FLASHBACK FRIDAY | The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

When Jr and I travel, I do not follow any generic itinerary that first pops up in a google search. When crafting an itinerary, I employ the “one for you, one for me” method. We’ll go to watch museums and car meccas for him and then he won’t complain if he spends the afternoon sitting down on a bench while waiting for me to be happy with the shots I have. He’s not a happy traveler. I’ve handled many groups and dealt with many characters on the road and by far, I can say, he’s my worst travel participant. By designing our own itinerary, I am happy, and I keep him happy enough so we can travel again.

So for my day in Kyoto, I dragged him to the central Kyoto station and make him ride a hour on a bus going to Arashiyama. Arashiyama lies on the outskirts of Kyoto, and is most famous for its bamboo grove. The only probable reason why you will consider going here is for the pathway leading to a sprawling forest of towering bamboos. The bamboo stalks dance with the wind; the rays of sunlight frolic around them with each sway. It’s romantic in concept, but as with any popular area in Japan, it’s chaotic in reality. There’s heavy foot traffic all throughout the pathway, far from the serene, calming photographs that enticed you to endure the trek here in the first place. Jr decided he’ll just wait at one of the stores that lined the busy street. Take all the time you need, he told me. I entered the alley leading to the grove and there were people everywhere. But Japan is just beautiful, in every angle. Crowded or not.

And if you stand still long enough, magic happens.

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When I came back from the pathway to see my husband on a bench, eating an ice cream in 12° weather, I excitedly told him what he missed. I scrolled thru my camera to show him, to which he said,

“Ay kawayan lang pala. Madami sa Pililia nito.”

Uhm, ‘k.


Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
How we got there: Took the Kyoto Bus #28 from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama

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VIDEO | VLOG #027 – Let’s Go to Tagaytay Highlands

VIDEO | VLOG #027 – Let’s Go to Tagaytay Highlands

Jr takes his time in the morning. Since the internet in Pililia is snail level slow, I let him indulge with his unlimited browsing during the morning when he comes home for the weekend. I would prepare breakfast and just call on him when food is ready. After breakfast, he’d return to our room and browse some more. More often than not, I’ll be all dressed up and ready to go for our weekend errands way before he is. He’ll take a bath, get dressed, and then play with his watches — for quite a while.

But there’s no greater motivating factor that pushes us to move quicker than food.

Jr’s family is very health conscious. Their normal meal usually includes vegetables and a chicken or fish dish. During meals, they serve their rice in individual cups! When we learned that we were celebrating Jr’s dad’s birthday at Tagaytay Highlands, Jr suggested that we have our lunch at Highlanders Steakhouse. Of course, he got struck down.

Well on Saturday, Jamie, his sister called just as we are about to leave for Tagaytay Highlands. They went ahead and were already at Tagaytay. She asked where we were and we told her we’re still at home because her kuya was, as usual, taking his sweet time. She told us we’ll be having our lunch at the steakhouse and we better hurry before their parents change their minds.

Considering there was still traffic, I think we beat our personal record in going to Highlands.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY | WTF Moments at Robot Restaurant Tokyo

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | WTF Moments at Robot Restaurant Tokyo

Because Bourdain did it (of course), I wanted to go to Robot Restaurant. But Jr was quite hesitant. It was 8000 yen per person for the show, meal not yet included, and he wasn’t too sure it was worth it. But with more prodding from friends who are Tokyo transplants, he gave in.

After the show, he thought it was the best way to waste 3500 pesos. It was money well spent.

It is the ultimate expression of Japanese creativity and entertainment. Right off the start, as we were waiting for the show to start, we were ushered into a room so gaudy it was mesmerizing. I told Jr that when we build our house, I want it to look exactly like this. Eff the electric bill. I want people to come into house and spazz out.

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And then, they lead us into this equally psychedelic stairwell, going downstairs to where they actually stage the show. It was a small narrow room with 3 rows of chairs on both sides. It was tiny, leaving about 3 meters of floor for the entertainers. They handed us little light wands and encouraged audience participation, and then, Magic.

There were drummers mounted on moving platforms.
There were drummers mounted on moving platforms.
There was a motorbike show
There was a motorbike show
There was a big snake eating a machine gun.
There was a big snake eating a machine gun.
There's Po. On a cow.
There’s Po. On a cow.
There's Robot Boxing.
There’s Robot Boxing.
I mean lots of Robot Boxing
I mean lots of Robot Boxing

It was amazing. You have to give it to Japanese ingenuity to mount a show this ambitious on a very tiny space. For several times during the show, I thought the moving stage would catch all our heads and chop them all, but it didn’t. I’ve never been confused this much in my life. Jr, who was initially apprehensive about dropping that much money for a couple of hours took it all back. It was the best, craziest thing he has ever seen in his life. I mean, there were gyrating scantily-clad women everywhere, between them there were dancing 8 foot robots. Whenever I hear Jessie J’s Bang Bang, it takes me back to that room, with us pumping our little lightsabers in the air.

