Friday, April 11, 2014

My Moalboal Part II: Montaneza Waterfalls and Mainit Hot Spring

as mentioned in part 1 of this travel post, i initially intended to go canyoning, but i had the misfortune of acquiring the flu on the day of my travel and so figured i should postpone it til next time when i come back with my family, since hubby is also interested to do it.

eating some cacao fruits (my childhood favorite) at the start of the hike

i settled for a short guided hike to Montaneza waterfalls, organized by Blue Orchid Resort manager, Melissa Watkins, together with Wolfgang from Cyan Adventures.

up and down we go into the canyons

i told them, i feel really funny being toured around Cebu with a couple of foreigners, as if i'm not local. :)

i feel like a troglodyte

it was a very short walk from Mainit hot spring, going to Montaneza waterfalls. i was a bit disappointed because i really felt like walking some more. LOL.

steep climb

although, climbing in and out of the canyon was quite tiring. and you only really feel it a day or so after.

isn't this just beautiful?

and it was even more challenging going against the cascades to climb up to go behind the waterfall... i should do wall climbing again. i'm so out of shape.

going against the powerful cascades

just to be able to have a gorgeous capture like this:

taking a rest behind the cascades

the pool of water right below is quite shallow. although, there are areas deep enough to allow you to jump into it from a certain height.

refreshing swim

that big rock in front of the cascades fell there during a recent earthquake

pausing for a pose

on the way down, i was unceremoniously told that we are going to do a couple of jumps from the cascades. say what, now?! i wasn't really expecting to do some jumping. for one, i'm not a very good swimmer; two, we were not wearing life vests; and three, i didn't have a helmet and i could just as easily and clumsily bump my head on a piece of protruding rock. but i held my panic in check.

Melissa was very much prepared for the jump

i jumped anyway because i didn't want to look so lame and be such a total killjoy. especially since there were small kids queuing behind me on the first jump. the second jump though, was too high for kids.

but as a result of the three worrying items i have mentioned above, echoing inside my head, my jump shots looked really weird, like most pictures of people looking shocked and bewildered for being caught unprepared. i didn't post the pics here so as not to embarrass us all. :D

soaking in the heat at Mainit Hot Spring

dipping into the hot spring after all the climbing and jumping was such a welcomed treat!

this pool of hot spring water is tolerably hot. there is another pool, a few meters away, where it's 40+ degrees Celsius. it reminded me so much of the Onsen in Japan. you'd get cooked in a few minutes in there.

relaxing and just about the right amount of warmth

it was really a fun trip. it made me feel like a kid all over again. given the chance to do it all over again, i would try to remember more about the kid i was, who liked to jump into the waters and had fun climbing rocks and trees. and also, will do my best not to look so fearful and crazy scared during the jump shots for the sake of better-looking pictures to post here.

the best part about this trip is not the pictures, though. it was the experience and having a day of fun that calls to mind long-gone carefree days back in my old province -- frolicking amongst endless rice fields, climbing trees and enjoying the view of the mountainous silhouette against beautiful sunsets... and what's more, i didn't even have to pay for this hiking trip because i was treated by a very generous soul. ;)

that's all for now!.. til the next adventure! have a great weekend and thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Moalboal Part I: White Beach

i have been searching the internet for a mini-break by the beach when i chanced upon SilkAir's Sale for flights going to Kalibo, Cebu and Davao earlier this March. it was a perfect opportunity for me. my first option was Boracay via Kalibo. but i wanted to go at such short notice that it was impossible for me to find a decent lodging at a decent price. and so, i opted for Cebu instead.

the shore at Blue Orchid Resort, facing west, directly in front of Negros Island, this area is also a perfect spot for stargazing at night

along the road, i passed by these Lolas weaving hats from buli plant

my first ever trip on the plane was ten years ago and it was bound for Cebu. i toured around the city and then went to Bohol. i never really got to visit the island's best beaches. Malapascua was the first choice. but i read in the reviews that it takes six hours from the airport to get there. Moalboal takes half the time, and is therefore, the next best option.

my favorite spot at the resort, just right in front of my bedroom, which is right at the end of the resort, giving me all the peace and quiet i needed

just the perfect spot for reading too

Although, Moalboal is mainly for divers, I discovered that it has other options to offer. i initially wanted to do the canyoning at Montaneza, but i had the misfortune of being sick during my travel, so i opted not to do the whole canyoning tour. instead, my trip was spent dong some relaxed snorkeling and a bit of hiking and sunset watching.

