Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ignore the wave of nostalgia & just eat!

The title says it all. Last night was the night of the newest batch of people who are now authorized to use the suffix Esq. Human as I am, I can't help but feel a tremendous wave of nostalgia with the impending release of  (news flash: released as of 10 p.m. last night) the results. 'Nuff said. And so we decided to have dinner at Kitchen in Greenbelt 3 just to calm anything which needs to be calmed, so to speak. Methinks that I have been playing the role of a sponge, and I have successfully absorbed all the anxiety of my barrister-friends for the past few months.

And as a human sponge, I have to be squeezed to unload the germs (read: anxiety, pressure and the like) and bubbles (heck, sponge eh?). And there's no better way to ease up but to heed the clamor of resident worms. So off we go to Kitchen. This cozy resto, by the way, was the venue of our first unofficial date. So there.

My trusty point and shoot cam was very helpful indeed.
Sweet Serenade (pandan with honey) & Easy Bait (linguine noodles with Spanish sardines & olive oil)

Just across my pasta is BF's perennial favorite - On Barbie's Cue (kebab sticks, obvs).

If you ask for water, it is always in recycled liquor bottle with some organic herb inside. Hmmm, sorta unique.

For our sugar fix, we went to Sugarhouse.

Hot caramel macchiato (for BF) and chocolate truffle (pour moi)

Did I just say I'll abstain from eating chocolate in my previous post? Well, the title says "... just eat" and I won't qualify the same for now. LOL!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random happiness, minus quirks

So, in constant apppreciation of anything good in my life and to honor my vow of updating my blog every day, I will now list down whatever I could think of. Happy thoughts, y'all!

1) The Holy Week

Taken last June 2009 at Chocolate Hills in Carmen

The Daisypath ticker has been playing its role very well. It reminds me majorly well that I'm a few days away from Holy Week, and how it's synonymous to Bohol. I long to feel the unpolluted air of a laidback town, where everyone is just a walking reminder that life is intended to be spent mingling with anything nature. And I should not be impatient about it. I always remind myself that Bohol will always be our home, at least, for my folks. Let's count five years to a decade from now. Then, folks will be happily relocated in the island - eating the greeniest veggies and the freshiest catch of the day (read: fish). Will Mama master the art of cooking bibingka (mixed with local palm wine/"tuba") by then? Let's see.

2) Choco Attack

So my boyfriend brought his second Red Ribbon's Chocolate Heaven last Sunday, lunch time. And trust me, it cured all my longing for anything chocolate-y. I suddenly felt guilty how I've been bugging him about chocolate cake. I told him to just buy the junior size, but, as expected, my pleading fell into deaf ears. I could still imagine the ravaged portion (see photo) sitting inside the ref. A choco monster of a cake seething with impatience, waiting to be attacked by a choco addict. Uh-oh, not me, for now. Oh well. Aside from this cake, some Marks & Spencer's Swiss chocs and two large packs of M & M peanuts are all waiting for choco devourers. This much I can say: I will abstain from eating anything choclits for A MONTH. I will survive.

3) Avenue Q

This is the cast of the Avenue Q which started showing last March 21. And tomorrow is the day that I get to watch it. Maximum level of excitement has seeped its way to my blood. Yey! So there. I have high hopes for it. But CATS in July will be different, so I have to reserve extra energy for another level of excitement - just for Miss Lea Salonga.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Running, running, running

When I started my first "9.19 hours" job and I sought the fastest way to get to CBD, I had this dilemma. As much as I want to avoid the sweaty flock of people riding the MRT, I just can't. So, I mentally made a quick note of the following:

Pros: Shorter travel time, less chance of inhaling EDSA bus fumes, cheaper by a few pesos
Cons: Platforms filled with adrenaline-driven urbanites, sleek snatchers, sweaty arms and foreheads, getting squeezed and flattened like Bacolod's piyaya and any similar circumstances

Your guess is as good as mine. I forego riding the metro's only answer to speedy EDSA commute in the morning mainly because of the above cons.

