Showing posts with label souvenirs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label souvenirs. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Chocolate review: Seattle Chocolate Hiker's Trail Mix

The Clairvoyant brought home a couple of these bars from here trip to Seatlle last summer. She got it at the airport on her way back home. At first, we thought this was just like any souvenir chocolate like those you find in the form of elephants at Suvarnabhumi Airport or those in the shape of the Merlion in Changi Airport. This turned out much better than those.

This is an interesting dark chocolate bar because of the trail mix and truffle.
Details on the chocolate at the back of the wrapper. I don't know know if the wife noticed it but the manufacturer of this chocolate is supposed to be "Women Owned" based on the
Here's the wrapper when spread out. I thought this was one of the good designs I've seen on a chocolate bar's packaging.

The chocolate bar retailed for about 240 pesos at the time (based on the prevailing USD:PHP exchange rate last May) and we both could say this was a good buy. The trail mix part of the choclate proved to be something enjoyable as you have something to chew that makes the tastes linger in your mouth. I would imagine, too, that the chocolate would be a good energy booster for people on the go including hiker's or those who like to walk (e.g., commute). This is definitely another chocolate we'd want to pick up the next time we see it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Chocolate review: Milk chocolate from Belfast

The Clairvoyant brought home this milk chocolate that was given by a colleague during her trip to Belfast. This was her 3rd trip to Belfast and the second in 2017 and had not purchased any chocolate bars from there. That is not because she couldn't find some dark chocolates but just didn't have the time while there. In any case, we usually got our chocolates from the duty free shops at NAIA to avail of the 5% discount.

Souvenir chocolate from Belfast
Details on the chocolate at the back of the wrapper
I shared the bar with my nephew and niece who were visiting us a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to have some sweets after lunch and enjoyed this chocolate. This was very good quality milk chocolate and was certainly satisfying.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Frankenstein's watch? Seiko KS or GS?

A sentimental favorite among my watches is one that I got from a bazaar in Tokyo almost a decade ago for 5,000 yen. It was more expensive than the Swatch watches I got brand new from stores in Akihabara and Okachimachi. I was in Japan then as a visiting scientist and I think I was reliving my student days during the 1990s when we frequented bazaars to get some nice items without shelling out a fortune. The design was simple enough for me and it was a Seiko automatic watch so you really couldn't go wrong here. I had a reliable Seiko quartz that looked like this one back when I was in high school and I got my self a couple of Seiko Kinetic watches including the titanium watch I usually prefer over all my watches (including my Baume and Omega).

An old Seiko automatic watch is not as simple as it seemed.
I didn't mind the KS mark on the watch face. The thing that got my attention was the kanji day indicator. The kanji in the photo is for suiyobi or Wednesday.
The shape of the watch was also a classic and reminded one of the Rolex oyster
Only about recently have I discovered something about the watch as an acquaintance casually mentioned that this was a collectible watch. KS stood for King Seiko, which was a predecessor of sorts of the Grand Seiko watches I thought were quite expensive considering (sorry Seiko) they weren't a Swiss brand. It turns out the Grand Seikos and the King Seikos were masterpieces in their own right and were advanced and quite accurate for automatic watches compared to their Swiss counterparts.
The back was also different from my other Seikos in that there is a brass plate. The watch model is stated as a 5646 7010.

Some internet research told me that the watch model was stated at the back and front (fine print at 6 o'clock). The back of the watch states that this was a 5646 7010. However, as it turns out, this model did not correspond to a King Seiko (KS) but to a Grand Seiko, and should have GS in the plate. Inspection of the front revealed another model 5626 7040, which corresponded to a King Seiko model.

The watch model stated in the face was different from the one stated at the back. It showed that this was supposed to be a 5626 7040.
And so I suspected that this was a fake watch given the conflicting labels. Further research though got me intrigued since the face of the watch was that of a 5646 7010 with GS instead of KS prominent above 6 o'clock. A KS 5626 7040's face stated chronometer and the indices were significantly different from this one's.

Etched inside the back cover is the model number
I realized that instead of being a fake watch, this could be one that was modified or tinkered with. That made more sense given Seiko watches are popularly modified for them to look like other watches but using components that the modifier liked in order to come up with a customized watch with his/her preferred features. The clincher had to be the movement, which was the heart and soul of the watch. And so I opened the watch to see what was inside.

Opening the watch revealed a genuine movement by Seiko.
This was a 5626 B movement
The 25 jewels and 5626 B was an upgrade to the 5626 A movement that the King Seiko of that model series first used. I also learned that this was practically the same as the 5646 movement used by the Grand Seiko.
I learned that the 5626 B was "chronometer-grade" 28,800 beats per hour. My curiosity led me to compare this watch's time with those of my other watches (the Kinetic, which has a quartz movement and my automatic Baume that was at 28,800 bph) and I concluded that it kept really good time. 

