Our first day in Sydney was so packed, two blog posts are needed. After taking so many pictures in the beautiful Queen Victoria Building in the previous post, this one explores more of Sydney – the highlights of which I hopefully were able to incorporate into the title? (Trying to be witty, yeah…)
Finally, something NOT travel-related! 😀 About a month ago, we headed over to the Manila Hotel to have dinner with some relatives (who treated us, thank you!!). Admittedly, it was also my first time inside Manila Hotel! I just always see the iconic façade whenever we drive by, but we never actually had any opportunity to get inside – until now! And boy, is it really old-Manila pretty or what.
With work, we always need to have a period of downtime, too. Ironically, it was Ptr. Peter and Auntie Deonna who invited me out. 😀 Lo and behold, I discover the joys of a simple night walk, more so with a camera in hand. 🙂
Walking around China at night… oh, how I missed this. I never feel afraid or cautious of anything (although of course, staying vigilant is a must) whenever I walk around any place in China at night. It just goes to show that there’s not much of a reason to feel frightened or threatened. On the contrary, I hate having to walk outside at night here in the Philippines. 😐
One of the most indelible moments of my walk with the Tan-Chi couple was how loving they were (they’re holding hands in this photo!), even after forty years of marriage! Yes, you are supposed to be loving, no matter how many decades you’ve been together. Sadly, though, the world and media has largely distorted our ideas about love and marriage. Love is a daily choice of whether you do this, or you adjust and accommodate. Praise God for the opportunity to learn so much from them. 🙂
On our last night, some people took us out to this Muslim-friendly restaurant, promising us one of the best meals in Nanjing. Let me just say, remember the name and exterior of this restaurant, because the food is darn good! 🙂
This is Nanjing’s famous 盐水鸭, roughly translated as duck or goose cooked in brine. Hearing the description itself, I wouldn’t have tried it – I personally prefer Beijing’s roast duck. HOWEVER. Out of courtesy, I ate one – and loved it! It had the right amount of salt. Definitely something worth trying out!
THIS BEEF BALL. It’s basically an oversized beef ball, but it literally falls apart when you touch it, and it just melts in your mouth. It’s so hard to believe that it’s all beef! According to our hosts, the people here hammer it until it’s really tender, and then make it into these beef balls. Super delicious!
We all ooh-ed and ahh-ed when these two plates of ribs came out – one beef, one goat. Both were seasoned with the usual fare you usually see in Muslim food, cumin and the like. Needless to say, we got our hands dirty and grabbed one rib each!
This little baby had its own grand entrance. At first glance, it looks like a normal, albeit oversized xiao long bao; however, our hosts explained that it had all sorts of goodies inside, including this special crab meat. According to them, these crabs are specially cultured until they grow to a certain small size. That’s what makes the meat special. Of course, as this was going on I was practically thinking about the Philippines’s own talangka, and this didn’t taste half bad. The thing is, you have to start by siphoning out the contents with a straw, and not dig into it! Of course, I got impatient and dug in once I got about half the juice and contents, as the rest of the juice spilled out on the plate, to the horror of our hosts. 😮
Note to self: a neon backpack is handy for travelling with a group. Makes you super easy to spot! But anywaaaay… here comes another day of touring Beijing’s most scenic spots, this day kicked off by a visit to the Temple of Confucius. (北京孔庙)
So, as you might have guessed, it’s basically a temple dedicated to Confucius, who most Chinese consider as the greatest teacher that ever lived. As for me, temples haven’t increased their appeal towards me at all, especially Chinese ones which tend to be really big and long-winding. One thing that never changes, though – beautiful scenery!
Next stop: 南锣鼓巷 Nan Luo Gu Xiang, a.k.a. a pedestrian street packed with quirky little shops and amazing food finds! Visiting this place is especially great for around the 2pm-3pm time frame, where your tummy might start to feel a little neglected.
This next place was supposed to be in a separate post, but let’s just put it together here. Presenting: the Summer Palace! (颐和园)It is arguably one of the most famous tourist spots in Beijing, next to the Great Wall.
