Friday, March 26, 2010

The Philippines Trip pt 3

The Quiet Guide and The Talkative Driver pointed to us interesting buildings and what not. We ohhhed and ahhhed but we, well I, was speechless when we reached the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila. With that much history and grief, that place is so beautifully peaceful.

The peaceful view

Names of the fallen heroes

blocks and blocks of names

the beautiful chapel

We had brunch at McDonalds. The menu is somewhat similar except for the burger with backed beans and they serve rice with their fried chicken and nuggets. Oh, they also have fried chicken and spaghetti. How cute is that?

When they told us we’re going to see an active volcano, I imagine having to hike the volcano to see steams coming out from the peak. I saw something about Taal Volcano in the world wide web but I never really pay attention to it because it was about 2 hours drive from Manila. It didn’t make into Our To Do List.

I was so comfortable in the car and with the aircond in my face I dozed in and out of sleep throughout the trip. *head hangs in shame* However, my sleepiness disappeared when I saw Taal Volcano. For the second time that day I became speechless and that, is a record people.

even with the haze, the view is still stunning

Taal Volcano is situated in the middle of Taal Lake, which we thought was the sea because it was HUGE. But excuse me, if it wasn’t the sea, than what are those little islands doing there? And those fishing thingy? Despite the haze, it was one of the most beautiful natural things I have ever seen.

I know we were at Tagaytay, but I have no idea where exactly we were going but I am sure it is somewhere great. Yes, I have that much of confidence in our guides despite the heart attack-ing driving, the somewhat bad sense of direction and the conflicting facts. It kinda made the whole trip more, fun.

Our first stop was a small chapel called Our Lady of Lourdes Church. It’s a small chapel overlooking the Taal Lake. The Quiet Guide bought us some local delicacy; something made with flour and sugar as well as the sweet Indian mango. Now the locals eat it with shrimp paste but I find it a little weird. The shrimp paste was tasty and I would have eaten it with rice instead.

the entrance to the church

delicacies sold by the locals in the church

Our next stop was Good Shepherd Sisters of Maryridge. The sisters from the convent are well known for their yams and other local product which they manufacture on their own. We tried the Ube (yam in Tagalog) dimples (it was rolled into small balls with dimple on it) and their flan. The dimples were a little too sweet for my liking and I am not being bias but I still prefer my mom’s flan.

I still have two small containers of the dimples if anybody wants to try them.

We continued our journey to the Country Club at Tagaytay Highlands. The road to the country club was winding but it looked pretty cool from a distance. The winding road that is. The view from the cable car block or whatever it is called was fantastic. Despite the hot sun, the wind was blowing. I could just sit there for hours and do nothing.

We went to see the outside of the country club and the place is better than most Country Club I know. *whistles* Bah, that’s the reality. The Chinese restaurant is so cool with its temple-liked concept. Although the club is a little run down, it does have a certain charm to it and the location was certainly a plus point.

the swimming pool area


We then went to the other side of Tagaytay for lunch at this placed called RSM Lutong Bahay Restaurant. It has a gorgeous view of Taal Lake and you could also rent the giant telescope to look at Taal Volcano closely. What did I see? Well, since it was the drought season, all I saw were rocks or was it dried grass? I am not so sure. I only looked for 15 seconds before I lost my interest.

the view from the restaurant

Food was obviously good though the service was a little slow. We were half way done with our food when the drinks which we ordered earlier arrived.

We also visited the Pink Sister Convent who obviously wore pink habit. Why? I don’t know.

during the sunset mass

On our way back, we stopped by the roadside to get some Japanese corns and it is yummy!

There were plenty of things to see and buy, like the beautiful flowers, plants, cool carvings but we were too shy to ask them to stop. They also offered to take us to Greenbelt which we declined because all of them looked so tired.

Since this is our second last night in Manila, we decided to go out. We chose to go to Remedios Circle because it was nearer. There were plenty entertainment outlets but some looked a little dodgy. We chose Tia Maria because I remember reading a review about it on the world wide web and it looked pretty decent from the outside.

Tia Maria serves delicious Mexican food like nachos, tacos, burritos and many others. I am not a big fan but the food was good and the price was cheap. We also had local beer San Mig which is one of the local beer, I think. It’s very light and that is dangerous because if you’re not careful, someone will be hugging the toilet bowl later.

