Friday, February 28, 2014

Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae is OVERRATED

The first time I went to Korea two years ago, I wanted to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae, which is in the Hongik University area, because I heard and read all about the undeniable cuteness of this cafe, especially if you're a Sanrio fan (which I am). So I expected to be overwhelmed, or at least be impressed by cuteness, which may have been too much for the reality of this place.

I included a visit to the Hello Kitty Cafe in our itinerary because it's just a street away from the Trick Eye Museum which I also wanted to visit. Instead of having a relaxing first day in Seoul, we were on another Amazing Race, ticking off everything on my To Do List because I wanted to free up the next day for skiing, so when we finally made it to the Hello Kitty Cafe after everything we did (which you can read about HERE), I was really expecting a cute cozy place where we could just relax, before we dragged ourselves to have dinner in Myeongdong.

It's fairly easy to find the Hello Kitty Cafe using the map from the Trick Eye Museum. Just take the train to Hongik University (Exit 9), look for the Trick Eye Museum. Cut across the street to the parallel street, then ask directions. Hahaha.

If you follow my directions, you'll be pointed towards the small side street where Hello Kitty Cafe is located.
This is what it looks like at night.
This is the view before entering.

The place is quaint enough when you enter.
I had high hopes when I saw the Hello Kitty pastries and coffee selection.
After ordering, you get a buzzer to let you know when your order is ready
for pick up.

While waiting, Sof and I checked out the place.
Across the counter, there's a condiment table with a Hello Kitty pitcher,
cups and napkins. Nothing Special, just like Starbucks.
They also have a wall display of Hello Kitty Merchandise
for sale. Again, just like Starbucks.
There are different Hello Kitty Rooms where you can find a table.
The first room with red kitty chairs was full,
but the pink room was virtually empty.
Sof clowning around since we had the place to ourselves.

When the buzzer sounded, I went to get our order.
Photo credit: Sofia San Agustin

Sofia ordered a chocolate kitty waffle which she enjoyed.
I ordered a cappuccino with HORRIBLE kitty art.
To add insult to injury, the coffee wasn't even good. 

I think we paid 7,700won (SGD9 or Php320)  for the waffle and the coffee. It's not a lot, so the waffle was probably worth it, but I ended up giving away my coffee. It's not bad it you just stumble on the cafe and try it out, but to go out of your way to visit it is just not worth what they offer.

They also have a second floor, but I was dead tired and so disappointed with my coffee that I didn't want to waste more energy on checking it out.
So much for the novel idea of cuteness overload. If they don't even quality control the coffee art (which is what you're paying for), since the coffee they sell is crap, I don't get why people come here. Give me Starbucks any day. just saying.

Hello Kitty Cafe Hongdae
94-3, Eoulmadang-ro
Mapo-gu, Seoul

P365 TE Day 59

Best Moules Frites from Leon's

Travel Bite: The best mussels I've ever had are the Moules Frites from Leon's de Bruxelles in Paris. They actually also have a branch in London too. You can choose between the mussels in a pot or baked, or order both to share. The bread and fries are unlimited. 

You can read more about Leon de Bruxelles here.

Location: Paris, France
Date Photo Taken: December 2010

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of February 28: 58
P365 TE Running Points: 176 out of 177 (as of posting)

You can read the background of Project 365 Travel Edition here.  
Feel free to come back everyday. just saying...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

P365 TE Day 58

Disneyland Paris

Travel Bite: Disneyland is the happiest place on earth for me and Fi. I love it so because aside from my French roots, going to Disneyland is a win win for both of us.

One stop away on the RER A train - is La Vallee Village, or the Outlet Shops in Paris. You can take a shuttle from there that will take you directly to Parc Disneyland so it's a day trip where everyone is happy. 

You can read about our Disneyland visit here.

Location: Paris, France
Date Photo Taken: April 2012

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of February 26: 58
P365 TE Running Points: 173 out of 174 (as of posting)

You can read the background of Project 365 Travel Edition here.  
Feel free to come back everyday. just saying...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dongdaemun Toy Street

We discovered the Dongdaemun Toy Street Market quite by accident. Ady and I were just wondering where they sell Korean Washi Tape so she googled Stationary stores, and it led us to the Stationary and Toy Street in Dongdaemun.

