Gallivanting around Bangkok, Thailand

During my 4D3N trip to Bangkok, Thailand, I was able to experience a lot of “firsts”.

 

It was my first time traveling to another country with a different time zone – Bangkok is an hour behind PH time. So, yeah, I basically went back in time! I am officially a time-traveling bitch! Lol. Ticking that off my bucket list! ūüôā

First time staying in a hostel with mixed dorm rooms.

First time sharing a bathroom/shower area with hot, gorgeous foreign men with abs for days. *wink wink*

First time swimming with flesh-eating fish. FUN!

First time eating authentic Pad Thai and other Thai cuisines.

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First time going to a foreign country where I don’t look like a foreigner coz I kinda look like a Thai person. Haha!

First time falling in love with a 7-11 store.  I mean, look at THESE!!!

First time commuting by BOAT.

First time getting obsessed and addicted to handmade soaps.

 

 

First time riding a Tuk Tuk!

First time tasting taro-filled bread (and I super loved it!)

First time seeing penguins!

First time seeing wax figures (Tom, George, Julia, and Britney… bitch LOL).

AND first time doing Zumba while submerged in water.


My travel buddy and I did a lot of “When in Thailand…” stuff, except for the whole meet and greet with the elephants, the floating market, and the whole museum-temple-palace tour. I mean, I knew Bangkok has a lot of those and they’re majestic and ‘Gram-worthy… but I just wanted to do different stuff while I was there.

 

DAY 1 – OUT AND ABOUT THE CITY – GIANT SWING, GRAND PALACE, THA MAHARAJ, COMMUTER BOAT, MBK CENTER, SIAM DISCOVERY

This was probably the most exhausting. We arrived early so we couldn’t check in at our hostel yet. We stayed at Krit Hostel and Coffee Bar, located at Siripong Road. It’s a pretty good hostel for backpackers and those who have a tight budget. It WAS clean and quiet during the first two nights. But then some inconsiderate idiots came and ruined all that. The staff was friendly, chatty, helpful, and just overall congenial. My only concern was the fact that some guys were able to sneak in alcohol and were really loud and unruly all night long.

ANYWAY… we had our brunch first at this cute eatery nearby called “Kope Hya Tai Kee”. I was glad that they had vegetarian food there. I tried this dish called “rice with crispy fluffy fried egg and veggie pad kra paow”. Whew! That’s a mouthful! LOL! So I learned my FIRST LESSON here. When in Thailand… never, ever, trust the people when they say it’s ONLY A LITTLE spicy. They lie. Lol. Okay, they don’t lie. I just have like a really LOW tolerance for spicy food. Spicy food AND dumb people.

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Our first stop was the Giant Swing, which was like 2 minutes away on foot from Krit Hostel. I actually had expectations about this Giant Swing. For one thing, I was looking for an actual SWING. Lol. Anyway, according to my dear friend, Wiki: “The Giant Swing is a religious structure in¬†Phra Nakhon,¬†Bangkok,¬†Thailand. Located in front of¬†Wat Suthat, it was formerly used in an old¬†Brahmin¬†ceremony and is one of Bangkok’s tourist attractions.¬†An annual swinging ceremony known as¬†Triyampavai-Tripavai¬†was held at Giant Swings of major cities until 1935 when it was abolished for safety reasons.¬†According to an ancient¬†Hindu¬†epic, after¬†Brahma¬†created the world he sent¬†Shiva¬†to look after it. When Shiva descended to the earth,¬†Naga¬†serpents wrapped around the mountains in order to keep the earth in place. After Shiva found the earth solid, the Nagas moved to the seas in celebration. The Swing Ceremony was a reenactment of this. The pillars of the Giant Swing represented the mountains, while the circular base of the swing represented the earth and the seas. In the ceremony, Brahmins would swing, trying to grab a bag of coins placed on one of the pillars.

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We didn’t stay there for too long coz the sun was like burning us to hell. We did see A LOT of pigeons there. And they were flocking around something that looked like green brains which were creepy. Lol. So if you’re into pigeon-watching or feeding, go visit the Giant Swing.

 

I think we went back to our hostel for a bit, checked in, freshened up, and then headed out again. Our plan was to take a pic of the Grand Palace – just outside coz I was wearing shorts and they won’t let me in. Lol. Okay, I knew they had a strict dress code. I just didn’t feel like wearing jeans or anything long and uncomfortable in that weather. Plus, I wasn’t too keen on entering the Grand Palace. I just really wanted to see the outside. So my friend and I started what we call our version of the “death march”. Under the scorching heat of the sun and the lovely humidity – we followed a map and started walking around the outside of the Grand Palace, in search of the “front side” so that we could get a sneak peek and take pics. Unfortunately, after almost twenty-nine years of trudging, we were not able to do that. The security around the Grand Palace was really tight and we saw a lot of mourners lining the streets and coming in and out of the palace.

A little trivia, Thailand’s late King¬†Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting cremated in October, a year after his death. This was something I noticed (well, anyone with eyes would’ve noticed this LOL) while I was in Bangkok. He was EVERYWHERE. Never have I seen someone’s face THAT MUCH in one day. Every road, street, alley, establishment, store, restaurant – every single place you could think of – has a picture, a poster, or huge billboard of him. It’s fascinating how much they revered him.

After our failed attempt to get a glimpse of the majestic Grand Palace, we decided to just take the Chao Praya River Tour. We went to the nearest pier – Tha Maharaj.

We got a bit hungry and thirsty so we grabbed a bite to eat first. Wrong move. We should’ve checked the schedule first. Lol. So, yeah, unfortunately, the last boat left at 16:00 and I think it was almost 18:00 when we decided to buy tickets. Haha.

However, we were still able to take a “boat tour” – albeit aboard the normal commuter boat a.k.a. the “hop on and hop off as quickly as you can if you don’t want to fall into the water boat”. Haha. Due to the language barrier, it was a bit hard at first to ask for directions and help. Good thing a bubbly and helpful žēĄž§ĆŽßą overheard us asking the woman at the ticket counter and she took us under her wings. Lol. Despite her broken English, she tried her best to give us directions and converse with us. Lucky for us, she was also alighting at the same pier. She was also like a tour guide coz she kept on pointing at some tourist places and saying stuff about them. I just wish I could understand her better. She was telling me to look at the “university” and I was like, “Oh, cool there’s a famous university here”… but she was saying “River City”. -.-

Anyway, the helpful¬†žēĄž§ĆŽßą guided us all the way to the BTS Skytrain station (I think it was Bang Wa) where we had to take a train to Siam Discovery. We wanted to visit Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World. When we got there, we found out from the lady selling tickets that we could still go in (I think it was past 19:00 then) but we already missed the last screening of the free 4D movie that they’re showing. So she suggested that we come back early morning tomorrow… which SUCKS. Like, we went all the way there. But my friend also said that (based on her experience) there are some booths selling tickets for both attractions at a lower price. So we decided to just go home and go back on Saturday.

It wasn’t a complete waste of time coz we took pictures around the MBK Center. This wall covered with fake graffiti and drawings of the MBK mascot, Ma Krub, is adorbs!

 

DAY 2 – ERAWAN WATERFALLS AND ERAWAN NATIONAL PARK, KHAO SAN ROAD

I realized that on every trip that we’ve made, we ALWAYS – like ALWAYS – visited a waterfall in that area. So it has become our thing. Or more like our #travelgoal .

We decided not to DIY this one and we just availed of the Erawan Waterfalls and River Kwai Tour from Day Tours Bangkok. They have a lot of one-day tours (or 2-3 days, depending on what you like) which was perfect for us. The price was 1,500 Baht per person and it might seem a bit pricey but it was totally worth it. Here’s part of their email:

“You will be collected from your hotel at¬†06:50¬†and first taken by minibus
to a meeting point where the tour groups areorganizedd and then to the
famous Erawan Waterfalls national park where you have the morning to walk
all the way to the top and observe the seven beautiful waterfalls that
make up this great national park.

You will eat lunch (Thai food choose one dish) near the Erawan Waterfalls
and after lunch, next stop is the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi and here you
will visit the famous Bridge over the River Kwai(about 10 min).

You will return to Bangkok (Khaosan Road area) by around 19:30 depending
upon traffic.”

So there were other people with us on the tour but they were all foreigners and they were pretty chill and nice. The trip took about 3 hours. When we arrived, I thought the tour guide would actually “guide” us and explain stuff along the way – which was what he was hired to do, right? I mean… okay. Everything about this tour (and the company) was actually pretty GOOD. There was no hassle at all. I just have to comment on the tour guide they hired. I mean, they could at least hire someone more personable and chatty and bubbly. ¬†And someone with a better English communication skill. This tour guide was just cranky and snappy and moody. When we arrived, he was talking too fast and explaining about what time we were expected to eat lunch and come back to the meeting spot, but he didn’t care that NOBODY understood a word he said. He just said it and then turned his back on us.

MOVING ON… we trekked by ourselves and it was fine coz the Erawan National Park had signs all over the place. The trail was also mostly flat and cemented so it wasn’t that hard. So there are SEVEN waterfalls; the third one is 150 meters away from the starting point, the seventh is 1,550 meters away. OF COURSE, we only went as far as the third one. Haha. We weren’t really keen on visiting all seven. We just wanted to take a dip in one of them – preferably a shallow one coz I CANNOT swim.

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There weren’t a lot of people at first, but when we went back to the second waterfall – which was the BEST place to “swim”, or in my case “walk around”, the place had become more crowded. It was funny coz the first waterfall was 3 meters deep and I didn’t know how deep that was (like I was ready to jump in) until my friend lectured me about it. Haha. So, NOTE TO SELF: If the water is 3-meter deep, DON’T. Just DON’T. Lol!

Probably part of the “attraction” at the Erawan Waterfalls are the FLESH-EATING FISH swimming around and lurking in the waters. I know it sounds terrifying but… well, yeah, IT IS terrifying. Especially seeing them up close! They’re HUGE and, despite the tour guide assuring us that they’d just “nibble” not bite, I knew they were going to freakin’ BITE! Lol!

So my friend had more balls than me so she got in the water first. The rule was not to stay still for more than 10 seconds coz if you do, those nasty flesh-eating fish are going to attack you. Haha! She reassured me, however, that the bigger ones don’t bite – they actually didn’t come near her. It was the smaller ones that would chew on the dead skin cells around your feet. And we noticed that they only attack human feet. They actually don’t care much for any part of our body. Just the feet. Hmm. Feet fetish? Lol!

After much convincing from my friend, and because the prickly heat was annoying me, I finally gave in and just jumped into the water. It was funny coz from the moment I got in, I kept on moving and jumping around ¬†– doing some “Zumba” dance moves lol – coz I was terrified of staying still for a second. It was a great workout for us. Haha. The water was not as COOL as the water in Baler’s Mother Falls¬†but it did cool me off and I felt so refreshed afterward.

Not sure how long we stayed there, jumping around and making fun of this Johnny Bravo-ish dude doing pictorials with his boyfie… We got out of the water and decided to head back to the meeting place where we could have our free lunch. I was kinda worried about this coz I feel like we won’t have many choices, coz it was free. However, they served vegetarian meals in that eatery so, YAY for me!

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And it was FREAKIN’ delish! One of the best meals I’ve had in Thailand.

We got on the “mini bus” (which was actually a van) and headed to the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. I didn’t know much about this. So, apparently, there was a 1950s movie about this famous bridge. And the historical relevance is “During WW II, Japan constructed the meter-gauge railway line from Ban Pong, Thailand to Thanbyuzayat, Burma. The line passing through the scenic Three Pagodas Pass runs for 250 miles. This is now known as the Death Railway. The construction was done using POWs and Asian slave laborers in unfavorable conditions. The work started in October 1942 was completed in a year. Due to the difficult terrain, thousands of laborers lost their lives. It is believed that one life was lost for each sleeper laid on the track.

