SM by the Bay: Fun for the Fam

SM by the Bay

Have you guys tried walking the 1.5km stretch of SM by the Bay?

My family and I just did, last Saturday.  OMG, ang saya!  Isa syang malaking fiesta!  Perfect for families, balikbayans, barkadas and of course, since Valentine's is this weekend, with your labidabs.

It was the opening of the Annual Pyro-Musical Competition Show and if the fireworks during New Year gives you endless ooohs and aaahs, the fireworks displayed here will leave you breathless.

Pyrotechnics Competition at SM by The Bay

Photo Credit: SM by the Bay Facebook Page

Photo Credit: SM by the Bay Facebook Page

Be-a-u-tiful!  I went with my 2 kids, my mom and brother and we were all in awe of the fireworks display.  The fireworks display of the Philippines went on for a good 20 minutes as different bursts of light and sounds danced to popular tunes spanning several decades.  Each Saturday till March 14, 2 countries will be competing in a grand fireworks display.  SM Mall of Asia together with Platinum Fireworks have been hosting the competition for six years now at SM by the BAY.

If you are planning to watch the show along the bay,  SM has designated areas that are accessible for a fee for as low as P100 to P1,500  (with dinner).  Show starts around - 7:30pm for first competitor and the next one would be between -8:30- 8:45pm.  Each show lasts between 15-20 minutes. The show will run every Saturday until March 14, 2015.  Tickets are available at SM Mall of Asia, SM ticket booth, Ticketnet and Ticketworld outlets.   Otherwise, you can also choose to watch the fireworks from the restaurants at SM by the BAY.

_SMBY-Pyro-Annoucement

Check out SM by the Bay Facebook page for more details.

Apart from the Pyro-Musical show, street entertainers, from firedancers to robots, are all over adding flair and festivity to the occasion.

Men on Stitls at SM by the Bay

Men on stilts.

Light up drummer boys at SM by the Bay

Light-up drummer boys.

bumblebee robot

pacific rim robot

And OM! My kids, especially my boy,  went wild in excitement when Bumblebee, the robot in Pacific Rim and a few other robots walked by.

When we got to the rides section,  my kids darted off in different directions!  My girl wanted to ride the Magic Dance while my son wanted to drive a motorcycle.  There are around 15 different rides to choose from,  fees range from P50 to P150/person.

Magic Dance Ride at Mall of Asia SM by the Bay

Magic Dance is similar to the Octopus ride.

Motorcycle Ride at SM by the Bay

My boy darted off in his motorcycle.

Rides at SM by the Bay MOA

Other rides include Twister and Drop Tower (for the dare devils), Flume Ride (like a log ride), Indiannapolis car and of course pwede ba naman mawala ang carousel:-)

MOA Eye

The star of the rides is the MOA Eye.  It is the tallest Ferris Wheel in Manila towering to a height of 180 feet.  You can see all the lights at MOA, the bay and even parts of Solaire.  Tapos aliw because each gondola is airconditioned pala and can sit a family of 4-6:-)

I want to go back and try the MOA Eye on a sunset.  I bet it's going to be lovely.

There are 19 restaurants along the bay.  As expected,  they were packed, with the al fresco seats overlooking the bay filling up faster than you could say "I want to sit there."  There were a number of good themed restaurants. Hooters is there!  Syempre my daughter said, "Mom I don't think you can work there, they are all sexy!"   And then there is the famous buffet restaurants Vikings, Buffet 101 and Banzai (another themed restaurant kids will enjoy).

Related Blog Post:  Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater.

We dined at the fun and entertaining, Movie Star Cafe.  It's a movie-themed restaurant where super heroes, villains and well loved characters come alive to dance and perform onstage and gamely post for photos after!  We all had a blast.  Hehe hindi na nga kami halos maka kain sa excitement!:-)

Movie Stars Cafe at SM by the Bay MOA

We took so much pics, I think  I'll just make another post for it.  Movie Stars Cafe is at Bldg. D, SM by the BAY Seaside Boulevard, Pasay City.  Do make reservations by calling 550-1234 to get the best seats.

Movie Stars Cafe SM by the Bay MOAGuys, you have to take your family to SM by the Bay this weekend or any weekend till March 14.  It will be a great experience for everyone.  The fireworks is amazing.  The Manila Bay is lovely as always.  And the festivities SM by the Bay prepared is sooo entertaining! Parang Mardi-Gras!  If the happy twinkle in your kids eye is what you are after, they will be twinkling bright that night.

Ok, on which Saturday are you dropping by?:-)

SM by the bay

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CHRISTmas Merry-Go-Around: Best and Merriest CHRISTmas Displays in Manila 2014

For the past seven years,  it has been my family's tradition to go all over Manila to catch the best and merriest displays.   We would have a good dinner, hire our driver to come in that weekend and hop-on, hop-off as we marvel at the lights and beauty, and to the dismay of my kids, take lots of photos.   Sharing with you some photos of the most resplendent displays in town ...

Manila Peninsula

I think the best decor is always at the Pen.  Their high ceiling allows them a tall luxurious tree.  Have ice cream at the lobby:-)

I think the best decor is always at the Pen. Their high ceiling allows them a tall luxurious tree. Have ice cream at the lobby:-)

These glass reindeers are beautiful.

These glass reindeers are beautiful.

Come and take a bite of this gingerbread house.  It's a real and large gingerbread house.  Kids are amazed as always.

Come and take a bite of this gingerbread house. It's a real and large gingerbread house. Kids are amazed as always.

Makati Shangri-la

Last year it was angels,  this year a sleigh.

Last year it was angels, this year a sleigh.

Rockwell PowerPlant

Festive and elegant wreaths give warmth to Rockwell.

Festive and elegant wreaths give warmth to Rockwell.

They have this polar bear display yearly but it is still adorable all the time.

They have this polar bear display yearly but it is still adorable all the time.

Liwanag Park at Meralco

I love that the center of the display is this Nativity scene.  In the end,  all these festivities is in celebration of God made Man.

I love that the center of the display is this Nativity scene. In the end, all these festivities is in celebration of God made Man.

Simbang Gabi isang tradition na kay ganda at tunay na Filipino.

Simbang Gabi isang tradition na kay ganda at tunay na Filipino.

Maliwanag at Maligayang Pasko

Maliwanag at Maligayang Pasko

Wishing you all the Merriest of Holidays.  And a most Blessed CHRISTmas!

