Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Davao City is more than just about durian and President Duterte, it's also a great destination for a gastronomic feast. Equipped with my new Huawei P9 phone with Leica Dual Camera, I treated myself for a food trip around Davao City.

There are a lot of interesting places to dine in the city but since I really cannot go to all of them, I have listed the Top 10 restaurants that I have visited recently. Whether you are into five-star dining or a street food lover, you’ll definitely have something to try in this list.

When it comes to Davao food, one restaurant that really stands out is Lachi’s. It’s located in Marfori Heights, a new food destination in the city. Lachi’s is known for its mouthwatering desserts but it also serves sumptuous food that you’ll surely admire. Some of my favorites in their menu are laing, unforgettable ribs, Asian spicy chicken, and callos. As for dessert, they have a number of must-try items but I suggest you try their durian cheesecake and their Sansrival. I always have a gastronomic delight whenever I visit Lachi’s.

Polo Bistro at Marco Polo Davao
If you prefer five-star dining and wants something uniquely Davao, I highly suggest you try Polo Bistro’s Oh! Pomelo set menu. Polo Bistro is an award winning restaurant at the heart of Davao. It serves inter-continental ala carte dishes with a great view of the hotel pool. As part of its mission to promote Davao, the Food and Beverage team has come up with a set menu that will surely satisfy your palate. All items in the Oh! Pomelo menu has bits and pieces of pomelo so it’s really something interesting. I personally love the slow-baked salmon fillet with pomelo mango kaffir lime salsa, saffron cream and pomelo hollandaise. It’s just so appetizing!

The Vegan Dinosaur
If you are a vegetarian, The Vegan Dinosaur is the right place for you. It’s a vegan grab & go resto in the city located in Marfori Heights. It promotes healthy eating and serves food that’s good for the body and soul. I am a meat lover so I only visit this place once in a while but when I go here, I am always satisfied of what I eat. Must-try is their Vanilla Mango Chia pudding, Raw Cacao Overnight Oats, TVD’s Vege Burger, No meat Bolognese pasta, and their Avocado Bruschetta.

Cecil’s Snack Inn
One of my favorite go-to-places when I crave for Filipino comfort food is Cecil’s Snack Inn. They are everywhere in Davao City but I still prefer to go to their main branch in Anda St. because of the familiar ambiance back when I was still in college. I go here at least once in a month to have their Pinutos (Rice topped with chicken pork adobo wrapped in banana leaf). It’s my ultimate favorite. I also love their palabok, dinuguan and batchoy. As for dessert, I suggest you try their éclair, moist cake and leche flan. They’re all good!

Tuna Express Kamayan Grills
One of the most successful hole-in-the-wall eatery in Davao City is Tuna Express. The eatery started in Roxas Avenue and has now opened new branches in the city. The most recent addition to its growing chains of eateries is in Duterte Street. Surely, it’s going to be a success again. Tuna Express serves fresh grilled tuna, kinilaw and a whole lot more of other comfort dishes. It’s definitely a must-try for fish lovers like me.

Abuelo’s is the only restaurant in Davao city that offers authentic Kapampangan dishes. I have already heard a lot of good reviews of their Kapampangan sisig so one day I tried to have it, but unfortunately they were closed. After a month, I came back again and finally, I was able to try their house specialty. I’ve tried the sisig of the historic Camalig restaurant in Pampanga and for me they have the best sisig I have tried so far. So, I had high expectations but it did not disappoint me. It’s almost as good as Camalig’s original sisig.

Kusina sa Subli
Tucked in a quiet neighborhood of Lanzona Subdivision is Kusina sa Subli, southerners comfort dining place in Davao City. It offers a wide array of delightful grilled dishes as well as other equally palatable cuisines. I personally love the homecooked tastes of their dishes. The imbao soup is good as well as the grilled food items. This Kadayawan season, they are offering a boodle feast meal at only P900, P1000, and P1300. It’s good for around five people so you’ll surely enjoy the comfort of home at Kusina sa Subli.

