Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y dos

Maybe you stink. Wear perfume to find love.
Spotted in SM City Iloilo by Fred of The Exaggerated Zeal. Thank you!

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Melaka In Between Bites

In between stuffing our faces, we walked off some calories and what I saw I froze through these square frames.

Welcome to Melaka, World Heritage City
 

Down by the Melaka River


Date night by the river
 

Jonker Walk or Jonker Street or Jalan Hang Jebat
This street becomes a night market on weekends.
 

The writing (and drawing) on the walls
Built by the Dutch in 1753, Christ Church is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia.
 

 Remains of the Middelburg Bastion of the Melaka Fort


Jalan Merdeka, Melaka
Monday to  Friday 9AM to 530PM
Saturday and Sunday 9AM to 9PM
Admission Fee for the Maritime Museum Complex: MYR 6
* Ticket can be used to enter the Maritime Museum I, Maritime Museum II,
and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum (Muzium TLDM).
The museum is housed in a full-scale replica of the Portuguese cargo ship, Flor de la Mar.
The original ship sank off the coast of Melaka in the 16th century.


Jalan Merdeka (across the Maritime Museum), Melaka
Monday to Thursday 9AM to 5PM
Friday to Sunday 9AM to 830PM
Admission Fee for the Maritime Museum Complex: MYR 6
* Ticket can be used to enter the Maritime Museum I, Maritime Museum II,
and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum (Muzium TLDM).
Since we visited the Maritime Museum Complex at almost closing time, we went through all three museums of the complex like The Flash. In other words, we didn't learn anything by glancing at the exhibits. Be there early and only visit if you're really interested in maritime stuff. Do NOT follow our example.


 No. 48 & 50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (street parallel to Jonker Street/Jalan Hang Jabat), Melaka
Daily 10AM to 1PM and 2PM to 430PM
Admission Fee: MYR 15 (Adult) / MYR 10 (Children 5-12 yrs old)
No photography allowed inside the museum.
Guided tours at the Baba & Nyonya House Museum are available by schedule. Since we could not wait for the guided tour, we explored the museum by ourselves. We were lent booklets which contained a map of the house and concise information about each section of the house. The museum provided an interesting insight into the Peranakan culture of the 19th century. The visit to Baba & Nyonya House Museum was worth 45 minutes off our food trip.



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Gluttons in Melaka
Melaka In Between Bites (you're here!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gluttons in Melaka

From Klick-Klock Homestay, everywhere became walking–distance because no distance could keep gluttons away from food.


Chang of Klick-Klock brought the group of gluttons to an eatery on Jalan Bunga Raya (street parallel to Jalan Jawa, where Klick-Klock was) that was still open for very late lunch. Although there were about five stalls, only one was still serving food at 3PM. The group chowed down on char siu (roasted pork) with rice (MYR 5), tofu (MYR 1, about 6 pieces per serving), and egg (MYR 1 for one whole egg).

 
 Char siu (left) and eggs and tofu (right)

Barely three hours after that late lunch, they were already lining up outside Capitol Satay (opens at 5PM) on 41 Lorong Bukit Cina, for a taste of just about anything—prawns, squid, chicken, pork, eggs, vegetables, bread, dumplings—cooked in a boiling pot of peanut sauce. Once they were assigned a table, a fresh pot of peanut sauce was set in the middle of the table and the burner turned on to keep the sauce boiling. They picked from a variety of choices in the open chiller, and went back three more times. The next thing they saw, they already had piles of sticks and plates. Skewers were for MYR 1 per stick, and others were priced depending on the color of the plate they were served in (from MYR 3 to MYR 8).

 
 Satay Celup (celup means dip)

The first part of breakfast the next day was at Chop Chung Wah Hainanese Chicken Rice on the corner of Jonker Street and Lorong Hang Jebat. Because this was just the first on the list of food stops that needed to be crossed off by lunch, the group ordered just half a chicken (MYR 21) and three orders (MYR 1.50 per order; five pieces per order) of rice balls. The chicken was tender and the sticky rice balls were savory. Both the chicken and the rice balls were best eaten with the spicy chili sauce.

 
Hainanese chicken, chicken rice balls, and a bottle of spicy chili sauce

The second part of breakfast was Nyonya Asam Laksa (MYR 7), a spicy and sour noodle soup with egg, tofu, and fishcakes, at Jonker 88 along Jonker Street. It was good soup, but it was too spicy that it made their eyes water. To wash away the spices, they decided to get a Baba Chendol (MYR 4), a dessert made of finely shaved ice, pandan jelly (that looked like worms), drenched in coconut milk and sweet palm sugar syrup. The chendol reminded them of halo-halo but with fewer ingredients.