 

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Doll Joy: A Doll Museum

Doll Joy Dolls of the World CollectionChildren who love dolls will have a field day when they visit Doll Joy Factory and Museum in Pasig.   Displayed are over 2,100 pieces of assorted dolls, clustered in varying themes that will delight young and adult doll lovers.

This is the second time I visited Doll Joy this year.  First was with a couple of good friends from the village.  And the second time was when my toddler visited it for his school field trip.

Here are the highlights of my 2 trips. [Read more...]

The Week that Was: Pig out to the Max!

Oh men!  I think I gained 5 pounds over the week.  As in pig-out to the max!

It is the birthday week of my firstborn and it was one eating fiesta after another!  It started with a lunch in Chili's last Sunday.  A Miensan lunch and a special dinner at home on Tuesday.

My son's favorite dishes from home Iberian Chicken and Vongole plus Sugarhouse's Cashew Toffee Torte.

An overflowing potluck on Friday and ended with a buffet at Vikings today!

Grover!  Kung dating mukha akong 3 months pregnant,  ngayon ang tanong na sa akin, "Anytime now?"  As in!

Last Friday,  I helped organize an after QT (quarterly test) party for the classmates of my son at a classmates' house.  I'm so happy because all the moms are so supportive and we got almost half of the class attending the party.

potluck

And with any potlucks with so generous people,  the food was overflowing!  The boys were all over the house, swimming, playing basketball or football, basta burning calories.  While we moms,  oh my,  the moms were eating and chika galore from 12 noon till 6pm!!!  Ang saya!

As for our Vikings,  satisfaction to the max!  It is my family's first time in Vikings.  We are really not into buffets.  First, medyo kuripot kami.  We compute the amount we are going to chunk and equate to how much we can buy if we cooked at home instead.  Once in awhile though we indulge ourselves in fancy dining and lavish buffets.   Secondly,  ok medyo jologs but may thinking kami na kailangan sulitin yung bayad so we stuff ourselves to the max, we regret it after.

So today ang mantra namin when we went into Vikings is  --- Ang buffet dapat i-enjoy, hindi sinusulit.

We had a wonderful meal.  We were stuffed but we didn't pig out to the max, ok maybe a little, but not over:-)

My usual fave at any buffet.  Salmon sashimi:-)

My usual fave at any buffet. Salmon sashimi:-)

vikings philippines

And steamed shrimps, crabs and baked oysters. Not in the picture but I equally love, roast beef and lechon!

Nice ambiance at Vikings Marikina.

Nice ambiance at Vikings Marikina.

Vikings delivered very well.  The selection is wide and the quality of food is very good.    My husband and I felt the quality of food and selection is comparable to hotel buffets already.  Although of course sa hotel they give you sugpo instead of suahe and the oysters are bigger and crabs fatter.   But generally it was very, very good.   The food is chosen, prepared and cooked well and not mass style. One of the best buffet, if not the best buffet, that isn't in a hotel, my husband says.

The restaurant is well kept and clean and it even has the hotel feel to it.  The service was also very efficient.  They are fast in replenishing empty food trays and the waiters are very attentive in cleaning up your area so you can get your nth plate:-)  Since it was my son's birthday,  giving my son a birthday cake (which you can take home) and singing him a simple happy birthday (by the staff) added a nice touch to the mini-celebration we had.  They also have a special birthday treat for celebrants.  If you are dining on the day of your birthday,  celebrant is free as long as accompanied by one paying adult.  If you are dining within the month of your birthday,  celebrant is free as long as accompanied by four paying adults.  Bring an ID with photo with birthdate or for kids ID plus photo copy of birth certificate for birthday verification.  Lastly,  do make reservations in advance since the resto can be full especially on weekends.

Tomorrow, I swear diet na!

How about you?  How did your week go?

For more details on Vikings branches, rates and promos, please click Vikings Philippines.

Disclosure:  We paid for my family's entire meal at Vikings, Marikina.

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Check in Time for Philippine Domestic Flights and Parking at NAIA 3

Domestic flights are usually a breeze and for dawn flights I normally arrive an hour before my departure time.  I figured the airport is not too busy at that hour anyway.  Last Friday,  I almost missed my flight to Tacloban by a hairline with that assumption.

Arriving calmly at 3:40am for my 4:50am flight, I was shocked to see the parking lot full!

Parking lot at Naia 3OMG!  Clammy hands, heart palpitating, I chanted "Lord, please find me parking," over and over.  God heard me and I found one solitary open slot.  With other cars already parked with engines running waiting for a slot to open, finding that slot was a "Thank God" moment!

Figuring a full airport as well, I took a hurried walk to the airport entrance which was at the other side of where my car was parked (entrance to the airport is across the parking entrance).  Grover!  Bukod sa parang hindi gumagana ang aircon,  punong-puno nga sya!  The airport was packed at 3:50am (I guess because flights are getting cheaper by the minute)!  The queue to the check-in counters were full with maybe 10-15 persons waiting in line.  With the average speed of 5-10 minutes per transaction,  I was bound to miss my 4:50am flight.

NAIA 3 Terminal Jam Packed

According to PAL and Cebu Pacific website,  check-in counters for domestic flights open 2 hours before scheduled time of flight and strictly closes 45 minutes before flight departure.  I had 15 minutes before the check-in counter closes but with the long queue ahead of me (plus the broken aircon), pinagpawisan ulit ako ng butil-butil!

Good thing Cebu Pacific ground crew were swift and gave a last call-out for flights with check-in counters closing in a few minutes.  Whew!  By the time I got to the gate, maybe 3/4 of the passengers has already boarded and we took off at the exactly 4:50am.  Next time,  I'll allot 1 hour and 30 minutes already.  Hindi na kaya 1 hour!

To know more about check-in times for Philippine Domestic Flights check Cebu Pacific Things to Remember and PAL's FAQ.

NAIA 3 Parking Info:

Rates: 

NAIA Termina 3 parking rate

Safety:  The parking lot is well lit and is inside the NAIA Terminal 3 compound.  To get to the airport from the parking lot,  you just have to cross the street inside NAIA 3.  Entrance of passengers to the airport is just across the entrance of the parking lot.

Capacity: 800 cars

Disclaimer:  The above blog post is based on my personal experience.  Note that parking rates, entrance gates, check-in time may change upon your date of departure.

Lucky to have made the Flight,

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Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater and Authentic Japanese Buffet in Manila

inside banzai sm mall of asia

Japanese food lovers will have a gastronomic feast at the country's biggest (500 seating capacity), all-unlimited Great Authentic Japanese Buffet, Banzai!

