A year after Typhoon Ondoy…

October 26, 2010, exactly one year since the destructive Typhoon Ondoy wreaked havoc to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon. This day will not be forgotten by  many people including my Family, some relatives and friends because we are included in the list of victims of nature’s wrath through a typhoon named Ondoy.

It was a typical Saturday. Early in the morning, it was raining but not so heavy yet. My Mom and Dad went to the local market to buy a week’s stock of food. Only my 2 sisters, brother in law and nephew (then 7 months old) were left at home. The rain started to pour heavily.

Our car was stucked on the road due to traffic (since some roads became impassable).  My mom became worried that the water might go inside the car but nothing they can do since the traffic is not moving for an hour. She needed to use the comfort room and since they realized there will be no way the vehicles will move soon since the rain becomes heavier, they decided to leave the car on the road and go to my aunt’s (father side) house which is close to where they were stranded. Soon the flood becomes deeper and deeper that it went inside the house of my aunt. They had to transfer to a neighbor whose house is 2 stories high.

Back home, my siblings are in panic because they can’t contact my parents and the waters are rising very fast. Our home is bungalow type though it is built higher than the road and in the 20 years that we lived there, never did the floods reached inside our house…if the flood waters reached our gate, it is already above waist deep.. Except on that day when the waters reached inside up to the window pane.  My sister said the flood waters rise very fast and the current so strong, it seems like seeing the Southeast Asian Tsunami videos. They had to climb a stair to reach our next door neighbor who’s Townhouse is 2 stories as well.  They had to do it quickly and cautiously because they are carrying a baby. All the appliances and furniture tumbled down as the flood entered our home.

These events were happening while I am totally unaware of since I am in Bangkok and the weather is so sunny that time.  Never did I expect a typical typhoon to directly hit Manila since it has been raining constantly in the country during that time but it is expected in a monsoon season anyway. I even watched a movie with few friends that day.

I did not receive any single message from family members about the predicament simply because it was so quick and they are totally unprepared. They had to contact each other (my parents, my other siblings, relatives who are mostly living in Marikina or Pasig–all flood prone areas) so in a short while, all their mobile phone batteries went dead.

I was only able to check my Facebook after dinner. I got the biggest shock of my life when I opened Facebook and the wall of my friends are literally flooded with messages about the disaster, re-posting call for help from those affected and prayer requests.

Then I checked the news website and found out how big the destruction is. I got goosebumps and my heart beats faster. At the back of my mind, I am praying nothing wrong happened to my family. I tried contacting our landline as well as the mobile phones of all my family members and relatives. All are unreachable.

I was so restless but cannot do anything. I tried messaging my cousins in the US and Canada if they have any news about our families back home but unfortunately they cannot contact their respective families as well. All of us overseas waited in vain. Just imagine the frustration and anxiety we are feeling back then. All we had to do is pray.

I asked a favor from my ex-GF to try contacting any of my family members since it may be easier if the call is from Metro Manila. Fortunately, she is able to contact my brother in law and got updated that all members of the family including some of our relatives nearby are all ok. Only thing is that they can’t contact my cousin staying in Pasig so they are also worried if they are ok.

The family was able to contact my cousin after a few days. When the flood subsided, my family entered our home and everyone thought they are in a nightmare especially my parents who worked hard to build our home and improve it over the years but all these hard work, savings and memories (including our pictures and documents) are washed away in a few hours time.

I actually asked them to take pictures of our home but they all don’t want to remember it by a picture so I wasn’t able to see exactly how our house looked like then. All I know is they spend few days (if not weeks) to clean and disinfect the house, throw away the appliances, clothes and items that are no longer usable. Our car also had to be on queue for fixing because majority of Marikina are submerged in flood and vehicles needed to be fixed. Our consolation and for which we must be truly grateful for God’s mercy is that everyone in my family, relatives and friends are all safe.

I saw the Facebook note of my cousin detailing her and 2 children’s ordeal while stucked in their home in Pasig. It is very detailed that I can picture them like in Titanic trying to move around in deep waters. Fortunately for them, their home has 2nd floor. They consider the present as their 2nd life already since during that time, only few inches away and the flood will reach the 2nd floor of their house where my cousins and 2 little children were. Their village was submerged in water for few days without food, water and electricity which makes it doubly hard since the little one one is still a toddler then.

When I went back home few months after, there are still some traces of Ondoy in our home (some of the doors and cabinets are not fixed yet that time).

After 1 year that Ondoy “visited” the Philippines, the memory still remains. Let us just pray that catastrophe of this magnitude will not happen again.

