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Friday, June 24, 2011

Bag Essentials: What's in Your Bag?

It was raining cats and dog the whole afternoon until the evening yesterday.  Well, the rain isn't strong but the wind is.  From my understanding, the tropical storm "Falcon" will not set foot in Philippines but it will carry strong winds.  And yes it does.  There was no storm signal announcement but the continuous pouring of rain make it seem like there is a typhoon.

With constant rain experienced during the week, I always brought with me my small, foldable umbrella.  I am also using my Longchamp Le Pliage bag being waterproof.  I decided to wear my wedge ankle boots since I don't want my feet to get wet.  I also have my multi-way shawl in my bag just in case I get cold.  I thought these are enough to keep me warm, protected and getting wet from the rain.  I thought I was prepared for the rain.  But I was wrong.

At around 6.30pm, rains never stopped pouring.  I know I need to get going already from the office as the lines in the terminal will definitely be full.  And surely, there will be floods in the south area that will cause traffic.  So I immediately left the office and went straight to the Edsa Carpack terminal (underneath the Ayala MRT station).  I was in the terminal about 7:15pm.  Whoa! The place is jammed-packed!  The queue for the van in my area was so long, the longest I've ever seen.  So I decided to get some snacks first at Jollibee before heading to the line to buy chips (you need these chips as your "ticket" before boarding the van).  I got stranded at the shuttle terminal for almost 3 hours!  Good thing I was able to have my snack already.  This was the longest time I have waited for the van to arrive.  

Waiting for almost 3 hours, I get to realize the essential stuff one should carry in her bag during these times.  I've listed them here which you may find useful.
  • Umbrella - I realized that it will be best to have a bigger umbrella when the rain gets strong and with winds blowing.  I had experienced my small umbrella getting carried by the wind and even I, myself, thought that I will be "blown away" by the wind.
  • Waterproof bag - Good thing my Longchamp is waterproof.  I don't know how my bag got wet even if I have an umbrella.
  • Jacket - A waterproof jacket is better during these times.  Because of the strong winds, I got wet from my waist below.  Having a jacket could protect my clothes from getting wet, thus keeping me warmer.
  • Slippers - If you'll be crossing or passing by some flooded area, it's best if you're wearing slippers or flip flops.  I was wearing an ankle boots to keep my feet from getting wet.  This is also ok since I know I won't be crossing any flooded area.  My only mistake was it is a wedge shoe.  My feet and legs got tired wearing it for almost 3 hours of standing.
  • Foldable ballet flats - This may come in handy in case you don't have slippers in your bag and you are wearing a shoe with heels.  I know coming from the office, many are wearing office shoes, meaning a quite formal shoes with heels.  This ballet flats can be your alternative foot wear once you're already outside the office.  You can also replace your shoes with these once your feet got tired.  It is a closed shoe making it still appropriate (and matching) for your office attire.
  • Gadgets - Essential gadgets such as your mp3 player, game consoles or even your cellphone games can keep you company anytime while waiting.  I forgot I had movies installed in my cellphone.  This could have been my companion while waiting for the shuttle.
  • Snacks - I'll try to make it a habit to bring along biscuits or cookies in my bag.  Having this in your bag can keep you from starving in case you cannot leave the line in queue.  A menthol candy is helpful too in case you feel a little dizzy, just like what I had experienced.
I have all of these in my bag except for the jacket and slippers/ballet flats.  I really didn't expect the weather to be like this.  If I only knew, I should have brought my jacket and slippers from the office.  So the next item in my shopping list would be a foldable ballet flats.  Care to add more bag essentials during this rainy season?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Conquering Davao City On My Own

I had plans to go on a solo trip someday.  I didn't expect it to be right now.  Well, technically, this trip should be a business trip.  I just included a little leisure side trip.  My boss sent me to Davao to do some training.  Of course I get excited because I will be back to Davao again, one of my favorite destination.  Although I know I will only be spending very little time in this trip, I try to make the most out of it.  My flight was 4am to Davao and I will be back to Manila by 7pm the following day.  I only have about evening of Friday and whole day of Saturday to enjoy Davao.

The meeting was at the Abreeza mall.  I also get excited to visit this new mall in Davao.  It was still closed when I arrived since my training is at 8am.  Attendees on my session were nice and accommodating.  They even offered me to tour around the mall and suggested places to visit in the city.