My kids and I had a complete Japanese dining experience at Banzai in SM Mall of Asia.  We were transported to Japan with Banzai's wide range of authentic Japanese food, all-out Japanese interiors plus a grand theatrical dance parade of performers garbed in stunning geisha, shogun, samurai and maiko costumes.

Authentic Japanese Buffet

Banzai Japanese Chef

"Banzai, where only the water is local and only the ice cream is frozen," so goes the joke of former actor-turned-restopreneur, Marvin Agustin.  Banzai lives up to its Authenticity by offering only ingredients imported from Japan.  They also hired 3 Japanese chefs to lord over the 3 main areas of Banzai: sushi; ramen and teppanyaki. Yum!

Beef Teppanyaki at Banzai

My personal fave is their Teppanyaki.  The beef is tender and delicately flavored. Paired with Japanese fried rice, it has destroyed my diet.

Ramen at Banzai Manila

I didn't have enough room to try their Ramen but my son said it was good.  They offer Miso, Shoyu, Chasyu, Tan-tan Men and Tonkotsu Ramen.  They said the broth is slow-cooked for a minimum of 24 hours to ensure maximum flavor.

Tempura at Banzai Mall of Asia

The Tempura is good.  The batter seasoned well and the shrimp is still firm inside.  Oddly though, in my 2 visits to Japan,  Tempura cooked our style is a rarity.  The Tonkatusu was a little bit tough.

What I ate in Banzai Manila

What I ate in Banzai.  Diet na 'to ng lagay na yan.  I enjoyed their sashimi although I think the salmon sashimi should be a bit more firm.  Their roasted pork belly melts in your mouth.  They also have a few Western dishes and every quarter they feature a specific international cuisine to add to the buffet.  When I went it was Chinese.  Menu is 90% Japanese and 10% international cuisine.

Desserts at Banzai Mall of Asia

They have a wide selection of desserts and my kids loved the snow cone station.  I got two servings of their creme brulee.  Drinks, including the popular iced Milo, are included in the buffet.

The Great Teppanyaki Theater

Banzai ups the Japanese dining experience to a higher level by providing "A Festival of Japan," a grand theater production inspired by different Japanese performance artforms such as kabuki and noh.

Theater Production at Banzai Restaurant in Manila

The performers, donned in stunning Japanese costumes,  moved with grace and intensity - it is very theatrical!

Geisha at Banzai SM Mall of Asia Manila

The production is directed by renowned director Floy Quintos.   The performers danced to Japanese music and moved around the main buffet area.   Best seats to get are near the main buffet so  you get the best view of the show while seated.  My kids were enthralled by the performance.

Banzai Teppanyaki Show

The "Festival of Japan" show culminates with The Banzai Teppanyaki Show.  It features 4 chefs simulating teppanyaki cooking in motion to Japanese music and drum beat.  They juggle, flip - utensils or food - to the delight of guests.   The shows are available from Fridays to Sundays at 12:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm.

Posing with the Performers of Banzai's Theatrical Production

Guests posed with the performers.  When I went to Japan,  I squealed in delight when I saw a Japanese geisha,  I almost tripped trying to get a better glimpse of her.  The intricate detail of her dress etc.  The geishas and maikos here are fantastically dressed!

Banzai Trick Art Gallery

Banzai also has a small Trick Art Gallery featuring paintings of Japanese scenes.  Wigs, like the one I wore in the pic, are also available.  Strike a pose!

Trick Art Gallery Banzai

My son gamely posed as a Ninja.

Banzai Owner Marvin Agustin

And I gamely posed as Marvin's girlfriend, pwede!   Haha peace husbandry:-)  Marvin and his partner Ricky Laudico and Raymund Magdaluyo are the proud owners of Banzai.   They know their expertise is Japanese and they have once again brought another wonderful dining experience to Japanese-food loving Filipinos with Banzai.*

Banzai SM Mall of Asia

Banzai!**

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*Marvin Agustin, Ricky Laudico and Raymund Magdaluyo owns Sumo Sam, John and Yoko etc.  46 restaurants to date!

**Banzai is a Japanese greeting that means ten thousand years of life.

Rates:

Monday-Friday (lunch) P 699   (dinner) P 899

Saturday, Sunday and Holidays P 1,088

Children below 4.5 feet Php 499; Children beow 3.5 feet are free.

Left over price P 1,288.

Rates above are inclusive of service charge and unlimited drinks.

Address:  Banzai, SM Mall of Asia by the Bay, Pasay City (beside the Ferris Wheel).

Contact Numbers:  0916-377-5357; 552-7368

Disclosure:  Thanks to Banzai for inviting my kids and I to the media launch.

 

4DX at BHS: Revolutionizing our Cinema Experience

4DX Cinema at Bonifacio High Street4DX™ at BGC, the first 4dx technology in the Philippines, is a supreme movie experience that immerses all senses!

My kids and I were grinning from ear-to-ear from start to finish as we watched "Amazing Spiderman 2."

It is incredible to be able to move with Spiderman! When he crawled up the wall, the chairs tilted back add up high-res 3d visuals, and it as if you are scaling the wall as well. When Spiderman took a dive from a building you can actually feel the wind blasting in your face.  When Electro unleashes his powers, bolts of lighting flashes through the ceiling.  When Electro is hearing voices from his head,  you hear it all over the cinema, you actually feel his torment. It is, for lack of a better word, amazing!

4DX Cinema at Bonifacio High Street

4DX™ is located at the recently opened Bonifacio High Street Cinema at the Central Square Building, 30th cor 5th Street (if you are familiar with Serendra it's at the opposite end of the strip).

Tickets can be bought at the cinema but better to get it at Sureseats.com so you don't have to queue up plus the cinemas are always, always full.  Sureseats, however charges a P20 web fee per ticket bought.  Also,  you still have to queue up and present your e-ticket in the ticket counter for them to issue you the actual ticket.  We didn't read that fine print and almost missed the start of the movie.

If you wonder if front row seats will be a horrible dizzying experience,  fret not.  We got front-3rd row seats and it was fine.  I feel there is not much difference between the first rows from 3rd row. Besides, if I'm not mistaken, there are only 7 rows.  But of course if you can get farther from the screen seats, better.

Bonifacio High Street Cinema has 4 state-of-the-art movie theaters employing different advanced technologies for your ultimate movie experience.

