Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Excellent in-room dining at Shangri-la Mactan

Whenever we stay at hotels with our daughter these days, we try to simplify our choices for where to eat our meals. Often, we just opt to order room service considering the servings are often generous enough for the three of us. It helped that we also usually had some food leftover from a previous meal or that we bought something heavy enough as a meal or supplement.

Recently, we had a vacation in Cebu and stayed at the Shangrila Mactan. We again ended up ordering via room service and consulted the menu for what our daughter would likely enjoy eating. We also chose some items we thought were okay based on the marks indicating they were specialties of the chef. We were not disappointed with what arrived at our room and had really good meals in the comfort of our room. That way, we could also recover after a entire day's activities; mostly at the beach and the pools, which our daughter enjoyed thoroughly. Here are some photos of the food we ordered, which we took for posterity (read: so we know what to order next time).

Ham and cheese panini
Spaghetti bolognese
Pancit canton
Salt and pepper squid - the menu indicates it as a specialty of the chef
Their bolognese is the best if not one of the best we've tasted and the salt and pepper squid on top of salad of greens was definitely special. We definitely recommend them should one decide to go for room service.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Chi Spa at Shangri-la Mactan

It seemed appropriate to celebrate Labor Day by writing about something we like to have at the end of some busy days (even weeks or months sometimes). We love having massages and used to go regularly to a spa along Katipunan Avenue. That spa closed many years ago despite what seemed like good business they were getting. It was a legit one and not like others that provide "special" services that's associated with the more sleazy establishments.

I usually have massages when I travel and have them at the hotel where it is most convenient. Our favorites when the wife and I do have the chance when traveling or 'staycationing' together is at the better hotels that have fine spas as part of their facilities. Those include Sofitel and Marriott Hotels.

I first learned about the Chi Spa from the wife. Later, I learned more about it as I read reviews and so I looked forward to having a massage there. I did have one early this year, an early birthday present from the Clairvoyant when we stayed at the Shangrila Edsa Plaza. On vacation with our daughter last April, we decided to have our massages at the Chi Spa at Shangrila Mactan. We were not disappointed with the

Gateway along the path from the main wing of Shangrila Mactan
A view of the entrance leading to the Chi Spa's main lobby
The spa is practically a compound within the expansive Shangrila Mactan grounds. You get your treatments at one of the cottages in the compound. And there are a lot of facilities for one to use including the sauna and the jacuzzi. Of course, treatments at Chi Spa are on the more expensive side but I would say that it was well worth what we paid. The services and facilities are excellent, and the staff are very professional about their work. I am already looking forward to the next vacation at Shangrila Mactan.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunrise in Mactan, Cebu

I have posted a lot of photos of sunrises and sunsets in this blog and on social media. Among my favorites are the sunsets in Panglao, Bohol and Puerto Princesa, Palawan and the sunrises in Tagaytay, Cavite. Of course there are the sunsets over Metro Manila that we have had the chance to take photos of on many occasions from on top of the highest point in our village.

On a very recent trip to Cebu where went on vacation, I noticed for a couple of mornings that the sun rose early and the hues from our room indicated how beautiful they were. Unfortunately, I was still sleepy or too lazy to get up and capture the scenes. On our last morning in Mactan, Cebu, I made sure I would be up early to see the magnificent sunrise from our hotel room. We didn't have professional cameras but our smart phones did a great job capturing the following images. These have not been filtered or altered or enhanced in any way. I guess with such beauty you can't really go wrong with any camera? 

Here are three photos of the sunrise from Mactan, Cebu taken before 6:00 AM and only minutes apart:


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Baguio Cathedral

I make it a point to visit the church in the cities I go to especially when it is my first time there. I did this with my first trips out of Manila, including Baguio and Cebu in 1995 but with the exception of Bacolod and Tagbilaran when I had quick trips there back in 1996.

Approaching the cathedral after going around via Session Road. You can actually see the cathedral from afar as it is still a prominent landmark in the city cum mountain scape. Unfortunately, a huge mall now is the more dominant landmark from afar and the surrounding mountains are now full of houses.
The interior of the cathedral is basically according to how I remember it. The stained glass windows are impressive and look well preserved. There has been no major earthquake to affect the city since the 1990 big one that destroyed much of the city.
Baguio's Roman Catholic Cathedral is located on top of a hill near Session Road.
A view of the interior from the main door reveals a long aisle (I guess nice for brides marching on their wedding days) towards the altar.
A view of the cathedral as we leave to go back to our hotel. This was taken as an opportunistic shot while our vehicle was turning towards Session Road.
It rained just after we alighted from our vehicle to go into the church and the drizzle continued until just before we left. We liked to think the rains were blessings and we were very thankful for this family trip and that Baguio and its attractions weren't as crowded as we thought (or read about) it would be. We were actually lucky that the weather also cooperated and we were able to get enough sun to go around Baguio and La Trinidad. We enjoyed the cool climate (Our daughter was very happy and was in her element the whole time.) and the good food. We should be back sometime in the future but hopefully the city won't deteriorate further.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Palawan sunrise

