I’m back from my solo backpacking trip abroad…

tired but gratefully alive…

I have yet to blog about it though. I just needed some more time before i get back into the blogosphere…

so I’ll just leave this picture of one of the places i visited…

be blogging soon… ^_^


Been there, been that…

That was a joke my former co-teacher would say (and it never failed to keep me from giggling no matter how many times he repeated it…I guess, it was the way he said it) especially when traveling to different places was being talked about.

Well, I’ve ‘been there, been that’ (giggle, giggle) in some major parts of the Philippines (places in my wish list still include Sagada, Vigan, Camiguin, and Ilocos).  And I was pretty satisfied with ‘my record’ (mula Aparri hanggang…er, well, Gensan) until I got my grade from Lakbayan:

WHAT? My Lakbayan grade is ONLY C+?

(The blues in the map show where I’ve been)…

I know C plus is not bad (it’s like 85 to 90, right? no? um, ok maybe, 80 to 84?).  But it still irked me nonetheless.  Ganun? C plus pala ha? If the purpose is to irritate me into packing my backpack and go explore the rest of the beautiful country, which in turn will help support Philippine tourism–well, it worked, buster! If only I could take a leave from work right now, I would!

And…and…and if i could, humanda ka , Lakbayan! Grrr…I’ll show you…  😡

travel pictures that, is!  Yeah…I’ll show you…hmp!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!
♥ ♥ And to duskfading: Thanks for this site…(because of it, napa-crash course tuloy ako sa Phil. geography ng di oras, di ko kasi alam kung anong mga lugar na nadaanan ko e, hehe). Rest easy, k?

We took a restful short breather last Aug. 23 to 25 which happened to be a long rainy weekend.  I joined up with Doc, Sis and kids for an overnight stay in Tagaytay where the weather was damp and cool.

There are many things and sights to see in Tagaytay, much of it are already well-known by most Luzon dwellers so I don’t need to talk about them here.  But there’s only one place we visited (and may revisit) and it is the ‘bulalohan’ eateries at Mahogany Public Market (right).

There were many eateries to choose from along this foodstrip.  Sis wanted the one which had the most customers (having more customers means it might be the best) but naturally, there were no available seats anymore.  So we chose “Betchay’s House of Food” which was great, too.

The Bulalohan Foodstrip alfresco-style: it’s like dying and going to Bulalo heaven.

Bulalo is a dish of boiled bone-in beef shank with vegetables.  The bone marrow is the bulalo itself and it is the soul or core of this dish (pun intended).  It is not an ideal dish for those suffering from high levels of cholesterol so it should be something (as do most  delicious foods, I guess—sigh!) that you only get to enjoy once in a while.

Bulalo is what we came here for and that’s what we got:

Perfectly hot for a rainy cold weekend: They served bulalo in a very presentable transparent serving soup bowl heated up by a small flame underneath (wow, where can I get one of these?).  This brilliant idea serves to keep the fat in the broth from congealing into greasy soup which pretty much ruins anybody’s appetite.

….We enjoyed tawilis (small sardines) –fried to a crisp (left).  Condiments recommended for bulalo (right): patis (fish sauce) and calamansi juice with hot sili.

(Right) Get as many as you want! They also serve banana señoritas…for free!

The ‘bulalohan’ experience was worth it and really affordable. There is a public restroom near the market but it would be better to do your ‘business’ somewhere else before coming here.  Betchay’s food attendants were helpful and courteous.  The utensils looked clean enough.  They might need to improve on the quality of their tables and chairs for they tend to wobble while one chair I noticed was missing a leg (the ground is also a bit uneven).  Also being an open marketplace, the place has  some souvenir vendors walking by. So expect many of them to strut food and souvenir items and to ask you to buy from them while you’re sipping your broth.  It comes with the territory, I guess.  You can buy from them or politely refuse…after all, we all have to earn a living.