  • 4DX™ (P450) (Cinema 4)
  • Dolby Atmos™/3D (P400) -(Cinema 2)
  • Dolby Atmos™ (P330) (Cinema 1)
  • Regular Cinema (P250) (Cinema 3)
This cinema has motorized recliner chairs (ala la-Z boy). I'm guessing it would be Cinema 2 - Dolby Atmos™/3D.

This cinema has motorized recliner chairs (ala la-Z boy). I'm guessing it would be Cinema 2 - Dolby Atmos™/3D.

Dolby Atmos™  is a surround sound system by Dolby Laboratories.  The speakers are front and ceiling mounted to give you real than life sound feel.

The 4DX™ technology incorporates chair movement (up/down, forward/back, right/left), mist, fog, light flashes, wind and even scents that gives the audience a feel of physical participation within the movie. We didn't detect any scent though.  They could have made the cinema smell like burnt wire or decaying body but I guess that would be very unpleasant.  The experience is amped-up by full surround-sound environments through front and ceiling mounted speakers – the aural enhancements from the latest from Dolby Laboratories – the perfected audio environment of Dolby Atmos™.

Bonifacio High Street regular cinema

Regular cinema seats.

With regard to movie snacks,  Family Mart (yay Green Tea Ice Cream), Potato Corner, Candy Corner and a nacho store I forgot to get the name of (but there was a long line there) are there to fill you up.   Also, for those with young kids,  you would be happy to know that the 4DX™  has its own bathroom.

Bonifacio High Street cinema lobby

Revolutionize your Cinema experience and be prepared to be entertained with Bonifacio High Street Cinemas!

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  We paid for our tickets.

Have fun with the Fam!

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When is the best time to go to Hongkong with the Kids/Family?

Hongkong DisneylandSince I came out with my travel blog on Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 1) and Part 2, I have received some questions on the best time to go to Hongkong.  Given that we come from hot, hot Philippines,  you would want to go to Hongkong at the time it is cold.  Hong Kong has four seasons: a cool and dry winter, unstable and wet spring, hot and humid summer, and warm and pleasant autumn (Wikepedia).

May to September is their rainy season.  We went before on an August and we were in Disney with our umbrellas.  It was so bad I didn't even take pictures.  Their sunny winter starts November and becomes cloudier by February (15-19 °C parang Baguio).  Their unstable and wet spring is from March to May.  Our last trip was March and we had perfect cool weather but it is true that March weather is unpredictable, see March 2014 freak storm.   July and August is their hottest period.  When we came in for a visit in July years ago, it was so hot the kids refused to stand to watch the parade.   Best time to go is late October to early December.

Another thing to consider is the Chinese Holidays.  You wouldn't want to be going to those places during a Chinese holiday since the parks will be packed, the lines for the rides exhausting and the hotel rates are at its peak.  In our last visit to Ocean Park last March,  there were a lot of people and it wasn't even a holiday,  imagine the horror of being in the park on a holiday!!!

Here is the Chinese Major Public Holiday 2014-2016 schedule from www.travelchinaguide.com

Image from www.travelchinaguide.com

Image from www.travelchinaguide.com

Hope this helps:-)

References:  wikepedia.org and travelchinaguide.com

Travel Happy!

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Plantation Bay Cebu Review (Part 2): Beach and Other Activities

Plantation Bay CebuHi!  This is part 2 of my family's Plantation Bay experience. Here, I share my review of the resorts' activities, natural beach, accommodations, service and food at Plantation.
To view of what to expect from the 2.3 hectare pools and man-made lagoons at Plantation, please click Plantation Bay Review (Part 1): Pools of Plantation.Plantation Bay Cebu Natural Beach

Beach:

Plantation Bay is primarily a man-made resort but it also has a natural beach.  The beach is not Boracay quality, as it is brownish and is quite ouchy to the feet.  We wore our slippers when we went into the water.  The first time we went to the beach,  it was covered with seaweeds (upper right photo) so we just stuck to feeding the fish from the dock.  The next day,  they cleared it (I think they do clearing weekends) and our family already took a swim in the beach.  My kids had fun feeding the plentiful, sand-colored fishes.  They even caught a few puffer fishes and star fishes (which of course we freed).

Like all resorts,  Plantation offered sea activities from parasailing, banana boat rides, jetski etc.

Land Activities:

Apart from water activities,  Plantation offers a whole range of land activities.  I love it that everything comes free and you don't have to pay for every move.  All the activities below are free for guests.

Cebu Plantation Bay Activities

Kalesa Rides are available on weekends between 3-5pm.  We also took to the game room when it was scorching hot.  Since it was free,  my kids tried billiards, fooseball, pingpong and darts.  The game room's airconditioner though wasn't strong enough to cool the room:(  With Hunger Games as the peg,  the whole family gamely tried archery (available for free bet 1-5pm).

Cebu Plantation Bay Activities

Single and tandem bikes are available for guests starting at 8am.  There is a bike path around the resort and my kids had fun going around with the lagoons and beach as scenery.  There is even a part where the bikes can enter a man-made cave which added some thrill.  Guests can use the bike for free for an hour a day.  My kids and I also challenged ourselves on some some wall climbing.   You can climb up as many times as you like, for free,  between 1-5pm.  The kids also did some putting in the small mini-golf area.

Gardens of Plantation Bay Cebu Exploring the whole resort is another activity you can enjoy with the kids.

Exploring Plantation Bay Cebu

If you are too tired to walk around the resort,  hop on and off shuttles are always available.  You can also call guest services to request for a shuttle to pass by your room cluster.

Image from eatsmylifebyjigsarquiza.blogspot.com

Image from eatsmylifebyjigsarquiza.blogspot.com

Night Shows:

We were able to watch a Hawaiian show Friday night (I think they have shows during weekends).  It was fabulous!  A boat with a Hawaiian clad lady with a ring of fire around her floated from across the lagoon to where the guests were dining.  What an entrance!  After, we were entertained for a good 30 minutes with Hawaiian dancers female and male interspersed with fire breathers.  The kids were very much entertained. Guests also gamely posed for some photo op with the Hawaiian dancers after the show. It was so much fun!

Rooms at Plantation Bay

Accommodations:

We got a lagoon side room that has 2 exits.  One to the small path road for walking/biking and one to the lagoon.   Water side, I think is the best,  when you step out it's water already,  but then it's twice the price so I will just walk to the water:-)

Review of Rooms at Plantation BayAbove photos are example of the different room views. They have water's edge room (most expensive), lagoon side room, lagoon view room and poolside room (least expensive. lower right photo).    I suggest you check out their hotel map to plot which room you want.  The rooms come in clusters and we got the Tahiti House. I think room clusters by the lagoon, ground floor are considered lagoon side.  The ones on the second floor are lagoon view.  I would not exactly describe the resort as 5-star maybe 3 or 4 star.  The rooms are old already and the fixtures used along with the linen and towels are not high quality but it was clean.  The good thing though was that the room and bathroom was big.  We had 2 queen beds enough to fit a family of 5.

