It feels like entering a new cafe. It looks quite different from the way I remember it and it wasn’t even that long ago. Restock Curiosities is an art cafe tucked in what I dub as the most hip street on San Antonio Village, Guijo. The work of art that they hang on the wall or display on each corner of the cafe are curated from local artists and they are all for sale. When art goes, they are replaced, hence, the interior design of Restock is ever changing. (more…)
From 2012 until mid 2016, I lived in San Antonio Village, Makati. Though not as posh as Salcedo or Bel-Air, this neighborhood is home to some of the most affluent families including the political clan of Binays. The roads in this area have gates, which they closed off at 10 in the evening. When it rains it gets easily flooded. If your mobile network is Globe you are in for some hassle as the signal in this area is very poor.
But this residential village has a few surprises up its sleeve. It is home to many a restaurants and hip hangout places. In my 3 years in the area I never knew about this cafe sitting in Kamagong. Last weekend my friend, Alchris and I made the discovery after a quick early dinner in a nearby resto. It’s a concept store that sells surfing items with a cafe on the ground floor. It’s called, Tenant Manila Cafe and Surf Shop.
Should I go or not? I had this debate with myself despite the fact that I was all dressed up.And the indecision is not exactly life-changing. I just can’t decide whether I should go check out this cool cafe that I discovered on net. You’re reading this post, this should tell you already what was my decision. Today let me introduce you to The Curator Coffee and Cocktails.
Early this year I’ve seen photos of Angel Locsin taken in all mountains she has conquered thus far. Angel is a local actress most famous for her TV roles. Her first bid for fame is her iconic portrayal of Pinay superhero, Darna. Now, Angel has been making raves on social media, particularly in numerous travel groups because of her penchant for mountain climbing. I remember looking at those photos and picking a mountain that I want to climb. This is how my Mt. Batolusong adventure came about; a climb that was inspired by Angel Locsin.
On the 18th of February, I and my blogger friends went on a dive for a cause with Scuba for Change, a not-for-profit dive center and a unique social enterprise scuba diving business in Puerto Galera. SFC’s initiatives include funding programs to help fight child exploitation and developing skills of the locals to give them opportunity to manage and operate all of SFC’s operations.
Plank Sourdough Pizza reaches the Philippines shore just last January 2017. It originates in the East Coast of Singapore by global baker, Dean Brettschneider. Plank is developed by the same people behind Baker & Cook chain of artisan bakeries and foodstores. Just like its Singapore counterpart, Plank Sourdough Pizza’s branch sits beside Baker & Cook. I was able to visit it recently with my KTG friends. So here goes my Plank Sourdough Pizza review.
Who the hey is this chubby, bald kid and why is he talking to me about some weird sh*t, is what I was thinking the first time Pao and I talked during our breaktime in the office. We were on the same technical writing training, I was in my late 20s, he was in his early 20s. I mentioned during our short self-introduction that I have a thing for slasher films, true crimes, and unsolved mysteries and he probably thought it’d be a good ice breaker for talking with me. I know that I am weird, but I guess I was one of those who are weird and awkward and Pao was one of those weird and comfortable. Comfortable in a sense that he doesn’t give a fig about what other people think about his weirdness. It didn’t take long for me to warm up to Pao because that’s how weird people are, they connect. I remembered him when I went to Quezon City recently and asked him to meet me. We met at a Filipino-themed cafe, KKK Coffee in Maginhawa.
I googled for a list of cafes in Maginhawa and found KKK Coffee. I didn’t know what to expect, but the Filipino theme going on was enough to pique my interest. KKK is in reference to the Filipino revolutionaries, Kataas-taasan Kagalang-galangang Katipunan not the white supremacy.
The space is small, no cushioned chairs so this is definitely not a place for lounging. I did like the simple design that they made of the place probably in consideration of the fact that it’s just a small space. There is a KKK flag up on the wall, an old lantern, and a decor on the ceiling made of capiz windows. You know by how they designed the interiors that there is a theme but they didn’t go over the top so I really liked it.
I decided to be a little adventurous and ordered a Kapeng Labuyo original (Medium PHP 109 – USD 2.16). I’ve never had a spicy drink before so I wanted to give it a try. According to the barista they blend chili paste to brewed coffee to achieve that spicy and mild tangy taste. The first time I sip I have seriously forgotten that it’s supposed to be spicy so the zing caught me off guard. It’s the kind of sting that goes all the way to the back of the throat. I am a fan of spicy food so I thought I would like it, but I didn’t. The zing got to the point when it becomes a nuisance that I wasn’t able to finish my glass.
Pao had Kapeng Ginto, which is basically a creamy coffee. I did try it, nothing special with how it tastes but definitely better than the coffee that I had. I’d like to think I just didn’t order the right drink so I still want to give KKK Coffee another chance. I like the ambiance anyway so why not.
