Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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

This salon must have been handed down from generation to generation.
Spotted along the highway in Minglanilla, Cebu

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

On the morning of my second (and last day) in Busan, my friend and I stood at the curb near the hostel waiting for SangCheol to drive up. I spotted him walking down the street with a shiny black car slowly rolling along, keeping pace with him. We loped over to meet SangCheol and he motioned for us to hop in the car (it was at the same no stopping area as the day before).

SangCheol settled himself on the front passenger seat—the day's self appointed guide. On the wheel this time was ByeongUk (he had arrived the night before, back from a work trip). No rest for the wicked. In this case, no rest for Mustachio's friends. (Hey, don't look at me with accusing eyes! It was their kind and hospitable souls that volunteered to show me around.)

It was a long way to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Made even longer when the self–appointed guide snoozed and missed to tell ByeongUk to get off at the right exit. My friend and I laughed and enjoyed the joyride, while ByeongUk sweated bullets trying to figure out where the next expressway exit was so we could go back, and SangCheol squirmed in his seat trying to hold back his pee. (We eventually found a stop with a toilet.)

When we finally reached Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, SangCheol switched on his guide mode: he led the way. (It was also ByeongUk's first time at the temple.) SangCheol told us that at least one of our wishes would be granted if we pray at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.

86 Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan
4AM to 7PM

Directions to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: Take subway line 2 to Haeundae Station, exit 7. Then take Bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사).

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is unique in that it is by the sea.
Most of Korea's temples are on the mountains.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple faces the sea

Buddhas everywhere

Somebody is showing his butt

Across the temple, SangCheol prodded us to go down a short set of steps into a cave and encouraged us to make one wish and drink the water from the spring. SangCheol always cracks jokes so I didn't know whether to believe him or not. But we went along anyway. While waiting in line, I tried to observe what people were doing: they lit a candle, then when it was their turn at the spring, they picked up a plastic cup and drank some water from the spring, and then paused a bit to say a prayer. We mimicked them.

SangCheol brought us to another part of the temple where he told us to make a wish and throw a coin. If the coin goes into one of the two bowls, our wish would come true. I was sure whatever I would wish for here would not be granted: I have very bad aim. But I made a wish and threw a coin anyway. Yup. Bad aim.

So far, whatever SangCheol told us, we followed. The third area he took us to was to a Buddha with a big pot belly. He told us to rub Buddha's belly....and we would be granted a son. No. Pass. None of us wanted a child as of the moment. Thank you very much.

I had a wish the night before though. When SangCheol asked what I wished to eat for dinner, I said japchae 잡채 (stir–fried glass noodle). It boggled his mind. Japchae was just side dish!!! He racked his brain and asked for help from his friends on where we could find japchae. No one could think of a place. So we ended up having bossam 보쌈 (thinly sliced pork belly boiled in broth with ginger and onion) and really spicy noodles (very spicy it made me cry) at Dongnae area.

Bossam and so many side dishes (but no japchae)

But today, that wish for japchae was granted. SangCheol remembered a restaurant near Haedong Yonggungsa Temple that had japchae as one of their side dishes. After pictures and wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, we went to this busy restaurant that I didn't know the name of and ate a huge feast of duck and pork and a ton of side dishes, including japchae.

Eating like there's no tomorrow. Spot the japchae.

We ate like it was our last meal...which it kind of was for me, for we would be heading back to the hostel at Nampo with just enough time to pick up our bags and go to the airport at Gimhae to catch our flight back home.

감사합니다 SangCheol and ByeongUk!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (you're here!)
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo

I was looking forward to Busan: to seeing this coastal city and to bugging my three Busan friends whom I haven't seen in over a year. I didn't have any itinerary for my two days in Busan—my plan was to plan around their schedule. Kinda left it to them to take the wheel (of my itinerary).