And so this is quite a complicated watch in the sense that it has the movement of a KS (5626 B that's practically a GS 5646 movement), the back of a GS 5646 7010, the face of a 5646 7010 (which is also very similar to a KS 5626 7113), and the body of the GS 5646 7010 (that also similar to that of a KS 5626 7113). No matter, I'll be using this mutant of sorts and cherishing it as a souvenir from my years of staying in Japan. 

[Note: I tried the online Seiko Production Date Calculator and it estimates the KS 5626 7040 with serial number 090502 to have been manufactured in September 1970. 7/19/2018]

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Yakan Weaving Village, Zamboanga City

The trip to Zamboanga cannot be complete without getting souvenirs. On our first day there, we tried to go to the Yakan Weaving Village after we finished our meetings that day. We, however, did not look up the place ahead and at first could not figure why we couldn't get a tricycle to go there. As it turned out, the village was a bit far from the city center and one cannot conveniently just go there. Fortunately, the following day a friend took us to a quick tour of the city and that included a stop at the village.

Weaver creating a work of art
This is an example of a very intricate, complicated patterns woven by the Yakan. These are one of a kind and are understandably the more expensive items.
There are the more common weave designs but still difficult to make. I decided on this design, which was colorful, and perfect for our dining table. It ended up unfurled and displayed at our staircase. You can actually get half of the weave but given the significantly lower price of the item (compared to if you got them at a bazaar or trade fair), I got the whole item.
Other items you can purchase at the village as souvenirs are swords (kris), chests with pearl inlays, brass decors and wood carvings. There are antiques, too, but we opted not to take a look as we had limited time to purchase items before proceeding with our quick tour of the city.
The shops at the village provide excellent selections for customers. There are table runners, pillow covers, shawls, scarves, etc. of various sizes and designs. You can haggle prices but don't go so low as these are hand-made, authentic designs by a people who are proud of their work that you cannot get elsewhere just like weaves from other parts of Mindanao, the Visayas and the Cordilleras.
Here are more designs to choose from. One of my colleagues bought place mats for their dinner table. The lady bug pillow is not included in the items for sale. :)
I had a really difficult time choosing from among the items. I thanked the shopkeeper/owner for being patient with me.
Your budget is basically your limit if you come to the village to get some souvenirs. I promised to myself to return to Zamboanga soon and that is somewhat sure because of a couple of projects we are doing in the city. The next time would likely be with a few more friends in tow as some would like to just go there and enjoy the place.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Chocolate review: Los Lacayos Nougat

One of the highlights of my trip to Australia was going around a Saturday outdoor bazaar in Sydney. There, I spotted a stall where they were selling artisan chocolates. This attracted me and I struck up some small talk with the vendor, who explained their chocolates were all handmade and not the mass produced kind. I forgot to ask about the exact source(s) of the cacao but she did say it was fair trade beans. I got a few bars for 4 dollars each, just making sure I got only the dark chocolates instead of the milk chocolates. It didn't hurt that the packaging are quite attractive, too, as evidenced from this dark chocolate with nougat

The details are at the back of the package
The chocolate is produced by Cicada Artisan Chocolate and proudly made in Australia. They have a website that you can easily google for more information about their chocolates. This one claimed 70% single origin chocolate from Papua New Guinea. The chocolate itself was enjoyable and the nougat sandwiched by the chocolate gave you something to chew on especially if you stored the chocolate in the refrigerator for quite some time and ate it immediately after taking it out of the ref. My only regret is getting one bar to take back home. I probably should have bought at least two. :)


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Pangasinan souvenirs

A trip out of Manila would not be complete without getting pasalubong or souvenirs. We were early enough to reach the visitor center (pasalubong center) at Lingayen beach. You can have a snack or meal here as there is an eatery inside the center.

T-shirts are among the more popular souvenir items with designs featuring Pangasinan towns and attractions like Dagupan, Hundred Islands, etc.
There are many shops at the visitor center selling typical souvenirs like handicrafts, magnets, pins, mugs and others that might catch a tourist's fancy.
Locally-made crafts on display
Map of Pangasinan showing attractions and landmarks in each town
Items for sale include furniture like this chair and the bar set beside it.
More handicrafts at the visitor center
We got ourselves a few shirts and and refrigerator magnets to take home. There are many other items including bottled and dried food and preserves, vases, magazine racks, boxes, etc. that may be of interest to many other people. We thought the prices were okay and competitive compared to what you can get at other souvenir shops or even the market.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dagupan market

My recent trip to Dagupan City in Pangasinan Province allowed me to have some change in environment. It had been a while since I went out to do field work and I was looking forward to this trip since it had also been a long time that I had been in this part of the country. Dagupan is famous for seafood and particularly the bangus or milkfish that fishermen raise in the surrounding areas. Pangasinan is also visited by a lot of pilgrims particularly the town of Manauag, which is well known because of the image of Our Lady to whom many miracles have been attributed. The Shrine in Manauag, of course, deserves a separate post that I will likely write in November.

