Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bintan weekend getaway part 2...

Sunday morning, I woke up around 7AM. Pg Boy was still fast asleep, so were the other three guys. I took a peak outside and saw that the sun was already up.

I told a half-asleep Pg Boy I was going out for a walk.

I may have missed the sunrise, but the deserted beach, the morning sun, and the sound of the waves still gave me a good morning walk.

Around 9AM, I met up with the guys at Lotus Cafe for a major breakkie. Hehe! Okay, I have to say that there are points for improvement, in terms of the service. One of the waiters got my order for the eggs, but it never came. I had to go up to the omelette station and ask for it again.

But other than that, I thought the food was okay.

Then, we headed to the beach to enjoy the water. It was only me, MkSurf8 and RKGreg who went into the water. Chris already swam at the pool the previous day. Pg Boy swam at the pool and at the beach the previous day. Both of them just decided to stay under the shade and chill. Meanwhile, I definitely enjoyed the water.

By the way, the Banyan Tree Bintan was just right next to us. There was no wall separating Angsana from Bintan. There was just a small signage that read Private Walk to Banyan Tree, and a few steps aways a signange that read Private Walk to Angsana. I dunno why, but from the outside the Angsana looked better than the Banyan Tree. Hehe!

We checked out of the hotel at 1PM.

The shuttle brought us to the ferry terminal at 230, which was a good idea because immigration also took quite a while.

We reached Singapore shores almost at 6.

It was truly a great weekend! Thank you so much, MkSurf8, for letting us celebrate with you!!! :-)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Loooong Saturday...

Saturday was one very loong day.

Dim sum lunch

Day started with a dim sum lunch with Ho, Widdy,  Andi and Pg Boy at the Royal China at Raffles Hotel.

It's probably one of the best dim sum places in the island. The place is great, and the dim sum is priced reasonably. For the eight (?) dim sum plates we had yesterday, we just had to pay $14 each. Not bad. We had carrot cake, siew mai, cheong fun, char siew buns, hakkao, yam puffs. These are the ones I can remember. Hehe!

It was my second time to eat at Royal China. The first time was last December for one of the many Christmas lunch get-togethers I had. Hehe!

The first one was a good experience. This one wasn't so much. While the food was still as awesome, the service was painfully slow. We all had no idea why.
However, something wasn't right that afternoon. The dim sum arrived late.

Ho got very impatient and very frustrated. The four of us were very nervous as he began scolding the wait staff. Hehe. Good thing I couldn't understand Chinese.

But I think it was necessary in this case. The wait staff were moving at a very glacial pace, and the orders just took a long time to arrive. Seriously, how long does it take to prep siew mai and hakkao?! Hehe!

La Cage at Esplanade

From Raffles Hotel, it was a quick drive to Esplanade for the main event of the afternoon - the La Cage Aux Folles.

Thankfully, Singapore is a very tiny country so it's quite quick to rush from one place to the next.

I had a feeling that I already saw La Cage back in Manila. Because I remember watching a play with Topper Fabregas in it, and the story line was the same. I was right. Gay Birds, the Manila adaptation of La Cage, was staged back in 2007. Sheesh! So long ago!

I don't remember much from the Manila show. The Singapore show was awesome when it came to the set design, the lighting and the costumes. With all the feathers used for the costumes, I was waiting for PETA to storm into the theater screaming about animal rights. Hehe!

What's also nice about the show was that it was given a local flavor. Something that was also done in the Manila production. If you've been living in Singapore and have been reading the local dailies, you would understand most of the jokes. What I didn't understand were the scenes with the Ah Beng and Ah Lien that were spoken in Chinese (Hokkien or Mandarin, I have no idea. Haha!) Thankfully, Pg Boy was there to somewhat translate.

E's birthday dinner + party

The show ended close to 6PM. We headed to Raffles City for another engagement - E's birthday dinner. We were quite early so hung out first at TCC. Around 7 plus, we headed to Marche where E and the rest of the gang were. Pg Boy didn't get to join anymore because his sister was in town. Ian, the guy who introduced me to E, Pg Boy and their group, was there so I was really glad to see him.

I ordered the roasted chicken crepe. If I didn't have a half a sandwich earlier, I would have really enjoyed the food. For just $15, I got three stuffed crepes plus a side salad. It was worth it.

