Sunday, May 27, 2012

More of Little India

I thought a glimpse of Little India would spice daughter's first taste of Singapore, also we needed to buy her lil' sis a gadget which a friend suggested to buy somewhere here cos its cheaper. I also thought my previous visit of this ethnic neighborhood was still fresh  ( here ), so I went out of my comfort zone ( of always accompanied by my Sg expat/host best friend ) to commute alone with my daughter.

From Bukit Timah ( where we stayed at my friend's residence ), we took a train at Sg Botanical Gardens' MRT station and alighted at the station in Little India.

The quaint commercial buildings and the faces of the pedestrians confirmed that so far we weren't not yet lost, haha.

So we started our little walking tour of Little India but had to run for roofs when the bright hot sky drizzled some rain out of nowhere.

Which I guess what brought us to some outskirts of the neighborhood. In good fate actually, cos we were able to see more of this district than I did last year.

shining.shimmering... flabby arms :)))


leis.everywhere, haha.


If only we had more time, I'd like to try this resto which looked like serving authentic Indian cuisine. I peeked inside and it was jampacked with locals and tourists. It was with regret that we hadn't.

This was not the resto I was talking about above. I wonder if this is the same Banana Leaf here in Manila.

Daughter found this pink vendo machine so vintage-y cutee. She said the last time she saw a vendo in our country was in a hospital lobby.

We passed by a Hindu temple with full of devotees inside. At this point we realized, we were lost!!! haha. I had to approach a local in the street and asked what mall in this area that sells iPod?

We were pointed to go to Sim Lim Square which was at the main road. So we walked out of the outskirst and went across the massive main road.

There were serious road constructions going on. On the way there, daughter couldn't help but take a photo of a building with Lassale (College of Arts) name on it.

Until we found our way to Sim Lim Square.

It's a five storey gadgets mall. Cameras, phones, ipods. .anything mobile and current gadgets could be bought there. We stepped-out of the mall as quickly as we stepped-in, without a single purchase. Daughter and I felt overwhelmed by the massive selections and intimidated by the aggressive local male vendors of the shops.
That ended our Little India walk. After which we went straight to the China Town here and here.

ps :

Later that same day was our departure from Sg, bak to my beloved country. In the airport, I looked around at the Duty Free shops and luckily...

we found a shop that had Sony Walkman in the shelves, exactly what my youngest daughter (at home) was asking for a take home from Singapore. 

I took out every single Sg dollar left in my wallet and bought it. Daughter was ecstatic when she received it.


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bellevue Hotel Manila

I wasn't so happy about my check-in experience with Acasia Hotel Manila so I was so keen not to go through the same with Bellevue Hotel Manila (both hotels located in Alabang). I called an hour (2pm) ahead of the regular check-in time which is at 3pm (most hotels are at 2pm even) to confirm the reservation I made months ago. I was replied positively and was informed that a room was already waiting for me. Reiterating that my early check-in request was granted.

Past 10 minutes of 3pm (I intentionally came a tad late to avoid another waiting scene), I was at the front desk of the hotel to check-in, only to spend almost an hour waiting in the lobby for a room. wtf! The staff told me that the room wasn't ready and had to be prepared yet.
Check-outs are at 12nn, check-ins at 3pm. 
Need I elaborate more?
Frowns. more frowns at the lobby :(

After 48 years, at around 4pm, the staff approached me apologetically and handed me the key card to my room. wtf! See how I aged waiting? Like another ten years were added on my face.
I hate inconsistencies. I hate waiting. I hate unhappy beginnings.

dear front office/reception.
the check-in experience sets the meter of your accommodation  it also initiates the mood of the guest for the duration of his stay. it's very important to do it fairly and prompt as it builds the first impression which usually lasts and would surely travel the net, especially when your guest blogs.
yours truly,
unknown diva

Anyway, up in 12th floor, this was my deluxe room. Biased to my initial experience of the hotel, I didn't like the room. It looked tired. Furniture and appliances were outdated. Particularly the television. And the smell. . so old and unpleasant. I suddenly missed the state of the art room of Acasia Hotel.