And they took the wheel literally. Around 10AM, SangCheol drove up to the hostel, with Yong riding shotgun acting as guide. My friend and I jumped in (yes, we had to jump in; it was a no stopping zone) and we were on the way. These guys are not morning persons which clearly showed in SangCheol's half–closed eyes and in Yong's snores as we crossed a bridge and cruised along roads and highways for about 45 minutes to Taejongdae.

24, Jeonmang-ro, Yeongdo-gu, Busan
+82 (51) 405 2004

Directions to Taejongdae
  • Take subway line 1 to Nampo Station, exit 6. Take Bus 8, 30, 66, or 88 and get off at the last stop (Taejongdae Chagoji).
  • Take subway line 1 to Busan Station, exit 7. Take Bus 66, 88, or 101 and get off at the last stop (Taejongdae Chagoji).

Taejongdae is a huge park. You either walk around or shell out KRW2000 for a tram ticket. The uphill walk to the ticket booth was already too much for sleep–deprived SangCheol that he took the liberty to buy us all tram tickets.

The tram in Taejongdae is called Danubi

The tram makes five stops along its route: Taewon Jagal Madang, Gumyeongsa Temple, Observatory, Yeongdo Lighthouse, and Taejongsa Temple. I have no idea what Taewon Jagal Madang is or how the temples look; we only went to Yeongdo Lighthouse and the Observatory.

Map of Taejongdae (click to enlarge)

Yeongdo Lighthouse

The rock below the boardwalk near the lighthouse

Taejongdae is a refreshing park to spend the whole day hiking around, gulping in fresh air (and, if you're hiking, gulping gallons of water), taking in the views, and catching up with friends. We tramped around the boardwalk, checked out sculptures, and tinkered with a digital map of Busan's attractions that we found on one of the viewdecks. Back at the boardwalk, we took in the view of the fog and the sea (on a clear day, Japan's Tsushima Island can be seen from the Observatory) and the rock formations below. People were down on the rock fishing and some were just hanging around. There was a trail down to the rocks but I didn't subject SangCheol and Yong to a hike down—they still had a whole day of driving and guiding to do.

By noon, we drove back to Nampo for lunch, went in and out of stores around Nampo, went to Gamcheon Culture Village for more walks, and then before the day ended, SangCheol and Yong drove us to another scenic site: Oryukdo Islands.

We did not go to the islands itself, but viewed the islands from Oryukdo Skywalk.

137 Oryukdo–ro, Nam–gu, Busan
9AM to 6PM, weather permitting
Closed during Lunar New Year and Korean Thanksgiving Day

Directions to Oryukdo Skywalk
  • Take subway line 1 to Busan Station, exit 10. Take bus 27 and get off at Oryukdo SK View Humun (Backgate) Bus Stop (25 stops). Walk about 275 meters to Oryukdo Skywalk.

From Gamcheon Culture Village, it took an hour and two bridge crossings to get to Oryukdo Skywalk. Once we found a parking slot some 300 meters from the skywalk, SangCheol herded us to the skywalk where we had to wear cloth covers over our shoes before stepping on its glass floor.

Oryukdo Skywalk sitting above the rock cliff
Photo from koreabridge.net

Oryukdo Skywalk
Photo from koreabridge.net

The skywalk is built overhanging some 35 meters above the sea on a rock cliff. It affords a view of Oryukdo Islands, a group of five (오 o in Korean) islands called such because when viewed from the east it looks like six (육 yuk in Korean) islands.

(The five or six islands of Oryukdo can also be seen up close via a cruise. The boat leaves Mipo Ferry Terminal in Haeundae every 40 minutes on weekends or every hour on weekdays, and the cruise will run for a little more than an hour. A cruise ticket would cost around KRW 22,000 or about Php 900.)

Oryukdo Islands as seen from the skywalk. Usakdo Island is the island nearest mainland Busan.
The four other islands of Oryukdo are on the far left...at this angle, it looks like one island.

