Friday, April 27, 2012

Look who's coming to town...

Because I had some free time during my volunteer shift last night, I've  been checking through the different events at the Sistic website.

That's when I found out that...

Joseph Vincent and Jason Chen, two of my fave YouTube artists, are coming to town for a concert! Gaaah!

That's right on, 5 May, Jason and Joseph and four other YouTube stars will be having a show at the Hard Rock Hotel.

I want to watch but 1.) the tix price is at $70(!!!) and 2.) I may be the only oldie in a sea of uni, or worse, sec school, kids. Haha!

Here are Joseph and Jason in one of their collabs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pg... so near yet so far...

I was very much looking forward to Friday.

Not only was it going to be another holiday, it was going to be a holiday at Pg Boy's hometown.

I got my ticket a month or two ago. I already have a list of places I want to see, restaurants to try. I even found a reflexology/massage place.

This morning though, I got a message from Pg Boy saying, "I have the biggest bad news in the world."

His boss asked him to stay in Singapore for the week. Maybe because the boss didn't see the point of going to Pg for just a few days and then heading back to SG on Sunday.


Oh well. I hope another AirAsia fare sale comes up again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saturday HOHOL at Drips Bakery Cafe...

It was a pretty packed weekend.

Saturday afternoon was for exploring a neighborhood I find interesting, and would eventually want to move to - Tiong Bahru.

I saw a bit of the neighborhood the few times I took a bus and the bus passed by Tiong Bahru Road.

In some of the local blogs that I read, Tiong Bahru is often mentioned to be one area that offers a number nice cafes and food places that are worth a visit.

So, explore a bit of Tiong Bahru was what we did on Saturday aft.

I looked up what cafes may be interesting and three places came up - Drips Bakery Cafe, Orange Thimble and 40 Hands. Reading a bit of reviews and checking out some photos, all three seemed to be worth of a visit and have their own good things to offer.

We ended up going to Drips Bakery Cafe. No specific reason. We just chose the place.

It's very easy to find. One bus stop away from Tiong Bahru Plaza, and a short walk to nearby Tiong Poh Road and you would soon be standing in front of Drips Bakery Cafe.

Entering the place, the feel was very relaxed and laid-back, something that you would want to have at a cafe on a Saturday afternoon. The place was spacious, and had several interesting elements. Mismatched furniture. Nice lighting. White walls. Your eyes are drawn to so many things around the cafe.

We decided to get one of the tables further back, so that the guys and I can just chill and enjoy. The area where our table was brightened by the natural light coming from a strip of clear glass that was part of the ceiling.

Drips has a number of pastries and real food. Since I just finished lunch, I just had a slice of cake and macchiato. The cake was good. The coffee, I guess, was something others would like. I was kind of expecting my macchiato to be something similar to the ones I usually get from CBTL. Hehe! Chris had the all-day breakkie, while MkSurf8 got the corned beef sandwich. The all-day breakkie looked so so. The corned beef sandwich looked yum.

Because the place wasn't packed, we were able to stay and just lounge for a couple of hours. It was definitely one very chillax Saturday aft. Haha!

Must visit Tiong Bahru again to check out the other two cafes. Let's see which one is the best. ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Food tripping in Yogyakarta... Part 2


For our last night in Yogya, we had a wonderful dinner at theSawah. I've read nothing but good reviews about the dining place, and decided that we must give it a try.
On their website, it said that theSawah is not a restau, but a place to eat.

This is partly true. I say partly true because while it's true that the place iså not a restau, the place is also not just for eating. It is where one will experience true Javanese hospitality as Dutch-Indonesian couple Wim and Phillip welcome you into their home for you to have a delightful dinner. The atmosphere is definitely not one of a restau. It feels more like having dinner at good friend's house.

What separates theSawah from the other dining places in Yogya is that Wim & Phillip will ask you what you want for dinner. If you dun have anything in mind, leave it to them to surprise you with a feast. That's what happened to us. I emailed them for a Saturday night reservation. We left it to them to prepare the meal for us and what an awesome meal it turned out to be.

