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Archive for the ‘Philippines’ Category

SM Mall of Asia opened on May 21st 2006 and currently remains the fourth largest shopping mall in the world. It is currently the largest shopping mall in the whole of the Philippines.. MOA impressively boasts an impressive array of 750 shops, 220 dining establishments and a total retail floor area of 390,193 square meters. This mammoth shopping complex was built on 19 hectares of reclaimed land and remains one of the largest shopping complexes in the southern hemisphere. To top off the shops, there is also a fully working IMAX theatre, and an Olympic sized skating rink. A good couple days can be spent here if you like shopping, but what I found was that most shops even the upmarket shops don’t really stock too much stock, and only the display stock is available. This could of been just the shops I was going to, so I can’t speak for the other 210 shops. To get here from Baliuag we used a Fed EX rental van which only cost me $50.00 for the whole day with our own driver. Talk about cheap. Even though we didn’t have time to go the IMAX theatre, we ate lunch a local Chinese restaurant between two of the complexes and spent a bit of time window shopping before heading to the skating rink to practice falling as usual. One of the mall’s signature attractions is the giant world globe out the front that has been converted into a 360 degree LED screen, watching this screen at night is quite an impressive sight. This mall has something for everyone, for the young, the teens, the adults and the old and it’s not really possible to get bored if you come here. Because of its huge size, crowds are not really a problem and you have quite a bit of space all around you, which is not something you can say for a lot of the smaller malls throughout Asia. I picked up a Lacoste bag, and some Filipino dried mangos while I was here and we ended up heading home around 6 pm. Even though it was the second time I had gone to this mall, it was the first time that the whole complex had been completed. If you are driving here parking is cheap and finding a parking space in one of the two towers is easy with over 5000 spaces available for guests. In terms of safety it is much safer in here than Greenhills or more of the local type shopping centre’s. But if your looking for fakes MOA is definitely not the place you should head to as everything here is real and has Western pricing. MOA is definitely a place you should come by if you’ve got a day free in Manila, after coming once you’ll probably return every time you come through the Philippines.

 


Some information on this blog was sourced from Wikipedia’s article on MOA 

 

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Chow King is a very well known oriental fast food chain in the Philippines. They are well known to be of high quality and to be extremely cheap. They serve the usual fried chicken but this is complimented with several Filipino dishes. Most food here is no more than $1.50 – $2.00 Australian and for $5.00 or so, you can fill yourself up quite a bit. Food offerings here including Pancit (fried noodles), Canton Noodles, Saopao (Pork Steamed Buns) and much more. One of the best desserts on offering is the Halo Halo or Mix Mix, which is a concoction of tinned fruits, over shreaded ice with evaporated milk on top, usually served with Ube (taro) ice cream. There are several Chow King stores throughout the Philippine’s and a tourist shouldn’t have any problem finding one as they are conveniently located wherever tourists go. The food quality is quite high and you don’t have to worry too much about the food making you sick. I never personally trust the frozen ice as I am not sure where this water actually comes from. But to this day I haven’t gotten sick from eating Chow King. There are several Chow King stores open 24 hours throughout Manila, so this makes it an ideal comfort food after a good night on the town. Well that is if your after something other than the usually McDonalds, KFC, or Jollibee. I personally enjoy coming here mainly for their Halo Halo as it is normally hot and humid and the Philippine’s and this ice concoction is just what you need to cool off your body after a hot day in Manila.


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A catholic wedding in the Philippine’s can go from an hour to several hours. Depending on how catholic the families are will depend on how much bible related material there actually is within the wedding. My cousins wedding was quite religious and to what I believe: missed a few parts that I think a wedding should have: More notably “you may now kiss the bride”. I’m not actually sure why the priest didn’t’ say this line, and I didn’t actually get the chance to ask why. After we received our instructions on how to walk down the aisle, groomsmen on one side, matching bridesmaid on the other side. The wedding music started playing, and we walked down in pairs to the front of the alter. All dressed elegantly in Filipino Barongs and hand made bridesmaid’s dresses. After all the guests of honour had gone through, the small flower girls went through, followed by the mini bride – of whom was wearing exactly the same dress as the bride – just a really mini version. As we waited at the front of the church, the wedding music started playing as the bride walked down the aisle. It was at this point the bride walked down the aisle, the grooms face lit up in amazement at how beautiful the bride was. When the grooms face lights up as his did, you know that it will be a strong relationship.

The wedding rights and prayers lasted for quite a while, but being a strong Catholic wedding one would expect no less. I personally probably won’t have as many prayers and the like in my wedding, but that’s just my personal preference. The wedding was drawing nearer to the end of the book, and I was anxiously waiting for the ‘you may now kiss the bride’, but to my disappointment this part never came. In the end they did kiss but only because everyone was wondering why that part wasn’t said out loud. Several hundred flashes later, the sealing of the commitment had been finalized, and what followed was several hundred more flashes of cameras for all the photos that were taken before leaving to the reception.