I don't understand people who run during rush hour to make it to the train (picture it bursting at its seams, er, walls) so crowded that there's no way in hell they will fit inside. Or even if they can fit inside, at the very least it will be an incredibly unpleasant experience. There is nothing at all pleasant about being crammed in so close with your fellow urbanites that you have to stand perfectly still, lest you risk having someone's hair brush your hand or their leg brush your leg or, so much worse, their breath aimed directly at your face. 

And trust me, at 8:15 in the morning, especially Mondays, it ain't good. Period.

And yet every morning (for 11 and a half months last year), I see people run to the train that is very clearly packed to the brim. And these people are not walking swiftly. They are running, running, running. I always wonder why people do this. In their brains, are they thinking, "If I don't get on this exact train at this exact moment, I will be late for work!"? If so, then that's flawed thinking, because during rush hour the next train will arrive - guaranteed, at least in Cubao station, in 15-25 minutes. Worse, it sometimes takes 30 minutes. Even worse, the trains won't stop at the station anymore.

Or perhaps they're running without thinking about why they're running. I think this latter option is a lot more likely, for the following reasons.

MM is an administrative region (Thanks, Wiki!) filled with people trying to accomplish as much as possible as fast as possible, usually at the expense of all logic and well-being and pretty much everything else. They work as much as possible, to make as much money as possible, to rent as nice an apartment as possible (note: I would say as "big" an apartment as possible, but let's not kid ourselves) in as nice a neighborhood as possible, just so they can spend as little time as possible in said apartment. And they spend a lot of time figuring out how to maximize the use of their, um, time. They ask themselves, "What would be more worthy of my time tonight, getting drinks with a friend I haven't seen in a long time, watching a movie with some fling/budding romance/boytoy/boylet (whatevs), pigging out with some foodie buddies or sleeping till kingdom come?" It might sound like a long and complicated thought process, but over time, as one gets used to life in MM, all this stuff becomes first nature and takes place in a split second; one synapse fires against another, and - poof - decision made!

This is how MM-ans - myself definitely included at times- live out their lives. So why would they act any differently during their morning commute? People run for packed trains not because they've thought it through, but because it's now their default mode of existence; they're so used to doing something 100% of the time that it gives them anxiety to miss the train when they know that maybe, if they try hard enough, they can make it. They lurch forward at obnoxious speeds because, their brains instantly tell them, there's simply nothing else for them to do.

I, however, do not run when I see a packed train surrounded by a crowd of people at the car doors, because I have decided that this - rushing around half mindless and half anxious - is NOT how I want to live my life. I walk at a normal speed, because in my brain I know I prefer being 15-25 minutes late (or even an hour) to squeezing into a train car so tightly that the only thing keeping me standing is the proximity of other standing bodies. I also know that, in the grand scheme of my life, being a minute and a half late to work does not matter. Some people might say this makes me wise, while others - likely including a lot of MM co-inhabitants - would say it makes me (at worst) foolish and (at best) lazy.

But quite frankly if anything is so serious that I can't be a maximum of two minutes late, then that is probably a thing I don't want to be involved in. Because it probably takes place inside a court room or a hospital or a funeral home. LOL!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer heat, PMS & more yada yada

Blame the preposterously mad summer heat. You know, that icky feeling you have when you wake up late Saturday morning because folks adhere to some unwritten notice that AC unit should be put off at 6 a.m. Argh. Then you learn that your river-soaked clothes from last weekend's escapade are waiting for laundry rescue from the bottom of your backpack. Worse, they smell bad already. And much worse, my closet looks like it's been hit by a tropical cyclone. I admit, this is just all part of PMS.

Irritability, tension, unhappiness, fears. Screw you, PMS!

