Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Pools and Falls of Laswitan

The following is the image that stirred my sleeping 'adventure-mode'.  

Courtesy of Mykel Jonh
My FB friend posted this as his profile picture while I was on a client visit in Surigao City. Inquiries soon followed ...

A few days after, I found myself descending on the stairway towards the rocky shores of Bgy. Madrelino to see for myself the waters of Laswitan.

Descent (and ascent) is easy due to the presence of a cemented stairway with concrete handles. It gets challenging though at the landing as you balance yourself through huge boulders that were remnants of a recent landslide. 

Parking is limited nearest to the entrance, the one nearest to the stairways. 

During rainy days, if you're not bringing a 4x4 vehicle, better leave you car in the gate area and do the short walk towards the entrance; the road gets slippery.  

Entrance to Laswitan is 20 pesos per person, paid at the gates.

From the local word 'laswit', to mean 'waves banging on the rocks', Laswitan is a combination of a tidal pool, lagoon, water falls and beach rolled into one. A little bit of everything, so to speak.

The 'laswit' can be strong (especially during amihan season).  Bathers frolicking in the waters and and on the stone formations were washed out a couples of times. 

The following series of pictures shall give you an idea how strong it can be as it overturned the 'salbabida' (rubber tube) of these two ladies and washed out the bathers perched on the stones .... 

This took place as i was taking pictures of my cousin who missed all the action and fun of the moment.

The place is still being developed by both the barangay and municipal government.  Hopefully on my next visit, the road-ways would have improved and proper garbage disposal would have been solved.  Such a stunning place to be in...

Here's a map to guide you to Laswitan and be in awe with this wonderful creation of nature.

Shown here also are the other places of interest in the Surigao Sur (and Norte as well) areas.

I'll be back here soon ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Around The World in Tangub City

Imagine in front of you, the Trevi Fountain of Rome side-by-side with the Japanese Castle of Tokyo.  

At your back is the Gardens By The Bay of Singapore and to your far right the Castle Rock Tower of Norway.

They are all here at Tangub City as they celebrate their much awaited annual Christmas festival.  This year's theme, 'Christmas Around The World'.  

The plaza in front of the city hall has been transformed once again into one huge park for this years Christmas festival featuring replicas of famous landmarks from the different cities all over the world - from Asia to Europe and the Americas.

Visitors from the nearby cities and provinces take time to visit this annual Christmas festival of Tangub City. 

As you enter Tangub City, lighted arches welcome the visitors.  

All over the city, per barangay, there s an arch depicting a famous land-mark from all over the world.

There is a five-peso entrance fee and if your bringing in your vehicle inside the compound, there is a fifty-pesos parking charge.

For out-of-town visitors there is a pension house (Cawaesha Pension) nearby with accommodations starting at P600.00 per night.  Alternative accommodations would be in Ozamis City which is 30 minutes away from Tangub City.

Tangub City's Christmas Around The World will last until mid-January of 2015.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Vietnam Food Tripping

Sampling the food in Vietnam is as a must as visiting the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi or shopping at the Saigon Square or strolling the streets of the ancient town of Hoi An or climbing the Marble Mountain of Da Nang.

Vietnamese cuisine is primarily vegetable and noodles. The Philippines and Vietman grow almost the same kind of vegetables and herbs.  It is the way that they are prepared or served with various dips (saw-sawan) that transform Vietnamese food into a culinary delight.

Fresh vegetable spring rolls in rice wrapper (remember the imported white rabbit where you eat it including the wrapper) has always been my all-time favorite.  

City View Cafe in Hanoi, however had this dip to go with the rolls that 'lifts' the taste of the food. The cafe is on the 4th floor overlooking the Hoan Kiem Lake and the night market areas.  

I saw a huge bottle (3-4 ft tall) in one corner of the cafe. A close check revealed this ...

The waiter was asking me if I wanted to try the snake wine to help in the digestion after the heavy lunch I had.  I politely declined even if it promised to cure a lot of ailments among others.

What a way to end a day of walking, sightseeing and window shopping in Hanoi than to have a heavy dinner at the nearby Gecko Cafe. 

A bottle of Vietnamese beer became my refreshments while browsing through their menu. Spring rolls is still the number one in my list, fried  this time and with another version of the dip served earlier during lunch.

I thought  'DRAUGHT' is a misspelling for 'DRAFT'.  A quick check with google revealed they mean the same. Now I know...

This is just stewed egg plant (in the menu its was referred to as 'egg-plane) with minced pork which I initially thought would just be another eggplant dish.  After the first spoon full of the soup, I was blown away - it tasted great!  In less that 5 mins, the dish was gone.

