Thursday, September 25, 2008

luggage sale in binondo!

if anyone out there is planning a long trip and is looking for trusty luggage, maybe you can check out this luggage sale somewhere in binondo.

the attached photo may be too tiny, so i'll post the details here:


Ground Floor, State Centre Building
333 Juan Luna St.
Binondo, Manila
Date: September 22 to 27, 2008
Time: 10am to 5pm

brands include sanuk, samsonite, timberland, victorinox, american tourister, world traveller, north face, and others.

i can't wait! i'll probably go over there and check it out after my class on saturday. i hope, i hope, i hope i find a good bargain!

Monday, September 15, 2008

top siem reap hotel picks

i am now officially excited for our siem reap-bangkok trip this november, because we've just secured our room reservations for both cities!

so now, i'll be blogging about my booking experience for siem reap hotels, and to take the opportunity to recommend two hotels that stood out in terms of booking etiquette.

the story is, our group has already decided on staying on the villa, as they offer tempting siem reap packages that include accommodations, tours, and luxurious extras like an arrival pack of wine, chocolates, and cheese, massage vouchers, and cocktail coupons.

we stumbled onto some roadblocks while reserving our rooms. there were a few mix-ups, and it took the hotel a long time to reply. losing hope, i decided to make reservations in other hotels, namely ei8htrooms and golden temple villa. (i made bookings for both to be safe)

both hotels replied promptly, and just as i was reading their confirmation emails, in comes the villa's confirmation, sealing our bookings for the 3-nights lots of luxury package. i then had no choice but to email cancellations to both ei8htrooms and golden temple villa.

i normally don't expect much after cancelling a reservation, but these two hotels definitely surprised me. lee of golden temple villa thanked me graciously, "Thank you very much for kindly informing us, that is very kind of you. I feel sorry that you can't come."

jason and kifi of ei8htrooms are more laidback, but no less gracious, and even offered a few tips: "No worries and we have cancelled your room reservation with us. Do have a wonderful time in Siem Reap and if you have the time, do have areally nice dinner at Viroth's restaurant, Wat Bo road. Also do try eatingthe nice desserts at the Blue Pumpkin."

i felt all warm inside after reading their replies. i mean, they didn't really have to tell me these things, all they had to do was acknowledge the cancellation, but they did one better by being nice and courteous, even in the event of a lost reservation. and since i can't stay in their hotel for this trip, i thought i'd recommend them to anyone who's thinking of going to siem reap.

this is not to say, though, that the villa isn't worth staying in. they were apologetic for the delay, and have been very accommodating as well. the reviews i've read of them are all glowing praises, and i'm hoping that we get to experience quality treatment too when we get there.

oh, and keep in mind that all these are budget accommodations in siem reap. i don't really see any need to book a room in a luxury joint, because the range of accommodation choices are incredible, and seem to give a lot of bang for the buck.

here are some previews of my top hotels for siem reap:

the villa siem reap
153 taphul road, siem reap, kingdom of cambodia
tel. no.: +855 63 761 036
(use the booking form in their site for inquiries and reservations)

pictured on the left is a standard room in this purple haven. we decided to go with the villa because of their relatively affordable luxury package. we're paying USD 155 each for 3 nights of accommodation in a deluxe room, tours for 3 days, a guide for one day, a welcome pack of wine and chocolates, a sunset pack of wine and cheese, khmer dance performance with dinner, and other perks.

also, the villa promotes responsible tourism, by hiring locals from salabai, an NGO that trains underprivileged youth. the villa gives them english lessons and further develops their skills, and even gives them time to attend school. 7% of the villa's profits go to charity, and they have various advocacies to help the people of cambodia.

ei8ht rooms
138/139 stheoung thmey village, svaydangkum commune
siem reap, kingdom of cambodia
tel. no.: 855-63-969788

i was attracted to this place because of the way their rooms were designed. i'm a sucker for simple, clean design, and ei8htrooms has that perfected, with their white and brown scheme, with random touches of asian design here and there.

what's more, their website is very straightforward and well-written. they're also a gay-friendly establishment, and i always believe in supporting such places.

what's more, their rooms cost USD 18-24 only, and jason and kifi, the owners, seem like a nice and accommodating couple.

golden temple villa
old market area, siem reap, kingdom of cambodia
tel. no.: +855 (0)12 943 459
email address:

golden temple villa comes highly recommended by a friend who stayed there earlier this year. this hotel wins because of its friendly manager, lee. from her email alone, i can sense that she's someone who'd be willing to go the extra mile to make your stay in siem reap unforgettable (in a good way!).

the hotel also has well-priced rooms, starting at USD 18 for the singles and USD 30 for the triples. good reviews, and the rooms look really inviting.