Sometimes I have really, really irrational fears that come out of nowhere, and they sort of take over my brain for a while. So today I decided that it might help if I write them down and share them with the entire blogdom. You know, like it might just make me feel a little better to know that everyone who reads my blog knows how I really feel deep down inside, on my worst days.

What if I never achieve anything great in my life?
What if I just think I have something great to offer the world, but really I don't?
What if I spend my whole life doing a job I like, but don't love, just because I want the security of having a job, and then I never make enough art and I forget my passion and I wake up and I'm 40 and I've made nothing significant?
What if I just keep telling myself
there's always tomorrow, and I put off all the things I want to do, just because it's easier that way?

It's just one day, one day, one day after another.

What if there's actually no order to the universe, and every action is ultimately devoid of meaning?
What if that lack of order means that it's possible to make just a few mistakes and totally screw up the rest of your life?
What if I've already screwed up my life and I just don't know it yet?

Ugh. I hate when I get like this, and I hate even more when I sound whiny. Then I suddenly remember what Conan said on his last episode. I remember it because I felt so inspired by his positivity. I have to hope that what he says is true, because otherwise I have no idea what to think.

All I ask of you, especially young people, is one thing. Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism - it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen.

Two thumbs up for the great Conan! I promise I'm not usually this cynical. I'm a really optimistic person, I swear! It's just that I'm human, and I'm honest, and as an honest human I have to say: the future is effin' scary sometimes, *insert ugly adjectives here and how the summer sun engulfs us with its mighty heat* and your late 20s especially suck because it feels like all the decisions you make carry the weight of the entire world. People keep telling me they don't; I can't help but suspect that, secretly, they do.

Perhaps our entire 20s can best be summed up with one singular, rather annoying symbol. Get ready. It's a classic. Here it is.


As an afterthought, summer sun can be cute. All with the hope of altering my mood.

I'll stop my yada yada right now. Mood has been altered already. Merci beaucoup.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Summer Blooms

I can't even express how effin' excited I am for summer, and this photo is a start.

These are flowers. Yeah, yeah. I bought them for myself. On my way home. Just so I can psych myself up into thinking it's going to be pretty, colorful and blooming summer, and not boring and soul-sucking.

They cost me P50*, additional two-block walk to my usual route and only a teeny-weeny ache on my feet. And they were totally worth it. 

Despite everything I've been through, and all the uncertainty that continues to face me, I heard these blooms (don't laugh) telling me it's going to be OK, and I believed it. I put my iPod buds in my ears, smiled to myself and walked on.

Summer's going to be fun!

*Farmers Market, Cubao, Quezon City

Monday, March 15, 2010

Unforgettable Trip to Batad

My extraordinary kind of excitement finally came to reality with a painful twist. I feel excruciating pain all over my legs, starting from my lower hips, thighs and calves, due to several hours of ambulatory exercises over the weekend - all for the love of Maya and to see the Eighth Wonder of the World! Now, I can proudly  say I survived Batad!

View of the Banaue rice terraces from Uyami's Greenview Lodge window

According to Wikipedia, aside from the Banaue Rice terraces there are 4 other similar terraces, the Batad rice terraces, Mayoyao rice terraces, Hapao rice terraces and Kiangan rice terraces.  Also, the friendly owners of Greenview Lodge told us that the amphitheater-shaped rice terraces of Batad is a must-see in Banaue, owing to the fact that it has been featured in post cards and travelogues. Hence, foreign tourists and professional hikers opted to go there despite the remoteness of the village and the long, challenging hike that goes with it. 

Our friend Maya Addug* who tied the knot with her longtime BF hails from Batad, a remote village in Banaue. We were instructed that, after the Roman Catholic wedding rites in Banaue, we are all invited to an Ifugao traditional wedding celebration to be held in their remote barangay called Batad Village.

An hour and a half jeepney ride ensued from Banaue to Batad saddle, the drop-off point before trekking down to Batad Village. The ride was mostly rough; we even called it the "abortion road". Then the start of Survivor: Batad edition begun.

