Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Venetian Macau, Hotel Holiday and Senado Square

Touchdown Macau. Pretty impressive that most hotels and all big casinos provide complimentary shuttle service to/from the airport, ferry terminal and transit points to tourist places. 

Just a stone's throw away (5 mins travel) from the Macau Intl Airport is The Venetian Hotel & Casino. Marvel at the intricate ceiling replicating the beauty of renaissance Venice with ornate and lavish moldings.

Indulge in the finest all-suite accommodations, over 300 duty-free shopping, world-class entertainment and over 30 dining choices – all under one roof. Even non-guests get to frolic to their hearts content and enjoy free luggage holding service (west wing lobby) 

The cloud dappled soft blue sky mural reminded me of IBN Battuta Mall in Dubai. It entices anyone to shop among the best brands of boutique from New York, Paris, London and Milan and also enjoy heart warming gastronomic delights. 

While at the shops, you may safely change your currencies to MOP (Macau Pataca) at Bank of China. Here are the rates:
1 usd = 7.79 MOP
1 usd = 7.56 HKD

Experience the romance and grandeur of Shoppes at Venetian where guests are entertained by serenading gondoliers, performers with colorful antics of jugglers, living statues and musicians as they wander around.

Opposite The Venetian is City of Dreams. Rode the complimentary shuttle from COD to Grand Lisboa Hotel. Casino Lisboa's entrance lit up like a beacon at night. 

From here, one can reach the Senado Square in 10-15 minutes by walking. Opted to take a cab, but the queue was just impossible! It took us an hour to get one thereby losing our priceless dinner reservation at Alorcha (hailed as Macau's best Portuguese restaurant) 

Still teary-eyed, headed straight to our humble abode instead. We just needed the convenience of having a place to stay walking distance to Largo de Senado or Senado Square and The Ruins of St Paul. 

I suggest you print out the Chinese name of the hotel as most taxi driver does not speak English.

Spotted Wong Chi Kei while walking at Largo Senado. Famous for its noodles and congee, we decided to give it a try.

Braised noodle with wonton (MOP34)
Yang Chow fried rice (MOP58 )
Chicken wings (MOP68)

You can't go to Macau and not try these portuguese egg tarts ( 2 for MOP20) milk tea ( MOP20) and porkchop bun (MOP39)

Was craving a taste of Margaret's egg tarts but finding it was epic fail. Tried asking the locals but they only gave us puzzled looks. Settled for the one at the Senado Square.

A spectacular facade of Ruins of Saint Paul perched atop one of Macau island's seven hills. Picturesque both day and  at night.

We would have loved to visit the other side of Macau, Coloane island. But time is of the essence and HK awaits. Ferry ride is MOP161 and travel time is approx 50mins.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Din Tai Fung in Tsim Sha Tsui and HK Disneyland

Just because life is too short to just sleep on ze bffs birthday, we packed our bags and headed to an easy peasy Macau-HK weekend getaway with no itineraries in mind. 

Decided to book a hotel at Tsim Sha Tsui where merely taking a stroll and crossing the streets is an experience itself. Retail therapy at its finest!


Originally wanted to make a beeline for Tim Ho Wan in Nathan Road but was bitten by the lazy bug not to ride the mtr. Walked towards Silvercord instead. A 6-storey shopping center brimming with shops and restos. 


Saved our hunger pangs for Din Tai FungAwarded a Michelin star as well as ranked one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times for its famous signature xiao long baos (steamed pork dumplings)

A heart-warming bowl of steamed shrimp and pork wonton soup HKD$64 and egg fried rice served with moist and tender deep fried pork chop HKD$75. 

With a wide selection of delicately hand made dumplings and enticing dishes, discerning diners are destined to tuck into flavorful creations with delight in each and every bite. 

Our introduction to eggettes, a classic Hong Kong street food. Tastes best seconds after they’ve been handed to you warm by the vendor. Soft, sponge-cake like texture on the inside and a crisp shell on the outside. 

Directions from Tsim Sha Tsui to HK Disneyland
  • Take about a minute walk to TST MTR station thru Exit B1
  • Take the red Tsuen Wan Line train and get off at Lai King Station
  • Interchange trains to the Tung Chung Line and get off at Sunny bay Station
  • Interchange to the Disneyland Resort Line train that will bring you straight to Disneyland station Exit A.

Travel time is approx 35-40 mins @ HKD$ 21. Standard park ticket costs HKD$450 per adult. Should you wish to double the fun, 2-Day tickets are at HKD$585.

Hong Kong’s summer from late May to the mid-September is extremely hot and humid. The hottest is in July and August when the mean daytime temperature often exceeds 32 C

HK Disneyland on a Sunday equates to scorching hot long lines at the rides and shows. Think 40 mins -1 Hr waiting time for each ride. We decided to skip the rides and watch the stage shows instead.

We made a beeline for The Golden Mickeys at Fantasyland and Festival of the Lion King at Adventureland.

Highlight is The Flights of Fantasy parade. Town Square in front of Main Street Station is usually less crowded for enjoying the parade. 

Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.