I was in Palawan for a few days and our room had one of the best views of sunrises. Our hotel faced the east and had an unimpeded view of the Sulu Sea. It was perfect for catching the sunrise every morning. I am a morning person and an early riser so I made sure I got a few good shots of the sunrise after our first night in Puerto Princesa. I chose three to share in this post. All these were taken using a BlackBerry Bold camera.

5:35 AM
5:38 AM
5:58 AM
Next up: Beachscapes

Friday, November 1, 2013

What sabbatical?

Relatives and friends always ask me what I'm doing during my sabbatical and I reply that I'm involved in some projects here and there. Of course, it's not really so much as a here and there as I spent a lot of time at our center instead of away from it. I was very much accessible for relatives, friends and colleagues during the last year. I didn't go out of the country or out of town for long periods of time as I had planned the year before when the Clairvoyant was still working in Singapore and we had our nice little home somewhere in Chuan Park. 

She came back to Manila months before I started my sabbatical and we indulged in other, more important projects. Unfortunately, the most important project of all didn't bear fruit but that is a continuing endeavor and despite all odds, I still believe we'll succeed somehow. The next big project is one that's been delayed but for our limited resources. Despite being professionals we weren't as well compensated as others nor do we come from wealthy families who can help us out with things like putting up a new home. This we resolved to do as we experienced another deluge right after the wife returned home. The importance of this second project was reinforced by another flood a few months ago. Then, of course, there is the prospect of an earthquake sometime in the future...and we wanted to have a safe, secure home where we could also live happily ever after.

I am thankful for the year off teaching and the schedules that go with it as well as admin work at the college, the institute and our center. The flexibility in my schedule, however, allowed me to take on bigger and more relevant projects. These included two local projects with an international agency, one international research with well known institutes, and a few smaller ones with my colleagues at the center. These were all very interesting projects that I chose to take on because they were not just important for me but also were important from a larger perspective, that of the country. At this point in my life and career and during this sabbatical, I felt I had to choose my projects carefully and not just take on anything that comes my way. Of course it helped that I was able to travel abroad and in the Philippines in connection with these projects. The travels afforded me the chance to make some sentimental trips to old haunts and I got to meet new people and strengthen old friendships.

I now look forward to teaching again at the university and perhaps at a more relaxed pace. There will be research, extension and admin work just like before but I will be looking at these challenges and applying my own style of time management so I can enjoy life. It's perhaps my way of getting out of the proverbial rat race.

And definitely, I'm already looking to the next sabbatical...


Monday, May 28, 2012

Dinner at Cafe Lawis

We had an early dinner at Cafe Lawis, which is just across from Dauis Church in Bohol. The cafe was highly recommended by friends and we just had to try it out on our first day of our recent vacation in Bohol. We arrived at Dauis Church just at sunset and were rewarded with a great view from the pier behind the church complex. (I will feature photos of the sunset in another post.) Meanwhile, following are a few photos we took at Cafe Lawis. We weren't so hungry as we had a hearty meal at NAIA Terminal 3 prior to our flight so we just tried their chicken roulade and calamares, and had very refreshing dalandan juice and lemongrass drink. They also had pasta and paninis for those who prefer to take a break from rice meals. However, what we really wanted to try was their souffles, which were also highly recommended. We were not disappointed with our meals and we were tremendously satisfied with their chocolate souffle, which we were advised took 30 minutes or so to prepare. It's probably the best chocolate souffle we've taste and we have tasted not a few of these in our travels.

Marker near the door in front of the building housing the cafe and souvenir shop at Dauis Church. The building used to be a convent and part of what is a complex. 
I took a photo of the Clairvoyant with the centuries old Mariveles tree that provides a canopy over the outdoor tables of the cafe. There are actually two areas under two trees (there was a smaller Mariveles) where receptions are also probably held after weddings at the picturesque Dauis Church. 
The Clairvoyant took a photo of me with the lights of Tagbilaran in the background across from the strait between Panglao and Bohol Islands. The other tables were already reserved for large groups.
Waiting for our dinner with the dark courtyard in the background
Lanterns hanging from the giant Mariveles tree
Carafes of dalandan and lemon grass juices
Chicken roulade
Delectable calamares
Best chocolate souffle! The ice cream is just a bonus for what we thought was the best souffle we've tasted and the perfect cap to our delicious dinner.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Melaka central bus terminal

Trips between Singapore and Malaysia are quite frequent given the proximity between the two countries (Singapore used to be part of Malaysia.) with a lot of people employed just across the borders and Malaysia being a popular destination for shopping and recreation. In fact, the first Premium Outlet in Asia is located in Johor, Malaysia, which is just across the border from Singapore. On a weekend trip to Melaka (Malacca), we took an express bus that made only 3 stopovers including one each for immigration control/processing in Singapore (exit) and Malaysia (entry). On the way back, we only had an extra stopover due to a fellow passenger requesting for a toilet break.

