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Monthly Archives: March 2011

60+ countries and Trini KFC is still the best … I can’t understand what is up with Jollibee’s

Ok! I said it … at the risk of alienating every Filipino on the planet – I think Jollibee’s SUCKS! Then again I think McDonalds is the worst food product ever invented by man – since it isn’t even food – and once again Filipinos love McDonalds. I even tried the KFC in Manila  and that too sucked! Like seriously SUCKED – KFC gravy must be the greatest thing known to man, since Insulin (you’ll need lots of it, with the type 2 diabetes it causes, but who cares … it is crack goodness!!)

There were many things I love about being in the Philippines –

  • Friendliness of the people – Filipinos have huge hearts – they’re awesome – nuff said
  • Work Ethic – they work like hell. They don’t complain, they’re happy all the time – who wouldn’t want to work with Filipinos
  • Beauty of the country – I have to say that I didn’t research everything until I got to the Philippines and there is some gorgeous countryside and beaches there. Straight up – the beaches in the Philippines would beat everything in Trinidad – hands down. In fact, it would beat most of the Caribbean beaches hands down.
  • Relative price – if you have US dollars and want to feel like a millionaire, even you work at an average job in the US or Canada – you can be a baller in the Philippines.

In fact, I think the only thing I didn’t like about the Philippines was the food. However as a Trini – we like our food hot, and sufficed to say – nothing in the Philippines will even come close to satiating the savory taste buds of a Trini – except Thai food. Everything they make over there is sweet or sweet-ish. I even tried the famous Jollibee Spaghetti, just for kicks – again two bites before upchuck fever took me over. I, obviously am not a fan of sweet tasting Pinoy spaghetti and Jollibee spaghetti definitely is a perfect example. With the choice of ingredients like hotdog, ham and ground meat in a sweet sauce. However, I can see kids loving this tripe, since it is completely suited to a child’s tastes.

Even the mascot is super creepy – those blinking expressions make want to find the closest Pennywise and hug him.

However, you can find amazing buffets and awesome food there .. just in a hotel – like Spiral at the Sofitel or Circles in the Shangri La Makati or HEAT at the Shangri La EDSA.

Cock Derbies in the Pasay City Cock Pit … cock, cock, cock!!!!

Personal Note : I neither approve nor disapprove of animal bloodsports, as my travelling allows me to respect every culture’s right to their traditions and customs, even if they run counter to my own personal beliefs. This blog post is not a treatise on the relativity of morality to time, politics and prevailing zeitgeist.

  • I didn’t support Michael Vick when he was training dogs to tear each other apart … he was tried in the courts of public opinion and criminal justice system … he was found guilty in both counts.
  • Bullfighting might be considered barbaric by some, but it legal in Spain and other hispanic countries and a part of the cultural fibre of each of those countries. There is also antitaurina movements in each of these countries.
  • Sabong is legal in the Philippines – it is violent and both birds are harmed in the fight – one lethally and the other one usually has some injuries. To frown upon it and apply the sensibilities of modern day urban pet/animal lovers is to un-acknowledge the Filipino’s own cultural segment.

<Insert Trini Tone now> Hence, before allyuh Animal rights people lose allyuh self … this is ” just ah blog post about some fighting cocks … nothing more or less ’bout nothing else” … take that Trinis as you may or may not.

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13th March, 2011

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m always up for a good wager. However, this is my first time going to a legalized gambling environment outside of a casino, hotel poker game or backwater poker game. Heading to the “Pasay City Cock Pit” was a bit heady at first, then I was filled with some doubts about this little adventure, especially dragging a woman along to the events, knowing that a cockpit was generally a woman free zone, unless the aforementioned woman was serving food or drink.

From the refined confined of the Shangri La Makati to have Hermie drive me off to the Pasay City Cockpit was a bit daunting, but when you have someone who speaks the local language, you’re empowered to do most things, because the “unknown” factor is reduced tremendously. Of course, with security for the van and the series of “awesome” derby signs – one gets a slightly giddy feeling.

