None of my university and work friends know that I used to draw and was part of the Art Club throughout elementary and high school. College brought new-found interests and activities, and art was kind of put on the back burner. I hardly even go to art galleries.
Yesterday, Ron got me a gift certificate to Sip & Gogh, this art and wine studio that recently opened in Capitol Hills. This ‘cafe’ is perfect for people who want to unwind and unleash their creativity through painting, but do not have the time to attend art classes or the motivation to paint at their own leisure. For a minimal fee (from P900 to P1,200), the studio provides you with everything you need - from the canvas and paints, to snacks and a drink - as well as guidance in creating your masterpiece. You get to take home your painting too.
It’s best to check out their website for events. They have art sessions for kids and adults everyday. You can also choose to paint on your own without instructions from the resident artists. If you intend to come for an evening session, make sure to eat dinner first because they will only provide appetizers and a drink. I opted for the 8pm session and took three hours to finish the painting, given my OC-ness. I think it turned out pretty good though :)
Siem Reap, Cambodia is not really known as a food destination so I wasn’t expecting much. The usual fare consists of stir-fry beef or chicken with basil and chili - a blander version of Thai cuisine. I didn’t get to try the most popular Cambodian dish, Amok, which is a curry/coconut milk stew with vegetables and either fish, beef, or chicken. I did sample their curry. It was a bit sweet and not spicy at all, at least for me. After a couple of days, I was craving for some fire. Good thing a friend recommended this Indian restaurant called Maharajah. Quite authentic. The dal was absolutely superb.
Another food place worth checking out is Blue Pumpkin, a cafe/lounge owned by a Belgian. There are a number of branches around downtown Siem Reap. What I like most about this place, aside from the cakes and drinks selection, is the seating. They have day beds set against one wall of the cafe, and you can basically stretch your legs and well, lounge about. Each section of the day bed has a kind of breakfast tray for your food. A relaxing place in which to hang-out after a day’s trek among temple ruins.
Just got back from a short holiday in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Food and transportation are not as cheap as those in other Southeast Asian countries - around USD4 to USD6 for one meal, and around USD2 for a one-way trip on the tuk tuk - but you can definitely save on accommodation, with a standard aircon room in a relatively decent guest house going for USD15 to USD20.
We stayed at the Jasmine Family Hostel, which is around three kilometers from the city center. What we like most about this hotel is that it offers a lot of tours to various destinations in Siem Reap, and you have the choice of whether to go via car or tuk tuk. The driver will take you to and from the destination and you have the freedom to explore on your own. We found this to be a better option than having to hire a tuk tuk for the day. You can also rent bikes for exploring, especially if you have no particular itinerary (and if you don’t really like giving tips).
We availed of four tuk tuk tours, and these cost us a total of USD70 for two people. The first was to a 10th century Hindu temple of rose-colored stone called Banteay Srey, which is an hour away from town. The second was to The Silk Farm, where you get to see how they cultivate worms and extract silk from cocoons. The third tour was to the Angkor Wat complex. And the fourth was to Tonle Sap, the lake of freshwater fish, to see the floating village.
Walking around Pub Street and the city center was also quite an experience. So many food places, plus the goods in the night markets come at a bargain.
The deer of Nara, Japan…..
Doing some consultancy work for a project in Silang, Cavite. Travel, of course, is one of the perks of the job. I got to see what coffee trees look like (yes I have never actually seen one), and I also got to eat at the Gourmet Farms restaurant.
Our trip to Japan was as much about history and culture as it was about food. Some places that spoiled us so, we can’t help but feel short-changed now that we’re back to eating Japanese food in the Philippines. It just does not compare.
1. Kobe beef in, well, Kobe. So tender. Beef without the beefy taste and without the “sebo.”
2. Ramen, tofu, udon, and fish cakes in Arashiyama. Creamy creamy creamy.
3. Oh yes, conveyor belt sushi in Osaka.
4. Found this katsudon place while wandering around Nara. Best food find ever.
5. Can’t go wrong with a Michelin-starred ramen restaurant in Kyoto.
6. Farewell meal near the train station. Tendon love in Osaka.
7. And just because these are popular in Japan…. strawberry shortcake and Mister Donut :)
Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan last Saturday. Ron had a consultation meeting with GK folks and I tagged along.
As a social enterprise, the farm not only houses family beneficiaries of the GK housing project, but also provides work opportunities for them. With the help of young social entrepreneurs and volunteers, the farm is now producing tea drinks made of lemongrass and sweet potato, ‘kesong puti’ or goat’s milk cheese, ham, salted duck eggs that have no chemicals or artificial coloring, and educational toys made of bamboo. Teens in the area have been taught how to make detox drinks from the herbs and vegetables around the farm. And an ‘ate’ bakes melt-in-your-mouth barako coffee bread upon order.
You can also find such products as Theo & Philo chocolates and Apo coffee. These have been developed by social entrepreneurs who make use of farm produce. There is a souvenir shop at the entrance and a Human Nature store as well. This visit made me realize that there are just so many things that you can do with land, if you have the vision, creativity, and patience to see things through.
Things that make a romp along the back roads of Kyoto that much more interesting…
Back from Japan and still sorely missing the temples, castles, gardens, samurai, old neighborhoods, polite people, and the FOOD. Some snapshots of our dash around Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka.
Overnight stay at the Manila Peninsula, thanks to the brother-in-law. Indian dinner at Spices and complimentary buffet breakfast at Escolta. Feels good to be timing out in luxury hotels once in a while.