The next day, we went back to buy beef from the market itself.  A kilo of freshly butchered beef costs just a hundred and fifty pesos. And when I mean fresh meat—I mean meat that was still twitching while hanging from their hooks (pardon me for the visual imagery…I mean, I know! While  i was watching it, I don’t know whether to be appalled or be fascinated by it)!

We bought enough meat to last us for several days.  Beef chunks and ribs for Dad’s nilagang baka (a favorite of mine), and sirloin bought at low prices compared to the ones in the supermarket.  Like what our dads and lolos used to say…“Ayos na ang butu-buto!” Nuff said!

These are just more snapshots of what i saw and experienced in Indonesia–the art, culture, and some crazy moments:

Art, Koi, and Rain

…A country should take pride in its identity and culture. One way of doing this is to put up public statues, sculptures, and monuments that best speak of its history and heritage. And these should also be of fine quality and elegant taste, as well. Statues in Indonesia are everywhere from national symbolism to religious purposes. Left: An elegant neoclassical equestrian statue of their national hero, Javanese Prince Diponegoro at Monas Park.  Middle: a beautiful life-size statue of Hindu/Balinese Goddess Saraswati at the entrance of Rumah Mode.  Left: another life-size sculpture of a Hindu Goddess at the lobby of Hotel Panorama Lembang.

Artworks at the Art Market in Bay City. (Left) East meets West: a wooden statue of the Balinese mythological diety, Garuda, alongside Christianity’s Pieta; (Right) Indonesian artists depicting their way of life–from folk dances to everyday scenes of crowded trains.

(Left) I was thrilled to see lots of koi fishes in Bandung, in public parks and fountains.  Kung dito yan, ninakaw ko na sila! hehe.  (Right) Rain is also consistent, much to our chagrin.

….I like the details and elements that I see…even if they are just for decor, it speaks volumes about one’s culture and taste. (Left) Cute Keisja posing with a sign by the restroom at the hotel.  (Middle) Washing area at Rumah Mode. (Right)A ‘bilao’ slash light fixture.

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The Language

Bahasa sounds like Ilocano (that’s according to Ly who has been living there for two years and has acquired a fairly wide Bahasa vocabulary by now) because there are a lot of ‘J’ consonant sounds in the language.  She says it is easy to learn because we share the same Malay root words with them like: bunga means ‘flower;’ sakit means ‘sick’ and ‘timbangan’ (as the sign says on the left in a supermarket) means… ‘timbangan’ .

But of course, when out shopping in factory outlets (right), all you need to know is “Berapa harganya?” (Magkano?); “Mahal!” (Mahal!); “Mura!” (Mura!); “Boler tawar?” (puede tawad pa?) and my favorite: “Gratis!” (Free/Give-away!)

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Joblogs: Kalokohang Pinoy

Lighten up! Being too serious all the time can be bad for the health…So here comes the naughty part! Haha! I swear, all these things I found in Indonesia…this is only funny just for Pinoys…

(Left) Yummy “Pok__” Chicken Nuggets was our first meal.  Try it…you’ll like it!  (Middle) How about Pocky, you like?  It’s widely available in supermarkets….  (Right) What’s in a name? Find out this local celebrity’s name…just click on the pic and see.  😆

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Closing this series of posts on Indonesia (finally, tapos na po)…I can’t thank all my friends enough who were with me during this Indo vacay. Kung wala kayo naligaw siguro kami (jok!) …Kaya heto pa muli ang aking taus-pusong pasasalamat:

Ly and Ros: Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to accommodate us.  You were all great and generous.  Your kindness and concern meant so much to us.  I hope you guys will live a full life and may God guide and bless the both of you where ever you guys go.

Den: Thanks for bearing with me during this trip.  I know that being with me 24/7 for one week requires patience and understanding.  You’re a great companion and friend.

Donna, Vince, Shem and Keisja: A wonderful family like yours deserve all the blessings in the world! Thank you for ‘adopting’ us for a short while…and for spoiling us rotten.  We don’t deserve it but we are forever indebted…

Terimah kasi…Godpeace…lovyaz!