We would’ve crossed the bridge and gotten all the way to the other side if it weren’t for the fact that WE WERE BURNING IN HELL. Like, I’m not even kidding. It felt like I’ve developed skin cancer from the heat of the sun during my 10-minute stay there.

The 3-hour drive back to Bangkok was uneventful and quiet. The tour guide was not with us anymore, which was fine coz we didn’t really need him anyway. Lol. OH! We stopped at a gas station and my friend bought some sliced guava from a stall there and IT WAS DA BOMB! Like, seriously! I should’ve bought one too! I just tried hers and I loved it!

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^ These fruits are a must-try!

The driver dropped us off at Khao San Road, as promised. This is where the night life is happening. But we weren’t up for that. We were icky and drained and still a bit wet (coz we just let the sun dry us lol), so we just wanted to go home. We did look around for a bit.

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And that was when we smelled something REALLY, REALLY GOOD. So this dude just opened his stall and was taking out these cute handmade soaps (which were designed like different fruits and flowers) and MAN, THEY SMELLED SOOOOOOOO DAMN GOOD! Like, for real! Especially the WATERMELON soap! I think we stayed there for more than 5 minutes, just sniffing out all the handmade soaps that he was putting on the table. Like addicts. Lol. He was selling them for 60 Baht each but we haggled and asked if he could sell them for 50 Baht each and he said YES right away. Little did we know that in Chatuchak Weekend Market, they sell these handmade soaps for only 25 Baht each. Ugh. But that gave us a fleeting moment of relaxation and happiness. I swear I’m still sniffing these soaps every now and then. Lol!

 

DAY 3: CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET, JIM THOMPSON’S HOUSE, SEA LIFE BANGKOK OCEAN WORLD, MBK CENTER, SIAM PARAGON, SIAM DISCOVERY

Our first stop was the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The nice lady at Krit Hostel taught us how to get there by bus. We were planning to take the longer (and more expensive) route – taxi and then BTS Skytrain. Lol. Good thing she was there to help us out. We just walked for a bit from Krit Hostel and then waited for the right bus (numbers 44, 59, or 503) which would directly take us to Chatuchak Market. We were there early so it wasn’t packed yet. It reminded me of Divisoria and the Night Market in Baguio City. The place was GINORMOUS. I read somewhere that there are about 15,000 stalls/shops.

We were calmly walking and looking around when we smelled something GOOD! Like something vaguely familiar. It was like deja vu! Haha! We turned a corner and saw this shop!!! I mean, look at ALL those handmade soaps!!! I think we spent an unnecessary amount of time in that shop, just admiring the intricate designs and how real they looked and just sniffing the hell out of each one of them! Lol. The bigger ones were 4 for 100 Baht and the small ones were 5 for 100 Baht. Pretty good deal! So they’re not really soaps for your body, they’re more like some kind of air freshener/deodorizer.

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I also treated myself and bought this cute red backpack for 199 Baht. I thought really hard before purchasing it coz I’m a cheapass bitch and I didn’t want to regret buying a 300-peso bag. All my bags cost less than that. Lol. Anyway, a few minutes after buying it, I immediately regretted it. Coz there was another store outside selling the same freakin’ bag for 130 Baht!!! ¬†WTF.

We decided to take it easy on our third day – just visit a couple of places and then go shopping. HOWEVER, there is no such thing as a relaxing, walk in the park day when you’re in Bangkok. Lol. Well, it was the weekend so it was understandable why the malls were packed. The funny thing was, when we went to the Siam Discovery early in the morning, around 10 AM, it was pretty chillaxed and almost empty. So, we thought, “Oh, cool, the malls here aren’t crowded like in Manila”. WE WERE WRONG. Lol.

So before buying tickets to Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World, we had to go out and look for another currency exchange place coz the ones inside the malls were buying PHP for only 45 Baht, whereas it’s 65+ Baht in other places.

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Finally, we saw this place called SUPER RICH ¬†THAILAND CURRENCY EXCHANGE and we were lucky we did! I highly recommend that you exchange your money at this place when you’re in Thailand. Their rates are WAY BETTER than those banks. AND the lady even gave us these TOURIST DISCOUNT COUPONS – for Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World! Good thing we haven’t bought tickets yet! A 30% discount was exactly what we needed!

After that, we headed toward the famous Jim Thompson’s House. You can actually walk from the main road to the house, it’s probably a 5-minute walk, but we decided to just wait for the “shuttle service” to take us there. Coz we’re so bougie. Haha. There’s an entrance fee of 100 Baht and then you can avail of the tour in a language that you prefer. Of course, we chose Korean. JK. We took the English tour. We had to wait for about 30 minutes before the start of the next tour so we looked around the place first.

A little history: “The Jim Thompson House is a museum in central Bangkok, Thailand, housing the art collection of American businessman and architect Jim Thompson, the museum designer, and former owner.” If you want to know more about this fascinating dude who met a mysterious and sad ending, read more here.

We entered this place which displayed some kind of modern art exhibition, a.k.a. some weird shit that I don’t get. Lol. I mean, I understand SOME art works, but these ones were just… weird AF.

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Like this pool of hair which was randomly collected from some barbershop in the 1900s.

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Or this military jacket filled with coral reef stones.

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Or these stones….

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And while my friend was taking this pic of me with the ugly mask behind me, I was smiling at first but I saw a video clip playing behind her that totally STUNNED me. Lol. It was a video clip of a Russian dude Рstark naked Рpunching and kicking another him, which was translucent and ghost-like.

There was an explanation there but I couldn’t remember. Something about the artist having self-conflict coz of his religion…

Moving on… the tour of the house was pretty good mainly coz the Thai woman was very expressive. I mean, listening to her tell the story of Jim Thompson was like listening to some kind of spoken poetry. I loved how she talked in a sweet, calm voice with a cute rising and falling intonation.

I guess the most interesting tidbit was the fact that at the age of 61, Jim Thompson went to meet some friends in Malaysia and never came back. They never heard from him again. They never found his body. He just vanished into thin air. No one knew exactly what happened to him.

After the tour, we just took pics around the place and left.

We went back to Siam Paragon for our Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World tour. I was pretty excited about this coz I’ve never been to a walk through aquarium before.

I met some fascinating sea creatures there but the highlight was the PENGUINS!!! I can finally say that I’ve seen penguins in person! Haha!

There was this sinister-looking shark swimming around and giving us the side eye but what’s creepier was that gigantic statue behind it.

These artistic, psychedelic thingies were also pretty cool.

The place was HUGE! We didn’t think the tour would take more than an hour! It felt like we were walking for hours and we still couldn’t find the EXIT. Lol.

But I had a bit of fun and I let my inner child come out to play. Haha!

I love how this seahorse and starfish are so like me: JUST HANGING IN THERE. LOL!

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For lunch, I finally had the famous PAD THAI. We ate at this bougie-looking place called The Fifth Food Avenue at MBK Center.

I kinda liked the system here. So when you enter, you have to get a “card” from the lady at the front desk and give her a certain amount to put in your card – like a deposit money. You then order some food and pay using that card. You can refund your remaining balance before you leave the place, after surrendering the card to the same lady. The Fifth Food Avenue offers a plethora of international cuisines from Lebanese to Indian to Mexican to¬†Vietnamese.

These Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are DA BOMB!!!

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And my first Pad Thai was soooooooo damn good. But the serving was too much for me. Lol. So I had to take home half of it and I ate it for dinner later that night.

My dad wanted me to buy these disco-like light bulbs at the MBK Center so we went there afterward. The first time we went there, I already saw these Thai crispy pancakes (Khanom Buang) and they were fascinating to look at coz you would think, at first, that they were tacos or something. It is actually made of rice flour, which serves as a delicious vessel to the rich (and colorful) meringue topped with candied duck egg yolk. So I gave in to the temptation and bought one. AND I LOVED IT. So I bought another one. Lol. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you try this when in Thailand.

After buying my dad’s light bulbs, we headed home. So it was freakin’ difficult to get a cab home from the Phaya Thai station of the BTS Skytrain. And we didn’t really understand WHY THE FUCK. We tried Grab but it was WAY too expensive. The moment we start talking to the cab drivers and showing them a map and pointing to where we are headed, they all rejected us. They were all like “try another cab” or “I don’t know” or they simply shook their heads and said “NO”. Like, WTF?! It was not like we’re going to another dimension or something! And it is a well-known area coz it was so near the popular tourist spots like the Giant Swing and the FREAKIN’ GRAND PALACE!

I got used to cab drivers in my country who’d be super enthusiastic and overzealously (to the point that it’s borderline creepy and scary) ask me if I want a ride and where I’m going even if I didn’t flag them down. Apparently, cab drivers in Thailand don’t want to earn money. I mean, we are PAYING customers dammit.

Anyway, after a few failed attempts, this Tuk Tuk suddenly parked near us and two men approached us. We were hesitant at first coz we knew it’d be WAY TOO expensive. So they asked where we were going and we showed them our map and the instructions which were written in Thai. That was another thing that pissed us off with the cab drivers who said “I don’t know” — our map had pictures of the popular monuments and it had the names of the places written in FREAKIN’ THAI — in their language! You’d think they’d stop for a second and read the freakin’ thing before saying I DON’T KNOW. Ugh.

Sorry. That just got me so riled up coz it was a very frustrating experience for us. Okay, deep breaths…

Going back to the two men… at least they took a good look at our map and read the instructions on the paper that we printed out. But of course, they were asking us for A LOT of money. They were like 200 Baht. And we were like, UH, HELL NO. Coz we took a regular cab from the same place the other day and the fare was only 75 Baht. ¬†So we haggled and we were like 150. The other guy, who was not really the driver of the Tuk Tuk got pissed off and walked away. He kept on insisting that it was 200 coz it was too far. The driver actually looked like he was okay with our price, I mean it wasn’t that bad. And he was not saying anything. After a minute or so of haggling, they gave up. LOL. We won. They were like, “okay okay, 150”. VICTORY!

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SIDE THOUGHT: When in Thailand… OF COURSE you’d see Mario freakin’ Maurer everywhere. Haha! He’s seriously endorsing chlorophyll…?! LOL

Our flight the next day was at 9:35 AM so we had to leave early. We decided to just take a Grab to the Phaya Thai BTS station coz we were like so familiar with that place now. Haha. And that would take us straight to the station at the airport – the Suvarnabhumi Station.

SIDE THOUGHT: I’ve been to Singapore before and they have the same system – their subway also has a station straight to the airport which is sooooooooo much better and more convenient. I don’t get why we cannot have the same thing here in my country. That would definitely eliminate traffic around the airport area AND make life easier for A LOT of people – not just the travelers! And we won’t get rip off by greedy cab drivers who think everyone who goes to the airport has A LOT of money.¬†

Anyway… the nice cab driver was a bit confused at first and we didn’t know why. He kept on asking “Where you go?” and we said “Phaya Thai BTS” he kept on repeating “Phaya Thai…? Phaya Thai…?” After a minute of him asking the same question and us giving him the same answer, my friend explained and was like “We’re going to the airport.” And I guess he heard the word “airport” and was like “Airport link! Ahhh…” So apparently, Phaya Thai was still a bit far so he took us to the nearer BTS station which would is what they call an “Airport link” station. It was Ratchaprarop Station.

SIDE THOUGHT AGAIN: I really thought it would be easy to communicate with Thai people coz, like Filipinos, I thought they know basic English. I was wrong. We struggled A LOT with the language barrier. We had to sort of dumb down our English and use broken English most of the time to get our message across. At Krit Hostel, my friend and I were asking a “receipt” from the front desk staff and she couldn’t understand what a receipt was. My friend explained it but she was clueless. And then a foreigner (who could speak Thai) stepped in and he was like “It’s like ticket” and she finally understood. So they¬†use some English words in different context.