By this point I was starved, I didn’t have any breakfast, lunch and was anxiously awaiting the Lechon Baboy (Pig roasted on a stick) that was at the reception. Finally arriving at the reception (which was located just down the road from the hotel we stayed at the night before), there was actually two weddings going on. My cousins wedding on the left side and another wedding on the right side. I guess it was just the day to get married. After several speeches, photographs and other reception related events we were finally permitted to go and eat, one table at a time – only after the table had taken a photo with the newlyweds though. I was so happy to finally go get something to eat, and it was definitely not disappointing seeing over 15 different kinds of food in warmers waiting for me to pick and choose my favourite Filipino dishes. The wedding and the reception were quite good, but I wasn’t able to fully enjoy them as I was so hungry. After eating, I was so happy I started to enjoy myself a bit more and just settled into the nights festivities of talking and socializing with my distant cousins. As we were staying with the brides parents we were last to leave, but luckily we had San Miguel beer that kept on flowing. After knocking a few of these down it didn’t really matter when we had to leave. After everyone had left we finally began our journey back home to Baliwag which is a good 1 1/2 hour drive from central Manila. Upon arriving we were happy to be back somewhere familiar and safe.

My cousins wedding was grand and quite the spectacle, but this is the kind of wedding that Filipinos like to throw if they have the opportunity. Of course I’m only stereotyping here but from my history, a big Filipino party is always impressive to everyone who comes. They are not only good for socializing and catching up with long lost friends – but also a great opportunity to indulge in your favourite food. 

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For having only a few hours sleep, I didn’t feel too bad when I awoke at around 10 am. Unlucky for my girlfriend who had to get up much earlier to get her make up done. Filipino’s will have any excuse to throw a party, and weddings are no different. Usually with a couple hundred people attending the reception. You might ask why so many people come, in my opinion this is because of the abundance of free food. A good Filipino party will usually have more than 20 local dishes, each with their own distinct flavours and tastes. At a good party you’ll never go hungry and this is what makes a filo party something special. Anyway’s after waking up still slightly angry at my overpriced room of which I only slept in for like 6 hours, I got changed and made my way up the penthouse suites were the bride was staying and the make up artists were preparing all the bridesmaids make up. After getting off the elevator my girlfriend had disappeared to go to the local Shoe Mart Mall without getting her make up done first. Still early I wasn’t too fussed. I was amused by the amount of make-up that the make up artists were applying, and in my opinion, was a bit too much. But it wasn’t me they were putting it on so I kept quiet. The artists were quite talented and being all males were probably all gay (not meant in a rude way). They used their skillful talents to make all the bridesmaids extremely photogenic so that they would look amazing when photos were taken. The small penthouse suite ended up being pretty crowded with several make up artists going at the same time, and several people watching. It got even more crowded when the photographers came in to video and take photos of everything.

Eventually my girlfriend came back, and started to get her make up done. Now the amount of make up they put on her was way too much, as Japanese have natural skin tones, and don’t really need to be covered in white press powder with fake pink blush. After she turned into what seemed like a performer of Cirque Du Soleil I had to speak up, and made them finish up quickly. It took a good 20 minutes or so to remove a lot of this make up before she had just the right amount on. No harm done we took more photos with the rest of the bridesmaids and just enjoyed watching the artists work their magic on other guests of honour. It took a good couple of hours before we were able to actually make our way to the church in which my cousin was to get married. The bride was swept away in a nice classy car, while the rest of us made our way over in normal cars. We were told were to stand for the ceremonial marches and the like before the wedding began.

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Balut is a delicacy in several parts of Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, China and the Philippines. The length of the incubation per country differs and all eat it at a slightly different part of the embryo’s growth. Balut in the Philippine’s is a well known delicacy in the city of Patero. The balut in this city are renowned for being carefully selected at the exact age before being sold. To put it simply a balut is a fertilized duck embryo and depending on its age can even look like a fully formed baby duck. The balut in the Philippines are selected at an age of 17 days when the beak, and feathers have not been fully developed. The eggs themselves are boiled and eaten while still warm. There are several ways to eat this delicacy but usually, you crack open the top of the egg, suck out the juices then bite into the egg. Some people like to put a bit of salt or vinegar to enhance the ducks flavour. In my opinion these eggs are not for the feint of heart and can take some time to get use to. Popular belief in the Philippine’s, is that eating balut gives you power in love making areas, as they are high in protein and fibres; This however has been yet to be scientifically proven. If you would like to try a balut they are commonly sold by street vendors through most parts of the Philippines and wont cost you more than a dollar or so – sometimes less, sometimes more. 

