8.29.2008

PAL Mabuhay Miles + CASH Promo

MILES + CASH IS BACK!!

To give you more ways to redeem your Miles, we bring back the Mabuhay Miles' Miles + Cash Promo. Combine your Redeemable Miles with just a little cash for your preferred getaway. So many destinations to choose from with just a few Miles + Cash!!


International (Round Trip)*
SELLING PERIOD: 08 AUGUST - 30 SEPTEMBER 2008

TRAVEL PERIOD: 15 AUGUST - 05 DECEMBER 2008

MANILA TO FUKUOKA, NAGOYAOSAKA, TOKYO
10,000 MILES + USD 258, Fiesta Class

17,500 MILES + USD 508, Mabuhay Class


MANILA TO HONOLULU
25,000 MILES + USD 258, Fiesta Class
37,500 MILES + USD 808, Mabuhay Class


TRAVEL PERIOD: 15 SEPTEMBER - 05 DECEMBER 2008

MANILA TO LOS ANGELES, SANFRANCISCO, VANCOUVER
30,000 MILES + USD 408, Fiesta Class
45,000 MILES + USD 1,508, Mabuhay Class

MANILA TO LAS VEGAS
35,000 MILES + USD 408, Fiesta Class
50,000 MILES + USD 1,508, Mabuhay Class


* RATES QUOTED ARE IN USD. OPEN JAW AWARDS ALLOWED FOR SECTORS WITH THE SAME REDEMPTION VALUE. RATES ARE EXCLUSIVE OF APPLICABLE TAXES, SURCHARGES AND MABUHAY MILES FEES. RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE. CALL NOW:

Mabuhay Miles Service Center:
Manila (02) 8178000
Cebu (340) 3408000


PAL Reservations:
Manila (02) 8558888, (02) 8557888 (Mabuhay Class Passengers)
Cebu (032) 3400191, (032) 3403107 (Mabuhay Class Passengers)
Davao (082) 2220366, (082) 2264604

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8.28.2008

Chinese formal dining


When I was in Shanghai, I got to learn a little tidbit about Chinese dining. When we stumbled into a restaurant called Shanghai Spring in Xintiandi, they have two sets of chopsticks on the table. It turned out that the left set of chopsticks (white set, as shown in the picture) is the serving set, which should be used when getting food from the table. The right set (black) should be used for your own use. Interesting.

Another thing I learned today about Chinese dining is something I heard over the radio. Have you ever dined at those hole-in-the-wall places in Hong Kong wherein they serve rice dishes, and you'd often see duck/chicken hanging outside their front window? Usually, before they serve you the food they give you tea once you sit down. I have always thought that this was tea for drinking. It turns out that this "tea" is actually used to clean your utensils! Better keep this in mind the next time you're in Hong Kong.

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5 Tips to Travel in Style

Admit it, there's a camwhore in all of us. With modern technology making it easy to take and upload photos like a snap, anyone on vacation could share the best highlights of his trip even while still on it.


Whenever I go on trips, I make it a point to take good photos and try my best to look good in them. I spend so much to go on that vacation, I might as well make the best out of it by taking stellar photos to document my memory of that place. If you agree with me on that aspect, then let me share with you personal tips on how to travel in style when you go on that next vacation. :)



  1. Check the weather in your travel destination. Before you start packing, please do care to check the weather to know which type of clothes to bring. Is it sunny? Is it raining? Is it SNOWING? We all know seasons change, but with global warming effects these days the seasons have gone haywire. It only takes a few minutes to check those weather reports anyway.

  2. Travel light. To achieve 100% style status, the tendency of most people is to practically bring their entire closet with them. I entirely disagree. If you bring too much baggage from home, you might barely have enough space for new items from your shopping trip abroad. Bring just enough clothes for the trip duration, with an extra set for a day or two. For girls, I'd recommend that you pack dresses for your trip. Usually when I travel, I wear jeans on the day of my flights and dresses in between. It doesn't take a genius to compute that dresses take up less space in your luggage. Dress = 1 item, Shirt and jeans ensemble = 2 items.