And then there was that funny incident at the BTS Station. So it was still too early that was why it was empty save for a foreign couple who were also in a hurry to get to the airport. My friend and I were about to take the escalator on the LEFT, but we saw that it was going down, not up. So we walked over to the one on the right side. But before we reached it, the security guard yelled at us “LIFT! LIFT!” and was pointing toward the LEFT escalator. So we were like, “Oh, Okay. We’re supposed to take the LEFT escalator?” so we headed there, but it was still GOING DOWN, not UP. So we thought maybe he made a mistake. Confused, we walked back toward the right escalator and this time the guard was ANGRILY screaming at us “LIFT!!! LIFT!!!” Even the foreign couple with us was confused! LOL. And then we saw it… he was referring to the LIFT/ELEVATOR on the LEFT side. We DID NOT see that. Hahahaha! When we finally saw it and headed toward it, he gave a LOUD and exasperated sigh that sounded like, “THESE IDIOTS”. LOL!

So that concludes my 4D3N in Bangkok, Thailand! I guess the trip to Erawan National Park and swimming with the flesh-eating fish in the Erawan Waterfall were the most memorable. It was also fascinating to have a first-hand experience of Thai culture and finally taste authentic Thai food. I also got to see a bit of the Tak Bat Buddhist ceremony where they give food to Buddhist monks who are walking around barefoot. I learned that “it’s a way to support the monks, who study and practice Buddha’s teachings, by¬†offering¬†them¬†food. At the same time, they are learning to¬†give¬†and to let go.”

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All in all, it was a much-needed break from my stressful and thankless job. I’d probably go back to Thailand, but not in Bangkok. Maybe Ko Phi Phi or Chiang Mai would be more ideal.

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The Non-Surfer’s Guide to Baler

What comes to your mind when you think about Baler?

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Surfing, of course.

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Baler, tagged as the “birthplace of surfing in the Philippines”, is a picturesque town 5 hours away from Manila, in the province of Aurora. And now I know that Baler is NOT in Quezon. Neither is Aurora a part of Quezon. More importantly, Aurora is in Central Luzon – REGION III.

Anyway… now that I got that out of the way… ^^

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My 3 days 2 nights trip to Baler was totally worth it. It was worth the money that I spent (which was not that much) and the 14-hour bus trip (from Baguio to Baler).

It was one of the most enjoyable yet relaxing trips that I’ve ever had. Not only is Baler oozing with sublime natural wonders, breathtaking sceneries, and rich history; it also boasts of unforgettable and toothsome food, plus a plethora of thrilling adventures and activities.

Thanks to the annual Korean Thanksgiving Day (ž∂ĒžĄĚ), I got a 5-day holiday from work, from September 14 to 18. At first, I wanted to join another one of those group tour packages to Baler. However, my travel buddy suggested that it would be better for us to DIY this trip. So we did. I guess, in a way, it was much better because we were able to customize the trip based on our preferences, mood, and condition. Lol.

Prior to the trip, I contacted Aurora’s local Tourism Office to ask for some contact information of one of their “Tourism Accredited Tour Guides”. My friend’s coworker told her that most tricycle drivers in Baler offer a tour of the famous attractions at a reasonable price. However, just to be safe, I decided to go for the “accredited” ones. Unfortunately, the tricycle driver who I got in touch with was giving me a not-so-reasonable price for the 2-day tour. So my friend and I decided to just haggle with a trike driver when we arrive in Baler.

After weeks of deliberating, we decided to book an air-con room at the Surfer Girls Lodge which is located along the famous Sabang Beach in Baler. The three things that we considered in choosing our accommodation were price, distance from the beach AND a decent and private bathroom. I’m not very fussy when it comes to accommodations – I could endure sleeping on the floor – all I want is a decent bathroom. That’s it.

The room was pretty decent and better than I expected. The only problem was we were the only guests then and some parts of the lodge were under construction so the service was not prompt. They didn’t even have a proper front desk so we didn’t know who to call or talk to when we needed something. The TV was not working and the air-conditioner didn’t give us the coolness that we were expecting. An electric fan would’ve been better. Other than those, it was very convenient and we had a lovely view of the beach.

The best thing about this trip was the fact that we went to Baler during the “lean season”, we were able to fully enjoy the tourist spots and attractions without the hassle of making our way through throngs of people just to get a decent picture. No queues, no annoying crowd, and no photobombers. In fact, in most tourist spots and attractions in Baler, it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves. We could linger in those places and admire their beauty because we were the only ones there.

My friend and I decided to take the Genesis Joy Bus from Cubao to Baler. We left Cubao at around 12:30 A.M. and, surprisingly, we were already in Baler before 5 A.M. We immediately took a tricycle to Surfer Girls Lodge. Just as expected, the trike driver offered us a “tour package” where we could visit 9 tourist spots and attractions in Baler. We got his number and we said we’ll text him once we’ve decided.

Since we were the only guests at Surfer Girls Lodge, they let us check in (super) early without any charges. After showering and resting for a bit, we contacted Kuya Jim (the trike driver) and embarked on our marvelous journey around (and near) Baler.

 

FIRST STOP: BALER 400 YEARS MONUMENT AND SIGN

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I think there should be a spot like this in every city. The five big letters spelling out the word BALER is a must-visit spot in the itinerary. It’s so much fun to pose beside it, behind it, in front of it and even on top of it. The glaring sunlight affected the quality of our pictures, though.

SECOND STOP: HANGING BRIDGE

If you know nothing about me, you should at least know that I LOVE LONG AND HANGING BRIDGES. So far, the hanging bridge in Baler was probably the longest and the one that “swayed the most”. Lol. It was not exactly “scary”, but it gave me a proper fright. It was quite thrilling, to say the least.

THIRD STOP: ERMITA HILL

When I Googled “tourist spots and attractions in Baler”, Ermita Hill came up on top of the search. I was definitely curious about this place. Kuya Jim gave us a little history lesson about it. On the night of December 27, 1735, a tsunami (Tromba Marina) engulfed the town of Baler in sea water and the few remaining survivors were able to find sanctuary in this piece of land, which stands 40 meters above sea level. Aside from its historical relevance, it also gave us a magnificent view of Baler Bay, Dima-Dimalangat and Aniao Islets.

FUN FACT! “In 1798, when the pirates raided and invaded the coastal areas of Tayabas and Baler, the survivors escaped and hid in the forest of Ermita. According to stories, the pirates failed to track down the locals because they saw a shining light from the¬†mountain. It is believed that Sta. Isabel, the Patron Saint in the area, saved the people from the pirates.” (source)

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We saw this “LOVE LOCKS” area right across Ermita Hill and YES, I took a picture. ALONE.

FOURTH STOP: DIGUISIT FALLS

This dainty waterfall is located along the highway, just a few steps up on the side of the road. The climb didn’t look that daunting, at first, but I was wearing the wrong pair of shoes and some of the rocks were too slippery. My friend and I decided to enjoy the “mini” version of the waterfall. The climb up the “bigger” one was too steep and difficult so we just settled for this one.

FIFTH STOP: DIGUISIT BEACH AND ROCK FORMATION

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At this point of our trip, the sun was shining so brightly and it was burning my skin. I didn’t want to complain, though, because I didn’t see the sun for about three weeks while I was in Baguio.

TIP! Make sure you are wearing comfortable and not slippery footwear before you visit this place. I thought my sneakers were good enough but I underestimated the slipperiness of those rocks! Not only were they slippery, they were also sharp. I slipped and fell once and I sustained a¬†minor injury. BE EXTRA CAREFUL! Those rocks might seem dry and harmless, but¬†they’re not.

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We also found out later that day that the best time to visit the Rock Formation is early in the morning because it’s still low tide and you can climb up the rocks for those “grammable” shots.

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We found this “piece of heaven” right beside the Rock Formation. It’s just a small swimming pool but we had it to ourselves and it was overlooking the ocean. We decided to come back there in the afternoon and enjoy it some more.

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Since we couldn’t take the scorching heat anymore, we decided to go for some shake or halo-halo. Kuya Jim brought us to this place called “Fermina’s Snack House”. We only ordered halo-halo but they also offer a variety of “merienda snacks”. I wouldn’t recommend this place, though. The snacks were affordable, but their halo-halo only had, like, 5 ingredients and the banana in it was terrible. I couldn’t even chew it coz it was too tough. The ice in it gave us a¬†much-needed refreshment, though.

Moving on…

SIXTH STOP:¬†Do√Īa Aurora Aragon-Quezon Ancestral House and¬†San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church

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I enjoy visiting old houses. I don’t know why. There’s something eerie yet fascinating about them. I was a bit disappointed with Do√Īa Aurora’s Ancestral House, though. I thought it would be bigger. But then again, that house might have been the biggest house in Baler back then.

The¬†San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church was closed. We just took a picture outside its magnificent and huge doors and then we left. Let’s just say I’m not a big fan of churches. ^^

SEVENTH STOP: MUSEO DE BALER

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It is ideal to visit Do√Īa Aurora’s Ancestral House first before coming here. You will be asked to pay P30 for the entrance fee there and you can just show the receipt before you enter Museo De Baler.

According to my research, this local museum “houses several historical artifacts that link it closely to the Philippines’ first and longest colonizer, Spain”. (source)

The only thing that I enjoyed while I was in this museum was the fact that it was empty. My friend and I were the only visitors on that day. So once again we had the museum to ourselves. ^^

We were both icky and sweaty and hungry after that busy morning so we told Kuya Jim to take us to the BEST restaurant in Baler. He gave us two options. One was a famous place for its “ihaw-ihaw” and the other one is an all-you-can-eat restaurant. My brain was not properly working then so I forgot which was which. He ended up taking us to the all-you-can-eat restaurant.

If you want to know another thing about me, I am not the kind of person to take to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. However, at that point, I just wanted to put something in my mouth and curb that empty feeling in my stomach. I was also starting to get prickly and irritated because of the scorching heat. The buffet was okay. But it wasn’t worth my P200. The vegetables were not cooked well, imo. It’s called Gerry Shan’s Place and I read lots of good reviews about it online.

After finishing our late lunch, we decided to take a break back at our lodge. We told Kuya Jim to come back at 4 P.M. and take us back to the swimming pool at Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation. Of course, we didn’t wake up before 4 P.M. LOL. I felt bad coz Kuya Jim was always on time. He was never late. Anyway, we left the lodge at around 4:30 P.M. already.

Unfortunately, some kids were already at OUR swimming pool when we arrived. We didn’t have it to ourselves anymore. However, they must have started swimming early because, after about 20 minutes, they just left. Since I cannot swim, I don’t usually enjoy swimming pools coz I would just “walk around” it.

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But, like I said earlier, this one has the slight effect of an “infinity pool” overlooking the magnificent ocean. AND WE HAD IT TO OURSELVES. That is the most important thing. Haha! I looked it up and this pool at the Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation is owned by AMCO Diguisit Resort. There is an entrance fee of P20.

It’s a great spot for endless photo ops and jump shots.

After wearing ourselves out, we decided to call it a day.

WHERE TO EAT IN BALER? 

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Baler Surfer Grill! We were lucky because this was just a stone’s throw away from Surfer Girls Lodge.

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Their GRILLED BULALO was TO DIE FOR! It’s a must try! They will tell you that the serving of the Grilled Bulalo is only for ONE person. But do not believe that. I think they meant ONE VERY HUNGRY SURFER. My friend and I shared one order and we didn’t even finish it. We WERE hungry, okay.

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And their unique “grill” is soooo cool!

I super loved Surf and Chill’s cucumber lemonade too! I even came back for it the following night. Lol.

EIGHT STOP: MILLENIUM TREE (BALETE TREE)

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I super enjoyed this one! I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

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The Millenium Tree was bigger than I expected too. So, yeah, it definitely exceeded my expectations. Also, I didn’t know that we could actually GO INSIDE the Balete tree! I thought we would just take pictures outside! And we even climbed up the tree.