Oryukdo Islands

We shuffled over the glass skywalk, tried to count the islands (in vain; it was too foggy and I could barely see the lighthouse on the farthest island peeking over the other three islands, plus we were on the south and the four islands looked like one island from that angle), hurriedly clicked our cameras, took two lungfuls of air, and then it was over. There was a long line behind us and we had to get in and out of there in a flash. (Here's a video of the skywalk and how busy it could get.)

Near Oryukdo Skywalk is Igidae Park, where one can enjoy more views of Busan via the 5–kilometer Coastal Walk. I did not want SangCheol and Yong to blame me for making them work like a horse on their rest day, so we skipped that. Walk or no walk at Igidae Park, SangCheol still blamed me the next day when both his legs were aching from all the walking we did in Taejongdae, Nampo, and Gamcheon.

Usakdo Island (left)

After the trip, while researching about the places I visited in South Korea, I stumbled upon the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea website and learned that South Korea has seven heritage classifications, and one of them is the "scenic site." Scenic sites are "places of natural beauty with great historic, artistic or scenic values, which feature distinctive uniqueness and rarity originated from their formation processes." The country has more than a hundred "scenic sites," and only two of these are in Busan: Taejongdae (Scenic Site 17) and Oryukdo (Scenic Site 24). Whether SangCheol and Yong knew this or not, I was lucky they brought me to these places. 감사합니다 SangCheol and Yong!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo (you're here!)
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)

There are four Eggs in Busan: Mr Egg Hostel in Nampo, Mr Egg Hostel in Haeundae (has changed management and, in July 2015, has changed its name to Guesthouse 710 Yellow), Mr Egg House in Haeundae, and Miss Egg House in Haeundae. Will the real Mr Egg please stand up?

Here's the real Mr Egg!
The one in Nampo.

Donggwang-dong 3-ga 6-1, Jung-gu, Busan
Telephone, from 9AM to 10PM only: +82 (51) 255 4500
Email: mregghostelnampo@gmail.com
Mr Egg Hostel Nampo is not related to Mr Egg House and Miss Egg House.

Twin Room B

Here's why Mr Mustachio thinks Mr Egg in Nampo is eggceptional:
  • When Mr Mustachio booked a room, only the single room was available. It was offered for KRW 50,000 plus KRW 5,000 for an extra bed, which was fine. But when Mr Mustachio arrived at Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo), his room was changed to a twin room free of charge.
  • Mr Mustachio gave Mr Egg a small guitar magnet and, in exchange, was given a 10% discount.
  • The room and its ensuite toilet and shower was neat and clean.
  • The bathroom had soap and shampoo.
  • The towel was too big for Mr Mustachio, who is only an inch or so tall. But this could be inconvenient for real people as the towels are really just hand towels.
  • Mr Mustachio could cook in the kitchen but chose to have his fill of free breakfast: bread, jam, eggs, coffee, tea.
  • There are hanbok in the common room that guests can don for picture taking.
  • The hostel staff are friendly and helpful.
  • The hostel is just a 3–minute walk from Jungang Station exit 5.
  • The hostel is just a 10–minute walk to Nampo-dong area.
  • Mr Mustachio was allowed to leave his luggage at the common area while he went around Busan while waiting for his night flight.
  • Mr Egg has a big backpack (a red one) which means he probably likes to travel too!
Mr Egg and his red backpack

South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo) (you're here!)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto

History was the subject I detested most during my school years. The textbooks were boring, the teachers were terrors. It was traveling (and maybe age), not schoolbooks and scary teachers, that piqued my interest.

My non–nerd friends, I am sure, would find my travel itineraries rather boring: there are almost always visits to museums and historical sites included...but that is what they get when they leave all the planning to me.

The five–day South Korea trip was, of course, not without its dose of history. There are twelve Korean cultural heritage sites (and one natural world heritage site) registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Two in Seoul: Jongmyo Shrine and Changdeokgung Palace Complex. Three in Gyeongju: Gyeongju Historic Areas, Gyeongju Yangdong Historic Village, and Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple. The rest are scattered around the country. But we could only make time for Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto.

