Watching the Australian Open in Melbourne

The Australian Open 2017 is officially launched today, and single session tickets go on sale tomorrow (October 11). If you’re a tennis fan who wants to watch AO next year (or in the coming years), here are our tips for you based on our experience with attending the Australian Open last January.
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Travel tips: Queenstown, New Zealand

I’ve just returned from a 12-day trip to New Zealand. I spent 4 days each in Auckland, Rotorua, and Queenstown. To be perfectly honest, the only place I knew about in New Zealand is Matamata, because that’s where Hobbiton is. Queenstown was very much under my radar, because it’s labeled as a hub for high adrenalin adventure travel. That’s not my thing. I didn’t have much expectations for Queenstown, and I was blown away by its natural beauty as soon as I caught a glimpse from the plane window.

For friends who are flying into Queenstown in the coming weeks, and for everyone else headed to New Zealand, here are my tips and suggestions for traveling in Queenstown.
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Makati Poblacion Food Tour

Despite living in Makati for more than two years in the mid 2000’s, I never really got to explore the city much. Ironically, it’s when I went back to living in Quezon City that I started discovering and frequenting Makati’s various districts.

I was already familiar with Salcedo Village, Legaspi Village, and Little Tokyo, but it took an invite from Lokal Hostel to get me to have a wander around the Makati Avenue area. Lokal Hostel is located right smack in the middle of P. Burgos, Makati’s red light district (and they have the a very cheap ensuite private room at Php 1,400 per night considering its very central location). Normally, I would have balked at the prospect of exploring the red light district, but a quick walk around with Don of Lokal Hostel proved that there’s plenty of gems hidden in this part of Makati.

Lokal Hostel

Last June, I took some friends around the area for a food tour, and it was an amazing variety of cuisine and flavor profiles. Better still, it’s a big enough area that there’s ample walk between two food stops.

If you’re coming from different places, and are driving, the best place to meet and park is A. Venue Mall. They have both open air parking and underground parking. While waiting, you can try the Petit Puffs of Happy Cream Puff, my favorite cream puff place. They’re light, fluffy, and not overly sweet.


From there, walk to Tambai along Felipe Street. Tambai is really tiny, and it gets really crowded, so it’s best to start here. They open at 5pm, and it’s good to be there as it opened, when the kitchen is not too busy yet. Recommended items: Beef rib finger, soft shell crab, chicken skin, grilled zucchini, grilled garlic, isaw, Brew Kettle.

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El Chupacabra is quite popular, but for my taco fix, I prefer to walk over to Tacos Chingones right at the edge of Rockwell. This is an outdoor, sidewalk eatery with an actual taco cart, so cross your fingers that the weather cooperates with you. All the tacos I’ve tried are good, so go with whatever strikes your fancy.

The climax of rich taste at Joe's Snack Grill

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There are many Korean barbecue grills in Quezon City, but my favorite is Joe’s Snack Grill, found at the corner of Cayco and Don Pedro. In all the times I’ve eaten there, it’s always 80% Korean diners, which I take as a good sign for the quality of their food. They do impose a minimum order though (3 orders for a table of 4 diners), so make sure you’re ready to eat.

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While I was designing our food tour, I came across Empingao, a newly opened Latin American themed restaurant. After studying their menu, reading reviews, and looking at the places included in our tour, I decided we have to try their Elena Ruz: a very rich sandwich with turkey ham, strawberry jam, and cream cheese.

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As we were winding down, we headed over to Crepe Amelie, which is located at A. Venue. They have both savory and sweet crepes, as well as a variety of mille-feuille. Since I’m crazy for crepe cake, I ordered four (the strawberry crepe cake is the best and the cutest). Though they were all good, I should’ve ordered just 2 crepe cakes and 2 dessert crepes. All the more reason to go back, I suppose.

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Our final stop is Beni’s Falafel. While this seemed odd (especially right after having dessert), I put Beni’s last because they’re open 24/7. So even if you end up going elsewhere and staying until after 1am, Beni’s would still be open. I’m not the biggest fan of falafel, but their hummus and shakshuka is the best.