Jonker 88 and menu (click to enlarge)

Nyonya asam laksa (left) and Baba chendol (right)

Walking along Jonker Street, the gluttons found many food stalls and made some room for fried durian balls (MYR 5 for three pieces) from Durian King, and durian and yogurt cream puffs (MYR 5 for three pieces) from Taste Better. The fried durian balls and the durian cream puffs were a hit for the durian lover in the group. For the rest who didn't think durian is king...they put the yogurt cream puffs on a throne.

 
Durian King and Taste Better

Lunch time would be in another two hours and the gluttons crossed the river and proceeded south to find the best mee goreng in the city as tipped by Chang: Tanjung Mee Goreng. They had been walking for almost an hour and a half and had almost given up, when one of them spotted the sign almost at the end of Jalan PM3. Hallelujah! A big platter of chilli mee goreng (MYR 5.90), a big platter of chilli kuey teow (MYR 5.50), and glasses of teh c special (MYR 3.50 per glass). The chilli kuey teow was worth the hunt! If they didn't have one more food stop, they could have eaten another platter.

Click to enlarge menu

 
 Clockwise from top left: chilli mee goreng, teh c special, and chilli kuey teow

The last stop was mille crepe cakes at Nadeje in Mahkota Parade, just a few minutes walk from Tanjung Mee Goreng. The pictures on the menu were mouthwatering, but for MYR 9.90 per slice of mille crepe cake, they could only afford to get one each. Each picked a different flavor and let the plates go around. A "delicious!" was exclaimed for each bite and none of them could decide which flavor was best.


Click to enlarge

Clockwise from top left: strawberry, green tea, tiramisu, and original



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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Klick–Klock Homestay in Melaka

We traveled 148 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur (a two-hour, MYR 24.30, bus ride from the international airport in Kuala Lumpur) to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Melaka City in the state of Melaka (or Malacca). The bus's last stop was Melaka Sentral Station and we had to endure an oven-hot taxi ride (the taxi's air conditioning unit wasn't working and it was boiling inside, but the taxi driver refused to open the windows) to the city center for an agreed price of MYR 20 (no meters in taxis in Melaka).

Since we were in a historic city, our companion decided to book a home in an old pre-world war building. Brilliant. For a hefty price of MYR 400, I hope there are no ghosts there.

We were dropped off in front of a white building with green windows on a quiet one-way street. The door was closed. All windows were shut. Knocking on the windows and calling "Anyone home?" did not summon any person nor ghost. We wondered where the owner was. A few more minutes of wondering and peeking around corners, we saw a sweaty Chang rushing down the one-way street.

Chang, all chatty and apologetic, unlocked the front door and showed us into Klick-Klock. On the ground floor, on one corner, a table with a PC; and by the door, a bicycle. Both (PC and bicycle), we were told, we could use anytime.

 

On the second floor, on the side facing the street, was the bedroom with one king-sized bed and one queen-sized bed. Just outside the bedroom, the living area; and then the dining area near the stairs. From the bedroom to the dining area, the floor is made of wood. And if I wear one of their red wooden slippers, I could klick-klock around the house and make an infernal noise...but this is a no-no, as advised by the sign hanging by the stairs: Please don't walk like an elephant. I can only wear these wooden slippers on the non-wood-floor part of the house, which is at the other end of the second floor—the very spacious shower area, where I can choose to shower for everyone to see or, when feeling shy, draw the bamboo blinds down.

I am a tightwad and Klick-Klock is in the splurge category, but I am glad—I think everyone in the group was glad—to have splurged. Klick-Klock is neat. Orderly. And just lovely. Made me wish I had a house like this, where I, and not just the ghosts, could klick-klock around in wooden shoes.


Klick-Klock Homestay
48 Jalan Jawa, Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +6012 679 9776
Email: enquiry@klick-klock.com

Price: MYR 400 (up to four persons); extra person MYR 50 (maximum of two extra persons)
Booking: Full payment required upon booking.
Taxi and tours can be arranged through Klick-Klock.


Just kidding. There are no ghosts in Klick-Klock.



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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Like a King in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur...so there are the Petronas Twin Towers, Menara KL Tower, Merdeka Square, Batu Caves...but we didn't visit any of those. Instead we pretended to be kings.

Spend Like a King
Lot C07, Concourse Floor, Suria KLCC,
Kuala Lumpur
Daily 10AM to 10PM

You can find Nando's around Malaysia: other branches.