Sharing some pics I got from this website: http://www.typhoonondoy.org/tag/ondoy/

Goldilocks Bakeshop now in Bangkok!

The Philippines’ favorite Bakeshop, Goldilocks is now in Bangkok. News said there will be several branches in Bangkok but yesterday I was trying to locate the one in MBK Centre but even as I go through all the floors, it wasn’t there. It may be open soon.

However, today I was lucky enough to find a branch in Siam Square in a newly opened mall called Siamkit Building (earlier thought the building name is Benjakiti) just in front of Novotel Hotel at Siam Square.

I was able to take picture of the mall but not the frontage of Goldilocks cos I was kinda shy to take pictures up close..hahaha. I’ll try to take picture soon if I am with my friends.

The location of the shop is very good, in the Ground Floor, the first store beside the entrance and opposite Starbucks.

I really took my time to look for the place because as a Filipino, I am proud to see the Philippine brand in a foreign country. In addition, I am missing the bakery products of Goldilocks specifically the Mamon, Puto and brownies. Unfortunately, there is no Puto in the product line yet.

When I entered the store, the 4 tables of the bakeshop are full of Thai families which is a good start for the newly opened store (I think they opened only beginning of this month). Some spaces of the mall hasn’t opened yet.

They have opening promotion as follows:

Free 1 pc classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 100 baht
Free 4 pcs classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 300 baht
Free 1 package (10 pcs) classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 500 baht.

However, I was lucky enough to be given 4 pcs of classic polvoron even if I only purchased around 200 baht of products. Maybe because I smiled at the crew members.  Ha ha ha!

I believe Goldilocks will be popular in Bangkok because Thais love bakery products and sweets including cakes. With the very lovely cake designs they make which is incomparable with existing cakes being sold in normal bakeshops here, I’m sure people will troop to the stores soon.

Hope Jollibee and Chowking will be here too sooner than later. 🙂

Update (as of March 14, 2011): I saw the complete list of Goldilocks branches in Bangkok from Ensogo.com. Last week, Goldilocks had a promotion in this website (around 50% disc. for bakery items if you buy vouchers via Ensogo).

– 1st floor Siamkit building, Siam Square, opposite to Novotel Hotel Tel. 02-250-7560
– Ground floor Chamchuri Square Tel. 081-733-3102
– Ground floor Column Tower Soi Sukhumvit 16 Tel. 02-258-2262
– Ground floor IT Square, Laksi Tel. 084-710-8282
– Chidlom BTS Station Tel. 081-733-3270

An intoxicating weekend…

This weekend has been great if not intoxicating so to speak. I used the word intoxicating but not meant on a negative way. Intoxicating in the sense that me and fellow Filipinos and some foreigner friends enjoyed good food, countless Karaoke songs, long and interesting stories and of course some hearty laugh.

It has been quite a long time that I joined some get-together in a friend’s house because many of us became quite busy and some of the people in our group either moved back home, went to other places or working in some provinces of Thailand.

We planned this party as a sort of house warming/despedida (Bon Voyage party) for one of our friends. Since they are a fan of my Kiko’s Kitchen food blog, they asked me to cook which I gladly obliged.

For the party, we decided to prepare favorite foods that we missed a lot. Later on, we realized all the foods that we selected are very complicated to prepare. We selected Pancit Palabok, Dinuguan and Lumpiang Shanghai. The easiest  dish in our menu is Kinilaw na Talaba (Oyster).

Me, the host and another friend troop to the local market to buy fresh ingredients. I am not a fan of the local markets here because I am worried that since I don’t speak really good Thai, I might find it hard to buy. But actually it’s not because you don’t need to talk much..just point at what you want to buy and ask how much is it (Tao rai krub?) Basically I already know the numbers in Thai so I can easily know the price of the item and also it helps that many of the products have their “price tags’ displayed.

We went to the market in the afternoon so naturally there was no pig’s blood available. We actually had our plan B menu just in case we are unable to buy the pig’s blood.

In the market, we saw fresh squids and since all of us love Adobong Pusit, we bought some extra (Squid is also part of the Pancit Palabok ingredients) for our dinner. We headed back home and eat dinner.

We started preparing the ingredients like cutting, marinading, boiling, etc around 9pm. There were only 2 stoves running and with lots of things to do, we finished our Mis en place at around 2:30 am and went to sleep.

The alarm clock rang around 7 am. We had to wake up early so we can buy the Pig’s blood in the market. Without having breakfast or coffee yet, we headed to our destination. Fortunately, we were able to find our “precious” ingredient– the pig’s blood.

