Friday, August 30, 2013

Nepal: Paragliding in Pokhara

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Getting to Pokhara from Kathmandu, Nepal by land is no joke. We had to endure nine hours of mountain road to travel from Nagarkot (two hours west of Kathmandu) to Pohara. This beautiful lakeside town is visited for its picturesque views of Annapurna. But it's also a popular place to go paragliding!

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
You can easily book paragliding in Pokhara itself. Prices start at about US$70 but best to check the inclusions. We paid a little bit more. The service includes a trip up Sarangkot Hill, the jump-off point for all flights. It's a tandem flight and you'll be guided by a licensed pilot. It's quite easy for as long as you follow the instructions.

An extra service are the photos and a video of your trip with is a must. I paid Rp.1700 (US$16) for it but it was definitely worth it since my pilot was really good. The camera lens was really clear and he knew how to angle the shots.

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
The views, especially of Fewa Lake and the Himalayan foothills, are spectacular! It was worth every dollar we paid. Make sure you don't eat too much before you fly. And if you are motion sick, tell the pilot not to do acrobat flying.

Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
Paragliding in Pokhara Nepal Tour
We have another tour to Nepal next year! Here is our schedule.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thailand: Phuket's old town

Phuket Thailand Old Town
So what else is there to see in Phuket, Thailand? If you love old architecture, you might want to walk around Phuket's old town. I hired a car to visit the beaches of Phuket. And since I had a car, I made sure to drop by the old town to see its historic mansions and shop houses.

Phuket Thailand Old Town
Phuket Thailand Old Town
Most of the old mansions of Phuket town are well-maintained. Although some of the commercial buildings need attention. But it was definitely an interesting visit. Too bad I could not see the inside of the mansions since most are still private residences. The Chinese-influenced architecture is quite similar to those I've seen in Malaysia and Singapore owing to its close proximity to places like Penang as well as its shared history with the Straits Settlements.

Phuket Thailand Old Town
Phuket Thailand Old Town
Phuket Thailand Old Town
Related entries
Beach hopping in Phuket (Rawai, Kata, Karon & Patong)
Sri Panwa Phuket

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thailand: Sri Panwa Phuket

Sri Panwa Phuket is no doubt one of the best resorts in Phuket, Thailand! I spent two nights in one of their luxurious pool villas one rainy September. Although I couldn't explore much since the weather was gloomy, the pool villa definitely was more than enough reason to stay indoors. The sprawling resort is nestled on a hill in Cape Panwa, the southeastern end of Phuket.

From the main reception area, resort transportation took me to my villa facing the ocean. Every villa has a gate for added security and privacy.

One of the main features is your own infinity pool which connects from the sun deck, bed room and living room all the way to the large bathroom (which has its own jacuzzi and sauna) at the opposite end of the main bedroom. A sound system provides relaxing pipe-in music all throughout the villa.

The room is no doubt spacious, with glass walls that offer a beautiful view of the sea. There were so many corners where I could work or relax and just look at the sea, depending on my mood.

For dinner, I'd eat at Baba Poolclub where a larger infinity pool provides more relaxation to guests.

Pizza is one of their specialties and I obviously choose something different: Tom Yam Pizza and Parma Ham Truffle Pizza. I also tried the Massaman Curry with Pork.

Breakfast was at the main reception area. Aside from the usual offering, they have local Phuket dishes. But these have to be pre-ordered the night before which I made sure to try: Phad Se-Ew with Chicken, Phuket Style Dim Sum, Roti with Chicken Curry, and Phuket Style Soya Milk.

The resort also has its own private beach if you want to stay away from the crowds in Phuket's public beaches.

My stay at Sri Panwa Phuket was extremely pleasing! How I wish I could visit again. Definitely highly-recommended, especially for those who want to spend their honeymoon in Phuket.

Bookings can be made through the Sri Panwa Phuket website.

Related article
Beach hopping in Phuket (Rawai, Kata, Karon & Patong)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Globe presents Huawei's newest smartphones & the Globe Huawei Ascend ambassadors

Cesca Litton, Patti Grandidge, Aly Borromeo and Ivan Henares all share one thing in common. They may not be today’s larger-than-life superstars, but their confidence, wit, and sense of perseverance in everything they do are worth everybody’s attention and second glance.

Like Cesca, Patti, Aly and Ivan, leading device manufacturer Huawei has unveiled its newest top quality smartphones that deserve a second look. Slim and flawless, crystal-clear and long-lasting, the Huawei Ascend P6 and Huawei Ascend Mate are the latest handsets from Huawei packed with exciting features and superb functionality for a differentiated smartphone experience.

The Huawei Ascend P6 is the world’s thinnest smartphone at 6.88mm, and is designed with precision and flawless beauty to perfectly fit one’s hand. Effortlessly turn snapshots into flawless portraits with its amazing 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The Huawei Ascend Mate combines best-in-class features across the board including a giant crystal-clear 6.1" HD screen and an unparalleled 48-hour battery life via its massive 4050mAh battery.

The Huawei Ascend P6 is available at Globe Best-Ever MySuperPlan for as low as P999 monthly at Plan 499 with P500 monthly cashout for a 24-month contract period or at Plan 999 with P200 monthly cashout also for a 24-month contract period. The Huawei Ascend Mate is free at Plan 999 and is also available at Plan 499 with a P200 monthly cashout over a 24-month contract period.

