About Me

My photo
An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

Search This Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2017

When in Baguio: Where To Eat When Avoiding Crowds

Let's face it. Eating out while on a road trip or out of town, is simply enjoyable

Does this sound familiar? 

It's a long weekend. You and your family decide to head up to Baguio. Unsurprisingly, you're not the only who thought of that. Droves of people are right there with you.

You arrive in the city. You're hungry and tired and the rest of your family can't agree on where to eat...the kids want pizza, the wife wants Japanese food, you want good ol' Filipino food, and you all want to eat sweet treats for dessert soon after.

The town is crawling with vehicles and tourists, so you can't go to the town center and heading over to the currently crowded Camp John Hay would prolong your hunger. The solution? Pass by Military Cut Off. (GOOGLE MAP HERE)

Along that short route that connects Kennon road to upper session road is a clump of restaurants that offer a lot of everything for everyone. Here's what's there:

1. Kubong Sawali
- opens 7am - 10 pm
- It's a Filipino restaurant that offers classic Pinoy dishes and more, in a casual setting. Our go to grilled meat and seafood lunch place with my old office buddies.
- menu link here: KUBONG SAWALI MENU

2. Sakura Terrace
- opens 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
- A good place to enjoy Japanese comfort food: sushi, ramen, curry and so much more. Portions are big and dishes are well crafted
Sakura Terrace bento box

3. Glenn 50's Diner
- opens 8 am - 9 pm
- an American Retro diner that has been around the city for decades now, with various location changes. Menu is diverse (American and Pinoy faves) and portions are big.
- see menu and openriceph reviews here: OPEN RICE - GLENN 50's DINER

4. Zio's Pizzeria
- opens 10 am - 10 pm
- a pizza, burger, pasta and chicken type of place. Food is quite good (try the pizzas) and portions are made for big appetites.
- See menu here: ZIO'S PIZZERIA MENU

5. MCO Bakeshop and Cafe
- opens at 10 am
- for us who grew up in Baguio, the Streamline Cake of Session Delight has been the go-to cake for every party and potluck contribution that there was. MCO is the new home of the original streamline cake of Baguio, as well as other pastries and rice meals too.

It's easy to find, there's ample parking in the area and it's not far from town. Perhaps, the best thing about this area is you can ask (nicely) one establishment, if you could bring your grub to another establishment (thanks Zio's for allowing mom's Sakura Terrace-ordered meal, to grace your establishment).

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

SUMMER GETAWAY PLANS: Your Mediocre Wanderer Guide To 5 Asian Cities

summer plans underway? If you're heading off to some of these Asian cities, this blog is for you

Summer is very much underway in our corner of the world. Going through my blogger notes, I found some items that I should've written about, but forgot to do so. To make up for it, I am sharing these still-relevant tips in this edition of The Mediocre Wanderer.
There's so much t see, but I had to narrow the "must sees" to just 3. For those who are planning to see a little bit of Asia, here are tips to take note of, should you ever find yourself in these 5 cities:
The Great Wall of China's Mutianyu section

Top 3 Must Sees:
1. The Great Wall of China -  Visit the Mutianyu side as it is less crowded than Badaling. You can also ride a cable car up or down the wall or be thrilled and slide down the mountain on a toboggan. Check your hotel's travel agency services instead of the ones at the airport to score great deals on tours to Mutianyu.

on a cable car or a toboggan (the tracks are below us) are the ways to get up and down this section of the wall
2. Beijing Zoo - 89 hectares/220 acres of beautiful landscapes, 950 species of land and sea animals and home of the Beijing Aquarium. Cheapest way to get there is through the Beijing subway system, which costs about 2 yuan/person/journey. Check out our TMW blog here.

cages for the animals were masterfully incorporated in the landscape of the zoo
3. The Forbidden City - A World Heritage Site, this 72 hectare complex is a good glimpse into the China's past. With 980 buildings, artworks and artifacts, it's a feast for eyes!

one of the many structures in the Forbidden City

Top 3 Tips Based on TMW Experiences:

1. After you're done going around and about, don't bring your shoes/child's strollers/roller bags all the way inside your hotel room. Leave it close to the door, as, trust me on this, you'll never know what strange gunk has been left behind on the soles of your shoes or the wheels of your child's strollers or your luggage.

The zoo's Aquarium - as nice as the grounds outside were at the zoo, MAX managed to trip and fall on someone's phlegm (aka loogie) on the ground. Bring anti bacterial wipes always when you're with your little one too

Yes, people still hock loogies wherever it's convenient for them. (insert a shudder here).

this is what you see in the hutong tour around the Forbidden City
2. Don't bother with the hutong tour around the Forbidden City. I don't know about you, but looking at the slum area or other people's front doors isn't exactly life-enriching.