I felt a little bad that they had to charge my toddler (just turned 3)  an extra person rate.  I was thinking they would just waive the extra person rate since I paid Php12,500 per room/night no breakfast.  The room can only hold 2 adults and 2 kids aged 12 and below anything in excess is charged already even if it is a baby.  Considering it wasn't a 5 star hotel, the price was steep but then again it was Holy Week.  I think if it were an ordinary day the rate would be at P8,500.

Check-in is at 3pm and check out is at 12pm but they were able to give us a room at 1:30pm.  You can still use the resorts facilities before and after check-in and they have bathrooms where you can change.  Same bathroom used by day trippers.

Food at Plantation Bay Cebu

Service:

The service in Plantation is excellent, except for that portion where they did not waive additional guest fee on my toddler.  The attendants, from bellboys to the shuttle drivers, are all friendly and helpful.  In the restaurant,  the waiters are helpful but if you go on a peak hour the wait can be 1-1.5 hours for your food.  Ask first if the restaurant is full, there are 4 restaurants and you can move to the next less packed one.

Food:

There are 4 restaurants inside Plantation Bay, click this to view photos plus price.   The price of most dishes are at P400-500 and can be shared by 2 persons.  Their breakfast buffet is at P950 net.  We were on a budget (after paying P13,000++/night) and we opted to have our breakfast in our room.  We helped ourselves to the Lucky Me and Nissin cup noodles we brought plus our Macaroni salad baon and some Gardenia bread.  For our first night, we ate our chicken pork adobo baon and just bought hot rice from Plantation.

Sutokil Restaurant Mactan Cebu

We made the mistake of going out to SutoKil, Mactan and it was a huge disappointment.  It is like dampa, only the prices are outrageous (P1,100 for a kilo of suahe (medium sized shrimp), P750 for lapu-lapu, P180 for each paluto).  And it would have been ok if the food was good, it was terrible!  Not a single thing tasted good from the overcooked garlic shrimp,  shriveled up clams, rock hard soy sauce laden sweet and sour and where in the world is the meat pancit canton.  Even the rice was hard and you have to compete with flies while eating.  Do not,  I repeat do not eat at Sutokil, Mactan!   We spent P 3,200 for our lunch for 2 adults, 2 kids and 1 toddler and we had to pay for P300 for the cab ride going there.

Density of People:

The resort, though it was fully booked, was not overcrowded maybe because of the size of the resort (12 hectares).   The crowd size was comfortable even if it was a Holy Week.  Plus the crowd was disciplined.  No one was throwing trash, too loud etc.

Plantation Bay Cebu

Summary:

The resort, though a little bit old and largely man-made, offered my family enough activities and fun.  The view of the lagoon, though artificial, was still very beautiful.  It was an altogether fun experience for the whole family.  I would recommend it to families who likes their days activity packed, full and happy:-)

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  My family and I went to Plantation Bay and paid for our room and food.

Plantation Bay Cebu:

Address:    Plantation Bay Resort and Spa
Marigondon, Mactan Island
Cebu, Philippines 6015
Tel. + 63 32 505 9800
Fax + 63 32 505 9818

Manila Office:
Unit No. 318 McKinley Park Residences
31st St., corner 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines 1634
Tel. + 63 2 844 5024 to 25
Fax + 63 2 844 5030

Website:  www.plantationbay.com

Travel Happy!

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Plantation Bay Cebu Review (Part 1): Pools at Plantation

Plantation Bay Cebu

My kids have been aching to go to Plantation Bay since the time we took a sneak peak 2 years ago.  They got their wish last Holy Week as we flew to Cebu and spent 2 nights and 3 days in Plantation.

The kids enjoyed the whole experience.  With 12 hectares of land dotted with fresh water and salt-water pools plus a lot of activities from wall climbing to tandem biking, the kids had a blast!  Here is a review with a photo essay of our trip ...

Clockwise from upper L – fresh water pool at the Savannah; man-made salt water lagoon; fresh water tiled pool at Piazza Palermo; fresh water pool at WindWard Cluster

Clockwise from upper L – fresh water pool at the Savannah; man-made salt water lagoon; fresh water tiled pool at Piazza Palermo; fresh water pool at WindWard Cluster

Pools:

On our first day,  my kids were a little bit disappointed because they swam at the freshwater pool at the Wind Ward Cluster.   Beautiful as it looked, it had floating leaves and flowers on it.  My kids are a little bit finicky when it comes to cleanliness and they don't want to see anything floating on the pool.  The pool also wasn't tiled and that was a bit of a shocker for them (all pools and lagoons are not tiled except for the pool at the Piazza Palermo).

Plantation Bay Cebu

Just for you guys to manage your expectations and especially your kids',  the pools are not tiled.  Also,  because the resort is dotted with trees,  the pool has occasional leaves/twigs on it and of course sand.  The lagoon is man-made and so are those huge rock boulders.  The slightly fine sand (its not fine powder), since it is also recreated does not go deep.  My kids were a little bit upset to find a sheet of plastic (I think that is the sand liner) while they were digging to make sand castles.  My kids are quite fussy but we found a lot of nice spots and we were g--o-o-d!

Plantation Bay Cebu

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the freshwater swimming pool at the Kilimanjaro Cafe.  It had shallow (maybe 3 feet) parts that merges with the 4 feet deep parts.  My toddler loved that he could stand on the shallow parts while his siblings are just swimming happily nearby.  In the middle of the pool stood a cave like structure that had a slide.  And on the sides are small pockets of bubble benches anyone can enter in and out from.

They also enjoyed swimming on the saltwater lagoon just across the beach area.  The huge, man-made salt water lagoon (2.3 hectares of it!) is the heart of Plantation Bay.  My tweeners jumped off the diving rock several times.  You could also rent kayaks for use in one part of the lagoon (P250 for 30 mins).

There is also a huge man-made cave the kids can slide on.

Life vests are available to all guests.  Their smallest vest fit my toddler (3 years old) perfectly.  So no need to bring your life vest.

Click here to read Part 2 of Cebu Plantation Bay Review (review of beach, accommodations, service, other activities).

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  My family and I paid for everything:-)

Travel Happy!

