NAPA VALLEY Stroll. Explore. Prost.

My love affair with this place started when I saw Carrie Bradshaw talking to Mr. Big regarding his move from New York to Napa Valley. “Well when you’re tired you take a nap-a you don…

Source: NAPA VALLEY Stroll. Explore. Prost.

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KULUNGAN O KANLUNGAN

Sa maraming pakikipag usap … sa pakikisalamuha … madaming maririnig …maraming maiisip … kung ngayon ba darating …muli ka bang tatalon sa iyong kulungan? Ito ay nagsilbing kanlungan ng marami dahil ito ang hinihintay at inaasahan ng iba … sige na lang para matapos ang discurso … naging imperatibo sa marami dahil “naaksidente” na… takot tumanda mag isa at walang mag aalaga … kakalungkot isipin pero ganun talaga … kanlungan nga sa marami … pagkatapos ng saya, problema na kita sa bawa’t linya sa mukha, responsibilidad … may magtatanong pa na bakit dumating ka ng maaga ? Ay … kelan ba ako nahuli? Alam ang ibig sabihin pero huwag na lang muna isipin. Sabi ng marami, problema lang, ang payo ko sa kanya … ituloy na at maikli ang buhay … at muling natuwa dahil nakakita ng kakampi …. di kayang bilhin ng pera ang ligaya lalo na at ito lang ang tunay na magpapasaya sa iyo. Di maiintindihan pero matanda ka na para isipin pa ang sasabihin ng iba. Meron ba talaga o ilusyon lang … di naman mangyayari kung wala kahit papaano, dumadating lang sa takot at natatauhan … nagsasawa lang maghintay o natatakot mamatay … pero sumaya … napakasaya. Madali na lang kumuha ng istorya maaaring di patas sa taong pinagkautangan mo ng matinding halakhak at pagbalik ng paniniwala sa sarili …pero ginawa pa din … sinabi pa din … sa bandang huli nasa kulungan na nga. Di kailan man maintindihan ng taong di nakadanas … pero dapat may reputasyong aalagaan … damdaming ayaw masaktan … gaano na ba katagal ang panahon na nasa puso … wag na magbilang at baka sabihin pang tanga ka. Oo nuknukan … nga yata pero sige na lang at pagbigyan .

NAPA VALLEY Stroll. Explore. Prost.

My love affair with this place started when I saw Carrie Bradshaw talking to Mr. Big regarding his move from New York to Napa Valley.

“Well when you’re tired you take a nap-a you don’t move to Napa.”

From then on, it made me wonder, what kind of place will you exchange for New York? When I was planning my itinerary for San Francisco, my eyes caught a glimpse of the small letters “Napa” on the map and asked? Is this The Napa Valley? Yes, an hour away from the city. My heart pounded and like so many things in my life … Serendipity stepped in…. A pleasant surprise.

The Famous Napa Landmark

The Famous Napa Landmark

Napa Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area ( a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States Department of the Treasury) located in Napa County, California, United States.

Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world but production of commercial wine started in the 19th century only.

The combination of Mediterranean climategeography and geology of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. John Patchett established the Napa Valley’s first commercial vineyard in 1858. In 1861 Charles Krug established another of Napa Valley’s first commercial wineries in St. Helena. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of the vine disease phylloxera, the institution of Prohibition, and the Great Depression. The wine industry in Napa Valley recovered, and helped by the results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, came to be seen as capable of producing the best quality wine – equal to that of Old World wine regions. Napa Valley is now a major enotourism (refers to tourism whose purpose is or includes the tasting, consumption or purchase of wine, often at or near the source. Where other types of tourism are often passive in nature, enotourism can consist of visits to wineries, tasting wines, vineyard walks, or even taking an active part in the harvest) destination. – Wikipedia

I was discouraged so many times to visit because of the massive valley fire that hit Napa during the time that I was there. But my heart can’t allow something that is within my reach to go unfulfilled. Like a love that you had to let go because circumstances aren’t right. But still you take it head-on … Life is short for what-might-have-beens.

