Friday, August 11, 2017

Read: The Kitchen When It Sizzles by Chrissie Peria


Olivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who's filling in for Olivia's cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can't help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

My copy is this edition


My review:

Hot, hot Nate as well as gorgeous Liv, their relationship was more of the physical. Proof, was they couldn't get their hands off each other, which lead to them not talking or planning things out .

Not a fan, but this is how I imagined Liv and Nate


Spoilers below

But, why didn't Nate tell Liv about Billy, that he treats her like a sister. Even more, why didn't Nate tel Liv that Billy was there in Singapore. Even more, why didn't Nate tell Liv about the restaurant that's soon to open. Even a hint or two, he could have told Liv about Foster's plan to open in Asia, even perhaps in Singapore. Naku! This is the problem when Liv starts falling in love with Nate, their problem was the lack of communication, plus Liv jumping to conclusions. But, as I said before their love started on the physical, and then boom!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Read: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer


If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.




It was my roommate's copy, when I suddenly had the urge to read this book. I'm glad I did. As Jam's problems that were truly unraveled in the end, made me recall my own Reeve.

It was in the middle, when her friends started sharing their stories, that the book got me hook. As I was about a hundred pages to finish (am a slow reader) I regret not bringing it to the office.

I would recommend this book, though I still like The Interestings and The Uncoupling better.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Travel: Batanes #breathtakingbatanes

Last week, my friends and I travelled to Batanes! When I posted photos on my social media, friends began messaging me for tips. So here goes:



Accommodations:

We stayed at Marfel Lodge (airport transfers included). However, since there are more than one Marfel Lodge in Basco, please note which branch you will be at, as people who you will ask for directions and tricycle drivers will tell you, madaming Marfel Lodge.

We stayed at Marfel Lodge Main, which was very near the airport (isang tumbling lang). The Main Branch has two houses, and me and my friends actually stayed in the back house. It has two rooms (room 6 and 7). Lucky for us, we were the only ones staying there.

Even luckier was that it felt like our house for the days to follow. There was a stove and gas, with pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, silverware and more. There was also a water dispenser, so no need to worry about getting a bottle of mineral water.

Tour:

At the airport, you will be asked to pay PhP350 as environmental fee. You will be given a ticket and a map of Batanes, which I really found helpful. The map also has a grid map of Basco with street names. Don't worry it's not as big as it looks, you can walk or bike around, if it pleases you.

The owner of Marfel Lodge, Ma'am Fe is also the owner of Chanpan Tours.

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Regular rate for North Batan Tour is Php1,200 per person.
Regular rate for Sabang Tour is Php2,000 per person.
Regular rate for South Batan Tour is Php1,800 per person.

So, if you are going for that three day tour of Batanes, better prepare PhP5,000. You can try to haggle for that three day tour of Batanes, she gave us the tour for Php4,500. But, we only paid Php3,000 as we only took the the North Batan tour and Sabang tour. We had the option to take the South Batan tour or not na.

North Batan Tour

If you want to go biking, I suggest that you take this trail. Unfortunately for us, I don't know how to bike, plus it was a rainy Sunday.

Tour begins at around 12noon, so I still had time to wander around Basco (use that trusty map if you don't want to go running around in circles).

Chanpan tour first took us to have lunch (which is included). Then after to Fundacion de Pacita (it is also a resort with a resto, Cafe de Tukon). Then after we went to the Japanese Tunnel then Boulder Beach. We weren't able to go to the Rolling Hills and Lighthouse as it was raining. We went here the next day, after the Sabtang Tour.



If you want to explore the Japanese Tunnel, I suggest you go with the tour, as there is a guide. He will show you other ingresses, where of course we exited. It's total darkness in here (except of course for the entrances), so best to have your phone fully charged for flashlight and pictures.

Sabtang Tour

To go here, you will need to ride a boat. I suggest that you take the tour, as there are no tricycles here (as far as I saw) plus, the tour covers the boat ride, environmental fee, plus of course lunch.

This is the island where you will get to wear a vakul, the Ivatan headdress. It was at Barrio Chavayan, where we stopped and posed for pictures. May I suggest that you buy some of your souvenirs at the Weavers Association (also at this barrio).



You can also go swimming at Morong Beach (Ahao Arch is here). Morong Beach was where we had lunch.




South Batan Tour

We choose to just DIY the South Batan tour. We didn't have to wake up early for the tour, although we did. The original plan was we go biking to the Honesty Store and other locations on South Batan. Unfortunately, my sense of balance failed me, plus the sun was so happy to be finally given some air time, that it was so freaking hot. We instead opted to take a tricycle.

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From Basco to Honesty store, it's worth PhP220. However, we subcontracted our tricycle driver for a whole (or half as we began 11am and ended at around 4 to 5pm) day tour. We paid him PhP1,000. It was worth it. Not only because of the locations we wanted to go, we went, but also because most of the path was uphill (and downhill), and not flat which will make it a lot harder for a beginner biker like me, and would probably have taken us more time.

The Honesty store is good for snacks as there is coke Php20 each bottle, cookies and chips ranging from Php25 to PhP50. You can also buy some pasalubong from here, as there were many cookies that  were not available in the souvenir shop where Chanpan Tours took us.

We also stopped by the Song-song ruins, a couple of churches, a hillside view of the beach with goats (which obviously I forgot what its called), and Marlboro Country. You can also go to the viewing deck, but we didn't want to tire ourselves out and the viewing deck according to the map is good for sunset.

Food

There are a few restaurants and carinderia in Basco. However, if you are on a budget and you'll be staying At Marfel's, better to bring canned goods or buy from the local stores (there are many) or from Marfel which also sells some plus rice. You can cook at Marfel's as I said earlier. We cooked our breakfast. We even bought eggs (PhP8 each), garlic, tomatoes (PhP20 for three to four pieces) on the General Merchandise store.

You can also try to buy some blue crab (I forgot what it's called, Coconut Crab?). My friend bought a small one for less than Php300. If you are going to buy some crab, best to cook and eat it at Batanes, as you will need to pay a penalty fee if you bring it to the airport.

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One of the restos we tried was Cafe de Tukon (we went here two days straight). It has good food and an awesome view. Must tries include Dulce de Leche, Corned Beef Panini,  Rich Chocolate Cake, plus of course local dishes (Lunis, worth about PhP330, was yummy).

Another was Casa Napoli, one of two pizzerias in Batanes. Apparently this one is older and it made good pizza. Promise! We planned on taking home some of the pizza (margherita and pepperoni), but our tastebuds wouldn't allow it, as it wanted more. Pizzas here are 16 inches big and priced quite reasonably. Our bill was less than PhP1,000 for two pizzas, nachos, and iced tea.

The food in Batanes, I have to say, was satisfying and yummy!

Overall, Batanes provided me with a different view of the country (not just beaches and mountains) but also hillside views with goats on them (hahah!). The wonderful work of nature will certainly inspire you to do more and be more than you can be. Even better, is that Breathtaking Batanes is a perfect place to find yourself, as even though the signal was very good, there was no mobile data nor even wi-fi. So, better be senti and labas na lahat ng #hugot.

The pictures here do not do justice to the scenic view that your eyes will lay upon up at Batanes. Whenever you will decide to go to Batanes, make sure to bring your sense of adventure and sense of pride for our country.