Those were the beds. To be fair, I have to mention thu', that this was at the main (old) wing of the hotel. Apparently, the hotel has a new tower wing which I really thought was what Bellevue  all about.

Had I known it, I would have had stayed at the new wing. Although accessible to each other, the two wings have separate everything. Like, restaurants, check-in lobbies, gyms, pools,etc. Given that the new tower wing has newer facilities, expect that it has a higher room rates. Before this, the only glimpse I had of this hotel was when we had drinks at the Vue Bar (see here) which was located at the tower wing. I didn't know that there were old and new towers.

I had to ask for extra key card cos they only gave me one. hello, you meant my companion had to endure powerless room every time I (vice versa) went out of the room? Cos I needed to bring the key card with me to use the key card secured elevators of the hotel. wt#?

The short foyer of the room. Adjacent to each other were the bathroom to the right and a kitchenette bar to the left. After the entrance door was the closet.

In fairness, it had everything_ safety deposit box, iron & board, hair dryer, flashlight, robes, slippers. .

The bathroom was nice with generous supplies but the towels were tired (they look otherwise in these photos) and didn't smell fresh at all. I think the hotel has to update their laundry service. I mean the linens (towels, bed's) didn't exactly smell 5 star.

I appreciated that there was a kitchen bar. It had a fully stocked ref which as usual we refrain to consume anything from there, haha. The littering was on us. When we stay in a hotel, more often than not, we would buy foods outside. Especially, when it's 5 star with expensive dining outlets which we could hardly afford. 

The usual complimentary coffee and tea facility.

It helped that Shopwise was just across the road. I love to munch fruits and bought some..

. . plus the hotel sent a complimentary small fruit plate, thank you.

Well, in the end_ it was actually a nice stay. We had fun at the gym and the pool was okey. The free room wifi was generous too as it could serve up to two devices. The check-out was smooth and easy.
The breakfast buffet was great. See now at My 3rd & 7th Sense.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Poolsides of Acasia & Bellevue

Almost at the last lap of summer holiday here at P.I., in spite of occurrence of  daily short drizzles, it's still majorly crazy hot around here. My girls ( about to go back to school in a week from now ) haven't noticed it yet, ( thankyou:) but this is one summer that we haven't gone to the beach. The no-beach-summer is actually intentional. Adding to the fact that everything's quite costly cos it's peak season, I also have to conquer the following : crowded beaches, fully booked hotels & resorts and massive traffics or worst_ local budget airlines issues. .all those just to spend a day to three in a beach. wtf!
So I went for the best next thing (for me) _ nearby hotels with pool that we could chill-in just the same, sans the tedious flight/drive, suffocating crowds and quite lighter in the wallet too.

If you're a condo resident, for sure you can't appreciate another pool in another building. Go, conquer the beach!.. but if you're like me who is landed in a village w/o swimming pool, this would be just right during the hottest season of the year.
Actually, I had it covered months ago, back to the travel expo I visited in Feb. this year. I was able to book early and paid like 50%++ off the published rate. That's one of the perks of planning ahead :D
I was glad that we didn't have to go far. Practically within the neighborhood, in Alabang there were two 5stars hotels that I had my eyes on :

1). Acasia Hotel Manila. The newest hotel in this side of Manila, was so nice that facilities still smelled brand new.

Nestling on the third floor of the hotel, the pool was far from grand, if anything_ actually was small. Nevertheless, I liked it that everything was spic & span. New = uncrowded. It was like we rented the place privately. loveth! Service was also efficient and warm. Complimentary drinks were served bottomless. So generous! I also loved the quality brand new bath towels. We really had fun.
* see the rest of the hotel  here and here and a bit of it also here *

2). The Bellevue Manila. Relatively old, I don't know how old. Maybe a hundred years old, if I have to base it to the smell of their bath towels, haha. Seriously, not that long. The hotel has actually a new tower wing but we stayed at the main wing only because I didn't get it that it has new building as option to stay. Thu' given that the new tower wing rooms are few peso more costly, had I known it, I would still opt to stay in a newer room.