And Lo! And behold. I felt my heart skipped a beat when I saw the rolling vineyards slowly unfolded as we traversed the valley. With all the drama, I told myself … Mr. Big have every reason to move here … I would have.

The Vineyard

The Vineyard

So many wineries … so little time.

Peju – Tony Peju purchased the 30 acre land because of love for farming and passion for wine. Inside Peju, you can have wine tasting, buy wine and merchandise. They are famous for handcrafted Peju ceramics and custom logo Peju apparel. There is also an access to the wine cellar for visitors. This is also one of the winery featured at the Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Peju

Peju Cellar

 

Grapes in the Vineyard

Grapes in the Vineyard

Castello di Amorosa – located at St. Helena, Calistoga. It is a 13th century inspired Tuscan castle in a 170 beautiful acres of forest, hill, lake and stream. All the metal in the castle was hand-forged over the open flame by the one of the last remaining blacksmiths in Umbria, Italy. Activities: guided tour and tasting (25 USD), wine and cheese pairing and royal food and wine pairing.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Wine Tasting with our wine guy, Vincenzo Coppola

Wine Tasting with our wine guy, Vincenzo Coppola

V. Sattui Winery – it stands today as the result of hard work, dedication, and the extraordinary vision of two men who happen to be related.  Vittorio Sattui started the business in 1885 after emigrating from Genoa, Italy.  But it was Dario, the grandson who resurrected the business in Napa. This winery has a deli unlike the others. You can buy food and have a picnic outside the lawn.

Entrance of V. Sattui

Entrance of V. Sattui

Robert Mondavi Winery – with a legacy of more than 40 years of winemaking, it is a shining symbol of Napa. The architecture of Cliff May reflects the missions of early California history.

Façade of Mondavi Winery

Façade of Mondavi Winery

Afternoon Solace by the Garden

Afternoon Solace by the Garden

Here is the list of additional wineries in Napa recommended:

 

Hagafen Cellars                                                                      Domaine Chandon

Artesa                                                                                      Beringer

Rutherford Hill Winery                                                           Duckhorn Vineyards

Domaine Carneros                                                                 Etude Winery

Paraduxx Winery

 

Did you know?

  • Wine is fat-free and contains no cholesterol
  • A six ounce glass of wine contains approximately 130 calories
  • California produces approximately 77% of the US wine grape crop
  • Although red wine can only be produced from red grapes, white wine can be produced from both red and white grapes. – Wine Country

 

3 Simple Steps to Wine Tasting

  1. Swirl – swirl the wine vigorously in the glass. As the wine coats the sides of the glass, it releases its aroma of bouquet.
  2. Sniff – Insert your nose into the glass and inhale by taking quick, full sniffs. The aromas can be quite different depending on how far into the glass your nose goes. At the top of the glass, they are more floral and fruity; deeper in the glass, they are richer. Try to detect the full range of scents from berry to floral to spicy to woody … and so on.
  3. Taste – Sip a small amount of wine and move it over your entire tongue so that all your taste buds come in contact with it. Taste for sweetness or dryness. Or is it flat and flabby? Tannins (used in red wines to keep them from spoiling) will feel sort of prickly on your tongue. The ideal touch is a mellow softness – a velvety feeling in your mouth. – Wine Country

Trip Tips

  • Start the trip in the morning. Wineries close at 5pm
  • Wear cotton and your sunnies. It can be very hot during fall.
  • Coffee Break at Dean and Deluca.
  • Have a designated driver who won’t drink. DUI isn’t cool.

Napa Valley will always be a place close to my heart. It will always hold a special memory in my psyche each time I take a sip of wine.  It will always be a place that I will remember with fondness and love. In life, there will be people in your life that will come and wander far … you will tend to forget … like wine kept in a cellar for long.  When it is the perfect time, they will come back, a little older, a little wiser but the essence will remain and this time they might stay. Just like aged wine, it will be at its best, at its finest when it finally touched your lips. Prost!