Meet the Globe Huawei Ascend ambassadors 
One of the country’s favorite TV hosts juggling entertainment, lifestyle, and sports news, Cesca Litton is a superwoman who has always considered animals and children her top priority. So when she devoted herself to help in this cause, she went all the way to South Africa to lend a hand. Cesca is not just a pretty face, she’s an enigma on her own. That’s why people really take a second look at her beauty, grace, and allure.

Cesca says, “I’ve always believed in traveling my way: learning the culture and bringing to life my advocacy. I always believe that it’s the small things that count, and the best pasalubong are photos, because what better way to keep a memory of your travel than with a captured moment. The Huawei Ascend P6 is perfect for me since I can take quick pro-snapshots with its 5MP front-facing camera and share on Instagram via my Globe unlimited surfing plan.”

Don’t be fooled by her sweet fa├žade, as host-model Patti Grandidge is one tough cookie. Not only is she a certified fashion maven, she is also an entrepreneur. She specializes in baking, and is known for her sinfully Sweet Patti Cakes. Her passion for the delish is evident on her food blog "Patti's Palette." You have to look twice because this femme fatale is one of Manila’s multi-faceted personas.

“I’ve always been passionate about food and fashion, and it has been my habit to share this passion to everyone. With my fast-paced lifestyle, I need a device that can keep up with me. Thanks to the Ascend P6, I get the thinnest Android phone out there, a device that doesn’t weigh me down. I can also wear this stylish phone with my favorite skinny jeans without a phone embossed on my leg as I strut down the runway and through my meetings. And with my Best-Ever MySuperPlan, I get to stay in touch with my contacts worry-free,” shares Patti.

Aly Borromeo is known to be an aggressive player on the field as captain of the Philippine Azkals. Add that to his intimidating and strong physique, it's hard not to be intimidated by him. However, behind his fierce aura lies a sweet, shy and mellow guy who enjoys staying home and watching movies and sports clips during his free time. With his busy lifestyle, it's very hard for him to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures such as these.

“Because of my hectic schedule, I always miss out on my favorite movies and live sports broadcasts. That’s why I need a device that fills in this gap. With the Huawei Ascend Mate, I get a 6.1” screen, the biggest smartphone display screen today. This device lets me catch my favorite shows and sports clips via video streaming while on the go, thanks to my Globe unlimited surfing plan. The big screen is perfect for a big guy like me,” showcases Aly.

An awardee of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) 2012 for Heritage Conservation, Ivan Henares is considered as one of the country’s most influential travel bloggers. He has in fact visited all 80 provinces of the Philippines. On the sideline, Ivan is a writer and lecturer at the UP Asian Institute of Tourism. Traveling is his passion, and he shares this passion to the world through his blog "Ivan About Town."

Ivan explains, “When it comes to gadgets, I put battery life first and foremost, because I need a device that lasts longer while I travel around the country and the world. When you’re traveling, you don’t get the luxury of having a socket beside you all the time to charge your device. Huawei Ascend Mate comes in handy with this need. With the device’s long-lasting battery, I can take pictures and play music while I’m discovering places around the world. I get to upload my travel photos instantly without worrying about my battery, thanks to my Globe consumable surfing plan.”

So the next time you come across Cesca, Patti, Aly or Ivan, make sure you give them the second look they rightfully deserve.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Ilocos Norte: Your guide to the best Ilocos empanadas

Ilocos Empanada - Batac, Ilocos Norte
Much has been said about the Ilocos empanada. Note that there are two distinct varieties, namely Batac and Vigan, the differences of which, I've written about before. But in Ilocos Norte, there are several places to get really delicious empanada aside from in Batac.

Ilocos Empanada - Batac, Ilocos Norte
Where to find the best empanada in Ilocos Norte is no contest since Batac has always held that honor. Glory's Empanada is the most popular. In Batac, you can order different combinations of empanada ingredients: papaya, monggo, egg, longganisa and even hotdog. Some choose vegetarian. While others double the longganisa or egg or even double both! The Jumbo Empanada has all ingredients plus hotdog. But they also serve a lot of street food in Batac if you want more than just empanada.

Ilocos Empanada - Laoag, Ilocos Norte
In Laoag City, aside from the Dap-ayan ti Ilocos Norte which is the place most tourists go to for empanada, there are four empanadaan which you might find interesting. The first one is JM's Empanada at the Laoag Airport which many locals recommended to me because the longganisa is really tasty! It's just a few meters from the airport terminal building. So you could walk over as soon as you arrive or enjoy empanada right before you leave.

Ilocos Empanada - Laoag, Ilocos Norte
There is Mildred's Empanada, a small cart with tables right beside the Laoag City Public Market. Another place we discovered is along P. Burgos, near the corner of Gen. Giron Street. It's right beside Balay da Blas. They smoke the longganisa before adding it to the empanada.

Locals also recommend the empanadaan near PLDT which is Elvie's Sweet Empanada (tricycles will know where this is) since they use sweet longganisa or hamonado instead of the garlicky derecado.

Finally, Johnny Moon Cafe in Laoag serves Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Empanada which you might want to try if you are looking for something different.

Ilocos Empanada - Bacarra, Ilocos Norte
Finally, just a few minutes from Laoag, there are two empanadaan in Bacarra. What makes their empanada worth the visit is the crust which is extra crisp and crunchy. You can see and taste the difference! You'll find them in Barangay 11 Santa Filomena 1, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Just ask for directions, the locals surely know where they are. Note that they are open only from 3 to 7 p.m.

Did I miss any other interesting empanadaan in Ilocos Norte?
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