The mall was quite big and looks a bit different as compared to other Ayala Malls, although it somehow have a resemblance with Trinoma mall.  There are separate areas for high end store (tagged as "Greenbelt 6") and commoner store.  What I noticed was there's not much "nature facade" in the mall which was common to Ayala Malls.  Well, maybe it's still under construction.  I saw their fish pond that is still yet to be improved.  Abreeza is proud to have the first Starbucks, Italiani's and Friday's in Davao.

I had my lunch at Cafe Laguna inside the mall.  This restaurant originated in Cebu and now with branches in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo and Davao.  Typical Filipino dish is offered, not so spectacular but edible.  We had seafood kare-kare, crispy pata and chopsuey.  I would still recommend this restaurant since the ambiance is cool and relaxing.

The activity center with Rivermaya
After eating, they tour me further around the mall.  The food choices was located in an open area, just beside the cinema.  This open area at the 3rd floor of the mall also has restaurants at the sides.  It seem like Greenbelt 3 (3rd floor too) when there was still food choices there.  Before we parted, they bought me oatmeal thin from Margie's Bakeshop, a small kiosk selling homemade goodies.  Maybe it was their token for me.  It was good and unique.  I recommend this as an alternative way to give as pasalubong.

Come late afternoon, I headed back to Marco Polo Hotel.  But before I take a rest at the hotel, I bought pomelo at Aldevinco.  People from Abreeza already have "suki" in the pomelo stand so I also bought there.  It only cost me Php 900 for 14kgs of pomelo (1 big and 1 small box).  Do you think its cheap?  I think so.  But later on I realized, I may have an excess baggage because of this. Oh well.

By dinner time, I was already alone.  I decided to take my dinner at Abreeza.  The person from Abreeza that was suppose to accompany me at dinner already went home since I arrived at the mall at past 7:30pm already.  But that's ok, at least I'll get to tour again the mall and this time visit each store.  By the time I arrived, Rivermaya was playing.  I did get the chance to listen and watch them but I was quite far from them.  Anyway, I tried eating at the open area at the food choices.  The choices were not much.  I think there were only 6 stalls open.  Most of them were unfamiliar to me, except for The Savory Chicken.  I ordered my food at Sizzling Chef.  Sizzling sirloin for Php 85.  I wasn't very happy with my order.  The gravy dried out after it "sizzles".  The meat was tender though.  The rice was supposed to be java but they informed me its no longer available so they replaced it with plain rice but the price remains the same.  I no longer debated about it I just sarcastically asked if the price can be lowered because of plain rice.  Well, I guess that's business.

My bedroom at Marco Polo Hotel ... why 2 beds??

shower room
I left Abreeza at around 9.30pm.  There's a designated taxi stand for passengers to wait and fall in line.  Unfortunately, there's not much taxi at that time and people are not lining up.  They're all hurrying to get a taxi.  There's even this lady who surpassed me as I get a cab.  Didn't she saw me hail the cab first but she's the one who ride on it?  *sigh* Another reason why the Philippines is underdeveloped.  I thought I could only see these scenario in Manila.

Ateneo de Davao University as seen in my window

Day 2 is my Me time.  I enjoyed my hefty breakfast at the Continental Club of Marco Polo hotel.  I had full meal from appetizer to dessert.  I seated beside the window.  I love eating while looking at the busy street of Davao.  After breakfast, I rested for a while and planned to go swimming at the hotel's pool.  I planned to roam around the city after I checked out in the hotel and wait for my flight.

Their swimming pool isn't infinity and isn't that big.  The level of the water is up to 5 feet.  There's not much people in the pool area but there were quite plenty of people around as a photo shoot was taking place.  I took pictures here and there but again without me on it.  After dipping into the pool, I had the courage to approach one of the pool's staff to take a picture of me, at two locations.  I still wanted more pictures but I already got shy.  Well, at least I have a souvenir picture at the pool.

The check out time is 12 noon.  I decided to visit People's Park first before having my lunch.  Besides I'm still full from the buffet breakfast I had in the morning.  I planned to take my lunch in Penong's.  Checking the map, there's a near Penong's restaurant within the Marco Polo hotel vicinity.  I'm sure the taxi driver knows that.  When I instructed the taxi driver to take me to People's Park, I was surprised of how near it was from Marco Polo hotel.  I think this can be reached by foot.  Oh well.  Another thing that surprised me was that the Penong's restaurant was just across the park!  Hitting two birds in one!  Since I'm still full, I decided to walk around first in the park before I have my lunch.  The park opens at 1pm everyday except on Sundays where it is closed.  I arrived 5 minutes earlier so I just waited outside until the gate opens.  People's Park is just in front of Casa Leticia Hotel and a few minutes walk away from Apo View Hotel.

