2021, still single but I wasn’t going to be bitter or mop around the house asking the Lord why I’m spending another Valentine’s Day alone. I’m way past those emotions, you be in this state a long time, you eventually get used to it. So, I had a plan in mind; stay in a hotel for a night, meet a few of my friends for dinner and maybe some drinks, then spend the V-Day in a spa. And the hotel of my choice? I thought I should try the newly opened hostel in Makati that is touting itself as a luxury hostel. It’s called Unwnd Lux Hostel and nope I didn’t misspell the first word.
Unwnd Lux Hostel is owned by Araw Hospitality Group Inc. and it was officially launched on the 4th of November 2020. It’s a five-story building along General Luna street with a total of 20 rooms.
My friend, Cai (I know, I’ve been mentioning him a lot in this blog but that’s because we always hang out recently) is working as a marketing manager in this hostel. He helped me reserve a room, then on the 13th of February, I went there around 3 pm to check-in.
Before I entered the premises, the guard checked my name at the clipboard with the list of confirmed guests and asked that I wave my wrist on the body infrared thermometer. He then opened the door and motioned for me to approach the front desk.
Eclectic is how I would describe the hostel’s interior design. There’s too much going on that I’m not sure where to look first. It’s a mix of Asian and European themes, with bold and earthy tones, and vintage decors accentuating the place. There are old French signages used as decors on the walls, by the elevator there’s an antique telephone. In the upper levels where the rooms are, the doors are painted in red and art paintings hang on the walls.
I have visited this hostel late last year to model. I kid you not, I went there for a photoshoot as a favor to Cai. I, and three of his other friends, were photographed for Unwnd’s marketing materials and a few of these pictures were posted on their social media.
After I’ve scanned the code, filled out the health declaration form, and settled the payment, the receptionist told me that my room is not yet ready and suggested that I wait on their rooftop bar. So, I picked up my backpack and waited for the lift to come down. This elevator is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I think it’s called a shaftless elevator. The lift has no cabin, just a ledge and the buttons on the side. It is excruciatingly slow that sometimes, you’re better off taking the stairs.
Speaking of the lift, something funny and embarrassing happened when I took it to get to the rooftop. As I was about to exit the elevator, the door wouldn’t open and before I could react, I felt the lift starting to go down. In a panic, I hit the stop button, which halted the lift from further descending. I pushed the fifth-floor button, but nothing happened. So, there I was, stuck between the fourth and fifth floors. There was this tall man in a blue shirt hanging out on the rooftop who witnessed the entire thing. He came over and started giving me instructions on how I could operate the elevator buttons.
But I could hardly hear him through the glass door, and I kept pushing the buttons like a moron. I saw him doing a turning motion with his hand then pointed toward the red button. So, I followed his instruction, I turned the damn thing but to no avail. I was fully aware that I was trapped in a rope-less elevator that had no cables and the fact made me slightly nervous. The man then held up his four fingers to instruct me to hit the fourth-floor button. But I was going to the rooftop, why did he want me to push the 4th floor? I gestured that I would be going to where he was, but he shook his head and reiterated that I hit the fourth button. So, I obliged because it seemed like he knew how to operate this lift. And what do you know, the lift that did the trick.
I muttered my thanks to the man as soon I got off on the 5th floor. I told him that I couldn’t hear him that much and he just said, “Ah you couldn’t hear me?”
I couldn’t look him in the eye, and I decided not to take the conversation further as I was way embarrassed with what just happened, I wished for the earth to swallow me whole. Nevertheless, I was grateful for his help. He hangs around the rooftop for quite some time and I wondered if I should go and talk to him to express my gratitude. But then again, I didn’t want to further humiliate myself, so I just sat there, waiting for my room to be ready.
Later, I found out that this man is not just any person; the man in blue is one of the owners of Unwnd Lux Hostel. Well, I’ll be damned.
I texted Cai complaining that my room is not yet ready considering I was already an hour late for my check-in. He said that they are understaffed and that they need some time to sanitize each room for safety measures.
After an hour and a half, one of the staff approached me to say that my room is ready but that I have to go down to the front desk so they could give me the key. And so, I did, the room key is in a form of a rubber bracelet instead of the usual card key.
