Friday, August 30, 2013

What's in a (Business) Name? Veintiuno

The hipster canteen :-)
Spotted along AS Fortuna St, Mandaue City
Thanks for the tip, Babe for Food!

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Old and the New at Golden Cowrie

Golden Cowrie has been in Cebu for as long as I can remember. According to their website, since 1982. You'd say I have an excellent memory if "as long as I can remember" goes all the way to 1982. Ha! My first memory of eating at Golden Cowrie does not go that far, but I sure remember...

The oldies but goodies

When Golden Cowrie invited me and two food bloggers for dinner, I was happy they served their bestsellers. Three of which—sinigang (baby prawns), baked scallops, and crispy pata—never fail to make an appearance whenever my family gathers at Golden Cowrie. It was the first time I had their adobong talong and I'm adding it to my must-eat-when-in-Golden-Cowrie list.

In all the years Golden Cowrie has been in Cebu and in the countless times I have eaten there, it was only two months ago that I have found...

The hidden gem

Warning: This small bowl of Taba ng Talangka will require usa ka bandehado na kan-on (a large platter of rice). The good news is Golden Cowrie's rice is unlimited. It's so perfect with rice, you might need to order another Taba ng Talangka.

And it was also during this time that I was introduced to...

The newbies

Okay, so all four new additions to the menu are fried. These may not be too appetizing for the health conscious. But I am not one of them (health conscious people). The Golden Fried Scallops are popcorn, according to one of the bloggers. Popcorn can be addicting, so that's probably a positive description. Ngo Hiong (kinda like a vegetable lumpia) is a Cebuano favorite. Maybe I am not a true blue Cebuano for I am not a fan of ngo hiong. The Deep Fried Liempo is, to quote Golden Cowrie, "simmered with local herbs served crisp" (as it should be!). The Baby Squid con Tinta is squid fried in its own ink. Of the four, I like the golden fried scallops best.

These 11 dishes make up just a portion of their menu. Most of the main entrees range from Php 100 to Php 200; there are a few below Php 100, and a handful above Php 200. Servings are good for two to three persons. Unlimited rice costs Php 39. Desserts are also available for Php 35 to Php 95.

If you'd like to eat at Golden Cowrie (or Hukad sa Golden Cowrie at The Terraces, Ayala Center), better make a reservation. I guarantee, without a reservation, you'd have to wait and wait and wait for a vacant table. Golden Cowrie/Hukad is always full.

Golden Cowrie Restaurant
Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City
(032) 233 4243 / (032) 233 4670
With 15 branches in the Philippines.
And two more opening soon: Butuan and Palawan

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Giant Swing in Danao, Bohol

Who would be stupid enough to pay Php 700 to swing and dangle over a 200–meter high and 300–meter wide gorge? Uh...that would be me.

Stupid people like me would have to go to Danao in Bohol for this. At E.A.T. (Extreme, Economic, Educational Adventure Tour) Danao, they call it The Plunge. I call it one crazy jumbo Tarzan swing.

The stupid person gets strapped into a harness, made to walk the plank, secured on the giant swing, made to sit with one's back towards the gorge, lowered down and dangled some meters below the plank, and in three, two, one...released!

Walk the plank

Free falling, I screamed like a girl. And as I swung to the other side of the gorge, I shut my big girly mouth, spread my arms, laid back and took in the sound and touch of the air as I carved a 100–meter arc thru it. A sublime feeling. A sublime feeling indeed.

Screaming like a girl

Relaxing over treetops and the river

Regrettably, I don't have a video of that moment when I dropped my 700 pesos into the gorge and left my soul swinging over it. To help you visualize, maybe this video I searched on YouTube will do.

Don't worry if you have no one to take photos of you, E.A.T. Danao has an official photographer. Not free. A photo print out would cost Php 50. But if you have a thumb drive or a memory card, you can copy all their photos of you for Php 150.

Brgy. Magtangtang, Danao, Bohol
(038) 510 0050 / 0917 302 1700

Other activities at E.A.T. Danao are: ziplining, riding a cable car, rappelling, root climbing, caving, wall climbing, kayaking, river trekking, river tubing, and even flying an ultralight aircraft.

