Postcard Series #24: Tokyo Tokyo

Last year, I planned a little Tokyo food trip tour for Drew’s birthday in Makati’s Little Tokyo. For his birthday this year, we decided to head off to the real city to do basically the same thing — major food trip!!! I threw out my Cohen meal plan *hayay* and went all the way. In one day, I ate bread, noodles and rice. I felt like I was the baddest girl in the world. The only way I could justify to myself the amount of food I was eating was all the walking we were doing. They were basically 20-30 km walking days!

We stayed at an apartment in Shinjuku so of course we had to head off to Shinjuku Gyoen National Park right after checking in for an afternoon stroll in one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever been.

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Since we kinda planned things late and it was the golden week in Japan, we decided to settle in Tokyo and just hunt down the best food places we could find. So the next day, we were up and about early to hit Tsukiji Fish Market at the crack of dawn for the freshest sushi and sashimi and ended the day with the meal at one of the best tempura houses. Whatever happened in between those two meals? Beats me. I’m sure we went to some temples and tourist spots but these two meals in Daiwa and in Tsunahachi — aaah. Forever in my mind.

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Then the next day, Drew found the bestest katsu resto in Tokyo. I felt like I was eating lechon, the pork was so delicious!
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Then we walked off all that fat and guilt in Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park,

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only to hit this hole in the wall resto in Shibuya with the awesomest noodles!

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Tokyo – we’ll see your sights next time but our bellies and taste buds come back home renewed with that deep religious experience!!! hahaha

Early the next morning after arriving back in Manila, I did a test (twice) because I’ve been feeling weird and “off” and found this out:

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Happy birthday, Drew!!

Postcard Series #23: NYC!

OH NEW YORK! Even when your winter ate into our supposed early spring visit and was bitterly bitterly cold — you are still an amazing city to visit again and again and again!!

1. HARLEM

I decided to book our apartment off the beaten path of most tourists — in historic Harlem! It was a beautiful brownstone apartment a couple of blocks away from bus stops and metro line. To be honest, I wouldn’t have thought of Harlem if I hadn’t seen the interiors of this apartment in airbnb. Since we traveled while I was still on my strict Cohen meal plan, I had to have access to a kitchen. Six days of using a kitchen — it had to be a good one, right?! Doesn’t the apartment justify our a bit out-of-the-way location? It definitely added a different flavor to our NY experience. We felt like real locals! We even managed to attend a gospel worship service that weekend. And what’s the point of being at Harlem without getting some soul food: chicken and waffles, right?!

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2. MAJORLY TOURISTING IT!

Since it was Drew’s first visit to the city, we decided to tourist it out with major city landmark highlights. It was nice to revisit these famous landmarks again since my last visit was way back in 2002, too!

WTC MEMORIAL / WALL ST / BATTERY PARK / STATEN ISLAND

I don’t know why we decided to do the sights near the waters on the coldest day we were there! We were freezing our faces off — it was so hard to smile!

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DOWNTOWN NEW YORK: Rockefeller Center for the view of Empire State Building! Grand Central Terminal (where Drew finally had his Shake Shack experience) and Lincoln Center

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GREENWICH VILLAGE!

Walked along Sarah Jessica Parker’s apartment, the rumored would-be apartment of Jennifer Aniston, the gym where Anderson Cooper goes and where Philip Seymour Hoffman died — Greenwich Village is the spot to spot artistas! hahahaha The High Line would have been nice in proper spring. Actual, all of New York would’ve been nicer in proper spring! And Chelsea Market — haay, I wish I could transplant you in Manila.

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CENTRAL PARK

I was so optimistic about the weather in NY prior to our arrival that if you read our itinerary — we were suppose to have a beautiful sunny picnic lunch here! Instead — tada!

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THE LOVE SIGN, RIZZOLI BOOKSHOP & THE PLAZA HOTEL

The Rizzoli Bookshop was a landmark NY bookstore that is closing its doors. Had to drop by and pay our respects. Afterwards, we were consoled by that insanely delicious 20 layered crepe cake from Lady M at the Plaza Hotel! hahahaha

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3. BROADWAY SHOWS: JERSEY BOYS & LION KING

What’s a trip to NY without catching a Broadway show?! When I used to travel with my Dad — we wouldn’t do anything but lineup at TKTS and buy shows upon shows! We’d catch a matinee AND an evening show! Addict! hahaha But because we wanted to do more things this time, we ended up buying tickets online for JERSEY BOYS but got bumped up from balcony seats to orchestra center!! Yahoo!

Travel tip: Broadway shows raffle off free tickets for the same day performance a couple of hours before show time! Best to check each show’s website for more information!

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4. MUSEUMS

We decided to skip Guggenheim this time around but the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art had our plates full anyway. The Met, especially, made me wish I had a couple more days to visit it again. I was still a kid when I last visited so I didn’t remember how overwhelming it was!

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5. FOOD TRIP: BURGERS, PIZZA AND HOTDOGS — A New York must that Drew enjoyed to the max and deserves a separate post all its own!!

WE WILL BE BACK NYC!!!

Postcard Series #22: MamaMiami!

Ooooh, Mamamiamiii!! We hit the jackpot when the studio apartment we booked along downtown Brickell Bay got upgraded to a three bedroom unit! We had an awesome view! Okay, okay so it wasn’t the white sandy beaches of Miami but it’s still an awesome view, right?!

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It was suppose to be Spring break when we were in town but thankfully it was moved by one week so the party scene in Miami didn’t get as rowdy as I was thinking it would be. Sadly, we were in town for work so instead of swimsuits, I had to pack business-appropriate clothes! But we couldn’t resist spending a couple of hours hanging around at this beautiful beachfront!

