Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Caffeinated in Vietnamese and Thai Fashion

So basically, one of the prime reasons I was excited to go to Vietnam and Thailand is this: coffee and tea. It's caffeine in a nutshell.  I have been brewing both Vietnamese coffee and Thai tea because friends and family have been sharing coffee beans and tea leaves for me to enjoy. It's about condensed milk plus the taste of Vietnamese coffee beans that's amazing, as well as condensed milk plus Thai tea leaves that somehow makes a really good drink that will keep you running in circles all day long.

The first time I tasted "authentic" Vietnamese coffee was of the iced type. I thought I saw stars but then realized I was just exaggerating. I drank another one again the next day (actually I drank around 4 glasses on our second day in Vietnam) but tried it without ice and then had the plain black one, too, because I was really excited to try everything. Nothing trumps iced coffee with milk! I can have it day in and day out until my waistline balloons and my blood sugar skyrockets, whichever comes first.
First taste of authentic (hot) Vietnamese coffee with milk. T___T
I was so wired up after the first time I tasted coffee in our hostel. It's just the first day and I still have lots of time to drink. More glasses of good coffee, I tell you! This time try it iced! Still gooooood. I also tried it plain black - just didn't take a photo of it anymore, that's too much nonsense crap I've been shoving into your eyes.
Iced Vietnamese Coffee (with milk) like a boss.
Ca phe sua da!
How about their tea? I tried "hot Vietnamese tea" at Mui Ne and... it's not note-worthy. The taste is something near jasmine tea. It was a good break from all the coffee I've been consuming though. Cute pot. End of story.
I still managed to empty the pot. My own solo tea party again.
Oh the legitimate brewing of Vietnamese coffee, Trung Nguyen Cafe is the place to be. Purchase all the good stuff here! This is actually how they prepare all of the coffee in Vietnam. They pour in ground beans into the filter and then hot water comes in and you have to wait for your coffee. It's worth the wait, anyway!
Fracking good!
Thailand. The first time I brewed my own tea from tea leaves (not tea bags) using our percolator yielded a dark colored drink. It was dark brown in color (so instantly it's black tea) and after consuming it plainly after some time, I decided to pour in condensed milk and some sweetener to try to match the recipe (since I used to be hooked on Nestea's instant Thai milk tea which is also yummy). Holy schmoly. Instant addiction to Thai milk tea! Try it iced and omg, this is fresh (not instant)! Blood sugar test, anyone?
Ta-ta-Thai iced milk tea! Oh the calories!!
Where does it come from? No, not from some magical tree that gives off milk tea as its sap. This is the brand I've been using for my Thai milk tea.
I still have no idea what brand this is.
Except that it says "Please Drink Thai Tea Mix Number One Brand" in the label.
This is the stock at the end of the trip. The damage, oooh the damage. Hahaha.
I lodged this inside my bag across three countries. Dedication!
There's Creative 1 (culi robusta) and Creative 2 (robusta arabica) Trung Nguyen Coffee plus Weasel Coffee from Vietnam (we still have the Buon Me Thuot Special "Home Blend" from Trung Nguyen as well); Tea Kaffir and Green Tea from Cambodia; and Nestea instant milk tea and Thai tea leaves from Thailand. Bwahaha.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Try Something New Every Day!

Do you do the same thing every day? Part your hair at the same place each time? Pass by the same route on a daily basis? Well, we all have our own routines from the moment we wake up until we retire at night (or wee hours in the morning for some). This makes our lives easier, no need to worry on what to do next as we have programmed ourselves to automatically do the next thing. This is good, right? Hell yeah!!!! Especially if we want to be boring! *Jeers!*

Warning: To those with control issues, doing something new every day is a surefire way of punishing yourself. The haunting feeling of not knowing what's next - oh great.