There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand. – Charles Morgan

 

 

MY KHMER SUMMER

MY KHMER SUMMER

When my life took a heavy toll on work … I have forgotten or I simply never had the time to write … not that I have found it less fulfilling … but I simply never had the time.  Then by some divine intervention I was “forced” to rest … I had the time but with much prodding from my one avid reader, Direk Vincent Dy Buncio, one of the artistic geniuses behind Eat Bulaga, the longest noontime show in the land,  now known as EB. And if someone whose mind is as keen as that and looks forward to my travelogues … I am deeply humbled.

Cambodia … one of the most beautiful Asian country, a friend once told me.  So when my close friends had their calendar cleared … we flew … not knowing that I will be flying to a new adventure that I will forever remember for the rest of my life … when my creativity is acknowledged and adored.

Best Time to Visit: Feb 17-23

Weather: Hot and Hotter … warm, humid, sunny

Outfit: Cotton / light colored / krama (Khmer scarf) / shades/ hat / sandals or Crocs (it’s personal)

Two hours and 19 minutes … Siem Reap International Airport.  One airport that looks like a museum with gigantic stone statues that is worthy of my Instagram post  in urhighnessqueenV.

Siem Reap International Airport

Siem Reap International Airport

Lo and behold, when my Agoda Voucher said … with free airport transfers … I was impressed … but when I saw the “transfer” that it was a “tuk-tuk” … my innate “social climber” instinct said not LO AND BEHOLD  but LO AND HOLD IT!!!! I will ride that with a driver named Rat? This Rat touched our hearts as the days passed… a young man full of sad stories, dreams and ambitions.

Airport Transfer : Tuk Tuk with Driver Rat

Airport Transfer : Tuk Tuk with Driver Rat

For paying tourist the fares are : $7 (taxis) and $5 (tuk-tuk)

Tip #1: Never change your US Dollars to Cambodian Riel … they use USD in Siem!

Cambodian Riel

Cambodian Riel

The night scene of Siem Reap from the airport looks like Laguna … very rural. 

We stayed in Secrets Pavillion Villa which I helped transform and can be found towards the end of this blog.

After the much practiced speech and welcome drinks from the man whom I will found out is the owner of the place who got a dose my ADHD streak, we proceeded to where the night life is.  The owner is Sothearith Voeun  or Sivatha for an easier recall.

Welcome Drinks

Welcome Drink

We headed for the PUB STREET.  The street name that made my bestie said YES! to this trip which initially she didn’t want to take. Yes, and every night … we were here!

The Pub Street !

The Pub Street !

DAY 2

I woke up to a coral-colored sun. This one will kick the daylights out of you.  Amazing!

Coral-Colored Morning Sun

Coral-Colored Morning Sun

Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!

FREE Breakfast

FREE Breakfast

TEMPLE TOUR 1 CENTRAL ANGKOR (SMALL CIRCUIT)

Map of Temple Tours

Map of Temple Tours

Hire a tuk-tuk to take you to the temples $15 for 8 hours.  Hire a tour guide $20-25 a day.

On the way to the Temple Run

On the way to the Temple Run

Tip #2: Book a tour guide beforehand … especially during peak season.

Park Admission  One day : $20 / Three Days: $40 / Seven Days: $60

Tip #3: Children under 12 enter for free after showing a passport so always bring it with you.

Tip #4: Krama .Sunscreen.Cottons.Comfy Shoes … Must haves for this Temple Run

Tip #5 Take the Elephant Ride for $15 .  I never did … regrets!