Interested in doing your own Makati food tour? You can view my Google Map (and export it so you can create your own map with it) or download my Makati Food Tour (244) with the places I’ve considered, as well as individual menu items. Tweak as needed.

For this tour, we contributed Php 1,000 each (we’re a party of 8). This covered all the food (drinks are paid individually), and parking fee for two cars. It’s rather pricey, but for 7 food stops (including Happy Cream Puff), it’s not too bad, right? This tour is best done on a Saturday, starting at 5pm if you want to avoid the crowds. Depends on how fast you eat and walk, it can be done in 3 hours.

Huge thanks to Lokal Hostel for showing me around the area (waaay back in 2015!), and giving me the confidence to explore Makati poblacion!

Where to get your Chicken Joy fix at Manila Airport terminals

Like most kids in the Philippines, I grew up eating Jollibee’s Chicken Joy. Many other fried chicken places have popped up around the country, but it doesn’t really stop the craving for Chicken Joy.

I have friends and family who live overseas in countries where there are no Jollibee, and when they come home, it’s one of the places they make sure to eat at, even if they’re only here for a couple of days. Even when they’re traveling to countries where there is Jollibee, they make sure to make a stop there too.

If you’re like them, and are itching for a bite of this crispy-licious chicken, here’s where you can find Jollibee at the Manila airports:

NAIA Terminal 1
This branch is rather hard to get to. If you’re on your own and carrying a wheeled luggage, going there might pose a problem. It’s located on the second floor of the arrival extension area. It’s the waiting area for those meeting arriving passengers, located right beside the parking lot. It’s tiny, and there is no dine in area (or at least none that I can remember).

[UPDATE 23 July 2016] There is a Jollibee at the far end of the Departure level at Terminal 1. Looks like it has a dine in area, so you can now get your Jollibee fix before flying!

NAIA Terminal 2
I haven’t been to Terminal 2 in years, but a quick Google search tells me that there is a Jollibee branch at the arrivals area, near the Philippine Airlines ticketing office.

This hot chocolate is good enough reason to brave the crowds inside Jollibee at NAIA Terminal 3
Aside from Chicken Joy, I am also a big fan of Jollibee’s hot chocolate. If you love rich dark chocolate, you’ll love this.

NAIA Terminal 3
This is the most convenient branch, because it’s right inside the terminal. It’s on the 4th floor, and does have a dine-in area, albeit pretty small. Most people just eat and go — this is not the place to loiter.

NAIA Terminal 4
The domestic terminal is really tiny, so if you’re itching for Jollibee, you’ll have to cross the street to this commercial area with several dining establishments. It’s a 5-minute walk, crossing via the pedestrian bridge. It’s not covered though, so you’ll need an umbrella if it’s raining (or if the sun’s too hot).

Jollibee was recently recognized at the Mega Magazine’s 7th Pinoy Pride Ball Global Pinoy Award. This award aims to honor homegrown talent—contemporaries whose crafts have defied the odds to succeed in the global stage, and to ultimately become Pinoy Icons.

Much thanks to Khursten for the Chicken Joy picture. Now, I need to get my Jollibee fix before I fly out again!

Review: Ocean Suites Bohol

I normally don’t travel during Philippine holidays, primarily because my work requires me to follow the US holidays, but also because I know everybody will be traveling then, and the prices go up. However, My birthday falls between Thanksgiving and Bonifacio Day this year, so when I chanced upon a Cebu Pacific seat sale, I quickly booked a trip to Bohol with my friends Sunshine and Bea.

Ocean Suites Bohol 00014

Just a couple of days after that, I received an email from Deal Grocer, asking me to choose among their hotel deals for an overnight stay. I was still in Bulusan that time (September), and won’t be back in Manila until the end of October, so I thought, why not use the voucher for a stay on my birthday, during our Bohol trip?
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