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Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 1)

Hongkong DisneylandIt has been 8 years since the kids visited Hongkong.  They hardly remember what it was like.  With the memory of Hongkong almost blank plus a new toddler sibling in tow,  it was almost like a new experience for everyone.

My husband only has Friday to spare so we went on technically a 3 day/2night tour of Hongkong's best known places for kids, Disneyland and Ocean Park!

Where to Stay:

Since we didn't plan to do any city tours,  we decided to stay at the Tsuen Wan area, near the airport and Disneyland.  We stayed at L' Hotel Nina et Convention Center.  The hotel has a very good location.  The MTR (Hongkong's train station) is just 5 minutes walk away, shopping centers are just beside it plus it is situated right at the Tsuen Wan park.  We got a superior double bedroom at HK$890 net per night.

L' Hotel Nina et Convention Tsuen Wan

The rooms are big (2 double sized beds) with huge bay windows where the kids can sit and watch the city lights of Tsuen Wan.  An extra treat was the glass partition that separates the bathroom from the room.  My kids kept on waving hello as they took a bath in the small tub.  The room was clean but there was no bidet in the bathroom, no wifi and no cable in our TV.  We didn't bother to complain about it though because it was an electronics free holiday for us (except my husband).

Yup, no Ipad, no TV and no Iphone the whole trip, even for me!  I am so happy and my kids didn't complain:-)

Ticket Prices and Discounted Tickets:

Tickets to Disneyland are at HK$450/adult and HK$320/kid while kids 2 years old and below are free. Tickets to Ocean Park are at HK$320/adult and HK$160/kid while kids 3 years old and below get free admission.  Both can be paid with cash or credit card.

According to Trip Advisor,  you can get discounted tickets of Disney and Ocean Park at the CTS (China Travel Service) at the Hongkong Airport (HKIA) at HK$10 less per ticket.  Another company selling discounted tickets is Ticketmart,  HK$435/adults and HK$300 for kids.  The only problem is you still have to pick up the ticket from Kowloon.  If you are staying with friends there,  they can buy the ticket online and discounted ticket will be mailed to them.

We were supposed to buy our tickets from the China Travel Service at the airport but they are only open from 7am - 10pm.  We arrived past 10:(  CTS has 3 branches at the HKIA, click CTS HKIA to view branches.

For Transportation and Fares around Hongkong, food prices in Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park, What to Expect in Disney and Ocean Park and the best time to visit Hongkong click Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 2).

If you want to compare if it would come out better if you take an organized tour vs making it out on your own click Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 3).

Travel Happy!

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Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 2)

Hongkong DisneylandIt has been 8 years since the kids visited Hongkong.  They hardly remember what it was like.  With the memory of Hongkong almost blank plus a new toddler sibling in tow,  it was almost like a new experience for everyone.

My husband only has Friday to spare so we went on technically a 3 day/2night tour of Hongkong's best known places for kids, Disneyland and Ocean Park!

Transportation and Fares around Hongkong:

We went around Hongkong using a cab, bus and MTR (Hongkong's train railway).  The cab from HKIA to our hotel was at HK$ 230.  While the cab from our hotel to Disney is at HK$ 150.  On our way to Ocean Park,  we took the MTR to Admiralty and rode the bus from there to Ocean Park (HK$10.60/adult one way; HK$5.30/child one way).

To get actual cost of your fares, go to MTR site and enter your starting point and destination.

Hongkong MTR Fare Rate

Example, I entered from: airport and to: Tsuen Wan and it estimated the time at 35 minutes with a fare of HK$60/adult and HK$30/kids.  Total train fare is at HK$180.  We took the cab and paid HK$230.

Note that for cabs,  passenger has to pay for all luggage that are placed in the trunk HK$5 each.  Passenger also shoulders the toll fares.  Depending on the license of the taxi you got,  maximum number of passenger is between\""

5 and they are strict on this.

Cab fare rates in Hongkong

Food Prices in Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park:

Fairwood Fastfood in Hongkong

For food, budget around HK$40-70/person/meal outside of the parks. We ate mostly casual dining ramen like Ajisen Ramen and Santouka (we are ramen crazy) and a bowl costs HK$75-100.  Fast-foods prices though are usually between HK$30-40. Try Fairwood or Cafe de Coral for local fastfood.  Click openrice.com to see their branches.  I usually just share the meal of my kids so that's less one meal already for our family of 5.  For breakfast, we either take brunch to save one meal or eat the cup noodles we bought from their 7-11 stores.

As with any theme park,  the food and drinks are exorbitant!  So what we do is we take brunch and just eat one meal in the park.  We also brought our own water and snacks.  They did check our backpack at the entrance but they just let us in.  I brought a big can of Piknik, lots of Yanyan, some bread, 750ml Thermos jug (my kids want their water cold) and an extra 750ml water bottle.  Just to give you an idea of the food costs inside the park: water bottle HK$20, cotton candy HK$30, popsicle HK$40, $128 for a rice meal (no drinks) in Ocean Park and HK$88 for a complete burger or chicken meal (with drinks) in Disney.

My 2 older kids (aged 12 and 10) were very cooperative and understood money already.  They were doing the exchange rate and they didn't ask for a single souvenir nor popsicle from either Disney or Ocean Park.

What to Expect and Not Miss in Disneyland :

Hongkong DisneylandHongkong Disneyland,  if you don't intend to ride every single ride in the park, the whole park can be enjoyed in the early afternoon onwards.  My husband and I knew our kids' energy levels won't extend from 10am (opening hours) all the way to the 8pm fireworks, so we opted to have a leisurely lunch outside Disney and arrived there at 1pm.

Disney had new additions to the park.  They had the Toy Story Land where they had giant characters from Toy Story.  I loved the tall grass entrance to the Toy Story Land.  It gave us the prelude of the giant things to come.   The "Toy Soldier Parachute Drop"  and the "Slinky Dog Spin" were adorable but we had to pass it up because of the 60-minute long line.

They also added the Grizzly Gulch which is a trip back in the old West.  My kids screamed their hearts out at the "Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car."

At Fantasy Land,  do take a journey around the world in "It's a Small World."  I asked my kids to name the country we were passing and they clapped along when they saw the Philippines!  We missed the show of the "Golden Mickeys"  because of routine maintenance, too bad, it seemed magical.  Mickey's PhilharMagic, 3-D adventure, wasn't that great.

At Tomorrowland,  my kids rode the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride 3 times!  My toddler is a big fan of Buzz.  My 2 older kids had fun shooting at the evil emperor Zurg.  I rode the "Space Mountain" before and got a major headache after, so we skipped the ride.  Kids also had fun on the Orbitron.

