Thursday, March 30, 2017

How Travel Changed My Life

One of friends showed me the post about Traveloka’s blogger contest and I was like, “No way.” And he asked, “Why not? You’ve been doing that for years.” I thought it over and here I am, finally creating this post.

Travelling is not only my vice and my hobby; it has also brought out the storyteller and writer in me. As time passed and through constant blog updates, I’ve found my voice and I’ve become more comfortable in sharing my thoughts and experiences with other people. So now, join me as I look back on some of my travels alongside the learnings I got from each.

This was the place where I got bitten by the travel bug. That time when I was looking at the waves, feeling the strong wind with the windmills at the background was that moment when I decided that I want to travel more. Cliché as this may sound but I started structuring my life around the possibility of going places because of that Ilocos trip. Why? Simply because it made me feel that I can. 

When a friend told me that we should go out of the country, it sounded overwhelming because of the cost but we wanted to make it work nonetheless. We broke the expenses down into small amounts over a course of six months. I liked how my thoughts shifted from I can’t afford that to how can I afford that. I had to re-evaluate my spending habit and remove the unnecessary purchases to gather enough funds. Small steps but a sure way of eventually getting there. 

Believe it or not, I used to dislike talking to strangers and asking for help. Things changed after my first out of the country trip though. In Malaysia where there is language barrier and we didn’t have internet the whole time, I was forced to ask. I didn’t notice until one of my friends pointed it out but I am now the one suggesting that we ask around if we’re in an unfamiliar place. I gradually became more comfortable in reaching out to people. I realized that it’s okay to ask someone rather than try to figure out everything on my own. 

My life’s second mountain and my favorite sunrise. I am not on the healthy side thus it was a struggle for me to get to the summit. Many times, during that night trek, I wanted to give up but the voice in my head saying that I’ll regret it if I won’t be able to make it on top kept pushing me. I have this picture in my wallet since that day. Displayed it so I am always reminded that if I have a clear picture of my goal, I must withstand all the hardships that come with it. Life, like the trek, isn’t an easy path but I need to go through everything to get where I want to be.

It’s not all the time that things will work out the way we went them to but it’s up to us how to react so we can make the best out of the situation we have. Something unfortunate happened while we were on our way back to Puerto Princesa from El Nido. I wasn’t someone independent enough to consider solo travelling but I had to join the tour alone. It was uncomfortable at first but it felt great and fulfilling at the end of the day. Something I’m looking forward to doing again except the accident, of course.

The humongous canyons and mountains in Zion that took millions of years to form grounded me in the most breathtaking way possible. When I was out there, I felt smaller yet going to farther places felt more possible than ever.

The world is huge and my reality isn’t everyone else’s and I have acknowledged that. After witnessing drastic cultural differences in Las Vegas, I became more open-minded. Whether we feel it or not, our experiences and the people we are to meet will all have an influence on the kind of person we are becoming. 

During my first few days in USA, an American told me, “Here in America, if you like something, say it.” Growing up in a country where we usually get embarrassed to say what we want, that was unusual. Then, I thought that I’ve got nothing to lose since I wanted to maximize my stay. I exhausted all resources with a level of assertiveness that was surprising even for myself but in return, I had visited four states. I went home more resourceful, persuasive and self-confident but my favorite is the acceptance that I can't always please everyone and I don't have to. All I can do is to be grateful for those people who choose to believe and support me.

I can think of a lot more things to share but it all boils down to the fact that, the only constant thing in this world is change. If we make it a point to occasionally go out of our comfort zones and be comfortable with the uncomfortable then we’ll be able to learn something new and change naturally comes after it. 

It’s easy to get jaded and it’s tempting to seek new landscapes with the drudgery of everyday but maybe it’s not always about the new stuff. That during this “boring” part right here, we just need a fresher perspective. Yes, the trick is to consistently see old and familiar places with new set of eyes.

Like the picture above where I seem to be walking towards the unknown with my Vigan backpack, I will unfailingly remember that “I can” moment in Ilocos when facing the uncertainty of life. 

For my next travels, may they be in the Philippines or anywhere in the world, I’m happily and excitedly on my way. #TravelokaPH #WhyITravel #TravelokaStories.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Genki Sushi, UPTC

Shawarma Bros and Genki Sushi both have branches in BGC Stopover and they've now gone North. I really appreciate restaurants from the South branching out here in Quezon City especially in UPTC because that's where I find myself going more these days. 

This can be found in the ground floor of UPTC's phase two where Shakeaway is.

The way of ordering in Genki Sushi is thru an ipad. Choices are printed out and are also found in the ipad. Don't worry though 'cause the crew will be there to guide you if you're a first-timer.

This is my favorite part of Genki Sushi. HAHAHA! 

