Tag Archives: shangri-la

Going Local

29 May

As is typical at nice hotel everywhere outside of the US, there is a full buffet breakfast with almost anything you can possibly imagine. At the Edsa Shangri-la this means a create-your-own soup station, omelet station, fruits, yogurt, jams, sushi station, beef tapa, crepe station, panini’s, waffles, Indian, garlic rice, danishes…basically anything your little heart desires. Thus no matter what time I get home from work, 1am or 4am, I will wake up for this divine breakfast. At the sweet breakfast station there is bibingka, which is a type of rice bread that I’ve come to fall in love with. My coworker was kind enough to introduce me to Rico, who runs the omelette station and continued to spoil me every morning with an elaborate crepe filled with everything from mangos, and jam with fresh strawberry sauce, to mangos, bananas, marshmallows and white chocolate pieces. I miss you Rico!

While staying at a five star hotel is nice and fancy, I think for the long term I would start to resent it, and so I started looking for something a little more homey. I looked at service apartments and condos, and after two weeks of debating, one of my local coworkers found me a great service apartment in Makati, the central business district. While it is farther away from work than the Edsa Shang in Ortigas, it has a more active and social atmosphere. Once I moved / settled in to my new digs, my coworkers came over to show me around the Glorietta and Greenbelt mall areas and to take me grocery shopping! I think one of my favorite purchases is the 24 quail eggs I purchased for 40P ($0.95)…wow what a deal. Everything I thought would be expensive, was fairly cheap, and everything I thought would be fairly cheap was pretty pricey, go figure.

Some of the other popular foods I’ve tried are halo-halo, which literally means “mix-mix”, and is one of the most famous ice treats, especially from ChowKing. When my coworker explained to me what was actually in it I thought it couldn’t be true…how can coconut, purple yam, beans, corn, rice, jackfruit, bananas, pearls, and palm fruit taste good? Magically it does, and I can’t wait to try it again.

Jollibee is the most popular fast food chain, BEFORE McDonalds which comes in a far second. I have yet to try the burger, but the chicken joy with palabok was mighty tasty and not too big.

My other coworker, who also moved out of the Edsa Shang, wanted to cook a typical Tex mex dinner. It was fabulous! Even though eating out here is often cheaper than cooking in, everyone likes a home cooked meal.

Our final stop for the evening was the infamous Hobbit House bar, one of the 7 most bizarre bars according to Lonely Planet. While the place was fairly dead on a Sunday night, there is live music daily and imported beers from all over the world. Where else can you get a Duvel and Blue Moon in Manila? Even though this bar felt slightly exploitative, the music was good and the beers will have us coming back again.

 

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Red Hot South East Asian Summer

18 May

How do you prepare to live in a foreign country for three months? I had a paranoid feeling that I was forgetting to do something or bring something or let someone know I was going to be away. And before I knew it, literally it happened in about 2 weeks… The adventure of a lifetime has begun! The morning of my flight I was frantically last minute packing and tidying up the apartment before James drove me to JFK. Thanks to a handy travel scale, courtesy of mom, both of my bags were underweight. Airline baggage fees have become outrageous and I’ve been in line behind many people who had to repack bags or pay ridiculous overage fees. Luckily credit card companies have gotten smart and now offer free bags in their annual fee. Since there is no delta sky lounge in Terminal 4, I bought a bunch of “I Love NY” gear to give to new friends I anticipate meeting along the way, and headed to the gate. Some of my last minute errands included calling my credit card companies, my cell phone carrier, my parents and my grandma. And of course taking pics of my delta lay flat bed on the upper deck to Tokyo Narita. The two inter-continental Delta flights were very comfortable and my gluten free meal request was honored and delicious. I kept the same seat on both flights and didn’t need to recheck my luggage in Tokyo. Upon landing in Manila, I went through customs and made my way to the Shangri-La lounge area on the opposite side of the pick up/drop off lane. There, coincidentally, was my coworker from Chicago and two other coworkers that have been here for at least 3 weeks and were nice enough to come to the airport to meet us on a Saturday night. After getting checked in it was time to try and sleep before our first day of work. Everyone at the office is extremely nice and the service at the hotel is impeccable. The buffet breakfast is outstanding and similar to what I experienced in India. It’s attached to a mall which is a very popular hang out spot in Manila. The mall of Asia here is actually the third largest mall in the world.

I was asked before I came here whether or not I liked Filipino food. Of course the person that asked me this did so with a scowl on his face, therefore indicating that he did not like the food. I had no idea what he meant until I came here and realized how sweet most of the food is. “Sweet beef” you ask? How can this be? I have no idea, but it surprisingly really good, especially for breakfast. American restaurants are incredibly popular here. Apparently when IHOP opened there was a 4 hour line for the first couple weeks. However one thing that is definitely not the same is Dunkin Doughnuts. While I am not a fan of their coffee I decided to get one with my coworker anyway. We were walking around apartment hunting for me which is no small task in 93 F degrees with over 100% humidity. The regular iced coffee was so bad it was undrinkable. It was literally like drinking sugar with some coffee flavored water in it. We took a couple sips out and quickly ditched it. I guess we’re sticking to Starbucks.

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