A good meal is not complete without desserts.  Actually, I am not much into desserts or sweets but it won’t hurt to sample some in Indonesia:

…They have cold Indonesian desserts much like our own halo-halo.  Which is better?  Well, they’re both good, but ours topped with leche flan, sweet mongo and rice krispies is still the tops.

Sweet and lovely: I am not sure what the first one was…cassava, I think but the right pic I’m pretty sure is Pisang Goreng (banana fried in batter) or something akin to our own maruya.  These are from Kampung Daun.

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Kung nasa Java ka na rin lang… lubus-lubusin mo na ang pagtikim ng kanilang Java coffee–whether it be from a three-in-one sachet or brewed to perfection…

We stopped at one cafe and it’s called Amanda in Bandung. They serve cakes  but the Browfee, combining ‘Brownie’ and ‘Coffee’ (below) is the one we came for.  Great combo…wala pa sa Pinas nito. Care to franchise, anyone?

Juicers and Shakers:  below right is guyabano juice (too sweet for my taste) from the resto in the hotel; (center) strawberry drink; while right photo is the dreaded ‘D’ word: DURIAN (!) shake.  It tasted… um, exactly like durian, I guess…wala nang ibang description, yun na yun.  But it doesn’t leave a bad smell though.  But I did brush my teeth twice afterwards just in case. 😀

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They sure like their tea…Hot, cold or lukewarm, in mugs, tetrapacks or in bottles (left)…

What else do they have that we don’t? They do have the Mcdos, KFCs and Burger Kings. Let’s see…

“Hurry! Mix right away!” : Pepper Lunch (below left) at Plaza Senayan is one of their fastfood restos, too.  It is like our own sizzling plate-themed eateries but you can get to mix it your own way or let the waiter do it for you because the hot oil tend to ‘splatter’ while you do it; at right is our last meal from their pseudo-Japanese fastfood type of resto, Haka Haka Bento (Tokyo Tokyo is way better), at the Jakarta airport:

…alright.  That’s it.  One more post to go, about miscellaneous stuff still worth mentioning.  Promise, last na ‘to.

Last Post: Indo-xicating Extra Stuff (Finale)

Donna said that her cooking skills and food preparation greatly improved when she moved to Indonesia three years ago.  It was the wide variety of ingredients and styles that inspired her to experiment and explore…

Donna’s memorable beef dish with bok choy (or Chinese cabbage), along with her awesome chicken barbeque at Pelabuhan Ratu…

“South Beach Diet? Ano yun?” : Grilled seafood for the next day…shrimps and fish, all freshly caught from Teluk Pelabuhan Ratu…served with steaming white rice.  And don’t forget the condiment: sambal oelek (crushed red chili sauce) combined with kecap manis (which I often mistook as ketchup mansi–ano ba yan?) which is a dark sweet soy sauce…dip anything in it and you won’t remember what a south beach diet is because definitely… mapaparami ang rice mo.

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Remember Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations episode on Indonesia?  Well, after watching that, you gotta try the Masakan Padang experience:

Going up to Bandung, we stopped by one of the many masakan padang eateries along the road: Sarigucci (Ha? biglang naging Italian?) Our waiter prepares the food for us.  He got all these dishes, balancing them in his hands and arms, and serving them almost immediately on our table– giving a new (or old?) meaning to the fast food concept sans the plastic utensils, wrappers and styropor–all warm and ready to be consumed (below).

…And no need to take our orders, too! Our waiter started counting and calcuting what we ate (above right).  We will only pay for what we touched.  “Even if we only got a tiny portion of it?” Yes, somehow he knows.  Oooh…we were impressed.

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Going around Java at that time (which was the height of the supposedly Asia-wide rice shortage issue), it was hard to believe that there was any shortage at all… nagpaloko na naman ba tayo?