From the starters to the soup (we had soto ayam) to the mains (about eight Indonesian dishes!!!) to the dessert, each dish was prepared carefully and with much attention.

Just before we had our dessert, Wim gave us a tour of the home. There were many impressive details to be found around their home. I enjoyed it that Phillip would share a story about a particular wall panel, or a wall detail, or the flooring. Wim, a Dutch guy who has been in Indonesia for a decade now, even shared their own story.

Dinner at theSawah was definitely the perfect way to conclude our trip to Yogya.

By the way, though their place is off the beaten path, it is definitely worth a visit. If you ask the hotel or people living in Malioboro about going to theSawah, the quick answer would be, "Oh, it's very far. Very far." Nope, this is not entirely true. As long as the cab driver knows his way, you will reach theSawah in 20-30 minutes.

What we did was to ask for the help of a cab to bring us to the place and wait for us until we finished dinner. We shelled out Rp100,000 (about 14SGD) for this. Later on, we found out that you can just take the cab to the place, and Wim and Phillip will call a cab for you. How great is that?

So dun be daunted by what the townsfolk say, otherwise you are going to miss an awesome dining experience.

If we were to describe the restaus we had for the three nights, Alex and I agreed that it would be good; better; best.

So, that's it, really.

The four day trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia was just enough to see Prambanan and Borobudur, but a bit too short to experience more of the rich culture of this city in Java island. Must come visit again one day.

On to the next trip.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Food tripping in Yogya... Part 1

Aside from the sights that left me impressed, the trip to Yogya was also an opportunity to taste authentic Indonesian cuisine.

Thanks to TripAdvisor, we found the top three dining places every tourist to Yogya must try - Cafe ViaVia, Kesuma and theSawah.

 It was quite amusing how our dindins turned out.

On the first night, I suggested we head to Kesuma. Unfortunately, the restau was closed. We asked the cab driver whether ViaVia was near. Upon mention of the restau, the cab driver quickly said he knew where it was. Hmm, good indication I suppose.

 And definitely good it turned out to be. We were very happy with the food, the service (very polite and friendly staff), and the feel of the restau. Sustainable tourism - this was what the ViaVia promoted. The food was cooked using organic ingredients. No MSG! Hooray! The restau/cafe also offers tours that are eco-friendly (you either go around by bike or... on foot!). The products sold at the shop were items that were made by the locals. I really admire them for having all these collaborations with various groups from the local community.

 The following night, Kesuma was open and we were able to try out the restau. It was relatively close to the area where ViaVia is, although one has to walk about 200m from the main street to reach the restau. The restau is owned by a French guy and his Indonesian wife. He entertains the guests, she preps the wonderful food. We decided to order the set meal, which includes a welcome drink, an appetizer, mains and dessert. The serving size of the mains was quite huge and can definitely be for sharing. We had the lumpia, tempe, Ayam Kesuma, Ayam Kare, which are all must-try dishes. The interiors of the house was also impressive. The design and furniture were very local, which adds to giving an even more pleasant dining experience for guests. Soft (French?) jazzy music played in the air while we enjoyed. The husband (whose name I forgot to ask) would come once in awhile to check on us and how the food was.

Our fave restau next... ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Four days in Yogyakarta (Part 3)...


Unquestionably, the third day was the highlight of the trip. Pg Boy and I found ourselves awake at four in the morning. We had to get up at that time to be able to make it to Borobudur for the sunrise tour.

About an hour of driving, we reached the Manohara Hotel. It's the only hotel located situated within the Borobudur complex and is identified to be the center for Borobudur study. After getting our tickets, we were given sarongs to be worn since we were to set foot on holy ground. We were also given flashlights to light our path walking to the temple. Also waking up that morning was a group of Malaysians who looked like they were on a meditation trip, some Japanese and a number of other ang mohs.