I soon forgot about my coffee when Pao and I started talking. We spent a few hours catching up, discussing philosophies, politics, and other heavy things I don’t usually talk about with the majority of my friends. I’m not saying that my other friends couldn’t take it, but I know and accept that it is not their cup of tea so I lay off the heavy stuff when I’m with them. But not with Pao, this guy likes the dark stuff, which sorta betrays his happy disposition, and I love him for it.
There was a little bit of reminiscing—we used to work for the same company after all—wondering how our other friends are doing, and getting serious discussing about how f*cked up the Filipinos are for following blindly their chosen idol (I do not mean showbiz). Pao claims he wants to be neutral, I told him people with his way of thinking is but a tiny spec in the population. People believe who and what they want to believe. We all live with biases and biases make people passionate. It makes the fools and the most intelligent of people lenient or tolerant of the evil their chosen figure makes and blind to the good deed of their perceived enemy. We’re all susceptible to it.
Are we capable of being partial despite our initial belief? I say why not, we’re the thinking species after all. All I know is that we can all take a second look and give it another shot. Just like I am giving KKK Coffee another shot if I ever go back to Quezon City. Maybe next time I’d choose a better tasting coffee.
Traveling can be expensive, especially when you forget about some key expenses. But costs can easily hide themselves. It’s easier to miss something when you’re excited and looking forward to the best bits of your trip, not how much it’s going to cost you. To make sure you stay within budget, we’ve got five hidden costs you ought to plan for. Check them out:
It all started with us bumping with each other in blogger events in which we were both invited. But it wasn’t until 55 Dapitan that I got to know her a little better and I realized what a nice person she is. Not only that, she is a also a good listener. I have to emphasize that because it’s hard for me to find people who are good listeners (most of the time I do the listening). So here comes my fellow food and travel blogger and our 19th Travel Bug star, Arrianne Guzman.
Tell us some things about you
I’m Arrianne, I’m a full-time corporate junkie on weekdays and a part-time wanderer in between. When I was younger, I dreamt of writing as a professional career as I used to write for school publications and even served as editor-in-chief. But I ended up writing source codes in various programming languages. Unexpectedly, my knowledge in creating web applications enable me to return to my first love – writing through travel blogging.
I’m a certified coffee lover. I’m also interested in foreign languages – I used to study Spanish (Berlitz) and Mandarin (Confucius Institute). I’m fascinated with the societal advancements technology had brought us but there are things I’d rather do the “traditional” way. I like sending people handwritten letters or notes. I don’t like mayonnaise and ketchup in my food. I dream of going to Bhutan one day.
When and how did your passion for traveling begin?
I like discovering and trying out things. I have always been captivated by people, food, culture, architecture, nature, adventure and history. I grew up with an ardent infatuation for photography. And travel is the only thing I know that marries all of these interests I have. No wonder around 2011, I started to fall in love with it, a time when cheaper airfares had slowly surfaced the market. And ever since I joined the corporate world, aside from making my own money, I was fortunate to always be surrounded with people bitten by the travel bug, too. I just felt the universe conspired and destined me to travel, travel and travel.
Given the fact that you have a full-time job, how often do you travel and how do you balance it with work?
I spend 40 hours of my week in my cubicle haven. But guess what? I maximize my weekends, vacation leaves and holidays to pack my bag and hit the road. I enjoy and appreciate my work in as much as I take delight in traveling. How to balance work and travel? Two important things – be productive (not busy but productive) at work and leave on time. As much as possible, do not work overtime (many studies revealed you are not achieving more when you spend longer hours at work). If you can, do not bring work at home and don’t do it on weekends and holidays. Remember, work is a never-ending process. I also try to live a healthier lifestyle and avoid unnecessary stress so I won’t get sick. Not having to skip work because of sickness makes it easier for me to file for vacation leaves.
Out of all the places you’ve been to, which one is your favorite and why?
I’d like to say Japan or South Korea, but no, it has to be Batanes. It was like I have a paradise all to myself. The sky was always blue and the wind was always caressingly cold. No matter where I look, the sight of the picturesque mountain hills meeting the sea warmed my heart. Batanes and its tranquility calmed my soul. Walking around, time seemed to move so magically slow and it made me realize to trust life unfold in its wondrous pacing – that I don’t need to rush things. I don’t know but maybe Batanes is an enchanted place because its spell would make you believe in all things beautiful and promising.
Have you had any bad experience while traveling? If yes, can you share it with us?
Yes, there are a couple of not-so-good pieces of experience already. And one of the most memorable ones was when we missed our flight going home to Manila from Japan. I’d say it was a combination of disappointing and unforgettable things. We spent our last day in Japan visiting Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. With limited time, we just trudge a few of the torii gates and went straight to KIX. Arriving at the airport and thinking we still had extra minutes, we went around to spend all our remaining yen. When we finally check-in, we discovered we exceeded the maximum baggage allowance. We tried twice to re-arrange our stuff with our hand-carry but we ended up paying for additional luggage space. We thought we were good already. Calmly, we proceeded.