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I highly recommend you to hire one of the guys loitering around the entrance. These guys were “trained” and they knew the best spots and angles so they could take the pictures for you. Kuya Jim told us that we can just give them a tip of P20, but we were satisfied with the guy that we hired so we gave him P50.

NINTH STOP: MOTHER FALLS (DITUMABO FALLS) 

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Located in San Luis, Aurora, Mother Falls is our final stop for this 3 days 2 nights trip to Baler. Before we could experience this majestic waterfalls, though, we had to endure a 45-minute hike while the sun showered us with LOTS of Vitamin D.

If you are used to hiking, it would probably only take you 30 minutes or less. It took us longer because, well, we’re not that fit. I’ve only been to 5 waterfalls so far, but this has the most difficult and physically exhausting route. We had to go through some “mini falls”, huge boulders, slippery and sharp rocks, muddy ground, rickety and man-made wooden stairs, and river crossings.

So after what felt like an episode of The Amazing Race, we finally arrived at the splendid Mother Falls. We wasted no time at all. Kuya Jim told us that the water was not that deep and that definitely made me oh so happy~~~

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He was totally right. We were able to come within a foot of the breathtaking waterfall and the water was just chest-deep. I had an amazing time at the Ditumabo Waterfalls.

The cool and crystal clear waters were refreshing and relaxing at the same time. It was so worth the hike.

 

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We wanted to have lunch when we went back to town, however, we came across this unique and dainty clothing store/cafe called MY FRENZ FASHION PLACE. Don’t cringe yet. This place sells clothes, shoes, bags and Singaporean food! I guess that’s what drew us to it. We ordered an Ice Kachang and some Kaya Toast.

We ordered an Ice Kachang and some Kaya Toast. The former was too sweet for me but I needed the “coolness” to beat the heat. The latter was DIVINE!!!!!!!! I totally loved it!!!

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Our next stop was the PASALUBONG CENTER.  

We actually had no idea what Baler’s special delicacy/product is. We quickly found out that it was this PAKUMBO snack. It’s basically just a sweet treat made of dried coconut. It kinda reminded me of “bukayo”. It was pretty cheap so I bought more than a handful to give to my friends and coworkers back in Baguio.

 

We headed back to the lodge afterward and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the famous surfing spot in Baler – SABANG BEACH – which happened to be a few steps away from our lodge.

Since I cannot swim, all we did was fool around and “ride the strong waves”. Well, at first, we were playing “catch me if you can” with the waves. But we were “wiped out” a couple of times so we decided to just calmly “ride the wave”. LOL. It was low tide so the shoreline was long and the water was shallow. When we got tired of riding the waves, we just took a walk along the beach. There was no other word for it. It was truly captivating.

After that adventure-filled tour of Baler and Aurora, we showered and took another nap. Haha! That’s actually what I loved about this 3 days 2 nights vacation in Baler. There wasn’t much of a hassle, no crowd, no queues, and we were able to take it slow and just relax whenever we wanted to. We weren’t like running here and there and visiting one place after another as we blindly follow an itinerary.

MUST-TRY BUFFET RESTAURANT IN BALER!

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HUNGRY SURFER’S DINNER BUFFET. We took a walk along Sabang Beach on our second night to look for a good resto. We came across this vintage looking restaurant called HUNGRY SURFER’S. When we sat down to order, we saw that it was a bit pricey; the price range was like from 150 and above.

Luckily, their dinner buffet just started AND it was only P200 per head! I know I’ve said a while ago that I’m not a “buffet person”, but the Hungry Surfer’s dinner buffet was totally worth ALL the calories and carbs!¬†I especially liked the “Pinaputok na Isda”.

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I know that we weren’t able to visit ALL the tourist spots and attractions in Baler, but I felt like the ones that we visited were enough. They were totally worth it and pretty much unforgettable. Especially the Millenium Tree and the Mother Falls! If I could, I would definitely go back to those two places.

I don’t know why but it was my goal to take a picture in all the tourist spots and attractions in Baler doing this modified tree pose (yoga pose). ^_^ I only managed to do it in three spots though. #pardonmypuson

In The Mix: The 1975, Panic! At The Disco, Third Eye Blind, and more!

In The Mix is a concert event/festival which features six amazing artists: The 1975, Panic! At The Disco, Third Eye Blind, James Bay, Elle King and Twin Pines. And I was there!!!

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The concert was, of course, held in Manila, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. For someone who lives 7 hours away from Manila, I’m proud to say that I’m very willing to travel that far just to see my fave musicians.

So far, I’ve been present during the three concerts/events of The 1975 here in the Philippines. That makes me a REAL FAN now, right?

I remember writing a blog about The 1975 before and I wasn’t THAT MUCH of a fan then. But now I can say that come hell or high water¬†if The 1975 is coming to my country then I WILL BE THERE.

I’ve never been to a concert where multiple artists performed. In The Mix was my first time. In The Mix had its pros and cons, in my opinion. The pro is getting your money’s worth since you get to see more than one artist. The con is that I have no idea who the other artists were and, as much as I love exploring other types of music, I feel like I won’t have time to invest emotions in their music. Another con is when your favorite artist (The 1975) plays last.

I’ve heard of Panic! At The Disco many years ago (LOL). But I think I’ve only heard one of their songs:¬†“I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. And that was all.

I knew about Third Eye Blind, of course! I used to hear their songs on the radio when I was in high school. However, at that time, I was not yet that much of a “music enthusiast”. I might have listened to A LOT of their songs back then, but I can only remember the titles of a handful of them. “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Never Let You Go” and “Jumper” were some of them.

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My friend/ concert buddy told me a bit about James Bay. She said he’s an English singer and his songs were a bit Ed Sheeran-ish.

I wish I knew who Twin Pines and Elle King were. But due to a series of unfortunate events before the In The Mix concert, we weren’t able to watch these two artists. We were 2 hours LATE for it!

Okay, so they weren’t really unfortunate events, they were more like carelessness on our part. LOL. The whole time that we were waiting for this In The Mix concert, my friend and I thought it will start at 8 PM. That was what we saw in ALL the posters and tweets and online posts about it. I even Googled an image of the poster the day before the In The Mix concert and posted it on IG, I think. And I swear to god I saw that it was 8 PM, not 5 PM!

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Due to the traffic jam and transportation hassles, my friend and I weren’t able to meet at 4 PM somewhere near MOA (coz we planned to chillax and eat an early dinner first). I arrived at MOA at almost 6 PM already and I immediately went to a Thai restaurant to grab a bite to eat. I was starving. But then, I didn’t like anything on their menu so I just ordered some Thai hot tea and my fave sticky rice with mango while I wait for my friend.

She arrived at around 6:30 PM, I think and I told her that there were some girls in the jeepney that I rode who were on their way to attend the In The Mix festival and were chattering about it. One of their friends was already at the MOA Arena and she was texting them that the first artist already sang 5 songs. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but they were talking really loudly. I just rolled my eyes and laughed inwardly. I thought they were overreacting coz it was not even 6 PM and the concert won’t start until 8 PM.

I WAS DEAD WRONG.

After hearing my story about those girls, my friend just laughed about it and took out our tickets to check the time. IT WAS 5 FREAKIN’ PM! It didn’t really sink in at first and we were both just sitting there, totally dumbfounded. We were like, “But… but… it was 8 PM! I checked the posters… blah blah blah”! I had my sticky rice with mango to go and we ran to the MOA Arena. It was so insane! On the way there we kept on wondering why they would suddenly change the time. And why wouldn’t they announce it or at least post about it on Twitter?! What the heck??? Or maybe they did and we didn’t see that. LOL.

So yeah, lesson learned: ALWAYS TRIPLE CHECK THE TIME ON THE CONCERT TICKETS!

But then again, we didn’t really come for Twin Pines and Elle King (no offense). When we arrived at the MOA Arena, it was past 7 PM but there were still plenty of people loitering outside. And they were very “chillax”. So that means they don’t care about the first 2 artists too. We sat outside, relaxed, and ate my sticky rice with mango first. We were late, YES, but we didn’t really miss anything. ūüôā

I would love to talk about Third Eye Blind’s and Panic! At The Disco’s awesome performances, however, I honestly came to the In The Mix concert for The 1975.

I was a bit surprised at how rabid and insane the Panic! At The Disco fans were! I mean, I knew they were popular, but I didn’t know they had such a huge following here. The fans were just all over the place! There was this young man sitting next to me. He was by himself and he was very quiet while Third Eye Blind was performing. in fact, he was sitting so still that it almost seemed like he was sleeping.

BUT, when Panic! At The Disco started playing, this young man – I kid you not – started jumping up and down, screaming his lungs out and making other incoherent noises, swaying left and right, waving his hands up in the air, stomping his feet and almost knocking my water bottle on the floor. He was like possessed or something. LOL! It was so cute but scary. We, therefore, named him “PATD’s number 1 fan boy”. Haha!

The whole arena just exploded as the Panic! At The Disco fans screamed and shrieked and sang out loud to EVERY SINGLE SONG that the band played. It was quite a sight to see. I was a bit moved. It always blows my mind whenever I experience incredible and once-in-a-lifetime things like that. And THAT is why I think going to concerts is one of the BEST and most IRREPLACEABLE experiences ever.

I feel like I became a bit of a Panic! At The Disco fan after their performance. Although some of their songs were a bit “too rock” for me and some were even “gothic rock-ish”, there were some pretty cool ones. I especially liked “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” and “Nine In The Afternoon”. And when Brendon Urie effortlessly sang the classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I swear even I was screaming my lungs out like a crazy fan girl! It was effing amazing!!!

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Hands down to Brendon Urie for keeping the crowd hyped up and on their feet. What a fantastic performer! He was just all over the place – running around, dancing and prancing here and there, and even doing a backflip at one point. And can I just comment on this guy’s VOICE QUALITY??? Like, what the hell man?! His high-pitched parts and his low bass parts were both ON POINT no matter how much he moved around the stage. It was like he never got winded! I get winded just by walking up a flight of stairs!

Anyway, just when we thought it was finally The 1975‘s turn, on stage came JAMES BAY. I think one thing I didn’t like about the In The Mix concert was the fact that each artist was actually given ONE HOUR to perform. And that one hour did not include the 20-40 minutes time that it took for the staff to set up the stage and their instruments. A little break is okay, but I needed the concert to finish at around 10 or 11 PM because I still had to travel back to my city and go to work the next day.

That was another thing, why¬†would you hold a freaking concert on a THURSDAY night?! Those kids have school the next day and grownups, like me, have work the next day! I just don’t get it. This is becoming an annoying “trend” nowadays – concerts on WEEKDAYS. Ugh.

James Bay was alright. His music was okay. But at this point, my friend and I were already half-asleep and on “battery-saving mode”. We just sat there and I swear I couldn’t count how many times I’ve yawned. I was REALLY drowsy and I had no energy left.

When The 1975 came on stage, it was already past 11 PM! Like, damn!

 

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The first song they played was, of course, “Love Me” and the moment the whole stage was lit with PINK NEON LIGHTS, I was zapped back to life! Like the PATD fan boy, I was dancing like nobody’s watching, singing out loud with my ugly tone deaf voice, and jumping up and down. The 1975’s stage was the most colorful and the brightest stage I’ve ever seen! Those neon lights were just FABULOUS!

 

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Here’s a set list that I found online:

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I was seated way up in the “Gen Ad” section so I couldn’t see Matty’s face clearly but I bet he was making all those funny facial expressions and rolling his eyes while singing “Love Me”.

They played “Ugh!” next and I swear Matty was just dancing like there’s no tomorrow during this track. This man CAN really dance. He’s got THE MOVES.

I was so stoked that they also played some of their “best songs” from the previous album, like “Heart Out”, “Girls”, “S E X”, “Robbers” and, of course, the crowd favorite “Chocolate”.

I’m not sure if it was just the fact that I was drained and worn out or the fact that I didn’t really like¬†those songs that much, but there were some “ho-hum” moments during The 1975‘s performance. Those were the times when I decided to sit down and save my remaining energy for the latter part of their performance. They didn’t play “The Sound” right away and I was very much looking forward to that.