Just to break up the monotony: did you know that the Summer Palace was especially constructed for the last empress, the notorious tyrant Ci Xi? It’s like saying that today’s First Lady always complains about being bored with state affairs, and ordered the people of the state to build a MASSIVE garden for her, with all the works. Not some tiny little garden, we’re talking acres here! That’s exactly what Ci Xi made her people do, and although the resulting Summer Garden is indeed beautiful, the history behind it? Not so much.
We started going through this long hallway, which we were warned beforehand of as being one of the longest hallways in the world. However, the pretty stained and painted little shafts of windows kept us busy!
We were supposed to go on this boat ride that would take us on a cruise where we can see sights only reachable by boat, but unfortunately the winds and water were uncooperative and especially rocky that day. 😦 Le sigh. Maybe that’s why we didn’t get to see these ever-famous bridges:
Le sigh indeed. Would have loved to photograph these iconic bridges myself, but God has a purpose for everything, right? Forward we go!
…because we were too busy buying and testing cute souvenirs (LOL) and braving a dust storm with our immediate resources! Yes, seriously, a dust storm with all the particles billowing around furiously. First time in my life to have experienced that!
You know how you drive through highways in the province, and you always see those big thatched huts that are actually eateries or restaurants? Yeah, we never thought of trying those, but this particular one along the Candelaria highway in Quezon named Bangihan ni Kuya came highly recommended by one of my dad’s friends, so we decided to try it out on one of our recent trips!
The thing with the pricing of this place is that it’s waaay more expensive that it should be. The price and serving size ratio is just not right, which makes it a shame since the food itself is pretty good!
One of the highlights of this place is their grilled pork. The taste is quite similar to Palaisdaan – perfection for me – but again, for the price and serving size it came in, it became such a shame. The fish tasted very good as well, but the ones we ordered weren’t grilled well – some meat still stuck at the bones, meaning it’s not fully cooked.
The sinigang, however, was amazeballs. Yeah, that medium-sized bowl cost more than P350 (again, a little pricey), but man, it was amazing – the best sinigang I’ve ever tasted in my life! Would love to go back just for this!
P.S. The photo above the sinigang is sisig. I love my sisig and everything, but DON’T ORDER IT!
To sum it up, I really wanted to love the place – the place was light and airy, the grills smelled delicious and most of the food were delicious. There were a few hiccups, though, which somehow made me think ours wasn’t an accident. Most of all, I think they need to fix their pricing. Considering the owners aren’t renting the land, and they use minimal electricity, there’s no reason to charge that high!
At the mention of Chinese restaurants, I always have that love-hate feeling about them – yes, Chinese food is good and all that, but perhaps being exposed to it practically all my life, I don’t feel as much excitement for it as I do for other cuisine. Happy to say that Koon Lin rekindled the “love” in me, though!
It’s a bit upscale, mostly price-wise but also design-wise, for our small city of Lucena. However, what we did notice is that, after a month of business, the place is still very busy with customers, mostly with native Chinese (we call ’em TDK, Fookien people get that!) who have moved their families and businesses to Lucena. We had one teacher from China with us as well, and she echoed the reason why this place has been a hit with its intended market: the food tasted really authentic.
I loved that their fried squid was tender enough to cut through with a spoon. Cannot tell you about the million experiences I had with Chinese restaurants where I had to pull at the squid with everything I got!
Fun fact: the phrases on the wall are actually part of a Chinese saying. Anyway, love how the place was tastefully designed! Enough to make you feel like you’re dining in some Chinese restaurant in Manila. 🙂
Koon Lin is actually at the second floor of the building it’s at. In the first floor are two more establishments, owned by the children of Koon Lin’s owner: M2 Miko Miko, which is more like Western dining but with a more casual and relaxed feel, and Chuables (tell me that name is not cute; the family’s name is Chua), which is a bakery.
I like to call it a prequel, simply because I didn’t take enough photos of the place, and plan to make up for it after our next visit. 😀
Anyway, Eduvigis Lucena is an establishment similar to the previously-blogged Zymurgy – coffee shop, restaurant and bar in one. You know how much Filipinos love their coffee shops offering rice meals. Hahaha!
Eduvigis has more of a great-dining vibe, and it brands itself as a restaurant as well, so it offers more dishes with more varieties than the usual. They have a chef in there, too, so they’re really banking on the dining thing. In fairness naman, they have a lot of great dishes that impress even my mom!