To our surprise, when our hand-carry items were scanned, the staff asked my friend to open her bag and put out the boxes of instant curry rice she bought. Naturally, we asked why and tried to discuss. Our conversation didn’t go that smoothly – there were points where we can’t understand one another because of the language barrier. In the end, we left the curry boxes and they finally let us proceed. Off we went just to discover that our plane already left. At first we were all shocked and disappointed – we can’t believe we missed our flight!
We spent all our remaining yen and we even paid for the extra baggage. It was really an insane sequence of events, haha! Moving on, we booked a flight for the next day. We chose to spend the rest of the night at KIX – borrowing airport blankets and sleeping in the lounges. The next day we prepared early for our flight. We took a shower at the airport – a coin operated one. I thought it was cool! There was a timer in the shower and once your time is up, the water will stop.
What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?
A decent toilet. I can sleep on the floor, I can endure a room without wi-fi or television but please, give me a clean toilet.
Anything specific you like to do when traveling?
I always like to try the local food.
Do you like traveling alone or with companions?
I haven’t tried traveling alone. And I’m not really into it but maybe I’d like to do it once in my lifetime. I love having companions but I prefer to travel in small group (3-4 persons).
What is the best thing you have eaten while traveling abroad?
Tough question because there’s a lot. The street food in Seoul was unforgettable. The curry dishes in Japan was something I can eat over and over again. But since I’m a coffee addict, I’d say trying Kopi Luwak in Bali, Indonesia. Also because of the experience that came with the two instances I was able to try it. The first one was when our driver brought us in a plantation which was not really part of our itinerary. Here, we were able to see the entire process of making Kopi Luwak starting from the roasting and grinding of the coffee beans. The second one was when we accidentally saw this coffee shop on our way to Tanah Lot temple. The unique thing about it was that there were civet cats roaming around, jumping from one table to another. The owner, who personally brewed our coffee, took care of the civet cats as his pets.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done in another country?
Brisk walking in Tokyo’s red light district during a cold, drizzling night with my girl friends. And if I may add, crossing Hanoi’s streets!
Do you know of any travel hack that you’d like to share?
Set your browser in incognito or private mode when booking flights and hotels. Incognito mode prevents browsing history to be stored in your computer. Sites often track your visits and will raise the price simply because you’ve visited them before. And oh, always bring a universal travel adapter.
Tell us about your blog Travel Habeat.
Travel Habeat is my passion project, a personal repository of my gastronomic travel adventures. It’s a combination of three words – travel, habit and eat. Even if I work full-time, I’d like to make traveling a habit, to experience and discover amazing things especially food. My infatuation for travel, writing and photography led me to create it. I am hoping to inspire corporate junkies like me to break the everyday work routine and travel. I wrote my stories to urge people pursue a memorable life because as Dustin Garis said,
“Life is not the number of years you live but the number of days you remember.”
What is the best thing about being a blogger?
At first, I thought getting invited for familiarization or press trips is amazing, I mean, who wouldn’t want to travel for free, right? And I’m very much grateful for all the opportunities offered to me in the short span of time I started blogging. But when I think about the best thing about being a blogger, I’d say three things – meeting new people, inspiring other people and sharing your passion (which in my case is my love for photography and writing).
What is the best advice you can give anyone who may want to start blogging?
Don’t wait for the right time because that perfect timing may not just come. Start where you are with what you have and with all that you are. As Zig Ziglar says, you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. Blogging, as in any pursuit, is a journey. Take baby steps. Don’t imagine “one day”, instead, decide on “day one”. And if ever you get tired or slightly lose grip of your purpose – rest, but don’t ever quit.
If you’re traveling solo for the first time abroad and you don’t know where to go, I would recommend that you choose Taiwan. Yes, I did Vietnam and Cambodia in my lonesome, but I find traveling Taiwan easier than those two. Why? Because first of all, Taiwan is a first world country, which means everything is fast and convenient; they have an efficient MRT train system, beautiful parks, convenience stores everywhere, clean surroundings, and a mix of modern and old architectures. Communication is also easier because even when the signs are in Chinese they also provide the English translation, plus the locals speak better English than Cambodians and Vietnamese. In this article, I will share to you my 4D3N itinerary in Taiwan.
Regular fare one way is around 7,000 pesos but some airlines offer seat-sale and that’s when you can book a flight for as low as 2,000+ pesos. I booked a return promo flight with Air Asia for PHP 6,532.03 (USD 129.69). But you can do better, I know some people who booked theirs for as low as 4,000+ pesos.