Elephant Ride for $15

Elephant Ride for $15

The Small Circuit takes in several of the major and minor temples in the area. Beginning at Angkor Wat and running for seventeen kilometers the circuit takes in the major elements of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Kdei, and some of the minor but interesting temples such as the Baphoun, The Terrace of the Leper King, The Terrace of the Elephants, the Twelve Prasats, Spean Thma and Sras Srang before returning to Angkor Wat.  (Cambodia Travel.Com)

Entrance at the South Gate of Angkor Thom (Big Thom) 3-walled moated royal city. There are 2 rows of giant statues on the left (facing the gate) are the Devas (deities) and on the right are the Asuras (nature-beings)  carrying the Naga ( giant serpent ).

Entrance at the South Gate of Angkor Thom

Entrance at the South Gate of Angkor Thom

Moat Surrounding the Temple

Bayon is amazing known for its giant faces and most recognizable in Khmer Art  with 37 standing towers.  Massive!

Bayon

Bayon

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Interior

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Picture for a Fee

 Baphuon  … Recently reopened after the restoration that began in 1970s. Note the large reclining Buddha on the west side.  But we were so tired to enter this.

Baphuon

Baphuon

TIP# 6 : Always bring a cold bottle of mineral water.

Terrace of the Elephants …  2.5 meter tall, 300 meter long

Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Leper King  … the statue was found here  with its lichen-eaten condition that gave it the appearance of leprosy.

Terrace of the Leper King  ( Cambodia Travel.com)

Terrace of the Leper King ( Cambodia Travel.com)

Ta Prohm  … sprawling monastic complex … fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the temples. Enthralling!

Walls of Ta Prohm

 Ta Prohm

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Walls of Ta Prohm

Tip# 7 Guides/Drivers get free lunch in the restaurants where they brought the tourists.

Drivers' Lounge

Drivers’ Lounge

THE REVERED ANGKOR WAT . Angkor means “Capital City or Holy City”. This is the centrepiece … visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking … but at 2 in the afternoon you can add  swooning-ly sizzling  in the adjectives…

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Outside Angkor Wat’s Gate with a Monk

Tip # 8 . 1st trip to this is imperative after 2pm because backlighting obscures the view.

 This is a temple mountain dedicated to Vishnu. Walls are covered with bas-relief and carvings and while the guide is explaining … I just wanna walk away because I can’t understand a word he is saying … and here I was…

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Walls with Carvings

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Background: 12-meter tall brick & laterite pyramid - funerary temple— at Prasat Baksei Chamkrong

Background: 12-meter tall brick & laterite pyramid – funerary temple— at Prasat Baksei Chamkrong

Monkey w/ the Angkor Wat Backdrop

Monkey w/ the Angkor Wat Backdrop

   

Monks Outside the Temple

Monks Outside the Temple

RELECTION SHOW 6 TOWERS BUT IN FRONT YOU WILL ONLY SEE 5 TOWERS

RELECTION SHOWS 6 TOWERS BUT IN FRONT YOU WILL ONLY SEE 5 TOWERS

  

Vishnu

Vishnu

Vishnu – maintainer or preserver / “ to settle”  In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine blue colour of water-filled clouds and as having four arms. He is depicted as holding a padma or lotus flower in the lower left hand, a gada or mace in the lower right hand, a shankha or conch in the upper left hand and a Sudarshana Chakra or discus weapon in the upper right hand. Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvarupa or Viraat Purusha) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.  (Wikipedia)

ANGKOR BALLOON RIDE  $ 35 for 10 minutes within the temple complex … Pretty safe because this is tied to a cable.

Tip # 9 . Best time to go is 5pm but pre-book to avoid waiting.

ANGKOR BALLOON RIDE

ANGKOR BALLOON RIDE

This is aerial shot of Angkor without using a light aircraft but needed long lens for a better pix and it is pretty hazy.

Aerial Shot of Angkor Wat

Aerial Shot of Angkor Wat

NIGHT MARKET SHOPPING  – Old Market ( Phsar Chas ) . Souvenirs, trinkets and anything under the moon.