Also on the 3rd floor of the hotel (why always on the 3rd?), the pool of the main wing of Bellevue was a bit bigger compared to Acasia's pool. It was also busy and more crowded than the latter. We wanted to swim the first day but the pool was crowded. There were also lots of guests dining/drinking in the area. The following morning was not that crowded. .

. . yet my girls thought the water was too cold, might be cos the prev night rain so they decided not to take a dip. They just camwhore the whole time in the lounging chairs around the pool.

That left just me and husband in the water. But not for long. In a short while guests flooded in the pool which we were not happy about and cut our swim.
* see the rest of Bellevue Hotel here*

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Missing Pahiyas

Today is the 15th of May, it's the Pahiyas sa Quezon. No, I didn't go there today. The last time I enjoyed the festival was in 2010. Although the town of Lucban in Quezon province would only take a 2.5 to 3 hours road trip from Manila, the festival has grown so much popular that going there on the day itself is a traffic struggle. Sure there's the option of booking a place to stay, but that too is tiresome. If you would stay inside the town, you have to make your reservations like 6 months or earlier to get a proper accommodation. It's not anymore like before when we thought of Pahiyas and would like to join the feast, we just drove-in hassles free. I actually miss this rustic festival which is one of my favorites here in our country.
For now you could join me, look back to the Pahiyas-es I had been :

See you in the future Pahiyas :D
Happy Pahiyas to Lucban Quezon !!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pinagbanderahan Peak

Finally after more than 30 minutes from Cueba Santa, with more challenging trail than the latter, we reached the Pinagbanderahan Peak. It's 2000 ft. above sea level, nestles on top of the zigzag road in Atimonan Quezon. The name " Pinagbanderahan "  literally means where the flag was hoisted. Two flags had been raised here ( Japanese and American ) before our Philippine flag reclaimed it in 1946.

The views here were amazing, at this point thu', I was reflecting the challenging trails we had just gone through to reach this peak (from the bottom a 1 hour hike, but if you're like us who stopped for photo ops more often than necessary, 1 hour was a lie:)), and that same difficult route we needed to go through again in a matter of minutes. haaay. .

r e w i n d : 

Remember, in the first phase of this trek I had introduced you to Alvin  our trekker guide. We kindah treated this trek as "follow the leader.

I followed and imitated how Alvin attacked the trail. .

the faces of sweating, uncertainties and wt#mom!!!haha.

My family followed and did as I said, haha.

ahh.. water breaks were rare treats in this side of the universe...

This was the semi-final water break cos in just a  jump we were about to reach the peak. To get up to the peak  thu', we needed to get down a little first.

Not as easy as sounded there thu'. .

Aside from Alvin, gravity ( to the ground we were stepping on, not the ground below out there) was the next best ally we had to survive this descending challenge. And yes those trees on the side were helpful too as they served as our handrails.

stairways to heaven

And I thought it was the last lap, but why was that it seemed like an infinite ascend?. .

Right on cue, as if the goddess of this mountain had heard my impatience, she did give us a teaser of what to come. .

I know, this shot is not enough to justify the ahhs and wows we had of this sight. but believe me, right up there it was a breathtaking view.

Until, we reached the real thing.  . the peak of Pinagbanderahan.

Worth the pains, don't you think so?

presenting _ the Avengers !!!

 Now the Avengers had to go back down the earth. .

And no, I didn't promise that getting down was a lot easier than getting up. Both were challenging to the highest peak.

We exited in the old road ( we entered the trail here ) which used to be the only way to enter the trail before.

I'm happy to report that out of the whole trek, we only had one casualty _ the half pair of husband slippers, haha.

-the end-