On our way back the day after our field work, we decided to go to the market to shop for seafood. There, I was able to take a few photos of shops and items I bought. My only regret was not being able to take a photo of the bangus (milkfish) at the market.

There were many shops selling dried seafood. I bought danggit, dulong, tuyo, squid and espada. It was definitely cheaper compared to prices in Metro Manila and these were not the salty kind.
A closer look at the different types (according to size) of dried squid
This shop sold kakanin or rice cakes. These are the famous puto Calasiao, which are supposed to originate from the next town but are also made and sold in Dagupan. Shown are two variants - the plain puto (steamed rice cakes) and the puto with cheese. These were being sold by the kilogram and I bought one kilo of each to bring home.
I forget what they called their version of suman, which was typically made of glutinous rice and coconut milk. The wrap is made of coconut leaves.
I enjoy going to the market every time I visit places like Dagupan. Markets are where you can get the best prices for local goods including food and souvenirs. I always get dried fish whenever I find these and coastal cities and towns definitely have seafood in abundance so you have a lot of variety, the quality is really good and the prices low.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Curiosities at a tollway stop - Part 2: old globes on bookends

The impending decision on the Philippines' rights to territories in the West Philippine Sea against China's claims based on their nine dash line invention brings to mind our interest (or fascination) with old maps. I bought a pair of bookends that immediately caught my attention at the antique shop at a tollway stop that I featured in a recent post. The following photos show these bookends each with a globe of what appears as old renderings of the world.

A pair of bookends I found at an antique store at a stop along NLEX
The items are in very good condition though they do look old. I like the details including the compass around each globe.
A closer look at the globes (they are identical) reveal Asia and where the Philippine Islands should be situated. Interestingly, China is marked as Tartaria on the globe, a clear reference to the Tartars and where dominion was according to whoever made the map.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Useful curiosities at a tollway stop

We start July with a post on a recent find I made along, of all places, an expressway. A recent trip to Bataan provided a pleasant surprise in terms of a store I found at one of the stops along the North Luzon Expressway. There is a shop selling antiques and a lot of other old (and used) items from the US, Japan and Europe. The information on the sources, of course, came from the shop keepers and later, from the proprietor/owner whom I met as we were about to leave the stop. I ended up purchasing several items including a set of cups with pewter holders, which I show in this post.

This immediate caught my attention as I browsed the cabinets full of coffee and tea sets as well as various mugs, glasses, bowls and plates.
The designs on the china are exquisite so you know this was finely made.
Even the handle on the pewter holder seem meticulously crafted.
The cups caught my attention among the many other cups, mugs, pots, glasses, plates and bowls in the shop. When I initially asked for the price of the five cup set, the shopkeeper couldn't give me one as she said it was a new item. Fortunately, I inquired about it before we had our meal at the restaurant nearby. When we did finish eating, I decided to cross over to what I thought was another, different shop from across the restaurant. It turned out to be an extension of the shop I earlier entered and there was the proprietor/owner who I casually engaged in conversation. I ended up asking about the cups and the shopkeeper eagerly brought it to us for the proprietor to give me a fair price for the cups. In a future post I will feature the other items I got from the shop.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fruits and vegetables shopping in Baguio

A trip to Baguio won't be complete without buying vegetables and fruits there. Baguio's location is very strategic as vegetables and fruits, primarily from the neighboring towns in Benguet Province pass through the city en route to other provinces and Metro Manila. Produce from neighboring provinces in the region (Cordillera Autonomous Region or CAR) and those in Regions 1 (Ilocos) and 2 (Cagayan) also find their way to Baguio where there is demand for them but with much less escalation in prices.

I used to go to the Baguio Public Market to get vegetables and fruits. But the last few trips I found it better not to brave the crowded market and purchase items instead from the roadside shops you will find along Marcos Highway. There are many farms along this major road and many of the shops are owned by farmers selling their own products. You can get veggies and fruits for significantly less than the prices in Metro Manila with less of the hassle when you shop at the market. And you get to buy directly from the farmers (hint: they have smaller shops along the road usually near their homes).

