Glacier National Park, Montana through the Seasons

It’s customary for me to think of next year’s travel itinerary every January, and this is what I had in mind for 2016 – Montana! I’m very fond of mountains (eg. my post on Patagonia last year), and Montana’s Glacier National Park will certainly be a sight to behold.

To give you an idea of just how beautiful this is, I did some Google-ing and looked for photos of the place during winter, spring, summer, and fall:

 

WINTER:

Source: http://summitpost.org/

 

SPRING:

Source: http://glacierparkphotos.com

 

SUMMER:

Source: http://amitbapat.com/

 

AUTUMN / FALL:

Source: http://cdn.allglacier.com/

You can learn more about Montana through Donald R. Bernard’s blog

Which season do you guys think is the best? Having been used to the eternal summer weather of the Philippines, I feel inclined toward summer and spring. I’m not very fond of packing heavy, and all those winter clothes I’d have to bring during the cold months will definitely be a hassle! That being said though, seeing those snow covered tips reminds me of cake dusted in powder sugar – such a pretty sight!

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Yahoo for Papal Visit and Extra Holidays!

In line with the Pope’s visit, we will be enjoying some extra non-working days.

 

 

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Let’s go to Patagonia, Argentina!

I was browsing through travel blogs when I stumbled upon this post on Patagonia, Argentina from Donald Bernard and I just drooled with a desperate case of wander lust. The link above has a really great photo and I did some searching of my own, and found another exquisite look:

Source: fantastictraveling.com

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Pinterest + Map Tutorial = For those with the Travel Bug

Are you one of the many people hopelessly addicted to pinning images on Pinterest? Well, the photo sharing social site is giving you another reason to keep pinning, re-pinning, and heart-ing – introducing… the MAP feature! This was specifically created for all the people caught with the wanderlust bug.

At the moment, you probably have a couple of boards for all your travels – those you’ve gone to, and those you dream of going to. Moving forward, you can edit these boards to include a map. You can also create a new board with a map of course.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Create a board, and turn on the map functionality by choosing YES

Step 2. Once you create the board, you will see a brand new screen with a map on the right side of the screen. On the left, you will be asked to add a place of your choosing.  In my case, I typed in “Banaue Rice Terraces”. After loading a bit, it zoomed into the part of the Philippine map where this beautiful landmark is located. It will return several results related to what you typed so click on the “Map it” button beside the most appropriate location.


Step 3. Once you click on the button, the photo magic happens! Loads of photos related to the location will be shown on the left side of the screen. BUT FIRST: you need to include a description of the place before you can start pinning and re-pinning. After typing a few words, the images will be selectable. Choose your favorite pin/s or upload your own photo. To choose your favorite pin, simply hover your mouse over the image that tickles your travel fancy then press the “Pin It” button.

And you’re done! Once you pin it, you will see your board like so:

Go on and pin like crazy, fellow Pinterest addicts! Be sure to share your best works below

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Manly Eats at Podium: From Bacon to Beets

Last June 22, I headed to the upper floor of Podium and was greeted by one of the sweetest fragrances I have ever smelled in my whole entire life – bacon. It was apparent, just by the scent of it, that it was no ordinary overly commercialized run-of-the-mill bacon. It had a very nice smokey, rich scent to it, and on that note, my delicious journey to Manly Eats began.

The bacon tasted just as it had smelled – divine. Before I even continue, I want to apologize for not taking photos. It is hard to remember to take photos when one is hungry – it’s a tummy first, brain second kind of sickness.

As a girl, I was kind of afraid to actually go into the Manly Eats, simply because I figured only manly food would be there – you know, the super oily, bad for you kind of food, or the hunky, chunky cuts of meat. But I was surprised to find that there was a good variety of dishes to try out. In fact, despite having a venue smaller than some of the other food events I’ve been to, this event particularly stood out for me – proof that it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality!

I can tell you about the tasty sisig I had that was obviously homemade from scratch. Or the artisanal beverages that were being sold right at the entrance. But the most vivid taste memory I had of the event came from S’wich, a sandwich booth of concoctions crafted by an unexpected chef who is more well known in the Japanese cuisine – Chef Him Uy de Baron of Nomama fame. I am always inspired by people who are constantly expanding and improving themselves – especially when the outcome is phenomenal.

The S’wich had a humble menu: 4 sandwiches. 2 desserts. I first had the Grilled cheese sandwich because I am a sucker for chorizo. It was delicious and I loved that the sauce was oozing out, even though I didn’t get as much of a chorizo kick as I wanted.

And then I had the highlight of my day: The Frenchman. It was delicious. No, I didn’t go cannibalistic all of a sudden (the event was “Manly eats”, not “Men to eat”!) The Frenchman was the name they coined for a very simple sandwich comprised of five French components: baguette, brie cheese, pickled beets, butter, and truffled honey.