The last 3 songs that The 1975 played: “Chocolate”, “The Sound”, and “Sex” all kept me on my feet. I gave it my all. I just screamed and sang along and danced away. It was funny coz right after the last beat of the song “Sex”, my friend and I (along with a herd of younger people) were already out of our seats! Usually, we would linger there and take pictures and chat some more about what just happened, but ain’t nobody got time for that! The concert ended at past 12 midnight already! Those kids’ parents were probably worried sick and waiting outside the arena.

All in all, it was a better experience than I’ve expected. Except for the fact that it took too long and it ended SOOOO late, everything was pretty awesome.

I’m looking forward to The 1975‘s return – a solo concert PLEASE – to the Philippines. ūüôā

Disclaimer: I do not own the pictures here. Credits to the rightful owners. ūüėÄ

Gourmet Portions Diet Delivery Service Review – First Impression, Reaction, and Conclusion

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So I decided to blog about my first ever diet meal plan experience with Gourmet Portions. Just a little background (and since I’m too lazy to rephrase this, I just copied it from their FB page ^^): “Gourmet Portions is the only Nutritionist Designed X Chef Crafted Diet Delivery Service in the City of Baguio! Providing 5-Day Calorie Counted Gourmet Meal Plans w/ FREE DELIVERY DAILY. Complete with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner,¬†and Snacks!”

Gourmet Portions offers a 5-day calorie-counted diet meal plan where you can choose from the following:

1200 LOW CAL

1500 LOW CAL
1500 LOW CARB / HIGH PROTEIN
1800 LOW CARB / HIGH PROTEIN

Since I only wanted to give it a try, I decided to go for the cheapest which is the 1200 LOW CAL diet meal plan. I’ve been reading and seeing a lot of posts on IG about this whole diet meal plan delivery service which is,¬†apparently, all the rage in Manila. Don’t ask me why I’ve never thought about Google-ing it before… but, anyway, one of my friends posted about it and it finally piqued my curiosity.

I feel like it’s perfect for me because:

1 – I’m single.
2 – I live alone.
3 – I’m lazy.
4 – I have a love-hate relationship with cooking.
5 – I’m CONSTANTLY on a diet.

 

Whenever I tell people that I’m on a diet, they would give me the same “are you fucking kidding me?!” look and say something profound like… “Why the hell are you on a diet?”

Let me explain.

Last year, after being influenced by a friend of mine, I gave the “sugar-free diet” a shot. Watching “That Sugar Film” also changed my view on refined sugar. I hate to admit it but I’ve fallen off the wagon pretty hard since then. I was only successful for about 3 to 4 months, I think. The sugar-free diet does not suit my lifestyle AND my “wallet”. However, I was able to stop using refined sugar and drinking any kind of sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices.

Anyway, enough about my “diet”.

When I Googled “diet meal plan in Baguio City”, Gourmet Portions was the first name that popped up. After reading a few blogs and reviews here and there and checking out their Facebook page, I decided to just go for it. I like taking risks and I’m very impulsive so it didn’t take me more than an hour to mull over it.

At first, I thought I was ignored by Gourmet Portions. I filled up their online reservation form¬†on a Friday night, hoping to get a reply right away or at least on the next day. There was no reply. I decided to send them a text message and asked why I didn’t get a reply. I guess there was some kind of “technical glitch” or whatever, but they asked me to send my order again through text. So I did. And just like that! I was able to reserve a spot for August 8 – 12.

From then on, the transaction was smooth. My first meal was delivered on a rainy Sunday night at around 8:30 P.M. (I think). They texted me something like this:

“The Gourmet Portions Team is on the way. Please be available within a few minutes. Thank you!”

And then, after about 10-15 minutes, they would text me something like this:

“Good evening. Your daily meal program has arrived.”

After that, I immediately saw a white car pull up in front of my apartment. I remember¬†getting all giddy and jumpy during the first day of delivery. I live on the third floor (the attic, actually ^^) and I ran all the way downstairs when I received that message. And, of course, I had to take pictures of every single meal before putting them in the fridge. So I’m going to post the pictures of each meal (from Monday to Friday) and some of my reactions and thoughts about them.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a foodie, but I’m not like a hardcore epicure or a so-called connoisseur of good food. I just like eating and putting my two cents about whatever I put in my mouth.

So, here we go. This is the Gourmet Portions menu for the week of August 8 to 12.

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DAY 1, MONDAY (AUGUST 8)

BREAKFAST: Gourmet Portions Italian Hamburger – It’s basically two small slices of some healthy bread (not sure what, maybe wheat), a burger patty the size of my fist, with grilled eggplant and pesto on top. Oh, and a piece of lettuce. The presentation was pretty good. Well, it is “gourmet” so it’s supposed to look fine.

The 3 main meals all come in rectangular microwavable containers, while the 2 snacks (which were mostly fruits) come in circular microwavable containers.

This was really good and I really want to recreate it in my own kitchen. I’m not a big fan of eggplants but this was just so damn good.

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LUNCH: Port Glazed Chicken Barbecue – This was just… so-so for me. It wasn’t that bad, but I wasn’t like “OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME!”

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DINNER: Fruity Fish Roulade – Now THIS is the BOMB. I super duper enjoyed eating this even though I had no idea what kind of fish it was. Haha! It was just fish stuffed with some fruits, I guess. Anyway, it’s one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.

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BTW, I didn’t take pictures of the 2 snacks provided because they were just simple and boring fruit slices, which kind of disappointed me. I thought I would get some nice and cute looking “gourmet” snacks, but they were just 5 slices or cubes of fruits like pineapple, papaya, watermelon OR an apple, a banana, or an orange.

 

DAY 2, TUESDAY (AUGUST 9)

BREAKFAST: Spinach Burghul Salad – Another spinach meal! I’m not a big fan of salads, but this was actually yummy. Please don’t ask me what’s in it. During this whole diet meal plan program, I’m always like “What the hell am I eating?” LOL.

Fun fact: I didn’t realize that I was eating spinach until I sort of asked my co-worker what the other green, leafy vegetable was. It’s pretty good, imo.

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LUNCH: California Pork Kebabs with Pineapple Sauce – The flavor was good, but the meat wasn’t that tender and I have braces on so I couldn’t chew “tough” meat that much. Actually, this was not the only one. There were a couple of meals with very tough meat and I remember just chewing on them for a while before spitting them out again. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my meat soft and tender.

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DINNER: Osso Bucco Beef (Boneless) – I do not have a picture of this meal. Well, I did take a picture but it looks like shit. Like, really. It just looked so bad. I think it was shaken a little during transport.

That’s another thing, I was expecting to see “gourmet-looking” food meaning pretty and fine looking ¬†food. But when they arrived, some of them looked like they have been through hell. Not that I’m complaining about the aesthetic part coz it’s the taste that matters. But I just feel like that was part of the deal. They are “gourmet” after all.

 

DAY 3, WEDNESDAY (AUGUST 10)

BREAKFAST: Oaty Chicken Onion Cakes – Now THIS was absolutely HEAVEN! I didn’t even know (and cared) what it was while eating it. It was just soooooo delicious!

I feel like Gourmet Portions definitely has their breakfast game ON POINT.

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LUNCH: Moroccan Stew – I don’t have a picture of this and I honestly cannot remember why. It must be because it doesn’t look good (like the Osso Bucco Beef) or it was simply forgettable. I can’t even remember eating it.

DINNER: Pork and Kidney Bean Pie – This was pretty good. I guess I liked it because the meat was not too tough and I love them beansssss.

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DAY 4, THURSDAY (AUGUST 11)

BREAKFAST: Thai Fried Noodles: THIS WAS SO FREAKIN’ AWESOME! I super duper love this! I literally devoured this in like less than 10 minutes and I was like, “where’d it go???” afterward. It was just so damn yummy! I couldn’t get enough of it.

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To be honest, after day 2 of this diet meal plan program, I was starting to lose my will to live. Hahaha! Seriously. I realized that the 1200-calorie per day was not for me. And I realized how small the portions were in this¬†kind of diet. I mean, I’m not a big eater. You can ask all those around me and they will tell you how little I eat.¬†BUT, even I found the portions of the 1200-calorie diet too little and not very satisfying at all.

Honestly, all throughout the day, I would find myself just spacing out or “buffering”. And I was just so weak to do anything. So, yeah, the 1200-calorie diet isn’t for me.

LUNCH: Beef Goulash Pasta – This was just… okay. I really liked the pasta sauce and FINALLY, the beef was thinner and more tender. Phew.

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DINNER: Apple Pork Herb Casse – Again. I had an issue with the very tough pork. I swear I’m not just nitpicking or anything. I gave some to my co-workers and even they (who didn’t have braces) thought it was too tough. Like, seriously. Why can’t you give me a more tender meat?! It was like chewing rubber, tbh. ūüė¶

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DAY 5, FRIDAY (AUGUST 12)

BREAKFAST: Orange Meat Ball Wrap – Once again, kudos to Gourmet Portions for making my breakfast experience so wonderful! So far, I loved all my breakfast meals in this program. They all made me anticipate the next day. Too bad the portions were so little. ^^

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LUNCH: Sweet Meat and Vegetables Green Curry – Yeah. Look at THAT. It’s like WWE’s Royal Rumble in there. LOL. I honestly stopped caring about the way my meal looked after the 3rd day. I didn’t want to get all riled up over something so petty. ANYWAY, the meat was tender and the curry was a breath of fresh air. I super loved this lunch.

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DINNER: Sausage and Ham Risotto – THE FINAL MEAL OF THE DAY and THE WEEK! #ISurvived

I super loved the combination of sausage, ham, and beans here. The flavor was not that special, but it was alright.

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The Gourmet Portions diet meal plan service had its ups and downs.

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PROS:

-It was very convenient for a single (and lazy) person like me. No cooking, no washing the dishes, no buying ingredients, no spoiled or expired food.

-It was healthier than all the shit that I eat.

-It kept me on a strict diet and there was no danger of overeating.

-FREE delivery anywhere in Baguio

 

CONS:

-TOO expensive. At first, I thought P1800 for a 1200-calorie per day meal plan was pretty good. Since I get to have 3 full meals and 2 snacks for like P360 per day. However, when I saw the portions of the meals and how pretty common the ingredients were, I thought it was too expensive. Also, my friend who was doing the Plan:Eat program in Manila told me that her 1200-calorie diet plan only costs her P1200. And her brother’s 1500-calorie diet plan was like P1500.

She was even asking me why it was too expensive when the fruits and vegetables here in Baguio City are way cheaper than in Manila.

So I’ve thought about it and MAYBE it was because Gourmet Portions is the ONLY diet meal plan service in Baguio City right now. I did my research and I couldn’t find another company. So, basically, there is no competition. That’s why they are taking advantage of it. Also, it might be because they claim to make “gourmet meals” and we all know that gourmet = damn expensive.

-Another con, at least for me, was eating something that seems healthy and all that but I don’t really enjoy. It was like torturing myself to eat something that is supposed to be good and yummy.

-At first, I didn’t get why it was only for 5 days. I mean, what about the weekend? I’m also extremely lazy to cook during the weekend. Plus, if you put me on a diet meal plan for 5 days and then just let me eat whatever I want on the weekend… that kind of beats the whole point, right?

So, yeah, all in all, it was an eye-opener for me. I now know how much (or how little) I should be eating if I’m ever on a 1200-calorie diet. And I probably won’t ever be on that diet again. LOL. I also found out the importance of eating frequent meals in smaller portions. I’ve always thought that if I’m on a diet, I should just have one full meal (meaning one proper meal with rice or other carbs) and starve myself for the rest of the day. I know. That is so wrong.

From now on, I am going to follow this 5-meal-a-day diet and eat lots and lots of… spinach. LOL.

