I usually try to schedule an out of town trip during summer. In the Philippines, school break falls on the months of April to May so I have come to associate summer = vacation. Now that I am working, I maintain that association by going on vacation trips during summer.
In the summer of 2014, I went to the provinces of Negros Occidental, Guimaras and Iloilo in the Visayas area of the Philippines with my high school friends, Cez, Thomas and Galembs. Our trip lasted for four days. Our entry point was Silay City in Negros Occidental, then our exit point was Iloilo.
The next travel series I will share are what I have to come to call as “BIG trip”. It stands for Bacolod-Iloilo-Guimaras.
Balay Negrense, one of the famous old houses of Silay.
1st stop: Silay City
Bacolod is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental but its airport is located in the province of Silay, which is about a 30-45 minute ride from Bacolod City. Silay City is one of the two museum cities in the Philippines, the other one being Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. It has been referred to as such due to the number of preserved Spanish houses in the city. In the airport, we were even given a map which detailed where all the Spanish houses were situated.
From the airport, we decided to proceed first to El Ideal Bakery, of the most must try’s in Silay, to eat breakfast. The restaurant-bakery is is also housed inside an old Spanish residence! Continue reading
Upon arrival in Seoul last October, the first places/things my friend Me-an and I agreed to look for was food and money changer. So upon depositing our luggage in hour hotel in Jong-no, we went straight to Myeong-dong. Upon getting off the subway station, the first restaurant we saw was McDonalds. We agreed to just eat there because we were already so hungry.
Thankfully, ordering was a breeze. The staff at the counter understood basic English and I was still decent enough to understand that “in-here” means “dine-in”. Ha! I was also amazed at the presentation of the cheeseburger. It was a far cry from the way cheeseburgers are served here in in the Philippines!
After I was done eating, I immediately stood and about to head to the door when Me-an stopped me. She said I have to pick-up the wrapper of the burger and the glass where I drank from and throw it on the garbage. I looked around and realized there was a “self-service garbage disposal counter” and people were indeed throwing their own garbage. I thought what a neat practice it was, something I was not used to seeing in the Philippines.
Forbes has recently listed Dumaguete City as one of the best places to retire around the world. My first reaction was, “Why?”. The city does not have the urbanity of Iloilo or Cebu. It’s not even in the level of Bacolod City yet. Apart from Silliman University, it does not have major attractions. But then I realized, Dumaguete City is a great jump off point for so many other great places like Siquijor, the Twin Lakes of Balinsasayaw, the Manjuyod Sandbar, and so on. And come to think it, when one retires, one may not exactly wish for a very busy city but rather for a more laid back one that is still in close proximity to relaxing places. Dumaguete fits that bill.
Rizal Boulevard: I would love to see this every morning!
When I asked myself the big “WHY”, I also overlooked that the greatest asset of Dumaguete is its food. I can’t recall eating a bad dish in the city! In fact, I and my friend didn’t do anything but eat when we were there last September. Restaurant owners also invest in interiors. I couldn’t find a restaurant, even small ones, with ugly interiors! I even joked that perhaps it’s one of the city government’s requirement for the renewal of business permit. Here were my case studies:
Case Study 1: Lab-as Restaurant
Situated the outer skirts of the city, Lab-as offers a variety of seafood dishes at surprisingly affordable prices! My personal favorite would have to be the baked scallops.
Out of focus shot. 😦
Lovely food aside, the restaurant had a very homey feel. There’s something about the wooden interiors that made me feel so relaxed. The staff was very accommodating goo!
You might find that there’s a disconnect in the title of this post. It’s related to my travel to Seoul but talks about the Thai way of saying “hello”. You see, I had very interesting tales associated with this greeting when I was in Seoul last October.
Upon arrival in Seoul, I and my friend Me-an immediately braved the cold streets of Myeong-dong to look for food, the best dollar to won exchange rates, and cardigans to augment our cold weaponry. I was in awe not just of the number of people in the area but the variety of things that can be bought. Myeong-dong truly lives up to its name of being one of Seoul’s premiere shopping destination!
Myeong-dong for you!
After happily walking out of a small stall, my spirit was blown out of my body when a man selling bags greeted us a with a very loud, “Sawa dee Krap!”. We just laughed so the man smiled back. Perhaps he was thinking “I got this in the bag”. Too bad just we laughed out of shock and the hilariousness of being mistaken as Thais.
On our 2nd night, we ventured to the more artsy street of Insadong where I found out street performances and magic shows are just ordinary happenings.
Yeah. Figure it out.
Paintings for sale at Insadong.
While quietly checking out the stalls, we were surprised again when someone shouted at us, “Sawa dee Krap!”. By that time I figure out I really probably looked like a Thai.
In the first part of Ilocos Adventure post, I shared about the places I visited in the towns of Batac and Paoay, Ilocos Norte. For this part, I will share about my quick stop in Laoag City. I and my co-workers just stayed in the city for a half a day but I can say every second we spent in Laoag was worthwhile. The city proper was smaller and less urbanized then I expected but I was surprised that it was this fact that made me love it even more. So onto my Laoag hullabaloos…
Seat of power in Ilocos Norte
On August 9, during the last day of the conference, most of officemates went back to Manila already while I and four co-workers (Ate Kate, Shei, Sab and Io) decided stay to visit the rest of the Ilocos provinces. We were also later joined by Ate Kate’s husband, Kuya Vince who flew all the way from Manila.
La Preciosa Restaurant
After checking out of Plaza Del Norte, we proceeded to the city proper of Laoag. We then checked in at La Eliana Hotel, a budget accommodation. We agreed to just stay there for the night since we will be leaving for early in the morning anyway. After resting for a bit, we went out to start to our half day tour of Laoag. Our first stop was the the La Preciosa Restaurant, which was situated just across La Eliana Hotel. They are famous for their cakes and a poqui-poqui, an eggplant dish. La Preciosa seems to be an old Spanish house converted to a restaurant. The interior is reminiscent of old antique houses and is very homey.
La Preciosa Restaurant.
Since it was just around 2 PM, we decided to try the cakes and reserve poqui-poqui for dinner. We ordered three flavors: carrot cake, toblerone cake, and blueberry cheesecake. All the cakes were good but my personal favorite would have to be the carrot cake!