As soon as we arrived home, the 3 of us busied ourselves in the preparation. I started cooking the Pancit Palabok sauce, while the other two are busy wrapping Lumpiang Shanghai. After cooking the Palabok sauce, I then prepared the Dinuguan.

I’ve never tried cooking this dish before though it is one of my favorite dish. I would see my mom cooking it and since I know how it tastes, I just copied her procedure and cooked it. Fortunately, it tastes like Dinuguan and not something else..  🙂

Since we advertised in Facebook that it was a lunch party, guests arrived on time. Luckily we had just finished cooking all the dishes and already starting to prepare the table when they arrived.

It was a small and intimate party among friends totaling to just 8 guests (including 3 foreigners). The foreigners were brave enough to try the Dinuguan even though many would find it quite disgusting from the color of the dish alone (looks like mud) and more so if they learned that it is made of Pig’s blood. Surprisingly however, they enjoyed Filipino foods.

It is very nice to hear your friends enjoying the food and giving praises on how delicious it is. Many of them had 2-3 servings which is actually a feast!

We plan to make our get-together cum pot luck  a regular habit (at least once a month). As early as now, we are looking forward to it and are already thinking what foods to prepare next time. Hope it is the easy ones. 😛

Pumasyal sa Pilipinas kahit puno na ang Jeep…

Many Tourism promotions always highlight that the Philippines has 7,107 islands…Too many islands to explore right? But the million peso question is “Where are all the Tourist gone?”  According to a tourism report, tourist arrival grew to 5.2 million. This is actually a positive sign if compared to the past years but I believe this figure includes Balikbayans or Overseas Filipinos visiting Philippines for Holidays. So even with the positive figure, why does it sound like I am whining?

Thailand enjoys over 14 Million visitors a year, Singapore in March alone enjoyed a brisk arrival of 928,000 and projects tourist arrival to 12.5 million at the end of this year especially with the opening of new Integrated resorts like Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Malaysia tops the list of SEA countries in terms of visitor’s arrival at about 21.5 Million in 2009.

Figures don’t  lie ayt?

Why am I highlighting these facts? Simply because the Philippines has all the factors to be the Tourism Haven in Southeast Asia (perhaps even whole Asia).

1.) We are the 2nd largest English-speaking nation in Asia (2nd to India). Everywhere you go even on the boondocks, locals can more or less communicate or understand English. Very Tourist friendly. In Thailand, some of those working in the hotels or restaurants cannot converse fluently in English. But Tourist still flock.

2.) We have the Sun, Sea, Sand and smiles. Activities and attractions are endless. Boracay still remains a big draw to tourist with its talcum powder-like sand and party atmosphere all day and night. Palawan is simply the best and so is Bohol, and Batanes, and Camiguin and Cebu and Davao..the list goes on and on.

3.) We are a melting pot of cultures. It’s true some countries have very strong and easily recognizable culture and heritage like that of China, India, Japan, Thailand. However our uniqueness lies on so many cultures and traditions to explore and experience at such a smaller place than the former mentioned places.

4.) We have several of the biggest shopping malls in the World. The newly renovated SM City North EDSA is the 3rd biggest mall in the world. SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and many others are also included in the biggest mall list.  Why simply can’t we be the Shopping Haven of Asia? Why are so many Pinoy businessmen into retail business buy clothes and accessories in Bangkok, Hong Kong or mainland China?

5.) Our country has the geographic advantage.  We are in the heart of Asia and the Pacific. Easily accessible to the rest of the world.

On the other hand, there are also critical reasons why we do not get the numbers that we want:

1.) Lack of infrastructure- our Airports and sea ports cannot compete with our neighbors. Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Incheon Airports are highly recognized for efficient service, cleanliness and all the awards you can think of. Not to mention the size of these airport are simply humongous. Our road network also needs face lift. Few years ago, I was on the way to the Underground River in Puerto Princesa. The scenery is simply breath taking if not out of this world. Imagine a river traversing under a mountain and tourist is underneath this mountain for about 45 minutes going in and another 45 minutes going out. Really awesome. But to reach that spot, you have to travel by land for about 2 hours from the city and an hour of which is on a very bumpy road. The tour guide would always joke it is a natural body massage cos you are literally shaken and twisted by the rough road. Even thousands of tourist flock the Underground River, the road badly needs cementing or even asphalt for many years now.

Our public transport like MRT, LRT and even Bus or Jeepney transport are not tourist friendly. Either it is too crowded, or needs to be pulled to the garage especially a lot of public Buses and taxis.