Will I try Gourmet Portions again? Maybe. But not right away. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the food – the taste and the presentation. Although, the service was commendable. I do hope they would reconsider their prices. Maybe they will once a competitor shows up with more affordable diet meal plans.

 

I’m officially a Hamilton Trash.

I’ve always thought those who get obsessed with musicals are a bit ridiculous. This is coming from someone who has only seen one musical (twice) in her life. So, yes, I’m unfairly prejudiced.

I love music. I really do. Musicals, however, are not really my thing. I did enjoy the musical “Wicked”, that’s why I saw it twice. I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack and I did get a bit obsessed for a short period. I didn’t get obsessed to the point of memorizing the lyrics to every song in the musical, though. I only knew about two or three songs ‚Äď just the popular ones.

The first time that I got a whiff of the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton, was while watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The incredible creator, producer, and playwright of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was a guest on the show and he was playing some game called “Wheel of Freestyle”, where he would do some ‚Äúimprov‚ÄĚ rapping using the random words that Jimmy would throw his way. I thought he was pretty cool. That’s when I found out that he stars in the popular musical Hamilton, but that was it. I never spent any time Google-ing it or anything.

Fast-forward to a month and a half ago, in the weeks leading to the much-awaited Tony Awards 2016, I’ve been reading lots of stuff about Hamilton. There was much hullaballoo about it. Everyone’s been buzzing about it. It began to really pique my interest this time. James Corden, who hosted the Tony Awards, had this special edition of “Carpool Karaoke” and it featured Lin-Manuel Miranda. So I watched it, just for the heck of it, and that’s when I got instantly hooked.

They sang the opening song of the Hamilton musical “Alexander Hamilton” and I just found myself bobbing my head up and down, shimmying my shoulder, to that song. Of course, my impression of a musical about one of America’s founding fathers would be something extremely dull and boring. I was thinking it would be a musical with lots of slow, classical or jazz music and copious amount of historical facts that I wouldn’t be bothered to understand or remember.

I was completely wrong of course.

Lin-Manuel Miranda had successfully infused trendy and¬†modern music with humdrum history. Hamilton the musical has every music genre that I absolutely adore – from pop to hip-hop to ballad to R&B, and even a bit of rock. Now, I haven’t seen the musical live and I sure do not have any knowledge of American history (for obvious reasons), but just listening to the soundtrack already turned my world upside down (pun intended ^^). I can’t imagine how much of a fanatic I would be if I actually saw the marvelous actors perform it live – right in front of my eyes.

I feel like the new generation was offered a wonderful opportunity to get hooked on American history, minus the dull history classes and exams, thanks to the Hamilton musical. It provided the most fun, exciting, enjoyable, hip and trendy history lesson ever!

Going back to the soundtrack, I couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks (after downloading it). At first, I just wanted to memorize the tracks “Alexander Hamilton” and “Guns and Ships” because I was so envious of James Corden singing (and rapping) along to them during that Carpool Karaoke episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda. I thought these are pretty awesome songs and I want to be able to sing and rap them too. I didn’t realize that I would get so hooked on the whole soundtrack and end up memorizing almost half of the songs. Okay, maybe just some of the songs.

Nevertheless, listening to the soundtrack has been nothing short of amazing. It was a priceless and inimitable experience for me. I’m not even American, but I was deeply moved and affected by each song in ways that I have not imagined possible.

I cannot possibly review the whole soundtrack in one blog. So, as much as it pains me to do this, I chose my top 5 tracks from the soundtrack. Now, I’m no expert here and I have no plans of critiquing or reviewing these songs. I’m merely sharing my thoughts and “fan girl reactions” here.

 

  1. “Alexander Hamilton” – Well, of course. If I hadn’t heard this song (sung by James Corden and Lin-Manuel Miranda), I wouldn’t have been interested in listening to the whole soundtrack of the Hamilton musical. I’m proud to say that I have memorized this song now (after listening to it nonstop, every day, for almost a month). Well, except for a few lines toward the end. What I love about this song is the simple beat and the very catchy, poetic lyrics.
  2. “Aaron Burr, Sir” and “My Shot” – At first, I thought this was just one song. I realized, after putting my player on “shuffle mode” that it’s not good to listen to them separately. It’s like a package deal – you cannot just listen to one song without listening to the other. I love the introduction of the main characters through “Aaron Burr, Sir”. This is where I first met my fave character, the flamboyant and debonair Marquis de Lafayette (played by the incredibly hot Daveed Diggs). I just love how the end of “Aaron Burr, Sir” quickly transitions into the beginning of “My Shot”. This song just pumps me up like I’m one of those revolutionaries! Every time I listen to it, it ignites something inside of me – a deep-seated fire of patriotism burning up and threatening to explode.
  3. The Schuyler Sisters, Helpless & Satisfied – Okay, I know I’m cheating here. Haha! But I feel like these three songs are interconnected. In “The Schuyler Sisters”, we get to meet the three amazing ladies who made the musical more colorful and feminine. Girl power, right? I just love that memorable (and meaningful) line, “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now?” Whenever I listen to “Helpless”, my day just gets so much brighter and stress-free. This is the most uplifting and cutest song in the soundtrack. It showcases Phillipa Soo’s sweet voice as she sings about falling in love at first sight with Alexander Hamilton. It reminded me of those crushes back in elementary and high school – the ones that gave me that “butterfly in your stomach” feeling. The track “Satisfied” is Renee Elise Goldsberry’s solo, which revealed what a badass rapper and fantastic singer she is. It’s basically about Angelica Schuyler’s hidden feelings for Alexander Hamilton and how she saw him first. But Eliza Schuyler said “dibs” first. LOL. This love triangle is really very modern and relatable. Renee’s rap parts in this track are just phenomenal!
  1. ‚ÄúYou’ll be Back‚ÄĚ – This is Jonathan Groff’s (King George III) solo where he does a little monologue “reminding the colonists that he is willing and able to fight for their love”. It’s one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard. The morbid and cruel meaning of the words was hidden behind the lovely pop melody, which is VERY catchy. I just love singing that “da ra ra ra da” part!
  2. ‚ÄúGuns and Ships‚ÄĚ – This track is simply AMAZING! I cannot find the right words to express my love and obsession for this rap piece. I’ve always had a soft spot for rappers, but Daveed Diggs is now MY KING. He was just perfect for the role of both Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette. Sadly, I still couldn’t rap some parts of this song. It’s just insane! I don’t know how Daveed Diggs did it. But I won’t stop until I can finally rap this song without getting my tongue tied in a knot.

I can now understand why Lin-Manuel Miranda decided to make a musical out of Alexander Hamilton’s life. His life can put even the most complicated Mexican telenovela and Korean drama to shame. If I could describe his life in one word, I would say “tumultuous”. He didn’t have just ups and downs – he had upside downs and inside outs too. What makes this musical phenomenal and beloved, aside from the splendid soundtrack, is the right combination of drama, action, romance, humor and, well, yes, history. It has everything for everyone.

So, yes, I can honestly say that this has ruined my life and I am a complete Hamilton trash.

My Third Harry Potter Butterbeer [Tweedle Book Cafe]

My third Harry Potter butterbeer experience took place in the serene and less traveled streets of Tomas Morato, at a cozy, not-too-crowded place called Tweedle Book Cafe. My BFF slash butterbeer buddy, Ayen, found the place and, as self-proclaimed butterbeer connoisseurs, we decided to check it out.

She also realized something that I didn’t realize before. We have been doing this butterbeer tasting/hunting every year for the past three years. The first butterbeer we’ve had was at The Royal Piccadilly and Cakery in Katipunan. The second butterbeer tasting happened in a Harry Potter-themed cafe in Maginhawa Street, called The Nook.

They say that third time’s the charm, so here we go.

Getting to Tweedle Book Cafe at Tomas Morato was pretty easy, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and that thing called GRAB CAR.

We went there on a Saturday but, to our utter surprise and delight, there were only 3 customers in the cafe. It was pretty much empty. The moment I walked in, I felt an inexplicable thrill ran through my veins. It was like I was a young kid stepping inside an amusement park for the first time.

Tweedle Book Cafe does not just cater to Harry Potter fans so even if you’re not a fan of the series, you would still enjoy hanging out in this cafe.

The moment we got to the counter, we immediately checked out the menu. Like The Royal Piccadilly’s, Tweedle Book Cafe also offers two different kinds of butterbeer: a PG-13 one and a spiked one. The Tweedled Butterbeer (no alcohol) costs P170, while the Tweedle Jack’s Butterbeer (with alcohol) costs P200. Their butterbeers also contain nuts and cinnamon powder. So if you have a nut allergy, you better tell them outright.

We were not very hungry, but we wanted to eat something salty while drinking our potentially-too-sweet butterbeers. The owner recommended one of their appetizers: 3 Lil Pigs, which is Hungarian sausage, Schublig and bacon flakes tossed together. It costs P190 and it’s good for two not-so-hungry people. ūüôā

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The ambiance is very laid-back and snug. There are two bookshelves, one in the corner and one by the door. There are many “photo op worthy” areas, like the wall with the clocks and the homey couch outside. The most noticeable feature, IMO, is the Platform 9 3/4 glass door (which, I assumed leads to the kitchen). We were also mesmerized by the unique wooden ceiling with the last names of some famous writers printed on it. I kept on throwing glances at it and I even contemplated copying the idea for when I have my own house. A girl can dream, right? Haha!

On to the main event… the Tweedle Book Cafe Butterbeer! The presentation of the butterbeer was not as aesthetically pleasing as the others. It seemed like it was made higgledy piggledy. It was, by far, the most delicious butterbeer I’ve tasted. It wasn’t too sugary or caramel-y like the first two butterbeers. The sweetness was just right. The alcohol, though, was kinda strong for me. I forgot what alcohol they put in it but I think it was some kind of whiskey.

So if I have to rate all the butterbeers that I’ve tried so far, the first one was the most pleasing to the eyes, the second one was closer to the butterbeer that I’ve imagined, but was awfully sweet, and the third butterbeer was just the tastiest.

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Staying at the Tweedle Book Cafe for almost 2 hours was a wonderfully relaxing experience. It was not crowded or noisy. It’s the perfect place to de-stress, do some home-based/online work, school project, etc. or simply unplug from the outside world.

 

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Ayen and I really enjoyed reading one of the books there: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories by Joseph Gordon Levitt and this “tiny” story was our fave. ūüėÄ

 

 

Unplugging and Unwinding at Cagbalete Island

I’ve been depressed lately. Like, seriously super depressed for reasons I can’t even fathom or explain. My recent trip to the breathtaking island of Cagbalete, off the coast of Mauban, Quezon, helped me say goodbye to the dreadful “D” word.

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Thanks to a sudden invitation by my travel buddy, Celine, I was able to experience an affordable and less crowded island getaway for a weekend.

Before this trip, I had no idea where Cagbalete Island was located. I didn’t even know that this¬†island exists! I realized that I should explore more places and islands in my country and I should be ashamed of myself. ^^

ANYWAY… This ‚Äú1 Night 2 Days‚ÄĚ trip to Cagbalete Island in Mauban, Quezon started in Manila. Now, if you have been reading my blogs before, you would know that I live in Baguio. So, basically, I traveled 7 hours by bus from Baguio City to Manila. I arrived in Manila and headed to Celine’s house in Sucat first since that was where they would pick us up.

THEY – Celine’s “team” at work, plus her boss and two of her coworkers’ girlfriends.

Yes. I “gate crashed” some sort of team company outing. In my defense, I was properly invited and I firmly believe that “the more, the merrier”. LOL.

Celine’s boss rented a van and picked us up at around 3 AM on Saturday, May 14. The rest of the team were already in the van. So I didn’t have enough time to say my “hellos” and introduce myself. The trip to Quezon was surprisingly quick. Maybe because there was no heavy traffic early in the morning. We dropped by Celine’s boss’s friend for some quick breakfast before heading to Mauban Port.