Getting in through security with strict instructions about my cameras and phone … NOT ALLOWED, I was a little disheartened – but just because someone told me I couldn’t do something, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do it – if I found someone to offer “permission” – this is something of a Latin American/South-South East Asian nuance. You have to wander around these parts to understand it.
What got me, was basically how clean and organized the entire thing seemed once you got past the crowd of sweaty men into the seats. For some reason, walking in with a white girl in these parts, will always get you a box seat. Since I know, that with all the guys asking me whether I was a “Fil-AM”, “Balikbayan”  or some other inference that I was Filipino … it wouldn’t have been as easy.

As the birds are brought out, in the galleries, the crowd mostly composed of men, waited for the bets to be equalized. Using traditional hand-gestures and calibrated calls, the bet bakers or kristo –which is described as such because of the times when the position of his arms resembles a cross, calls out and equalizes bets in the arena.
I was highly impressed that with calling and hand signals, these guys can take bets from at least two dozen people, remember precisely how much the bet was, to whom it belongs to and other betting minutae – Sabong is an age-old practice.

As the roosters were set face to face in the cockfighting pit, the crowd began to go wilder. In a matter of less than two minutes, the fight is over and the victor is announced. At that point, the crowd’s decibels dips at bearable levels as post-mortem discussions continues. The same level of tension mounts again as another set of cocks was set against each other. 

After making a couple of bets … some successful and one unsuccessful … the kristo who was working for me, got the “permission” I wanted to take some pictures and the video you see above. In fact, he got me down into the matching pit, where “fairness” is applied – birds are matched in terms of body weight and relative health. It is in the matching pit, where another ritual of sabong begins, where the sabongers, match their roosters as they bluff, cajole and banter among each other.

The roosters are then fitted with a sharp blade or locally referred as tare on their heel by a professional mananare (I peronsally thought that the mananare looked a bit like the cornerman from Rocky – hence the Rocky theme song went off in my head).


The idea is to set and tie the blade at a height and angle wherein the rooster can inflict maximum mayhem with a minimum amount of movement. The height and angle of the blade must conform to the fighting style of the gamecock. 
As for the Sabong Betting System: Here are the main points copied directly from a Traveller on Foot

  • First is to choose between two roosters.
    • One is llamado, or the crowd favorite who is sought to most likely to win and the dejado or the underdog whose winning chance is deemed slimmer. In short, betting on the llamado means winning less and on dejado means getting more, depending on the odds.
  • Understanding the odds require a little math.
    • The odds in betting begins at sampu siyam or ten percent, goes on to walo, dyes or twenty percent, then walo, anim or thirty percent and all the way to tres or fifty percent.
    • In some cases, the odds could go as high as one hundred percent (doblado) in favor of the llamado.
  • All the bets are called through calibrated calls and hand signals.
    • However, it takes experience to discern the difference between sampu siyam wagging of the palm to walo diyes wiggling of the thumb.
    • Although these rules are not codified or written as laws, they are based on centuries of traditions. To some extent, certain provinces vary in signals and calls.
    • Fingers denote figures with their denominations determined by the position.
    • If fingers are held upwards, they are in the denominations of ten, when horizontally, they denote hundreds and when downward, they represent thousands.
  • Two kinds of bets could be placed during the match
    • One in the galleries and the other with the pit manager in the arena.
    • In this case, a ten percent plasada or arena fee is deducted from the total bet.
    • Tipping rate is ten percent of the total loot. However, no tip is expected if one loses a bet.

Now you’re an expert at Sabong … go to the Philippines and see a match!

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Making noodles at Circles – Shangri La Makati

I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this noodle chef was. In addition, to making one of the finest bowls of noodle soup, I’ve ever eaten, I also get dinner theatre!

