Thursday, March 12, 2009


11 march 2009, 2:11pm. somewhere in makati. a phone rings.

it was the call i've been waiting for the whole week. i had sensed i would receive word about it this week, but now that it's here, i don't know if i want to know how it turned out.

the travel agent tells me the passport has been delivered to them, and that i can pick it up anytime, as long as it's not past 6pm. i thank her, tell her i'll try to make it within the day, and hang up, even though my brain was screaming, "ask her if it was approved! dammit!"

now i finally get to find out, but even with all my nega conditioning, of getting myself ready for bad news, i knew i wouldn't be able to handle it. i decided to finally face the truth ahora mismo, and i was so glad that sarah was kind enough to walk with me to the agency and calm me down. even under the piercing summer sun, my hands were freezing cold.

we walk into the travel agency, waited a few more agonizing minutes while the agent finished up her calls. i actually liked that part, knowing i was just a few seconds from finding out whether all of my efforts from last year were in vain. the agent finally hangs up the phone, calls me over, and smiles at me as she handed the passport.

"okay naman?" i manage to squeak out.

"yes, ma'am!" as she shows me this:

nice photo, eh? parang ang bait ko.

i try to hide my glee and relief by feigning a sorta-happy clap, para hindi obvious na kinakabahan ako.

sarah snaps a photo of me showing off the passport, and we were off. the voices in my head were screaming: i can finally start packing! i'm going to europe in a month! it's going to be my first long-haul flight! i need new pants! i hope the exchange rate ain't so bad!

now i can say it: I'M GOING TO SPAIN, BABY!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

late updates

it's taking me such a long time to update this blog (and my other blogs, at that), the sloth in me has been on overdrive. grah.

i've yet to write about the rest of the bangkok adventure. there's a patpong entry in there somewhere that i really want to share, and the take a nap review is taking a long time to take shape! other entries to write: the ocean adventure visit and 13 hours in baguio. plus some ukay tips.

argh. i'll get to it, i'll get to it.

any solutions to tamaditis, anyone?

Monday, March 2, 2009

bridal tea house hotel: cozy hong kong rooms with complete comforts

it's not easy to find cheap and clean accommodation in hong kong, but it looks like i struck gold in bridal tea house hotel!

accessibility and location
located in western district, on a more quiet and residential part of hong kong island, bridal tea house hotel is beyond the reach of the MTR. the sheung wan station is quite a long way off. this had me worried for a bit, because i've always explored hong kong by MTR. however, hong kong offers so much more in terms of transportation, and this trip, i got to explore the tram and bus routes that shuttle from central to our quiet area on water street.

a 7-11, mannings, and a lot of dimsum places are also nearby, making it really convenient to get a quick bite in the middle of the night.

from the hong kong international airport, we were told to take bus A10 and get off at chiu kwong street, the fifth stop on the route. unfortunately, buses in HK don't pull over at every stop, so counting the bus stops won't really help. we wouldn't have known that we missed a stop if we hadn't seen the street sign that said "water street." the walk from the 6th stop wasn't too far, thankfully.

once you're walking on the street, bridal tea house hotel is hard to miss. the signs are huge, and it's not like one of the hostels that occupy a few floors in a building. the entire building at the corner of queen's road west and water street was occupied by the hotel. the entrance was hard to find, though, and we probably spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out where the door was.

one of the bell boys saw us dashing back and forth outside, and decided to help us out. the reception desk was located in the bridal tea house dining area, and the look of the place was formal yet quaint. check-in was a breeze, we only needed to show a print-out of our email, and everything was taken care of. aside from the hotel rate of HKD 550 per night, a HKD 500 deposit is also required, just in case you break or lose anything in the hotel.

we got our room right away, even though we arrived two hours before the scheduled check-in time (2pm). don't expect anyone to show you to your room, though. the hotel is a big fan of self-service, and the receptionist just pointed us to the elevator, and we figured the rest of the way out.

the room
i didn't really know what to expect from the room. i've seen pictures online, but those are hardly reliable. i couldn't help but smile though when i opened the door to room 502. it was definitely tiny, but it was filled with cute little details that made the whole look feel cozy. the curtains gave it a more homey feel, and the added features, such as the slippers, towels, hair dryer, free bottled water, kettle, and television, made the lack of space seem like a minor issue.

the bathroom, however, was another story. it was really cramped, even for tiny people like us. the sliding door opened to the little wash basin with a medicine cabinet that contained complimentary toiletries. to its left was the toilet, to the right, the miniscule shower area. it was so small that i would hit my arm against the walls when i showered.

everything in the room was in perfect working order, though, from the hot water heater, to the air conditioner. the TV only had a few channels, but i was too tired to even turn it on. the entire room also had about a total of 5 outlets where you can charge your cameras, phones, and laptops. a corner of the room had some space where you could hang your clothes. everything you need is packed in such a compact space.

facilities and services
aside from the fancy tea house that offers brunch and other delicious meals, bridal tea house hotel also provides a communal microwave, which they call the snack buffet. a telephone is also found in every room, and from what i recall, local calls are free. turndown service is also available, just don't forget to put the "please make up room" tag on your door before you leave.

broadband internet access is also available, but i didn't get to test it out on this trip, since susie and i both decided not to bring any laptops. luggage storage is also offered for free, and we availed of this on our last day, when we had to join the architecture walk and attend top gear live! before joining g&c in their discovery bay casa.

it's hard to ignore the lack of bathroom space in their rooms, but that's quite common in most hong kong accommodations, and i say better to pay HKD 550 for such simple digs than pay so much more for a so-called 3-star hotel with the same amenities.

on the whole, i was impressed by the long list of amenities that i got for such a low price. i didn't have to worry about toiletries and towels, and water and tea bags were also provided. the bed was also very comfortable, though a bit short for my standards.

the location was definitely a winner. susie and i really looked forward to "going home" every night. we would take the tram from central, then get off at the water street stop. the small incline on water street leading to our hong kong hotel was very comforting, always telling us that we're close to home.

so if you're looking for simple and affordable hong kong accommodation, bridal tea house hotel is a good place to check out. there may not be a lot of space for your stuff, but you can be assured of comfort and accessibility.

travel information:
bridal tea house hotel, western district, hong kong
address: no. 385-387 queen's road west, sai ying pun, HK
phone number: 852-3188-6699
fax number: 852-3188-6660
email address:
room rate: HKD 550 per night

more photos of bridal tea house hotel in hong kong.