Cai booked me the triple sharing room, which I shared with my friend, Che. It has one double bed and a queen bed. The queen bed section has a TV, while the double bed is closer to the bathroom. Since I have a small bladder, I opted for the smaller bed so I don’t have to walk a long way to get to the toilet in the middle of the night. [CLICK HERE TO CHECK ROOM RATES]
I was excited to see the tray that contains toiletries and a care kit. The kit has small bottles of alcohol, hand sanitizer, aloe gel, and sunblock, as well as hand wipes, earplugs, and a sleep eye mask. Now that’s fancy, looks like they’re taking the luxury thing seriously. Not even Shangri-La The Fort prepares this kind of care kit for their guests so I must say, this is pretty impressive.
And the bed is filled with pillows and is quite comfortable to sleep in. There’s also a blow dryer, a vanity mirror with a sink, and a small reading area in this room.
Room reservation comes with a free breakfast, which they will ask you to pre-order upon check-in. In consideration of the limited seating in both their restaurant and rooftop bar, as well as the social distancing, you have to schedule what time you would be taking your breakfast.
My friend and I woke up as early as 7 am to eat our breakfast on Sunday morning. I had french toast with fruits and a cup of coffee. I was so hungover from the night before, I could barely eat. But I wasn’t so hungover as to not notice that the coffee was terrible. Oh my god, it was one of the worse coffees I’ve ever tasted in my life. It had a weird bitter, burnt taste to it that I immediately reported it to Cai. As you guys know, coffee is a huge deal for me (hello my blog is called Coffeehan), and I’m choosing to provide an honest feedback so they can do something about it.
I think that’s my only complaint because everything else was fine. The rooms and facilities are very clean, and the hostel’s personnel are warm and accommodating.
By the way, one of the selling points of this hostel is the jacuzzi on the rooftop, which, again you have to set an appointment for if you want to use it. Each guest (and their companion) is only allowed to use it for an hour. I enjoyed taking a dip in this jacuzzi but the water is not warm and the morning was a bit cold, that I wasn’t able to last for more than 30 minutes. They also have a small sauna and a fitness gym, but I wasn’t able to use them during my stay.
By the way, this is not a sponsored post. Cai did invite me for a blogger ex-deal last year but it didn’t push through due to some priorities. Che and I paid for this overnight stay.
All in all, Unwnd proved its promise of providing luxury accommodation on a budget. I could already envision that this would be a hit to the backpackers, especially for couples when everything goes back to normal again.
Whenever people consult me about beauty products that I use, I honestly don’t know what to tell them. First, I’m not loyal to any products, I try whatever catches my interest. Second, I never had such pressing skin issues to deal with (thank genetics) that I hardly notice whether, say a serum, is making any difference on my skin. It’s the same reason I don’t frequent beauty clinics, although I enjoy getting facial treatments. But lately, I noticed that my freckles, which started appearing in my early 30s, have grown in number and they’ve also become more pronounced. On top of that, I got two pimple marks on my chin. Overall, my skin appearance is dull and dry that I couldn’t help but cringe whenever I catch my reflection in the mirror.
Is aging catching up with me? Is there no way to reverse this?! I went out with my friends last Saturday and couldn’t find a single photo I could be proud of. The funny thing is, I was even wearing makeup, yet it wasn’t able to conceal how dull my skin is. What the hell is happening with me? This calls for a skin emergency.
I’ve learned about Glow Skin Clinic as I was googling for the best skin clinic in the metro. I heard that it’s Instagram famous and that it specializes in facial treatments, but they’re a bit on the pricey side.
They only have one clinic at Uptown Mall, BGC. I gave them a call to inquire about their cheapest facial just to test them out. Also, I don’t want to overspend if I find their service unsatisfactory. They recommended their Signature Facial for 2,500. I said, ok, and asked for a 6 pm appointment.
They asked for my name and contact number, after which, I received a text message with the details of my appointment, including the links to the health screening form and online patient form.
As with the requirements, they are as follows:
- Come to the clinic at least 30 minutes before the treatment. Those who arrive 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment will be asked to reschedule.
- Clients are advised to come alone for their treatments, except for minors, PWDs, and seniors who may come with one companion.
- Limit the use of jewelry and other accessories.
- Come to the clinic barefaced or without makeup.
- Use no contact payment option, e.g., credit card, debit card, or Paymaya (although they accept cash, they prefer the cashless option for safety measures).