We trekked for almost two hours down to the Batad Village. It was quite a steep climb as there are parts which are not cemented. For tourists, it is often suggested to hire a trek guide and bring a walking stick.

The green mountains of Ifugao and giant ferns are amazing - nature at its best - and some little previews of rice terraces. Very remote; no traces of civilization either. Then we saw the breathtaking Batad rice terraces!

We stayed at Hillside Inn** which offers a spectacular view of the amphitheater rice terraces of Batad Village. We learned that having electricity in the house is NOT the general rule in Batad. A gathering of village residents slash dinner on banana stalk plates was something new to us.

Then, all the visitors were made to dance the Ifugao native dance, and yes, we were not exempted. LOL! Despite the gong/traditional instruments and the never ending dance, we managed to catch forty winks for the night. Tiredness crept in for the neophyte hikers.

Morning came and the rice terraces were enough to perk us up wonderfully!

Amphitheater rice terraces of Batad

After breakfast, Robert (or Jobert in some blooper moments), our trusty trek guide, suggested to us that we'd go to Tappiya Falls, which calls for a conservative estimate of a 45-minute hike. We hiked along muddy trails, narrow pathways of rice terraces (amazing but I would not recommend this to acrophobes), and down the tricky mountain steps to the river. One wrong move will mean an instant downfall, no joke! This is where your walking sticks come into play.

Finally, the Tappiya Falls! Strong current, amazing cold and healing waters for our aching legs.

Then the most crucial part followed - hiking back to the Batad Village and Hillside Inn. This is where I made a silent prayer for safety. 1 p.m. UV rays, muddy and tricky steps uphill, tired and aching legs - all these contributed to the challenging hike. I vowed to all the nature elementals I'd never touch or harm anything nature as long as we'll make it safe and sound to the village. Overall, it took us 2 hours going back compared to the one-and-a-half-hour hike to the falls.

Finally, we arrived at the Hillside Inn where the traditional wedding lunch just started. I think the whole village got this unwritten memo which states: attendance is a must. The number of well-wishers is comparable to the excited spectators of the much-awaited Pacquiao-Clottey fight, which took place on the same day.

Due to recurring leg cramps, we had mini-breaks going back to Batad saddle. It took us one and a half hours to finally get to the drop-off point ("saddle"), where hired jeepneys to Banaue town proper are waiting.

Allow me to holler once more... we survived Batad!!!

*Pink's her favorite color and is also her wedding motif.
**Maya's family biz, so we stayed here for free.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Something Important

"If you want to know how important you are to the world, stick your finger in a pond and pull it out. Will the hole remain?"

~ Maya Angelou, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spanish Made Easy Yet Funny

So, this post has two points. One is to show that I'm keeping up with my cheap thrills/humor series. The other is to explain that I found a baptismal certificate* circa 1930's of some random Juan dela Cruz in a thrift shop at Cubao Expo, which is an artists' haven and site of weekend flea markets.

A few hours ago, Princess and I were having dinner consisting of penne alla puttanesca, penne alla salciccia and pizza ai gamberi at Bellini's when we decided to explore thrift shops in the area. I did not object at all since I'm actually on a lookout for bestseller novels.

We started rummaging haphazardly on a corner full of vintage books, postcards and handwritten letters, and I gasped in disbelief at my laughable luck.  Two questions loomed large. First of all, why would someone (or the next of kin perhaps) sell his own baptismal certificate? Secondly, was the baptized child (Unless the child chose to be celibate or whatever, I bet the child has his own set of grandchildren today.) aware that the initial proof of his Christianity is being laughed at after 75 years? I never got to see any of my elders' valuable documents, so please indulge me whilst I share this ancient paper that made us laugh hysterically.

I couldn't think of any hypo names, so I replaced the original details with something Pinoy showbiz-y. As expected, the yellowish baptismal certificate (heading: Parroquia del Espiritu Santo, Manila) comes in two languages.