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Link to bargain holidays

Eating D’Food in D’Talipapa

If you’re ever in Boracay, an absolute must do on your list has to be grabbing a bite at the Wet Market in D’ Talipapa. The concept is extremely simple …

  • Go to the Wet Market

  • Pick out any type of seafood you can find – dead or alive – note that anything living will cost more – since it’s fresher! Duh!

  • Take seafood you just bought to any of the restaurants that offer a “Cooking Service”

  • Get some Calamansi juice and soda – tell them EXACTLY how you want your seafood done. (Note Calamansi juice, might not look like what’s advertised below – samples may vary … especially if your calamansi juice looks like a rum and coke)

  • Wait 20 mins and eat food.

Of course, getting those Gigantic King Prawns in Chili Sauce, Grilled Blue Marlin Steaks and Blue Marlin in Sweet and Sour sauce, might cost a little bit extra – like 1100 pesos ($25 CDN) – and note I mean extra by Filipino standards as a meal like this in Toronto would cost upwards to $150, but it is completely worth the price and experience.

Of course, with a couple bowls of garlic and steamed rice, some hot soy sauce with calamansi juice and chilis in the middle, there was only food destruction to be had, as evidenced by the end scene.

In the end, let nothing stop you from this foodie heaven experience, considering that you can eat kilos of lobster, crabs, and shrimps for 1/4 the price it would cost back home – any Trini worth his salt would enjoy bussin’ dis lime for sure!

Tips for enjoying d’food in D’Talipapa

  • Observe what locals pay for the fish – don’t pay the tourist “Tax”
  • The restaurants surrounding the market are basic but are set up to cook fish brought from the market.
  • Prices for cooking go by charge by weight (to the nearest kilo – so it’s worth asking for a round number when you order your fish).
  • The restaurants will cook it to order be it grilled, fried, or covered in garlic or chili.
  • Ask the chef what he suggests will work best as they often come up with combinations you wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Most fish is served with rice.

Island hopping in Boracay

Boracay Island is your typical little tourist island that started as a hidden little treasure and then morphed into a tourist haunt because of the famous white sand beach – not unlike your Roatan in Honduras, San Andres Island in Colombia or Caye Caulker in Belize. When you do get there, it’s almost mandatory that you do some island hopping in Boracay … it’s the defacto tourist experience that goes on there.

As a preparation for your island hopping experience, here is a little checklist you should be aware of:

1. Be prepared to endure a human trafficking experience and being sandwiched in between about 1000 people on a tiny boat.
2. Be prepared to pay for anything extra on the boat. However, when is the next time you’ll see a guy selling coconuts off a boat to another boat?
2a. Seriously … if this isn’t inventive, then show me what is. A bunch of coconuts on a surfboard … check!

 

3. Did I mention the human trafficking experience? It’s truly a bonus aspect … along with 1000 people taking the exact same picture.
4. You’ll learn about new forms of commerce, trading and logistics handling.

The snorkeling is nice off the small islands off of Boracay, nothing completely spectacular in the touristy regions, but I’m sure that the wreck diving and off tour snorkeling is great – since the waters are super clear.

Did I mention that Island hopping in Boracay can be windy?

 

What’s Tagalog for “FML!!” .. I’ll tell you, it’s Pagsanjan Falls! [Pagsanjan Falls Travel log]

Pagsanjan is about 2 hours away from Makati. We left Makati at 12.45pm on Saturday afternoon, so there was a bit of traffic on the road out of Manila, but once we got to the SLEX, it was smooth sailing. To get there, take the South Super Highway (SLEX) all the way down to the last exit — Calamba, Laguna. Follow the road that leads to Los Banos, Laguna. Take the main road and you’ll get to Pagsanjan, Laguna. You’ll be passing the municipalities of Los Banos, Pila and Sta. Cruz. The view of the trees, rice paddies, “palay” and the rice fields reminds me how great it is to be out of Manila! We got to the resort at 3pm.