Before spending like a king, we had to queue like the common people we really are. Nando's must be really good for people to be lining up to get a table. After some 15 minutes, we got seated in the very crowded restaurant, where there was barely any space to move. For our group of four, we got the jumbo platter (MYR 110, includes two whole chickens and five large sides) and four glasses of bottomless iced tea (MYR 5.90 per glass).


The sidings were nothing great. The chicken was juicy but it was the sauce that made it a winner.

The total bill included government tax and 10% service charge, and each of us shelled out MYR 40. That may have been cheap for a real king, but for a pauper pretending to be one, that was already in the splurge category.


King of the Street

Jalan Alor. When the sun goes down, the entire street becomes off limits to transportation and the tables and chairs come out. Restaurants extend their dining area to the street and food stalls come alive.

Jalan Alor at night

It was more than an hour past our dinner time and we couldn't spare another minute to check out the other restaurants in this 350-meter street. From the Changkat Bukit Bintang end of Jalan Alor, Cu Cha Restaurant was the first restaurant we saw that had a good number of diners.

75 Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur
Monday to Saturday 1PM to 4AM
Sunday 1PM to 12MN

 

Braised pork belly with salted vegetables (small) MYR 21
Salted egg yolk prawns MYR 33
Stir fried kai lan (Chinese kale) with garlic MYR 1.30
Dumpling noodle soup MYR 8.50
Wantan mee MYR 6.50

Eaten on the street, but not exactly in the streetfood price range. Nevertheless, we were satisfied. We were full. And we tried to walk it off to the end of Jalan Alor and back (where we found more restaurants, Turkish ice cream, coconut ice cream, barbecue carts, etc.)


Eat Like a King

This here is a little strip of streetside eateries we found near Parkview Service Apartments (our home in Kuala Lumpur for two nights). This place is not for the germ-o-phobes... it's on the street; critters scampering under the tables to get to the other side of the street shouldn't be a surprise.


Seri Tomyam
Jalan Cangkat Perak, Kuala Lumpur
(near Parkview Service Apartment, road perpendicular to Jalan Law Yew Swee)

Cheap eats at Seri Tomyam. Except the roti canai (bottom, rightmost), which is from another booth.

Seri Tomyam is open from 4PM to 4AM and serves tomyam, nasi goreng, mee goreng...with chicken or shrimp or seafood or vegetables. Laksa is also served but only in the mornings. The food is from MYR 3 to MYR 7. The teh tarik (milk tea) costs MYR 1.50. (The roti canai, MYR 1, is from another booth in the same strip of eateries.) We liked eating like a king rather than spending like a king, that we ate here twice.



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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Home in Kuala Lumpur

I don't book accommodations where I have to spend more than Php500 per night if I can help it, because, yes, my middle name is Cheap. But because majority wins (my companions don't have the same middle name as I do), I left the planning to them and went with the flow. And the flow led us to a service apartment in Kuala Lumpur booked thru airbnb.

From KLCC LRT station, we legged it to the apartment... which took a bit of time since we didn't have a proper map and missed a turn. The apartment is just one kilometer from the KLCC LRT station, and on the way we passed by two malls (Avenue K and Suria KLCC) and the Petronas Twin Towers.


If how we were "welcomed" to this apartment is the standard procedure of the owner, then having a local SIM ready (or if you can afford to call while on roaming) will be useful. When we entered the Parkview Apartment lobby, the apartment owner wasn't there. We had to call her (expecting her to be somewhere in the building) and the lobby guard led us to the bank of elevators and told us to press the button to the appropriate floor number (I forgot which floor, but it was high enough to have a view of half of the Petronas Twin Towers).

So maybe the owner was up at the apartment. The door was unlocked and we let ourselves in. A spic and span apartment (about Php3000/night, can sleep 4 pax) but no owner. What greeted us was a set of keys on the kitchen counter along with a welcome note letting us know that we were free to consume the food in the refrigerator and in the cupboards. And that we could use whatever was in the apartment—kitchen, TV, DVD player, WiFi, washing machine, air conditioner, hot shower, (two) sofabeds, etc.—and also the gym and pool of the building. And, lastly, to enjoy ourselves and to remember to leave this apartment the way we had found it (this is not a hotel, guests must clean up after themselves).

