Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Lounge

A month ago, I finally reached Mabuhay Miles Elite status after 8 months of shuttling back and forth Manila and Cebu to visit my husband and attend work meetings. I love the separate check-in counter (especially when there's long lines!), priority baggage tags, and the comfort of waiting in the Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Class lounge.

This is one thing that makes Philippine Airlines better at taking care of their passengers. They still take comfort and service in mind. I love Philippine Airlines except on times that they delay the flights and don't bother to inform passengers earlier. I guess being on time is what they can learn from Cebu Pacific.

What's inside a Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Class lounge?

Most Mabuhay Class lounges in Philippine airports have the same look. Dark wood furniture, beige-colored seats, black and white photos on the wall.

They have food and drinks available for their travellers -- soup, bread, sandwiches, pastries and fruits. They also have coffee, tea, water, softdrinks and some juices. To keep passengers entertained, they have a selection of newspapers available, magazines, TV and wifi.

These little perks make Philippine Airlines stand out from the rest of the passenger carriers in the country. While other airlines are competing in the no frills category, Philippine Airlines still tries to keep their customer service intact. It depends on what's important to you --- comfort or value for money. I'm glad I finally saved enough trips to get to Mabuhay Miles Elite. I hope I can keep this up!

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Skip the Siam Niramit Buffet

Yesterday, I gave praises for Bangkok's Siam Niramit show. It's one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen so far. The show was amazing, but their buffet was not. For 350 baht per person, it's better to skip this and you won't miss anything.

There were five buffet tables, each carrying a different kind of cuisine. At the long table, there was chicken curry, deep fried fish in chili sauce, and more. At the table off towards the back of the room, there was a selection of Chinese dishes.  They had noodles, spicy salad and soup. In the center table, they had different kinds of salad. Off to the other end from the Chinese table, they had a selection of Indian cuisine. In the corner of the room, they had fruits and dessert near the coffee and tea.

It sounds like a good selection. However, when I browsed through all the dishes in the big white room I couldn't bring myself to an appetite. The food didn't look fresh. It wasn't inviting at all.

My husband went to explore the Chinese section and asked the staff what sauce to put in the noodles. He was directed to a hot and sour soup kind of sauce. It didn't seem like a right combination, and the soup/sauce tasted bland.
Even the fruits didn't look fresh.

In all places I've been to in Thailand (eating nooks included), this is the most disappointing food fare in Bangkok. My 350 baht wasn't worth all the food in the buffet at all. I could have gotten a good meal at Black Canyon for far less that amount.

If you're planning to go to Siam Niramit, it's best to eat out and be at the venue 15 minutes before the start of the show at 8pm. Trust me. Skip the buffet.

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Siam Niramit

I was researching about new places to go in Bangkok at the last minute, and I came across the Siam Niramit show. Siam Niramit is one of the largest stage productions in the world, and it chronicles Thai history. It actually has an award from the Guinness World Records for having the tallest arch in stage history.

I hopped over to Tripadvisor to see reviews from people who watched the show. Most of them were good. A lot of people say it's one of the best and most spectacular shows they've seen in their whole life. They even compared it to the famous Cirque du Soleil. While a majority of the reviews were good, there were a few detractors saying the show was below their expectations.

Taking in the good reviews, I was excited to book tickets to Siam Niramit. Since we researched this a few hours before our flight to Bangkok, I immediately booked online and even got the buffet dinner option for two. I got the tickets for 1500 baht per person, and 350 baht each for the buffet. Little did I know upon reading more reviews that you can actually get the tickets cheaper when you scout for deals from hotels or travel agencies. Oh well. Lesson learned: Do more research before hastily booking online. At least I'm glad you learned a thing or two from this post. :)

Getting to Siam Niramit was easy. Even though it was far from central Bangkok, we didn't have a difficult time getting there. We just took the MRT to Thailand Cultural Centre station. Upon exiting the train, you'll see several signs saying "Siam Niramit". We took the Siam Niramit exit and immediately we saw their marked van, waiting for passengers bound for Siam Niramit. Their shuttle buses are free, and start from 6pm to 745pm.

