Wednesday, December 31, 2014

P365 Travel Edition 2014 Wrap Up

It feels nice seeing a year long project successfully accomplished. Project 365 Travel Edition was just an idea a had more than I year ago now, in a stinky hotel room in Hong Kong, which you can read about here. After a year of constant babying (hello! constant weekend blogging, just to get the daily posts scheduled), I declare it a success.

When I started out, my goal was to at least earn 700 points. I exceeded that a long time ago. 

Here are some highlights:

I love my blog logo photo collage of the 346 unique pictures I posted in 365 days.

Interestingly, I found my post with the most number of views to be totally random.
Read all about the Giant Gyozas from Liberdade, Brazil's Japanese Town here.

The post with the next number of views was more understandable.
Read about Sofia's visit to Her Majesty and her corgi in Lego here.

The next four posts received the next highest number of roughly around the same views.

and a Thowback to Venice with the Fambam on a Traghetto in 2000.

Thank you very much for everyone who supported my project! I'm going back to regular programming in 2015 with no daily blog posts and erratic posting schedule with more travels and hopefully *fingers crossed* a more relaxing year for me. Here's to a great 2015! just saying.

P365 TE Day 365

Oosterdam Holland America Lines

Travel Bite: Happy New Year from our family to yours! Cruise Ship Formal Night Photo Hack: find a nice place, set up your tripod, voila! No need to pay for the expensive cruise photos!

Location: Somewhere between Canada and Seattle
Date Photo Taken: May 2013

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of Dec 24: 309
P365 TE Running Points: 994 out of 1043 (as of posting)

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

P365 TE Day 364

Takoyaki Maker

Travel Bite: What to buy in Japan??? A Takoyaki Maker! Seriously, at less than US$10 it's a steal. Just note that the boxes come stickered with "For Use in Japan Only". When the cashier asked me where I lived, I sort of answered vaguely thinking she wouldn't sell to me if I said overseas, but then she explained that the electric sockets in Japan are 110V so you need to use a converter if used abroad. 

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Date Photo Taken: Dec 2013

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of Dec 24: 309
P365 TE Running Points: 992 out of 1040 as of posting)

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

Macau to Hong Kong with 30 hour itinerary for Markets and Foodie Stops

I was really glad that I came up with the brilliant idea to go to HK for a day, thanks for my Nespresso limited edition obsession, when Ady and I had plans to go to Macau at the start of the month, thanks to another Cebu Pacific Sale. We were only on Macau for a day and we pretty much did everything we wanted to do and then some, you can read about our 1 day itinerary here, so HK was really something we looked forward to. 

Had we planned better, we probably should have planned to exit through HK, but in our defense, when we were booking our tickets way back in November 2013, there were rumors that a visa might be required to enter HK and we really didn't want to get stuck with that hassle.

Going from HK to Macau and vice versa is so easy to do via ferry. There are so many trips, you don't really need to book a ticket in advance. We just asked the taxi to take us to the ferry terminal, then we lined up to buy the tickets for the next ferry.

You don't even have to wait long. I think we arrived at the terminal a little
past 10. 10:15am economy tickets were sold out so we got seats for 10:45am.
Ticket Prices
I told Ady it would be smarter to buy return tickets since we had a specific
schedule we wanted to catch to make it back in time for our flight.
If we planned better, I think it would have been a better option to get our return tickets from Hong Kong to the Cotai Terminal (closer to the airport) but it wasn't really an obvious option, and I didn't think to ask if it was possible.

Since Ady and I had a huge luggage (for HK shopping),
we opted to pay 25MOP for luggage handling.
You pay more for luggage heavier than 20kg.
You also have an option to lug your own luggage on and off the boat, which we didn't want to take! Seems like both times we were the only passengers that paid for check-in luggage! They get quite stressed to see both of us at the claiming section when only 1 luggage was checked in for the whole ferry!
Hello Turbo Jet!
Ady and I were so pleased by how organized everything was.
Goodbye Macau! Hahahaha.
Given the frequency of trips, we passed quite a lot of other ferries.
The weather was quite bad, so the sea was rough and it was quite a
bumpy ride. I also noticed that water closer to Macau was brown.
The water turns more blue green towards the Hong Kong side.
happy @ hongkong... literally!!!

Now, this is the sign of a true Nespresso-holic.
We arrived around lunch time, and for the first stop on our itinerary, I dragged Ady all the way to IFC on foot (around a 10-15minute walk connected by overpass), so I could go to Nespresso first. My rational was to secure my limited edition coffee (and free lungo cups!), and pack it in my luggage before cabbing home, so I wouldn't need to make a special trip and carry everything (because clearly I was buying the whole store!) all around Hong Kong.

