Thursday, January 30, 2014

Malaysia and Singapore Day 1: Kuala Lumpur

This post is extremely late but I'm still gonna try anyway. Happened almost 2 years ago ( (February 23-27, 2012!). I booked a Clark - Kuala Lumpur - Clark flight for 2 persons through Airasia that cost me PhP3810. This was in the time when connecting buses from Trinoma to Clark airport was still non-existent.

The Cheese and I had to take a bus all the way to Dau terminal which was no problem at all as most buses going up north stop by Dau bus terminal. I think we only paid 88 pesos each. Then from Dau terminal we just had to walk a few meters to Jollibee and looked for the airport shuttle service that will take us to Clark International Airport. We paid 50 pesos each contrary to the 100-peso fare I've read from other commuters' blogs most probably because there were more than 6 passengers inside. If there were less people and we absolutely must have to leave already, we'd probably pay 100 pesos each too.

Check-in was a breeze as well as immigration (even though the officer behind the counter asked me STILL what's my purpose of travel and how am I related to my companion - which still scares me!).

Then we're off. By the way, the Cheese and I agreed that one of the flight attendants looked exactly like Carmen Soo that we had to sneak in our cameras just to take her photo.

We landed at LCCT after 3 1/2 hours. Though branded (well the name says it all anyway) as a budget airport - aside from serving as Malaysia's domestic hub - LCCT is a very busy airport with very diverse travelers. You only have to look to your left or right to realize this.

Immigration, though long, was also a breeze (thank goodness!). We exchanged a bit of our dollars into ringgit in one of the money changers open so we can pay for our bus tickets from LCCT to KL Sentral Station - Kuala Lumpur's transportation hub. One of the first things you have to remember when traveling to mainland Malaysia is the distance of the airport to the city. It's about an hour away by bus. In reality, this really makes sense because you are saved from the airport-to-city congestion, like we have here in Manila, that normally occurs when airport is smacked right in the middle of a city. 

We bought our Skybus ticket to KL Sentral first for RM9 then decided to eat first at one of LCCT's restaurants. We chose Marrybrown because despite the name, it screams of local. Indeed, Marrybrown is to Malaysia what Jollibee is to Philippines.

Marrybrown, LCCT Malaysia

After a quick super late lunch at Marrybrown, we boarded the Skybus that will take us to KL Sentral. I was impressed at their suburbs, the road condition and the almost non-existent traffic. Not sure if we were just lucky.

We arrived at KL Sentral around 4.30pm Although it is not exactly one you could call state of the art, as a Filipino I appreciate what they did there. KL Sentral is your central point to almost anywhere. Buses, electric trains, high speed trains, monorail and intercity trains can be found in KL Sentral.

Our IT was a bit hectic. We're squeezing in as much sights and activities in as little time as possible. That same day, we're to board a sleeper train to Singapore (more about that later). With a very exhausting IT in mind, I've searched for ways to lessen our burden while we explore a bit of KL before our 11pm train ride to SG. I specifically looked for rental lockers in or near the area to leave our humongous longpack and backpack so we won't have to carry them on our backs for about 6 hours. Good thing KL Sentral has electronic rental lockers! For RM5, we were able to squeeze our longpack in their small-sized locker. The locker was actually spacious than what we originally thought. 

Rental electronic lockers at KL Sentral

With packs off our backs, we proceeded in buying MRT tokens (they use blue, coin size ones) that will get us to our first stop: Jalan Petaling aka KL's Chinatown. From KL Sentral station, we alighted at Masjid Jamek (a short 2 stops away) and had to walk for 3 minutes to get to Petaling Street.

We alighted at Masjid Jamek station standing directly beside a garbage-free river.
It's like stepping into a smaller and slightly neater Divisoria/Binondo. Street foods left and right, (knockoffs) bags, perfumes, and whatnots here and there. Petaling Street has such a lively vibe it doesn't help at all to ease our ever growing excitement. 

Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Just a few things of what you'll see in Petaling Street.

Bacon in the street because why not
Despite a good number of food stalls to choose food from, we ended up just eating freshly squeezed orange juice, roti pisang (banana) and lamb satay hahaha.

We were pretty amazed to find the sun shining brightly still despite it being 7pm already!