For the first time after more than a year of being a member, I finally tried out the sauna at Gold's Gym although I made it appear like Bikram yoga - doing stretches and dips inside. Haha. Also, I managed to kill one Saturday by indulging in alcohol for "Friday Night" then did tennis on Saturday morning, then ran in the gym afterwards (trying the valet for the first time as well). Oh, I also watched Bourne Legacy in the movies when I got home and went to a family reunion in the evening then stayed in the hospital because of an emergency. August 11 was one of the worst days - very taxing both physically and emotionally.

How about trying a new salon for the first time? Only two people have cut my hair and this is the first time I'm trying out another person. I told the hair stylist (or should we say image consultant?) that I want "intense layering" for my haircut and I think he grinned and sounded really wary, "that means I'll be chopping 5 inches off your hair now..." I nodded really slowly and he proceeded with the cut.

Or watching a film festival?

There's this 5D ride in Timezone and of course, we have to try something new every day, right? Bring in your younger cousins who are game to anything and you can tick one thing off your "new things to try" list, whether you keep one or not is up to you. (I don't.) Timezone's 5D ride is a hundred bucks per person and you get to choose the "adventure" you want. It looks really hilarious because there's a monitor outside where people can watch the riders - scratching, yawning, laughing, whatever.

There are a lot of new things you can do every day. If you're worried you can't find something new, no - I'm sure you'll be able to do/try a new thing each time! New restaurants, new way of making coffee, another route, etc. Go make new experiences! :p

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, and Camiguin: The Northern Mindanao Adventure

Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, and Camiguin - this is the trio of a Northern Mindanao trip. Catch a plane from Manila to CDO, ride a van or motorcycle (if you're that adventurous) to Bukidnon and back. Then from Cagayan de Oro, ride a bus or rent a van to the port wherein you can catch a ferry to Camiguin. That's the usual route/adventure for those interested in white water rafting, ziplining, and basically a fun adventure!

This can be done in (just) 3 full days! (Imagine the vacation leaves you can save...) It only takes one long weekend and some cash to enjoy so much. Three days two nights: one day for rafting and ziplining then overnight in CDO and then travel for Camiguin for tours and swimming then overnight in Camiguin and you still have the third day free before your flight!

First stop is Cagayan de Oro, the City of Golden Friendship and the gateway for nearby provinces. When we touched down CDO Airport we opted to ride the zipline in Bukidnon first because (I think) if we started with the white water rafting we would be so spent that we won't fully enjoy Bukidnon as much, so upon pick-up from the airport we went straight to Bukidnon for some serious ziplining.

You'll pass by DOLE's pineapple farm on the way which is a good spot for taking scenic photos. Or okay, jump shots.

There are 3 lines in Dahilayan Adventure Park for ziplining, including their "Asia's longest zip line." Their latest "ride" is the DropZone Sky Swing wherein you'll be pulled all the way up and you have to pull the cord to release yourself from all the pent-up girly voice in you. They only have one tip for us, "Remember to scream like a baby!" The guide didn't say "scream like a girl," but mentioned "baby"; I think he's not sexist. Props to kuya.
Mar has too much exposure already.
Since we're there, I was up for the DropZone challenge!! I would be the one pulling the cord for us because Sarah said if she's going to be the one to release the lock, we would be up there until it's time to go back to Manila. If anyone freezes from fear, s/he can stay all day up there. Release on cue or prolong your agony. Pick your poison!
Oh, it looks soooo safe.
Posing for the camera is optional. Shouting your lungs off is a requirement.

Cagayan de Oro
We're ready for the waves! White water rafting is one of the key attractions in Cagayan de Oro. We employed the services of Great White Water Tours (see Contacts portion below) whose package includes airport pick-up and ziplining at Dahilayan Adventure Park at Bukidnon, not to mention lunch (or dinner) and snacks.
Pre-war of the worlds...with the river. Our guides are really hilarious by the way.
Remember to keep your legs up when you're in the water, those rocks are nasty! I was one of those thrown into the river and got to experience seeing a rock come closer to your face (is this how they felt when Titanic hit the iceberg?). Seriously, I thank God the water was not murky or brown when we were there (depends on the weather) as I was sure I involuntarily drank a lot of water. A lot.
There are days when you fall from the raft.... It's freaking life changing!
Victory at the end of the day! Well, wait until the next day for the muscle pain. It's definitely worth it. Embrace it like a badge of honor! (And good luck on moving.)