A Pagsanjan Arc will mark your arrival at your destination. Pass the arc and you’ll see the Pagsanjan church.

Our first stop was the Pagsanjan Falls Lodge and Summer Resort – as recommended to us. There are many signs on the way about the maximum price for the ride upriver and the fact that you shouldn’t listen to anyone along the road who is chasing your car to offer you a better price. There will be a lot of boatman flaggers on the streets.

As for the resort; it is quite nice for the area and the prices are quite reasonable – as is everything in the Philippines – every if you factor in the yearly inflation that seems to accompany prices with regards to tourists.

After paying our fee at the lodge, it was on to the canoes

Balaaaancceeee … Sirrr!! Balaaaancceeee … please!!!

On every part of the journey going up, that was the phrase that pays. If you’ve never been on a canoe going up a river before, then going to Pagsanjan Falls will definitley be an adventure – something out of the movie “Deliverance”. If you’re the last ones up the gorge like we were, then you’re going to hear the sounds of the forest, the swish of the canoes, the trickle of waterfalls and the cackling of the monkeys.

In the first 4 KMs, a motorized canoe pulled us along and all was decent, then the rocks in the river became very prominent and it was not a smooth cruising anymore. The motorized canoe disconnected from us and left us at the mercy of our boatmen.

But those two boatmen knew their job very well; took charge to take us further up. It’s a Herculean task to row against the flow but they had every skill needed for it. There was synchronization in their job.

It definitely was something from Jurassic Park … the steep sides of the gorge with each waterfall that we passed

From this point onwards there were strong rapids full of rocks and the boatmen had to literally step out of the unbalancing boat, push the rocks by their feet or step onto the rocks and pull the boat ahead with their hands. They knew exactly where & how slippery or sharp each rock was. Their job was so demanding that they took rest in between by sitting on a rock after locking our boat in place with another rock. This was truly were we started understanding the Tagalog word for “Fuck!!!” – in fact the guys asked us if we knew Tagalog, since we knew every time that they swore while pulling us up the rocks.

In between the huffing & puffing sitting on the rocks, I could see the strain on these guys and the amount of effort it took to go against the rapids and drag our canoe up the rock – but this is a job and they chose it – it is tough, in fact this would be one of the toughest honest jobs I’ve ever seen anyone do. I made peace with myself that I would give them a generous tip – that’s the best I could do and then I forgot about it.

NEXT!!!!

After Talahib Falls (pictured above), the guys said that this was Pagsanjan Falls. This is where my sympathy went away and BEAST mode came on. I calmly pulled out my camera with the map of the region and said this was Talahib Falls and that we came to see Pagsanjan Falls – I could see the frowns on their faces, but just for a moment – I think it is a game they play, to see which tourists come along who would push them and be “demanding”.

It was another 2 KM of hiking and dragging and then came the waterfall. Once you reach near it, your canoe is parked near the rocks and you wait for your turn to get into the bamboo raft which would take you under the waterfall.

9 Interesting facts about Pagsanjan:

  1. Pagsanjan is pronounced as Pag-san-nyan.
  2. The name of the river is Magdapio.
  3. The stretch is of 6 KMs before we reach the falls. First 4KMs are done by a motorized canoe and then the boatmen (they are called banceros) take over and paddle the canoe against the powerful flow.
  4. There are at least 10 sets of rapids in last 2 KMs.
  5. There are around 980 boats with two boatmen each.
  6. The boatmen hire these boats for PhP (Philippine Peso) 100 per trip (1USD = 42 PhP).
  7. Every day only 120 boats are allowed to take this trip so their turn comes only once in a week and hence they try to earn as much as possible.
  8. The area is protected by the environment department.
  9. One such trip costs us from 1200- 1500 PhP per person; breakup of which includes 30% tax to local municipality, 30% to association of (boatmen and hiring of motorized canoe), hiring of gears like life jackets, helmets etc.
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Sunsets and Volcanoes in Tagaytay : How to hike up Taal Volcano

After a long day and night of working onshore and offshore  hours, I decided that there should be an impromptu trip to Tagaytay and the Taal Volcano. In the grand scheme of things, this seemed like a good plan but because of a lack of preparation, this could have been a better trip.