Just imagine, we stumbled on a cross between WanChai and 168, I was really in heaven. Unfortunately, there were so many toys and potential giveaways that before we got to the end of the street, I got so overwhelmed, I really didn't buy much of anything. At first, I even wanted to buy Sofia's giveaways for her 7th Birthday Party, then I realized, I didn't even have a theme or a guest list, so that became too complicated.

I told Sofia she could have 10,000won (Php415) shopping money, and I made her walk through the whole street before buying anything, so she could be sure about what she wanted to buy. She was so cranky at the end of the street since I wouldn't let her buy anything yet.

They had fake rainbow loom everything!
All sorts of toys. Some of them recognizable from Korean cartoons. 
We found a store with a motherlode of the Korean farting
doll. Sofia has one. Just beware, some stores attempt
to sell you stuff at retail price so you have to know.

You can watch the Kong Suni, the Korean Farting Doll here:

Back at the Dongdaemun Toy Street...
There's this huge toy store with everything.
They have a whole range of Pororo and Tayo Bus toys.
It reminds me of Wan Chai because they even stock toys that are
exclusive to Toys R Us.
Sofia went crazy in the stationary stores with all the cute erasers.
I didn't know The Simpsons were in again.
We were so happy to find the color changing balls that I once saw from
a trainer's bag of tricks.
After doing the whole circuit, Sof went back for the Grip-A-Prize toy.
Way over her  budget, but what can I say, I'm an enabler!
Sof had to carry around her toy while I attempted
to shop for myself, but I only bought a set of
Staedtler Pens for me.
I didn't realize Post-It has Hello Kitty Sticky Notes
I was also tempted to buy the cute umbrella but my daughter wasn't
Thank you Shobe for finding this black hole!
We had so much fun, but next time, I am coming back prepared with a list!

Sofia was so happy with her Dongdaemun loot, we even opened them to check it out when we got back to the hotel.

You can get into a taxi and tell him to take you to:
36, Jong-ro 52-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 종로52길 36 (창신동)
(this is the easiest way)

Or you can also take the train to Dongdaemun Station (exit 4)
Once there, just walk straight for a few meters, then you can take the second side street on your right.
That should take you directly to the street with around 120 stationary and toy stores

This is what you see after you exit,
before you turn right into the side street.
This is what the toy street looks like when coming from
 Dongdaemun Station (Exit 4).
Unfortunately, despite going through almost all the stores there, we didn't see any Korean Washi Tape. But we know where to buy it from 168, hahaha. just saying.

P365 TE Day 57

Beaded Sandals Shopping in India

Travel Bite: My favorite purchase from India are the beaded thong sandals. They come in all styles and colors, and while they quote you some ridiculously high price (couple of hundred rupees) because you're a tourist, if you buy in bulk or bargain well, the price actually goes down to just 100 rupees a pair (That's like Php100 or a little over US$2). You can normally see the vendors along the street in Colaba (downtown Mumbai) or in beach areas like Goa.

Bonus Tip: Some roving vendors in Colaba actually also sell over-runs of real leather sandals for the same price. I've been lucky enough to find 2 pairs of Geox (padded leather sole) Sandals that I absolutely love. You just need to keep your eyes open!

Location: Goa, India
Date Photo Taken: February 2010

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of February 25: 56
P365 TE Running Points: 170 out of 171 (as of posting)

You can read the background of Project 365 Travel Edition here.  
Feel free to come back everyday. just saying...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

P365 TE Day 56

Pani Puri Balls from India

Travel Bite: I really have an unhealthy obsession with street food, and I must admit even in India, Tim and I were also quite intrigued. I just drew the line at actually trying it because my criteria is - it must pass some sort of health standards, and when we saw the vendor, sticking his thumb in one of the crispy balls before pouring on the sauce, we just decided it didn't pass MY health standards.

However, I was happy that I got to try these delicious Pani (Water) Puri (Bread) at the home of my Pakistani colleagues. His family orders it from someone who makes it from their house so you are assured that it's clean. 

You crack our own Pani Puri Ball - and you put in the tamarind sauce that goes with it. It's really a yummy must try if you manage to find your own supplier that meets your cleanliness standards.

Bonus Tip: If you want to try it in Manila, You can buy some from Incredible India, an Indian Supermarket with branches in UN Avenue and Paseo de Magallanes.