2.) Lack of Promotion. Some months ago, I was dining in a Seafood Restaurant in Bangkok with a friend and beside our table are a couple of Hong Kong citizens. We tried to be friendly and asked if it is their first time in Bangkok and what is the purpose of their trip. We were surprised on their answer. They said it was not their first time and the purpose of their trip is just to eat Seafoods! WTF! Eating seafoods but you have to spend on airfare, hotel and travel 3 hours? But it is understandable because seafood in Hong Kong is very expensive. They can enjoy seafood dinner ever day or night while they are in Bangkok but the price is nothing compared to having just one full seafood meal in their country. And Thailand is actually earning a lot on Culinary Tourism. Cooking schools in Chiang Mai are very popular. Thai cuisine has been one of the factors why tourist visit this country.

Malaysia is very good in their PR campaigns to promote their tourist spots. Every time I meet a foreigner and I told them I am from Philippines or Manila, they usually ask me, what can you do in Manila or Philippines? Is Manila in an Island or near the beach? Many other questions. It is due to the fact that our Tourism related campaign is either insufficient or lacking of magnets to lure the tourists.

3.) Traveling in the Philippines is expensive. It is good now that Cebu Pacific has started the trend of budget airfare across the country which paved the way for the healthy growth of Domestic Tourism. Hotel accommodations in tourist spots in the Philippines are very expensive and so are foods and souvenirs in these areas. Going back to my story earlier about the couple traveling to Bangkok just to eat, I believe many of our fresh sea foods are being exported to Hong Kong, Japan, China and nearby countries wherein the prices if served on the table are triple or quadruple than the local price before being sent overseas. If we can only find a way for these seafoods or even fruits to be enjoyed here in the Philippines and no need to be sent for export, not only will the prices be cheaper but everyone will be able to enjoy (tourist and locals alike). If tourist go to the Philippines, airlines will be full, hotels will be occupied, restaurants can cook. Many establishments will benefit.

There are many more advantage and disadvantages. Maybe my blog is not enough. However, I still believe our country is great and we can show it to the world. The Aquino administration is coming in and there was a recent controversy about a rumor that President-elect Noynoy Aquino is considering Talent Manager, Boy Abunda to become the next Department of Tourism Secretary which got some nods and some flak from supporters and critics alike. But come to think of it, why not put former DOT Secretary Richard Gordon in this post again? Not so familiar if the law would allow it, but if this is possible then he is the best man for this post since he is outgoing Senator anyway and I believe he performed well during his stint in the DOT or even at Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Btw, He was my Presidential bet. Unfortunately, he lost.

Tourism is very important. Tourism creates business. Tourism brings money to our coffers and contributes to our GDP. I just wish the time would come that tourist arrivals will full our sights to the rafters similar to the picture above..and so us OFW will not have to work abroad cos many jobs are waiting for us.

So bring in the millions (of tourists).  🙂

Company Outing with a heart…

Last weekend was personally a special day for me in the sense that it is my first company outing experience working here in Bangkok. We went to a resort called Rai Kusuma in Saraburi Province, about 2 hours drive from Bangkok. What makes it special then? Well, first I am in a group of local people who speak their native tongue, have their own brand of humor and activities which some may not be the same style as ours. Food is definitely Thai including the level of spice, though I love Thai food so it is definitely not an issue…We had our team building activity which you guess it right…was conducted in Thai. The facilitator would penalize the person who is unable to follow instructions correctly or is the slowest in the group..since their is language barrier, it is doubly hard for me cos I have to mind on my speed and accuracy of action as well as the language. I truly appreciate colleagues who has to quickly translate for me what the facilitator just said before they action so that I will not be penalized. I don’t know if I looked like a burden to them..lol. Anyway, the best part is that I was not penalized in any of the activities of that team building and was able to work with my team well. We were even successful creating a nice and strong tower made of newspaper!