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If your looking for fakes, there is no better place to go than Green hills in the Philippines. Unlike other countries where you need to follow them into back alleyways and into restaurants to get what you need. Greenhills proudly displays their fake Chanel handbags, and Rolex watches store-front. Up until a few years ago you were also able to buy movies and games here as well, but due to the crackdown on copyrights internationally, these products have now been shifted into back alleyways and the slum areas. I don’t recommend following these people when they offer you copy CD’s unless you are with a reliable guide and or family. Following these people can be a dumb idea and can sometimes put you in more grief for just a movie or two. But if your here in Greenhills your probably after the huge assortment of phone cases, fake watches and bags. Getting to Greenhills, well getting anywhere in Manila at all is a nightmare with the huge amount of traffic that encompasses this city. Although traffic has apparently become a lot less since the new EDSA roads have opened, it still takes the better part of a couple hours to cover this few kilometer trip from central Manila to Greenhills. Your best bet is to take a taxi or a bus as other forms of transport are not too common in the Philippines. A good idea is that you can actually rent a van for the day at set prices, this is usually what we do when going out from our local province. One of my cousins offered to drive us to Greenhills and that’s probably the best way to get around in this city.

We eventually arrived at the entrance and it took a while before we could find a parking space. For my girlfriend coming here meant that she would be able to buy a lot of things that are hard to come by in Japan. When I was younger I use to shop here a lot for their fake polo’s, shoes and what not. Nowadays however I prefer to buy the real thing. Although the quality is pretty high here compared to fakes I have seen in Hong Kong The quality and knowing that the goods are the real thing are the main reason why one should buy designer goods in the first place.. If you don’t care about the clothes being real or not, then this is the place to come to, with an entire floor of several different buildings packed with small outlets of people selling their fake goods. There’s so many bags, watches and jewelry, some real and others not, that you could quite literally spend a whole day here. When you get hungry the central food court also has a nice selection of foreign and local food which you can choose from to feed your rumbling stomachs. Greenhills is also a good place to go if you want to grab a souvenir or two, there’s a lot of local items that you can take back home which barely take anything out of your wallet.

Now there’s probably two main things you need to know about coming here: 1. Always pay attention to your pockets and belongings, pick pocketing is common and the ones who aren’t aware (you always see foreigners walking around without a care in the world) are usually the ones targeted. and 2. ALWAYS BARGAIN! Because your a foreigner they put at least a 100% mark up on prices as soon as you speak a word of English (or any other language for that matter). If they say they want 2500 pesos for a bag, say 1000 pesos. As the half price is usually the local price. If they don’t sell it to you for half price walk away as there are a lot of other stores selling the same if not similar products. Most of the time however when you walk away they’ll say its ok! To give you an idea of price a fake LV wallet will set you back less than 20 bucks, bags of designers are around this price also. A high quality fake Rolex is about 50 dollars Australian, the prices get lower depending on the quality ranking.

Greenhills is a really good place to spend a day if your after fake things or just want to look around this mammoth complex. They don’t only sell bags but a huge variety of other things as well. Just be careful with pick pockets and other petty crime when your here, as having your wallet stolen will probably ruin your holiday.
 

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A staple of Filipino fast food is no doubt the massive chain of Jollibee’s scattered across the country. Jollibee is a cheap fast food chain, offering fried chicken with rice, Jollibee spaghetti and several other Filipino influenced western dishes. Jollibee’s are probably just as common as McDonald’s in the Philippines and there should be one within walking distance of any major tourist attraction. A meal will cost you about 100 pesos or so or $2.50, extremely cheap by International standards. For what you pay you actually get a healthy serving of rice and a couple pieces of chicken. In Australia I loved KFC but in the Philippines I’m not a huge fan of the KFC chicken and much rather prefer Jollibee’s take on fried chicken. It’s crispy and tender inside and usually not overcooked. Another really good dish is the Jollibee spaghetti, unlike western spaghetti they use ketchup in its tomato base and this gives it a bit of a sweet taste. To add to this taste they also use Filipino small sausages sliced up and added to the sauce. Both of these elements give the spaghetti a rather distinct taste to traditional Italian spaghetti. It’s probably an acquired taste though, if you really like real spaghetti this make-shift version probably won’t be to your liking. Give it a try though if your keen.

If you’ve got a weak stomach it’s probably not a good idea to be sampling street food day in and day out, and make sure you don’t drink tap water as you can vomit within minutes as it contains huge amounts of bacteria and other nasty things that you don’t want to be drinking. Because of these two factors, when visiting the Philippines it’s recommended that you only eat at established restaurants and better eateries to avoid getting a stomach bug. From my personal experience eating home made cooking and sticking to fast food and up market restaurants has usually always paid off for me when visiting the Philippines. All in all, Jollibee is not only a good alternative to other fast food in your home country, but also a good dining experience for your family. If your lucky enough kids can sometimes get a photo taken with the Jollibee bee!


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