There was probably that one interesting house in the area as it was Chairman Mao's #2, Chen Duxiu's residence in that half an hour ride. A total rip-off.

the haze that surrounded us at Tianenmen Square, at 9 in the AM was smog. Bring a face mask
3. Getting a cab can get to be challenge especially during the rush hour. Take the subway. And while you're out, don't forget to bring a face mask.

at the Samphran Elephant Grounds

Top 3 Must Sees:

1. Grand Palace - beautiful architecture that's been around since the 17th century. Try to get a guided tour to get the most out of this experience. Also, if you're female, make sure your legs are covered when you enter. This is to give respect to the various temples in the complex. SEE TMW blog here.

got my sarong on. You can either rent or buy from the shops across the street from the Grand Palace entrance
2. Samphran Elephant Grounds, Zoo and Crocodile Farm - soccer playing elephants, a crocodile wrestling show and a ride on a 10 foot tall elephant; check out our TMW blog on this, HERE.

3. Siam Ocean World - a great learning experience for you and your little ones. It's also a great way to get away from the heat of the outdoors. See our TMW blog here.

there's also a short 4D movie thrown in after you visit the oceanarium
Top 3 Tips Based on TMW Experiences:
1. If someone offers your a Chao Phraya Canal Tour, just say no! You're better off booking a Chai Phraya River Dinner Cruise.

catfish swarming to eat dog food

some parts of the view in the canal tour looks as rundown as this
The Canal tour, via  along pump boat, was nothing but a series of freaky cat fish feeding, polluted water splashing on you and overpriced items from floating vendors.

fish feeding is supposed to bring you luck...my reaction begs to differ
2. If someone offers to sell you tickets to the Siam Ocean World, don't bother. Even if they tell you that it's sold in another area, don't believe it. Rates are so much cheaper online or you could get a Madame Tussaud + Siam Ocean World combo ticket, which is also bundled at cheaper rates.

our cabbie brought us to a travel agency, insisting that tickets are no longer sold at Siam Ocean Park. Turns out, he wanted to cash in on selling us tickets

3. If you find yourself done with your visit of the Grand Palace and want to do some shopping (some..ha!), head on out to Bobae Tower. It's a little under 10 minutes away from that area. It's also a building that houses 1300 shops under one air-conditioned facility. It's where you go to buy presents for everyone, for when you go home.

the wholesale mall

the hotel's interiors
They also offer shipping services to send your cargo, worldwide to prevent incurring excess baggage charges at the airport. The first 10 floors are the shopping area, while the 11th to 32nd floor houses the hotel that we stayed in.

Top 3 Must Sees:
1. Angkor Wat - an ancient Khmer kingdom that once thrived in the dessert. Excellent for those into culture, history and architecture. Check out our blog here.

2. Old Market - THE place to go to if you need to buy trinkets, souvenirs, spices and stuff to bring home. See TMW blog here.

shopping for dresses at the Old Market

3. Pub Street - where everyone goes to relax and unwind. Check out our blog on Siem Reap, here.

Pub Street

Top 3 Tips Based on TMW Experiences:

1. US Dollars are the preferred currency in the country. It's what's dispensed out of their ATMs as well.  Whenever you go around paying for stuff, as much as possible, insist on getting the same currency as your change.

at the Lucky Mall, Siem Reap

2. Reputable guides to the temples wear uniforms. May sure to transact with accredited guides (ask your hotel concierge about it) before making any transactions.

legit tour guides wear peach uniforms

3. Bottled water is seriously pricey in nearly all of the food establishments that we visited. Just to compare, the PHP 15 bottle of mineral water here in the Philippines would cost around USD 2 / PHP 100 there! Before you start exploring, a quick visit to the grocery or a convenience store to hoard mineral water for the the duration of your stay, is necessary.

don't be the last to know that bottled water is pricey at Siem Reap

Top 3 Must Sees:
1. Singapore Flyer - 830 am to 1030 pm (sg flight $33 $21) 30 mins long. You can also eat at it's SG Food Trail (http://www.singaporeflyer.com/food-trail/about-food-trail/)

2. Sentosa - where you won't have to think of what to do next! Always check out their website for promotions! (LINK HERE)

3. Gardens By The Bay - $28/$15 9am to 9pm (free shuttle to and from marina bay sands)

Top 3 Tips Based on TMW Experiences

1. When taking a cab ride, note that not all cabs are created equal. There are limo taxis that sometime line up on regular taxi stands. There is a difference in fare computation.

2. This country has a lot of establishments and attractions that offer online promotions. Scour the net to check out the website of the place you intend to go to, just in case.

3. After all the shopping has been done, save those receipts! For receipts that are SGD 100.00 and above, you can get a GST (local sales tax) refund at the airport.


Top 3 Must Sees
1. Sunway Lagoon - perhaps our favorite theme park to date. Check out their website here.

a multi theme park that's sure to have a little something for everyone

2. Petronas Towers - a great place to visit, both day and night. The building offers a magnificent view of the city, and houses a science museum and an aquarium for your kids, as well as a shopping mall, among others.

3. Berjaya Time Square - it's a mall with a roller coaster inside it :) Yes, we are The Mediocre Wanderers for a reason.

Top 3 Tips Based on TMW Experiences

1. Book a Hop on Hop Off Tour! Not only do you get to see all the relevant sites in the KL, you can also  use it as the perfect transportation system to get around the city, hassle free. Check their website here.