After the dinner and the programme, we had karaoke and dancing sessions which we truly enjoyed. The night is still young so some decided to play cards while I joined a group who prefer drinking while singing and playing the guitar..some of them requested me to sing..since they do not know how to play Philippine songs in the guitar, we had to search from a laptop about music cords from International artists..at the end, we were able to enjoy singing together while helping ourselves with shots of alcohol mix. Luckily no one got drunk since singing and playing guitar is the main agenda.
Next day we had early breakfast because we had to check out from the resort around 10:00 am to go to our selected temple for visit and donation. We went to Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu which cares for full-blown AIDS victims. This for me is the unique part of our company outing. I’ve been to several company outing in the past and mostly it comprises of sightseeing, team building games, eating, singing and drinking..mostly rest and recreation. However, at this time we really see to it that we are able to share some of our blessings to others. About a month prior to the company outing date, we placed a coin bank in the office for donations to the temple. I wasn’t able to know how much is the total amount however, as I see it, many staff would drop coins or bills almost everyday. We also allotted some for buying items needed in the temple either by the monks or the patients themselves.
There were several pavilions in the temple compound. Some were individual units for the patients. The “guide” directed us to one building. Upon entry, we saw bodies of people who died from AIDS encased in glass or metal caskets. It was actually a scary experience seeing decayed bodies of men, women even children who died of AIDS. In each casket you will see descriptions of their name, age, how they acquired the disease and their statement about donating their body for purpose of AIDS research. Commonly, you can see from the description that they are either sex workers, drug users (using shared needles), women who got the disease from husbands or children getting it from their mothers at time of birth..

In another building, before entering you have to wear a surgical mask. When I get closer to the building I realized, it is the area where living patients with AIDS are housed. I actually wanted to go inside together with some of my colleagues but sadly, I didn’t have enough courage to go inside and see the conditions of these patients because before I stepped in, I saw one patient, a child (which I presume to be not over 7 years) lying in bed, very thin and looking like a living skeleton. It is a sight which will definitely break my heart and I may not be prepared to see worser conditions inside so I decided not to go and just wait outside..

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It was a very hot afternoon and Lopburi is one of the hottest province in Thailand  so we only had to allot only 30 minutes inside the temple and also because the location is quite far and in the foot of the mountains though the scenery was really beautiful. In addition, we had to rush back home before it gets dark due to the still unstable situation in Bangkok. I had to admit this experience was such an eye opener for me and it made me ponder that the night before all of us were enjoying the food, drinks, games, prizes and entertainment while in another part of the country, there are actual sufferers and many had died already and only few would care for them.
Anyway, it is not too late and by this blog post, I hope some readers who are able to read it would also be encouraged to do the same by including outreach programme in their company activities to help the poor and needy which is an ingredient of true happiness…

Songkran in Khaosan cancelled

Quoting an article from Bangkok Post saying that the Songkran activities on April 13-15 which is traditionally held in Khaosan and Silom Road is canceled due to ongoing political unrest in Bangkok according to the Bangkok Governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

The ongoing protests along Phan Fa Bridge which is very near Khaosan Road makes it too risky to hold the celebration, according to him.

Songkran Festival which is the Thai New Year is the happiest and most popular festival in Thailand. The city is literally almost empty as many Bangkokians would go upcountry to visit their relatives or troop to the beach because of the long weekend holidays.  However, many people join the water splashing or putting powder on the faces along the streets of Khaosan and Silom. This is really such an enjoyable experience. Many foreigners visiting Thailand participate in the activities.

Last year there was a similar political protests before Songkran. The BMA also announced Songkran was canceled. However on the second day of Songkran (if I remembered correctly), the military troops were able to disperse the protesters and at the last minute it was announced that the activities will resume. My friends and I trooped to Khaosan and boy, did I truly enjoy the experience of splashing water till night time.

Well I do am hoping the Songkran Festival will be celebrated happily as usual and the differences of belief and ideologies be put to a halt even for this short period only. I am likewise wishing together with many Thai people– for this ongoing conflict be resolved very soon and peacefully for that matter.

It’s my Birthday!

Yesterday, February 05 is my birthday. It was the 2nd time that I celebrated my birthday in Bangkok. I started my day thanking God for another year given to me. Surely, there were ups and downs but God has given me so much the past year and I really cannot ask for more.

I then headed to the office cos my birthday is a working day. I got Birthday greetings from a lot of colleagues. After our regular morning meeting, I was surprised with the birthday greetings from my boss and all the managers. On top of that, my boss passed me her gift (a Lacoste cap) and birthday card. While the day has passed there were many greetings from my e-mails and facebook account. At first, I did not expect there were many greetings since I’m not at home but I am just overwhelmed with the number of people who greeted me. I even got a couple more gifts and cards from other friends/colleagues through out the day.

I called home because I purposely told my mom not to call me and I’ll be the one to call them. They greeted me and wished me well for my birthday and beyond.

After office, few of my colleagues/friends treated me to a Sukiyaki buffet which is very delicious with a lot of choices. At the end, I ate a lot and enjoyed the dinner treat. I arrived home almost 10 pm and the greetings in Facebook are still coming.