Bulguksa Temple
7AM to 6PM
Admission fee: KRW 4,000

Bulguksa Temple was built a long long time ago (year 528) in the far far away land of Gyeongju. (That is if you're coming from Brazil or Uruguay or wherever its antipodes is.) But when coming from Seoul, Gyeongju is just a 2–hour high speed train or 5–hour bus ride.

Going to Gyeongju from Seoul
  • High Speed Train (Korea Train eXpress, better known as KTX)
    • From Seoul Station to Singyeongju Station
    • Fare: KRW 44,700 or about Php 2,000
    • Travel duration: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Bus
    • From Gangnam Express Bus Terminal to Gyeongju Intercity Express Bus Terminal (or Gyeongju Express Terminal in short)
    • Fare: KRW 20,400 to KRW 33,300 or Php 920 to Php 1,500
    • Travel duration: 4 to 5 hours
Korea Train eXpress (KTX)

Going to Bulguksa Temple
  • From Singyeongju Station
    • Take bus 700 to Bulguksa Temple. Fare: KRW 1,500 (Bus 700 also passes by Gyeongju Express Terminal.)
  • From Gyeongju Express Terminal
    • Across Gyeongju Express Terminal, take bus 10 or 11 (every 30 minutes) or 700 (every hour) to Bulguksa Temple. Fare: KRW 1,500
Note: If you want to leave your bags, there are coin operated lockers (KRW 3,000) at the train station (Singyeongju Station) and at the bus station (Gyeongju Express Terminal).

Bus 700 schedule
Singyeongju Station to Gyeongju Express Terminal

Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Kingdom, which ruled more than half of Korea for 992 years. More than a thousand years have passed since the fall of the kingdom, but many of its historical treasures have remained. Bulguksa Temple holds six of the country's national treasures:
The 10.3–meter tall Dabotap Pagoda was built in the 8th century

Clockwise from top left:
National Treasure 22: Yeonhwa-gyo and Chilbo-gyo Bridges (stairways really)
National Treasure No. 23: Cheongun-gyo and Baegun-gyo Bridges (stairways really)
Birojeon Hall (houses National Treasure 26: Gilt–Bronze Seated Vairocana Buddha)
Geungnakjeon Hall (houses National Treasure 27: Gilt–Bronze Seated Amitabha Buddha)

Left: Daeungjeon enshrines Saykamuni Buddha, Man of Great Enlightenment
Right: Gwaneumjeon enshrines Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassion, who listens to the cries of the world

Seokguram Grotto
7AM to 5PM
Admission fee: KRW 4,000
Request for a tour guide (free) at the ticket booth.

Going to Seokguram Grotto
  • Bus
    1. From Bulguksa Temple, take bus 12 (every hour) to Seokguram Grotto. Fare: KRW 1,500
    2. From the bus stop, walk 15 minutes to the Grotto.
  • Hike
    • Follow the 4–kilometer hiking trail from Bulguksa Temple through the woods and up the mountain to Seokguram Grotto.

Bus 12 schedule (click to enlarge)
Bulguksa Temple – Seokguram Grotto

Walking in the foggy Toham Mountain to Seokguram Grotto

Seokguram Grotto from the outside

The 24–year–long construction of Seokguram Grotto was started in the year 751. The grotto and the Bonjonbul (Buddha) inside it are made of granite. The grotto has three sections: antechamber, corridor, and main rotunda. In the old days, people believed that the land was square and the heaven, round. The antechamber, where the people held Buddhist services, was designed to be square, and the main rotunda, where the Buddha resides, circular.

Carved on the walls of the antechamber are palbusinjung (eight guardian deities). At the entrance of the corridor are carved two geumgangyeoksa (gatekeepers); on the walls of the corridor are four sacheonwang (devas, a level higher than humans). Carved on the dome of the main rotunda are the two highest deities that protect Buddha; a deity that represents wisdom; a deity that represents mercy; ten of Buddha's disciples; and Sipilmyeon Gwaneumbosal, an eleven–faced Bodhisattva (enlightened being) of compassion. Above these are ten niches: seven contain Boddhisattvas; one contains Yumageosa (not a boddhisattva, but a disciple of Buddha), to show that anyone who truly lives Buddha's teachings can enter the land of Buddha; and two are empty.