so there you go. three fantastic choices for affordable hotels in siem reap. you have no reason not to go. i'll try to get better pictures of their rooms when i get there.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

pablo gallery's frailty at cubao x

last night, i got to venture out into the north of manila for the opening of frailty at pablo gallery in cubao x.

pictured on the right is my friend mitch's work. o di ba, ang expressive? this, along with the pieces of 32 other female artists, are on display in pablo until october 9. so much creativity packed in such a small space!

superficial II: frailty also coincides with pablo gallery's third anniversary. the opening of the exhibit was in full swing when i arrived: the food booth was packed with people waiting to get their bbqs and bottles of red horse, the music was fun and upbeat, and the gallery was swarming with people. it's been a while since i went to one of these party things, and i definitely missed it.

oh, and i finally got to check out butter diner! i've been wanting to go, but lazy me never had the motivation to get up and go to the north. sarah finally brought me there, and i got to try one of their specialties, the rosemary chicken with parsley butter rice. it was okay, i expected more buttery goodness, but i'll try the other goodies next time. the strawberry-banana shake was yummy, though!

going back to cubao x, i really ought to check out that place in broad daylight. there were lots of curio and clothes shops there, and i'm sure i'll find a gem or two. i actually went home wit a 100-peso copy of douglas adams's so long, and thanks for all the fish from remy's thrift shop. i also found a carl hiaasen title, but decided to stick with adams for now. so, while the other peeps were off book hunting at the book fair, i was scrounging through shelves filled with used books and interesting antiques. i like my expedition better!

here's hoping i get to find more time for more in-the-city adventures. it was a delight spending time with friends again, knocking back a few bottles while enjoying some art. :)

more photos of my night in cubao x.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

hostel hunting

after the "meh" phase that plagued me since the start of the year, i'm back to my wanderlusting groove.

i'm taking a break from planning the bangkok-siem reap trip by hunting for hostels in other cities that i want to visit.

you all know how much i love a good bargain, but i'm also on the lookout for interesting-looking hostels, not just the usual backpacker den. nothing against backpackers, but some hostels do tend to scrimp on privacy, which i value the most when i'm traveling. i like to socialize as much as the next person, but i also want to have my own space.

so right now, i'm checking out some hangzhou hostels. i really can't wait to get to this place and see the west lake.

when hunting for a hostel, i usually start with sites such as or, just to see what's out there. the pictures in these sites don't usually give you much information on the place, but the reviews are pretty helpful.

when i've picked one or two from the list, i then consult google (like i really needed to place the link), so i can see if the hostels i chose have their own official website that, hopefully, provides more information. if i'm still not satisfied, i check trip advisor for reviews.

i try not to book through third-party websites, because i want my transaction to be done direct. even though and hostelbookers sometimes offer better rates, i still stick with booking direct. i just think it's less of a hassle that way, and you minimize the problems and confusion regarding your booking.

so, anyway. let me go back to hostel hunting. :) i'll let you know what i find. in fact, i've been thinking of writing a hostel directory blog of sorts. so far, i have singapore, hong kong, and bangkok, with some recommendations for siem reap as well. i'm trying to see if i can find really cool and cheap places to stay in every city that i want to visit.

let's see what happens.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

superficial II: frailty at cubao x!

mitch mauricio, one of the bestest people i know, is included in this year's superficial II: frailty exhibit, in pablo gallery, cubao x.

to show my support, i'm not just going to the exhibit, i'm going to tell you about it, too!

the exhibit opens this saturday, and will run until october 9.

together with 32 other female artists, mitch will be showing her artistic prowess (photography), with frailty as the theme. the superficial exhibit is a follow-up to last year's successful superficial launch, and this year's show will be opening during the third year anniversary of the pablo gallery.

participating artists are:
Carina Almonte, photographer
Jessica Antonio, student, visual artist
Cynthia Arre, Wedding Essentials magazine Design Director, graphic designer
Bru, visual artist, graphic designer, Electrolychee
Mara Bernaldo, video director, motion graphics editor

Mica Cabildo, visual artist, musician, graphic designer Team Manila
Bea Camacho, visual artist
Denise Castillo, video director, motion graphics editor
Abi Dacayap, illustrator, graphic designer Osomundo
Liza Flores, illustrator, graphic designer
Lala Gallardo, set designer, illustrator, graphic designer Team Manila
Marie Gan, visual artist
Garovs Garrovillo, stylist, graphic designer EveryWhereWeShoot
Abi Goy, illustrator, graphic designer
Honey Hipe, graphic designer
Wiji Lacsamana, illustrator, graphic designer
Ene Lagunzad, mixed media artist, musician
Hannah Liongoren, interior designer, graphic designer
Mitch Mauricio, photographer
Feanne Mauricio, student, visual artist
Jhoan Medrano, graphic designer, illustrator
Gabie Osorio, visualizer, craft artist
Katwo Puertollano, illustrator, musician, graphic designer 27+20
Genie Ranada, mixed media artist
Sunshine Reyes, photographer, writer
Pepper Roxas, illustrator, graphic designer
Sharon See, stylist, craft artist
Mia Singson, visual artist
Joyce Tai, graphic designer Inksurge
Lette Teodosio, graphic designer
Pauline Vicencio, photographer, motion designer Acid House Post
Shawn Yao, photographer
MM Yu, visual artist, photographer

come one, come all and witness girl power at pablo gallery on saturday! aside from the exhibit, there will also be performances by chillitees, cambio, juan pablo dream, sandwich, and pedicab. all the artistic fun starts at 830pm!