Tagaytay is about 90 mins away from Manila and is a very popular day trip with the tourist aka. me and my people. It usually involves a nice lunch at one of the restaurants in “upper” Tagaytay. I didn’t take this option with my driver, instead he took us to a restaurant with the best view of the Volcano Lake and caldera – Leslie’s.

Now I wish I could give a review of the food there, but knowing that they had such a pristine lookout, I know that would attempt to rape any tourist coming to eat there. The view is really spectacular since you can see the Taal lake.

This would definitely be a great date place – so I will look into exercising that option, but looking at the menu the food looks kinda pricey. Evening view is good. You can see the different lights as you overlook from afar.

So after Leslie’s, we decided that we would be heading down the Volcano regardless of the late hour. We figured that someone would want to take our money and of  course on cue, as we headed on the turnoff, there was a tricycle with  “tour guides” and other touts willing to “assist” us with the trip. There is no shortage of people there willing to help tourists in parting with their money.

This is where the preparation would have help, since they first attempted to quote a price of 4500 pesos for the boat ride. This was met by ridicule and a prompt “BETTER PRICE” … then it went down to 3000 pesos … then it went to 2500 pesos, then it went to 2000 pesos for two people. At that point,  I relented and accepted the price, even though I knew that this was still not the best price I could have negotiated, but the late hour and the fact that 500 pesos wouldn’t affect me made me relent.

It is 30 minute drive down the mountain with many curves to the shore. At that point, we were greeted by the “crew” and off we went to the island.

I

Now this boat didn’t inspire me with confidence but then again there were tons of these boats and everyone seemed to be using them, so I figured why not. There’s Babu in the boat 😀

The start of the boat ride looks something like this

After about 15 mins of splish splashing, it was time to negotiate the horses up the mountain. Again, there is a little mafia over there and they know that they have you by the balls, since you have to use a horse unless you would like to walk up the mountain – btw which is very doable in a nice afternoon.

The horse negotiation irritated me, since they attempted to quote a price of 1750 pesos each, to which another “BETTER PRICE” was barked from me and I walked over to the tourist police office that they have on the island. This got the price down to 1000 pesos per person (50 peso park entrance fee, 450 pesos for the horse and 500 pesos for the guide”) and they wanted us to get a horse for the “tour guide”. Bullshit, I tell you … I paid for Babu and myself – the guides would walk up the mountain – end price of 2000 pesos. Not the best price, but am I going to quibble about another 10$ USD … after that it was on to the horsie

As I mentioned, that horse and I were not friends … maybe because this was the second time in my life that I was riding a horse.

The Taal Volcano is pretty fascinating.    It consists of an island in Lake Taal is situated within a caldera formed by an earlier, very powerful eruption.  Within the caldera is another lake with a small island in the middle.  Thus, it’s considered a complex volcano with a caldera within a caldera.  It’s still classified as an active volcano.   Although the volcano has been quiet since 1977, it has shown signs of unrest since 1991, with the formation of several small mud pots and geysers on the island.     There have been 33 recorded eruptions at Taal since 1572. One of the more devastating eruptions occurred in 1911, which claimed more than a thousand lives.

In the end, we left Makati at about 2.45pm and got back to the hotel at 9pm and we we’re exhausted, since the combination of the horse ride and the boat ride and drive was tough to do in a day. The final 2  hours were done in total darkness, as there are no lights on the volcano and the little village at the bottom is rudimentary.

