the seabed which is also good for snorkeling.

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Photo ops. Numerous photo ops, why not?

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Beach volleyball. In front of our campsite, a volleyball net was set-up where everyone can play.


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Sun worshipping.

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Or you can choose to hide from the sun. I noticed that in the beachfront, most trees have just started growing so don't expect a lot of shade.

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Walking by the beach. Calaguas' sand is fine and soft. It won't hurt your feet if you walk barefoot. 


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When it was nearing sunset, we climbed into a hill to get at 360-degree view of the whole island. The view from the hill reminded me of Sabtang Island in Batanes. You can see the surrounding islands as well as the whole beach stretch. Here, we also checked if there was a mobile signal but only for Smart.


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There were a lot of beach-goers in the island based from the view from the top of the hill. But the 1km beach stretch is long enough to accommodate the weekend crowd.

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We spent all our time in the water until sundown. Although it was already 4ish, the sun was still shining brightly. The cool water provided relief from the intense heat of the sun that day. The beach sunset was similar to Nagsasa Cove’s sunset in Zambales.

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After bathing in the sea the whole day, we finally took a bath in the water pump which is the only source of fresh water in Calaguas. There's also a toilet in the island so no need to worry in case nature calls you :) 

Dinner followed afterwards and we slept early that night. There was a reggae party organized we didn’t bother to go. We immediately fell asleep when we lied down inside the tent. It was Supermoon that night when the moon is in its closest distance to the earth.

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Next morning, we woke up to the sound of the crashing waves in the shore. We felt refreshed coming from a good night’s sleep. It was our last day in Calaguas and we wanted to make the most out of our time. We spent the early morning in the beach when the sun isn’t completely out yet. 

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Before noon, we left the Calaguas Island. It was a short but sweet stay. I will be surely coming back. This is the kind of beach you’ll never get tired of coming back. Calaguas has a great potential in becoming a top beach destination if it will be developed. But I wish not! I want Calaguas to remain the same for the longest time possible  – pristine, undeveloped, and untouched.


Definitely Calaguas lovin’ 

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Pure Saturday @ Republiq Club

Almost three weeks ago (sorry uber late post), my high school girlfriends and I together with some friends partied at Republiq to celebrate Yana's homecoming from Dubai and to bid farewell to Betty and Lester who flew back to New Jersey.

Republiq Club is the hottest destination for nightlife in Manila. With a large clubbing space, latest sound and lighting technology, Republiq offers a world-class clubbing experience.

We went on a Saturday and it was Pure Saturday @ Republic where they play house and electro music. We also reserved a cocktail table for 6k. The rate is fully consumable where you can order drinks (in glass or bottles) and food platters.

Sharing some fun party pictures.

Pre-game at Betty's place. We're ready to party!


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The pretty ladies :)

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And the gentlemen..

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Throw your hands up in the air if you're having fun.

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We partied from 11pm until 5am, literally from night to day! We danced until our feet ached.

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It was a fun night with friends. Wishing for more nights like this :)

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Thousand Cranes Shabu-Shabu, Greenbelt 3

Two weeks ago, my good friend Betty Jane came home to Manila with her hubby for a 2-week vacation. It's been two years since I last saw her when she moved to New Jersey. We met up for dinner to catch up.

Betty was craving for Japanese food espcially for mochi ice cream. There are quite a few of Jap restos in the Greenbelt area but none served mochi ice cream (not that I know of). We ended up dining at Thousand Cranes Shabu-shabu which wasn't bad at all. Shabu-shabu is the Japanese variant of hot-pot where you cook the meat variants, seafoods, and vegetables in a boiling broth. You can also create your own dipping sauce. 

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Thousand Cranes Shabu-shabu at GB2

I guess everyone's not that hungry but we ordered the Assorted Meat shabu-shabu which consisted of pork, beef, and lamb meat. There were also veggies and noodles included in the platter.

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On our table
We also ordered two bottles of Jinro to go with our food. It's taste is comparable to vodka although lightly sweeter.

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Jinro
Each of us has our own pot of broth where we can cook our food. So it depends if you like to make your soup spicy or not.

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I'm not sure why my food tasted bland no matter how many seasonings I put on it. It tasted all the same. I guess the only consolation I get is the warm soup with the all the meat on it. I created a separate dip but it didn't improve the taste of the meat. Be sure to cook the meat well since it will take time before it's ready to be eaten. After all, you wouldn't want to suffer from stomach ache because of eating raw meat.

Although I did not enjoy much the taste of my food, I still enjoyed the company of my friends. It's also worth noting that the servers are attentive to your needs. They would offer to make your own sauce and would check if you need a soup refill, The cooking stoves were also easy to control. 

Kampai! 

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Thousand Cranes Shabu-Shabu
Greenbelt 3 2/F Greenbelt 3 Legaspi St.
Legaspi Village Makati City
Metro Manila Philippines (02) 729-8640 to 41