That's our mess on the dining table and the sala

How to get to
Parkview Service Apartment
Jalan Law Yew Swee,
Kuala Lumpur

Parkview Service Apartment is about an hour from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. These are the transportation options:
♦ bus + LRT — KLIA express coach (bus) to Sentral Station (MYR 10) then transfer to the Kelana Jaya Line (LRT) and get off at KLCC Station (MYR 1.60), then walk about a kilometer. Note: The bus runs every 30 mins, 24 hours. The LRT runs from 6AM to 12MN.
♦ train — KLIA Ekspres train to Sentral Station (MYR 35) then transfer to the Kelana Jaya Line (LRT) and stop at KLCC Station (MYR 1.60), then walk about a kilometer. Note: The KLIA Ekspres runs every 15 mins (peak) or every 20 mins (off peak) from 5AM to 1AM. The LRT runs from 6AM to 12MN.
♦ taxi — MYR 70 above
♦ arrange for pick–up/drop–off with the owner — MYR 200 roundtrip

Parkview Service Apartment is just walking distance from:
♦ LRT: KLCC LRT Station (1 km)
Petronas Twin Towers (700 m)
♦ Mall: Suria KLCC (700 m)
♦ Mall: Avenue K (1 km)
Menara KL Tower (1.5 km)

 
Petronas Twin Towers (left) and Menara KL Tower (right)



Malaysia
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Melaka In Between Bites

Monday, July 7, 2014

Malaysia Must–Know

Cover up or take it off.  Malaysia sits near the equator and is a hot and humid country. Take it off, but not everything, because Malaysia has its wet season, too, which varies depending on which part of the country you are visiting.
From electricaloutlet.org

Tick tock. Time in Malaysia runs on the same time zone as the Philippines, at GMT +8 hours.

Plug it in. If your gadgets are dying, plug it in... but only if you have the right power plug: type G or three–pin rectangular blade plug at 240V.

Ka–ching. Malaysian currency is called the ringgit (MYR or RM). One Malaysian ringgit is about 13.6 Philippine pesos (check XE for current exchange rate). There are money changers at the airport, but from experience, you are better off just getting enough (to pay for your transfer out of the airport) exchanged here...get the rest of your money exchanged in the city.

Ring ring. If you need to get a SIM card while in the country, there are many booths at the airport selling these. Some SIM cards include a data plan.

Say what? The national language of Malaysia is Malay/Bahasa Malaysia, a language I don't speak. Good thing English is widely spoken in Malaysia. And if you know Mandarin, you're in luck, that's widely spoken, too.

Welcome. I am not sure how many international airports Malaysia has, but wiki says it's eight. What I do know is that if you're flying from the Philippines, you may fly direct to Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, or Miri.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Like Ka Bino

I'm one step closer to turning into Ka Bino—I already have a mustache. Next, I need to buy me a hat. And then try to cram as much historical information as I possibly can into this little head of mine. It will take me a decade or a lifetime (or maybe never) to learn what Ka Bino already has in his head.

Ka Bino (left, photo by Mike Libby) and the wannabe

In the meantime, I literally followed Ka Bino's footsteps. Through his Colon by Night walking tour...which doesn't just explore Colon Street, the oldest street in Cebu City, but snakes through the streets of downtown to Carbon Market and back again, on another route, to Colon.

 
Colon by Night tour route

I'm on selfish mode now. If you expect me to tell you every little bit of information that came out of Ka Bino's mouth, sorry, I am not a recorder. Besides, I paid a gazillion for that walk, you pay your way too. Just kidding. I didn't pay a gazillion for it. And I am not that mean. Just a little bit. But really, I will not tell you the significance of each of the buildings and places that Ka Bino pointed out. You have to find out for yourself. But I will tell you this, the walking tour with Ka Bino brought me back in time, a time before my existence. It was fascinating to imagine all the hustle and bustle and grandeur of downtown Cebu before the mall era. It made me see the existing buildings covered in layers of dust and grime (which I have ignored in the many times I have walked the streets of downtown) in a new light.

Covered in years of dust and grime

While I am still in the process of transforming into a Ka Bino (but, beyond the mustache and the hat, I doubt I will ever become Ka Bungot), I encourage you to go ahead and go on a walking tour with Ka Bino. Sure, downtown may have lost its luster, but give it an hour and a half, and you will learn interesting history not found in boring textbooks. For this short time, downtown will have reclaimed its grandeur, if only through stories and words. You will not be disappointed. And you won't be bored. In fact, I would bet my shorts you'll laugh and smile. And wish you could go back in time.



Ka Bino currently has two walking tours: 
♦ Colon by Night (see map above)
♦ Old Cebu Walks — includes Magellan's Cross, Basilica del Sto Niño, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and Museum, Rajah Humabon Park, Casa Gorordo Museum, Yap–San Diego Ancestral House, and Museo Parian sa Sugbo.
Book his tours (minimum of two guests) through oldcebuwalks@gmail.com or by calling 0917 716 9830.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quinale Beach in Poblacion, Anda, Bohol

Anda is a small town on the east coast of Bohol with an admirable tourism department. It surprised me that they had brochures being distributed to visitors hanging out at Anda's public beach called Quinale Beach and at the food stalls in the Poblacion market.