  3. Choose a color theme for the trip. This would be useful in planning what shoes and accessories to bring. To avoid bringing a lot, make sure that you could easily mix and match your clothes with your fashion accessories. When my friends and I went to Shanghai recently, we were amazed that the outfits we brought more or less matched! Not that we're vain, but we do take delight in taking nice group photos for our vacation. Our morning from the hotel usually begins with a test shot to see what we'd look like for the day. See the difference from this:

    to THIS!



  4. Bring an extra bag. If you plan to go mega-shopping at your travel destination, bring an extra bag to store your new purchases. Aside from this, girls could bring a chic evening bag to use for night outs around the city. For guys, a small messenger bag would be useful to store your travel gadgets and important docs (passports, ticket, etc.).
  5. Lastly, bring only clothes that you're comfortable in! I always say this to my friends who feel that they don't measure up to the current fashion trends. You don't need to care about what others think about what you're wearing. If you feel comfortable in it, then strut your personal style and go! No need to follow fashion trends. Wear the clothes that define YOU.


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8.27.2008

I Fell In Love With Shanghai

I went to Shanghai a week ago with no expectations. I tried to research in travel sites on must-see places for the city, but I found it hard to plot a definite itinerary because of its vastness. Four days later, I fell in love with Shanghai. I admire it for its beauty and uniqueness. Let me share with you some of the places that I got to visit in Shanghai, and I'm sure this is not even a tenth of all the treasures that the city has to offer.


The Bund. Get there by taxi or take the metro to East Nanjing station (Line 2). It's the closest train station to the area. From there, you have to walk down Nanjing Road towards the riverside. Nanjing Road is actually a shopping capital. You'll find rows of shops, department stores and big malls on your way to the Bund. If walking is not for you, trams make their way through the crowd and you could ride them for only 2RMB. Once you arrive at the Bund, a row of old buildings greet you. Once the financial capital of Asia in the 1920s, the buildings have been preserved and some have been converted to government buildings. This is what they describe the Old Shanghai, because when you look at the other side the modern cityscape with skyscrapers looming at you beckons.


Take the Huangpu River Cruise. We chose to take this cruise at night so that we'll enjoy the view of the city lit up by lights. It surely did not disappoint. The rates are higher at night time, and we took this cruise for 88RMB. In this cruise, you could see Shanghai divided into two. On the west side is the older town, and the east side houses the modern buildings in Pudong area. Here's a sample of the magnificent view that we enjoyed on the cruise:

Yu Yuan Garden. First built in the 1550s and renovated over the years, this well-known scenic spot houses intricately-designed tea houses and architectural landscapes. It was first a private garden of a government official of the Ming Dynasty before it was opened to the public.





Pudong. Get there by taking the train to Lujiazui Station (Line 2), the next station from East Nanjing. You could also take a taxi and go through the Yan'an tunnel, or if you are a tourist with lots of time to spare there's a special tunnel called the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. They say it's filled with blinking lights, and it costs 40RMB. We didn't get to see this tunnel since we decided to take the taxi. In Pudong you'd get to see the Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the new Shanghai World Financial Center, which was just completed July 2008. Check out Super Brand Mall for Din Tai Fung, a restaurant awarded as one of the Top Ten by New York Times. They serve the famous Shanghai delicacy xiaolongbao, steamed soup dumpling local to Shanghai and its surrounding areas.

Xintiandi. This area has a row of upscale restaurants, cafes and shops located near the French Concession area. To get here, take the Metro to South Huangpi station (Line 1). You could just walk around the area and discover unique shops and big brand names in the streets surrounding it.




Shanghai Urban Planning Museum. The name may sound boring, but this place will amaze you with what's in store for the future Shanghai. Get a peek on the development of the city. To get here, take the metro to People's Square Station, the station where most lines interchange.