take a tour of the national museum

i can't wait to take this tour of the national museum!

history has never been my favorite subject as a kid, but now that i'm getting more and more involved in travel, i'm kind of regretting that i didn't pay attention to those classroom lectures back then. so whenever i go to museums, i try to go with someone who knows his stuff, so i wouldn't just waste a day by gawking at the exhibits. i'd like to learn a little something, and to learn the significance of the things on display.

john l. silva, senior consultant of the national museum, is offering a tour of the museum of the filipino people, now housed in the former finance building. i got to see this museum earlier this year, and while i enjoyed the things i saw, i'm sure it'll be a hundred times better when everything there is explained to you by someone who knows his stuff.

i initially thought the tour fee was on the expensive side, but i think it's worth it for what you're getting. and according to mr. silva:

"A portion of the fees (700 pesos for adults, and 500 pesos for children up to 18 years) goes to John's I LOVE MUSEUM PROGRAM, bringing public school teachers to the National Museum to appreciate the arts and later bring their students. Studies show that an arts educated child raises their academic achievements, promotes love of reading, and become better citizens."
so set aside a few bucks and make your way to agrifina circle. let's learn us some philippine history!

tour dates are as follows:
september: 13 & 14, 17, 20, 24, and 27
october: 1, 4 & 5, 8, 25 & 26, 29

meeting point:
rear entrance of the museum of the filipino people
agrifina circle, rizal park

P500 for children
P700 for adults

for reservations, please contact +639267299029

see you all at the national museum tour! :)

you can find out more about john silva on john's thoughts and deeds.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the 19th philippine travel mart

while i'm still thinking about going to this year's travel mart, i'm not going to deny you the chance to get good travel deals.

last year, i got a sweet price on airfares to boracay via seair. that was the budget boracay trip that i enjoyed so much, despite the bad weather on the island.

so if you want to get your share of travel deals, go to the 19th philippine travel mart from sept 12 to 14, at the megatrade hall of SM megamall.

according to fritzified, this year's theme is "triple x: xtreme adventure, xtreme wellness, and xtreme leisure in the philippines." i'm looking forward to seeing one-of-a-kind travel packages to explore a different side of the country. maybe i can finally go sky diving. :D

see you all there!

making up for lost time

i know, i've been gone for a while (come on, did anyone really notice? :p). i've been swamped (i love this word) with work and other stuff, that my mind didn't have the energy nor the creative juices to produce a readable entry.

but i think i'm up to it now.

i haven't been out of manila since singapore (except for a day trip to tagaytay), and it's been killing me. for four straight years, i'd made sure to schedule at least one weekend away from this city, and now that i've been keeping myself reigned in, stress gets to me much more easily. i miss road trips, and getting lost, and seeing a new place, and grumbling because i have to go back home.

but as i keep saying, "keep the eye on the prize." if i do things right this year, this blog will be teeming with delicious entries as i set foot in a completely different continent.

of course, there is the bangkok-siem reap trip coming up this november. i'm planning on taking my eee and blogging during the trip, to keep the info fresh. :D

so, anyway, some photos from the tagaytay trip. an impromptu one at that, since kristine surprised our high school gang by flying back home from australia:

yummy bbq platter
hawaiian bbq, the boutique

disturbing the peace
the boutique, tagaytay

apple pie a la mode
bag of beans

riding sabrina

oh, and last august 16, i also joined a free teamaking class sponsored by the filipinas heritage library, ayala malls, and asian finds:

tiny teacups and a pot
home zone, glorietta

i got to learn about the proper way of preparing and serving tea. while it probably won't factor into my future plans, it's nice to know a new skill every now and then.

and finally, i've also been catching the comedy cartel with mike unson and tim tayag. they have regular shows at spicy fingers every other monday, and i even got to catch their open mic night at kape isla in serendra. take a look at this:

mike unson at kape isla

you can catch mike and the rest of the gang at spicy fingers in greenbelt 2 on september 15 (and every other monday after that, until december). entrance is P150 (non-consumable), and you get to hear at least 10 stand-up comedians! sulit na sulit!