Just as advised, I went to Glow Skin Clinic 30 minutes before my appointment. The receptionist greeted me, took my temperature, then led me to a small room for the mandatory assessment with the in-house doctor. Yes, the consultation is mandatory and it’s 1,500 pesos. However, the fee will be waived if you avail of any treatment worth 3,000 pesos and above.
The doctor, who introduced herself as Dr. Alyssa Benesa (she had to repeat to me her last name several times because I kept mishearing it, lol), asked me what’s my biggest skin concern. I told her that I have more freckles than ever before, and I want to get rid of them.
She asked me whether I had been wearing a sunblock, I said yes, but only when I go out. I also mentioned that I used to travel a lot before the pandemic and at least then, I remember being religious about wearing sunscreen. But ever since I started working from home, I stopped using any sunblock.
Dr. Benesa said that UV rays can penetrate the building through the windows, the door, or the balcony, hence, it is still best to wear sunblock even at home. I nodded in agreement, not daring to admit that I’ve known this fact all this time, just that I’ve become lazy with my beauty routines, so now I’m paying the price.
Aside from my freckles, the doctor indicated my other skin problems, such as slightly enlarged pores on the sides of the nose, visible facial veins, and uneven skin tone. I told her that my skin feels dry as well.
Good news, the damage I’ve done to my skin can be reversed. She offered three options that specifically target hyperpigmentation and they are as follows:
Cosmelan Peel – Standard depigmenting chemical peel.
Cost – 35,000
Downtime – 1-2 weeks
Glow-up Laser – Treats pigmentation and visible facial veins
Clear and Brilliant Laser – Improves skin texture and minimizes the appearance of pores
Cost – 12,500
Downtime – 3-4 days
But for my first visit, I only availed myself of the Signature Facial, an 8-step facial treatment that cleans deep and promises to give you that youthful, dewy glow. As an add-on to this treatment, I picked the Laser Light Aloe Mask, sending my total bill to P3,100.
Now let’s get to the fun part, the treatment proper.
It began with a 30-second mouth rinse; the esthetician gave me a small cup of pink-colored mouthwash and a timer. I went to the toilet, swished the mouthwash, then found the esthetician waiting for me outside the door.
She then led me to a small dimly lit room and introduced herself as Dawn. She instructed me to remove my top, change into the bathrobe, and wear the blue hair cap. Dawn left the room to give me some privacy. As soon as I was finished doing everything I was told, I pushed the button that would signal Dawn to enter the room. She was back as soon as I pressed that button, just like when I rinsed my mouth earlier, she was just outside the room waiting for me.
Dawn is very professional and kind that I immediately felt relaxed and comfortable. She explained to me the purpose of each step that we’re doing, and she also patiently answered my queries. I told her that I’m blogging about this experience, so I had to take some photos, she willingly obliged.
As I mentioned, Signature Facial is an 8-step procedure. Let me walk you through it.
Step 1: Cleansing
It begins with a two-part cleansing. The reason they asked me to remove my upper garment is that the chest area is included in this cleansing ritual; I didn’t mind that at all. Dawn put dots of cleansing cream on my face, neck, and chest, massaged the cream all over my skin, then removed it with a gauze or cotton (not sure as my eyes were closed). She repeated the procedure with another cleansing cream, which if I’m not mistaken has exfoliating properties to it as it felt a little bit grainy when rubbed on the skin. Again, I based it all on what I felt as I didn’t think of asking Dawn about it.
Step 2: Facial massage
My most favorite part, the facial massage comes next. I’m not sure how long did it last, maybe 20 minutes give or take, but it was divine. I especially liked the little strokes she did around my eyes that I wish it could have been longer.
Step 3: Steam
I’ve had a facial in another clinic before and as part of their Covid-safety protocols, they don’t do facial steaming. So, I was a bit surprised when Dawn informed me that the steaming comes next. I don’t mind because it will help open up the pores in preparation for the next step, which is…
Step 4: Extraction
Dawn remarked that it doesn’t seem like she could extract a lot of impurities from my face, but still, I encouraged her to do it. She said, “I will try ma’am,” then proceeded to apply gentle pressures with the metal extractor on my pores particularly on my chin, nose, and forehead. It didn’t hurt at all, which I appreciate as other estheticians seem to enjoy putting great pressure on the skin whenever they do this procedure.