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MASSAGE … to wrap up the day

1.       FISH MASSAGE  – $ 1 – let the fishes do the massage

Fish Massage

Fish Massage

2.       FOOT MASSAGE – $ 1 – 15 minutes …

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Tip # 11 .Try this after the Temple Run.

 PAY IT FORWARD … Just do this.

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Tip # 12 . Be generous.  They are working hard for this … not just begging.

DAY 3

 Take 2: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!

TON LE SAP LAKE TOUR  – Take a Tuk tuk $15 . Admission Fee: $15.  No need for tour guide.

This is amazing for Caucasians or Europeans but ordinary to Filipinos.  This huge dumbbell-shaped lake stretches across the NW section of Siem.  Floating Villages/Community  and  Stilted Houses  (like in Samal). 

There is a floating restaurant with souvenirs and with children carrying snakes around them begging for cash if you want a picture taken with them.  Sad. Why do I have to pay $15 for this … to scare myself?  Will it go to the community? Do I need to Cambodia to see this while it is a common sight in my country. Was the $15 a waste … in my heart , I don’t think so.

And it got me thinking ….

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Taken from : Child Safe FB Account. To find out ChildSafe Traveler Tips log on to : http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/

Tip # 13 . One of the reasons why I love to travel … learning compassion.

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DAY 4

Take 3: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!

The twenty-six kilometer Grand Circuit is an extension on the little circuit but taking in Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean to the Eastern Mebon and the various monuments like Ta Som, Preah Rup, before returning to Angkor Wat and is highly recommended for anyone spending three or more days in the complex. The Big Circuit encompasses a good representation of the rich variety of architecture here. (Cambodia Travel.Com)

Preah Khan – sacred sword – huge monastic complex . This is one of my fave temples. Better because there are not much tourists.

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Preah Neak Pean which means coiled serpent. This is surrounded by a pool . Water has healing properties according to the legend.

_DSC0043 _DSC0048 _DSC0069Ta Som – small Bayon-style monastic complex and the miniature version of Ta Prohm . A huge tree is is growing on top of the eastern gopura which is destroying the gate and a photo classic.

_DSC0112Preah Rup – architecturally and artistically superior temple mountain.

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DAY 5

 Take 4: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!

More Shopping and going around town

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VNC – my fave shoe store in Siem Reap … and sale!

Hello Kitty!  in Siem

Hello Kitty! in Siem

Exhibit by John McDermott

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Ceramic Making

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 HomeStyling … my make over in this blog …

https://tripsandthecity.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/secrets-pavillion-boutique-villa/

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Arriving in a Tuk tuk but leaving in Lexus … not bad at all !

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FOODIE IN KHMER’S KITCHEN

STREET FOOD …

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Foodie Radar … won’t stop at nothing even street food! My Saigon trip will always be remembered as my best street Pho in the world. So again I took the leap .

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Now, it can be told … the Crepes sold in the street … man, you gotta try this!  $ 1

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 Noodles  – $ 1 – this is yummy! filling and cheap!

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ANGKOR FLOWER

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–           Home of best Coconut Shake in Siem!

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1.       Fried Rice Vegetable  with Egg – $5 – good!

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2.       Fried Rice with Seafood – $6 – better

3.       Fried Rice Spices with Seafood – $6 – best

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4.       Noodles with Seafood – great

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 5.       French Fried (sic) with Beef Lok Lak – $6

Beef Lok Lak from Smokin’ Pot Restaurant submitted by corykaplin

These ingredients serve 1, so multiply up as you wish.
– 150g chicken breast, beef, even shrimp – sliced (shrimp would not be sliced)
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
– 1/3 teaspoon chilli sauce (optional, preferably vietnamese or chinese chili sauce)
– 1 teaspoon oil + extra for cooking
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
– 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 1/2 an onion, chopped
– A few lettuce leaves
– Rice
For the pepper sauce:
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed back pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
– 1/4 of a lime