Spanish version:

"El 19 de Mayo 2007 fue bautizad solemnemente o con Agua de Socorro James Aquino Yap Jr. 
Nacid el dia 19 de Abril de 2007 en Ciudad de Makati, hij de James Carlos Yap (nombre del padre), natural de Ciudad de Escalante, Provincia de Negros Occidental y de Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco Aquino (nombre de la madre), natural de Ciudad de Quezon, casados a la casa de Eugenio "Boy" Abunda, Jr.  y vecinos de Ortigas, Ciudad de Pasig.

Abuelos Paternos: Carlos y Annie Yap
Abuelos Maternos: Benigno Jr. y Corazon Aquino
Padrino: Deo Endrinal
Madrina: Lucy Torres-Gomez vecin de Manila.

Persona que dio los nombres: Joshua Aquino
Ministro de Bautismo: _____"  

Filipino version:

"Sa ika 19 ng Mayo 2007 ay nabinyagan sa Simbahan o nabuhusan sa bahay si James Aquino Yap Jr. 
Ipinanganak sa ika 19 ng Abril ng 2007 sa Lungsod ng Makati, anak ni James Carlos Yap (ngalan ng ama), taga Lungsod ng Escalante, Lalawigan ng Negros Occidental at ni Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco Aquino (ngalan ng ina), taga Lungsod Quezon, casal sa bahay ni  Eugenio "Boy" Abunda, Jr. at naninirahan sa Ortigas, Lungsod ng Pasig.

Mga nuno sa ama: Carlos at Annie Yap
Mga nuno sa ina: Benigno Jr. at Corazon Aquino
Inaama: Deo Endrinal
Iniina: Lucy Torres-Gomez at naninirahan sa Manila.

Ang nagpasulat: Joshua Aquino
Ang nagbinyag: _______"

Google yielded negative results as to the priest's name. So there. Nabuhusan sa bahay?! The thrift shop owner even joined us in laughing.

*Php 10=price/laughter=priceless

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Impromptu Getaway to Hidden Valley Springs

Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.
~ Blaise Pascal

It was Friday afternoon when my boyfriend asked spontaneously, "Have you read Happy Sole's blog?"

I told him, "Yes. Why?"

Point-blank answer. Pregnant silence. I always do that whenever I'm anticipating an answer which I know will paste a wide smile on my face. I know he's referring to Happy Sole's latest post, so I waited. I was thinking, "C'mon, just say the magic words!" But I mustered enough patience for few precious seconds. Thus, I waited. Tick, tock, says the clock!

Then he said, "Tara! Punta tayo bukas!" BINGO! Magic words.

A big smile which was a few seconds delayed widened up my face. Who doesn't love impromptu weekend getaways, much less a nature trip? I love anything nature. I love the trees, the shrubs, the herbs, the weeds and the moss in a tolerable state.

I said, "Sure! Wait, are you sure?" That's me, playing uninterested for a moment. I repeated it word for word just to be sure.

He said, "Oo. Tara. Mukhang maganda eh."

I couldn't agree more. Happy Sole's blog pictures seemed to pop out from my screen, very much inviting. Again, I am a nature lover. Give me the sun, the beach, the mountains, the trees, and I'll be happy. And I thank Happy Sole for sharing her wanderlust fever.

We went home, stuffed our backpacks with swimwear and all, and nappy time in beddy-bye land it was.

Then early Saturday morning sun greeted us with mild UV rays at the Lucena Bus Lines Terminal in the City of Stars. So we seated ourselves comfortably in the semi-full AC bus bound for Lucena, armed with a generous amount of childlike excitement, a bottle of Hidden Spring water (coincidence, yes?) each and, of course, our respective backpacks.

After almost two hours, we found ourselves saying "Wow!" to the secluded and private resort in Alaminos, Laguna. Hidden Valley Springs quenched my thirst for nature. Everything in Happy Sole's blog came to life, save for some forgivable wear and tear of years gone by.