Step 5: MicroDermabrasion
Dawn announced that since she barely extracted residues from my face, we would spend more time on the microdermabrasion. She glided a handheld device over my face repeatedly. I could feel the device sucking the dead cells off my skin.
Step 6: Electro-infusion
For the next step, Dawn put a silver plate under my shoulder, explaining that this would help better infusion of the serum into my skin. She then put the serum on my face and used a device to spread it all over. I loved this part because the device felt cool against my skin making me feel more relaxed.
Step 7: LED Light Therapy
To close the pores and promote blood circulation and collagen production, Dawn proceeded with the LED light therapy. It was a bit warm to the skin but didn’t cause any discomfort.
Add-on step: Laser Light Aloe Mask
Not a part of the 8-step, but I recommend that you have a mask as an add-on when you do avail of the Signature Facial. The mask has linseed oil, aloe vera, and seaweed extract to help soften, calm, tone, and moisturize the skin.
Before putting on the mask, Dawn informed me that it will cover my eyes and my lips as well. I think some people might find this to be uncomfortable as the entire face will be covered (except the nostrils of course), but for me, it was fine.
Shen prepared the mixture, stirred it until it turned into a creamy consistency, then applied it on my face with a brush. The mask felt heavy and cool to the skin and I think I had it on for 10 minutes. Although it became solid, it didn’t harden unlike those other clay masks. When Dawn lifted it off my face, there was no pain at all.
Step 8: Rejuvenating cream and sunblock
For the last step of this marvelous treatment, Dawn put a rejuvenating cream and sunblock on my skin. She then informed me that the treatment is complete. As soon as she said it, I got up from the bed and grabbed my camera, excited to see what my skin looks like.
Lo and behold! My skin looked visibly brighter and moisturized. Glow Skin Clinic has successfully brought back the glow to my skin. As I said, I don’t generally notice any difference from beauty products that I use or from other facial treatments that I had before, so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the appearance of my skin has improved.
Here’s a side-by-side photo of my face, the left was taken before the treatment, the right one was taken the next day. I swear these photos have not been altered. If you’re wondering about my hair color, in the left photo, my hair was pulled tight so you’re seeing my grown-out roots.
I loved the results. I’m so happy that with just one facial treatment, I’ve seen a remarkable change in my skin. My freckles and pimple marks have slightly faded and my skin lightened. I didn’t even avail of their more expensive treatments, yet as you can see, whatever magic they’re doing there, it definitely works.
After my beach trip, I intend to go back for another facial, hopefully with one of the treatments that Dr. Benesa recommended. When I do get it, I promise to blog about it as well. Special shout out to Dawn for being such a wonderful esthetician.
Was it just hype and overly priced? The answer is no. Glow Skin Clinic proves the promise, no wonder it’s been recommended by many. This, by far, is the most amazing facial treatment experience in my life.
To ease my frustrations over getting older, being stuck at home, and not being able to travel, I planned to celebrate my 38th birthday last year by having a staycation. So, I browsed through various hotel/room booking sites, targeted the areas of Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal, until I found one that looked interesting enough to warrant a closer look. It’s located in an exclusive village in Cainta, Rizal. And the listing’s selling point? It’s a studio unit on the rooftop with a mountain view.
I booked for two nights, the original dates falling on my birthday. A few weeks before my reservation, however, the government declared the second round of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). I quickly sent a message to the host requesting to reschedule, which she gladly accepted. Thus, I stayed there from the 16th to the 18th of October.
I wasn’t alone, as always, I was with my favorite travel/hotel buddy, Cai (Travelosyo).
The owner of this listing, Honey, has a Superhost badge in Airbnb. Superhosts, if you’re not aware, are experienced hosts known for going above and beyond in ensuring amazing experiences for their guests. Based on my interaction with her, I can attest that Honey deserves such merit.
She is very responsive and accommodating, and patiently answered all my queries. When I had to reschedule, she willingly obliged.
Because my original plan has something to do with my birthday, I asked her if it was okay to accept three additional guests, albeit non-staying, on the night of my birthday. She told me that while she personally didn’t mind, Airbnb hosts need to observe the COVID safety protocols at that time. Having said that, Honey was willing to let me have two visitors. I ended up canceling the plan because as I mentioned, I didn’t go there on my birthday. Still, I appreciate Honey’s willingness to work around my plan.
