Thursday, December 25, 2014

Matcha Diaries - Häagen-Dazs' Green Tea Ice Cream

Happy Holidays Everyone! I haven't attended any Christmas party yet (yeah I am a loser!). Spent my Christmas alone in my bedroom and passed out since I still have an early morning shift. Tomorrow, I will boost up my social life and start to meet friends in Manila.  Hopefully I get to post a real Christmas entry, I am looking forward to feature Christmas light decorations in my hometown in Albay. See link here.

My post is not related to Christmas, but if you are looking for a different kind of taste of ice cream, this would be perfect on your Christmas dining table... Green tea ice cream!

I love the creamy texture of matcha ice cream of Häagen-Dazs (not affiliated nor sponsored, I wish!). It has been my new ice cream flavor choice. I wouldn't buy one if its not green tea these days. It is always satisfying, not gummy nor icy. Since I stock a bucket for days, also gets stucked in the freezer for the longest time, like 2 weeks, I put it back once I satisfy my cravings. Even though it has soften once it goes out of the freezer. It will still have the perfect texture when you eat it again. The sugar level is not overpowering for me. Green tea lovers, you are welcome! You better try it out!

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Anyway, I didn't let it pass when we visited Japan. I ate their green tea crispy wafer sandwich. I had a fulfilling night outside Family mart right where we ate it. Green tea Ice cream on a 16°-weather! Nomnom!
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Excuse meh selfie! I can't help it. My heart jumps in awe when I see one.
 
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The Verdict:
Where I got it: NTUC Fairprice

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kathero went to Tokyo

The Land of the Rising Sun as they say. Japan is in the East Asia, not SouthEast! Yeah, I think some of you might also be expecting SouthEast like I did. I have always wronged myself of expecting to see the name of the Country when they say South East Asia on TV. 


My best travel, hubby and I went to Japan for 2 Main reasons:

1. Loud Park 2014, Within Temptation line up.

           Dear Arch Enemy, I am sorry that we cannot afford the 2day-event, I know I will be seeing you next year because I know Japan loves you. We will surely witness new vocalist, previously from The Agonist, Alissa White-Gluz destroy the stage next year!

2. See 2 parts of Japan, which is Tokyo and Mt Fuji.

It's been a dream to see this place. I can't count the years I have wanted to go. Took about 4 months to do the dreaming and the planning. 

16th of October, I had a 7 hour-flight to Narita. And Jr had about 4. Rendezvous was at the Terminal 2 Meeting point area but I managed to wait at the Arrival area. Good thing it wasn't like a wild goose hunt. I saw him right away when he exited the area. 

Coming from Terminal 1, I asked the Tourist Information desk how to get to Terminal 2.
It wasn't that easy. Not all signage in
Japan are in English. Information desk people are very helpful and speaks good English. I was informed to take the Shuttle bus at Parking 6. There is a pole just outside the Terminal, shuttle bus is Bus #6.


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This is where we had our first ramen! Vendo operated for orders.

In about 10mins, I reached Terminal 2. Took some brochure to help myself navigate. Had a currency exchanged. For Philippine money, you can only change up to 10,000 Php per transaction. If possible, change your Php to Yen before flying. A friend told be its cheaper to change it in Singapore rather than in Japan not sure though if you're coming from the Philippines. 


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We were supposed to see Imperial Palace including the inner Gardens but the premises were closed. No one's allowed to enter anymore. Not sure why, it was just 4PM. Anyway, we had a lovely walk in the city. I just loved the weather at 19degrees.


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There was a restoration being worked on one of its castles behind the stone walls. We had no idea what to expect from the place so since we saw no one is getting in, we just enjoyed the cool breeze at the outer grounds. They said there are tours being conducted inside where their Majesties the Emperor and Empress reside. We don't usually avail group tours when we go to places so everything is DIY. Learn from our mistakes if we displeased ourselves because we came unprepared.
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We walked through the spotless passage, a-walk-in-a-park-style. The air is so clean and colder as it gets dark. The sun was sinking fast, so is the reddish horizon was vanishing. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rafting and Zip lining at Khao Lak

The only activity we did for the rest of the 5 days in Khao Lak was a short zip line track and river rafting at Khao Sok National Park. We were desperate enough to get something to do aside from swimming in the pool and in the sea front of the hotel.