Potions Grille and Restobar
Opened just a few days ago, Potions Grille and Restobar offers a fusion of Korean and Japanese cuisines located at Plaza de Bole in Torres St. A must try is their Seafood Special and their soup called Gamjatang. The presentation of their food is good as well as the taste. The food serving is huge and is shareable to you friends and family. Aside from their good food, they also offer cocktails and alcoholic drinks and they are open until the liquor ban.

Roxas Night Market
If you are a street food lover, then there’s no other place to go at night but Roxas. There is an array of different types of street food every night. You can opt to have the usual grilled barbecue, the fried proben and isaw, to buchi, shawarma and a whole lot more. You can never go wrong of you visit Roxas at night. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a wide selection of street food with friends. A truly must-visit place when in Davao.

Durian in Magsaysay, Bankerohan, Anda
A visit to Davao City is not complete without trying the famous Durian. There are a number of places you can try them but the most common areas to have durian are in Bankerohan Public Market, Magsaysay Fruit stand and in a fruit stand in Anda corner Rizal Streets. The best time to have lots of durian is during Kadayawan season as the prices go as low as P30 per kilo. If you are not sure of what variety you should eat, you can try Arancillo and Puyat as they are good for starters. If you are not a fan of durian, you can opt to have marang, mangosteen or rambutan.

So there you go, I hope you will be able to try the restaurants I mentioned above. I enjoyed the recent culinary journey I had. I used to carry my heavy DSLR when I go on a food trip to document my gastronomic adventures, but now, I just have to carry my light Huawei P9 Phone with Leica Dual Camera. It’s a perfect companion for my travels and food trips. The photos are sharp and in good quality. All photos used in this article were taken using Huawei P9 phone. 
As nice as the rays of the summer sun may feel, there’s also a certain appeal to enjoying the cool breeze, too. Whether you’d prefer to have a staycation at some of the most comfortable hotels in the Philippines or want to explore a city you’ve never been to before, we’re sure that you’ll enjoy the three cities we’ve listed in this article.

1. Baguio

The Summer Capital of the Philippines has a lot to offer for both new and old visitors. It’s also easy to get around the city in comfort, as the flag-down rates for taxis are as low as PhP 30.00. For the full City of Pines experience, we recommend putting on some comfortable shoes and walking around so that you can really get to see the hustle and bustle of the area. Make sure to bundle up, as temperatures can go as low as 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Farenheit). Also, just because it’s cool doesn’t mean you’re safe from sunburn, especially during the summer, so make sure to on some sunblock, too.

Things You Should Do:
  • Pick some juicy red strawberries at the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad
  • Get a dose of art and culture by visiting the Ben Cab Museum
  • Shop around for bargains at the night market in Burnham Park
2. Sagada

Sometimes called the Shangri-La of the Philippines, many travellers like to stop by the sleepy little town of Sagada. Many people compare it to being in New Zealand thanks to its cool climate and relaxing atmosphere. We recommend going there between the months of November to February, when the weather is at its coolest. Just be prepared for the large crowds during the annual bonfire festival in December and the town fiesta in February.

Things You Should Do:
  •        Marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites while spelunking at the Sumaguing Cave
  •        Take in the breathtaking view from the summit by hiking up Mt. Ampacao
  •       Learn more about Kankanaey culture and Sagada’s history at Ganduyan Museum
3. Tagaytay
A popular weekend getaway spot due to its easy accessibility, Tagaytay City, located at the highest point of Cavite, is full of fun activities to do. If you fancy yourself more of a foodie, you can stop by various restaurants such as Sonya’s Garden, Bag of Beans, and Mahogany Market. You can even enjoy the breathtaking view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano all from the comfort of your room, depending on the type of hotel package you’ve chosen.

Things You Should Do:
  • Ride the highest ferris wheel in the country at the Tagaytay Sky Ranch
  • Marvel at the world’s largest collection of puzzles at the Puzzle Mansion
  • Brush up on your Philippine history at the Geronimo Berenguer de los Reyes Jr. Museum
Wherever you decide to go, you’ll be sure to have a ton of fun while staying cool and comfortable the entire time. Don’t forget to pack your favorite jackets, gloves, socks, and comfy hats to keep yourself cozy during your adventure. Have a safe trip, and have fun!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Many people know the country of the Philippines for many things. Both locals and foreigners alike would have a thing or two of knowing the place many people visit on a yearly basis. There is just something about the place that is worth remembering. 