Medi led the way from the hotel to Borobudur. At that point, I was already very excited and ready to be impressed by Borobudur. There was a change in the atmosphere. Maybe it was because four in the morning. Maybe it was because we were making our way to the largest Buddhist temple. I dunno. But there was something about that morning.

A few minutes of walking and the silhouette of Borobudur could already be seen. It was not as huge as I expected it to be, but nonetheless, I knew that it would be a sight to behold. We began with our ascent to the top of the temple. Since it was still dark, we could not yet see much of the reliefs on the wall. In hushed tones, Medi would stop every so often and point to a certain relief or a sculpture and tell the history behind it.

We climbed a bit further and to reach the top of the temple. It was still very dark. Medi gave a quick tour before leading us to the side where the sun would rise. At that point, everyone was already prepared and waiting for the sunrise. The large group of Malaysians sat cross-legged facing a certain direction and had their eyes closed in meditation. The other tourists were prepping their cameras. Others were finding a good location to capture photos. Minutes, an hour passed by and we weren't sure if the sun would greet us.

The day was starting and the impressive structures that were earlier clothed in darkness started to reveal themselves. The details on the reliefs, the familiar shapes of the stupas, the buddha sculptures, the panoramic landscape surrounding the landscape all began to unfold.

And just when I thought it wouldn't happen, Medi called us to tell us that the sun was rising. Though partly hidden by clouds, there was still a point when we saw the golden orb and its rays kissed our faces as we watched it.

Uhm, there was something spiritual about the experience. That morning definitely adds to one of my favorite sunrise experiences. It's one of those moments where I would understand why yoga practice has sun salutation. Really, really grateful to have experienced it.

From Borobudur, we drove to Kaliadem to hopefully catch a view of the majestic Merapi volcano. However, it was cloudy that day and the crater was nowhere to be seen. Oh well. The tour for the day concluded with a visit to the Sultan's Palace also known as the Kraton. I wasn't sure if we would be able to see the palace, because it wasn't included in our itinerary and because it was only open til 1230 in the afternoon.

I was really glad with how the day's trip went.

Up next (and last post on Yogya)... food.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Four days in Yogyakarta (Part 2)...

Sari Temple

Prambanan Temple

Sewu Temple

Plaosan Temple


At the arrival area, we were met by Medi, a forty-something chatty and friendly guy who would be our tour guide and storyteller for the next few days.

A quick bite from a fastfood restau and after having some dollars exchanged to local currency, we boarded the car and began with our itinerary. Our agenda for the afternoon was Sari Temple, Plaosan Temple, Sewu Temple, and Prambanan Temple. Our first stop was Sari. The architecture was somewhat similar to the temples in Angkor. The wall carvings were familiar. From Sari, we drove next to Prambanan and Sewu. Both temples are located in a huge complex that, I'm happy to see, was well-maintained and cared for. From the visitor information center, one had to walk for a few minutes before the temples come into sight. I'm not sure if they designed it that way to build the excitement for the traveler. Whether it was intentional or not, I have to say I couldn't help but be wowed upon seeing the towering structures from afar. Throughout the tour, Medi shared the history of each temple. It was interesting, but I had difficulty remembering everything. Hehe!

Day 2 was a long day. Four hours on the road out of Yogyakarta to drive to Dieng Plateau where the Arjuna Temple is, as well as the Sikidang Crater and the Color Lake. The drive to Dieng Plateau reminded me of the trips I made to the northern mountain provinces of the Philippines. The landscape was almost very similar. The hectares and hectares of green fields, the long winding road, a view of a town surrounded by greens, a cool temperature - it was very much like going to Sagada or Baguio.

I was brought back to reality once we made our way to a garden that led to the Arjuna Temple. The time of our visit to the temples coincided with the time for Muslim prayers. Standing in the temple with the lush green landscape in sight and the solemn sound coming from the nearby mosque calling on people for the prayers provided a conducive backdrop for reflection.

Not too many tourists head out to Dieng Plateau, I think (or maybe there weren't that many tourists on the day we went?) but the area is worth a visit if you have an extra day or two.