First, you get a bite of the fresh, crusty bread, and then you get an earthy nudge (I surmise from the truffled honey), and the sweetness of the honey complements the soft, creamy brie. And then the finale is that kick from the tangy-sweet pickled beets. It was sooooo good! The photo I took fails to do the sandwich justice.

Coincidentally, the Manly Eats is having their second event at Podium this weekend – October 4 to 6. Drop by, men and women alike! Let the sweet smell of bacon usher you in. And if the Frenchman is around, do check him it out!

Speaking of bacon, you might want to sink your teeth into these interesting little things: Bacon Lollipops!

For more info, head on over to the Pinoy Eats World Facebook page

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A Beautiful Day Trip at Thunderbird Resorts, Rizal

One fine weekday, we decided to ditch work and head to the Thunderbird Resort in Rizal, Antipolo. After a smooth ride, we arrived at our destination. It was a large compound surrounded by spacious lands and waters. Beyond the waters, the urban jungle seemed so far away – a sign that our daily worries were also far away!

A short walk from the parking lot and we were able to see the resort itself and to the right, the swimming pool and a poolside restaurant. We were ready to take a swim! But first, we went inside the lobby to “check in”  to our day trip.

I was super pleased to see the jacuzzi, which was facing the beautiful view of the waters and the city. I get cold way too easily so the hot water of the jacuzzi was really welcome! After a dip, we decided to get lunch. The day trip included enough credits for a hearty meal from the poolside restaurant, which we decided to eat by the cozy gazebo. The food was nothing fancy, but it was delicious and flavorful Filipino food and it really hit the spot!

Since we didn’t want to take a dip under the fierce afternoon sun, we decided to check out the rest of the resort, one of the highlights of which was the casino! Included in our day tour was a match play coupon. Don’t be too excited about this coupon – it’s not exactly a free game. You’d have to spend as well and only if you win in that particular game will you get the rewards of the coupon. We still used it though and had a blast :) The great thing about going on a weekday afternoon is that the place is almost empty so the dealers were happy enough to accommodate newbies like me. And there was no heavy cigarette smell!

We also asked the staff if they could show us the inside of the rooms, which they politely accepted. The room at Thunderbird was looked very comfortable and classy inside and it’s definitely a good overnight option.

After some more exploring, we were finally ready to go back to the jacuzzi and pool again. There are only two shower rooms provided so again, I was thankful we went on an off-peak date.

By night time, more guests started coming in but they were mostly hanging out by the poolside restaurant which had turned into a bar.  I can understand why they would decide to enjoy their night out there. Affordable and tasty food enjoyed with a relaxing view and cool breeze is definitely the best way to unwind! We decided to luxuriate a bit and try out their fine dining restaurant, Koi. We tried the Angus beef tapa – it was sadly a bit of a letdown. The tapa tasted like your run-of-the-mill tapa except that it was much more expensive. It was too oily too. The kebabs were delicious though.

Suffice to say, this is one place I’d love to go back to. Perhaps for an overnight stay to enjoy the spa treatment as well?

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Puzzle Mansion: Resort and Museum

We were on our way to Marcia Adams’ restaurant (more on that on the next post) in Tagaytay when we noticed a sign pointing to the Puzzle Mansion. Being a fan of Jigsaw puzzles myself, we decided to make a detour and go to the place. After getting lost a bit, we finally found the place, tucked away in a private street. The road going to the mansion / resort itself is an extremely steep road, and we didn’t want to risk bringing our sedan in so we decided to just take a walk instead.

The most distinct thing you see in the compound is the infinity pool on the right and a blue sign that says “Puzzle Mansion”. Around you is a lush garden.

A man immediately catered to our needs and asked us if we would like to go check out the jigsaw puzzle collection. We said yes of course. It would be a waste not to check it out after the hike and the drive! When we came, there were decorations being set up outside – turns out the owner of the collection was going to receive a Guinness World Record for the largest jigsaw collection in the world! Now that’s quite a feat indeed!

This made us get even more excited to go inside the museum. The museum was a very simple room but it was bedecked with a LOT of framed jigsaw puzzles. There were puzzles of cute animals, of realistic scenery, of Hello Kitty… the list went on! She even dabbled in 3D puzzles.

It was a really unique experience and I’m very proud to say that I actually witnessed a Guinness record feat in person :) You would probably just stay 30 minutes to an hour in the museum, but it’s a feast for the eyes, especially for fellow jigsaw aficionados.

The Puzzle Mansion is not just a puzzle mansion of course. Beside it are cozy rooms for booking (when we went there, a wedding entourage had just checked out) and a very inviting infinity pool. It also has a function room good for 400 guests and a 24-hour cafe. It’s a good Tagaytay resort option!