Of all the beautiful places in the country, however, there is one so renowned you would easily remember it through one of the country’s national symbol—the Philippine Eagle—that is, Davao, for it is the place to which the national bird is partly endemic. (Read: Davao City Travel Guide)

But Davao, in general, is more than just about sightseeing the legendary bird as it, too, is a hub for many things that are worth the visit whether within the bounds of the city itself or elsewhere close to it.

Sightsee the Davao Crocodile Park
Freshwater or saltwater crocodiles are not normally found in the city, but within one of Davao City’s confined space are a variety of wild animals—including the two types of crocodiles in their own separate spaces—where their species are preserved for people to see in their artificial habitat.

Chill at Eden Mountain Resort
While Davao City is by regard a coastal city due to its relative distance to the area’s seawaters, the city can be easily thought of for its resorts by the sea. Going to the contrary is the Eden Mountain Resort whose location is set atop a mountain—notwithstanding, an ideal place of relaxation many feet above seawater level.

Understand a Part of the Culture Through the People’s Park
What better way to demonstrate a certain locale’s culture than through man-made craft depicting the significant figures in the area like the tribal people as illustrated in their most natural way of living? Having to visit the People’s Park is to see just that.

Trekking Mt. Apo
There are a few ways you can access Mt. Apo from anywhere in Mindanao, but going through the Davao City route is the most common, especially for travelers.

A photo posted by Ron F.O.R. (@ron1221) on

Get into Extreme Sports at DECA Wakeboard Park
Wakeboarding may not be a sport unique only to Davao, but if you are into extreme sport nonetheless and you are local, experiencing it first-hand is best done at the DECA Wakeboard Park.

Find Thrill at Zip City and Outland Adventure Xcelerator
Zip lining has always been proven to be an adrenaline-packed means of leisure. Set at the perfect height while employing high-standard mechanism, you are sure to enjoy a safe and fun experience of zip lining in Davao City.

A photo posted by Angelica Aznar (@azyguitar) on

Wallow at the Waters of D’leonor Inland Resort and Wavepool
Tired of Davao’s seawaters and wanted to try something new yet strikingly familiar as well? Chances are good that you would be in one of Davao City’s resort that is the D’leonor Inland Resort and Wavepool.

Experience the Roxas Night Market
If you want to experience Davao’s street food and night bazaar, head to Roxas Night Market and you’ll enjoy a wide array of food that will surely satisfy your tummy. Try Mang Danny’s ice cream, the most popular ice cream in the city.

A photo posted by Art Garcia (@meet_artgarcia) on

Visit Philippine Eagle Nature Center
Want to get a good glimpse of the national bird without putting everything to just chance? Why not visit the place to which the birds thrive and see them in their natural habitat by going to the Philippine Eagle Nature Center?

Hop into IGACOS
The Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) may not be technically a region that is scope to Davao City but given the relative distance between the two, getting from one to the other is made simple by just any boat. For a yet another tourist destination that is IGACOS, then why not?

So what are you waiting for? Book a ticket to Davao now! Get huge discounts in planning your holiday through SaleDuck Philippines, a website that offers discount codes for travel related sites such as Expedia, Cebu Pacific and a lot more. Why pay more if you can get it for less, right?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Nestled at the heart of the northeastern part of the busy coastal city of Sarawak, Meritz Hotel in Miri is an ideal place of stay for active travelers who go from one place to another, involving both leisure and shopping. Neighbored by the Bintang Megamall, going shopping from outside of the hotel’s premises is as easy as a few steps away of walking on foot—some say a short 2 minutes’ walk.

With a 24-hour service, inclusive of free parking for walk-in guests, the staff at Meritz Hotel is active to accommodate anyone 24/7—for one situated in the thriving and bustling region of Miri, the business can be commonly busy.

