Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hotel Rooms I Love--Radisson Blue Cebu Suite

This is the second of a series of posts on hotel rooms that caught my eye. For the first post, click here

I've always wanted to book a suite like the one we looked at at Radisson Blue. It was grand and modern, and features a living room. Our contact said Willie Rivallame stayed here once. 

I love the bedroom. Looking at it now I find myself being lulled to sleep. 
to sleep and, perhaps, to dream
the living area was one photo op waiting to happen. 

bright and airy

taken near the elevator
The deluxe rooms don't look shabby at all. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hotel Rooms I Love--Holiday Inn Clark

If you're familiar with my posts, you'd know that I love nice hotels. I know many would shake their heads in disgust, but I could choose to stay in the hotel room the whole day and just veg out.  I lean towards design that is bright and airy. Playfulness is a plus. Today I start a series of hotel rooms that caught my eye, many of which I stayed in in the course of my work.

I love this room in Holiday Inn Clark, Pampanga. It manages to pull off a challenging wall color--green. For quite a while I was thinking of this color for my own crib. And did I mention that for someone who can't settle in immediately in unfamiliar surroundings, I slept like a baby during my stay? Enjoy the photos!

A welcome basket of fresh fruits is always a plus

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Davao Trips Highlights

I've been to Davao City recently, one of many I made for work. For this post, rather than blog on that episode, I'll write about the highlights of all my trips to the southern city. I hope this post helps you plan your trip to Queen City of the South.

Davao City is the largest city in terms of land size in the island of Mindanao and in the entire country.  It is also the trade and commercial center of Mindanao, as well as the second largest city in the Philippines. A plane trip from Manila takes less than two hours.

1. Fruits Galore. When I think of Davao I think of fruits. This is not surprising since the city is a leading producer of durian, mangoes, pomelos, and mangosteen.  Durian and mangosteen season starts at July or August. Pomelos are available all year round, but the better buys are from August to December.
I used to hate durian, until I came across the right variety. Now I love them all.
This is the D24 variant, sold at D Farmers Market Cafe.  
Hotels don't allow durian in their premises, but they usually go easy with frozen durian.
When in doubt, always check with your hotel.
Durian candy is a safe bet for those who can't stand
the smell of fresh durian. I prefer products from Linda's 
There are many pomelo brands. My friends swear by Golden and Nenita's.
Most stalls  allow you to sample their merchandise, so do so before buying.
I go by one rule: the heavier the fruit, the juicier it is.
I prefer mangosteen over durian. Can't get enough of its sweet-sour taste. 
2. Hotels. I'm partial to big hotels, and I love Marco Polo. For more of my last stay there, read here.

Apo View Hotel is also a good bet, at friendlier price points. Like many old hotels though, its look is on the dark side.  

Both hotels are near Aldevinco Shopping Center, where you can shop to your heart's content for pearls and ethnic products, like malong, batik-wear, bags and scarves. 

3. Ukay-ukay shopping. For things pre-owned, American Surplus is our go-to place. Aside from clothes, bags, and shoes, they offer books, toys, and kitchenware. Dress comfortably, and keep on haggling. 

Scored this pair of rubber shoes, versatile for work , the gym, and the flood-prone streets of Manila. 
4. Eating Out. Jack's Ridge Resort on Matina Hills provides quite the view of Davao City and Davao Gulf. Try Blugre Cafe's durian coffee and the Taklobo Restaurant's fried tuna bihod (fish roe). While researching for this post, I came across a post on bagaybay, or tuna testicles. Hopefully I'll get to write about it on my next visit. 

Chika-an sa Cebu at Abreeza serves home-cooked Filipino food staples at affordable prices. I fell in love with its spicy grilled longganisa. 

For fans of buffet restaurants, Nanay Bebeng's is a good choice. There's quite a lot of fish dishes on deck, as well as variants of kare-kare. Displayed separately were vegetables, oxtail and other offal, pork knuckles and beef cuts. The accompanying shrimp paste was salty, the way I like it.

5. Riding the Air in a Zipline. In my trips, I don't eat all the time (smile). I also find time for the the occasional zipline or two. I do this to face my fear of heights.

That's me on the right with an office-mate. Really. 
My first zipline ride was at the Camp Sabros Zipline Adbenture Parks. It is located in Digos City, about two hours by car from Davao City.
For my second ride, I went solo. 
For the trip back to base, we rode via cable car.
I found this scarier than the zipline. The cable car rocked with every gust of the wind. 
On our way down the camp, we had grilled banana. For P10 a stick, it was delicious and filling. 

One last note. The city frowns on smoking. If you have to take a light, do it outside, and make sure it's not roofed.

Happy trip! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Zamboanga City in a Day

Zamboanga City, located in the island of Mindanao, is also known as Asia's Latin City. At one time the Spanish colonial regime chose the city as its main headquarters. Spanish influence is prevalent in Filipino languages, more so in Chavacano, the language spoken here. I listened in to the conversations of the locals, fishing out Spanish words that I can still recall from classes I took at the Instituto Cervantes. 

Here's a rundown of things to do while in the city: 

1. Eat Curacha (Spanner Crabs) at Alavar's 

Also known as red frog crabs, these odd-looking marine dwellers are almost as tasty as mud crabs, with their firm, white flesh. Your best bet for curacha is at Alavar Seafood Restaurant. You can read more here

2. Score Some Yakan Woven Products 

The Yakans are one of the many Muslim communities living in the city, and the Yakan Village is popular for their weaving. Their products are colorful and make use of intricate  patterns. 

an abbreviated table runner, perfect as a ref top
coasters in every hue. i bought a set of the green ones on the upper left
this pillow case packs a visual wallop, and is now my dvd-watching companion
purses galore
3. Buy Malaysian Products at the Port Area Barter Market 

The city is a free port zone, which translates to Malaysian and Indonesian grocery items at very reasonable prices. This is where I source Cadbury Eclairs. Lately I bought canned goods and noodle products. I can't get enough of Maggi Peranakan Kari instant noodles, a steaming bowl of which is perfect for rainy weather.

clothes and accessories are aplenty, like these scarves
this is excellent with seafood such as scallops
3. Book a Room at Garden Orchid Hotel 

i love this chandelier made of seashells 

Make sure to get a room from the new wing of the hotel, which is modern, bright and airy. Being walking distance from the airport is no longer its only best feature.

4. Watch the Dancing Fountain at the Paseo del Mar  

The Paseo del Mar, a seafront parkway, gets alive with people in the afternoon. One can stroll along the walkway, gaze at the sea or take a glimpse of Basilan, choose from the open air restaurants and bars, listen to the live bands, or watch the dancing fountain for P10.00. Before heading to the 30-minute light and fountain show, we made a stop at the Knickerbocker stall. To read more about it, click here

While chilling along the breakwater, locals on bancas enticed us to buy souvenirs. One of my colleagues fell in love with a rooster knick knack.