After dinner, we all headed to the Grand Hyatt in Orchard where the party carried on. Originally, Ian and I were planning to stay only until 1120. I wanted to catch the last train, and so did he. But it turned out to be a very fantab night that I ended up staying until 2 plus in the morning. Hah! I decided to go ahead and head back. I had the breakkie with Melvin this morning and if I was set on going to that breakkie, I definitely had to leave already.

Guess what? The cab fare wasn't as bad. I thought it would be more expensive. Cab fare came out $20. It was much cheaper compared to cab fare from Tanjong Pagar. Hehe!

So that's how it was. Looooong Saturday. But def fun.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zi char night...

Richie, Mon and Coly have been going on weekly night walks around the city.

First, it was at the Gardens by the Bay. The following week, it was at the Botanic Gardens. Then it was at the Geylang area.

Tuesday afternoon, Richie called and invited me to go along with them for a Wednesday night walk. With no plan yet and because I've been really meaning to join them in one of their walks, I agreed to go.

The arrangement was to meet at Marina Square at 730PM. From there, we would take a route that they already planned (I think).

Upon reaching Marina Square last night, I had a slight panic because the lights at Richie's workplace were already off and there was no one around.

What happened was Richie and Coly got stuck at Forum and it took them awhile to get to Marina Square. Good thing Mon was already there and we got to hang out and talk until Rich and Coly arrived.

Though we started late, we still went for the walk. We followed the Singapore River and headed to Clarke Quay. From Clarke Quay, we crossed over to Fort Canning and that's where we spent most of the walking time.

The real event of the night was dinner at a zi char place in North Bridge Road. As in the previous night walks, the highlight usually is the post-walk dinner. The walks would conclude with good food, as Richie would post photos. Hehe!

Last night, we decided to go to this zi char place right across Central in Clarke Quay.

A little trivia: zi char refers to the home-style cooking at a Chinese stall. You have a variety of ala-carte dishes and you just choose whatever it is you want.

Le Chasseur is one of the more popular and raved about zi char places based on what I've read. The first time I went to the place was with Pg Boy and his friends ages ago. The food was great. The price was even better. Hehe!

For the dinner last night, we ordered stewed peanuts, kailan, claypot chicken rice, prawn paste chicken, coffee pork ribs and hot plate tofu.

Guess how much the bill was??? It was only $64!

That already includes two extra servings of steamed rice and six glasses of lime juice.

Not bad, eh?!

Apparently, there is a list of the best zi char places in the island. I remember Pg Boy mentioned another zi char place along Siglap Road. Hmm, must try that one as well.

A good Wednesday night indeed.

Le Chasseur
31 New Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6337 7677
Daily: 11am – 11pm

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Madz at Esplanade this Thursday...

Thursday night is going to be good.

The company I work for is holding a free movie viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. As much as I want to go and attend that one, I have to skip it and instead head down to Esplanade for the concert of the Philippine Madrigal Singers.


It's been so long since I last watched them perform. This one-night concert is definitely not to be missed.

 hope the repertoire is good. And I hope they would sing an OPM song. Please, please.

In the meantime, here's their rendition of Bituing Walang Ningning. One of the best Filipino love songs, imho.

Enjoy! :)

Bintan weekend getaway part 1...

If there is one thing I really miss about the Philippines (other than the glorious food), it has to be the beach and the countryside.

Any excuse to head to the beach and I will (almost always) say yes.

So when MkSurf8 invited to take a weekend trip to Bintan, I just had to say yes. He just had his first anniv at the new workplace and the weekend trip was the celebration of sorts.

Also joining the trip were RKGreg (who flew in from Manila! Wooohoo!), Chris and Pg Boy.

Fifty minutes away from Singapore is a happy place on earth.

Because of the excitement to head out of Singapore and to be at the beach, I woke up ahead of my alarm on Saturday. Being the morning person, I was tasked to give the Keows and Chris a wakeup call. Hehe!

Around 7AM, we met at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. An hour later, we were boarding one of the vessels of Bintan Resort Ferries.

The trip didn't seem to take that long. Except for RKGreg who was just as wide awake as I was, the other three guys seemed to have fallen asleep.

Upon arrival at the Bintan terminal, we headed to immigration where the clearance almost took an hour because there were only four or five immigration officers who had to attend to the long queue of guestss for the weekend.

Once we were all cleared, we boarded a bus that took us to our home for the weekend - the Angsana Bintan Resort and Spa.

Days before the weekend, I already checked out the website when MkSurf8 told us which resort he booked for the weekend. The photos definitely made me wish it was already the weekend. Haha!