I feel so blessed because of the gestures showed to me so I posted my shoutout “Thank you Lord for another year…I am so blessed. I feel like a king..just finished dinner with friends and colleagues. This day has been great! I received a lot of greetings and even gifts from well meaning friends, colleagues and loved ones. I am glad I touched their lives and now am receiving your blessings thru them. Amen.”

Tonight I am having a post Birthday celebration with my friends here in Bangkok. We’ll have dinner and may go to Khaosarn Road for few drinks and dance.

Cheers to life!

Singapore sojourn

Exactly 1 week ago, I went alone to Singapore for Holiday. It has been over 3 years that I not visited Singapore and many things has changed since I last visited though what remains constant is Singapore’s clean surroundings and lush greens all over. It is such a refreshing respite considering it is a very modern city and not a beach destination. I took the AirAsia flight. It is my first time to travel via AirAsia and I have to admit that it has been a generally pleasant and safe journey. Flight is on time, staff are friendly. No wonder it is such a big hit in Southeast Asia. I arrived in Changi Airport about 3PM Singapore Time. After the long queue at the Immigration counter, I started my “exploration” of the city as a Free and Easy Tourist. It was quite late and the first meal I took was just a bowl of Oatmeal for breakfast. At that point, my tummy is rumbling and I had a slight migraine. Since I want some adventure, I did not exit to the nearest Taxi stand for convenience. Instead, I asked where the MRT station is. The lady at the information counter gladly instructed me how to reach the other terminal where the MRT Changi Airport Station is located. MRT in Singapore is a bit more complicated than in Bangkok as there are several lines. I carefully screened the map to check where I need to drop off. My friend Gly informed me I had to drop at City Hall, transfer to the other line and drop at Dhoby Ghaut station. From there, I can walk to my hotel.

The MRT ride is a bit slower than taking the taxi cos there are many stops and since I need to transfer it took more time. However, the ride is good. I get to see more of Singapore and the normal people’s way of life as well as get a lot of savings. My fare from airport to Dhoby Ghaut is less than SGD 3.00. Had I taken the taxi, maybe it will cost me about SGD 15-20. I checked-in at Hotel Rendezvous, a nice 4-Star Hotel with a very convenient location. The reception staff was very professional and helpful. Only thing is there is no luggage porter to help you go up to your room. Fortunately, I only have a light luggage. I was given a Junior Suite which is 1 category higher than the one I booked so I’m quite impressed with the arrangement. However, my happiness is a bit short lived when I realized the hotel does not provide complimentary drinking water. I have traveled in many places and stayed in many hotels and it is a basic free amenity in all the hotels I stayed. Later, my friend informed me maybe because water is so expensive in Singapore the reason why they charge the bottle of water in the room. To think the only available bottled water in my room is Evian which is way too expensive!

Since it was already 5PM my tummy is really complaining like crazy. Fortunately, just across the hotel, there is a hawker called Kopitian. I bought the Chicken Rice Meal because many people say the best Chicken Rice is in Singapore. However, after tasting I feel the chicken rice I usually buy in the streets of Bangkok are better. Or maybe because I did not try the Chicken Rice of the restaurant specializing in this food. After my very late lunch..I met my former colleagues and friend in Orchard Road and we have few bottles of beer, Chicken and Pizza, we headed to eat some desserts after dinner courtesy of Roel and Gly. I am so lucky they even game me some cheesecakes for take-away to the hotel.

Next day, Me, Mel (my long time friend since University time) and Boni my other good friend residing and working in SG went to Singapore Zoo. We were supposed to go to Sentosa but since Mel has an afternoon class (she is studying in Singapore), it is not convenient to go to Sentosa and stay there for 1 hour only considering the traffic was quite bad that day. Singapore Zoo is pretty much similar to Night Safari (which I enjoyed the last time I was in Singapore) but since it is daytime, it tend to be really hot even if the zoo has a lot of trees.

My next stop was shopping in Orchard specifically Lucky Plaza. In here, you can buy perfumes at a cheaper price (cheaper than in Manila or Bangkok I think). I was able to buy 4 bottles of perfume and my friend gave me another bottle as Birthday gift. Later on, I got another bottle from my former colleagues. How lucky can I get ayt? After dinner in my friend Boni’s house (which btw I cooked the Beef Caldereta as special request), we went to Dempsey Hill, the new watering hole in Singapore gaining popularity. Then proceeded to Esplanade, Merlion along Marina Bay and Fullerton Hotel.