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Gyu-Kaku Yakiniku in Fort Bonifacio – Resto Review

The Gyu-Kaku restaurant is one of the many restaurants in a strip in Fort Bonifacio known collectively as the W Global Center. It stands among famous International restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen and the much hyped about IHOP. Guests from the luxury hotel, Sedo, will be pleased to know that these restos are just a very brief walk away!

It was a rainy night when we went came. So the heat from the grill was most welcome indeed. The place has 2 floors. We were ushered to the 2nd floor, where a large window was situated, overlooking the (currently rainy) view. We were flanked by Japanese guests, a good sign that the restaurant is indeed an authentic Japanese Yakiniku place.

Health-conscious as I was, we went for the Harami beef, because it had lower fat content compared to the others. The server, a very genuinely friendly girl, asked us which sauce we want to go with it: Tare, Shio, Miso, Spicy Miso. To decide which sauce is best for you, here’s a brief description of each.

Tare is sweet-salty. Shio is salt. Miso is salty soybean based. Spicy Miso is a spicy version of Miso. We went with Tare and I must say it was a good choice as it really cut through the grilled meat and kept our appetites perked up.

Apart from that, we got grilled pumpkin and onigiri.

In a matter of minutes, a guy came to place some very hot charcoal in the heating facility. And it was finally grill time!

Stuff I loved about the place:

1. You are each given an apron which you can take home. Hooray for souvenirs!

2. It had a separate tong for the raw food and cooked food. I think this is something all grill places should adopt to avoid food poisoning!

3. The Tare sauce was, indeed, very delicious and went perfectly with the beef

4. The beef was tender and flavorful

5. The server attended to our needs and answered all our newbie questions flawlessly.

Some stuff that I didn’t quite like:

1. The pumpkin wasn’t very flavorful and took forever to cook. In the end, it didn’t take on that soft pumpkin fragrance I expected.

2. The onigiri could have been a perfect hit; however, they opted to use non Japanese rice so the rice wasn’t as sticky as it should have been. The result was that some of the rice would crumble and fall apart whenever we grilled it. It also took forever for it to get that very hard toasted exterior.

All in all, I’d come back here again and look for more delicious stuff to go with the beef.

Trivia: Gyu Kaku, IHOP, and the rest of the restaurants in this strip are all owned by the same person! We were actually planning on trying out IHOP but due to the ridiculously long line, we headed to Gyu Kaku. I told the Gyu Kaku waitress I’d like to have my name removed from the IHOP waiting list before heading to eat, but she assured me it didn’t matter. They were all owned by the same group anyway ;)

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A day at Manila Ocean Park and H2O Hotel: Beyond Fishes

Everyone on the Philippines should make it a point to head to Manila Ocean Park and H2O hotel at least once in their life. I mean it! Don’t let the name fool you – Manila Ocean Park goes beyond the fishes and the sea world, though yes of course, you do get to experience that as well.

There are a lot of blog articles out there already about the sea experience of Manila Ocean Park – from the jellyfish exhibit, to penguin feeding, to watching the dolphins. So allow me instead to provide a different glimpse into the experience.

A Feast for the Eyes at Seri Fantasy World

This is a small area in the complex which features a hall of mirrors, a hall of 3D illusions, and a 3D movie theater. All of them are very modest-sized but they are still worth checking out.

A tour guide will let you experience all the photo op worthy illusions you can do with mirrors all around you, and you will enjoy trying to guess which one’s a mirror and which one’s a free space going to the exit. It would have been even better if the space was much bigger so that it was more of a challenging maze.

The hall of 3D illusions are art prints painted on the walls and floors that have a surprising 3D effect. Again, they are photo op worthy backdrops for you to explore your creativity and posing prowess.

The 3D movie theater showcases 3D shows perfect for kids.

All three of these attractions are perfect for kids… and the kids at heart.

A Food Trip at Makan Makan Village

After all those illusions, you must have worked up quite an appetite, so head on over to the Makan Makan Village just across the Seri Fantasy World. Here, you can enjoy delectable treats from across Asia – from the Singaporean Hainanese Chicken to Chinese dimsum to our very own pork sinigang. This is where I’ve had the best chong fan in the Philippines, so if you’re a fan of those thing rice noodle sheets, you better try theirs. I was pleased to find that the prices of the food here are reasonable enough.

A Rad Time at R.A.D.

Somewhere along the line of shops outside the Makan Makan Village stands a small arcade called R.A.D. or Real Action Depot. It has a few sets of futuristic looking driving arcade games, and then a small shooting gallery on either side with some very realistic looking guns. They were real heavy, too! And shooting produced this very loud sound. I really enjoyed this game. I felt like a star from an action movie haha.