Note: The proposed 30 hour itinerary is from 12:00nn to 6:00pm the following day

First Stop: Nespresso IFC
Yes, that's my luggage that I dragged all the way from the ferry terminal,
so to catch my breath I had a Hazelnut Dessert Latte before I started hoarding.
Nespresso - Check!

Our next stop was Auntie Stell's flat to drop our bags (mine including my Nespresso hoard). It's a good thing the Schaperos let us stay with them overnight, I was able to justify the cost of our round trip ferry transfers (353MOP or US$44) by saving on 1 night hotel in Macau. The HK to Macau ferry is more expensive so it's better to arrive in Macau and depart from HK if you want to visit both places. After we dropped our bags, we were already super starving so next stop was lunch.

Second Stop: Ebeneezer's in WanChai
Ebeneezer's Biryani is so yummy, it's always on our HK to eat list. The great thing about them is they have so many branches, so you can just choose which one is more convenient. Clearly, we had an ulterior motive for choosing the Wan Chai branch.
Since I couldn't resist a bargain, I changed my normal
Lamb Biryani order to Chicken Biryani so I could
avail of the Lunch Set promo and get a free drink.
Chicken Biryani Lunch Set with extra Green Sauce (HK$55)
So yummy! I ate everything. Seriously. But we were really starving by then.
Breakfast was one country ago, and even then, it was only Egg Tarts from Margaret's (but what good egg tarts they were!) which you can read about here.

Third Stop: Tai Yuen Toy Street in Wan Chai
After our lunch at Ebeneezer's Ady and I just walked to Tai Yuen Street (Toy Street), also in Wan Chai. However, it started raining and we were too cheap to buy umbrellas since it wasn't raining strong, and we didn't realize that just before Christmas half the merchandise is all Christmas decorations and wrapping paraphernalia so I didn't really buy anything except for a Christmas ornament filled with erasers for Sofia (and HK$10 tights for me so I could wear my sundress since the weather was freezing!).
Stock Photo from June 2013.

Fourth Stop: Fuk Wing Toy Street in Sham Shui Po
Since we came out empty handed from the Wan Chai Toy Street Market, we decided to go all the way to Sham Shui Po. Sofia asked me to buy her a Squinkies Gumball dispenser and I didn't see any in Wan Chai so we tried to look for it from the store that I saw selling it before. I didn't see it in the store originally selling it, so I ended up buying so much crap for Sofia to make up for not buying what she wanted, but fortunately or unfortunately, we saw another branch of the shop selling it across the street just as we were leaving so Sofia did get her Squinkies that got away after all.

I just realized though that with such an efficient itinerary, I didn't really bother taking much photos of the places I've already visited before, but for reference, just like in Wan Chai, when it's close to Christmas, half the inventory is Christmas stuff again so there wasn't a lot of new toys to choose from.
Stock Photo from June 2014

Fifth Stop: The Original Tim Ho Wan (the only one with 1 Michelin Star)
This wasn't really in the plan, but as Ady reminded me, how can we NOT eat at THE Original Tim Ho Wan, when 1. When we're already in the area. 2. There's no line to get a table at 4:00pm on a weekday. 3. The food is just so much better here, even in comparison to the Tim Ho Wan in IFC.
Hooray for no line!
Yes, we're eating again at 4:30. Around 2 hours after I ate ALL the Biryani.
I felt even more sorry that I finished all the Biryani as we were ordering. 
Ady and I decided that BBQ Pork Buns + 1 dimsum order each was
This is why they have a Michelin Star. Very thin crisp crust, and REAL BBQ
 Pork Chunks. More meat than sauce. Totally worth stuffing ourselves for. 
Sham Shui Po Toy Store Haul. Not included in the picture is Ady's real cool
Christmas gift for Sofia.
Ady got Sof the coolest mini Capsule Toy Machine to go
with her mini Grip a Prize Toy.
After all the toy shopping Ady and I were happy enough to rest at the flat and look at all our shopping. Hahaha. Dinner was low maintenance though because we decided to just go down to our favorite Cheap and Cheerful Dimsum place once we got hungry.

Look at all that DimSum
After Tim Ho Wan, I didn't think we'd ever be hungry again,
but I guess I was wrong. We even managed to have space for Mango Crepe
for dessert.