 Top to bottom: A pretty lotus flower in a pond, the resort's welcome lobby, lovers in lovers pool & BF showing his muscles with the reflecting lake as backdrop

A daytime tour costs Php 1,800, inclusive of entrance fee, welcome drinks, lunch buffet, afternoon merienda and use of resort facilities such as air-conditioned dressing rooms, showers and lockers (you have to shell out Php 200 which is refundable upon return of the lockey key), unlimited dipping/swimming/peeing (kiddin') in the warm & cold natural swimming pools and trekking/hiking to the hidden falls. 

Smooching and talking or laughing out loud are not all prohibited. Why? You're in the middle of the jungle, dude! Only snakes (my ophidiophobia sometimes spoils my nature trips) crickets, large black ants, birds and elementals are presumably there.

More pictures in the hidden paradise...

Top to bottom: enjoying the instant back massage courtesy of the falls in warm pool area, smiling yet calculating moves in the tricky rock formations in the hidden falls area, smiling on cue while having lunch & BF silently cursing himself for eating too much kakanin during afternoon merienda

Here's the catch. As the resort's name tells us, it's really hidden. Unless you bring your car, transportation might strike as a problem since it's four (4) kms. away from the highway. And yes, we became instant victims of scarce transportation in the area. Images of NPA and wild barrio folks scared me a bit. Thank heavens for typical Pinoy hospitality because some kindhearted locals gave us a hitch to the highway. 

Despite that, I wouldn't mind going back to where my urban self got de-stressed from all the metro's pollution. I wouldn't mind waking up early just to see anything foliage. For some precious hours, we were trapped in a bubble bliss in the middle of a jungle.

While on the bus to the metro, my boyfriend asked, "Kailan kaya tayo makakabalik dun?"

I simply replied, "Kung kailan maisipan." 

Our trip to Hidden Valley Springs was very spur-of-the-moment. More often than not, impromptu plans are the ones which really happen.

What's in the BAG?!

Down times at work make my eyes wander here, there and everwhere, save for my giddy state due to reading random posts from blogdom. And this time, my trusty Coach crossbody bag is my target. What's in the bag? Currently, right now, right this moment, as we speak, my bag contains the following items:
  1. wallet that will not close because it's too full (of plastic ID cards); 
  2. two packs of wet wipes (my security blanket for hush-hush reasons); 
  3. Maya Angelou's novel All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes; 
  4. a hairbrush and a comb (for bad hair days, whichever suits best); 
  5. hand sanitizing spray (almost empty); 
  6. body spray (whoa, this is almost one year old!); 
  7. two hankies (fresh & one-day old); 
  8. iPod nano;
  9. old Nokia cellphone (non-techie here); and a 
  10. coin purse (my emergency purse actually which I instantly grab at the slightest nudge of the bus conductor asking for fare).
Of course, the foregoing list is not inclusive of some extra stuff inside the pockets. Extra stuff translates to dental flossers, two Carmex lip balms (buy 1 take 1 promo of Walgreens in Mckinney, TX and subconsciously I don't like my dry lips getting abandoned, hence I bring two... LOL!), Alba tangerine lip balm (see? Let's love our lips!), pocket deo stick, face powder, powder blush, two MRT cards, two scrunchies and a headband.

In other mundane news, I chopped off half of my hair last weekend. I'm ready for the summer heat. I think that the weight of my bag counterbalances the lack of weight on the top of my head. LOL!

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights & cups of coffee

I never considered myself as a woman with a steel chest. And under no circumstances shall I ever be. There's always some unknowable cloud of happiness everytime I take a peek at my beloved planner and a Blue Mountain card laden with syrupy lines is safely tucked in there. Excerpts below:

When I think of us ~ and of all the things the two of us bring to our relationship ~ I am so incredibly thankful.

I am thankful... that our two paths converged and that such a perfect companion was waiting there for me.