The Buddha inside Seokguram Grotto

I only saw some of the carvings as the grotto is sealed off by clear glass (it is only during Buddha's birthday, which falls in May, that people are allowed to see the grotto up close). All these was told to me by the guide who patiently explained the story behind the grotto, showed pictures of the carvings, and answered all our stupid questions (we didn't know anything about Buddhism) .

Had I had more time in Gyeongju, I would have wanted to visit the Silla History and Science Museum, which has models of Seokguram Grotto; Gyeongju Historic Areas, five areas in Gyeongju containing many of Silla Kingdom's heritage; and Yangdong Historic Village, a traditional village.

But it was time to go on to the next city: Busan.

Going to Busan from Gyeongju
  • High Speed Train (Korea Train eXpress, better known as KTX)
    • From Singyeongju Station to Busan Station
    • Fare: KRW 11,000
    • Travel duration: 30 minutes
  • Bus
    • From Gyeongju Intercity Express Bus Terminal to Nopo Station
    • Fare: KRW 4,800
    • Travel duration: 1 hour

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto (you're here!)
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Legally This Time.

Four years ago, I tried to sneak into Olango's bird sanctuary, officially called Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, but got lost in the mangroves. That's karma for me. This year I tried to be a good boy and entered the sanctuary through the front door.

Just a 10–peso motorcycle ride from Olango Paradise Island Resort where we were soaking in the sun, we dug ourselves out of the sand and went to see the birds. There are almost a hundred species of birds at the 1,030–hectare Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary and around half of it are migratory birds escaping the freezing winter. The best time to go bird watching in Olango is from September to mid April (peak migration is from November to February; birds from the south come in November, and those from the north come in February), and at two hours before peak high tide. We went at the end of May and as the tide was going out. What bad timing.

Clockwise from top left: Welcome to Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary; the pathway to the observation deck;
Warden Luking looking for birds; the observation deck

But still we saw a dozen species of birds with the help of Warden Luking's telescope and expertise. Warden Luking (he is one of four wardens of the sanctuary) spied and showed us the following birds: gray–tailed tattler, whimbrel, Asian dowitcher, greenshank, plover, little egret, Australian curlew, green–backed heron, redshank, ruddy turnstone, and Chinese egret. Two of them, he informed us, are threatened species: the Chinese egret and the Asian dowitcher. It's a wonder how he can identify these birds. Some birds looked so similar to my poor eyes.

I don't have any photos as proof because my camera lens isn't as powerful as the telescope's; just take my word for it. We were lucky to have seen these many birds when Warden Luking was expecting we'd see only five species at this time of year. I guess this is my reward for being a good boy.

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
San Vicente, Olango, Lapu–lapu City
Daily 9AM to 5PM
Sir Rejie 0932 565 7534

Entrance fee Php30
Camping fee Php40 per person (bring own tent)
Pre–nup photo shoot Php500
Video shoot Php3000

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This Paradise Sucks

Once upon a hot summer Sunday, we went to the island of Olango for a little dose of beach at Olango Paradise Island Resort [0926 668 1788 / 0927 695 9888]. We got a little dose of beach all right. Even at high tide, the water was only up to our waists as we reached the nets and floaters less than a hundred meters from shore. It was a struggle to get that far as the sand kept sucking our slippers, threatening to swallow the soles and snap the straps off. It was either sink (in the mud–sand) or swim.

See the line and white thingies in the water? Those are the nets and floaters.
And on the right, where the pumpboats are, that's the San Vicente Marine Sanctuary.