Practical Travel Tips for Shanghai
  • Be careful when you're in a throng of people for pickpockets. I almost had my camera stolen while we were boarding the shuttle bus to the ferry. A woman in her 40s stood beside me and started to open my camera bag as the crowd pushed their way into the bus. When I noticed what she was doing, my camera bag was halfway open and she didn't ride the bus anymore.
  • Drink bottled water. The tap water in Shanghai tastes funny. Usually, they put lemon in it when you ask for it in restaurants. It would be best to buy bottled water to be safe.
  • Learn the basics of Mandarin. It's very hard to transact with Shanghai locals when you don't know numbers or basic Mandarin phrases. Very little know English, and they usually talk to you in Mandarin.
  • Have your hotel write down your destinations in Chinese. Always carry your passport and an address to your hotel so that when you get lost, you could easily find your way back.

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Island Destinations - Nalusuan Island


I've been a resident of Cebu, Philippines for so many years but I only got to know this island recently. I'm glad I got to visit, or else I wouldn't be able to realize that there are so many travel treasures around that's actually just within my reach. This island is only 30 minutes away from Mactan, Cebu by ferry.


How To Get There

The island is so small, and there's only one resort on it. You need to arrange with them to have a ferry take you to the island. They have their own port in Mactan, and they will arrange the boat for you. You could choose to take a day trip or sleep overnight at their resort. They have a couple of cottages available for guests, and in the morning you'll have a view of the sea just like this:


This was taken from our room's balcony. When you wake up in the morning, you could go outside and see the pristine waters enveloping the island. Sometimes you even get to see fishes swimming around as you look down from your balcony.


Things To Do in Nalusuan

They have lots of water sports available. You could go kayaking, banana boat riding, snorkeling and diving among others. You could also choose to arrange for a boat to take you to nearby islands. They have their own dive shop to assist you with your needs. You could rent the gear that you need from there.

I have yet to learn diving, so I had to be content with exploring the waters through snorkeling and fish feeding. I made sure that I got to save some bread the day before for this event, and the effort was well worth it. Thanks to a friend's underwater camera, the moment was captured well:


I guess the fish there at Nalusuan are already very tourist-friendly. They don't shy away from humans when approached. In fact, when you swim in the water they surprise you by swimming around you! Try bringing bread with you, and they'll eat it right off the tips of your fingers.
For those who are more risk averse, Nalusuan has a sea pool where you could find various kinds of sea creatures taken care of by the local staff. They have fishes, turtles and even small sharks in that pool. Don't be tempted to dive in though. It's actually not allowed. You could enjoy the view from the poolside. The fishes are very eager to welcome you anyway.

For more details on the island, please see below:
Nalusuan Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary
Website:
www.mencaresorts.com
Address: Olango Reef, Cordova, Mactan, Cebu Philippines
Telefax: +63322317143, +63324128352

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Basic travel tips

I’m off to Shanghai tomorrow. I’m very excited! It’s my first time to visit China, and I am eager to see what Shanghai has in store for me. This is also my first time to travel to a place in Asia where I actually know some people, and I’m glad that I don’t have to be the designated tour guide for a change. I’ve been to a lot of places with my family and friends, and it seems that I’m always the one in-charge of planning our routes and plotting itineraries. It’s a relief to get a break from that travel routine.


Before leaving for Shanghai, I’d like to share some basic travel tips for anyone who wants to discover a new place on their own:

  • Research, research, research! I must say that this is a key task that one should do before going to an unfamiliar place. There are lots of travel sites that offer valuable information about a certain city. Some are experiences shared by travellers themselves. My favourite resource is Wikitravel. It has helped me discover new places easily, and I was able to avoid scams and dirty tactics of locals prying on tourists in some countries. Description on the site is very detailed for key cities, so expect to navigate like a local when you get to your travel destination.
  • Bring essential documents. Of course, the passport is a given. Other key documents include a return ticket and a map to the hotel translated in the local language. For my trip to Shanghai tomorrow, I already had a friend write the key destinations in Chinese on paper.
  • Plot your itinerary ahead. List down all the places you want to see for the day, see how far it is and take down the opening and closing times. It would help you maximize the day, especially when you plan to visit historical places and see local shows.
  • Wear flat shoes. For short trips, the schedule would usually be cramped with lots of tourist places on the itinerary. Expect that a lot of hours would be spent on walking, so wearing comfortable shoes is a must.
  • Take a small medicine kit with you. When I was in Thailand once, my friend got allergies from the shrimps in the Thai food that we’ve been eating. We went to a pharmacy, and since not all Thais speak English we were directed to their colleague who was able to converse a bit in English. We were lucky we were given the right medicine. It’s best to bring your own medicine for minor ailments to avoid a less than desirable outcome.