Disney souvenirs are the cutest! Must buy are t-shirts for the folks back home. Shirt prices ranges from HKD$185 above. For the first time in forever... my love affair with Elsa, Anna and Olaf was rekindled. 

You can also find these exclusive Disney merchandise at the airport departure east hall. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Batanes: North & South Batan Tour

To avoid the influx of other tourists, our guide decided to start the tour the other way around, South-to-North Batan, that is. Pleased to show you my handpicked favorites.

Calm and clear turquoise water from the Mahatao Boat Shelter. This serves as a refuge for the fishing vessels in times of unfavorable weather conditions.

Ancient churches always gives me a nostalgic feeling. Like it is endowned with powers that evokes such holiness. This is the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao. It's excellent state of preservation made it a National Cultural Heritage Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts on July 2001.

Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills. Visitors wishing to climb it can use the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse. Lo and behold! at the 5th floor floor is a viewing deck which gives a stunning 360 degrees view of Baluarte Bay, Basco Town, Mount Iraya and the rolling hills of Batan Island. 
OOTD: Dress by: Fievre

Across is the Bunker's Cafe, which serves per-ordered meals. A lovely setting for a romantic dinner.    

An array of handmade souvenir items. Bring home a taste of Batanes with mini replicas of Ivatan stone houses and Vakul .

Vacul, the unique headgear of the Ivatans. Made of shredded leaves of a unique palm in Sabtang Island. I was really contemplating if i should bring home one. (tee-hee)

House of Dakay. One of the oldest Ivatan houses. Perhaps the most photographed stone house in Batanes. Visitors are welcome to take photos in front of the house, or even inside the house. Just ask for permission before you enter. Dont forget to remove your slipers or shoes before stepping into the house.

Honesty Coffeeshop. This is a self service store. You are free to browse and purchase items that are for sale. Prices are fixed. There are no shopkeepers to serve and take your payments. Kindly list the item/s you purchased and the amount paid in the log book. Please pay the exact amount, nobody is around to give your change. If you want to pay more, we would like to tank your generosity.

We believe that human beings are HONEST, may the good Lord bless you. The income generated by this store is used to buy medicines, food and other basic necessities fo the elderly owners. May you have a fruitful visit. Thank you for your visit. God bless all of us

This is probably one of the most photographed places in Batanes. Also known as the "Marlboro Country", because the grasslands reminds some people of the Marlboro commercial where the animals roam freely in a wide area.

Racuh A Payaman is a communal pastureland with panoramic view of endless rolling hills, the ocean, towering mountains and lush green pastureland

Being here right at this moment on my birthday is truly priceless. I can't help but gasp in awe, the surreal beauty of Batanes right before my very eyes.

Batanes has a certain mystique or perhaps it’s the purity of the place — a beguiling rawness to it. 

We were in for a special lunch, a feast rather at the Marlboro Hills. Thank you for making this possible! Two thumbs up for Ryan Cardona, our nicest and most efficient tour guide. 

The rare Coconut Crab ( Tatu ) The pinchers of this terrestrial crab are so strong it can crack open the coconut-husk shell. Regualrly sold in Sabtang Island, it has a sweet heavenly flesh, when boiled simply in water with salt to taste

Steamed fresh lobsters anyone?

Delectable Ivatan cuisine plus a majestic view of the Marlboro Hills = truly priceless!

The exact scene from the movie where the famous tag line i-Dawn Zulueta mo ako was coined.

Off to the equally stunning North Batan. Hills upon hills of green greet you at the the Rolling Hills of Vayang Ranch.

Exasperated for words amidst the blue summer sky and the stillness of the ocean.

Weather turned kinda gloomy later in the afternoon. But nonetheless, rain or shine nothing can stop me from setting foot on the boulders of the famed Valugan Beach.

Ivatan culture immersion. My admiration for Ivatans grew all the more because of this visit. Whatever it is one learns about them in books and articles is just a small fraction of what one would learn when one takes time to actually be with them.

I felt His love and presence with these lovely people

I think i left my heart somewhere in this quaint and lovely Mt. Carmel Chapel in Tukon. Nestled atop the hill, it is the perfect venue for intimate ceremonies like weddings, and the like.

Kapiyan kamu pa nu Diyos!  Our lady of Mt Carmel Chapel needs funds for repair. in this connection we are humbly asking for your help.

You may drop your donations in our donation box or deposit at our bank account 1081-0553-15 Land Bank Basco Branch or you may contact our Brgy Pastoral Council President Ms. Maria G. Hordonez on her mobile number 0908-3688786

Our Patron Saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel will shower you and your family with abundant grace and countless blessings.

For God loves a cheerful giver

Kabaya dinner. Instead of plates, it  was a common practice to serve food on the big leaf of the breadfruit (locally called Kabaya) — at Jessica Salamagos Kabaya Restaurant

( with lunch at Marlboro Hills ) P5,200/ head
Add-ons:  Dinner at Kabaya Jessica Salamagos +P400/head
Tour Guide: Ryan Cardona (Highly Recommended )
Contact No: 0998-9885898