Other Grandeur Travelers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Siem Reap Diaries: Eat, Travel, Sleep, Pray, and Letting Go.

Hello, guys! Here I am back in Siem Reap for my 31st birthday. I promised myself that I would not miss the Sunrise in Angkor Wat this time.  A day before my birthday, my sister and I dragged ourselves out of bed early to see this beautiful silhouette of Angkor Wat at Sunrise. Despite the overwhelming number of tourists, we waited patiently for this magic to happen. After a few hours though, something unfortunate again happened. I lost my phone while going around the temples. Then came the familiar feeling like the time my camera was stolen in Paris or when my laptop crashed. I could feel panic and utter terror just thinking about it. Eight thousand unsaved photos. Not again, I said. I immediately went back to Angkor Wat, praying that I would find my phone but I knew it was gone. Perhaps, it had to be lost. Perhaps. There were so many things stored in that phone that reminded me of my past. I have learned a lot about letting go this year. There are simple many thing we have no control over. This was one of them. Life is still beautiful and it goes on.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Falling in Love With the City of Angels

I was never a big fan of Los Angeles. As a self-proclaimed New Yorker, the City of Los Angeles did not appeal to me as much as the Big Apple. If you have been following my blog long enough, you all know that I have regular visits to New York. My heart belongs to East Coast's urban jungle but when the opportunity comes to re-discover the entertainment capital of the world, you take it. So I did.  I was ready to find a few reasons to love Los Angeles. 

To be honest, flying to Los Angeles gave me an odd sense of unfamiliarity. San Francisco was always my point of entry - my comfort zone. However, flying with our flag carrier Philippine Airlines made the idea of flying to LA easier. As my home in the sky, I am not kidding when I tell people that I feel safer with PAL all the time. 

The flight to Los Angeles onboard the 777 was almost 14 hours but flying business class with PAL made it seem so easy. In fact, I did even not want it to end. 

I had some of the latest movies to entertain me throughout the flight. 

Having slight ADHD, a huge leg room makes a big difference. With a seat that becomes full flat in mere seconds, I felt comfortable throughout the entire flight. 

My favourite Mango Smoothie. 

The in-flight meals prepared by some of our country's chefs did not disappoint. This was the fresh Bacolod-Style Fresh Lumpian Ubod by Chef Aracama. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mott 32 in Hong Kong: Peking Duck Heaven

Disclaimer: It was not exactly the best day for photography because my cam was acting up but I tried my best to take good photos.

When Hong Kong introduces a new dining concept, you expect it to be better than the rest. When we first heard of Mott 32 in Hong Kong (from our friend's friend), all we got were positive reviews. Considering the reputation of this person, we headed to the Standard Chartered building in Central one fine night to see what the buzz was all about. 

Mott 32 was a design collaboration between Hong Kong-based Joyce Wang and Maximal Concepts. The result of this synergistic team is a restaurant that has masterfully blended elements of China's past and Hong Kong's urban landscape.

The center of the restaurant is their custom industrial duck oven with a special air-drying fridge.

There are different dining areas in this 7,500 square foot restaurant. Each one gives a a unique and cool vibe. 

If you were wondering why it was named Mott 32, the restaurants had its historic roots all the way in New York. Thirty-two Mott Street was once the address of the first Chinese convenience store in the Big Apple when it opened in 1851. This was catalyst for the birth of the Chinatown we all know now.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

QiWellness Living: My Secret Sanctuary in Tagaytay

All my friends know me too well. I love visiting places that provide the privacy and much-needed quiet time that we all long for once in a while. When my dear friend and colleague Dr. Tina Lacaba mentioned about QiWellness Living in Tagaytay, she insisted that I go. She briefly described her experience there and despite the problems brought about by Typhoon Glenda, QiWellness Living openly welcomed them. She could not stop raving about it. 

One free weekend, I decided to drive to Tagaytay for a massage in QiWellness Living. I was not prepared to fall in love again. As soon as they opened those big red doors, my eyes couldn't stop looking at the view and all the details. I found another favorite place in the south. If you think Tagaytay could not get any better, think again.

QiWellness has given me another alternative when it comes to wellness, relaxation and dining (I usually frequent the favorites Antonio's and Sonya's Garden). Designed by Budji Layug and Royal Pineda Design Architects, QiWellness goes beyond its simple industrial (concrete) design. The moment you arrive, you are welcomed by the sound of a chau gong. That announces your arrival or any guest that would enter that commanding red door with brass lionhead knockers.

With all the design elements combined, it doesn't seem like you are in Tagaytay any more. QiWellness has been inspired by China's centuries-old architecture, cuisine and healing practices. However, it does not stop there. What they wanted was to bring something new to anyone visiting Tagaytay. They have integrated the newest in design and culinary techniques to give you a spectacular experience in this beautiful setting. 

The lobby.

Communal Dining. I am in love with beautiful chairs. It's like I am waiting for the Mad Hatter's party to start.

As you go down, you'll find the the Tea house + Opium Den. The first thing you'll notice is that authentic Chinese Pagoda that was brought in from China. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Balesin Island: The Island of Dreams

(This is just a teaser post)

In one day, what can you do in 20 minutes?