If you are a traveler who booked into the hotel coming from a long distance of travel and do not have the energy to go to the nearby mall for some fine dining, Meritz Hotel has its own restaurant in its premise—the Grand Old Lady restaurant—that can serve you many international cuisine befitting many different palates. Outdoor dining while still technically within the hotel’s premises are also possible if you are to dine at the Sky Garden.

Apart from the mall, there are also many other notable places you can visit within few minutes from the hotel—going to Canada Hill, it takes around 5 minutes by taxi; while getting to the Tanjung Lobang Beach is just 10 minutes of walk. If you are a traveler who needs to be onboard a plane, the Miri Airport is just 20 minutes’ away from the hotel.

Common amenities in each of the rooms of the hotel include air-conditioner, a flat-screen TV, a personal safe, and a facility where you can make your own tea or coffee.

The hotel has different accommodation type depending on your budget. They have atrium every after three floors where you can accept your visitors if you don’t want them in your room.

For guests who wanted a place of relaxation and leisure, the hotel also offers free swimming in its outdoor pools as well as a gym to keep one’s fitness with.

If you are in need of laundry and some ironing, these services are also available should you require them. As for any transactions involving luggage storage, it must be conducted at the front desk as per company policy.

The Meritz Hotel in Miri—with its 200 unique rooms—is an above-average hotel that has been in service to its clients since only May 14, 2012. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Strategically situated at the busy city center of Kuching and just a few walks away to the nearby Padungan area, there lies a hotel made easily renowned for its name—the LimeTree Hotel, a tribute to the original owner’s passion for limes which are oftentimes dubbed as “green lemons” for the similarity in their taste despite the obvious difference in outward appearances.   

What exactly is the LimeTree Hotel?

As a business of several years in service since having started operation in 2009, the LimeTree Hotel is not outdated when it comes to architectural design for a business of its kind—it is as contemporary as it gets for its time. Yet, for one whose idea of naming was founded in the love of limes, the design, too, is said to be based on the vibes that come from the actually grown plant—the feeling of zest from the trees of limes.

Complimentary fresh lime juice at the rooftop bar

Years prior to 2009, however, the building that is now the LimeTree Hotel was once an office building until its acquisition in 2007.

With a building spanning 50 unique rooms and suites, each of which equipped with the modern-day amenities that keep us comfortable like a free Wi-Fi internet access, LCD TVs, soft beddings, and the like, you get everything you would need in a mid-range boutique hotel as this place.

Superior Twin (No Window)
Deluxe King
Executive Deluxe Twin
Executive Suite 
Family Suite

Trying to set itself apart from the common cookie-cutter approach of many cafes in various hotel, LimeTree Hotel’s Café Sublime and LimeLight Rooftop Lounge feature drinks and foods based on lime-inspired recipes in line with Sarawak delights. The inclusion of limes in those foods and drinks made an obvious difference.

What are there to like with LimeTree Hotel?

As an awardee of the TripAdvisor awards for three consecutive years since 2012, any person will be intrigued enough to know what’s in the place.

For a hotel known to have been established based on the concept inspired on limes, the LimeTree Hotel is unsurprisingly eco-friendly in its approach to business—the green ways. From the choice of opting for more environment-friendly contraption, to energy-efficient means of saving and reusing energy, use of lime’s pulp and peeling for cleaning, as well as the policies—such as the no smoking policy—that made the indoors of the hotel as health-friendly as possible, LimeTree Hotel truly promotes a green environment for its guests to enjoy a healthful stay at the place.

If you are a professional who is always on-the-go and could not afford to stay at home, choosing to stay at the LimeTree Hotel would be just as good as home for the hotel’s almost home-like features like having paid laundry and cleaning as well as ironing which you can manually do yourself upon request.

Flying for outside the country is not a problem either, thanks to the hotel’s airport transfer service which lets you move to the airport using the business unit’s own van upon reservation.

Goodies from the hotel's in-house souvenir shop

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thai Smile Airways, the budget subsidiary of Thai Airways International has recently announce it will fly direct to Cebu, Philippines starting October 2016.