When I was reading up on reviews about the Angsana, I saw a number of previous guests complaining about this and that. However, as soon as we alighted from the shuttle bus, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the lobby was "Wow! This is awesome." There were some comments about how the hotel lobby had no A/C and blah blah blah. Uhm, hello. If I remember correctly Shangri-la Mactan does not have A/C at the lobby as well. It's all part of the tropical island feel that they want guests to experience, I suppose.

We headed to one of the comfy couches just after reception where a friendly lady with a warm smile welcomed us and took care of our check-in. The usual check-in time was at 3PM, but we asked if we could do an early check-in. She told us she'll get back to us. With hours to kill, we decided to change into (ready for) swim clothes, dropped our bags at the concierge, and explore the resort.

From the reception and the main lobby, there is a short flight of stairs that leads to the Lotus Cafe, which then leads to the pool. I really thought the cafe was nicely done. The interiors looked very elegant, but not too loud. If you go further, it leads to the spa I think which had beautiful Indonesian decors to welcome spa guests.

By 12 noon, we were told that the room was ready. Wooohooo! Major plus points for Angsana for that. By then, Chris, Pg Boy and RKGreg had already enjoyed the pool. MkSurf8 and I were just on the lounge chairs chillaxing.

In the afternoon, Pg Boy and I headed to Pasar Oleh Oleh for a massage. Pasar Oleh Oleh is a small village for tourists. There one will find massage places, cafes, souvenir stores. The area can do a bit more of marketing. There were hardly any tourists. It makes me wonder how the businesses are surviving.

Around 2PM, RKGreg, MkSurf8 and Chris joined us for lunch at Cafe Helo Helo where we had lunch. I read about the cafe/restau and I thought we should give it a try. The food was okay. It's quite expensive though. By expensive, I mean it's the same price as Singapore. We didn't even have to buy local currency. We just used either SGD to pay for things. Prices at shops were either in SGD or USD anyway.

From Pasar Oleh Oleh, we headed back to the resort and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening just hanging at the beach.

For dinner, we went for the buffet at the Lotus Cafe. The spread  had a good mix of some Western and traditional Indonesian food. The satays, in particular, were really great. I was one happy boy as I enjoyed the different kinds of satay. I can't remember how many sticks of seafood and chicken satay I had. Haha!

Stuffed from the dinner, we headed back to the room and spent the night watching X-Men with RKGreg's deadly mixed drinks. Hehe!

To be continued...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Selamat datang, Indonesia...

Heya from Bintan, Indonesia.

Longer post soon. :P

Friday, July 20, 2012

I love you Sabado...

Tomorrow morning, this is what I hope to see when the clock strikes noontime.

I miss the beach. Definitely, definitely looking forward to this weekend with Pg Boy and the guys.


Image from here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Foot Reflexology at Johor Bahru...

One of things I look forward to whenever I go to Johor Bahru is a chance to go for a foot reflexology session.

I can't remember if I've ever had a "real" reflexology treatment back in Manila.

It was Pg Boy who got me to try it. He said he enjoys it a lot, and that he goes for the treatment whenever he's back in Pg or whenever there's a chance for it.

Given this and since I do like to get a massage every so often, I decided to give it a try when we stumbled upon this reflexology/massage place in JB when I was going there for my root canal treatment.

The name of the place is Fizzio and it is located in Taman Sri Tebrau.

The first time I had my first foot reflexology, it was more of a painful one hour session. I think the guy who was doing the service enjoyed seeing me in pain. Haha!

Meanwhile, Pg Boy, who was seated on the massage chair next to me, was laughing at me. How he enjoyed it, I had no idea. Haha!

When we went to Yogyakarta for our holiday, we got to go for another reflexology treatment. It was still painful for me, but I was also somehow starting to enjoy it. (Maybe I'm a closeted S&M person? LOL!)

So last Saturday, while we were on the bus to JB and knowing that I will be missing the dental appointment, Pg Boy just told me not to look so glum because we can just go for the massage and of course, the good food.

After dropping by the clinic to apologise and to get a new sched, Pg Boy and I headed to Fizzio for the reflexology treatment. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait. It was early afternoon so the place was quite free.

I got the usual one-hour session. Pg Boy got a foot and shoulder combination.

This time, I really enjoyed it. I know because I fell asleep. Haha! I still felt pain but this time it was more, uhm, enjoyable. Or bearable. Haha!

The guy doing the treatment just woke me up when it was all over. A couple of minutes later, Pg Boy was also done with his treatment.