San Vicente Marine Sanctuary is just a few meters beyond the nets and a little off to the right side of the resort but the sucking mud–sand combined with the searing sun drained our energy and held us back. (We were too lazy to go to San Vicente Marine Sanctuary legally, via the boardwalk just beside the resort.) And so we let ourselves get stuck in the beach of Olango Paradise Island Resort by sitting around in the water to fend off the heat.

Until the gravitational forces of the moon drained the beach of its water, leaving a long stretch of mud–sand that made us think we can just walk straight to Mactan Island. But really, other than that, Olango Paradise Island Resort is a nice, quick escape from the city. The area, though not huge, is not cramped. The resort (most importantly the common toilet and shower) is kept clean.

No, Olango Paradise Island Resort isn't my idea of paradise. But it doesn't suck either. Just the mud–sand. Literally.

How to get to Olango Paradise Island Resort:
Olango Island can be reached by a 20–minute pumpboat ride from Punta Engaño Wharf (beside Mövenpick Hotel) in Lapu–Lapu City, Mactan to Santa Rosa Wharf in Olango Island. From Santa Rosa Wharf, Olango Paradise Island Resort is just a tricycle (Php150 per tricycle), motorcycle, or van (Php300 per way for the resort's van, 12 pax) ride away.

How Olango Paradise Island Resort can suck your feet and your wallet:
Entrance fee Php50
Open cottage Php350
Tables and chairs with umbrella Php200
Toilet and shower use Php0 (free!)
Drinking water (there's a water dispenser in the restaurant) Php0 (free!)
Grill rental Php250
Rooms for overnight stay Php1500 to Php3000
Van transfers Php300 per way (good for 12 pax)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sora Not Sorry

Nope, definitely not sorry. The only one who is sorry is Ramen Sora, for giving me, mister fake food blogger—I could eat a ton but could not properly describe what I am eating—a 500–peso gift cheque, which I, of course, happily used to "buy" a bowl of shoyu ramen (Php 285), tokutarou gyoza (Php 175 for 5 pcs), and edamame (Php 85).

Edamame (left) and Tokutarou Gyoza (right)

So I will be quick with this post. As quick as the time it took to consume my bowl of shoyu (soy based) ramen and eat the edamame, leaving just the pods (and some beans) for my two companions. But I don't think my two companions minded my leaving them with just the pods (and a few beans), for one was busy wrestling with his chopsticks in an attempt to eat his corn butter shio (salt based) ramen (Php 295) and the other was busy examining his deluxe Sora ramen (Php 365) and constructing descriptive sentences (for his blog) in his head.


I liked my shoyu ramen. My friends could tell from the sprinkle of shoyu on their faces as I speedily slurped my bowl clean (they were barely halfway by then). The chashu (pork) was so tender, it melted in my mouth and made me wish I had ordered the pork chashu shoyu ramen (same as shoyu ramen but with more chashu) instead. And I was right to choose shoyu as the base—it had more flavor (in my very poor opinion) than the shio. Oh, and the edamame? Best eaten warm.

Lightsite Parc, AS Fortuna St,
Mandaue City, Cebu
(032) 520 3331
Daily 10AM to 12MN
Photo from Ramen Sora's website

There you have it. My quick and unprofessional opinion. May this little blogpost compel you to try Ramen Sora too. But please don't eat ramen like me: like you haven't eaten for days. Or, yes, please do eat like me: with loud slurping sounds—it is only polite to do so (when eating ramen).

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wisdom from the Road #28

On darkness
It isn't so bad.
You can...
See the stars better.
Have some fireflies for company.
See glowing plankton in the sea.
Go skinny dipping in the beach.

But when you're out camping on an island that has no electricity or on a mountain away from civilization or when you're visiting a town that's known to have intermittent power, it can be a pain. Pain on the toe if you stub your toe while stumbling around in the woods looking for a place to take a dump. Pain on the leg if you drop into a canal while looking (if you can see anything at all) for your hostel. Pain on the face if you crawl into the wrong tent and your new tent mate punches you. 

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