At Adventureland, don't miss the Jungle River Cruise and Tarzan's Treehouse.

And of course,  do stay on until 8pm to watch the spectacular fireworks display.

What to Expect and Not Miss in Ocean Park:

Ocean Park Hongkong

Don't miss the Grand Aquarium, the cable car ride from Old Hongkong area, Giant Panda Adventure, North Pole and South Pole encounter, Ocean Theater and the Pacific Pier if you want to catch some marine shows.

We went on a Saturday and it was jam packed!  There were just too many people.  We couldn't even move inside the Grand Aquarium.  My kids had to wait for several minutes before they could get a peek of a window.  We passed up on the rides because there were more sites to experience and besides the kids are not ride fans.  They have a lot of rides though for ride-loving kids.  I promised myself I will never go back to Ocean Park nor Disney on a weekend.

Best Time to Go to Hongkong:

This trip of ours had the perfect weather, not too cold and not too hot.  We enjoyed an 18-22 C cloudy weather.  Before you book,  visit Weather Underground, the site can give you weather history of a place so you can plan better.  Coming from the Philippines,  my kids wanted to visit when the weather is cool:-)

If your schedule permits it,  go on a weekday and check for Chinese holidays before your trip.  You wouldn't want to be in Hongkong when there is a Chinese holiday.  Since China lifted the visa requirement of the Chinese traveling to Hongkong,  the local tourists are just massive.  The huge density of .people can dampen the trip.

To know where we stayed and where to get discounted tickets of Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park click Hongkong Disneyland and Ocean Park on a Budget (Part 1).

Travel Happy!

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14 Four Cafe: Taytay’s Charming Surprise

14 Four Cafe Taytay RizalMy family and I are on a hunt for new restaurants that have wide open spaces that kids can explore and be free.  So when I saw the post of Anton Diaz on the 14 Four Cafe, I thought the fam would love it.

My husband, crunched his face up when I said the restaurant is in Taytay, Rizal. I, however, was determined.  So, one lazy Sunday morning the whole family drove to 14 Four Cafe in Taytay, Rizal.   The drive was surprisingly fast and easy,  less than 15 minutes (no traffic) from the C-5 and Julio Vargas intersection.

The restaurant is unassuming from the outside.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

But what welcomed us upon entry, drew warm, pleasant smiles to our faces.   The place was completely charming!

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

The blue wooden chairs added charm to the already delightful garden patch.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

All the artsy furniture blended seamlessly into the greens.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

My toddler is all smiles.  He can actually roam around here to his hearts content.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

Light and pretty.  The Stick Designs Furniture Showroom, owned by the father of the chef, Nikki Sambile is also housed in the resto.   Too bad they are closed on Sundays.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

My son explored the garden, again and again.  Watch out though a mango fell off the tree while we were there.  The tin man on the lower right is actually their drainage.  Ingenious!

We are definitely charmed by place.  The food though can be improved.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

The Calamares (P225) lacked taste.  It seems like they just dipped it in flour and stopped at that.  The margarita pasta (like chicken parmigiana) (P420) was dry.  The tapa (P210) was ordinary and a little bit tough.  Not in the picture was the country fried chicken (P250) which was just plain fried chicken fried with salt.  The beef stew (P340) was good though and we ordered 2 of those.  It tasted like caldereta.

I find the price a little bit expensive considering servings are not meant to be shared.

This Cinnamon Bun Pancake (P190) we had for dessert, however, redeemed our entire food experience.  It was delicious!  It is pancakes served with cinnamon and sugar topping served with cream cheese on the side.  What is so yummy about it is the insides are soft and fluffy while the outside had the delicate toasted crunch to it.  We devoured it in minutes!

Cinnamon Bun Pancake

My family and I would love to go back to 14 Four Cafe to get that warm serving of their Cinnamon Bun Pancake and indulge in a little piece of quaint right inside the Metro.

14 Four Cafe Taytay Rizal

14 Four Cafe

144 Magnolia Lane, Gregoria Heights Subdivision, Brgy. San Isidro 1920, Taytay, Rizal

Contact Numbers:  0999-888-0144 (be sure to call before going because they are sometimes closed for private functions)

Website: www.14fourcafe.com

Facebook: 14 Four Cafe

Date of Dining: March 2014

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  My family and I paid for our meal.

Eat Happy!

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Review of the Travel Tour Expo February 2014 at SMX

IMG_7378 The SMX Travel Tour Expo is the biggest and most awaited Travel Fair in the Philippines.  In the past, hundreds flock to the convention center to steal drop down travel deals.  Now, throngs of thousands go to the convention center and the lines are excruciatingly long, you would think it is about time to depart before you get in!

Yesterday,  I, with my mom and brother, went to the center in the hopes of getting a good discount for my parents for their visit to Canada this summer.

Upon arrival at the SMX at 10:30am,  we did not expect the line that was before us!   The huge  frontage and one side of the SMX is filled with people waiting to get in and to top it all an S is formed!  We gave up and called our travel agent instead who has a booth inside.  Unfortunately,  the dates she had available were so far off the target dates.  We did a few errands around Mall of Asia and decided to take a look at the SMX center again.  Tada,  the lines were already short. (Someone said Pres. Noynoy Aquino came in at 11am and they had to temporarily stop the queue)

IMG_7375

We started lining up at 11:30am and got in at 12 and finally got our queue number in PAL at 1pm!  Whew!

PAL rates are very good.

IMG_7385

IMG_7384

Our queue number is 20545 and when we looked at the queue board OMG!!!! they were serving 20018.  527 people are ahead of us.  I asked one lady who is on queue how fast the line is moving and she said she has been there for almost 1.5 hours and only 26 people have been served so far in her category (There are 4 categories:  Cash Buyers; Credit Card Buyers; Senior Citizens; and I forgot the other one).  OMG!  I did the math,  if I have 500 people ahead of me and they have served only 26 people for 1.5 hours that means each person takes 3.5 minutes to be served.  500 x 3.5 minutes = 1,750 minutes / 60 minutes = 29 hours!!!!!!!  Unbelievable!  Not the most patient people in the world,  we stormed out of PAL and never got to find out if my computation was correct.

While my mom and I are in PAL, my brother was already checking out the rates of other airlines.  He found out China Southern Airlines Manila-Vancouver-Manila with overnight stopover at Guangzhou (hotel transfers and hotel covered by airline) is only $689 compared to PAL direct flight $ 784 andd EVA air at $901.  Just for comparison regular rates for PAL for this flight is at $1,460.