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I still dream of Joe’s stone crabs. They’re insane. Perfectly cooked claws that crack soooo easily. I was so happy crabs are allowed in my diet so I was able to eat these, guilt-free! The Lord truly has mercy! hahaha Their store opens only when it’s crab season. The rest of the year– from May til October it’s closed!!

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I fell in love with all the art deco-inspired buildings. It felt like a real life Disneyland, I kid you not! Even the bus terminals looked like Disneyland bus terminals! Amazingly beautiful city!

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We capped our four-day visit with catching a basketball game — Miami Heat vs Memphis Grizzlies! The game was tight so it was an awesome show! Pero sa totoo lang, I don’t watch basketball so I was the clueless girl asking my husband who the heck Lebron James was in the crowd or Dwayne Wade. I knoooow — sacrilege to many!! I know the names but not the faces!! Hahahaha

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Postcard Series #21: Dallas!

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Few things beat the joys of family reunions. I was so glad to see our “other” family in the States again and Drew was pumped to finally meet the twins. It was an exciting two weekends: the first weekend was the girls’ dedication/baptism and the second weekend was spent on their first day out to the zoo!! Milestones, milestones!

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Of course we still managed to check out a few food and tourist spots! Drew got to try authentic texan fare with the ribs/sausage/brisket platter and deep fried chicken. But I tell you, it was the smell of the corn breads that was killing me! And the fried okras and the hash and the beans and the….haaay. Cohen was a pain during this trip!

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2013 in Review

It’s the perfect time to recap my 2013 highlights before welcoming 2014 since most of this year, I wasn’t able to write anything here! “Updating blog” is definitely making it on the 2014 resolutions list!

Ultimate Triple Date with the Filart’s and Palanca’s in Siem Reap!
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Andrew’s Gift to Our Family: My surprise trip to Dallas for my sister’s Birthing Weekend!
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Weekend Getaway to Baguio for Couples Retreat!
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SCPA’s 17th Anniversary, 10 Months After the Fire
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Back in Sonya’s for my Birthday Weekend
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Beginning my Cohen Journey
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Without a doubt, 2013 was a roller coaster ride of emotions. It took its toll on me physically and emotionally. But, in my spirit, I knew I would find my way and everything was going to be all right because God is in control. It was a stellar year.

Postcard Series #20: Hanoi

I didn’t expect Hanoi to be such an Asian version of Amsterdam with their narrow and tall buildings, beautiful balconies and greeneries. That’s the great thing about coming to visit a country with no preconceived ideas about it. A series of events led to me suddenly joining Patty to her trip to Vietnam. I didn’t really have time to research and plan anything but I knew Patty and I have the same perspective in traveling. She sent me an email of our itinerary and I couldn’t have done it any better! It’s not easy to find a good travel buddy so when you do, it’s a great blessing. We’re both pretty chill and just like to emerse ourselves in the culture of a place. Our pace was unhurried with frequent stops for tea in quaint cafes we find along our way. We also like to splurge on atleast one good restaurant in cities we visit but food in Hanoi is so reasonable that we managed to find two restaurants: Bobby Chinn and the Green Tangerine!

The only hiccup we encountered was that Patty and I took the weather in Vietnam for granted to be tropical since in the rest of the Asean world, the sun is out in its full glory. We were dismayed to step out of the airplane and be met with a cool breeze. We packed for the sun and a cruise along Halong Bay when it was more like early spring than summer!

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I’m so thankful my husband was a great sport about letting the misis go off alone and thankful to Patty for inviting me to her adventure, too!

Postcard Series #19: Back in BKK!

Among our Asian neighbours, I feel the closest affinity to the Thai’s, with their similarly warm disposition and ready smiles. Except that they’re taller. And they have royalty. And they were never colonised. But if you think about it, even their alphabet is very similar to our ancient alphabets, the alibata.

Alibata on the left and the Thai alphabet on the right
Alibata on the left and the Thai alphabet on the right

Drew and I got a brilliant tip to take the public boat down Chao Praya River to get to the Grand Palace. For the life of me, I don’t know why I’ve never tried that on my previous trips. We stepped out with the sun blazing down on our heads and the palaces glittered ever more brightly. It doesn’t get old, looking at these buildings. They stand as exhibits of the perfect melding of the Chinese and Indian cultures.

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Love BKK for making fully hetero men wear funny colored pants // Tree sombrero, anyone?
Love BKK for making fully hetero men wear funny colored pants // Tree sombrero, anyone?

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The highlight of our quick trip was definitely catching the muay thai fights at Lumpini Stadium. They really start the fighters young. Some seemed to be just 11 year olds. Those were hard for me to watch and I was relieved every time their matches were over. Each game would begin with a ritual prayer and dance that was so nice to watch. The fighters danced pretty elegantly even if they seemed a bit reluctant. And then the carnage would begin. We sat on the second row so we could literally hear every punch and blow, watch the sweat fly from opponents faces when a good punch lands. Three knock outs in one night! Intense. I felt so drained after watching the fights, I had to order room service when we got back to the hotel.

A prayer and a dance before carnage begins
A prayer and a dance before carnage begins
Blue side would always win decisively with a knock out!
Blue side would always win decisively with a knock out!

Speaking of low EQ, we were planning on having dinner at a highly recommended place called EAT ME, when we were stopped in our tracks by this:

Magnum Cafe had two sides:  a create your own magnum take out area and a dine in cafe
Magnum Cafe had two sides: a create your own magnum take out area and a dine in cafe
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The calories we gained at this cafe was enough to energise us for the rest of our stay in BKK so we made it our dinner and breakfast! Sweet note to end the short trip!