1) Have a nice shower
2) Travel from Makati to Fort Bonifacio Global City (with minimal traffic)
3) A quick lunch break or merienda
4) Apply your beauty products at night
5) Jog
6) Walk your dog in the park
7) There's still more than a dozen reasons I can enumerate here. If I did that though, this list won't end.

What if I were to tell you that you can be in paradise in 20 minutes? I'm sure you would go there, given the right time and opportunity. 

A few years ago, Alphaland decided to build a unique island called Balesin for the most discerning travelers. For some lucky people, paradise has never been closer.

Balesin makes it possible for your tropical dreams to come true. I now call it the Island of Dreams.  I cannot believe an island like this exists in this country. This concept is a first of its kind in the Philippines. Located 21 kilometers southeast of Polillo, Quezon, this 500 hectare tropical paradise is probably the best weekend getaway we have right now. The only setback for most people is that you have to be a member or be the member's guest in order to set foot on this island. If you have extra money to burn for shares, you will definitely not regret it. Balesin is growing bigger and better every year.

Balesin now has 7 themed villages inspired by beach destinations around the world -- Balesin, Bali, Costa del Sol, Mykonos, Phuket and St Tropez. Soon, Balesin will have the Balesin Royal Villa, which will be the grandest of them all. (Click here for the link).

Here are some of the pictures from our trip last weekend. Ill post everything when I find free time. 

The Filipino-inspired Balesin Clubhouse and Village. This has a best views of Lamon Bay.

Bali Village. Inspired by the Salakot or the traditional Asian Farmer's Hat. The Nusa Dua Bar (middle) is also one of the best places here to watch the sunset while you sip your cocktail.

Low Tide.

Costa del Sol. This was our temporary Spanish Casa last weekend.

Phuket Village. 

I am in love with this 25-meter black tiled pool in front of the Salathip.

Toscana Village. The newest village in Balesin. Easily one of my favorites.

Everything was done imppecably.

The Toscana Village has several restaurants that serve the best antipasto and pizza. A must in Balesin,

 St Tropez Village.  A taste of Southern France living.

Mykonos Village

Balesin Spa. 


I will not be surprised if Balesin hits the international market soon. With its utmost privacy, attentive service, excellent food (I need a separate post for this!) and unique theme, Balesin deserves all the praises.

The next thing you have to do now is pretty obvious:

a) Think of a way to save money so you can buy shares (I hear it's more than 3 million now) or
b)  You can find a friend who is already a member and convince him or her to bring you to this island. Goodluck!

See you again, Balesin! You completely blew me away. 

Beautful Sunset Sessions in Balesin

The Perfect Shanghai Weekend

Shanghai (Hu for short) has the recipe for the quintessential "Grandeur Traveler" weekend. Cosmopolitan Shanghai represents what any city dreams of becoming. It is moving to the future in lightning speed but it is still firmly grounded to its past. Thanks to Philippine Airlines, I finally got to visit China's most influential economic metropolis last month. 

We flew to Shanghai a little before lunchtime via Philippine Airlines. As usual, flying Business Class with my favorite flag carrier was a delight. They always manage to make me feel at home. From take-off to landing, everything was smooth.  For more inspiration, I even got to watch one of my all-time favorite movies - Grand Budapest Hotel. 

After three and a half hours, we finally arrived in Shanghai. The second we got out of the plane though, my fear became a reality--the humidity in Shanghai was unbearable! I normally do not like traveling during these months because the weather can be a bit harsh.  I could feel the humidity and heat permeating through my skin. All I wanted was to be in an air-conditioned room. Despite the bad weather, I was certain that Shanghai would deliver. I could not let this dampen our mood and spirit.

We walked to the Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) train station, which was conveniently connected to the airport.  I initially wanted to be picked up by the hotel but I did not want to miss this experience. 

The Maglev is a tourist attraction in itself. With a maximum speed of more than 400 kph, this train can bring you to the city within 8 minutes. We were only moving at 300 kph but we got to the city in 7 minutes as promised.  If we had something like the Maglev in the Philippines, we can easily build a new airport outside Manila.

From the train station, we took a cab going to our hotel in Pudong. Within the comforts of our air-conditioned cab, I wiped the sweat off my face and looked out the window as we headed to the city's central business district. We were ready to be wowed more by Shanghai.


The HOTEL (Grand Hyatt Shanghai)

Shanghai for me was hotel porn. It took me forever to pick the hotel but with a twist of fate, we ended up staying in Grand Hyatt Hotel.

If you want  to be reminded of Shanghai's power, stay in Grand Hyatt for THE View.The  Grand Hyatt Hotel, located in the Jin Mao Tower, has an impressive art deco structure that has changed the skyline of Shanghai completely. This five star property is in the heart of Shanghai's futuristic Pudong district. 

The Golden Atrium of the Grand Hyatt.

They gave us a room upgrade on the 61st floor.  We had a panoramic view of the Pudong Skyline,  including the Shanghai Tower (which will soon be the tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world).