Seventh Stop: Butao Ramen for Brunch at Causeway Bay
Umbrella City welcomed us at Causeway Bay
No more protesters, but all the tents were still up.
Butao Ramen now has a branch in Causeway Bay
It was just a bit hard to find Tang Lung Street
We arrived just a bit after they opened at 11:00am.
(I already wore the HK$10 tights I bought from Wan Chai the day before). 
Finally got to try the Black King (Squid Ink) and Green King (Pesto Cheese)
We arrived early for the chance to our the limited edition ramen,
but when we say that it was ginger, we weren't really interested in trying it.
Share a Coke with #Selfie 

Eighth Stop: Shopping at Stanley Market
We had quite a hard time looking for the street of Butao Ramen in Causeway Bay, but once we found it, Auntie Stell recognized it as the street where you hop on the mini bus (number 40) to Stanley Market.
A bus leaves every few minutes, so it's no big deal
if you get left behind by the last one.
Surprisingly, getting there was quite fast. I think we made it in 45 minutes or so, but we got stuck in traffic on our way back so that took around an hour, which I was expecting. The ride to Stanley Market is quite nice, because you'll pass through the waterfront, but plan for the long travel time, which we did since we needed to get back in time to catch our ferry to Macau, then our flight back to Manila. 

There are a lot of Export Overrun Shops at Stanley Market. A lot of the stores were closing so there were also a lot of close-out sales, but I forgot to take pictures. Here are some of the waterfront pictures instead.

Ninth Stop: Delicious Kitchen
We were originally planning to get takeaway from Delicious Kitchen because we thought we wouldn't be hungry yet, but we were surprisingly ready to eat again when we got back to Causeway Bay (taking the same Number 40 minibus).
Double Pork Rib with Pechay Rice. Can't come to HK without eating this.
I also ordered Fried Shrimp Wanton which I don't order when we do take away.
Yummy fried wanton with fresh chunky shrimp!
We also went to Wellcome the nearby Supermarket after eating but the fruit I like bringing home (lychees and cherries) are no longer in season so I didn't really buy much of anything. 

After that, we just barely had enough time to go home, pack, get organized and catch a cab to the Ferry Terminal. Traffic was quite stressful so cutting it close is not a good idea, especially if you still need to do several legs in the amazing race before you get to your final destination, but the 30 hours in Hong Kong was definitely worth the trip. just saying. 

Details for the recommended places to visit:

1. Nespresso
Shop 1058, Podium1 
IFC Mall

2. Ebeneezer's Wan Chai
G/F, 52 Lockhart Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

3. Wan Chai Toy Street
Tai Yuen St, 
Wanchai, Hong Kong

4. Sham Shui Po Toy Street
Fuk Wing St, 
Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

5. Original Tim Ho Wan
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street 
Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

6. 24 Hours Cheap and Cheerful Dimsum (not it's real name)
Ngan Mok Street corner Yacht Street, 
Tin Hau

7. Butao Ramen Causeway Bay
40 Tang Lung Street 
Hong Kong

8. Stanley Market
Stanley New Street and Stanley Market Road 
Stanley, Hong Kong

9. Delicious Kitchen
Shop B, G/F, 9-11 Cleveland Street 
Fashion Walk Causeway Bay

Monday, December 29, 2014

P365 TE Day 363

Grand Central Terminal in New York

Travel Bite: The Grand Central Terminal is the busiest train station in the USA. More than just a train station, they also have a great food hall and food court, and if go to the Oyster Bar Restaurant, you'll probably see people whispering into corners while their companions diagonally across have their ears to the corner wall trying to listen for their message.

You can read my post on it here.

Location: Seattle, USA
Date Photo Taken: May 2013

P365 TE Points for today: 2 out of 3 (for now)
P365 TE Points from Audience Interaction as of Dec 24: 309
P365 TE Running Points: 990 out of 1037 as of posting)

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

Best Inexpensive Places to get Really Good Roast Duck in Macau

I've been really under the weather, a bug (from Timothy See!!!) caught all of us when we were in Misibis Bay, so despite the holiday from work, I've actually been sleeping the days away, on sick leave from blogging due to the really troublesome cough and cold virus that I caught. So that explains the backlog on the blog posts recently.

I've had several posts lined up from my previous Macau and HK, which includes one on where to get good quality yet inexpensive duck from Macau. 

I tried two places when I was there, and I highly recommend both. The first place is the more popular one of the two. It's included in the list of where to eat in Macau on several blogs and is very centrally located within 10 minutes walk from Senado Square.