I can’t exactly remember the time, but the sun was glaring down on us by then, so I think it was around 9 or 10 AM when we arrived in Mauban Port. We were greeted by a considerably large amount of people waiting under the heat of the sun for their turn to get on the boats. Luckily, Celine’s boss had a “contact” there so we didn’t have to queue along with all those tourists.

I admit I was a bit disheartened at this point. I just thought there would only be a few people going to the island, since I was under the impression that it was an undiscovered, virgin island. Apparently, it has been a popular tourist destination for quite some time now. I was just not aware of it. I was not informed. XD

According to my research, you must go to the Tourism Office of Mauban first and pay 50 pesos for the boat ticket and another 50 pesos for the environmental fee. The boat ride was supposed to last for about 45 minutes only. However, it was windy and the waves were too big at that time, so it took a little over an hour for us to get to Cagbalete Island, from Mauban Port. I think the boat ride would cost around 400 pesos (one way) IF you are going to Sabang Port. From there, you could walk to your resort. The boat could seat 5 to 6 people. However, we stayed in Aguho Playa Beach¬†Resort and I THINK (I’m NOT 100% sure, ok) the boat ride + tour was already set by the resort owner/caretaker. I guess the other resorts are¬†also offering the same boat transfer + boat ride package.

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The extremely long boat ride seemed to have taken ages. When we arrived at Aguho Playa Beach Resort, it was almost lunch time. The great thing about this island is that, despite the number of resorts around it and the flock of tourists visiting it, it’s still not overly developed. So, if you really want to experience “nature at its best”, you could opt for a tent by the beach front, instead of the usual nipa hut with electric fan or A/C. From what I’ve heard, the rent fee of a tent for two people is 600 pesos. If you have your own tent, you will only pay 300 pesos (I guess for the “space”). The nipa hut that we rented, which was for 6 to 8 people, I think, cost 2,500 pesos per night.

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Food is not a problem on this island. The locals (a.k.a. the owners/caretakers of the resort) would gladly cook anything for you. You just need to bring your own ingredients (rice, meat, veggies, etc.) and tell them what kind of dish you want. They would let you borrow their kitchen and cooking utensils and let you do the cooking too, if that’s what you prefer. Kuya Udoy and his wife were very warm, welcoming and helpful. If there was anything we need, like cigarettes or ice, they willingly¬†bought it for us.

Before having lunch, Celine and I decided to take pictures by the ocean. The white sand and the clear blue waters were pretty spectacular. We took a little dip in the water as well because we were feeling so sticky already. It was low tide so the shoreline was extended. I kinda liked it coz I can’t swim and it felt good¬†to be able to go far away from the shore without drowning.

The weather in Cagbalete Island (and in Mauban, Quezon) was very unpredictable. And when I say UNPREDICTABLE, I mean it could be hot and sunny one minute and windy and rainy the next minute. So I would suggest that you bring an umbrella or at least a hooded jacket if you don’t want to get wet.

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After our sumptuous lunch, we took a rest and then off we went to experience the famous Cagbalete Island “sandbar”. The not-so-fun part of this trip was the long, dizzying boat ride. It’s a good thing I didn’t get seasick. To our dismay, the part of the island with the sandbar was still a bit “high tide”. So we couldn’t get the FULL sandbar experience. We made tambay there, walked around the shallow water and took pictures, as we waited for the Cagbalete Island sandbar to appear. After a while, we decided to just go snorkeling first. Well, THEY went snorkeling. At this point, I was already sunburned, dehydrated, sweaty, drowsy and worn out to enjoy snorkeling. Besides, I heard that there was nothing much to see down there. Just a bunch of corals and some very small fish.

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When they finished snorkeling, we went back to the Cagbalete Island sandbar and finally the crowd has thinned out and the sandbar was more visible. We were able to take lots of pictures and we even fooled around and shot a short “running man” video, which, btw, I was clueless about. LOL. Yes, I’ve been living under a rock in a¬†mountain, quite literally. Celine just taught me how to do it and I just copied what they were doing. But it was really fun!

The trip back to Aguho Playa Beach Resort was quiet and uneventful.

The real struggle started when the men operating the boat told us that we had two choices: walk across the extremely¬†low tide ocean all the way back to our cottage or walk for about 15 minutes, on a path that cuts through a residential area and a creepy forest. I might not be a fan of jogging, but I do like walking. HOWEVER, I do not like doing it after an already dead-tiring¬†day in the ocean. PLUS, the boat guys totally lied to us. It wasn’t a 15-minute walk, it felt like 30 minutes! Or maybe they have a very different definition of “15-minute walk”.

The next struggle¬†was the COMFORT ROOM challenge. One of Celine’s coworkers already warned us that the queue in the C.R. would drive us crazy. He was right. Celine and I badly wanted to wash up quickly and take a rest so we just used the shower right outside our nipa hut. We didn’t care anymore that we were exposed to the outside world. I just wanted to get rid of the salty sea water and icky sand all over my body. LOL.

Dinner time! Kuya Udoy brought us freshly caught shrimps that morning and we had it for dinner. Although it was only boiled in water and salt, it was the BEST shrimp I’ve ever had in my life. The adobo, which was made by Celine’s boss (I think), was VERY tasty¬†too! I’ve never had that kind of adobo before. There was something special about it.

After dinner, Celine and I were both too tired to do anything else so we just went to bed. I think the boys had a little drinking session until the wee hours of the night. As much as I wanted to join them (coz I also needed a drink or two), I was just too mentally and physically beat.

Apparently, since the island of Cagbalete doesn’t have its own power lines, the electricity comes from the generators. I woke up the next day feeling a bit uncomfortable. I’m not sure what time did they turn off the power, but the electric fan was suddenly not working and that’s what woke me up. It was around 7 AM. I guess it was a routine power outage or something.

We learned our lesson from the previous day, so Celine and I decided to take advantage of the comfort rooms early in the morning. We took a shower even before having breakfast.

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We didn’t have any more activities so we just packed our things and then went to the beach for some more photo op. It was low tide again so a “mini” sandbar appeared near our resort. That’s where we took lots of jumpshot pics.

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We saw this foreign dude (taking advantage of the low tide) kite surfing. I was a bit mesmerized by what he was doing and I took a lot of pictures. ^^ I badly wanted to try it myself. Haha!

My stay at Cagbalete Island did not just help me unplug (coz there was really no phone signal or Internet connection) from the world, it also made me temporarily forget about my stress and depression. I count myself extremely fortunate to be able to experience (albeit only for a short time) such an enchantingly marvelous place. I hope that Cagbalete Island would stay this way and won’t turn into an overexposed, overcrowded and overdeveloped island, like Boracay.

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We go to an island like this to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and find some serene and relaxing time. We don’t go there to destroy its natural beauty. Just sayin’.

For more details on how to get there (if you are not going to rent a van/car like us), check out this blog.

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Depression.

I’ve always thought the only thing that could make me cry for no reason is a broken heart.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Thought I’ve been through a lot.

Thought I’ve been through the worst and most difficult time of my life.

I’m not a positive person.

I’m really not.

I’m not all sunshine and rainbows.

Can’t say I’m pessimistic either.

I feel like I’m halfway between optimistic and pessimistic.

Then it happened.

One wrong decision.

It all came crumbling down.

Crash and burn.

My heart feels heavy.

I’m watching comedy, but I don’t find anything funny.

I laugh without humor.

Tears start to well in my eyes… threatening to fall down.

To the outside world, I show a different me.

A relaxed, worry-free and composed me.

To the four corners of my bedroom, I take off the mask.

I let the silent tears come.

I sit in the dark, staring at nothing.

I wipe away the hot tears but they keep on coming.

I self-diagnose.

I search the web for answers.

What’s wrong with me?

Why do I feel this way?

What is this emptiness?

Why am I hopeless?

I’ve never felt this way before.

How do I stop this?

How do I become happy again?

Why do I feel like nothing in my life is going right?

Everything has just gone horribly wrong.

Why do I feel alone?

How did I become like this?

Is this depression?

 

[Movie Review] “Ratter”

“We’re constantly connected through our phones, laptops and the Web every moment of every day. But while we look at our screens, who’s looking at us?”

If that line doesn’t creep the hell out of you, or even just a little bit, then there’s probably something wrong with you.

I came across this movie while I was doing my daily browsing of the sites where I illegally download movies (like everyone else on Earth). I saw the poster, which was creepy, and I saw that I know the actress in it – Ashley Benson, so I was like, why not? Let’s go for it. It’ll be an addition to my “200 movies a year” challenge.

Moving on… I don’t really get scared or creeped out by movies (or anything) that much. I¬†prefer watching suspense, thriller and horror flicks as opposed to romance and drama. When I watched “Ratter”, I wasn’t expecting much. I only read a short synopsis over at IMDB.com and it says “Emma, a graduate student living alone in NYC, is being watched by a stalker who hacks into the technology that surrounds her – laptop, cell phone, and other web connected devices. This obsession continues to grow as the hacker records Emma’s most intimate moments. When the thrill of watching isn’t enough, the situation escalates to a dangerous and terrifying level.”

So, basically, it’s a movie about a very smart and technologically advanced stalker.
I instantly felt a connection to Emma, since I used to live alone and I do the exact same things that she did in the film. The first and last thing I do every day is look at my phone or my laptop. I go to the toilet with my phone, and I’m not just talking about when I take a shower. I hate silence, so I always watch some random clips on YouTube or browse through Facebook and Twitter while doing “my business” in the toilet.

I like to multitask. I leave my laptop on, playing some music, a TV series or a movie, whenever I’m doing something else, like exercising, cooking, folding my laundry or cleaning my room. I leave it on at night because I couldn’t wait for my “downloads” to finish. Even when I’m asleep, it’s still on. I just turn it off when I wake up at around 4 AM (coz I go to work at 5 AM).
So, yeah, if my webcam gets hacked, it would definitely show me in very uncompromising positions, doing silly, embarrassing and ridiculous stuff, and looking ugly and awful. Not that I care. I mean, who am I to get hacked? I’m not a celebrity. I’m not even pretty or attractive enough to get a stalker. Besides, I don’t have “secrets”, like nude selfies or sex videos in my laptop. Although, I have to admit that I don’t wear a bra when I’m at home and I’m usually wearing almost nothing when I’m in my room. I’m a very normal woman. Or at least, that’s what I would like to think.

The movie definitely hit home and touched a nerve. We have all become slaves to our gadgets. Technology made us very dependent on these gadgets that we spent almost every waking hour with them around us. We can hardly imagine our lives without them. It’s the sad reality of modern life. I like how Emma is the perfect example¬†of a typical millenial. She takes pictures and videos of almost everything, takes her laptop everywhere and her phone is like a part of her body. I don’t know if I’m still considered a “millenial”, but I could definitely see myself in her. It might be unrealistic for some, but it is socially relevant, in my opinion.

The editing and the camera angles, which were shot exclusively from the perspective of Emma’s devices, were superb as well. All throughout the movie, you could feel a sense of foreboding as the “ratter” gets bolder and pays Emma’s apartment a couple of visits. There was that creepy, spine-tingling feeling that someone is watching you. Even when she was not home, he would shift to her phone’s camera to track her and watch her. You could feel his anger and jealousy when Emma hooks up with Michael; his thrill and excitement whenever Emma takes a shower or walks around half-naked in her house. There was even that sick, perverted scene when Emma was “pleasuring herself” and the ratter was watching through her phone’s camera. It was revolting and terrifying at the same time.