Discounts are worth it especially if you are traveling as a family.  Like if my parents got the PAL they would have saved $676 each, translating to $1,352 in savings for 2!

We were not able to get a ticket that day because we were listed at China Southern Airlines.  And we got confirmed booking at EVA Air with option to pay till February 20.  It would have been best if we were early and were able to get a deal from PAL.

One tip: Start Early!  Happy Shopping!

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Himalayas: 6-Day Langtang Valley Trek

kyanjin gumpa

I'm alive. And I'm back!

48 kilometers of combined gentle and steep ascents.  13,000 feet that is high enough to kick off Altitude Sickness.  6 Meatless Days just when you need all the protein. Public Asian style bathrooms that rivals marathon Portalets.  The journey was long and arduous but the views and the company were exhilarating!

It has been a very tiring yet refreshing break for me. I have rekindled my love for the mountains and did a 6 day trek of the Langtang Region of Nepal with 7 girl pals, 2 of which are very good friends and the rest are now buddies.

Langtang Trek

The first two days were horrible. As in, my thighs were screaming in exhaustion!  It was an epic climb that went on for a torturous 10 hours each day!  The first day was a gentle ascent combined with a lot of steep uphill treks amidst lush forests and some rocky grounds in between.  While the second day was supposed to be an easier climb,  our bodies were still aching from yesterday's which made it harder. The weather was cool, about 15 Celsius (coldest at 7) and I really took it slow.  Well, I couldn't have done it any faster.  Apparently,  gym training is not enough.  We were trekking until early in the evening with our head lamps on, asking our Nepalese-girl-guide-now-bff-Goma every 2 minutes, "Are we there yet?!?"

These magnificent views, however, more than made up for the pains.

Above the clouds at Langtang.Langtang valleyThis lush forest enveloped us.Forest at Langtang Valley, Nepal

Strength and endurance.  Along the path, we encountered these men carrying sacks of rice yet their pace is steady and calm.  I was climbing with just my day pack and I was complaining like hell!  One Seed Expeditions,  an American Company, who arranged the entire trek  for us provided us with guides aka porters (prefer to be called guides).  I am pleased the way One Seed protects the guides by enforcing a 20kg limit/guide.  Each guide carries for 2 persons, which meant I had to limit the pack they would carry for me to 10kg.langtang valleyWe crossed, if I'm not mistaken, 5 hanging bridges along the way.Hanging bridges at LangtangDreamy lake that seems to be carved out of a fairy tale.  I stood there for awhile waiting for one of Snow White's seven dwarves to appear. lake at langtangThe climb is not as easy as everyone thought it to be.  Ravines offer a clear and present danger and the sometimes loose, rocky ground made it extra challenging.  But of course,  we wouldn't pass up a photo op of the wonderful view.lantang valleyOur group always takes 2 long stops per day. One for lunch. One for ginger tea. Ginger tea stop by the riverside.lantang riversideBreakfast, lunch and dinner are exclusively vegetarian.  Except for the "sawa" (getting tired of the same food) factor, all the mountain lodges had the same menu, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Vegetarian fried rice, noodle (chow mien), soup, pizza calzone (fried momo), dumplings (steamed momo) etc.nepal - foodWe squealed in delight at the first peek of the snow covered mountains.Lantang ValleyPhoto below courtesy of my friend, Anna.Snow covered mountainThe steady and powerful stream of Langtang River energized us.Langtang riverTibetan prayer wheels like this dot the trek path.  The wheels contain the Buddhist mantra "om mani padme hum." According to Wikipedia, Om purifies bliss and pride; Ma purifies jealousy and need for entertainment; Ni purifies passion and desire; Pad purifies ignorance and prejudice; Me purifies greed and possessiveness; and, Hum purifies aggression and hatred. When an individual spins the wheel, it is said that the effect is the same as reciting the mantra as many times as it is duplicated within the wheel.prayer wheels at langtangFluttering prayer flags, Tibetan style architecture and roaming yaks welcomed us in Langtang Valley, our last stop before our final destination. You can see a "mani stone" similar to a prayer wheel is on the right.  If you are to pass this,  stay on the left of it as a sign of respect.  Langtang valleyAlong the trek trail, lodges are strategically located to provide bare and basic accommodations.  They are not spick and span but it's better than setting up tent. Some lodges have public hot showers you wouldn't dare go barefoot in.  Each lodge also has a dining area with a small fire place where everyone gathers for the night to get some heat.  My friends and I look forward to lunch and dinners when we could laugh our thigh aches away.   Accommodations in Langtang ValleyOur final destination, Kyanjin Gumpa!  It is stunning in its simplicity and beauty.  nepal - kyanjin gumpaAl fresco dining, at its best.nepal - al fresco diningProud to be Pinoy!  Of the 8 girls, 5 were Filipinas.  The 3 others were a Japanese-American, Korean-American and a Mexican-American.  We went through hardships (half of the group had altitude sickness that we had to cut our stay Kianjin by a day) and witnessed the beauty of Langtang together, needless to stay good friendships were formed.Filipinos at LangtangPosing with the Nepalese family who owns the lodge we stayed in. Children who are staying in the mountains has to be sent to Kathmandu for schooling.  As early as 5 years old,  the children stay in a boarding school in Kathmandu for 10 months.  Whew!  Talk about an early onset of parent-child separation anxiety.Nepalese family at Langtang One thing I noticed with the Nepalese is that they seem to embody contentment.  It is amazing.  In this world of discontent,  they seem to be happy at their current state.  They don't have much material wealth and they seem to be content to have just that.  I see it when the guides interact with us, when the owners of the lodges welcomes us in and in the people we pass by.  Could it be because they are all in the same state, there is no one to compare with?  Could it be their religion?

Posing with our efficient and pretty guide, Goma, and our guides-in-training, Keshor, Depak, Suman and Bedang.  Missing in the photo is funny guy Chering. I enjoyed talking to them.   Goma is very conversant while the boys though a little bit shy would gamely sing and dance with us.    Langtang guidesLush forests.  Cool weather.  Challenging terrain.  Langtang River's energy powering you in every step.  Picturesque verdant mountains with some snow capped ones.  Entertaining and diverse girl power for company.  Kind and witty Nepalese guides-turned-friends.  Cathartic conversations with friends.  A journey, I'll surely have good memories of.Sharing with you this Wonderful Langtang Journey,

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