I'd be a good poster girl to deter people from drinking. Hee

Now, Filipinos are known to be good singers. They had two bands; 360 and Puzzle, which alternates every hour. Both bands are energetic and entertaining BUT I have to give Puzzle kudos for performing Hip-Hop & R&B music non-stop (the other band talked a little too much) AND I was impressed with the ‘uncle’ male vocalist. He looks like he’s in his 50s and yet he is energetic and could rap those rapper wannabe to SHAME. Too bad I don’t have a clear photo of him.

We left early as we need to start early the next day.

To be continued.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what to do, what to do?

Welcome to another crappy month especially brought to you “Hey, That’s Life! Deal With It”.

I wasted 2 weekends working on something totally unnecessary. If only someone would put their foot down to stop the nonsense. Unfortunately, we were told to humour him. *sigh* I thought the nightmare is over but now we are expected to come up with another idiotic thing? WTH? I don’t think so my friend. Call me defensive or mumble to yourself silly. Get someone else to do it.

What is up with all this silliness?

Like Miley mentoring American Idol. Like those AF8 kids sobbing hysterically when the first student got kicked out on week 1. Like sales people not knowing their own product. Like ‘people who open their mouth without thinking of the consequences.

I sometimes wonder if this is all a big joke on me because if it is, I am so willing to roll on the floor laughing out loud. Heck, I’ll even cry a tear or two for the fun of it.


I am supposed to register Ekiel for primary school (he’ll be in primary one in 2012) but I am still very much torn between the non Chinese and Chinese school debate. Despite him not liking the subject so much, because of the many strokes he need to do for a character, I know the importance and the benefits from mastering the language as well as the Chinese school’s education system. However, during the recent school holiday, I realised how hard it would be not only for him, but for me as well. He had Chinese homework and the workbook was in Chinese without any translation. My son asked me what to do, and I stared at the book wondering if this is how it would be for the next seven years.

Another selfish reason for my worry is, him blaming me for whatever decision I make now, in the future.

I always think that my parents should have insisted I go to Chinese school although I told them I didn’t like the subject. My argument is what do I know? I was only 6 years old then. It has been a month now, and I still have not made up my mind. I just hope when I do make up my mind, I will not have another problem of finding him a school which is not full.

I asked Ekiel what he thinks and he casually answers Shan Tao but what does he knows. He is only five. I could have the option of sending him to Sacred Heart and sign him up with some tuition centres for Chinese language on weekends BUT will it be effective as he will only get to practise his Chinese one a week. Mind you, only my dad speaks Chinese at home and his Chinese is not the greatest. That and the fact that we are not the most disciplined family in the world and I would have the problem of transportation.

You should see the faces of those people when I need transport to go anywhere including work!

I know I need to get myself that driving license but I cannot afford a car [and many other things] anyway which means I need to get better pay which leads me back to my work headache. *bangs heads on the wall*

Life is just one big circle of mess.

What you think? Chinese or non Chinese school?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Philippines Trip pt 2

I am pretty sure I read it somewhere in the blogs and what not that the best cheap shopping destination in Manila is Divisoria. Cherry Third Quarter Kinky Queen confirmed this. The Filipino chick we met in KK confirmed this. So I googled the map and it look pretty far from the hotel, but hey, if people say that’s the best cheap shopping place, then to Divisoria we shall go.

The first morning, we wondered how to get to Divisoria. We tried
our luck by asking the reception if there were any direct jeepneys and guess what, there is. We only had to walk to Pedro Gil which is only five minutes away. Now, someone whom I shall not name said, based on common sense, we must cross the busy streets to take the jeepneys.

We did that and I nearly lost my head because I forget that
in the Philippines, they drive on the other side of the road. I automatically looked to my right when suddenly a big bus come speeding from the left. Jatuh my jantung. Before I could recover, we found out that we were on the wrong side of the road and we need to cross the road again.

San Pedro street

We took a jeepney and paid RM0.50 and told the driver to show us where to stop. We passed by City Hall, Rizal Park and not long after, the driver told us to go down. I told myself it wasn’t that far until I realized we were in Binondo instead. I know for a fact that the two places are not that far apart, so we asked the tricycles driver how to get to Divisoria. They replied to us in Tagalog but from the hand gestures, that place is nearby. We told them we don’t speak Tagaolog, so they tried explaining to us in English but somehow his translation went back to Tagalog and his friends laughed at him.