Sunset by the Sea

Get a seat at their roofdeck bar by 3PM then wait until the sun sets and the whole sky is engulfed in vibrant colors of red and orange, while the sea below reflects its majesty in soft ripples. It’s truly an enchanting sight!

Chilling at the Lobby

The lobby of H2O hotel is a very relaxing and modern space with comfortable chairs, and all-glass windows for you to enjoy the sea outside. Even the business center / computer area provides the same view – this will surely make you more productive with any work you need to do. I’m glad they didn’t go overboard with the whole fishes theme and placed an aquarium in this area. It just made the space more classy.

Negative Ions at Zenyu Spa

I was surprised when the Zenyu Eco Spa at the Hotel H2O was proudly offering negative ions. What’s so positive about negative ions anyway? It turns out that negative ions can nourish and revitalize your body! The lobby of the hotel has some negative ions but if you want the full experience, book a hot bed treatment. For 30 plus minutes, you will be placed inside a sauna room, where all the materials used there are emitting hot ions.

Before heading to the hot room, you are given a shot of enyzme to drink which tasted like wine. Then, clothed in their robes, you head into the oven-like room. It’s a great way to sweat it out and release your toxins. It’s also a co-ed space so you can turn it into a more creative date ;)

Another spa treatment to try out is the fish spa. Okay, I know my blog title said “Beyond Fishes” but hear me out first! This one’s worth noting, because in the boys’ and girls’ shower room, there is a little sanctuary there with a small pool filled with clean water and fishes that were flown in from abroad. If you haven’t heard of this treatment, basically the fishes are there to eat the dead skin cells of your body – a neat way to exfoliate! Just a look at the pool and you can tel that it’s well-maintained.

Hope I’ve convinced you to head on over to Manila Ocean Park and Hotel H2O soon. Better explore ALL the wonders it has to offer! :) For more details on Hotel H2O and booking info, click here.

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Pet Friendly Hotels in Manila – Yay or Nay?

People love pets in general. What’s not to love, after all? They’re little furry balls of cuteness, and they are always ever loyal!

Of course, when we love someone, we want to bring him/her wherever we go. It is a disheartening fact, then, for these pet owners, when they find that the particular hotel they’re staying at does not allow pets. I can imagine them feeling just like Snoopy did in the “Snoopy Come Home” movie when the baritone voice sang “No Dogs Allowed”:

no pets allowed sign in establishments

With more Filipinos getting into the pet love, it comes to no surprise that more establishments are starting to embrace Snoopy’s kind, and other pets. We’ve got malls like Eastwood that are proudly pet-friendly.

Some hotels have also joined in on the movement to welcome these creatures with open arms. From luxury 5 star hotels to serviced apartments, you can pick a few handful accommodations that will allow you to bring your pet, so you can truly enjoy your stay-cation or travel.

1. Oakwood Premier Hotel is a luxurious condotel right in the heart of Ortigas Center. The accommodation is pet-friendly and quite proud of it, too! In fact, head on over to their Facebook page and you’ll see a large photo of Heart Evangelista enjoying the comfortable bed with a dog:

oakwood hotel pet friendly banner

There are caveats of course. Obviously, you need to take care of your dog and pick up after him/her. You’ll also have to bring a vaccination certificate. Lastly, a weight limit is enforced – 75 pounds.

2. Somerset Olympia in Makati has a tower dedicated to guests with furry companions

3. Online sources say that The Pearl Hotel Manila is also a pet-friendly destination. Kindly inquire with them to confirm this fact.

It goes without saying that pet owners appreciate this convenience, but this “Pets Allowed” policy may not sit well with others. For instance, consider those who are allergic to fur. Or those who are simply afraid of dogs. And while we do recognize that the general pet-owning populace is responsible enough to clean up after their pets and keep them on a leash, there are those who aren’t as conscientious, which results in unsightly mess and stress that you do not want to experience especially during your vacation.

On the very opposite end, I recall the ongoing issue in the apartment I live. Just a few months ago, the administration put an iron fist on the No Pets Policy that was drafted years back but never implemented. Even among the administration, the enforcement of the rule was met with disagreement – some of the members owned dogs themselves. It’s still a very hot topic now but what I do know is that several floors have a foul odor as a result of irresponsible owners and it is for this very reason that the rest of the tenants are complaining. The fact that 90% of the unit owners don’t own pets was a factor as well.

If we could easily separate the responsible pet owners from the irresponsible ones, then we would have utopia. But as with most debates and problems, the solution is never that simple.

What do you guys think? Do you like the idea of enjoying your vacation in a pet-friendly hotel?

 

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