Getting there is a bit tricky because there are two Corona streets in Cainta. So, if you’re booking this place via Grab, look for this specific place on the map. This is the one that leads to this Airbnb. There is an SM Hypermart across the main entrance to the village.
The caretaker, Diane, greeted me when I arrived. She even helped me with my small luggage when we took the spiral staircase. The room is on the rooftop within a gated apartment. Before she left, she gave me the key to the room and told me that I could text her if ever I need anything.
The room is fitted with a double bed (which I didn’t realize were two mattresses stacked on top of each other until Cai mentioned it), a TV with Netflix, a small fridge, and a microwave oven.
Plastic tables and chairs are set up outside on top of the artificial grass mat. However, it had been raining a lot when Cai and I were there, so we didn’t get to stay in this area that much. I think it’s a perfect place for a little get-together. If only we’re not having this whole pandemic situation, I would have asked more of my friends to come for a drink.
We bought some groceries from SM Hypermart for our food and I let Cai take care of the cooking.
Now let’s get to the things that this Airbnb can improve on. The showerhead in the bathroom is broken, the water comes out, not from the holes but from the gaping side. It is so weird. Also, the air conditioner was leaking so we had to put the rug and the dipper to catch the dripping water. I informed the host of these when I left my Airbnb feedback; hopefully, they were able to fix them already.
All in all, I loved staying in this Airbnb. My home has been my place of work since the pandemic began so it was nice to be somewhere else and not be reminded of work. The place sits in a quiet neighborhood, the WiFi connection works fine, and there’s Netflix if you want to binge some series or movies. It’s a good place to escape without leaving the city.
You know that Instagram Ask me a question sticker where you encourage your followers to ask you anything and then you’d post your reply? This sticker is especially useful for famous Instagrammers who want to connect with their followers. And since I’m not popular, I was very reluctant to use this feature for fear that I will be ignored; which is exactly what happened when I finally used it a few days ago. Only two people heeded my plea, while the other three, well, they’re my close friends so I sort of forced them to do it. But just as I mentioned in that Instagram post, I will be using their questions as material for this blog post, so here you go.
If you could be a fictional hero in the Marvel universe, who would you be?
I want to be either X-Men’s Jean Gray or The Avenger’s Black Widow because they are both femme fatale, but then who am I kidding? I am Wolverine, I am definitely Wolverine. You know, tough exterior, a little too gruff, but deep down I’m really a good person, lol. Just like our man, Logan, I am very misunderstood. Even my close friends told me that they didn’t like me at first. So many people have taken offense to my silence, misreading my inability to socialize for arrogance. In reality, it just takes some time for me to warm up to people because I don’t give away my trust easily. Yes, very Wolverine-ish.
What’s your greatest fear?
Honestly, it’s dying early. To be taken by my maker without having a chance to accomplish all of my dreams in life.
Also, I’m scared of sharks, I know that the likelihood of me seeing them in person is slim since I’m not big on water activities but, still I have this unreasonable fear of these underwater predators. First, I think we can all agree that they look scary, those big sharp teeth give me the creeps. So to sum it up I’m afraid of dying specifically from a shark attack.
Would you consider yourself successful?
The meaning of success is different for each person. If we are going for the old and common societal definition of success – married with kids, rich, and famous – then the answer is no. But you see, I don’t want to define my success based on somebody else’s. I know this sounds corny, but let me explain.
We can’t all be married, rich, and famous, that’s the hard truth. Therefore, if this is the only way for us to measure success then not everyone has a fair chance at winning in this life. Granted not all of us can meet success, but it doesn’t mean that a chance at it, no matter how slim, should not be made available to everyone. Also, the world is big and there are so many pursuits in life. You can be successful at your studies, successful in your career, heck if you will, successful with your love life. We all have our dreams, our own path to choose. Therefore, success should not be determined by others; it’s something that you should set for yourself.
I had all these goals since I was a kid that I have worked all my life to achieve, such as, leaving the neighborhood where I grew up and where my family has been living as illegal settlers for decades, finishing college, getting a better-paying job, traveling the world, learning another language, and the biggest of them all, buying my own house. And guess what darling, I was able to accomplish all of them. So to answer the question, using the bar I have set for myself, then yes, I consider myself, successful.