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Cebu's best restaurants

Yesterday, my colleagues and I had a difficult time deciding on a dinner venue in Cebu. As one put it so aptly, maybe it’s because we’re all decision makers in our roles that sometimes we just want to leave it to others to decide in simple situations like this. I came up with an idea of having everyone write their choice down on a piece of paper, roll it up and have a Manila colleague pick the winning entry. The winner was supposedly Vienna Kaffeehaus Mango, but our boss decided it might be over budget so we trooped to Golden Cowrie instead.

Taking inspiration from yesterday’s exercise, I thought about writing an entry on my favorite restaurants here in Cebu. Here are the ones on my list:


BUDGET

  • Casa Verde. First situated in an old house in a small street parallel to F.Ramos, this restaurant offers a big serving of baby back ribs at only Php130. It’s their bestseller, so don’t forget to try it on your first visit.
  • Ila Puti. With two branches found near call center buildings at IT Park and Sykes Mabolo, I’m sure this resto has definitely captured the hearts of the building employees. They have unique dishes like bangus in coco cream sauce and pasta puti.
  • Da Vinci’s Pizza. Most famous for their original Da Vinci white sauce, they have several branches in Cebu. Most familiar to me are IT Park, Osmena Boulevard, and Marina Mall in Mactan. Prices per pizza are at Php200-300.

MID-RANGE

  • Café Georg. This stand-alone restaurant in Banilad offers a lot of selections from appetizing bread dips, salads, main courses to dessert. I love the spinach and cheese dip, mango tahini salad, Singaporean style fish, chicken pot pie and bolognara pasta. They’re always updating their menu, so there’s always something new and exciting to try when you come back for your next visit.
  • Lemongrass. Owned by the family behind home-grown Laguna Garden Café, this restaurant in Ayala Center showcases dishes of Vietnam and Thailand. Try their pad thai, pandan chicken, steamed fish, and pork spare ribs. Pair them with their best-selling citrus herb juice.
  • La Buona Forchetta. It’s an Italian restaurant in Acacia street, located in an old mansion turned into a commercial location. My fave dishes here are the focaccia bread (appetizer), salciccia (pizza) and marinara pasta. For dessert, their tiramisu is definitely a must-try. Prices range from 300-400 per dish.
  • Spice Fusion. This restaurant has two branches in Cebu, located at Banilad Town Center and SM Northwing. The theme is all about Asian fusion. I love their roti, spicy cream of seafood soup, and lemon chicken.
  • La Tegola. The best branch of the La Tegola chain of Italian restaurants is on the mountaintop of Busay. You dine with a great view of Cebu City, and it’s best to visit at night so one could see the city in lights.

SPLURGE

  • Abaca. This is my favorite restaurant of all time! Menus change everyday according to available ingredients. Everything I’ve tried here tastes good, and service is excellent too. Though it comes at a hefty price tag (at least Php1,000 per person), it’s definitely worth the visit. One would never forget an experience at Abaca.
  • Tides @ Shangrila Mactan. The wide range of the buffet at this restaurant makes its customers stay longer to savor the experience of all the delectable dishes up for grabs. I especially love the fresh seafood and chocolate fondue.
  • Black Angus. This is a steak restaurant located in Gaisano Country Mall, Banilad. I’m not really a big fan of steaks, but I found their dishes appealing nonetheless.

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