An ultralight aircraft (Photo source)

Flying an ultralight aircraft would have been an incredible experience, and an incredible blow on the pocket, too. For Php 2,200 (that's equal to a roundtrip domestic ticket! haha) you can be the co–pilot for 15 minutes. Reservation would have to be made at least a day in advance since the aircraft takes refuge somewhere else (I forgot where, but that's what the receptionist told me). Maybe when I'm filthy rich, that will be the next stupid thing I do.

The fastest way to get to Danao from Cebu is via Tubigon.
  1. Buy a ticket for the fastcraft to Tubigon. The Starcraft ticket booth is outside Pier 3. Ticket prices for Starcraft are as follows: Php200 economy class/Php220 tourist class/Php280 business class. You can find the Starcraft schedule here.
  2. Starcraft leaves from Pier 3 (terminal fee Php10). Travel time: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the craft. The newer ones are faster.
  3. At Tubigon Port, walk (it's just 500m away) or take a tricycle (Php10) to the bus terminal.
  4. Look for a bus (Php 30) or van (Php 50) going to Sagbayan.
  5. From Sagbayan town, get on a bus for Danao town proper. Buses for Danao follow a schedule: In the morning at 645 / 745 / 945 / 1045; and in the afternoon at 145 / 245 / 345 / 445 / 515 / 715 / 8. Travel time: 1 hour. Fare: Php 30
  6. From Danao town, hire a motorcycle to take you to E.A.T. Danao at Php 40 per person.
If you miss the bus for Danao and don't want to wait for the next one, hire a motorcycle to take you straight to E.A.T. Danao from Sagbayan proper for Php 150 per person.

I went to E.A.T. Danao after visiting Sagbayan Peak. From Sagbayan Peak, I was planning on taking a motorcycle (habalhabal) to Sagbayan proper (Php 20) and following steps 5 and 6 above. Luckily, I was able to strike a deal with two motorcycle (habalhabal) drivers for Php 600 for three passengers (I was with two friends). From Sagbayan Peak, they took us to E.A.T. Danao, then from E.A.T. Danao to Tubigon port. The ride from Sagbayan Peak to E.A.T. Danao took an hour and the ride to Tubigon took another hour.

Contact numbers of motorcycle (habalhabal) drivers:
Thata 0921 962 3016
Rene 0907 867 0385

How much it costs to become Tarzan:
Two motorcycles (habalhabal) Sagbayan Peak to EAT Danao to Tubigon (Php 600/3 pax) Php 200
EAT Danao entrance fee Php 25
Motorcycle parking fee Php 5 (per motorcycle)
Plunge Php 700
Lunch (5 pax) at a carenderia somewhere between Danao and Tubigon Php 216
Tip for the two drivers Php 100
Tubigon to Cebu (Starcraft, tourist) Php 220 plus Php 5 (I don't know what the Php 5 was for)
Tubigon port terminal fee Php 10

Bohol Quickie:
Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers at Sagbayan Peak
A Giant Swing in Danao, Bohol (you're here!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers at Sagbayan Peak

The last time I was in Bohol was in 2007. Bohol is just an hour or two away by boat from Cebu and I haven't been back...until July 2013. Why? Because I often take the nearby places for granted. I think, 'It's just a few hours away, I can go tomorrow.' Next thing I know, tomorrow is 365 days multiplied by six plus six months. 

Six and a half years later, I have eight hours in Bohol and I go to Sagbayan and Danao.

Sagbayan Peak for two things: Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills.

Sagbayan Peak has five tarsiers

The view from Sagbayan Peak

Admittedly, the view from Sagbayan Peak is not as spectacular as the one in Carmen. But when in a hurry—Carmen is still an hour from Sagbayan, and Corella, where the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary is, is about 55km southwest of Carmen—Sagbayan Peak would have to do.

Other activities in Sagbayan Peak:
  • Hiking—from the main road to the entrance if you don't hire a motorcycle
  • Swimming—they have a "water park" (just a pool, really) for a separate fee of Php50
  • Eating—both the viewing area and the water park have its own restaurant
  • Watching butterflies—they have a butterfly dome at the viewing area

Here's the fastest way to Sagbayan Peak from Cebu:
  1. Buy a ticket for the fastcraft to Tubigon. The Starcraft ticket booth is outside Pier 3. Ticket prices for Starcraft are as follows: Php200 economy class/Php220 tourist class/Php280 business class. You can find the Starcraft schedule here.
  2. Starcraft leaves from Pier 3 (terminal fee Php10). Travel time: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the craft. The newer ones are faster.
  3. At Tubigon Port, walk (it's just 500m away) or take a tricycle (Php10) to the bus terminal.
  4. Look for a bus (Php 30) or van (Php 50) going to Sagbayan. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Sagbayan Peak.
  5. From the main road, you can either walk or take a motorcycle (Php15) to the ticket booth at the entrance. Going to the entrance you'd have to take the road (long way). Exiting, you can just take the stairs (short way).