Tell us of a time you met someone special on the road
You can easily set me apart from my traveler friends by the number of guys I dated while traveling: zero. Yes, my loves, with over a decade worth of traveling spanning three continents, thirteen countries, an unspecified number of provinces in the Philippines, I have never dated anyone on the road. While my friends could write an entire book on travel dating alone, I only managed to write about this one Spanish guy that I met in Penang and we didn’t even date. I know right, I’m a loser, lol.
It just happened that he sat at the same table where I was and started talking to me. He’s tall, cute, and even told me indirectly that I’m pretty, but nothing came out of this encounter. By nothing I mean he didn’t get my number, didn’t even ask for my name, and we never saw each other again. But I found my conversation with him as one of the most interesting I’ve ever had with a stranger that I wrote an entire article about it.
What’s your biggest regret in life?
Two people have asked this same question so here it is.
There is one incident in my head that whenever I remember, I couldn’t help but scold myself for doing what I did. I guess it means that I regret this so much that whenever I think about it, I’m always imagining changing the scenario.
So here it is, I was fairly young and stupid, dating a guy for the first time. After just a month of telling me that he loved me, he was trying to break things off via Yahoo messenger. He went on and on about deciding that we should forget about each other [but if I wanted we could sleep together, no strings attached, (wow)], that there was never an us, that he would never leave his ex-girlfriend for me (which I realized was not really an ex, that was just his press release).
I mean, that was the longestbreakup I’ve ever had to sit through and I was completely shattered. Yet, I sat there, playing it cool, still responding while this prick drone on about how insignificant I was to him and that what we had wasn’t real. He was gaslighting me long before I knew of the term and I felt powerless because I seriously thought I was in love with him.
So what was the regret? That I responded at all. If I could go back in time, the moment he said that he wanted out, I would close the chatbox, block him, delete his number, remove him from my Facebook, and I would never ever talk to him again. I wouldn’t give him the benefit of knowing what I was thinking. To this day this is my biggest regret because had I been smart enough to sever all communications with him right then and there, I could have saved myself from years of unnecessary heartaches.
Are you single?
The simple answer is yes. The long answer is… joke, I don’t have a long answer, lol.
So that’s it, my slightly staged Q&A, which I’m never doing again. Still, I wanna thank my friends, Cai, Alchris, Marge J., Aleah, and Lou, for humoring me and sending in their questions so I can make this blog post.
Gifs were taken from the web.
After finishing the most horrible challenge I have ever taken in my life, I bought a reward for myself. I originally thought about buying an espresso machine but my stingy self wouldn’t allow it, at least not at this point in time. The next best thing is a French press and I decided to get one of the best in the market, the Bodum Chambord French Press.
Bodum is a Danish-Swiss manufacturing company that specializes in kitchenware. It was founded in 1944 by Peter Bodum in Copenhagen, Denmark, and back then, the business revolves around importing glassware. Bodum then discovered vacuum coffee makers, thus began the company’s venture into coffee-making products. Today, Bodum is known for its coffee and tea solutions, such as french press, vacuum coffee brewers, etc.
In 1974, Bodum launched their first french coffee press called the Bistro. Since then, the company has continuously innovated this product line that they have successfully established itself as the best French coffee press manufacturer in the world. In fact, you can google the best french press and you will find Bodum’s products among the top recommendation.
The one that I own is the Chambord French press, which I purchased at Starbucks Reserve, The Podium Mall for P1,995. Bodum went into an agreement with the Starbucks company in 2016 so the latter can sell their products. Thus, you can easily find this french press at any Starbucks branch should you want to get one.
Here are the main features of the Chambord French press based on Bodum’s product description on their website:
- The carafe is made of non-stain, heat-resistant borosilicate glass that won’t alter or impair the coffee’s natural flavor.
- The frame and lid are made from durable stainless steel that’s undergone several chrome-plating processes to result in a durable, shiny surface capable of withstanding many years of us.
- The handle is made from Polypropylene with a matte finish that gives a comfortable grip while serving and adds to the classic quality of the design.
- Stainless steel plunger prevents ground beans from escaping when the coffee is poured.
My Chambord French press is a 4 cup coffee maker, 0.5 l, 17 oz. The frame has a bronze finish giving a little bit of a vintage feel to it. And I love it; it is so easy to use and makes the whole ritual of coffee making so much more pleasurable for me.