After circling the Chinatown vicinity, we decided to proceed to our next stop: Bukit Bintang. We didn't have a map yet of the city (which was a big mistake) so we relied from saved maps on our mobile phones. To make the long story short, the Cheese and I walked a few kilometres to get to Bukit Bintang from Jalan Petaling when there was a shorter way to get there all along! But as always, we charged this to experience and hey, we got to our destination anyway, medyo pawisan lang.

It was an achievement to arrive in Bukit Bintang area with the sun about to set down in the horizon. We tried looking inside the many malls lined up in BB (Plaza Low Yat, Sungei Wang Plaza and BB Plaza) but did not stick around for long as we had another stop before we leave for SG that night: Petronas Towers.

Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

While crossing a street we came upon an A&W restaurant that we just had to have a quick bite first (we do this in every country we go to ever since A&W in Manila disappeared).

Do you know how we planned to get to Petronas Towers? By walking and following the damn Menara Kuala Lumpur!

Menara is the tallest landmark in Malaysia, even towering its neighboring Petronas Towers. Needless to say,  if we find Menara it means we're close to Petronas Towers already. Now we know how the 3 kings did it just by following that star to find baby Jesus hahaha.

Let's play a game we shall call follow that Menara.
While following the Menara we came across all sorts of fancy hotels, an Evanescence concert at KL Live and a KL visitor's booth (below) where we finally got a map of the city yay!

KL Information Center

Armed with a map, we don't have anything to worry for now.

We're almost there!
We got sidetracked by KLCC's bright lights so we scoured the mall first super quick. Uniqlo store was having a sale at the time where I scored 2 flannels for 600 pesos! Kinokuniya, I wanted to stay longer but I couldn't :(

Finally, we were outside the foot of Petronas Towers and looking up the mighty twin buildings. It was amazing seeing them up close. There's a park fronting Petronas Towers where people get their famous photos taken. We did those too. On our own. Canon timer was our bestfriend that night!

The sariling sikap couple shot
We got back at KL Sentral at around 10.30pm with still ample time before our 11pm departure. We collected our bags in the locker area, did our business in the loo and bought water in a convenience store. After completing all these, we went looking for the gate at Level 2.

Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Train 

I know I booked a trip on a really complicated time and aimed for 2 countries despite such a short period of time, I had to make it work. I waited for seat sales to Singapore, unfortunately I only scored a late night return flight to KL from SG. I checked my other options: bus, other airlines or train. I chose the latter.

Taking a sleeper train is an all-new experience for the Cheese and I. I bought our tickets online from which I charged to my credit card. I printed it before leaving Manila and presented to the officer at the train station. I tried reserving seats months ahead but the website told me reservation opens 60 days before my departure haha. Excited lang. So I did that, made the reservations 2 months before. Lower bunk bed is more expensive than the top bunk but I don't want to risk any falling from the top bunk so I chose lower bunks for both of us.

Train 25 - Senandung Sutera mainly travels to Singapore and vice versa during nighttime. The ticket said we leave at 11pm but in reality, the train leaves at 11:55 (read this in a lot of blogs too). We will arrive at Woodlands station in Singapore at 6.30 in the morning.

There were so many passengers that night I saw only a few vacant beds, at least on our coach that is. Here's the Cheese and I resting our feet after an afternoon of walking.

Our train experience wasn't bad at all, in fact, I had a really nice and comfortable sleep. I remember I was only jolted out of sleep once when I felt the train was about to derail hahahaha. I kid, I kid. This rail station is actually ancient so don't expect for it to run smoothly and quietly (?!). The Cheese and I were probably too tired to care so we didn't mind. The bed sheets and pillow cases were new though and smells okay so I had no qualms about it.

That ends our first day adventure in KL, you'll read more of it in my next few posts but for now we're off to the Lion City!

Monday, January 20, 2014

SM Aura Grocery Finds

It's like finding all the goodies they sell in instagram in one place and you don't have to pay for shipping fee (but you do have to pay for gas).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ramen Nagi at SM Aura Premier

Ramen Nagi is actually the Cheese and I's first ramen date together. Most of the time, my ramen dates are with friends and colleagues which is awful, I know.

Pero naman, our first ramen date is sorta bongga kasi Ramen Nagi agad! Ramen Nagi is hailed as Tokyo's best ramen lang naman kasi for 2 consecutive years (2011 and 2012)! 

