P.F. Chang’s

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro opened early this year, if I am not mistaken, at the spanking new wing of the Alabang Town Center. This new row, as well as another refurbished side of the ATC, boasts of a number of restaurants that I have been dying to try. They’re a mixture of new or long-established gustatory centers.

P.F. Chang’s is an international restaurant with hundreds of branches in the United States, the Alabang branch being the first in the Philippines. It is cozy and comfortable enough to be casual dining but the prices are a little steep compared to other modern Chinese restaurants (I picked up the tab since Mama called this a belated celebration of the hubby’s birthday when he was in Rome, and I was a little sorry I didn’t choose a less expensive joint. lol). The place was huge, with high ceilings, and nice, brightly lit lamps. There were also tall terracotta statues of Chinese warriors at the front door and the inside leading to the dining area, true to the common interior design of the restaurant all over the world.

But I would definitely give their service two thumbs up! Servers are very sharp and food ordered came really fast. It helped that, although it was lunch time, it was a slow Saturday and there were not much diners. We were meeting Mico, who was coming from a work-related errand nearby, and we had to eat a little slower for him to be able to catch up.

So here are what we had:

Egg drop soup. Nothing really special. A bit bland.

Lo Mien. This rocks! As I said we were waiting for Mico, and we gobbled this really fast so we ordered another one. It was very tasty, it probably had a lot of MSG but I couldn’t care less hehehe. In local parlance, it had a lot of sahog.

P.F. Chang’s rice. Just about right. While some fried rice would overpower the main entrees, this one did not. It was a perfect match for all those savory dishes.

Crispy Chicken. I ordered this since Mischa is a chicken aficionado. I didn’t like it myself. Please remind me not to order orange chicken. It was cloyingly sweet, and leaves a weird aftertaste ugh!

Mongolian Beef. This was the best among what we ordered. It was tender and juicy.

Shanghai Shrimp. Shrimp is safe. I will go back to it again and again. This one did not disappoint.

I forgot to take a picture of the tamarind iced tea, which was very refreshing to say the least. This is literally, humahagod sa lalamunan. I downed two large glasses of this. It washed everything down with a wonderful kick.

Too bad there wasn’t room for dessert. We took away several Chinese take-out boxes. Their servings were big that way.

Adelle Storme

I can’t believe you’re now 6!

As with my own daughter, I can’t believe how fast you’ve grown. It seems only yesterday when you were the only kid in our circle of friends. I used to drop round your house all the time when you were just a wee little thing, and I was still single and had time all to myself. You would always come to me willingly, even without the prodding of your nanay. When things didn’t work out between your folks, you had to move. Ironically, when your house was just a few blocks away from the office, it somehow put an invisible distance between us. I don’t know what happened really, but our relationship also took a tumble. It became a birthday-and-Christmas-gift-thing from Ninang na lang. I became just one of Nanay‘s officemates, and nothing more. I still wish we would recover some of that special bond we had.

I also hope that you, Mischa and some of my and Nanay’s friends’ kids would grow close as you grow up. It’s hard to find good and true friends nowadays. I don’t want to spoil it for you by being too cynical and world-weary. Friendship is a weird thing but it’s pretty special once you find the “one”.

Grow up good and happy, Princess Adie. Ninang misses you a lot.

Precious gems

I’m loving my two precious gems at the moment:

The first was the one I got for myself during my trip to Jerusalem last June. The vendor said that the beads were made up of rose petals from the Garden of Gethsemane. They set off a nice smell every time I open its container.

The second one was my pasalubong from the hubby during his recent visit to the Vatican last month. I just died of envy he was able to hear mass straight and live from the Pope. I have also heard mass from another Pope, John Paul II, back in 1995 when I participated in the World Youth Day held in Manila, but being in the Vatican is another thing. I hope I get to set foot there before I say goodbye to this world. But for now, I am keeping this “amulet” close to my heart.

I know it’s not about the things you have, because the Lord listens to your prayers as long as they are sincere and come from your heart. But weird as it may sound, since these pretty things came from significant places, it makes them more special to me. And I carry them with a special skip in my heart and mind.

United Nations celebration

We attended another activity, our first, in school – the United Nations celebration. As the host of the day said during the opening ceremony, it was one of the most colorful. And yes it was. The whole thing started with a parade round a basketball court near the school. All of the students joined, from pre-school to high school, each class representing a region or continent.

And there’s our little girl!

It was a good thing she eventually warmed up in time for their class’ presentation. At the beginning, she was clinging on to mommy for dear life.

And then she danced the morning away..

And was all smiles about it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Living in a suitcase

My recent trip to Malaysia entailed traversing Kuala Lumpur and numerous towns in Sabah. We never stayed in one place for more than two days. This meant transferring from one hotel to another. In the course of the whole trip, we had good ones and bad ones. Some we chose, some we had to endure. I am not very picky with where I stay as long as it is clean and decent, especially the linens and the bathroom, and has hot water. But of course, I would not say no to luxury either, as long as it is within our budget (why would you scrimp on comfort and cleanliness?). I am not into wide, open spaces since who wants to move around in hotels when you’re on the road anyway? I am usually dead tired so the most I would do it is plop down on the bed, turn on the TV, and search for wifi.

Anyway, here is a rundown of six hotels we stayed in..

Hotel Novotel Kuala Lumpur Center

This is the most expensive hotel we stayed in, although it was home just at the beginning of the trip. It is at this point that I want to say that we had not so young colleagues from other government agencies, and uhm, they wanted to save on their allowances. So we managed to stay in this one good hotel at KL (where it is understandably hard to find cheap hotels) since we were all feeling our way around each other, and they couldn’t complain yet. lol.