Arriving at Melaka, I was impressed with the central bus terminal, a sprawling complex that connected with commercial establishments around it. Inside the terminal, there are many shops and restaurants so one doesn't need to leave the terminal to eat or to make some last minute shopping. Good buys are rubber sandals much like those being sold under Brazilian brands. Malaysia is a major producer of rubber and the sandals made in Malaysia are of high quality but less expensive than the Brazilian and perhaps Chinese counterparts.

Terminal building and parking
A look at the spacious parking area around the terminal
Directional sign to guide visitors (probably sponsored by the emporium indicated at the bottom)
Pedestrian overpass for people crossing the busy highway in front of the terminal
There are many restaurants and shops inside the terminal, which is by itself a commercial establishment.
Hotel/accommodations information for travelers are posted at the terminal
The different bus companies operating out of the terminal have their booths were travelers may buy/reserve tickets.
The ticketing area is spacious and there were no long lines, in part due to the availability of online (internet) ticket purchases. Seating is not free for all so travelers need to reserve or purchase tickets ahead of travel in order to get good schedules and seats.
One can purchase tickets to any point in Malaysia (local long distance trips) and Singapore (another country) is among the most popular destinations. Schedules and fares are posted for information of travelers.
There are many choices among the bus companies but I would strongly recommend Starmart Express buses when traveling between Singapore and Malaysia. They provide excellent service and have well-maintained buses. One can purchase tickets online and claim these at their booths/stations.
Interactive information screen at the terminal
Static information board for the locations of bus company booths at the terminal
Travelers lining up before a booth to purchase tickets
Buses berthed at the terminal departure area
Typical long distance limousine bus plying routes between Malaysia and Singapore
The central bus terminal at Melaka is a good example of terminal design for long distance buses. Such concepts are also found in the Philippines but with some significant variations in the design. Among the notables are the terminals in Mabalacat (Pampanga), Lucena (Quezon) and Legazpi City (Albay) in Luzon. Other terminals in the Philippines are not good examples in the sense that many are not developed or well-planned, many without the amenities or features of a modern terminal. Perhaps local and international examples of terminals should serve as templates for central terminal development in the Philippines including those being conceptualized for Metro Manila.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 7: The River

The Melaka River is a navigable body of water that exits unto the Strait of Malacca, which is between the Malaysian Peninsula and Indonesia's Sumatra. The river is clean and, unlike Manila's Pasig River, does not stink. We were unable to take the river ferry tour that started and ended from the terminal near the Casa Del Rio and beside the Maritime Museum but judging from the many tourists taking the tour and the reviews online, it is something that we should try on our next trip to Melaka.

River ferries for tourists
Calm waters in the early morning
Posing at the bridge to central Melaka with part of Christ Church in the background (red building)

The view from the bridge
Houses and commercial establishments along the river
Side street between rows of houses - a peek at a typical neighborhood in a heritage city that is so alive

A confusion of signposts and other installations?
Promenade along a row of bars and restaurants on the east bank of the river
The promenade has two levels - one along the buildings (left), and another lower and probably used by people using it as a dock for river transport. There are plants to provide accent and there are lamps to provide ample illumination at night.
More houses along the west bank of the river. I assume the property prices along this row is quite high given the value of the land is influenced by the good environment and its proximity to the heritage attractions of Melaka.
Posing along the promenade of the river
Take 2 along the promenade
The Clairvoyant also got a souvenir shot along the promenade
With the bridge in the background, we noted the dock for small boats (perhaps bancas?)
My turn
Where passengers of small craft probably used to board and alight from their version of bancas...
This tree beside the bridge had a curious form
Old buildings housing an inn and a few bars/restaurants

Old buildings along the river and near the bridge
The Casa del Rio from across the river - the hotel is an old warehouse that was renovated and remodeled into perhaps the best hotel in the city
Walking along the east bank promenade that is also currently being developed, the sun was up and bright that morning so the shades were essential. Yes, that's a giant waterwheel in the background.
It felt uncomfortable for me to wear my sunglasses so I decided against using them for the photo ops