We arrived a little before 2 in the afternoon and was surprised with a number of people waiting in line to be seated. Nakakaloka. Alas dos na ang dami pa ring gustong mag-ramen. I took it as a good sign though, lam mo na basta may pila dun ka na!

As it turns out, we didn't have to wait that long. Wala pang 15 minutes our names were called. Hooray! We were seated in a long table along with 2 other pairs of customers. Legit ramen joint!

Then the waiter poured our glasses with their house tea that has a distinct taste to it. It's like a combination of rice and tea. So good!

We were also handed a paper where we would choose our orders. I didn't get to take a photo of it, sayang! But here's the Cheese mulling over what to order.

I ordered a Black King with normal garlic and onion toppings with pork belly as my meat. I also circled 1 on their spicy meter because that is what's recommended in the paper which I later on came to regret haha (not a fan of spicy foodams). Paano pa kaya ang 6-10 spiciness level!?!?

I love the richness of this black butao ramen. They most definitely did not scrimp on the ink because it's (obviously) there and you can taste every bit of it. Also, I'm glad that I opted to have my noodles hard making all the difference from the normal noodles! Medyo nag-alangan pa ko na kunin yung extra-hard (like what every blog recommends) when I had nothing to be afraid of. I like its firmness, no more, no less.

The Cheese ordered the original king butao (which I got to taste as well). It has the milky richness in it just like the ramen I had in Keisuke Tonkotsu King at Singapore (which only has positive reviews as attested by the long lines of customers waiting to try their ramen).

So after about 30 minutes, we came out of Ramen Nagi feeling all satisfied and bundat from all we've eaten. I want to try the Green King next, see if the Japanese/Italian fusion works for me. I hope we can try Yushoken on South as well pero kasi naman sobrang layooo! I really want to try and see/taste for myself if what everyone's raving about is indeed true. As if naman I would know the difference but let's just say I can. lol.

Ramen Nagi
5/F SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway
McKinley Hill, Taguig

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Housemate's Wedding

Not really the first to be married in our merry little circle (we call ourselves Dramachine Beybis cos we're emo like that), but hers was the first CV Francisco girls wedding that I was able to attend . Among the five CV Francisco girls, 2 are now married which leaves us 3 more waiting to walk down the aisle. Wonder who'll be next!

Hanna, or Honey as her friends and family call her, got married to the love of her life last January 10 in a quiet little gathering at Nurture Spa Village in Tagaytay City. We were boardmates, and later on housemates, when she moved in at 37C CV Francisco Street mid-June. I have so many fond and happy memories with her and we, along with our other housemates, had so many adventures, mishaps, various highs and lows that we've shared throughout the years.

I consider her as my sister from another mother not because I spent a lot of sleepovers, Christmases and New Year's eves in their house with her family or sit down dinners, Sunday services and Bible studies. She's like a sister to me because she made me feel what it's like to belong to a family, she made me feel how it was to have a proper sibling relationship or at least something close to that.

So I wouldn't miss her wedding for the world, not even if it's a weekday or if it's in faraway Tagaytay. 

It was a great opportunity too as Che and I were able to catch up with our lives and gossip on the side. She's one of the CV Francisco girls, Dramachine Beybis, oldest friend in UP. I tell you, there is no dull moment with her!

Here we are posing with Tita Edna, the mother's bride.

Proxy lang talaga ako pero pinanindigan ko na :)

The bride was so pretty that day but if I had my way she should be called as bungisngis Honey cos all she did was laugh and laugh and laugh. Although she did cry a little too haha.

Here we were along with principal and secondary sponsors.

Honey and Deneb with the secondary sponsors

The newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Deneb Arriesgado!

Cake and cupcakes setup.

Table setup. The flowers were so gorgeous!

Corsage for secondary sponsors. I've no idea what the flower is but it's really pretty. The yellow one, believe it or not is real (not the ribbon).

Medyo star of the dessert table ang putomansi. Yes, it's textured like puto but topped with custard and calamansi. The combination was actually good!

Medyo blurred but required photo op with the newlyweds. 

Congratulations, Honey and Deneb! I'm so happy for you Honey because you finally found the one you would want to wake up with for the rest of your life. May you two love, respect and stay faithful to one another. Mini Honey and Deneb next!