Next day, I went to Sentosa Island with Mel. Pity that Resorts World Sentosa is not fully operational. Universal Studio is still not open but only the hotels in the complex. We take pictures in Hard Rock Hotel Singapore and I bought a Souvenir Shirt. Personally, I think Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is better and the staff livelier and friendlier. The whole time we were in Hard Rock Singapore, not even 1 staff greeted us which is totally opposite Hard Rock Pattaya where you can feel the warmth and hospitality of the staff.



Since I am meeting another friend in the afternoon, I had to cut short getting around Sentosa. And it is very hot anyway so to avoid the discomfort we decided to go back to the city centre. I had my Bak Kuh Teh for the 2nd time after our brief Sentosa Island trip. That night, we strolled along St. James Powerstation which is also a popular place with lots of bars and restaurants. This complex is near Vivo City, Singapore’s biggest shopping mall.


The next day, we had a short trip to Johor Bahru, the neighboring Malaysian city of Singapore. JB as it is popularly known is teeming with Singaporeans mostly going there to refuel their car or do some shopping. I tasted some Malaysian food and I can say it is good especially their local desserts. Then I was able to buy a pair of Sta. Barbara Polo and Racquet Club shoe which is half the price off. Around dinner time, I proceeded to the airport for my flight back to Bangkok which again was on time courtesy of Air Asia.

As I reached Bangkok, I felt I’m back to my 2nd home..same familiar roads, sights and sounds. However, I cannot deny that my last Singapore trip was great. Though I travel alone, I did not feel bored at all. I have many friends who took good care of me. They are very generous as they don’t mind paying for some of the bills and even sent me gifts or souvenirs. But most important of all, they really spend time (some even took leave from work) just to meet me. I guess when you have dome something good, there will definitely a payback later.

Another drinking night in Bangkok with exotic food on the side…

The other night I posted my trip to Route 66 in Ratchadapisek/Rama 9 area of Bangkok which is the happening place for teenagers and young professionals. Last night, I headed back to Khaosarn Road for another partying session..seems i’m in a party mood these days, ayt? Well actually I had no plans of drinking and partying for 3 consecutive nights but I had some friends visiting Bangkok so might as well take the opportunity. Besides, I already had my mind set to go out on Saturday Night because me and my friends were supposed to have dinner to celebrate the 7th Birthday of JM, the son of my friends here but last minutely it was decided they will go to Dreamworld, a local theme park at the outskirts of Bangkok. Since it is a kid’s birthday we’re talking about, all of us agreed it is best the party will just be held there. Unfortunately, I am not available in the morning so I am unable to join them in Dreamworld.

After dinner at home last night, I decided I don’t want to just kill time in my room while my other friends are mostly outside. I called one of my friend who is in Khaosarn area and unable to join Dreamworld as well. I asked where they were and what are their plans for the night. They said they are about to have dinner so I decided I will follow them there and we can have a couple of drinks. I dressed  up and went to Khaosarn immediately after.

I met them in a small Mexican Restaurant and they are almost about to finish dinner. After dinner, 3 of them are unable to join any further activities for the night so only 3 of us are left to roam around the area. We decided to go first in Rooftop bar. It is located in the 3rd floor of a guest house and the bar played acoustic music. The singer was quite good and we thought he is a Filipino because of his singing style and his accent cannot be that of a Thai. After one round of Leo Beer and hanging out few more minutes enjoying the music and the crowd, we decided to “start” our drinking session. We decided we can just sit at some bars along the street wherein their bar area is actually the sidewalk and you are just seated in some plastic chairs. Naturally, the drink here is cheap because they don’t have to rent a big space since their bar area/sidewalk is free anyway. Most of the western people love to hangout in these type of bar and enjoy lengthy chit-chat..We ordered a bucket of strong whiskey cocktail mixed with coke. As what they advertised, the drinks are really super strong and they did not check our ID cards too even if we looked minors..LOL.

I dared my friends to eat some insects being sold on the street like in a Fear Factor challenge. Since the 2 of them are ladies, I thought they will not be up to my challenge. Apparently, one of them is brave enough to take it up (personally I think she enjoyed eating those exotic insects. LOL). We bought 20 Baht worth of insects. You can see the picture above. It is actually a mix of cricket and another one i’m not too sure if locust or something else. Some other insects being sold are silkworm, ants and scorpion. I think I will not be valiant enough to eat the scorpion in any occasion in the future. Actually in some carts, there are even more insect selections like cockroach. Mostly these insects are crispy fried and the sauce is soy-based. I’ve tried eating worms in Palawan locally known as Tamilok. It tastes like oyster. I’ve also tried fried frog legs which is super tasty and similar to chicken, so eating exotic food is not new to me.