That's unlimited matcha right there. :))

They have complimentary matcha powder and hot water in each table. As per the crew's instructions, the normal scoop of matcha is just two to three per cup. I'm not normal so I made mine with five to six scoops each. Haha! Seriously though, I hope they sell their matcha powder. :)))) You have an avid buyer in me, Genki Sushi!

The orders will be delivered via these little trains. 

The way of ordering and delivering is actually the main reason why we wanted to try this out but their food is equally worth the reason why Genki Sushi's a must try. 

Our orders cost us around P 900.00 and only two of us ate everything. We have big appetite so I can't say if you'll be able to eat this much too for a meal. HAHAHA. 

Will I consider going back in Genki Sushi?

Of course! I have yet to taste their matcha ice cream. :( I was saving space back then for Manila Creamery's Matcha Taho so I skipped having the green tea ice cream even if I almost grabbed the order of the people seated next to us when their ice cream passed by. :)))

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Korean J Grill, Tomas Morato, Quezon City

My friends and I went to Tomas Morato for a Japanese dessert shop but we decided to eat dinner first. I searched the internet for the nearest Korean Restaurant in the area except for Hwaroro and Hanayo since the last two are buffets. 

Aside from grilled meats, they have ala carte items and shabu-shabu as well. 

I don't know what this soup is called but it's refreshing to have this alternately eaten with Kimchi Chigae. Gosh, why can't I eat spicy food?!

Banchan are okay. Not a lot but okay. Nah, I just wanted a myeolchi bokkeum hahaha but the side dishes are fine. 

First time eating in a Korean Restaurant where there's scrambled egg on the grill. 

I also liked the sweet potato. hehe. There were only two pork slices for an order of one samgyeopsal.
It was the waitress who grilled the slices for us so that's a plus. 

Kimchi Chigae

We had this made as mild but it was still spicy for me that I had to order a cup of rice just to enjoy eating this. :)) It was good though just that I prefer to taste spiciness and sourness in my kimchi chigae. Ayoko ng anghang lang. Pero Korean eh. hehe



Okay, even with the lack of description for each food item above since this is delayed for more than a month, I think Korean J Grill is one of the "okay" restaurants in Tomas Morato. I have visited two more within the area but they didn't make it to the blogosphere. lol.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shonan Tei Japanese Restaurant, Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City

Ay grabe, Tandang Sora Vicinity! Punong-puno na po tayo ng restaurants and food parks, pansin ko lang. Lakas maka-baboy, life!

I've been seeing this small Japanese Restaurant along Mindanao Avenue, Quezon City named Shonan Tei for months but it was only recently that we went there and tried eating. I wasn't able to search online about their menu and all so everything was a surprise. Sarap naman and affordable, pwede na especially 'cause the servings are generous. 

Tori Karaage

Deep Fried Japanese Style Fried Chicken Fillet
P 200.00

Skin was crunchy, the meat was tender. It might be me and my safe food choices but this is the best for me out of all the food we ordered that night. 

P 220.00

Potato Korokke
P 150.00

Japanese version of croquette.

P 50.00/stick

Grilled Chicken Thigh with Grilled Sweet Garlic 

These has to be the sweetest garlic I've tasted. 

P 220.00

Somen Cold
P 200.00

White thin noodles dipped in soy sauce

It's their version of Korea's Naengmyeon. The only reason why I ordered this Somen Cold is because of the video I saw years back when the noodles are passed through a bamboo and it's up to the eater to catch using chopsticks. I don't think it's for everyone though 'cause no one else in my family liked it. haha! It's probably because I've been exposed to Naengmyeon before that I enjoyed this. 

Operating Hours:
5PM - 1AM
863 Mindanao Avenue, Bahay Toro, Project 8, Quezon City

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Xiao Nan Men Taiwanese Restaurant, Z Mall, Banawe

Given the many options of Chinese food in Banawe, Quezon City, one would really find it hard to decide which place to eat - one I can recommend is Xiao Nan Men in Z Mall. 

King Fish in Mango Chili Sauce

I found this refreshing probably because of the mango in the sauce rather than the usual sweet and sour. 

Deep Fried Stinky Tofu

I didn't know that this dish's name is Stinky Tofu 'cause I was only told that this one's tofu. I immediately reached out and got a slice only to find out that this food is an acquired taste. As in. don't get me wrong, this must be delicious for other people (I heard it's a popular snack in Taiwan) but the taste and the small is certainly not for me. 

For this, the stinkier, the tastier.

Stir Fried Taiwanese Sausage

You can't really go wrong with slices of sausage. I like that this isn't that sweet. 

Three Cups Chicken

Chicken slices in black sauce with mushroom and garlic. 

Sliced Beef Fried Rice with Bell Pepper

Ito 'yung sinasabing, "kanin lang, ulam na."