In the end, here are the basics of this day trip

  • Total trip time = 70 – 90 mins each way
  • Stop off at Leslie’s = 30 mins
  • Drive down to the shore = 25 mins each way and 35 mins in the darkness
  • Boat ride = 15 mins each way
  • Horse ride = 15 mins each way
  • Time spent atop the volcano and looking = 30 mins

That being said, the journey is as interesting as getting to the top of the volcano. The ride to the caldera was pretty, with tropical birds in the trees and some great views of the lake below.    Once on top, you could look down into the caldera, but instead of the bubbling steaming lake I anticipated, it was a placid and really not any more remarkable than any other mountain lake.   There wasn’t really much you could do up there except snap a few photos and head back down.  

If I wanted to venture further, it was another fee.   No one is shy about asking for tips so I had to fight not feeling a bit like an ATM machine – everyone wanted a tip and truly it’s wasn’t my problem – I negotiated my price and that is what I paid- nothing more or less. 

In the grand scheme of things, the 4000 pesos or so it ended up costing Babu and I wasn’t that big a deal, but in retrospect it wasn’t worth the trouble.  What irritated me more, was the way that everyone thought I was an ATM and how much I had to fight to not get ripped off. A second time around, I would just hike the mountain by myself and avoid the horse, since I personally thought that they were not worth the money or the novelty and enjoy the landscape on my own 2 feet.

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Batad is definitely a wonder of world … dont know what number though?

Sunday 6th, March 2011

After the trouble in getting to Batad

  • Pouring rain
  • Ill equipped vehicle – CRVs are not jeepneys and should never be considered for true offroading
  • Hiking 20 mintues to the Saddle
  • Attack of the “splats” from eating “Spaghetti Bolognaise” at Hotel Banaue

We then had to actually do the hike down from the Saddle into Batad properly through the driving rain. One big concern would be, if we could actually see the terraces, since there was fog.

After all that hiking, there really isn’t much to talk about – since the pictures do all the talking.

One also has to love the the lovely waterfalls and streams that come after the rains

And of course, streaming waters down the terraces.

In real life, it looks kinda like this

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Where to get a taste of the world in Manila?

Buffets as a dinner concept hold nothing special to me. I’ve seen the buffets all across the world and they’re all the same – heaps of food – generally lower quality ingredients and the same stale variety of food within the buffet itself. However it seems that hotel buffet dining is something of a sport in Manila, which I would have never really known about until talking to a few resident Manila ex-pats and they all insisted that I bounce around the luxury hotel circuit here and check out the offerings.

After staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, Manila and moving over to the Shangri-La Makati – the experience has been night and day in terms of difference. I would never recommend the “Intercon”, since the Shangri-La is a similar price point and it is just a better hotel with a great buffet at Circles.

That being said, going to the Sofitel Hotel in Manila and eating at Spiral, makes the Shangri-La look like a Holiday Inn. It is Metro Manila’s biggest hotel buffet, it serves almost 300 dishes from all over the world : China, India, Japan, Europe, Middle East, and of course, the Philippines.

Of course, it is the famous spiral staircase that gives the restaurant its name and it cavernous, I asked the main concierge about the space and it’s more than 2,000-square meters for the dining area with that high ceiling.

Despite very good number of reviews and recommendations, nothing beats seeing all the glorious food. I don’ think there was anything they didn’t have – except bland burgers and fries. Imagine that … a buffet with no basic fast food nonsense in there in an great natural surrounding.

The fresh crab, oysters, chilled shrimps were such a treat that I found myself going back for seconds –  everything came together well and I was impressed.

The Japanese food was fresh and tasty and for once in a Japanese buffet, there was just enough rice to ensure that you could taste everything in the Sushi.

Everything was well presented, the chefs were interactive and informative. There was no question I asked, that I didn’t get a prompt and polite response to. The grilling station was spotless – I can only imagine the effort that goes into cleaning that thing every day.

The Thai stations were again immaculately clean, excellent presentation and all round superior quality of the dishes themselves.