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The local operator for this activity has an establishment that can be easily seen before the car drove passed The Briza resort. 

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Tree top
We went to check out if there's any chance we could get to see the 3 famous Islands but we we told the areas were closed. The only activity we can do is rafting that comes with a zip line adventure. The owner's name is Tuk-tuk like the famous transportation in Thailand. He speaks good English and has co-owned the travel and tours with a German. He is very helpful to every question we asked, although sometimes he seemed to be murmuring that I have to ask again what he just said. Aside from being a hands on entrepreneur with his customers he also provides with interesting facts about the places. 

By the way, this activity entitles you for a round trip pick-up from and to your hotel and lunch.

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Poor elephant, getting a rest and refreshment from work.

We walked to the shop before 9:30AM. We found Tuk-tuk was already waiting for us. He wasted no time, immediately let us in the car and drive right away. It was more than an hour drive up North. We were offered coffee and bottled water when we arrived while listening to the briefing of the tour leader.

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There was a huge number of tourist that time. Several tour companies are conducting their business at this river even if it was off peak season. 

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Look how many riders were there that day!
Jr and I have never tried river rafting before. I just thought there was a lot of crazy noises because I thought it was going to be a crazy ride. The ride was okay but the river was too friendly that day, or was it always like that? Not too bumpy from what I expected but people enjoyed splashing water onto other boats. We sure did get wet after the 5km ride. 

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And please excuse another selfie. We bumped into a post.

After we got off the rubber boats, we were hurriedly invited to get into a pick-up like vehicle where about 10-12 passengers can be accommodated, excluding some locals who willingly hung their arms onto the back of this car. After 10minutes we were back at the small hut where we got our life vests and we climb through the tower to start the zip line.  Again, I didn't expect much from this zip line. I saw the structure before we left off for rafting. Height was about 3 meters and it was designed like a triangle. The highlight of this zip line experience was the man before me. He was shaky as hell. The man assisting the riders couldn't help his grin while he pushed the man to slide. 

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The activity was wrapped up with a good food. I've always loved Thai chicken curry. We weren't expecting that much. See that table? Nomnom..

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Khao Lak Shoreline

Khao Lak is a coastal area that was one of the hardest hit by tsunami on 2004. The people of the villages has progressed a lot and got back to their own feet after the tragedy. Thailand is still boosting with tourists because we just cant' help seeing the pristine beaches.


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Ao Khao Lak is of greater advantage compared to Phuket because of its quiet surroundings and for its secluded coastal resorts. When we started to explore the beach from day one, we were delighted by its uncrowded beaches. There were a couple of beach resorts on the shoreline and about 2 hotels were closed due to off-peak season.


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This location is family-friendly. I've seen a lot of white people with their family and children playing in the beach. August was vacation time for some Europeans like Germany. I've had a good chat with a German mom while I was swimming. I just hated myself for being so bad with names. We chat about Germany mostly she sited a couple of customs and places.

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On its right, facing the ocean is a canal. With huge rocks and clear waters which is great for sight-seeing. If you love elephants, though not too many, just two or three of them were seen from every time we went there. Sometimes they let them bathe in the canals or sometimes we catch them eating the grass.

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On its left is a wider panorama. Also with several huge ocean rocks the farthest one we've been has quite a landscape. I took a couple of long exposure one afternoon so savor the peaceful view and the fresh air.


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The nighttime environment is also very peaceful, although it gets pitch dark while we traversed the shoreline one evening, I could say that it's still a safe place. If you are like us, who simply wants a peaceful everyday, then its also for you.