Up next, Borobudur...

(To be continued...)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Four days in Yogyakarta (Part 1)...

Two more items from my places-I-must-see-before-I-die ticked off. Yey! :)

The trip to Yogyakarta to see Prambanan and Borobudur finally happened. What made the trip even more special was that Pg Boy was with me. Hehe!

Four days. Two travelers. Seven ancient temples. Three fantab dinner places. One memorable weekend trip.

I've been wanting to visit these two grand temples for some time now, after learning about them from I can't remember where. Amazed by the Angkor temples in Cambodge, I made a promise back when I was still in Manila that I would also visit the temples of Yogya.

It definitely took some time before the plan became a reality, but I'm glad it did.

Thanks to an ticket sale of Air Asia and discounted hotel accomms via Agoda, we were able to set the weekend for the trip. Thanks to Google, we were able to find a reliable tour operator in Yogya to show us around. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I was able to note down the top three must-try food places in Yogya (according to the site anyway.)

Still, there's room for excitement.

When everything was set, an earthquake hits Indonesia a day before we leave. Unfamiliar with the geography of our neighbor country, I have to say I was slightly worried. A visit to some websites and some SMS exchanges with Indonesian friends and I had some assurance that everything will be okay. The only thing to worry about was the weather. The weather forecast for the days we would be there were icons of dark gray clouds with thunder and raindrops indicating that it will be a wet weekend.

So when I saw bright blue skies and bright sunlight when I gazed out of the plane just as the captain announced that we were approaching Adisucipto International Airport, I had nothing but a huge smile on my face. You're the best, Lordy.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back in Singapura...

Back in Singapura. :)

Fixing photos from the trip with Pg Boy. Composing blog posts.

Will post soon. :) Wheeee!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gone for the next few days...

Going on a (much-needed and much-anticipated) holiday trip beginning tomorrow.

Praying for good weather and all.

Back in SG on Sunday.

Whoopppeee! :D

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter dinner and hohol...

Still, as part of the somewhat festive mood brought about by Easter, I headed back to the city early evening to meet up with friends for an Easter dinner.

Days before Easter, Coly, the only real rose among the roses (hehe!), sent out an invite to the usual suspects for an Easter dinner.

We all met up at Medz, which is at Basement 2 of Orchard Central. This was one mall I dun really get to visit. Whenever I go to Orchard, my universe is between 313@Somerset and Shaw/Wheelock. Hehe! There are quite a number of good dining places at the OC.

Since some of the people were out of town, others busy, I already had an idea who the evening's cast would be - me, Coly, Richie and Mon. Tipz, still fresh from Bangkok... LOL! and our newest friend, also showed up. Wheee!

The last time I saw these guys were during RKGreg's birthday celeb weekend.

I wish I could see 'em more, but conflicting schedules and geography more often than not make it challenging to meet up.

We stayed for a good couple of hours at Medz just eating, talking about stuff, eating, talking about stuff, eating. Hehehe!

Food at Medz was okay. I got the Chicken Doner Kebab but it was somewhat disappointing. Not to mention the lady manning the food booth who could use a bit of cheerfulness. (Sheesh! Fellow Filipino pa naman!)

Past 10, we left Medz and were all set to go home... until someone brought up having a one round of drinks at 5 Emerald Hill. Usually, I would've said no as I would want to rush back home.

But I've never been to 5 Emerald Hill and a recent resolution that my new bedtime would be 12 midnight found me agreeing to the plan. We all agreed though that we would leave at 11.

The bar we went to was nice. It definitely had character. The interior was nice, but there was something that night which made us decide to stay outside. Hehe!

A glass of martini. More talk time. We barely realized that it was already 10 minutes past 11. It was definitely time to go or else, we risk missing the last train. Eeep!

I thanked Coly for bringing up the idea of an Easter dindin, and then headed to Somerset for the long journey home.

Twas definitely a happy Sunday!