The one-hour treatment cost just about RM50!!! How cool is that, huh?!

To cap the day off at JB, Pg Boy and I headed to the Lucky Seafood Restaurant a few steps away from Fizzio and met up with Chris and MkSurf8 who joined us for the trip for good food!!!

The guys were already halfway done through the yum lunch, but we still managed to catch up. What's nice about Lucky Seafood restaurant is the place is not packed in the afternoon so we always get to stay there for looong hours just to chitchat. The place is also worth the trip because the bean curd and the ngo hiong are just really good!

Looking forward to my next JB trip already. Haha!

Oh, there's an upcoming trip very soon to a beach resort in a neighbouring country. I'm already Googling for massage/reflexology places in the area. Maybe I can get Chris and MkSurf8 to try the reflexology treatment as well... Hehe!

Fizzio is located at 19, Jalan Keris, Taman Sri Tebrau, 80050 Johor Bahru. It's about a 10-15 minute cab ride from JB Sentral. Cab costs about RM8-10.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's your storey, second storey...

If there's one more thing I love about this country, it's how they are able to preserve the old... 

Check out the second storeys of these shophouses at Kandahar Street in Bugis.

Pg Boy and I were quite early for our dinner with his best friend, so I decided I'll drag him to the Haji lane area first. Besides, I wanted to know where Maison Ikkoku is. I've heard good things about the place, and it is on my brunch places-to-try list.

Upon reaching Kandahar Street, I quickly saw the row of shophouses and my eyes were drawn towards the second storeys. I'm just amazed with the detail and the design of each one.

There's a part of the second storey that can also be found in ancestral houses back in the Philippines. I've seen the element when we did a paper on old houses for a Humanities class a million years ago. Hehe!

Nice, huh?

I'm not sure if a lot of tourists get to see these treasures of Singapore. Go beyond the Merlion and the Esplanade.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Brunch at Café Antonio...

It was a typical Sunday morning.

Despite having gone to bed quite late, I still found myself awake at seven in the morning. Part of me thinks it sucks, because I definitely would like to sleep more. Part of me thinks it's great, because I get to do more things for the day.

On the other hand, Pg Boy still lay in bed sleeping like a baby. He always teases me for waking up very early. I always tease him for waking up much later than I do.

The different thing about this weekend was that we were in my room at my side of the island. After the trip to JB yesterday, I actually thought we would be heading back to the East after dindin last night. Pg Boy showed no signs of wanting to make the long travel. I was more than happy because a weekend like this rarely happens. Hehe!

Back to Sunday morning, I've mentioned in some of my previous blog posts that one of the things I look forward to on Sunday mornings is brunch.

So does Pg Boy. It's one of the things we share is late brunch, plus always wanting to try out new food places.

A few clicks on my Mac, and I was brought to the homepage of some of the brunch places in the Western side of the island. There were quite a few places I wanted to try and I thought this Sunday could be just right to do that.

I read more about the restaus. After reading not so good revs about option A, and after seeing how ridiculously priced option B was, the idea to just make the breakkie myself popped up.

Making a list in my mind of the things I wanted to prep, I rushed out of the house and headed to the grocery next door.

This is one of the things I love about my place. Ulu it may be (LOL), I'm still lucky to have found a home which is right next door to everything - grocery, QB house, Filipino food stall, 7-11, MRT station, Toast Box!!! Really, I would have to think several times before I move.

Anyway, I was glad that the grocery wasn't that packed yet. I grabbed the things that I needed, paid at the cashier and made my way back. I did a quick side trip to Toast Box to get Pg Boy's kopi and to get my kopi si.

Then, it was time to turn on the stove and get things going. Breakkie was certainly very easy to make. Thankfully, I think my landlord is also AJ so his kitchen is kinda complete with the pans and utensils needed. Hehe!

The breakkie turned out great. I'm glad that I still haven't lost whatever culinary skills I have stemming from my Kapampangan lineage. Pg Boy enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. I liked the conversation we had while enjoying breakkie. 

The best part? Probably when Pg Boy said, "I have to say you make a good breakfast."

This is what good Sunday mornings are made of, right?

Btw, it's Cafe Antonio because Antonio is my second name... hehehe...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Toxic for the next two weeks...

Still unable to post anything proper.

This week has just been really crazy.

I'm getting a new assignment at the office, which meant that I had to do endorsements of my current work load to a bunch of other people. Preparing the endorsement materials has been taking up so much of my time. On top of that, I have the regular day-to-day things to take care of at work, which I have to do while I haven't done a handover yet.