Gecko wine, anyone?

Earlier it was fresh spring rolls. This time around, it's fried.  The dip is still there giving more flavor to the rolls.

Although western, this chicken fillet in gravy tasted great. I like the how the potatoes were fried - crunchy outside yet soft inside. 

This vegetable-fruit salad is something new. It's my first time to have a guava fruit in my salad.

No, was not alone in eating all of these food for dinner.  I have to two other companions who were as adventurous as I am when it comes to food.  With all the food on the table, I won't be able to finish this pizza by myself...

It pays to have friends in foreign places, especially in the ancient town of Hoi An who also happens to be a restaurateur.

Rooster Lee (Le Thanh Dong Lee) brought us to the Van Loc Restaurant, the oldest and probably one of the best place to sample Hoi An's local food.

One should not miss the Cao Lau - rice noodles with fried pork, vegetables and herbs. It is an all-in-one meal for the light eaters. 

The White Rose is a delicious appetizer.  It is sticky rice wrapped in rice noodles.

The Quang Nam Noodle/My Quang is another all-in-one meal.  It is characterized by the presence boiled quail eggs.  The usual rice noodles, vegetables and herbs are still present.

I call it Vietnamese Tacos - the Friend Wonton. It is fried rice noodles with fresh tomato toppings drenched with some oil giving it a distinct taste and flavor.

One of the best is not necessarily the most expensive which is the case with the Van Loc Restaurant.

Hungry while strolling the streets of the ancient town? 

No problem - there is always the friendly street-food vendor 'round the corner their doughnuts and banana fritters.

With much anticipation, me and my companions headed for lunch to Rooster Lee's Indian restaurant. 

Their Non-Veggie Thali is something I can eat everyday.

I am never a fan of spinach but this Chicken Sagwala in Spinach Soup is delicious!

I sampled the Chicken Tika Masala ordered by my friend, but I still prefer the Sagwala.

As usual the Beryani Rice is ever present which became my second cup when my rice ran 

Thanks Rooster (and his wife) for the hospitality and the discount.

Danang is haven for cheap seafood.  Na, me and my companions went to Ba Thoi Seafood Restaurant for lunch

These shrimps probably weighed around 1/4 kilo a piece. One piece of this "Tom Xoc Toi Va Muoi" /Shrimp Shaking With Garlic and Salt (Fried Shrimp in Garlic and Salt) was more than enough for me.  That's Liezl holding her share ...

Calamares! Locally called "Muc Chien Bot".  No special dip was needed only catsup.  It was fresh - the squid meat was sweet.

So much for seafood, dinner is meat and veggies. This time around, Na (gal in black) together with Bong (guy in black), my friends in Da Nang brought us to a very typical Vietnamese restaurant - the Xuan Restaurant.  

Except for one Caucasian guy, we were the only other foreigners around.

Na and Bong took care of the ordering since the waiters know very little English, aside from the fact that me and my friends  have no idea of what to order.

I thought the Banh Xeo would just be another variant of the fresh vegetable spring roll. Dipped, however with its special sauce, which has the similar taste of a peanut sauce, it becomes an entirely different delicious cuisine.

This is the fried Banh Xeo, much like the fried vegetable spring roll but dipped onto the peanut-like sauce.

The meat I have been looking for came as Nem Lui - sort of a grilled ground pork in bamboo skewers.  Dipped again in the peanut-like sauce, it becomes something!

Common in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City are these street vendors selling these Banh My - bread sandwich with vegetables and breaded meat. 

Paired with a cold Vietnamese tea, one gets a perfect snack to last till the next meal.  

For a heavier snack or a meal, there's the Banh Cuon Noodles.

It was a top recommendation by a fellow traveler when it comes to ice cream in Ho Chi Minh.

So i decided to have snacks at Fanny's and was so happy to know that the manager is a 'kabayan' (fellow Filipino) who has been based in HCM for years.

Fanny's not only serve ice cream but snacks/short orders.  They're kind of upscale but it's worth the visit.

Can't get enough of the spring rolls?  Here's more ... 

Wrap and Roll is all over Ho Chi Minh.  My favorite though is the one near the city hall.

A lucky day indeed.  A new pizza house has opened in the corner near Saigon Square.  The pasta is free for any purchase of their pizza or vice-versa. Lunch for the day - solved!

We ordered their seafood pizza.

.. and got free pasta - one each!

Hẹn gặp lại Việt Nam! (See you again Vietnam!)

Special thanks to :

Bong, Lee and Na, my Vietnamese friends for the translations. Salamat mga kaibigan.