We got to the venue, and the ticketing office issued our seats when we presented the printed online confirmation. We dropped by the buffet, and waited for the show to start. While you're waiting, girls in Thai costume will have your picture taken and sell it to you before the show. You can politely say no if you don't want to buy it.

THe show started promptly at 8PM, and boy, we got very good seats! We were seated in row L in the middle of the theater, right behind the 2000 baht golden seats. We had a very good view of the stage, and it was a very grand one at that. It was the biggest stage I've seen.

The show had 3 acts. The first act showed the diverse cultures that existed in ancient Thailand: The Ancient Kingdom of Lanna, Traders from Overseas, Heritage of the Khmer Civilization, and the Mighty Capital of Ayutthaya. It was indeed a spectacular show with more than 100 performers. Each stage in the act was intricately designed, and props were so big you'd wonder how you never noticed them changing the set. Aside from actors and actresses, they use live animals on the show as well. We saw elephants and goats as part of the scenes in Siam Niramit. Amazing, isn't it?

Among all the acts, my favorite was the second one. It told the story of the three worlds all the cultures believed in: Fiery Hell, Mystical Himapaan Forest, and Blissful Heaven. It was in this act that we saw a man dive right into water at the stage, as if a pool magically appeared out of nowhere. Yes, there was indeed a pool that is part of the stage and in this act they even had actual flat boats wade through the water in the stage. It was also in this act wherein I saw several people suspended from the stage as they interpreted their concept of heaven.

The show was very beautiful, and all the intricate details in their sets and costumes make the ticket price worth what it costs. The audience was so impressed that after every scene, they would give a loud applause for the show. I also loved how they did not limit themselves to the stage area. The performers would freely emerge at the aisles, and the audience would feel they're actually part of the show. They don't limit their effects at the stage too. I've seen bursts of fire a few meters from where I was seated, as if the stage suddenly expanded to include the entire theater. Once in a while, they will invite members from the audience to join them at the stage and provide amusing twists to their show.

If you're interested to know more about Thai history, this is definitely a show to watch. It's amazing how they preserved their culture and how they can freely share it with their tourists. I'm glad we decided to watch this show, as I've had an amazing and unforgettable time in Siam Niramit.

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The Best Massage in The World

I have found the place for the best massage in the world.

A short 20-minute taxi ride from Bangkok's shopping center Pratunam, we headed over to one of the famous temples near the Chao Phraya river. I told my husband he just had to try the best massage I've ever had. He almost could not get by without a massage every week, so I thought he'd be the best person who can validate my claim.

For those of you who are familiar with Bangkok's temples, Wat Pho is actually the home of one of the largest Buddhas, the Reclining Buddha. This temple is a walking distance from the Grand Palace. People don't miss it in their first Bangkok tours. As we have already seen the Buddha in our previous visits, we went start to the massage school. When you enter the temple near the Reclining Buddha, you have to walk towards the back and look for the glass door of the massage center. If you're lost, feel free to ask some locals or tour guides at the temple.

Aside from being the home of the Reclining Buddha, it's interesting to know that Wat Pho is the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage. We cannot wait to get our massages as we have been walking around Bangkok for almost a day for our trip. It will be nice to get those muscles relaxed and be energized for another sightseeing trip ahead.

We got a one hour Thai Massage. When we went to the receiving desk, the receptionist thought we were Thai and automatically spoke to us in their native tongue. When we said "Sorry?", she immediately switched to English, and she spoke good English at that. We were told to wait 15-20 minutes for our turn and were given a number.

There's a small waiting area near the receiving desk where customers can sit on the benches and wait for their number to be called. When our number was up, someone escorted us to the dressing room and gave us Thai pajamas. On your way there, you can see several beds beside each other where people are being massaged.

Since they were fully booked, my husband and I weren't able to get beds beside each other. I proceeded to my area and a lady in her 50s showed me a small wooden locker where I can leave my things. The lady proceeded to start the massage on my legs. It felt great. Even if my legs were tried, her massage wasn't painful at all. She knew where to massage the right parts so that I wouldn't feel the pain as she put pressure on my muscles.