Anyway, the Sundanese of West Java take pride in their food.  And it revolves around their main staple (and ours as well) which is rice.  As they say, “If you haven’t eaten rice, then you haven’t eaten at all.” Hear, hear! We sat on the floor, Sundanese style, and ate with our fingers (well, I did!).  At right is our Sundanese feast from Balibu, a resto just across from our hotel.

Here are the culinary delights (and adventures) we had in Bandung:

Nasi timbel is rice steamed in banana leaf.  These are from Kampung Daun, an alfresco-style garden restaurant.  These can be  accompanied with krupuk, tempeh (fried tofu) and vegetables.

Ikan Goreng or fried fish: the left version is from Balibu while right photo is from Kampung Daun.   The Sundanese may not live near the sea but when they do get to cook and present a fish dish, they still intend to impress.  I’m not sure what they are but I’m guessing that one of them is carp.  The condiment that goes well with ikan goreng is made of chili, garlic, soy sauce, tomatoes, shallots, etc.

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At Rumah Mode, a sort of like a small Greenbelt in Bandung…we ate in a restaurant called Bumbu Desa. Just point and they’ll heat them up for you:

We chose green terong (green salad), fried tempeh, more nasi timbel, and some really exotic stuff that I can’t remember…

…To be continued: desserts, beverages, and some more pahabol…

Next Post: Indo-xicating Eats (Part 3)

I haven’t started writing yet…but I’m already hungry just thinking about this post. But first, what did I learn during my eat-outs in Indonesia? I learned that it should be a requirement for any Filipino who wants to be a chef or venture into the restaurant business to really try and explore other foods from our Asian brothers.  It’s just a thought but we can really learn a lot from them.  OK.  Here they are:

Our first meal in Indonesia, prepared by Ly, one of our gracious hostesses.  Chicken nuggets (its brand name is so funny that it deserves another post) with colorless hotdogs.  Simple lang pero masarap kasi gawa mo, Ly! Naks.

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Bubur ayam: The only Indonesian streetfood that i dared to eat because Ly said i should.  And thank God I did… It is chicken porridge with lots of trimmings.  The pink stuff are krupuk (kropek for us).  They put krupuk in a lot of their dishes.

Bubur ayam 2: This is the sosyal (high-end) version.  I get to mix my own from the buffet restaurant at Hotel Panorama Lembang. I dunno. The streetfood version somehow tasted better. I guess it’s probably the street vendor’s touch, aka bare hands, that makes the difference.

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Lunch at Taman Safari. You gotta have rice and krupuk with your food. I forgot what was under the krupuk.  Probably chicken or something.

This is Nasi Goreng or fried rice meal which for us is suitable for breakfast only. For them, they eat this anytime. It is a complete meal with fried rice, egg, meat and vegetables. I asked if this was THE java rice (you know, the one we know as the yellow rice served in food courts). They looked at me in a puzzled way.  “Java rice is java rice.  This is it.” Ah, ok…I looked it up though…what i was referring to is “nasi kuning” which is like risotto pala.

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Indonesians eat a lot of chicken dishes since it is cheaper than beef and most of them are not allowed to eat pork.  So they know what they’re doing when it comes to chicken…

Grilled chicken or sate ayam (left): served with peanut sauce and calamansi…if you have kids and plan to travel here with your family, they’ll probably ask for this a lot.  Kids just like it.  But you will, too.

Their fried chicken (ayam goreng) was served complete with the head and all (below).  It’s all under those fried powdery batter, believe me. Can you locate the head? You’ll win a trip for two to Jakarta if you do. Joke lang!  It may taste dry to some finicky eaters but dipped in spicy sambal condiments… mmm…trust me, you’ll forget how to spell ‘dry’ …unless if you’re dyslexic, of course…

Sus…nagpapatawa na ako, ang corny naman. rolleyes sorry, baka gutom lang ako. Kasi naman… sino bang hindi gugutumin nito? I better go and grab something to eat… and that means…

To be continued na lang…

Next Post: Indo-xicating Eats (Part 2)