 Mix sugar, salt, pepper, oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup and garlic in a mixing bowl, add meat and coat thoroughly. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes. Mix salt, sugar, pepper and garlic in small bowls (pepper sauce for each person) Add oil to a wok, sauté onions until brown and add chicken, stir fry 5 to 10 minutes, until done. Mix in chili sauce as desired. Prepare serving plates with rice and a bed of lettuce. Just before serving, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime into the pepper sauce and stir lightly. Serve chicken over lettuce with pepper sauce on side. The chicken is eaten wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped into the pepper sauce. For a little more punch, add chili sauce to marinade rather than while cooking and marinate an extra 30 minutes.

     CAMBODIAN SOUP RESTAURANT

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–          Great Food .  Average meal:  $5.

Tip # 10 . Upstairs : Free Apsara Show recommended by Lonely Planet.

  1.  Personal Favorite is the spare ribs. 
  2. Tried the most talked about Khmer Amok (pieces of fish fillet with coconut cream, onion, cauli flower leaf, egg and traditional Khmer spices … my 1st and my last.  $3.75
  3. Khmer Curry – Traditional Khmer chicken curry cooked with carrots, onions , potatoes and long beans in coconut cream
  4. Fried Khmer Spring Rolls – yum!

THE BLUEPUMPKIN – icecream

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LIM KIM CHENG RESTAURANT 

–           Typical Khmer food in the market place

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THE GOLDEN COCONUT

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THE RED PIANO – made famous by the visit of Angelina Jolie

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Tip # 10 . Don’t miss this bar. Try Tomb Raider Cocktail.

ANGKOR WHAT

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THE PHSAR LEU BAKERY 

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KHMER FAMILY RESTAURANT

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Khmer Dessert – Khmer traditional dessert similar to palm fruit with ice, sugar and coconut milk

Must Have: Shrimp with Long Beans / Vegetable Rice in Pineapple Container/Spare Ribs

 ANGKOR PALM

 – Siem Reap’s Restaurant of the Year

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Must Have: Angkor Palm Platter good for 2 at $ 10 : Fresh Spring Roll, Mango Salad, Local Spare Ribs Pork, Fish Amok, Homemade Green Curry, Cha Ta Kuong (stir fried water spinach) , Rice, Dessert

SAM BROTHER

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 – found in the local Cambodian Pub Street

–  Must Have: Stir-Fried Corn

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 Must Buy: Watermelon Seeds

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BEER/WINE

Angkor Premium Beer  

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Cambodia Beer

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Bye Cambodia … see you again!  What makes it a cut above the rest of the Asian countries I have visited?  People are warm and nice and as hospitable as the Filipinos. May they be able to maintain what they are despite the popularity this country is gaining.  We gained friends here … learned from them.  Don’t lose the naivety … this makes you special and different , Cambodia.

SECRETS PAVILLION BOUTIQUE VILLA

#120, Angkor Night Market Street, Steoung Thmey, Siem Reap Central Area, Siem Reap, Cambodia

http://www.secretspavilion.com

Telephone Number: 088 727 2737

Sous-Dey … Hello!

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Buddha guarding the Entrance

It was a place suggested by Agoda to our group.  It opened in September 2012. It was chosen because of the price and its proximity to Angkor Night Market and the Pub Street which is the center of Siem Reap’s night life.  Like so many things in life, the people that you will meet have been predetermined … even before we were born.

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Walkway

This is a charming Khmer Villa with a very affordable price manned by a very warm and hospitable staff … all willing to be of help, of service.  Genuine customer   satisfaction is their aim. 