I am thankful... that the nicest, sweetest, most wonderful person there could ever be... is here beside me in so many ways. You warm up even the cloudiest of times, inspire those "mmm..." kind of dreams in my days, and give my hopes a place they love to come home to.

I am thankful... that I can open up to you and share every side of me, every facet of my life and my personality, and that you are so understanding, so supportive, and so good at making me realize that you are willing to accept me for what I am. That kind of reassurance is priceless to me, and I will treasure that feeling forever.

I am thankful... that my wishes and my tomorrows and my smiles never seemed as hopeful or as happy or as bright.

So please... allow me to thank you for being my love, my desire, my dream come true, and the very best thing in my life.

I can't even begin to count all the joys you've given me.
You see, it ain't bad to spill syrup in WWW once in a while. Saccharine, yes? BTW, the title comes from RENT's Seasons of Love. Let's load up on sugar!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Glimpse of Macau

Just like its neighbor HK, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. A quick Google search would reveal that Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European one in China.

Last February 24, we made a short trip to the Little Europe and Las Vegas of Asia. I kind of anticipated language glitches in the immigration as the Chinese speak English way too different from Pinoys. Our first day in HK made me realize that. It's a relief when the Macau immigration officer just did the customary stare and stamped my passport. From the time we stepped out of the Cotai Jet ferry in Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal, all tourist signs come in three languages: Cantonese, Portuguese and English.

We visited two top tourist destinations:

1) The Venetian Macao. We boarded the complimentary The Venetian shuttle to get to this famous luxury hotel and casino resort. It's part of the Cotai Strip, the casino and tourism project at the Cotai District, inspired by the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, USA.

The Venetian is glamour and grandeur personified. Stepping in the welcome lobby of the hotel was already a sign that you got to have bucks to burn to really enjoy the hotel's amenities such as the casino (reportedly the largest in the world) and the premier signature shops.

As usual, we enjoyed taking pictures inside. We didn't get to see a rowing gondola, only one moored gondola on the side. One amazing stuff is the daytime sky-inspired ceiling which will render you clueless as to what the real time of the day is. I bet if one will not pay much attention to his watch, he will be left in a trance inside the fantastic view of the Grand Canal Shoppes.

We grabbed a quick bite at The Venetian food court and, as expected, prices were a bit higher than the usual. And so we opted to order burger and fries combo at Fatburger which carries the slogan - The Last Great Hamburger Stand. Nothing spectacular about the taste though, more like our local Big Brother's Burger.

2) Ruins of St. Paul's. We headed back to the ferry terminal to catch the complimentary Grand Emperor Hotel shuttle which will take us to the nearest stop to the Ruins of St. Paul's. We asked around for street directions and we found ourselves in the Historic Centre of Macau.

And then we saw the interesting road to the Ruins of St. Paul's. It was difficult finding a good angle to have the famous church facade as your background since there are lots of tourists/camwhores doing the same.

En route to the ruins are fashion establishments, food and souvenir stalls left and right. And of course, who would say no to free samples of Macau's delicacies? The almond cookies, egg rolls, peanut and ginger candies, some pastries which I'm simply oblivious about and the wide choices of barbecued meat which reminded me of beef jerky. Promise, one will get full by just grabbing an almond cookie in every stall. LOL!

We also made a short stop at the Museum of Macau located on the hill of the Fortaleza do Monte, a 16th century fort. Then we saw an egg tart stall which also sells milk teas and pork chop buns, but the people were actually curious of the fact that it was the same food stall where Jun Pyo and Jan Di of Boys Over Flowers bought snacks in one of the episodes of the popular Korean TV series. Cute.

While going back to the fery terminal, we were able to see some of the casinos in Macau like Casino Lisboa, Grand Lisboa, Wynn Macau & MGM Macau. In daylight, that is. Go figure.

I still think that our side trip to Macau is just a sampler of the main dish. Main dish will be served in June, the much-awaited month! Looking forward to ladle big, hot servings of Lutong Macau by then. LOL!