Photo Credit : www.philippineflightnetwork.com

The said airline will fly to Cebu on a daily basis with three times weekly in the morning and four times weekly in the afternoon using an Airbus 320 with 162 dual class seats (12 business class and 150 economy class).
Thai Smile Airways is the regional airline and wholly owned subsidiary of Thai Airways. Based in Thailand, it began operations in July 2012.  The daily Bangkok-Cebu-Bangkok route is in addition to Thai Smiles’ five international routes and twelve domestic routes in Thailand.
Mr. Wutcharin Thatan, Thai Smiles executive, said the airline expects a good amount of traffic from both ends considering that Bangkok is one of the popular destinations for Filipino business and leisure travellers.  Likewise, Thailand is located strategically between the Philippines and Europe, the Middle East, and India, where visitor traffic to the country is registering double digit growth annually.
Mr. Thatan also explained that the non-stop service between Cebu and Bangkok will be faster and more convenient for travellers from the Central and Southern Philippines than the current option which is to fly from Cebu to Manila onward to Bangkok, saving up to one and half hours of domestic flight and a few thousand pesos for local fares.
The airline executive, together with the Market Development Group of the Department of Tourism (DOT), recently visited Manila, Cebu, Bohol, and Clark to gather information and to meet airport officials in preparation for the coming flights.  Mr. Erwin Balane, Head of the DOT’s Route Development Team, said that the new route will provide an additional 58,968 international air seats per year to Cebu.  This will provide expanded opportunity for the country to generate foreign exchange and employment.
The new route is an offshoot of the Philippines’ hosting of Routes Asia 2016 held at the SMX Convention Center last March 2016 in Manila.  The event was considered as the biggest aviation event in Asia where airlines, airports, and tourism authorities met to discuss possible aviation opportunities.
DOT Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. said the new route complements the agency thrust to intensify promotion of direct flights to other international gateways such as Cebu by stimulating air traffic demand in opportunity markets.
Thai Smiles currently has 15 units of the Airbus 320 which are intended to serve the market gap between low-cost carriers and full service airlines.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I booked a bed in a hostel in Singapore as I will only be staying in the country for less than 12 hours so it's most practical to book for a bed than a hotel room which is expensive in Singapore. My flight from Davao arrived in Singapore at past 9PM and I arrived at Gusti Bed and Breakfast around 10PM. I was already tired and hungry so all I wanted was to settle my things in the room and go out to have my late dinner.

The guy at the counter looked confused, so I ask what's going on since I already waited at the reception for over 10 minutes. He said there was an issue as he can't find my booking. He called his colleague and they scan every logbook they have to look for my booking. I waited patiently for about an hour then I asked if what's really going on and the guy at the counter told me that they are fully booked and they were not informed by Expedia of my booking. I was furious but I kept my cool. The guy at the counter talked to the owner and he passed the phone to me.

The owner explained that there was a glitched in the system and they have not received my booking. I told her I have a copy of the confirmed booking which I showed to the guy at the counter earlier. She offered me to sleep in the couch at the reception area or transfer to another hostel. I was like, what? Are you serious but then again, I was tired and did not argue. I told her I'd rather stay a night at another hostel so the guy at the counter accompanied me to the new hostel. It wasn't that near but it was a walking distance. It wasn't fair because I booked at Gusti because of its proximity to the MRT and it has good review. Then I was billeted at another hostel a little bit far from the MRT and looks dirty and old. I didn't have much of a choice so I stayed. I was supposed to leave at 9am but decided to leave at 7am because it wasn't really a good experience.

While at Gusti, I emailed and tweeted Expedia hoping that they will respond but they did not. Nothing. I know it was not a huge amount but it was much of an inconvenience. They should at least confirm the booking with the hostel/hotel to be sure.

I had a second thought and gave them a benefit of the doubt because maybe my booking was overlooked by the hostel but when I arrived in Hotel Sentral in KL, I was shocked that they can't find my booking as well. Good thing they are not fully booked so when I showed the confirmed booking via email, they allowed me to check in. So there you go, book with Expedia at your own risk. Never again!