Scrambled Egg with Special Sauce

This is their version of omelette. I like the topping it has, it compliments the beef fried rice. 

I wasn't able to get the names of the dimsums below

Buttered Chicken

Reminded me of Baguio's Good Taste

Thank you, Xiao Nan Men and Aldous! :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Royce Nama Chocolates, Eastwood

Aside from the chocolate dipped potato chips, I never really had the chance to try Royce's chocolate despite seeing it all the time whenever I'm in Trinoma.

Not until they held this raffle that for every 3,000 php spent is a possible to ticket to Japan. haha! We joined. :)) And hence, these chocolates. 

Forget the other two 'cause albeit not being matcha, this is the star of the purchase.

Champagne Pierre Mignon 

Definitely of the best quality that we (four) finished this one seating despite the constant reminder that a small box costs almost P 700.00 HAHAHA

You can smell the scent of the champagne in each bar. This is the only time I enjoyed chocolate infused liquor. Kind of reminded me of my favorite Dove chocolate from the states because they're both melt in your mouth though this is much creamier and with a more velvety texture.

I would have really liked it have we won the raffle, universe so I can stuff my mouth with all the nama chocolates especially the matcha one which, heartbreakingly, is not available in the Philippines.

Come on, Royce Philippines!! Bring the treasure here! :))

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Agico Vegetarian Cafe, Araullo Street

Healthy just got delicious. 

Excited to share with you my first vegetarian cafe experience. 

I was in Cebu with an unstable internet connection when Aldous texted me that we'll have an event in Agico Cafe so I was like, "Okay, I'll be there." without searching what their offerings are. I don't frequent San Juan area 'cause it's either I'm in Quezon City or far South in Pasay or Taguig so I haven't heard about them plus the stigma that vegetarian food is boring kaya out of my radar. Sorry na pooooo. 

Came Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, I was about to text Aldous that I won't be able to make it to the event because I had to abstain from eating meat when I decided to search Agico's Cafe Instagram account once again and by then, I already noticed the word Vegetarian between the words Agico and Cafe. So safe, meatless naman pala. For us Roman Catholics, the meatless meals of Agico are perfect for the Lenten Season.

For nagbabalik-alindog, perfect for summer outing preparations. haha.

Until now pag nakikita ko 'yung pictures, napapaisip pa rin akong, "How can vegetarian food be that good?" Ang saya talaga and ang guilt-free.<3 

Bacon Mushroom Burger
P 288.00

If you're not aware that these are meat substitutes, you'll really get tricked. It's amazing and confusingly delicious.

What the burger looks like.

Loved the healthiest burger I've had my whole life. 

Butayaki Maki
P 258.00

I loved that Bacon substitute as much as I am curious to know what it really is. hehehe. All the ingredients are made from scratch, 10 years of experience and experimentation. No wonder all the meals that were served that night were all good. 

P 280.00

One of the very few times that I didn't get umay when I eat Okonomiyaki. 

P 158.00

Notice that they have a lot of meals from the Japanese Cuisine. They are, afterall, a Japanese inspired Vegetarian Cafe. They have their own version of ramen and rice bowls as well. 

Tofu Steak
P 230.00

I love tofu so it's a no-brainer that I'd like this one too. 

Beef Tapsilog

This is the meal that really piqued my curiosity. That's meat substitute that is made from mushrooms (?). Seriously, it felt like biting a very tender and flavorful beef slice. Tapa without the guilt!

Baked Lasagna
P 268.00

This has to be one of the best lasagnas I've ever had. It's also the first dish we had in Agico, the very first time I questioned what the ground meat texture was. Hahaha. Seryoso, mga bes. Kakaiba pero ang saya! 

Sesame Buchi
P 90.00

I'm not really a fan of this dessert but I still ate my share. Love that it's not too sweet!

I had that drink at the back of the green one, the Lemon Grass worth P 120.00. It's a very refreshing drink. You can easily taste the lemon grass but there's a hint of ginger and other tastes. 

Agico's Branches and Contact Numbers

Order na or go to their restaurants to kick start your healthier eating habits. :)

Whoever said that vegetarian food is boring (guilty but I'm now guilt-free parang mga food nila sa Agico. hehe) clearly hasn't gone to Agico Vegetarian Cafe yet... hahahaha. Nakapunta na ko e so pwede ko na sabihin 'yan. With over 80 items on their menu  (Appetizer, Entree, Ramen, Burgers, Rice Bowls, Salad, Pasta, Pizza, Pie, Desserts, Raw Juices, Ice Blended Drinks, Smoothies), there's a lot more to try. I'll definitely bring my Mom here so she can try and taste the vegetarian version of her favorite Shoyu Ramen. <3 

Thank you, Agico for the very healthy and mouthwatering meals! :D

And of course, Aldous for organzing this event.

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