this is the sunset that welcomed me on my first day... the place has a forlorn air about it that just makes you want to stay more to somehow ease its loneliness... waxing all poetic here... :p

the view early in the morning at low tide... you can literally hear the diverse marine life breathing...

i found this really nice hotel at TripAdvisor called Blue Orchid Resort, which ranks no 1of 6 hotels in Moalboal. the place looked really charming, both in photos and in person. although, i was quite disappointed with the bare minimum bedroom and not-so-creative meals offered at the resort, i was nevertheless, very impressed with the natural charm and tranquility of the surroundings.

each day, i would have this for breakfast... and i was so happy! :)

giant pink gumamela (hibiscus)

i didn't like seeing this bird in the cage so much... when i got closer, it came towards me and there was a sign that says it loves to be petted on the neck... cute! but i still don't like caged animals...

the owner of the resort is a very friendly German guy. he told me that my favorite reading and sunset-watching spot at the resort was his late mother's favorite spot too. it gave me the creeps a bit, imagining the ghost of some old person sitting there just outside my room... but the creepy feeling went away quickly as i got more and more relaxed and used to the quiet surroundings, with nothing but the sound of the crickets and wildlife at night to lull you to sleep.

while at breakfast, the owner showed me this kingfisher that flew inside his bedroom... he said he will free it after taking a pic

what a lovely relaxing spot...

on my second day, i took a snorkeling trip with the divers at Pescador Island. this dive site is interesting for divers because there is a cathedral right below the island/rock. unfortunately, i forgot to insert the disk in the waterproof camera to take pics. although, it was not really worth taking pictures since the waters were murky with too much plankton. i also had to rent a wet suit and booties for protection against jellyfish, which were abundant in the area. i had to get back into the boat quickly when i saw lots of them, especially when i saw this type that looks like a giant flatworm as it could just wrap around my unprotected face so very easily.

the wind and sunset on my face

white beach... mouais...

late afternoon on day two, i walked a bit towards the sandy area of White Beach. i wanted to do a bit of snorkeling at first but i forgot to bring my mask. so i just lied down and watched the bustle of activity around me. still, it was not very crowded, despite the presence of souvenir shops and restaurants.

my shadow along the steps, framed by the shadow of trees and shrubbery

this blue starfish was just right next to the shore and it stayed there the whole time i was at the resort, keeping me company :)

day three was spent hiking in the canyons and waterfalls of Montaneza and then dipping into Mainit (literally means "hot") Hot Spring, all arranged by the very friendly and helpful manager, Melissa Watkins... which i will have to write in the second part...

until next time! have a good week! :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pidgin Bar and Restaurant

last December, we've taken our visiting in-laws to the Pidgin Bar and Restaurant at Dempsey Hill for lunch. the place has a lot of rave reviews all over the internet. so we decided to give it a try.

first impression: the ambience was very relaxing amid the surrounding greenery. and i just love the colonial architecture that gives an old-world charm to the place.

they also have very interesting dishes on the menu. as mentioned in the reviews, the place offers a refreshing fusion of local and western dishes.

some finger food for appetizers

we were not disappointed with the appetizers either. they all tasted as good as they looked.

something mighty meaty for hubby

salmon confit for me

frog legs!

the mains were all superb too.

free dessert for everyone to share... i was already full but i still managed to sample this one too. very delish!

luscious chocolate ice cream

i don't really remember what this is. some berry-flavored gelatin, i guess.

crème brulée

even the desserts were heavenly.

now we all know where all the flowers on the table came from :)

the service was excellent and the price was reasonable and fitting for the well above average dishes, and excellent service that the restaurant offers. the staff were very friendly and we never had to wait too long for the dishes to arrive. we're definitely going back for more.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Valentine Date at DB Bistro Moderne (Restaurant Review)

back in 2011, just before leaving Singapore, we wanted to check out some of the restaurants at Marina Bay Sands. one of them was DB Bistro Moderne. we almost went there once on a Saturday night. but it was impossible to get a cab during that time for some reason, so it didn't push through.

and so, we again decided to try it out. and what perfect time to go there than on the evening after Valentine's Day. i don't really like going out on Valentine's Day because i don't like crowds. but the day after is just perfect.