At the same time, it's been a pretty week with other things - two nights at Chinatown because of volunteer commitments, a doctor's appointment, among other things.

Oh well, it's good to be busy, I guess. Otherwise, not busy means no job. No job means no moolah. No moolah means no so many other things. Haha!

Hope to be able to post something more substantial soon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Penang street art...

Had my trip to Penang pushed through, one of the things I would've done was to go search for were the works of Lithuanian street- and fine artist Ernest Zacharevic.

I dunno the story how he wound up in Penang, but his works around the city for the George Town Festival have certainly been helping boost the image of the local art scene as well as Penang.

I really like how he combines his paintings with real things such as bikes, motorcycles, and so on.

Pg Boy shared some photos of Zacharevic's work, which he got to see.

Damn lucky. Hehe!

Read more about Ernest Zacharevic here.

Loooong Saturday...

What a long Saturday it turned out to be.

Pg Boy stayed over at his hometown for the weekend, so that left me with two days to do several of my errands and to hang out with friends.

Saturday started with breakkie with my neighbor and fellow volunteer Kevin. We hardly see each other since I spend my weekends in the East. LOL! But the few times I do stay in my place, I would usually invite him to breakkie at Toastbox. My place may be far, faraway from the city but I have Toastbox right next door. That makes everything alright. Haha!

Then, it was followed by back to back Body Combat and Body Pump classes at Fusionopolis. Thought of inviting Melvin or Alexie or Erwin, but decided to just go on my own since they're all probably going to think Fusionopolis is far. Haha!

From one-north, it was a short train ride to Holland V for lunch and haircut at QB. The problem about a heavy lunch and a haircut combo in the afternoon is that it makes you really sleepy. Hehe!

So, headed back to my place to take a nap and do some work.

In the evening, met up with MkSurf8, Tipz, Jeff and Chris for a night of partying at our happy place. Haha! It's been awhile since I've been there so I was really glad to be back. Pg Boy's buddies E, Ken et al were there, too. It was one fun night. But I gotta say my stamina's not like before. Three hours into the clubbing, and I had to go out and take a seat. Haha!

From the happy place, we headed to a happier place aka Kabayan along Tanjong Pagar for supper.

Afterwards, it was time to head back. I crashed at MkSurf8's place. Everyone else went home. Augh, this is the only downside of living faraway from the city. I have to wait til the MRT operations start. Otherwise, I'd have to take the cab and it'll be a $30 ride. Ouch!

Definitely a very good Saturday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I was at Pink Dot 2012...

Last weekend, 15,000 Singaporean citizens and PRs headed down to Hong Lim Park for the fourth Pink Dot event. This is the first time though that the event was held in the evening. With pink torch lights in their hands, Hong Lim Park became a sea of bright pink lights that was a sight to behold (as one could see from the videos).

This is my second Pink Dot. It's a venue for straight and LGBT Singaporeans to gather and celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and the freedom to love

Last year, I came to the event with friends to watch and show our support to the local LGBT community. This year, I had more participation because the group I'm volunteering with had a booth at the Pink Dot Community Tent. (I didn't join the formation though. Reason mentioned below.)

It was really encouraging to see quite a number of LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations existing in the frequently-stereotyped as conservative society.

Walking around the booths, there were groups for youth, for lesbians, for transgenders, for fans of LGBT movies and fiction, for bears, and so on.

In our booth, we gave out information flyers on the services offered by the organization.

Around 7 plus, this year's Pink Dot ambassadors headed to the small stage at the center of the Speaker's Corner to lead the Pink Dot formation.

Everyone was requested to turn off all their torch lights. The countdown began, and soon enough the dark space was lit by thousands and thousands of pink lights. The song "True Colors" started to play and everyone just started singing. It gave me goosebumps.

Along with other foreigners, I watched all of this happen from the designated bservation area. Regulations of the venue state that only Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents can join in the formation. I understand and respect this.

This year's Pink Dot campaign video was dubbed "Someday." In the video, it shows a vision for the LGBT community in Singapore. I thought that the campaign video theme was also apt for me and fellow foreigner supporters. All of us, if not most, aspire to be able to go join the Pink Dot formation as well... someday.

Meanwhile, huge congratulations to everyone behind Pink Dot 2012. Without a doubt, it was successful both in staging the event and more importantly, delivering a message that the LGBT community exists and is part of the Singapore society.

Til next year again...