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Exterior

There are only few rooms in this hotel but there’s a room good for a family of four which we took.  This includes pick-up from the airport using the tuk tuk ( 15 minutes ) and free breakfast of different ways the egg is cooked … poached, fried, omelet and scrambled – served with coffee or tea, toast and fruits. Not bad for a very economical room.  Though electricity is very pricey in Siem, there is an air-conditioning unit (a relief!) and 2 extra wall fans.  Wait … there is more: free bottled water. 

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Family Room

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Room for 2

 Even the floor of the lobby/restaurant is clean … they remove their shoes or slippers when entering it but tourists are not required to do so.

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Stylist: Vanessa Zapanta

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Stylist: Vanessa Zapanta

The best thing is its proximity to the Angkor Night Market and Pub Street.  You can take a tuk tuk going there or walk.  There is a “secret passage” or a shortcut to the place.  Each room is given a key to the gate so you can enter in and out of the shortcut.  As Sothearith Voeun aka Sivata, the owner, said : “it looks not safe but it is”.  You will pass by a small pedestrian road but the bad thing is that you have to pass by a “smelly” canal which he always emphasize that will be covered soon. 

They have their own tuk tuk driven by Rat whom we are so fond of … we taught him words like beki and charot … and he loved it! He became my hubby’s BFF and he told him his life and his frustrations.  We particularly loved the story about his dog that died and he cried for a week.  He is fun to be with and even gives free cold water after the “temple run”.  He is so shy that he doesn’t want to join us for lunch.  My heart goes out for people who never took advantage of other people’s kindness.  They are always apologetic even when not necessary.  Very careful with words.  We have developed good relationships with them and I paid it forward by re-styling their lobby. 

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Rat and his Tuk Tuk

More than the clean rooms and hospitable staff … it is the very heart of Cambodia that captured me … too trusting, too pure, too kind.  Some are victims of the landmines … but doesn’t want to beg … they would sing and you can pay them.  There is pride in their hearts and a legacy etched in their temples.  Yes, it is hot in Siem … but not as warm as their hospitality.

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Joul Moury !!

Will I go back to Secrets Pavilion?  … yes, a hundred times more.  Siem Reap aside from its magnificent ruins and temples has a heart of that I have never seen and felt in the places I have been to.

 

FEZ Restobar

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How the stars defined your destiny has been determined aeons before you were born … coincidence is merely a product of one’s unperturbed innocence of how the universe works. Even the choices were given … you just have to take it.  It is like choosing food … was there ever a specific taste that you would rather have or that you have known to love all along? It is always a journey that will lead you to the wondrous liking of a certain taste that will fit your palate.  It is like finding love in the most unexpected circumstance … loving when others won’t find the ­­­­­­­object of your affection even appealing at a glance.  It is a person who finishes the sentence for you or the one that reminds you of the things that you have forgotten because your mind is unbelievably a mountain of bits and pieces thrown in to get your mind off a lot of misplacements. 

Those who knew me knew that I live and breathe Carrie Bradshaw … with their last movie to boot … most of it were shot in Morocco … it is also where she saw Aidan  and the rest was history in this beautiful movie.  And if I ended eating in a Moroccan grub (place) … might be a mischievous wave of my fairy’s wand. 

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Ack: Sheesha Toronto

And I never thought it was a Moroccan grub … aside from the tell-tale signs of the word FEZ (Turkish hat or city in Morocco) … shlada (salad) is one’s metaphoric description of a Moroccan identity.  Arches of intricately carved wood and hookah or sheesha (oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water) … it is like something dumped on your face but never quite knowing what it was.  I am too dense in so many ways … it is very hard to assume. I don’t want signs; I want hard facts and words.  Twice in my life I lost something because of this.  Or this is Part 2 of ” I didn’t come prepared” … what was Google doing in the midst of this?

Ambience: cosy, intimate … middle-eastern-ish (how could I miss it!)

Foodie’s Order:

Pita Platter: “freshly made pita breads served with 4 kinds of homemade dips: hummus, baba ganoush, garlic yogurt and tomato sauce.”