As for the charcuterie, cheeses (not for me), lamb dishes, shawarma, custom made pizzas and ACTUALLY authentic Indian dishes – I couldn’t attack anymore. Eating at Spiral is a contact sport, but just when you think you’re done with the restaurant experience, then you have the freedom to eat your dinner or walk about in the pool and gardens by Manila Bay.

If only, I could just enjoy that post prandial nap in the water or sipping a drink inside the pool.

Or enjoy the gardens and walk about the pool and Manila Bay at night.

So basically after all that great food, you can grab an included custom made drink and walk about the gardens and come back and eat again. Not that I did it, but it is possible.

Btw, I loved the SPIRAL staircase!

FHM’s Buffet Guide to Manila

  1. 7 Corners, Crowne Plaza, Ortigas
    Price range: Breakfast is at P750, Lunch at P1,200, Dinner at P1,400
  2. Paseo Uno, Mandarin Oriental, Makati
    Price range: Breakfast is at P1,150, Lunch at P1,530, Dinner at P1,600. Luxury buffet on Friday and Saturday at P1,990
  3. Mercado, Resorts World Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P96, Lunch at P388, Dinner at P688
  4. Dads/Kamayan/Saisaki, EDSA
    Price range: For all three to crossover, Monday to Thursday Lunch at P520, Dinner at P620.
    Saisaki solo: Lunch at P480 (M-T), P580 (F-Sun), Dinner at P580.
    Kamayan solo: Lunch and dinner at P350.
  5. Alba Restaurante, Tomas Morato
    Prince Range: Lunch is at P595, Dinner at P650
  6. Spiral, Hotel Sofitel, Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P1,018 (M-F), P1,218 (Sat-Sun); Lunch is at P1,488 (M-Sat), P1,988 (Sunday brunch); Dinner is at P1,688 (Sun-Thurs), P1,888 (Friday to Saturday)
  7. Escolta, The Peninsula Manila, Makati
    Price range: Breakfast is at P990, Lunch at P1,100. Dinner at P1,500
  8. Cafe in the Park, Century Park Hotel, Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P860, Lunch and Dinner at P1,215
  9. Heat, EDSA Shangri-La,
    Price range: Monday-Thursday at P1,200; Friday-Sunday at P1,400
  10. Brazil! Brazil!, Rockwell
    Price range: Monday-Thursday is at P628, Friday-Sunday at P777
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Welcome to the Real Batad …

In coming to the Philippines, I had one major travel goal to achieve i.e. Get myself to Banaue and Batad. Given the description of the hike to Batad from the “Saddle” (the limit of where vehicles could go), I was quite reluctant to attempt this hike given the state of my physical condition : “A fat ass who can lift heavy rocks“, however I can halfway around the world and nothing was going to stop me from checking off number 41 on the Hillman Wonders list.

What my research didn’t tell me was that

  • Rain severely hampers your progress, but not unsurmountable
  • Landslides can kill you, but only if they fall on you. If they happen 25 seconds after you walk by a point, then you shouldn’t freak out.
  • Water travels down, hence if it rains at the top the Rice Terrace Amphitheater, then you will get tons of amazing waterfalls – that’s good! Right? Well not, if the waterfalls become mini rivers that cause you to lose your footing down the path
  • Renting a CRV is useless in going to Batad and that you absolutely must use a jeepney – unless you want to explain a broken axel – See Iceland with Rishi and Lev. You may ride with the locals and broke backpackers or comandeer one yourself at your beck and call.

For instance, the following information about travelling to Batad was not available on video or via a travelogue.



If this information was available, I might have reconsider going to Batad. The operative word is “might”, meaning there would be a 1.10% chance I would not going to Batad – since it would take a broken leg for me not to go. Another thing, that one cannot truly appreciate without being there, is the driving it takes to navigate those roads.

Well in the end, here was the final outcome before we left the van to hike up our own to the Saddle.