Chan Kong Kei Casa de Pasto specializes in Black Pepper Duck. 
It's located on Rua do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo, and funnily
enough, our cab driver did not understand the English
street name, but when we said Chan Kong Kei
he knew exactly where to take us.
As you can see, the English on the sign isn't very clear, but it's easy enough
to find the only eating place with a long line...
and hanging roast duck.
We arrived at the place around 2:30pm and it was still this busy.
You just line up, and when it's your turn, they'll ask you if you want a table,
or if you're ordering take away.
The menu is on the wall and they have it both in Chinese and English
so it's easy to point at what you want to order.
Share a coke with O Dear, in this popular busy casual restaurant.
This was a late lunch after a late brunch of Pork Chop Buns and Egg Tarts
for dessert so I wasn't really hungry.
I ordered the Black Pepper Duck Rice 33MOP (US$4.12).
The serving was on the small side, so if you're hungry, best to do short order
for 40MOP (US$5) and order rice on the side. Though the pieces were meaty.
Another plus is the skin was crisp, and it had very little fat under,
so you could eat it with no guilt.
Ady, who's not a fan of duck ordered the steamed chicken short order,
unfortunately, we didn't realize it's served cold (starter style),
so she didn't really like it, good thing she wasn't hungry. Hahaha.
This was our bill, coke included, so for a popular
place within the city center, I think it's very affordable.
To compare, we paid double for our Pork Chop Bun brunch.
Once you're done, you just take your bill to the cashier by the exit and
pay before you leave.
The thing I really liked about Chan Kong Kei was the way they roasted the duck in Black Pepper. It's not exactly the same as the Black Pepper Sauce (used for Beef or Crab) in Singapore which is stronger because all the flavor is in the sauce, but here you do taste the subtle flavor. If you love duck, which I do, this also gives you variety, so you don't get too sick of eating the same thing over and over again.

The second duck place that we really enjoyed is more of a hole-in-the-wall and off the beaten track. We discovered this place because it's my dad's favorite. They discovered it on one of their trips when the hotels were full and they ended up staying at (Fu Hua Guangdong Hotel) a crappy hotel for one night, and this place was close by. After that, they would go back to Macau and retrace their steps so they can get food from this place again.
Before leaving for Macau, my dad made me a sketch from his hazy memory, a picture of the place, and several clues on how to find this place, with a caveat that he's not sure, but I should find it somewhere near all that. Parang treasure hunt lang but the come on was really good Lechon Macau (Roast Pork) which is Ady's favorite, in addition to the really good Roast Duck for me.

Here is what we had to work with:

Clue Number 1: The duck place is near Avenue Horta dela Costa.
Reality: There is no Avenue Horta dela Costa in Macau. Hahaha. You need to look for Avenue Horta E Costa. 

Clue Number 2: Take a bus from Senado Square (away from Sintra Hotel) and get down right after the bus turns once it hits Horta E Costa.
On the bus! This was easy enough to do.

Clue Number 3: The place is behind McDonald's (can't remember direction, so just walk the whole block) - true.
Clue Number 4: Cross the main avenue when you get to Horta E Costa. - false, no need to do this. But since we did this first, we saw the crappy hotel they stayed in, and we felt we were in the correct neighborhood.

Clue Number 5: Picture of the place that's not a selfie.
Reality: there is a Bank of China on every street corner, however, we didn't find green sign, P.S. or motorcycle parking, so in desperation, we decided to cross the big avenue back to where we started, and we did a last ditch effort to circle the block from that side.
Papa's most helpful clue.
Hooray! Finally we found it!
And for all my blog readers who love duck, here's the street name,
so you can google maps it. Or you can always just follow our clues,
if you feel like going on a Treasure Hunt for Roast Meat.
We arrived around 730pm, and there was a line.
The difference between this and the first place is I think
the ones lining up were mostly locals since it's such a
hole in the wall.
I think you need to come earlier to make sure they don't
run out of stuff. I can imagine him just closing up
when the food all sells out.
There was only this small piece of Lechon Macau left.
And half a roast duck.

When it's your turn to order, you sort of play charades to show how much food you want. So he'll put a chunk of duck on the chopping board and ask if you're ok. Since Ady doesn't eat duck, I just acted out that I only wanted half. Then we did the same with the pork.
Ooooh, look at all this yummy duck and duck sauce.
Ady and her favorite lechon macau.
Lechon Macau over Roast Duck.

The only catch is they don't have an eating area. Ma and Pa said they have another branch a street away, with one or two tables, but we weren't really up to doing more treasure hunt clues!
Ady and I on the bus back, with our precious take away.
Clue Number 6:
Picture of the food from Papa.
Picture of our food.
Reality: Masmatakaw sila. Hahaha.

I couldn't eat or photograph my food without proper plating.
Roast duck with duck sauce over white rice
Just like lunch, I got really good pieces.
It was totally worth the treasure hunt, so if you find yourself in Macau, just follow my footsteps, you can skip the getting lost parts. just saying.

Chan Kong Kei Casa de Pasto
19 Rua Do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo, Macau

Loja de Carnes Assadas
Rua de Pedro Coutinho

You can also read my post on my 1 day Macau Free and Easy Itinerary for non-gamblers here.