The massage was so good that it's almost impossible not to go into deep sleep. More than a few relaxed muscles later, the massage therapist told me the massage was over. She gave me tea in a plastic cup and led me to the dressing room to change. I met my husband at the reception area, and his huge smile gave away his approval for my best massage place ever.

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Do you live an Intercontinental Life?

My favorite hotel in the whole world now is the Intercontinental Manila. They have the best rooms and the best service in all of the hotels I've stayed in. The minute that you arrive at their lobby, all of their staff -- from the security personnel at the door to the guest reception attendants -- greet you with a warm smile. They make you feel as if you're always walking into a start of a great vacation any day.

Depending on the rooms available and if you're lucky enough, they might upgrade you to a superior room or a suite. When you walk into your room, you're greeted with a small living area where you can immediately relax, take off your shoes and stretch your legs on the sofa after a long day. They also have a plate of fruits to welcome you for your stay.

If you think the living room is comfortably perfect, wait until you get to the bed. The bed is always tucked in perfectly, and they indulge you in a lot of pillows to ensure you get a good night's sleep. They are pillows that you easily sink into. Soft pillows and a comfy bed --- this is the perfect combination that will make you want to stay in bed all day.

If you're already impressed, take a look at their bathroom. Some people would want a better bathroom more than they want a good bed, but Intercontinental Manila makes sure you get both. Their suite will give you his and hers sinks, complete set of toiletries, a bath tub and a shower. What more can you ask for?

With their rooms scoring high on the point scale, let me tell you about the service that they offer. Their staff are always willing to assist you in anything you ask them for. You can ask them about movie schedules of the nearby theaters, mass schedules, store hours, and maybe even sights you can see in Manila if you're a tourist. When I'm sick, I can easily call the clinic and the nurse will personally bring in the medicine I need. There's even one time when my husband sounded sick on the phone, the receptionist called back and inquired if he needed medicine to be sent over.

If you're looking for a hotel to stay in Manila and you don't want to compromise on any of the comfort or service you'd want to have during your stay, you will never go wrong with Intercontinental Manila.

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Black and White Ensemble

Top: Mango
Skirt: Loja Bonita

I was rushing to go to work today, and I decided to wear this black and white ensemble. Work is hectic these days, and you can say black is the most appropriate color to my current workload level.
I can't wait for the weekend.

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Am I finally back from hiatus? Remembering Bantayan, Cebu

Hello world. I'm here again, trying to write about a multitude of things I want to share, but somehow I find myself at a loss for words. Maybe because it's been such a LOOOONG time since I wrote a blog entry that I've almost forgotten how this blogging thing works. I can blame it on the normal day job and other extra-curricular activities that make up 70% of my time. Yet in the end, keeping up with this blog is really up to me.

There are so many pictures captured that I haven't shared, words and ideas I haven't written, and so many memories left lost in translation. So let me try again. I'll try to squeeze it a little time each week to post as many entries as possible.

What's on our blogging menu today?

Bantayan, Cebu

Bantayan is one of the few islands in Cebu that I love going back to again and again. Why?

It's easy to get to from the city. It's just a two-hour drive and a 45-minute ferry away. 

Next, when you get to Bantayan Island the hotels are near the pier so it's just a few minutes away for you to soak up the sun in beach paradise!

For those of you who want to know how to get to Bantayan Island, here's a quick guide:

From Cebu, go North towards Bogo and make your way towards Hagnaya Pier. You can take a bus from the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City, or take a taxi which may be too costly. When you arrive at Hagnaya Pier, ferries have regular routes starting at 530am. Fares range from Php120 - 170, depending on your type of seat.

Bantayan Island can already be seen from Hagnaya Pier. If you want to bring your vehicle along, you can pay for its transport as well. Most ferries that shuttle between Hagnaya and Bantayan are those that carry cargo, so don't expect first class accommodation nor a fast trip to the island. These ferries travel slow. Think of it as an encouraging way for you to enjoy the view while you travel between the islands.

Upon docking at Bantayan Island, you can already see a row of hotels and resorts ready to welcome you. You can choose to book your accommodations ahead, or if you can be an impromptu traveller like me, you can opt to go to Bantayan Island and look for the hotel or resort that suits you.

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