Lasers. Lasers everywhere.
Lasers. Lasers everywhere.
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Feel my happiness.
Feel my happiness.

You really have to see it for yourself. It will be so worth it.


Robot Restaurant
Shinjuku, Tokyo
JPY 8000 per person

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LIFE LATELY | Titas on Vacation

LIFE LATELY | Titas on Vacation

There was a time when I traveled hard core. I was out for a flight or a long bus ride almost every weekend. Some are planned out, some spontaneous, but no matter how carefully crafted the itinerary is, we’ll most likely be spending the night somewhere cheap. It terms of traveling expenses, the sleeping situation is the least among my priorities. I’ve slept in smelly hostels, hostels with ceilings that are falling apart, rooms where I can get tetanus with one clumsy move. I’ve slept in public health offices, tents, and even a monastery. I always thought, you’ll be out most of the day anyway, it’s just a place to store your things and sleep. You wouldn’t mind the mildew or the curious noise on the roof once you get your shut eye. I never understood why people would spend so much money on a hotel room. You’re on a vacation. You’re supposed to be outdoors.

And then the years rolled in, and I became one of those people.

Gone are the days where I can sleep on cots on wooden bamboo frames or earth mats in camping grounds. Before, I can just go without knowing where I will be sleeping. I can sleep on the bus, on the plane, in a corner in a random room sitting down. Now, one of the first things I have to ask is where will I be sleeping. See, when you hit 30, body parts start hurting. It’s not that I’ve packed up and given up on my adventurous spirit. I just don’t think one night of sleeping on something cold and hard in a cramped fetal position is worth weeks of pain and a trip to the doctor. Plus, as you get older, vacations begin to look more like vacations, and not the amazing race-like itinerary kind of trip your 24 year old self was particularly proud of.

Right now, priority is a comfortable sleep. When my friend, Mabel, on a holiday from cold cold Canada, wanted to go to the beach, I said, ‘let’s’, as long as we stay in a nice resort, maybe Cebu. Choices were thrown in, but considerations were made: I just want a landtrip and do not want the hassle of rushing to make it to the boat schedule. I want it in front of an empty beach, like the resort feels like a private one, with very little to no guests. I want good food, cooked to my liking. And if I’m not sleeping on my own bed for a couple of nights, I want an airconditioned room, with a very comfortable bed.

And that’s why for the second time, we ended up in Hale Manna.

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Get your adventures in while your young kids. When you reach my age, you just want to be on the beach reading the book, and by sunset, take your book on your airconditioned room and sleep.

This is 34.

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Rico’s Lechon – The Best Cebu Lechon

Rico’s Lechon – The Best Cebu Lechon

Mabel: Sabi ni Dad, wag daw akong uuwi na walang dalang lechon. May gusto sya. Pangalan daw ng tao. Di naman nya maalala.
Me: Ah, Rico’s.

Before, if you had guests visiting in Cebu, you would bring them to CnT to have the famous Cebu lechon. CnT was the most popular then. It, too, was the most accessible. There were big branches scattered in Cebu City, both stand alone and in malls, and you wouldn’t fight the touristy crowd for a table. And then, Zubuchon was all the hype. When I first had Zubuchon, I deem it a little too salty for my taste. But because they have a booth at the airport right before the boarding gates, it still is the most convenient pasalubong. They are displayed in the see thru freezers, pre-packed and frozen, ready to be taken away to awaiting loved ones. They are travel ready, which maybe why it’s a tad bit salty. And then my friends who are Cebu transplants from Manila introduced us to Rico’s. And we never looked back.

When we first tried it in 2014, the Rico’s lechon we tried was housed in a very humble restaurant, cramped for space and with people. It’s filled to maximum use of space with simple white laminate tables coupled with metal chairs padded for slight comfort. That’s fine, because you do not really go here for the ambiance. The lechon was always hot and fresh. My friends who frequented the place knew the lechon delivery schedule by heart and they made sure we arrive in time for choice cuts from the afternoon delivery. My first encounter with Rico’s spicy lechon was simply divine.

Fast forward to 2017. The latest branch of Rico’s is in Axis Entertainment Avenue in Escario, a new mall, more Bonifacio high street, less SM, along a very busy, traffic burdened street you’d think you were in Manila. The walls in the new Rico’s are lined with big pictures of Rico with celebrities — the likes of Sharon and Kris Aquino — in big elaborate decorative frames. The chairs here are soft and upholstered in chic fabric. It doesn’t feel like a lechon place. The vibe this time was less carinderia, more upscale casual dining. Or as we in the barkada would describe it, “Dalaga na sya”.

Rico’s menu was also bigger these days. We had the seaweed platter, grilled squid and baked scallops. But of course, we came for the lechon, which we are glad to confirm is still the best in Cebu.

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My girls and Wendell, who looks held against his will.

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Rico’s Lechon
Axis Entertainment Avenue
N. Escario Street, Cebu City

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