Hummus – Mid-eastern dip made of chick peas, lemon, olive oil, tahini, garlic and salt.  My 1st taste of a hummus with certain “chunkiness” in it …  The usual is paste-like … this is … different. Not in a bad way … it gives it character.

Baba ghanoush – this is the spelling that I am familiar with .It is a mixture of eggplant , olive oil and various seasoning.

Trivia: Ghanoush is an arabic word meaning “father of coquetry “ … harem , anyone?

Garlic Yogurt – yogurt, cloves, lemon juice and salt

Tomato sauce – tomato, olive oil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic and other seasonings to taste

This platter is hard not to like … this is a safe thing to order.  My fave play is spreading it all together in one pita.  It will become a delight of its own.

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Pita Platter

Rocket Salad: “crisp romaine lettuce with roquette greens topped with slices of grilled tomatoes, candied walnuts with feta cheese and Mediterranean vinaigrette”

Roquette (perennial herbs grown in Mediterranean region … see arugula as well) … The salad is light and easy yet with a chomp and a certain feisty taste. This was chosen because feta goes well with pita and it turned out to be great combination.

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Rocket Salad

(*) Rib eye Steak: “Angus beef cooked to your own doneness served with sautéed baby asparagus and marble potatoes. “

When the porter house or T-Bone was choice and becomes rib eye … it connotes having to settle for the uneventful or the resto doesn’t offer one. I hope it is the latter and not the former because it says: boredom; lacking in tiny bites and missing the meat on the bone.  This is one is very tender and juicy … no not like the hotdog kind of way … it is a flavourful, succulent beefy goodness.

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Rib Eye c/o Fez FB Page

The rest on the menu … it is up for you to discover. 

Will I ever come back?  …  depends …  Wink – wink  … from an avid believer of 2nd chances and about soul and palate that never forgets.

*Kenn Velasco, owner and friend of my twin sis, Nicole Cruz. 

Serendra Piazza
Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

Phone Number
(+63 2) 901-1840, (+63 916) 250-4532

KOH SAMUI THAI CUISINE

Koh Samui is an island paradise 80-minutes flight away from Bangkok.  This is an idyllic vacation get-away. 

The restaurant opened in January this year.  This is intricately designed as the usual restaurants found in Bangkok.  Entering the place made me reminisce about the my foodie adventure in Bangkok. 

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Thai Interiors

Thai Interiors

Thai food has carved a special place in my palate.  Even the receptionist donned their national costume to complete the score.

chut Thai phra ratcha niyom, literally Thai dress of royal endorsement

Chut Thai Phra Ratcha Niyom, literally Thai dress of royal endorsement

The meal will begin with FREE starters:

Fried Prawn Crackers

Fried Prawn Crackers

The waitress called this Fungi.  Tengang Daga for us Filipinos but the scientific name is Auricularia polytricha.  This is dried black mushroom served as an appetizer.  This is a good beginning …

Auricularia polytricha

Auricularia polytricha

(*) Shrimp Curry – This is one is very good. Even the shrimps are fresh.  Though the serving is quite small for its price . It was well worth it. Though traditionally Indian – this one is just right for th Filipino taste.

They are particularly proud of their curries . I must say … they should be. 

Shrimp Curry

Shrimp Curry

Chicken Pandan – Chicken wrapped in Pandan Leaves . The leaves keep the chicken juices inside so you can eat a soft and juicy chicken after it has been fried. This comes with a sweet and sour sauce topped with sesame seeds.  For 1st time eaters, thou shall not eat the pandan leaves.

Chicken Pandan

Chicken Pandan

Mango Pudding – this is one heavy dessert.  It is a jelly mango served in a wine glass topped with cherry and chocolate.

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Mango Pudding

There are still a lot in the menu.  And I will feature them after I have tasted them in February.

Address: Macapagal Hobbies of Asia

8421 Pasay City, Philippines

(02) 808 9999 and (02) 556 6666