2. As with SG, different cab sizes means different rates. Read up on that before you go.

riding the top of a double decker bus is super fun!
3. The airport is almost an hour away from the city center. Go to the lower level and take the bus. That'll save you a pricey cab ride to town and back to the airport.

And there you have it. 5 Asian Cities to see, in a nutshell. Before you go, do your research, pack smartly and keep safe, always.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than hours!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

5 Post-Beach Holiday Skin Refreshers

when you're living the moment, you tend to forget about the basics, like skin care
Easter Sunday's in and if you're from the Philippines, you probably took some time off to enjoy the long weekend that the Holy Week has brought in.

when you're from a country with 7, 100 plus islands in it, going to the beach is inevitable

Whenever we're out and about, I always apply sun block. But sometimes, living in the moment means forgetting it's reapplication.

burn baby, burn
For this edition of TMW, I'd like to give a shout out to all those ladies out there who may have recently had a bit too much sun and don't seem to know what to do about it.

Here are my Top 5 Post-Beach Holiday Skin Refreshers:

1. FACIAL CLEANSER - everyone knows that the secret to great skin is always knowing how to cleanse it properly. If you had a lot of beach time during the holidays, finding a cleanser that would moisturize and clean is key. You may not be too keen to use a facial scrub as using one on sun burnt skin may cause more problems. Try using CLEAN IT ZERO by Banila Co (made in Korea, but available in the Philippines). I was introduced to this product by my sister in law, and I really think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread (or maybe Shu Uemura's cleansing oil). It's been around for a couple of years now, and people swear that it is fabulous, because it is!

It's a solid balm that you scoop up and rub on your unwashed, dry skin. As you rub the sorbet-soft balm, it transforms into a silky oil. It strips your skin of make up and impurities. Rinse with lukewarm water or wipe off with tissue and voila! Skin is squeaky clean, without that tight, dry feeling. You'll feel change immediately!

PRICE: PHP 890.00 (Banila.co Philippines website)

- Not a lot of folks know this, but our lips get damaged by too much exposure to the sun too. Thanks to MAX's therapist, who went on holiday in Australia, I was able to try (and continually use) REAL PAW PAW OINTMENT (made in Australia and available in your fave online stores in the Philippines like BeautyMNL and Lazada). Not only does it soothe and protect your lips, it's also good for the parts of your skin that needs it (bites, burns, wounds, dry or irritated skin can helped by this product).

It's a smooth, non sticky ointment that glides on your lips. You only need to use a little and it lasts on your lips all day! It's also makes a great lipstick and eye shadow primer!

PRICE: PHP 320.00-499.00 / 25g tube (Lazada) 

3. HAIR CARE - Even hair gets sun damaged too! Lately, I've been  experimenting with bolder hair color choices, making sun exposure, my nemesis. Whenever I go out, I make sure that I've got SEMI DI LINO ILLUMINATING SERUM on my hair. It's made in Italy and available in the Philippines through David's Salon. I learned about this from my hairstylist about a decade ago and haven't stopped using it since.

bleaching your hair before summer may not be the best thing to do to your hair, but if you did, don't forget your hair serum
Apply it on wet hair or after styling, this ultra-luxurious beauty fluid instantly adds more light, shine and softness to every hair type. It's a light weight serum that comes in a glass pump bottle (sort of like a perfume bottle). It's made with Linseed extract enriched with vitamin E that provides both strength and shine with every use.

PRICE: PHP 600.00-700.00 / 30 ml bottle (David's Salon)

4. ANTI AGING PRODUCT - sun exposure causes premature aging too. My anti-aging prodcts come in the form of the BB and CC creams that I use every time I go out. But before those things go on my skin, I apply AVON's ANEW CLINICAL INFINITE LIFT TARGETED CONTOURING SERUM. It's made in Poland, and available through your nearest Avon dealer.

pushing forty, with zero make up on

Yep. My pushing forty is no secret. But I don't have lines, wrinkles and all those tell tale signs of aging, thanks in part to proper moisturizing and using this product. It's an instant facelift! This product provides an instant firming sensation that gives you that lifted look that lasts all day. Apply it on your face with it's built in massaging roller and enjoy a firmer, contoured and more defined face soon after A great pick me up for your skin - literally!

PRICE: PHP 799.00 (on sale, Avon Catalogue)

5. MATTIFIER - notice how your skin gets super oily after you've tanned or gotten sun burnt? Have you noticed too, just how  your foundation, concealers, BB, CCs and what have you, don't seem to glide on to your skin? Try applying QUICK FX NO-SHINE MATTIFIER (made in Korea and readily available at your nearest Watson's drugstore).

taken one sweaty afternoon, after I reapplied some no-shine mattifier
It's a moisturizer that contains salicylic acid, chamomile and tea tree extract - all known to help prevent and treat breakouts. You can use it as a primer or as a mattifier (instead of using face powder, that tends to cake on dry skin). To use as the latter, pat lightly over make up and blend for a smoother, more radiant complexion. I carry this with me for those quick touch-ups.

PRICE: PHP 89.00 (Watson's)

These are products I swear by, use on a daily basis and would probably stick to for a while. Whatever product you use though, always remember to cleanse, moisturize and protect your skin.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!