Now, although I have googled Divisoria plenty of times, I h
ave no idea how and what the place is like. I imagine it looking like our pasar malam. We walked around, unsure what we were looking for. Our biggest mistake was, we wasted too much effort looking for the Divisoria we imagined that we didn’t really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the area. There plenty of stalls selling almost everything imaginable. From fruits to shoes, plastics to clothes. Everything.

View from Divisoria Mall

We found the New Divisoria Shopping Mall and it wasn’t what we imagined it to be. In the building, there were smaller stalls that sells everything in bulk, however, the clothes and things available wasn’t what we had in mind. So we went out and continued walking. Now, the heat was terrible and the pla
ce was crowded. We did find few stalls that sell cheap and fashionable clothes from RM3.70 and that kept me going. We grabbed a quick lunch at Chow King and the food is yummy.

the malls

Our adventure continues and we found a stall that sells pretty masquerade mask at really cheap prices. I don’t know when I will ever need a masquerade mask, but I bought one anyway which the lady customized for me on the spot for only RM7.40. The two ladies also bought a mask for their own.

lots and lots of masks

While walking we found shops that sells wedding gowns, laces, clothes, scrubs but no clothes. I went around looking at the wedding dresses [out of curiosity] but my sister finds it a little pathetic so we went to the other block instead.

the haze and the crowd can be overwhelming

We found another shopping mall called 168 Mall and the things there were cheap with plenty of options. I was devastated to know that my shoe size is not common in Manila and I only ended buying a pair of working shoes and a pair of casual shoes for RM7.40 each. I also bought two slippers for only RM3.70 a pair and Ekiel’s slipper only cost me RM1.85.

At the end of the day, I announced to the girls that I am never coming back to Divisoria. I know I wasn’t the best shopping buddy with my migraine, the heat and the crowd. But now, when I really think about it, I am looking forward to go back and really venture that place.

you could literally shop till you drop

This time I will go earlier, with a hat, lots of water, a better camera and a big shopping bag. My fingers turned blue from all the plastic bags twisting around my fingers.

church in Binondo

a local boy taking his bath at the fountain

We got back to Manila around 7pm and had dinner at Red Ribbons. Again, food was good.

My sister has colleagues (let’s call them The Quiet Guide and The Talkative
Driver) from Manila who did some project at her office in KL. They came that night and took us out. They showed us a seafood place where diners need to go buy their seafood from the vendors outside and bring them to any of the restaurants available to be cooked. The concept sounded weird to me, but it was interesting to see people lining up at the stalls and bringing their dinner into the shop. The place was packed so we opt to go to Mall of Asia for dinner [again] at Gerry’s Grill for some local food. Don’t ask me what we had because I don’t know and yes, no photos were taken but trust me when I say the food was excellent especially the beef soup thingy and the grilled fish.

We went around Mall of Asia and decided to walk around the outdoor side facing the Manila Bay. There were plenty of things to eat, do and see. I am pretty sure
it’s a popular dating location as there were many couples giving each other the lovey-dovey look.

the crowd at outdoor Mall of Asia around 10pm

the do silly and yet entertaining dances

While I was enjoying my local bubble tea with the gentle breeze blowing my greasy hair, a couple in front of me was busy taking their photo with a camera phone. The funny bit is, they don’t stop at one photo. After the 5th or 6th photo, I decided to make it fun for them and gave them the peace sign pose, the comel-comel pose, the serious pose and my personal favourite, my infamous macam mau kiss orang pout.

Fyi, Hooters Manila is located here. No, we didn’t go see because our guides were not like that.

Our nice guides took us around Manila. We went to many places, which I don’t remember now. We also crossed over river using the bridge with the funny lights. The lights went on like waves and it doesn’t serve any purpose except being the joke of every driver (The Talkative Driver’s especially) who crosses the bridge.

They told us that under the bridge is a charity home for some children. Before Manila, I wou
ld never believe anyone would live under the bridge but they do. Under the bridge, the flyover, monsoon drain.

some just slep by the roadside. a pitiful sight really

Anyway, going around Manila at night is differently beautiful especially when those churches and interesting buildings are lighted perfectly. A must for all photographers.

Rizal Park

Manila Cathedral

one of the churches in Intramurous

a chuch made of steel

The Quiet Guide and The Talkative Driver offered to take us to see Taal Volcano the next day which we accepted graciously and I’m glad we did.

To be continued.