Location: Goa, India
Date Photo Taken: February 2010

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of February 24: 55
P365 TE Running Points: 167 out of 168 (as of posting)

You can read the background of Project 365 Travel Edition here.  
Feel free to come back everyday. just saying...

Monday, February 24, 2014

P365 TE Day 55

Royal Selangor School of Hard Knocks

Travel Bite: Royal Selangor is the world's largest pewter manufacturer of it's kind. While normally their merchandise is on the pricey side, you can have your very own souvenir by enrolling in their "School of Hard Knocks workshop". You will be given a flat pewter disk which they will guide you to make it into your very own pewter dish. After pounding the disk into a dish, you will also be able to personalize and decorate it with their metal stamps and a hammer. 

I did the activity as part of a Team Building event at the Clarke Quay, Royal Selangor branch for around SG$35 per person. This is also offered in KL for RM60.

Location: Singapore
Date Photo Taken: December 2010

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of February 23: 54
P365 TE Running Points: 164 out of 165 (as of posting)

You can read the background of Project 365 Travel Edition here.  
Feel free to come back everyday. just saying...

Celebrating my 35th Birthday

I'm not really secretive about my age. Mainly, it's because I still feel the same as when I was 25, except, I have Sofia now, and pictures show that I was a lot thinner 10 years ago. Funny, how I don't think I've ever felt thin in my life. Hahaha. But I am digressing.

I just want to give thanks for all the greetings and gifts I received. Social media has made it so much easier to keep in touch.

This year, I did something new by attempting to ski and that was loads of fun.

You can read about my birthday weekend in Korea here.

I didn't really wish for anything this year, and in a way, that makes me happy, because it means that I am content and blessed, though I would always be happy if I were given more :)

While last year, I had to face some realities of ageing (first white hair spotted and wearing spanx included), this year was more quiet. I may have stopped ageing. Hahahaha, I am convincing myself that ageing is all in the mind! I've attempted to live a healthier life by going on the TRA (the right approach) diet, and it's not really working out as I'd hoped, but I am sure I eat healthier now.

My 35th year started with me dragging myself to work, half-awake from my Korea birthday trip.

My team surprised me with a birthday breakfast
set up.
License to cheat.
Being half awake, I was so happy to see the
Asian Dolce Latte, my favorite drink!
Thank you girls! :)

Then I was so harassed running to a lunch meeting that I was really surprised to see that the team also prepared lunch.
It's more fun in CMD!
Thank you for the yummy Cebu lechon and Emerald dimsum!

Best Team Ever!

The cheating didn't stop there!
In the afternoon, there was also a delivery of Vigan Empanada and
chilled taho at my desk!
I love working with foodies!

After work, I literally ran to get my nails done (vain much!) before I met my family for my birthday dinner at Hai Chix and Steaks, a hole in the wall place in Ortigas that I really enjoyed when we tried it last time.

Hai Chix and Steaks is at the back of Ortigas Home Depot
in Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas
The set up is a bit weird. You order at the counter, but they serve you,
and they bring you the bill after you eat.
I ordered hummus the last time, but the serving is not even big enough,
for it to get stuck in your teeth, or para matinga ka! hahaha
Their steak was voted by looloo (the food app) as the best for 2013.
It must be all the crispy fat that they throw on top, mamou style.
A Porterhouse is around Php2,500 for 3 pax, but we 2 to share.
Best eaten with the steak rice, but you can ask for fries instead.
Then almost everyone had their own order of Hainanese Chicken Rice.
The Chicken was really good, and meaty, but the black sauce was too sweet.
After dinner, we had the cream puffs that Jem brought.
Perfect size, even when it's not a cheat day!
Sofia was also happy to bring out the cake she chose.
Thank you Red Ribbon for decorating my BIRTDAY cake.
We were playing who has the chubbiest cheeks and chocolatiest teeth
Before you know it, even Sofia's pants is eating chocolate cake.
Good thing we use Breeze, Tough Stains, Removed in Just 1 Wash!
Thanks Pa for my birthday dinner.

And to cap it all off, my blog gets a new look with  my new logo, and some other things I tinkered with. I can't wait for all the notepads, cards, and stickers that I ordered with my new logo to arrive.

Thank you very much to everyone who made my birthday special! just saying.

Hai Chix & Steaks
Ortigas Home Depot
Dona Julia Vargas Avenue
Ortigas, Pasig City