The last few moments of the film were just gripping and it got me on the edge of my seat. I was practically screaming and repeatedly saying “Oh my god” under my breath. It was horrifying! I mean, I’ve seen so many horror and suspense flicks, but this was definitely in the top 3. I just hated the fact that the ending was a cliffhanger. Emma was finally attacked by the ratter, while she was Skype-ing with her mom (who immediately called 911 and desperately called for her daughter), and that was it. The movie just ended it there. Normally, I like those kinds of endings because it leaves a lot to my imagination. But in this movie, I badly wanted to know what happened to Emma. Was she raped and killed? Just raped? Just killed? Kidnapped and never seen again? It drove me insane.
Now, I know a lot of people would say “it’s just a freakin’ movie” or “it won’t happen to you”. I believe that that’s exactly the kind of thing that would get some people killed. With our fast-paced world and the advancement of modern technology, especially computer, phones and the Internet, I do believe that ANYTHING is possible. Even ordinary, unimportant, humans like me could get hacked and could fall victim to a ratter. I contemplated putting on a sticker or something to cover my laptop’s webcam, just in case it gets hacked. Every now and then I would glance at my webcam to make sure the light isn’t on. I don’t get scared, but I do get paranoid sometimes. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing to believe in stuff like these. We all need to be alert because we’ll never know what might happen in the future. Hackers are also advancing and progressing, getting better, along with technology. So yeah, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When I think about it, if someone is watching me, they would probably get bored to death. I’m a couch potato and when I’m not writing (typing), I’m just watching movies and TV shows all day long. The most interesting or amusing thing they would see me do is walk around in my underwear, floss my teeth, eat like a pig, fart, burp, pick my nose or pop a pimple. So, yep, disgusting stuff, but nothing that would humiliate me or destroy my life. Okay, well, there is something that I do, that I’m sure everyone does too, every now and then, but I’m not comfortable sharing it online.
All in all, the movie “Ratter” sent a simple, yet powerful message and it definitely left a huge impression on me. I just wish people wouldn’t take technology for granted and try their best to take extra safety measures to ensure that their privacy isn’t violated. But then again, I think we all lost our privacy (or some part of it) ever since we started using social media, and in general, the world wide web.

So I did a little digging up and found out that “Ratter” was based on a short film from Germany, entitled “Webcam”, which, in turn, was based on real events.

What I’m watching, why I’m watching them, why you should watch them too – PART 2

So… without further ado, here’s PART 2 of my previous blog about my beloved TV series and sitcoms. Enjoy! Or not. I don’t give a damn. LOL.

 

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*DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – Focuses on time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter, who has to recruit a rag-tag team of heroes and villains to help prevent an apocalypse that could impact not only Earth, but all of time. – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: First, Brandon Routh. Second, Wentworth Miller. Third, all my fave minor characters/baddies from The Flash and Arrow.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re into comic book/superhero stories, this is definitely right up your alley.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Vandal Savage. Why won’t the dude ever DIE? I know. It’s the whole point of the story. Whatever. I just wish they could thwart him big time. He always seems to be winning.

 

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*GOTHAM – The story behind Detective James Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman’s arrival. – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Not a big fan of Batman, but I was quite curious about the early and younger days of infamous villains like The Joker, Penguin, Cat Woman, Riddler, Poison Ivy, etc.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re a fan of the whole Batman universe, then go for it. The young Bruce Wayne is quite charming too. ūüôā

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Villains. villains. villains. But the most annoying of them all was Jim Gordon’s insane bitch, ex-fianc√©e, Barbara Kean. Ugh. I effing loathed her.

 

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*BLINDSPOT – A Jane Doe is found in Times Square with no memory and mysterious tattoos on her body. – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Out of curiosity. The story seemed utterly preposterous at first, but I stayed with it. It is evolving now and there are some really interesting plots.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I don’t really want to recommend it. Unless, like me, you‚Äôre also obsessed with anything involving the police, the FBI or any suspense-thriller-crime dramas.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Jane could be annoying sometimes.

 

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*LIMITLESS – An average 28-year old man that gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain’s capabilities (thanks to a tiny, transparent pill called NZT) is hired by the FBI as a consultant. A television follow-up of the film Limitless (2011). – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: I have no idea who Jake McDorman was before I started watching this. He already mesmerized me from the very first episode. He’s gorgeous and hot, but he’s also funny in that not-so-trying-hard way. The story is quite thrilling too. I’m just a sucker for police/FBI dramas.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Bradley Cooper appears every now and then. ūüôā And for all the Dexter fans like me, Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) is Jake’s handler in here. ūüôā

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Nothing yet. There were just some ho-hum and completely irrelevant episodes every now and then.

 

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*LUCIFER – Lucifer has left hell to take up life on Earth – particularly in Los Angeles, California. When a friend of his is murdered Lucifer joins forces with the good side of the law to discover who the perpetrators are and to give them what they rightfully deserve. – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Tom Ellis is freakin’ burning HOT!!! He’s gorgeous, sexy, charming, charismatic, sarcastic, witty and HE HAS A FREAKIN’ BRITISH ACCENT. Why wouldn’t I watch it?!

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Dude. Like, DUUUUDDDDEEEE. This is a must-watch. That’s all I can say. Take my word for it. Really.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Nothing!!! I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!

 

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*MOM – Centers on Christy, a newly sober single mom who tries to pull her life together… until her also-trying-to-be-sober-ex-alcoholic mom decided to come back to her life and live with her.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: I wanted to fill that empty, gaping hole which was left by HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, so I gave this a shot. I’ve always thought Anna Faris is hilarious and she did not disappoint me in here. Every episode is filled with laughter and some feel-good moments as well.¬† There are times when I actually want to hug my mom and tell her I love her because of this sitcom.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: It’s one of the best sitcoms airing right now. Take my word for it. Or not. Moreover, the story is easily relatable and somewhat realistic, imo.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Violet, Christy’s teenage daughter is forever annoying. But then again, that’s what teenage daughters are for, right?

 

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*SHADOWHUNTERS – After her mother is kidnapped, Clary must venture into the dark world of demon hunting in order to find clues that can help her find her mother. – imdb.com

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Vampires, werewolves, fairies, warlocks, demons and angels – it has all the right ingredients for the perfect YA fantasy fiction story. I’m a huge fan of the books – I read them all. I watched the movie version and was quite satisfied with it. Unfortunately, this version failed to deliver the desired results. I think it was mostly because of the relatively “newbie” actors that they cast. The only people worthy of praise are the actors playing Simon Lewis – Alberto Rosende and of course, Magnus Bane ‚Äď Harry Shum Jr.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re a fan of the books, like me, don‚Äôt watch it. You’re just going to get disappointed. I mean, watching MALEC is enjoyable and seeing some characters from the book, who I didn’t see in the movie (Maryse and Robert Lightwood, Max Lightwood, Camille Belcourt, Ragnor Fell, Meliorn, Raphael Santiago) was delightful, but other than that… it’s just pathetic and lacking in all areas.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: A LOT OF THINGS. The awful, eye roll-inducing acting of the lead actors is on top of my list. Why can’t they seem to find the PERFECT Jace Wayland? I mean, Jamie Campbell Bower was okay, tolerable… but this new Jace was just… I can’t even… I just can’t. >_<

 

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*SLEEPY HOLLOW – Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Ichabod Crane is one of the best characters ever made. Tom Mison is the perfect guy for this role. I especially like how Ichabod struggled with technology and the modern society throughout season 1 and 2. It was hilarious and adorable at the same time.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: It’s about a hot, gorgeous, smart, time-traveling dude with a British accent. There’s fantasy, suspense, action, lots of comedy, and a bit of horror in it.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Ichabod’s son, Henry. Dude had some serious daddy¬†issues.

 

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*QUANTICO – A look at the lives of young FBI recruits training at the Quantico base in Virginia when one of them is suspected of being a sleeper terrorist.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Again, I’m watching ALMOST everything with the whole FBI concept. I thought this one had potential. There are lots of twists and turns and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: It has some sassy and sexy babes and hot, attractive dudes. And the story is pretty cool too.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: The betrayal, the jealousy, the bitching – they’re all too cliche-ish and cumbersome.

 

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*SHADES OF BLUE ‚Äď It stars Jennifer Lopez as the main character Harlee Santos, a single-mother NYPD officer, who is forced to work in the FBI’s anti-corruption task force, whilst dealing with her own financial problems.
WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Another action-packed police drama. I personally like Jennifer Lopez. I think her acting has improved over the past few years. The story was quite predictable at first, but then it took a sharp turn and now it‚Äôs one of the most riveting and stimulating TV shows.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If Jennifer Lopez is not a good reason for you, then believe me the story is really worth it. It’s quite compelling and it would leave you wanting more.   
WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT:
Her daughter. As usual. Teenage daughters are annoying, huh.

 

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*SUPERGIRL – The adventures of Superman’s cousin in her own superhero career.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: It’s THE BEST superhero TV show airing right now. Melissa Benoist gave life to the character and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re a fan of superheroes, then watch it. If you’re not, then give it a try. You might like it.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Lots and lots of extremely annoying villains – ESPECIALLY Italia Ricci’s character – The Banshee Bitch. Ugh. I wanted to pound on her on the face with Thor’s hammer, I swear.

 

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*THE 100 – Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: I watched this because I was quite interested with the whole post-apocalypse plot and I heard that it was based on a novel. There were also lots of good-looking actors (Bob Morley, Thomas McDonell). It’s a shame the story has become less interesting and more dull and draggy.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re into sci-fi and dystopian society stories, then this one’s for you. In all fairness to the show, the first season was action-packed and exciting. The second and third – not so much, imo.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Finn – after he went all crazy, gung-ho on those grounders.

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*THE BLACKLIST – Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Keen, a new FBI profiler has her entire life uprooted when a mysterious criminal, Raymond Reddington, on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List turns himself in and insists on speaking to her.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Raymond Reddington and his smooth, funny and witty banters.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: Raymond Reddington is one of the best characters ever made. He’s definitely unforgettable in so many ways.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Liz could be irksome every now and then. But then again, she has her reasons. I just don’t understand them or agree with them.

 

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*THE FLASH – Barry Allen wakes up 9 months after he was struck by lightning and discovers that the bolt gave him the power of super speed. With his new team and powers, Barry becomes “The Flash” and fights crime in Central City.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Like Supergirl, they’ve definitely cast the most perfect actor as The Flash. Grant Gustin is so adorbs and geeky. He definitely puts the F in Flash.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: He’s the fastest man alive. And he’s REALLY cool.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Iris West. From the moment I set my eyes on her, I never liked her. I never liked her as a character and I never liked her for Barry. I just don’t like her.

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*THE WALKING DEAD – Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by the walking dead. Fighting the dead, fearing the living.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: Apocalypse. Zombies. Daryl Dixon.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: DARYL EFFING DIXON.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Too much talking and walking and running. Too much drama and romance. Not too many zombie-killing action scenes.

 

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*YOUNGER – After being mistaken for younger than she really is, a single mother decides to take the chance to reboot her career and her love life as a 26-year old.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: I gave it a shot coz I needed to watch more sitcoms. Then I found out Hilary Duff is in here and I just love her to bits. And then I saw Liza‚Äôs boy toy – Nico Tortorella. Like, damn, girl! That is one, fine, hot piece of… yeah. You get the picture. ūüôā The story’s quite refreshing and unique too.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: If you’re someone who’s approaching the dreadful age of 30, like me, then this one will definitely make you feel good and feel better about yourself.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: Kelsey is annoying. Liza is annoying. Josh is annoying. They’re all annoying. But not all the time. Just… sometimes. ^^

 

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*YOUNG AND HUNGRY – A well-off young tech entrepreneur hires a feisty young food blogger to be his personal chef.

WHY I’M WATCHING IT: I love Emily Osment. She’s hilarious. And I think she’s one of the best young actresses now. Her sense of humor and wit are incredible.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: It’s just freakin’ hilarious.

WHAT IRKS ME ABOUT IT: I was on #TeamCooper , so for a moment I hated Josh. And I was annoyed that Gabby couldn’t sort out her feelings for Cooper and Josh. I mean, here I am, single and loveless, and she got TWO guys fighting over her. Ugh. #bitter

 

Credits to IMDB.com for the TV show infos.