The coldest season in Taiwan happens from December to February. Needless to say, I arrived to a freezing cold Taipei. If you’re going in this time of the year, be sure to wear winter clothes. Gloves, face mask, boots, beanie, and scarves did a ton of difference in helping me fight the cold. Do not expect snow in Taipei; if you want to experience snow in Taiwan, you have to go up in the mountains at the Central Mountain Range.
If you don’t mind staying away from the central part of Taipei, you may want to consider staying at Happy Taipei Hostel in Shilin District. You can stay in a dorm room for as low as PHP 573.38 (USD 11.43) per night. That’s the rate for their mixed dorm where I stayed, slightly cheaper than staying in an all-female or all-male dorm. The good thing about this hostel is that they allow early check-in as soon as their office opens at 9:00 a.m., provided they have an available bed in the room.
There are three modes of public transportation in Taiwan; taxi, bus, and train. I never rode a cab while I was there and stuck to the cheaper options, bus and train. The MRT train of Taipei is the most convenient way to get around. I recommend that you take the MRT; it is not as complex as the Japan railway but just as efficient. I made a post that shows how to use the MRT just click the link below:
The travel period of my Taiwan trip is January 20-24 but my flight arrival and departure were scheduled so late in the night that I only had 3 days to explore. To be honest, I didn’t have a set itinerary; I never made a habit of creating one in all of my solo travels. So this itinerary is the result of my anything-goes approach to traveling.
|There are many WiFi spots in Taiwan, but most of them are password protected. So if you want to stay connected without a hassle, rent a pocket WiFi from Klook. Read my review here → Klook – Cheap and Reliable WiFi Buddy for Travelers|
My first day was pretty relaxed. After checking in at my hostel, I took the MRT to Sun Yat Sen station to meet a friend. Together we had coffee, explored Sun Yat Sen, and walked until we reached Taipei 101 (which we only admired from the outside). Learn about Sun Yat-sen and another famous memorial hall in Taipei, Chiang Kai-shek in the article below:
Prior to my trip to Taiwan I found Tourmeaway online and booked their Taipei Chill Out tour. Tourmeaway offers free walking tours in Taipei. Just by walking with their 3 guides and fellow tourists, I was able to see more of Taipei. We were taken to Daan Park, The Heaven Road, Qing Tien Street, Antique Market, Yongkang Street, and Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall. To know more about this tour, click below:
At night I met up with my friend again to have a food trip at the Shilin Market, then that’s pretty much it.
It’s my last day in Taiwan and I dedicated it to visiting Jiufen. I had a little misadventure due to some bad decisions but I am hoping that by sharing my experience, you will get there without hassle. To read the story click below:
More than sightseeing, the best thing to do in Taiwan really is to go on a food trip. They have many night markets where you can find some of the most delectable dishes! I was able to try food from Yongkang Street, Shilin Market, and Jiufen. To know Taiwan’s must-eat food, check out the article below:
Before I close let me tell you some things about the Taiwanese that I have observed. For each country that I go to, I always come up with a word to describe its people, for example, polite for the Japanese (When visiting their temples and shrines they don traditional clothing. They also respect their law that when crossing the street they don’t do it unless the green light is on even if there are no vehicles in sight), simple for the Cambodians because they live a slow-paced, uncomplicated life. A friend described the Taiwanese as friendly, but I think the more appropriate word for them is helpful.
Being a solo traveler and a direction impaired, I always stop random people on the street to show me the direction. Three times, I encountered locals who cannot speak English but it didn’t hinder them from helping me. A woman lets me hitch on her scooter and drove me to the spot where I was supposed to meet the staff of my hostel. A teenage couple helped me find the bus that goes to the airport. And this guy (pictured below), who couldn’t express himself in English walked with me instead to the Ruifang station. I am amazed that the Taiwanese people would go the extra mile to help tourists like me and for this, I am very grateful.
So this sums up my Taiwan trip. I hope that you will find this guide useful when you decide to visit Taiwan. It is an amazing country and I cannot wait to go back. You don’t have to worry about dining, food there is generally inexpensive. I described myself as a somewhat budget traveler because while I am not as tight as the legit budget travelers, I don’t go overboard as the luxurious travelers. Definitely, you can travel Taiwan alone; it’s safe, cheap, and it’s a beautiful country. I created a PDF copy of my Taiwan itinerary. You can download the file below.
You may view or download my itinerary for Taiwan trip by clicking the image below ↓.
One of the first things that you should know about Taiwan is that they are big on night markets. But if you are looking for a list of their night markets, sorry to disappoint this article is not it. I didn’t have enough time to check all of them but I managed to do some food trip because I have to. The day after another I kept telling myself that I’m going to diet another day. A promise that was made to be broken. I skipped the fancy restaurants and ate mostly street food. Today let’s do a little roundup of every food that I gobbled in my little time in Taiwan.