I used to have another French press (not a Bodum) before but it broke, didn’t even last for a year. So the first thing that I checked before buying this was the beaker Chambord uses borosilicate glass, which is more resistant to thermal shock; in layman’s terms, it can better withstand heat. The glass also appears a bit thicker compared with the first french press that I had.
Washing it is simple, you can even easily dismantle the filter, spiral plate, cross plate, and the plunger rod if you really want to get into the nook and cranny of it.
For me, a French coffee press is a good investment if you want to enjoy great-tasting coffee without breaking the bank. It is also environmentally friendly; no electricity required to operate and no need for a paper filter. You just put in the coffee grounds, add hot water, wait for 4 minutes, push down the plunger to the bottom of the glass, then voila, you’ve made yourself a fresh brew.
There is a small user guide included in the box that shows instructions on how to use the French press. But if like me, you are a visual person, you can watch the YouTube video that I shared here.
Monkey magic, monkey hostel, magic garden, I have lost count of the times that I butchered the name of this hostel. For the record, it’s called Magic Monkey Garden Bungalow and Dormitory, yes, a mouthful. This is where my friends and I stayed during our Vang Vieng trip and today I’m doing a review of this place, which makes me a bit nervous because whenever I share a hotel review on my Facebook page, random people send me a message to reserve a room (I wish I’m kidding).
Magic Monkey Garden offers bungalows and dorm-type rooms located in the Ban Phoudindeng area [Check booking rates here]. Getting there is easy, tuk-tuk drivers know where it is and it’s just a few minutes on foot off from the main road. The reception area is filled with written signs of house rules and advertisement of tours and activities that they organize.
Upon check-in they gave us the key to the room and a brown towel that was still damp and had a funny smell to it. It might have been newly washed but they weren’t able to dry it well, I don’t know. Anyway, we stayed in a dorm room with bunk beds good for 10 people. For a 2-night stay, I paid, ₭161,000 (₱922.85).
Inside the room are three bathrooms that are in dire need of maintenance. For one, the doors are misaligned so you cannot close them all the way through. There’s a glaring gap on the sides that would allow anyone a peep show if you’re not careful. So whenever I showered, I would roll up some tissue paper to fill in those gaps because the last thing I wanted is to give everyone a live show that they didn’t ask for.
Also, the mirror, oh my god I have so much angst about the wall mirror. They were mounted so high up on the wall I couldn’t freaking see myself unless I jump or step on top of the toilet seat. So I never bothered using this mirror because whoever put it up seemed to have forgotten that short people like me exist.
Of course, I didn’t complain to the front desk because first of all, this is not a 5-star hotel and the rate is cheap so I was only getting what I paid for. But apart from these inconveniences, our stay at Magic Monkey Garden was generally good, let me tell you why.
The first thing I love about it is the free, do-it-yourself breakfast. Every morning, my friends and I would come down to the kitchen and cook our own food. There are noodles, eggs, bread, coffee, vegetables, fruits, etc. We would sit at a long table and sometimes chat with other guests.
There was this Argentinian guy that one of my friends was eyeing and we got to talk to him a little. He said that he could pick up some Spanish words from our conversation, we explained that indeed, our language is laced with Spanish words due to Spain’s 333 years of occupation in the Philippines. That’s over three centuries, you’d think the Philippines should at least have Spanish as the second language, but no, it’s English. Anyway, that’s enough history for today.
Back to the story, Magic Monkey Garden also has a swimming pool (albeit non-operational during our stay, not sure why) and a small bar that faces this wide expanse of land offering the best view of limestone mountains and the beautiful sunset.
Another guests’ favorite, and for good reason, is the once a week (I forgot the exact day) free barbecue day where everyone (staff and guests alike) gathers to enjoy fresh and generous servings of grilled meat, vegetables, and noodles. For me, this is the best part of staying here. My friends and I had a blast eating with our hands, making our ownwith the glass wrapper or lettuce. For this alone, I would recommend anyone to book at Magic Monkey.
Other things that I love about this place is the laundry service, which I availed as I was running out of clothes for ₭24,000 (₱137.57), the kind and polite staff, and this dog that always hang around us whenever we’re eating. Also, the garden, it’s beautiful and peaceful, perfect for a morning walk.
For the rate, this accommodation is good enough. It has a free breakfast, amazing views, nice staff, and it’s only 0.8 km away from the city center. I am comfortable recommending Magic Monkey Garden to those who are looking for budget hotels in Vang Vieng.