Roadside shops along Marcos Highway have all the vegetables and fruits you'll probably be buying for personal consumption or to give away as pasalubong to family and friends.
The produce at the shops seem to come straight out of the popular folk song "Bahay Kubo."
There are also other items on sale at these shops including the popular brooms. Most of these aren't made in Baguio though the city's name is on the brooms. There are also peanut brittle, strawberry jam, ube jam, chocolate crinkles and other stuff for those who want to do last minute souvenir shopping or perhaps add to the stash they already got earlier just so they're sure they have enough pasalubong.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chocolate review: Valrhona - Grands Crus, discovering a world of taste

The Clairvoyant chanced upon boxes of four bars of our favorite Valrhona chocolates during one of her travels abroad. I won't be describing each chocolate anymore as I have written about these in past articles.

Talk about chocolate overload!

Alpaco, Tainori, Caraibe and Manjari all in one pack
Information on each chocolate bar at the back of the package
Inside the box, there are colourful descriptions of each chocolate bar.
Close-up of the "jackets" holding Caraibe (roasted nuts) and Manjari (red fruits) chocolate bars. You can just slide one through one end.
Alpaco (white flowers) and Tainori (yellow fruits) chocolates with their respective descriptions.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Chocolate review: Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate

We have heard and read about Malagos chocolate and wondered where we can get get their single origin 65% dark chocolate from cacao grown in Davao. The first time I read about the chocolate was online and there was a list of stores where you could purchase a bar or more of the chocolate. None of the stores were near my office so I couldn't buy a bar and we couldn't sample this chocolate that we have been curious about for some time.

Fortunately, the wife had to get some pasalubong (souvenirs) that she could give out some to friends when she met them in a conference she attended last May. While looking for the good quality dried mangoes and some handicrafts, she chanced upon a store selling Malagos chocolate at Bonifacio Global City. Remembering that this was the chocolate we read about, she got a couple of bars that we could enjoy and another few bars that she could give away to friends.

Malagos single origin dark chocolate has 65% cacao. 

More information on the chocolate is at the back of the box.
Though I may appear biased, I would say that Malagos chocolate is the real deal when it comes to dark chocolate. We were pleasantly surprised on its smoothness. There is the hint of bitterness there that is usually associated with dark chocolates. This bitter taste can be overwhelming in other chocolates that are branded dark with at least 50% cacao (those with less than 50% are usually sweet and may not even have a hint of bitter in them). Malagos is definitely a refined chocolate and something you will be proud to give away to chocolate loving friends; especially those who are more picky about their chocolates. It is a chocolate bar you can give away to friends from other countries including (dare I say) those with excellent chocolates like the Belgians and Swiss. I hope the makers come up with other variants of their chocolate including something with higher cacao content. 

The price of a bar at the shop where my wife purchased the chocolate is 180 PhP. That's about the same price as the Chocolat Stella and Emergency chocolate bars I've written about recently. I think the price is relatively inexpensive for a high quality chocolate like Malagos and this is definitely value for money as I again dare say that the taste is right there with the Varhona's that I've also written about but are more on the expensive side.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tinukib Souvenir Center

En route to Iloilo City from the airport, I spotted a large building in the middle of a rice field along the city-bound direction of the national road. I noticed a sign indicating it was a souvenir center and I asked our driver about this. He mentioned to us that it was indeed a new souvenir and a one-stop shop where Ilonggo products were on display and for sale. The name of the souvenir center is Tinukib, an Ilonggo  or Hiligaynon word that translates into "discovery." While it is not yet at the level of the huge souvenir centers in Bangkok, Bali and other cities, it is a good idea and set-up for the province and especially the  town of Pavia, which is strategically located between the airport and the city.

Tinukib features a wide range of Ilonggo products including furnitures and fabrics
These lamps including those made with capiz shells are of the highest quality. The dolls in the boxes are Dinagyang dolls celebrating the annual festival held in the city.
Hand-made products like picture frames, book stands, coasters and pen holders are popular souvenirs.
There are other items, big and small, at the center including the usual bags, key chains and shirts.
I think the best items here are those made of fabric, particularly pinya (pineapple fiber) and hablon (jusi or banana fiber), which the province takes pride in producing.  I myself prefer these fabrics for my formal wear (Barong Tagalog) and I wore pineapple fiber barong for my wedding and other formal functions that I have attended. In the photo is a hablon dress and in the background are table runners, shawls, scarves, handkerchiefs and other items made from hablon.
Hablon weave on display at the pasalubong center. Hablon is also the preferred fabric for the sablay or sash used by the University of the Philippines for formal functions (e.g., graduation ceremonies). These are manufactured exclusively in Iloilo City and distributed by the UP Alumni Association.
They have ready-to-wear barong made of pinya, hablon or a combination. There are not much to choose from, however, and Tinukib staff would recommend a visit instead to a shop in Arevalo specializing in these fabrics.