 
Quinale Beach
 
Anda's Quinale Beach is a long stretch of white sand with clear waters and a sandy bed (no rocks nor seaweeds). We were at Quinale Beach from Wednesday to Saturday on a Holy Week. The beach was mostly quiet and deserted from Wednesday to Friday, but Saturday brought in a battalion of people (a congregation, I believe). To get away from the Saturday crowd, we hung out on the west end of the beach.

Trees and huts along the beach

Quinale Beach has a lone bar (Quinale Beach Bar 0908 992 3309) with affordable food (snacks mostly) and drinks. Adjacent to the bar is Anda's tourist center. Under the hut (free!) or under the tree or under the sun's rays, visitors can set up a tent or a picnic blanket or tables and chairs. Tables and chairs can be rented (Php75 for a table and Php5 for two chairs) at the bar. Camping on the beach is allowed but visitors must bring their own tent. Camping on Quinale Beach isn't totally roughing it because Anda has also provided toilets, changing rooms, and open showers (also free) by the bar.

 Anda Church's ceiling murals were painted by Raymundo Francia from 1923 to 1925.

The municipal hall, police station, church, market, bakeshop, and tricycle terminal are just walking distance from Quinale Beach. And the place where we stayed in, R&S Seaside Unit Accommodation [0948 849 6971 / 0916 529 5174], which has a convenience store, is just a two–minute walk from the beach and a minute walk to the market (we had our meals at the market's food center). R&S has a newer building on the next street (a minute walk to the beach), which has a restaurant with WiFi connection.

 

Our room could accommodate six persons comfortably. For only Php 1900, it had a queen-sized bed, a bunk bed, a sofabed with a pull out bed, a toilet and shower, an air conditioning unit, a TV, a microwave, a sink, a rice cooker, an electric kettle, and plates and utensils. Rooms for two persons and four persons are also available.


For the benefit of those planning to visit Anda, check out the map below and the list of accommodations and contact numbers.


Click to enlarge

Of the many sites listed on the map, we only visited Anda Falls and the Inday Potenciana remains. The beach (and the comfy room at R&S) made us too lazy to go exploring and, despite Anda Falls being just three kilometers from where we were, we only got off our butts on the last day.

The habalhabal (motorcycle) rates posted at the bar in Quinale Beach shows that a habalhabal ride to Anda Falls would cost Php25 per person per way and that a motorcycle could carry a maximum of two passengers. I think the driver found us too fat that he insisted on us hiring one motorcycle each (Php100 per person roundtrip) for safety.

Habalhabal rates in Anda (click to enlarge)

The short road to Anda Falls was rough, so I understood why he would not risk strapping us on his motorcycle. Anda Falls wasn't much to see. The local government constructed a pool at the bottom where residents can go for a swim in the cold fresh water (no entrance fee).

 Anda Falls (left) and the man–made pool at the bottom (right)

On the way back to the town, we dropped by a small structure in the middle of the cemetery. In the center of the small wooden structure was a white tomb keeping the remains of Inday Potenciana. I looked in the tomb and saw teeth and the outline of a body.

 
Inday Potenciana

My friend refused to look into the glass topped tomb. He extended his hand holding his cellphone above the glass and took a photo. After checking his shot, he immediately deleted it. Corpses give him the willies. Ten minutes tops and we were out of there.

All my habalhabal driver would say was that it was miraculous but he couldn't really tell me the history behind this. Thanks to langyaw.com, now I know the story.


How to go to Anda in Bohol:

From Tagbilaran
  • Take the bus at Dao Terminal in Tagbilaran. To Anda 5AM / 1230PM / 230PM. To Tagbilaran 6AM / 8AM / 11AM. Travel time is 3 hours.
  • Take a van (v-hire) at Dao Terminal in Tagbilaran. To Anda – no fixed schedule. To Tagbilaran 4AM / 530AM / 6AM / 7AM / 730AM / 8AM. Travel time is 2 hours.
  • If you miss the above direct vans/buses, take a bus to Guindulman. From Guindulman, there are regular buses, vans, tricycles, and motorcycles to Anda running from 5AM to 5PM.
  • For big groups, you may opt to rent a van. We rented one from Arnel Aniñon 0909 783 2396 / 0908 937 2405 / 0916 387 4609.
From Tubigon
  • Take a bus or van to Carmen. From Carmen, transfer to a bus going to Alicia. From Alicia, ride a bus or jeepney to Anda. Most would not recommend this route since buses don't run hourly. If you miss the bus, you would have to try and find a motorcycle to take you to Anda.