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Man Vs. Wild

Friday, November 28, 2014

Matcha Diaries - Quattro

Although the label is Spanish, I also found out that its also Italian, meaning -- four. I don't have an idea where branding gets the label from, and I don't see how the number relates to a matcha chocolate cookie. 

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Quattro was worth a try, I would buy it again, once I run out of stock. I has a distinct taste of a strong matcha. It didnt melt in my mouth, but it my tongue! :P The white portion you see is a biscuit while bitter-tasting cocoa is sandwiched with the matcha chocolate. Good thing they always come in individual packs so I couldn't devour them all at once!

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The box markings says it is being distributed by www.taneseitrading.com.sg 
Product of http://kabaya.com.jp/careme


The Verdict: 
Where I got it: NTUC Fairprice, Japan Section, Bishan

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hotel Review - The Briza Beach Resort, Khao Lak, Thailand

I was too excited to post about Japan that I forgot about our Khao Lak trip last August. It was a trip we went to even before Surigao. The trip was planned for about 2 weeks but the airfare was book earlier to avail the sale seats to Phuket. We wanted an escape from Singapore and decided to go the beach. What's better than being in a beach, right?


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Phuket is a little crowded for us and since we've already been there, we chose Khao Lak instead. It's about one and a half-hour ride from Phuket International Airport. Taxi is quite cheap in Thailand so we rented out a sedan to take us to the Hotel. Life was easy inside the car. No hassle of any discomfort. We had the car all by ourselves. Even fell asleep while on our way to the hotel.
 
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The Reception
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mini library
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The lounge.
We initially planned for Koh Phang Nga which is famous for its pristine beaches under the full moon party but it will take us another 5 hours from Khao Lak. It was a quick getaway of 4 nights so we gave this one a try. Besides, I was eying for resort's pool access room. The plan for 5 days was just swim in the pool, walk by the beach and swim in the sea. 

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When we reached the hotel, we waited for another hour and a half for the room to be ready. Sometimes I don't understand why a hotel would have the customer wait to check-in. We were informed that someone is still checked-in and that they will have to check out by 2pm. What I don't understand is, the hotel wasn't even fully booked since it was off peak. Obviously when we were inside, a lot of rooms were vacant. And sometimes I forgot to ask why? :P


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Hunsa Bar
The receptionists suggested to go around the resort and even gave us towels so we could dip into the pool. We were adamant to rest in the room so we just checked the lobby on the other side of the reception area. It was a mini library and a huge resting area.

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The resort is huge, covering 2 buildings parallel to each other, the rooms were divided by a road at the center. Pretty famous for day tours as well because of the number of buses parked on its parking area everyday. 


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Second pool; near the ocean
I love the resort's maintenance, the hotel is neat and the staff, especially the ones at the restaurant are so friendly. Before we got ready to check-in we asked about the activities in the island. Khao Lak is also famous before of its nearby island likes Andaman, Similan and Surin. Unfortunately it was off peak. The famous islands were closed and would only be open for public from November to March.

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Our night view.
The other side of the hotel has a front beach. A fancy pool at the center. And with quite a large number of rooms. The rate is definitely higher by 1000 baht in this area compared to where we booked our room. I just couldn't resist the view from the room. Can you?

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Children's pool at night
While they have 3 fancy pools, the beach is a different story. The beach is not that bad. I was just expecting a white beach but instead had a brown sand. The water is not that clear because of the monsoon season. But the beach is clean, we saw some trash but its not that disturbing. 

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This beach line goes a long way.

One more thing the hotel needs improvement is their food. Although it was a buffet, they need to change their menu and look for some variety on what they are serving to their customers. We ate the same fruits (watermelon, papaya, pineapple), fried rice, sausage, fried noodles, bread/jams, omelette for 4 days.


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Maya Restaurant- Pad Thai was so good in this restaurant but comes in a heavy price for the pocket.

Over all, I loved this resort for its facilities. I would bet this place is happier on Peak Seasons.
 
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