The park is full of green scenery.  The area is clean and they are proud to make this park smoke-free.  You will be obliged to leave your cigarettes and lighters in the entrance if you are fond of smoking.  It is quite big with benches, children's playground, children's library, a small pond and doves.  I think you can have small picnic here.  There were areas like waterfalls and fountains but it wasn't operational at that time.  Maybe it's only available at night? I'm not so sure.  It could have been a better tourist attraction if the waterfalls and fountains were operational.  There were various areas featuring different trees, flowers and gardens from different countries.  Some of these areas are somewhat secluded and so I found lovers snuggling there, haha!  If you're a nature lover and you wanted to see various trees, then it is ok to visit this place.  It's also nice to take pictures here.  There was again a photo shoot when I was there.  It will take you about less than 30 minutes to tour the place.

Greeny park with Marco Polo Hotel at the background

This should have waters underneath that's why there's a bridge, right?

It was about past 2pm when I decided to leave the park.  I'm already hungry and thirsty at that time.  I was getting excited to have my lunch at Penong's.  I've read positive feedback about this place.  Delicious yet very affordable dishes.  I was walking through Penong's, I saw a big signage that says: "Sorry we're closed".  Aaarrrgghh!!!  How can they be closed?  I even saw people eating there at around 1pm when I was at the People's Park!  I walk further and I saw other establishments closed at well.  Then I thought, maybe they are really close in the afternoon and will resume by dinner time.  *Sigh*  I'm already getting hungry.  I walk further and saw a big M sign.  Well, I guess I'll just eat there than suffer from hunger.  It may not be a Davao original but definitely it can make my tummy full.  But then I passed by a big building before crossing to Mc Donald's.  I decided to enter that building and it was Gaisano South City Mall.  Well, at least it was an original Davao area.  So I tour the mall for a while then finally had my lunch at Cafe Ilustrado at past 3pm.  The food I order was a quarter roast chicken meal with veggies, rice and softdrinks for Php 129.  Not so spectacular but edible.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the cafe with free wifi.

I arranged a transport service from Marco Polo Hotel to take me to the airport.  My schedule is at 5pm.  I didn't know that it will only be me who will ride the service.  I like the bellboy and other staff of the hotel, they're friendly.  They even bid goodbye to me as I rode the service.  I had a little chit-chat with the driver.  That's when I learned that most restaurants in Davao are closed after lunch time (until 2pm) and it will open again at around 5pm.  That explains why I wasn't able to eat at Penong's.  Oh well, maybe next time.

If I have a budget, I would love to stay at Marco Polo again.  Or maybe I should also try Apo View Hotel.  At its ground floor lies the Casino Filipino, hehe.  Well, I don't frequent casinos but I'm sure some of my friends will want to check that out.

I conquered my solo trip in Davao.  It was exciting and new experience for me but at the same time, it's quite sad because I wasn't able to take pictures of me around the places I have been.  I would love to try travelling again alone and this time in a much longer vacation.  Where could be the next?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Overnight in Davao

I'll be going to Davao again tomorrow but this time for a business trip.  My first time in Davao was last year, November.  I had fun during our vacation and I fell in love with Davao.  My business trip will only be overnight, flight back to Manila on Saturday evening at 7pm.  So maybe I have Friday night and whole Saturday to maximize my time.

I'll be staying near the vicinity of Marco Polo Hotel and my meeting is in Abreeza Mall.  Can anyone suggest where to hang out or must visit places in such a short time?  I'm thinking Eden Park as we were not able to visit it the last time we were there.  But I'm not so sure of it's distance to my hotel.  Where else can I go?  I haven't done my research yet so maybe your inputs can help.  Your suggestions are highly appreciated.  And oh, by the way, I'll be going alone.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Traveling to Bali, Indonesia

I would just like to share this story from a fellow blogger.  Please take time to read.  For those who are planning to go on a trip to Bali, Indonesia, please be cautious.  I hope this won't happen to you...