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Friday, February 25, 2011

Doulos Ship Book Fair

Here's a repost about Doulos ship which I wrote in one of my blog sites 4 years ago:

Doulos book fair has drawn a big crowd in Manila and when I visited the port last January 14, 2007, over a thousand people came. Despite a long queue stretching the port gate, I was content to wait patiently for a chance to go up the gangway. The lines are long because each person is choosing so many books. I get to buy some souvenir pens and books that add up to my memorabilia collections. Unlike in an international cruise line that I formerly work where most of the crew is obsequious and quite friendly, Doulos crewmembers gave me a good impression. They put so much dedication on their tasks and everyone is very amiable.
Doulos is a home to 350 people from over 50 nations who have dedicated their 2 years time as unpaid volunteers and effort to learning about serving people from different nations and culture.
According to the Guinness Book of Record, Doulos is recorded as being the World’s Oldest Ocean Going Passenger ship. It was built in 1914 just two years after the Titanic sank. It is owned by a German non-profit charity organization ‘Guite Bucher Fiir (Good Books for all) and is the world’s largest book ship. Doulos visits port cities throughout the world, supplying vital literature resources, encouraging inter-cultural understanding, training young people for more effective life and service, promoting global awareness, providing practical aid and sharing a message of hope in God whenever there is an opportunity.
Doulos sets sail for Cebu on January 26 and her last port will be in Batangas on February 22 – March 5, 2007. After the Philippines, she will travel to Taiwan followed by Japan and the Republic of Korea

Monday, February 21, 2011

Experience a Blast from the Past in Vigan

Over the last weekend, we tripped the land by going places. We finally caught a glimpse of Vigan, an all year round getaway and tourist attraction. We commuted from Cubao taking us to our point of destination for a 10-hour bus ride. We arrived almost midnight and an event was taking place in the plaza jam-packed by the people watching the show. At first we tried to figure out where to stay, but one of the staffs in the fast food chain where we had our dinner, showed us the way to head up to the Inn that I found in the internet; this was the result of my researches about hotels and inns online prior to our arrival in Vigan.
Grandpa’s Inn was just few steps away from the street of Calle Crisologo. The building itself was among one of the old Spanish houses lined up in the cobblestone streets of Vigan. The community’s ambiance has a touch of blast from the past and it feels like you are taken back in time revealing the facet of its serenity of the past century. Its heritage leaves a mark why Vigan is one of the most sought tourist spot in the Philippines.
Holiday will not be complete without dining in especially when your stomach growls for the place’s unique and authentic food. If you love to explore and experience different dining options, Vigan has a lot of things to offer when it comes to foods; you’ll have the choice to either go to a plaza if you prefer to eat street foods, dine in at your favorite fast food chains or go and experience some of the restaurants established in the old Spanish abodes if you really are into discovering in time to have a Spanish feel in the 18th century.
I love to explore some of the food hubs; first day in the morning, we had a breakfast at Café Uno, which was just a wall away from the front desk of Grandpa’s Inn. One of the meals they serve is “longaniza de Vigan”. We tried this delicacy as our breakfast. Nothing really special and it was a common meal served with an egg and rice; unless you want to try out something different, you can choose from a variety of meal in the menu.
Ilokandia is said to be the birthplace of bagnet. We had lunch in Los Majitos de Vigan, a street dining within its heritage. We ordered bagnet, an Ilocano version of lechon kawali, but the process how it’s made is culturally different since the piece of pork belly is boiled in its entirety with certain herbs and spices. This was served with bagoong paste. My orientation how bagnet is made is said that pork has a long exposure in the sun before it is actually fried.
It was time to take our snack after coming back from the inn to have some rests. We went to P. Burgos plaza where street foods are served. We tried okoy and empanada that are served from a typical carinderia found at the sidewalks of the plaza. Both are freshly made and cooked in a big pan as they are fried separately in a cooking oil. Their empanada contains veggies, meat and egg, which is quite different from the empanada that we usually buy in the restaurants. These were just some of the street foods that are irresistible to taste when you jaunt around the area.
We had another short rest and at past 9 in the evening we had a coffee at Café Leona. They usually set up chairs and tables outside during night time. They are a little bit combination of Italian pizzas and pastas, Filipino and Japanese foods.
Vigan reminds me of San Juan, Puerto Rico during the course of my career in cruise ship industry just few years back because it has a similar touch of the old heritage of both places. The overall experience in Vigan was great. The three days stay was a bit short and if you really want to sightsee more, it is recommended to have your vacation planned.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eating at the Authenthic Thai Cuisine

Just before heading up to Robinson’s Galleria mall in Ortigas Center for an early dinner, we came from San Pedro, Laguna where our business matter took place. We drive through a newly renovated east side of the Robinson's mall where some of these restaurants has been built recently. One of these cuisines has caught my attention which made me decide to quickly dine in at 8 Spices, a cuisine that serves superb authentic Thai foods. The place was about the size quite similar to some of the stand-alone restaurants in Greenhills, San Juan. It is uniquely decorated and you can tell at first glance that the atmosphere is a cozy place to go. It is modern and blended with both American and Thai cultures.

The time to sit down and get the menu took place which gave us a hard time to decide what to order, and these foods are served exactly the way it looks like in the menu. The foods we ordered came one at a time and the waiting interval was short and I was thinking that it would take around 30 minutes to complete everything.

As the usual go, the soup was served first. The “Thai Chicken With Coconut Milk” is a mild but spicy chicken soup flavored with “galangal” combined with hot chili peppers, lemon grass, lime leaves and coconut milk which creates heavenly taste.

And then came our second order; a “Stir Fried Tiger Prawn With Roasted Chili Paste” . It is served with stir fried tiger prawns, seasonal vegetables, garlic, mushrooms and carrots blended with chili sauce.

Then came the "Bagoong Fried Rice", which contains pork with honey, a minced of dried mango and onions, and a seasonal vegetable.

Our meal will not be completed without "Grilled Pork Ribs", and it contains honey served with spicy garlic sauce.

I craved for more but unfortunately my stomach was unwilling to accommodate some more of these authentic Thai foods as I have been satiated by our heavy meals. I rarely go to Thai cuisines but now it proves to me that dining in Thai restaurants are something that I should also consider alternatively. We had a great time eating at 8 Spices Thai Cuisines!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Taste of Hot & Sour Soup

Hot & sour is my favorite soup; it is made with pork or chicken, tofu and dried mushroom. In all cases, it contains ingredients to make it both sour and spicy.

This soup was introduced to me in one of the restaurants in Nassau, Bahamas, when I still work in a cruise ship 11 years ago. Each time we have disembarkation on different Caribbean spots like Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico and St. Maarten, and as long as there is a Chinese restaurant, I never missed tasting hot and sour soup.

The photo was taken in June 2010 at Chinatown in New York. From Penn Station, it took me a train ride through subway going to Canal Street. The meal was served with a free hot green tea.