We stayed at a nice (with regards to room quality and price) hotel named Budgetel. It's a new place so I highly recommend it. After being dead for some time, we woke up really early to catch the first ferry trip to Camiguin. Benoni Port is located at Misamis Oriental so we rode a van (since we're 5 in a group, it's not heavy on the budget plus it's more convenient) going there instead of waiting for the bus.

In a nutshell for How to Get to Camiguin from CDO and Vice Versa: Go to Agora Bus Terminal (everyone in CDO knows where this is so you can just take a trike going there) and ride either a bus going to Butuan or rent a van (PHP 1,400 is a good price). Both buses (tell the ticket dude you're going to Camiguin) and vans will drop you at the Balingoan Port in Misamis Oriental where you will be purchasing tickets for the ferry aka roll-on-roll-off (RORO) which will end at Benoni Port at Camiguin. Camiguin is just an hour away!
Balingoan Port of Misamis Oriental. Jump off to Camiguin!

Port of Benoni at Camiguin.
How to get back? Ask to be dropped off at Benoni Port and then ride the ferry back to Misamis Oriental. There is a bus terminal right across the street (you can walk this) and there are lots of trips back to Cagayan de Oro.
Our ferry ride back to CdO. Check out the first trip in the photo below.

Day tour of the whole island of Camiguin. The island born of fire. Niiiice! Old Volcano pretty much did a lot of damage in this humble province. We freaking braved the rain when the storm was there and I have never felt so cold and wet in my life. Oh adventure, I've never asked for so much in this ferry ride. We initially thought if we were going to be thrown overboard (just like rafting) and I have been eyeing the life jackets ever since we boarded the ferry.
Refugees at 4am.
We stayed at Paras Beach Resort which is a really beautiful place. The cottages/rooms are nice and clean, the amenities are great, the pool is wonderful, White Beach is just a few minutes away, the price is reasonable, and we got the tour from them as well. Let's move on with the tour!

First stop is the Katibawasan Falls. When we were there, it was like we're expecting the Presidential chopper to arrive and everyone else was asked to step back. The sound of the waterfall was so loud (well since it rained earlier, the water has been notorious) and the sight was just marvelous. Well, I was really tempted to swim there but after what happened to me in CDO, naaaah. I'll pass. I love being alive.

Then there's DENR's Ostrich Farm where they breed guess what? Ducks! No, duh. Ostriches. I asked them what's their purpose on breeding these lovely big birds. Dude told me, "after the zoos, maybe we can have ostrich meat." OSTRICH FREAKING MEAT. Are you fracking kidding me?!
Game face on, ostrich style.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Breakfast Time! (Please Don't Say Brekkie)

I promise you, my August and September have both been crazy and adventurous. There are a lot of entries still tagged as Draft and I really can't wait to finally publish them and share to the world how eccentric I am clean my list. In the meantime, I'll post something about... breakfast. Break-freaking-fast. Oh yeah.

The usual me used to skip breakfast (my description for breakfast is the first meal you take in right after waking up) because I don't have the appetite of starting the digestive process right after waking up. My body was wired for lunch or merienda and then I go pig out all day until dinner then pig out again until I fall asleep. Breakfast is for sissies. Pigging out is for champs.

However, with the change in work schedule and some non-life-changing moments, I tried to convert myself to being a fan of breakfast. I mean, c'mon, a lot of people swear by the magic of breakfast and how it's actually beneficial for you. So after waking up, I slowly try to force myself to eat something despite my appetite upstaging a rebellion on me. After a few months of this daily ordeal, I can now claim that I have successfully converted myself into being a breakfast person! Hurrah! "What to eat for breakfast" is something I now look forward to each day aside from actually being alive.

Dang it, French toast please.

Seriously, did I just write gibberish at 5:45am?!