How this quickie Bohol trip bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Cebu Pier 3 terminal fee Php 10
Cebu to Tubigon (Starcraft, economy) Php 200
Bus from Tubigon port to Sagbayan Peak Php 30
Motorcycle (habalhabal) to Sagbayan Peak ticket booth/entrance Php 15
Sagbayan Peak entrance fee Php 30

Bohol Quickie:
Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers at Sagbayan Peak (you're here!)
A Giant Swing in Danao, Bohol

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cupcake Avenue

No sign at the entrance of EZone that Cupcake Avenue least I didn't see any. I slowly made my way through EZone with eyes trailed up, looking at all the store signs, and spotted it halfway through the parking area. This sixteen-seater sweet shop is tucked in the far corner of EZone in Panagdait.

I could eat the seat covers.

Cupcake flavors are lemon, red velvet, banana nutella, triple chocolate, smores, cookies and cream, and choco mallow (Php 49 each). Cupcake Avenue also serves sandwiches and pancakes (Php 60-80), fruit shakes, smoothies and coffee (Php 50-90).

Eating alone is no fun.

The trouble with going alone is I can't try as many cupcakes as I would like. I only had their lemon cupcake. The cake itself wasn't as lemony as I would like, but the lemony icing made up for it. I have to bring five friends next time and make each order a different flavor so I can get a bite of each. Who wants to go with me?

Cupcake Avenue
EZone, Panagdait, Mabolo, Cebu City
0922 823 2981
Tuesdays to Sundays 2PM to 10PM

Monday, August 5, 2013

Muffins at Real Coffee and Tea Café

While waiting for the boat that would take workers home (and me) to Carabao Island, I killed time by walking from one station to another, looking at signboards nailed on coconut trees. One muffin-shaped signboard caught my eye. It had an arrow painted on the bottom, directing me to the "Home of the Calamansi Muffin." Boredom and the love for lemon cupcakes made me follow the arrows. (Only after the trip did I find out that this place is quite popular... many blogs have raved about it.)

Since I was not looking for a meal, but was focused on trying out just the muffins, I checked the side of the menu listing all the muffins. Aside from calamansi muffins, Real Coffee also had banana walnut muffins, carrot raisin muffins, and muffins that rolled the two into one (banana, walnut, carrot, raisin, plus pineapple)—they called it ultimate muffin.

I only had money for two: an ultimate muffin and a calamansi muffin

Will this blog rave about it? I love lemon cupcakes and their calamansi muffin had the right tang in my opinion. The ultimate muffin tasted just like a carrot cupcake but with extra bits and pieces. For ordinary looking and ordinary tasting muffins, the price is too much. But there was nothing I could do, I was in Boracay. Everything here is expensive.

Real Coffee and Tea Café
Station 1, Boracay, Malay, Aklan
(036) 288 5340

How muffins made me fat and my wallet thin:
Calamansi muffin Php45
Ultimate muffin Php65

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Boracay's Chori Burger

I have often heard my officemates mention the chori burger that they have tried in Boracay. When I came across a chori burger cart, I did not hesitate to buy a chori burger. The power of the word of mouth.

Uhhh... I don't get what's so special about this. Just two halves of a burger bun that's slathered with sauce and slapped over two slices of chorizo. Maybe it's the sweet and spicy sauce or maybe it was hunger that made them say it's a must try. But when hungry and on the cheap, I guess this is the one to go to. (For something this simple, I think Php45 is too much. Yes, my thrifty self is speaking again.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wisdom from the Road #6

On little things
Sometimes something so little can be of big importance.

Take for example a safety pin.
It can be very useful when riding a bus and the angry sun is pouring in through the large windows.

Useful in that it can be used to keep the curtains from letting rays of sunlight peek through.
I've added this tiny tool in my travel kit ever since.

What uncanny gadget has helped you on your travel lately?

For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.