I took my first bite, eyes closed. I think the taste is not disgusting as it seems. It is crispy with no pungent smell or bitter taste whatsoever. It is like a plain crispy skin of pork or chicken. The best part is that it is not juicy. If there are some juice oozing or there are some bitter taste in it, I will definitely vomit.

Next, we moved to one of our fave hangout in Khaosarn- Shamrock Bar. Last night the band was good and played popular songs. We really enjoyed dancing and ordered another bucket of strong cocktail. While we were dancing, we met some group of Thais who are also enjoying the night. They were super cool and danced with us and even shared some drinks as well.

It was almost 3 AM and we were drunk and wasted. I had to call my other friend to help us get out of the bar. HA HA! So disgusting of me to use a helpline right?

We walked outside and bought some hot siopao which is very tasty especially after all those drinking and dancing.

Actually, only me had to travel far to get home because my friends just had to walk few meters and their guest house is there alread. Fortunately, I was able to go back home almost 4 AM.

It was such a great g-mik night day and hope soon my gang will be complete the next time we go bar hopping so it will be more fun.

(Belated) Happy New Year!

Last December 31 New Year’s Eve, me and my friends decided to dine out to celebrate New Year instead of staying at home and preparing food which is what we’ve done for Christmas. We trooped to Siam and had a big dinner in Sizzler’s Restaurant.  After filling our tummies with good food, we headed off to Khaosan Road to wait for the coming year 2010.

Khaosan was teeming with New Year revelers, foreigners and locals alike. Many foreigners (mostly Caucasians) prefer Khaosan due to numerous bars and restaurants to choose from and because the crowd here is very lively. This is actually an understatement…Even before Midnight, there are several short commotions due to some action brought about by small fights of drunkards (mostly Westerners). We were not spared of these drunkards as well. One time (after midnight), me and a friend went to 7-11 to buy some water since it’s very hot due to the big crowd turnout in the street and probably because of dancing and celebrating too much. While we are just standing in front of 7-11, we see a lot of policemen moving forward. Less than a minute passed, they are guiding a Tall, shirtless White guy to the police station. Following them is a bloody Westerner as well. It seems that this guy was hit by a bottle in the head and blood is flowing freely down his body, his white shirt turned red.  This is the first incident we’ve witnessed. While this was happening, another thing is simultaneously happening in the bar we were staying. One drunk White guy just suddenly stormed our table and toppled our Heineken beer tower. Two of my friends who were left in our table that time was caught by surprise because it happened so fast and one tried to grab the white guy so he can pay for the damage. Unfortunately, the intruder was very fast and had escaped before he was made to pay for his “crime”. This incident spoilt our supposedly fun drinking session a bit.

It was almost 1:30 am and the night is still young. The freak accident surely did not dampen our spirits and so my group decided to hangout to another venue. We then went to Silk Bar which is not more than 50 meters away from our first spot. The ground floor was still full so we went to the 2nd floor which is a bit quieter as there are some empty tables because most of the people decided to party in the streets. This gave us a good idea to make it our own dance floor since the sounds are quite good. Our group danced like crazy. We did many dance steps- sometimes serious, sometimes funny, sometimes weird. Since you will have to pass our “dance floor” before you are able to go to the restrooms, many passersby are actually being entertained by our dance moves. One British guy even approached and danced with us because he finds us so lively and happy. This was even caught on video.

Around 3AM, some more friends joined us so we decided to move to another place near the balcony of the bar (also on the 2nd floor). This spot actually gives you a good view of the ground floor of the bar and the streets where revelers are still very much alive. Many people are still walking or dancing in the street and a lot of them are holding large beer bottles so it means many are getting drunk. Because alcohol is really not good if it gets into your brain, true enough, less than 30 minutes that we were seated in the balcony, another commotion happened…Another Western guy just went to a table in the Ground Floor of our bar and punched one guy. The group tried to help the victim so this caused their table turn upside down and a lady was even hurt. The Thai employee of the bar upon seeing the damage tried to fight and punch the guy who first attacked. Fortunately, cool heads prevailed and they tried to stop the punching before it escalates into a full-blown street war.

As for our group, we just enjoyed the night (or dawn) and finished our drinks before deciding to call it a day. We left the place and headed back home around 5:30 AM.  Overall, it was an unforgettable experience full of fun and action. I’m glad everyone in our group are easy to be with and loves to party so it made the celebration even more memorable.

With this, I am definitely looking forward to a good year. 2009 has been a good year but it could have been better. I am wishing 2010 will be perfect.