Anyway, the price is right for this establishment. I was glad that I was with my female staff since they didn’t have twin rooms available so we had to share the queen, which wasn’t so bad. Our room had the right amount of chicness, and had a view of a shopping center.

Since we were already tired (and it was just day 1!) because we went straight to a meeting with UNICEF Malaysia as soon as we got out of the airport, Beda and I settled for a quiet dinner at the hotel restaurant. I wanted some room service but our phone wasn’t working so we had to fight laziness and come down ourselves to get food. In the end, it saved me some RM 10 hehehe. They served a very decent Malaysian buffet complete with dessert. I forgot to take a picture of our room but here is the restaurant:

It was a shame we didn’t get to try their breakfast since we had to leave again for the airport before 6 am.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

The Courtyard Hotel @ 1Borneo complex

This is located in the OneBorneo complex in Kota Kinabalu, similar to the Philippines’ Greenbelt or Eastwood where you can find high end shopping outlets and hotels in one area. It is a little far from downtown, and one has to make the trip especially to get to it.

The design of our room had an edgy feel to it, however, it was very narrow, which I didn’t mind too much. Beda and I actually had to stop and make way for each other a few times since we would literally not fit the tiny space at the foot of our beds. It was nice nonetheless.

This time, we got to enjoy breakfast, which was served at their terrace overlooking the Mount Kinabalu range. The food was a little so-so but I wasn’t complaining.

Oh, and wifi sucked big time.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

De Leon Hotel, Lahad Datu

Among all the hotels we stayed in, this was the best, in terms of being eye-candy. I loved the purple feel! Too bad, we stayed the shortest here (about twelve hours or less). But the whole vibe was exciting and cozy at the same time.

The bathroom was a little dark though as the shower area was tiled in black, with rough stone edges.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Marina Hotel, Semporna

Staying the night in Semporna was not part of the itinerary but we had do it or face driving back 2 1/2 hours and back again the next day. Staying at the Marina Hotel was, I would say, decent. It was very spartan, and was a 3-minute to the venue of our activity. It was a no-frill kind of accommodation, but what can you expect from a RM 90 or US$30 room? There were no elevators and I pity the bell boys who had to carry all of our luggage up the stairs. But eatery next door served a great Nasi Goreng Pattaya, which made the stay worthwhile.

* photo from the Internet as I forgot to take a photo here

Overall rating: 3 stars

Shervinton Boutique Hotel, Tawau

This is the best among the ones we stayed in! Our room was great and classy, very very spacious, with a dresser, two comfy chairs, and a large LCD TV. What I found weird lang is, the toilet, which is outside the main bathroom had no door. Yikes! It only had a shower curtain, and it was a good thing Beda and I were a little comfortable with each other. But can you imagine doing no. 2 there? I was afraid the smell will invade the whole room. lol.

But this is my favorite, bathroom design aside.

Overall rating: 4.75 stars. lol

Hotel Imperial, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

I was hoping that the last hotel we would stay in would be a blast as a farewell to Malaysia, truly Asia. I wanted to be near a spa so I could relax and chill. But my hopes were dashed as soon as we stepped back into the city. As I said, some of our companions wanted to scrimp, and so we did. And I was not very happy about it. The experience was both forgettable and unforgettable, it was not even worth taking a picture of. The room was old and dark and dank, as was the bathroom. Big, big sigh! I was even afraid of cockroaches, which to my relief didn’t come to haunt me as I tried to keep my memories of the city alive.

Overall rating: 1 star

Thank you Malaysia!

Snippets of my last Malaysian trip

This will be sort of a photo blog post. My trip to Malaysia this time is way more serious than the first when I was younger and more carefree at 28, and was trying to get up from a bad breakup (so it was a get-me-out-of-this-rut kind of trip back then). Anyway, as the title claims, these are snippets of what I liked during my 9-day stay (2 days in Kuala Lumpur and 7 days in Sabah).

Well, hello there Petronas Towers. Nice to see you again after five years.

Self check-in counters at the Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu airports. Wish we had these in Manila! Checking in was such as breeze! One just has to input his ticket number, and out come the boarding pass!

The Filipino market in Kota Kinabalu. This is very like our own Dampa in the Philippines, where you get to pick your choice of seafoods then have these cooked. While in the Philippines, you could ask them to cook it whatever way you like (buttered, stewed, grilled, etc.), they just grill it for you. I went gaga over the fish and squid.

Sabah veggie! This began growing on me, and I am now having sabah veggie withdrawals! This tastes so good. It is similar to kangkong but packs a bit more crunch. Usually topped with Malaysian sambal. Hmmm…

Downtown Kota Kinabalu

Headstart, a Filipino band in KK. Proud!

Thousands of acres of palm plantations. They say that a plantation here is as big as Singapore.

Community houses.

A warm and royal welcome at an educational foundation deep in one of the plantations.

Shaky plane ride onboard Maswings!

And of course the magnificent mosques all over the country. Such beautiful architecture!

Boats at the port.

And I got to enjoy these:

More to come…

So near yet so far

Our dreams are nearly within our reach. While I was away for almost two weeks, this happy sight perked me up on Facebook:

I thought it would only be a matter of weeks before we can finally claim it our home. But alas, per our move-in briefing yesterday with the real estate developer, we can only occupy our house on December 1st, one and a half months from now. I don’t know what to feel or how to react anymore. I am so tired of dealing with them at this point. I do not have the energy to argue with them. I just hope this will be our last struggle in this effort.