the smile of high expectations at the beginning of the dinner
the ambience inside the restaurant was not bad at all -- the ventilation was good, the lighting was perfect, save for that little candle light in the middle that hubby didn't like. it really had the feel of a cozy french bistro, except that when you look outside, you see the rest of the mall, which kinda ruins the mood.

sloppy looking lobster salad
we were quite disappointed with the food though. looking at the above lobster salad for l'entrée, the presentation could be a little better than this. it looked a bit like food from the cafeteria. a bit sloppy and messy. i also did not like the salad dressing that tasted a lot like a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise.

my main dish -- salmon with some lentilles with pea soup

disappointingly small portion of steak tartare without any sides

then came the main dish -- mine was salmon served with some lentilles and a bit of pea soup, i think. i liked it but it was nothing spectacular. meanwhile, hubby got the steak tartare. it was a tad too salty. and they could've added some sides like some potato wedges, but it came with some burnt toast instead.

horror of all horrors! Roquefort is definitely NOT from Auvergne, people!

when we were browsing the menu for dessert, hubby came across the Cheese Selection page. and horror of all horrors, they've mistakenly indicated Auvergne as the region where Roquefort Cheese comes from. hubby was not very happy with this. and mentioned it to the waitress. the waitress mentioned it to everybody including the chef. she came back to us saying, the chef, who is apparently really French stands by what is said on the menu, i.e., Roquefort is from Auvergne.

me and hubby at the entrance of one of the Roquefort shops in Aveyron where they give you a tour of their caves

it only takes a bit of Googling to find that Roquefort Cheese really is from the département of Aveyron, which is in the region of Midi-Pyrénées and NOT Auvergne! i've actually been there myself (see above pic). that's coz hubby is originally from this region, of which he is very proud of. ;)

extremely chocolatey profiteroles

some apple flavored sorbet and tarts

the desserts were not bad at all. hubby enjoyed his apple-flavored dessert. i liked my profiteroles. although, it could've been better with less chocolate.

all in all, i would say that this restaurant is a bit overhyped and overpriced. there are a lot more restaurants in Singapore that offer better quality of food for less. but going to this restaurant was not such a bad experience at all. the service was really good. the place was clean and the staff were nice and accommodating. although the price that we paid here is almost the same price as we paid in one of the best restaurants in Toulouse (Py-r Restaurant) where we went before. it was one of the best dinners of my life. and my experience at DB Bistro Moderne didn't really come close in comparison.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Baby's First Day of Class

you are never more aware of time than when you have something more tangible to show for it, like having your own kid.

my baby's beautiful preschool on top of a hill
today, my baby goes to school for the first time at barely two years of age. it reminded me so much of my first day at school. i was almost six. it was kindergarten. whereas most kids around me were crying for being abandoned by their parents for the first time, i was just silently observing everyone. i liked the new environment. filled with little kids just like me and less adult around. it was fun. and new. my daughter was the same. she was waving goodbye happily to me and hubby while the teacher took her to the schoolyard for the messy painting class.

i seem to remember quite a lot of my childhood. especially now that i have a daughter of my own. it's nice to relive and see again all of the carefree and awe-inspiring days through her curious and innocent eyes.

i love my baby so much. pretty soon i won't be able to call her my baby anymore... kids grow up so fast.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tiramisu fait-maison

during the holidays, i had quite a lot of energy for cooking and baking and so i decided to make some Tiramisu out of the blue.

cream and vanilla extract

all whipped up to the right consistency

add the mascarpone into the batter with eggs, sugar and cooked milk which had been refrigerated for at least an hour

i didn't realize though, that it was quite a complicated recipe. but i was really into doing it so i decided to get on with it anyway, despite the hard work.

they call these Lady Fingers in the English-speaking world

layer with the biscuits dipped in coffee, then the whipped cream and batter, then repeat

i had to improvise with the scotch since i didn't have rhum in the kitchen

Tiramisu is originally from Italy and it literally means "pick me up". i guess it got the name from the ingredients -- rhum and coffee, which will literally pick your spirits up when you are feeling a bit less hyper and in need of waking up.

dip the biscuits in brewed coffee, be careful not to dip them too much or they will break

et voila! now it's ready to be covered with unsweetened cocoa powder

i found the recipe here, if you're interested to try it out for yourself.

i let my baby help me with this one

i wanted to put some raspberries on top, but i couldn't find any at the grocery, so i just made do with some apricots.

i hope you all have a great Chinese New Year holiday... and Gong Xi Fa Cai to all of you who celebrate the Lunar New Year!