Cebu

D1

Boodle Fight Lunch

Upon our arrival at Cebu City, our guide Mae kindly picked us up at the airport and we started the trip with a Filipino Boodle Fight lunch. Boodle Fight originated from the army – you have to eat fast and fight for your food if you want to get your stomach fed, hence the name. Seafood Island at the Ayala Mall has a great selection of Boodle Fight meals. I thought a Boodle Fight meal was a great way to start a tour in the Philippines. I gotta say, price point at Cebu is just amazing comparing to San Francisco. It was only $50 USD for us 7 with drinks. Some of us even had two drinks. We also tried the famous calamansi juice here. Calamansi is a common tropical fruit that plays the same role to a dish as our lemon. You see it in lots Filipino dishes, either mixed in or cut in pieces set on the side of a plate for you to squeeze that tangy acidity to flavor up the food. And almost all restaurants offer calamansi juice too. It tastes more similar to kumquat than lemon and is quite refreshing. Mae showed us how to eat with hand. Most of us tried but Bruce and Dad didn’t want to cooperate.

San Pedro Fort

A tiny vintage fort with classic Spanish fort look. It is a nice little spot to stroll around.

Basilica of Santo Nino and Magellan’s Cross

Mae had a local lady pray for us at the Magellan’s Cross, with a praying dance. Seeing Catholic activities at Cebu reminds me a lot of churches at Latin America. The colonized inevitably mixed a bit, sometimes a lot, of pagan traditions into Christianity when it was introduced by the European invaders. In Cebu, praying to the God often is done with a praying dance. Cebu City has a huge festival for the praying dance every year.

Zubuchon

We were gonna have our first dinner at a local night market but everyone was tired from the flight so we checked in hotel early. Night market was skipped, and we walked to Zubuchon next to our hotel for dinner. Zubuchon was covered by Anthony Bourdain’s show as one of the best spots to try lechon (suckling pig) at Cebu. People say Cebu has the best suckling pig in the Philippines. (I think Bourdain might have agreed with that too… ) Zubu is Cebu in Cebuano. Just like having steak every day when in Buenos Aires, we had lechon almost every day when we were at Cebu, whether it was voluntarily or not. Claire liked House of Lechon the best and Dad actually liked the lechon at our hotel’s free buffet breakfast the best. Yes, they provided lechon at breakfast. xD

D2

Island Hopping around Mactan with Cebu Tours

We had very friendly boatmen and great guide today but I have to say, not my cup of tea simply because those beautiful islets were crowded by tourists.

Jollibee

I had Jollibee once when that Jollibee by the Yerba Buena Garden was still in business. I don’t remember much about the food so I suppose it was nothing more than a tasteless fast food meal. But, Jollibee experience at Cebu City was quite contrasting. Most items we ordered were actually tasty and oh muh god, it cost $20 USD for the whole family. No wonder Jollibee is the king of the fast food in the Philippines. I liked their spaghetti quite a bit. The flavor was nothing Italian though, hah.

Dried Mangos and Papaya Soap

Claire picked up dried mangos to share with friends back home and Mrs. Kao looked up online and picked up a bunch of papaya soap for her girlfriends. I picked up one papaya soap too just for fun. Mrs. is unbelievably addicted to the social media these days… she had to share her travel photos with all her chatty retired girlfriends instantly. I always have portable Wi-Fi with me coz I have to (or, I choose to) work when I travel, but she asked me to turn on my Wi-Fi even when I didn’t have to work!

D3

Bojo River Mangroves

Mae met up with us again today to tour us to the Bojo River mangroves. Just when I thought I knew how mangroves look like, Bojo River nicely surprised me. I had never seen the type of mangrove trees dominating the Bojo River area before. It is called Nipa in Tagalog and is a nice looking mangrove tree. Bojo River has water from the cold springs and the river meets the ocean with a narrow open. Water is in emerald green and the whole area is just very tranquil and relaxing. We sampled Filipino snacks and listened to the locals singing their beautiful folk songs. We also learned how to weave Filipino tamales with coconut leaves. It was hard and if I were to do it any longer, my fingers might have cramps. xD
It was a perfect mangrove and Filipino culture tour today. Upon saying goodbye to us at the hotel, Mae gifted everyone a pretty coconut leaf weaved bag filled with popular Filipino snacks. Such a sweetheart.

D4

Moalboal

Moalboal is three hours away from Cebu City and is known for beautiful coral fish, sea turtles and schools and schools of sardines. And it didn’t disappoint. We liked that even though Moalboal is known, the crowd was nothing comparing to the snorkeling spots closer to Cebu City. Perhaps it was the water, the snorkeling I did before at the Caribbean never featured shiny blue fish. And in the water around Cebu island, including that day at Moalboal and days after at other snorkeling spots, there were just schools and schools of various types of blue fish. Sometimes they were so shiny and so blue, you wonder how the nature produces such rich saturated color. Snorkeling at Ho Chan at Belize still ranks the highest to me, but those beautiful coral reefs, clear turquoise water and stunning shiny blue fish at Pescador Island 30 mins off Moalboal shore was very impressive.

After snorkeling at Pescadore Island, our boat moved back to right off Moalboal shore, literally 30 to 50 feet from shore, and there we saw a few large sea turtles and countless sardines. Those sardines just swirled and swirled, and the schools were so large, you wouldn’t be able to see how deep the schools extended into the ocean floor. Marine life lover, 5-year-old Bruce was so excited and while he was a little cold in the water, he shook his voice and said to Claire “Mama, thank you for taking me to the Philippines to see fish.” So adorable.

Me and Little

Other than sardines, we also saw several turtles today. Claire and I even saw a puff fish. That guy was cute and tiny bit funny looking. I saw another puff fish few days after when we were at Sumilon Island. Back to turtles, this one I saw was big and has kinda mezmerizing pattern on the shell.

D5

Carbon Market

Jimmy had to leave us today as he was only able to conjure 5 vacation days. I also worked a bit longer than wanted today. But after a long 1.5 hr call, I wrapped up and visited Carbon Market with the family. We all had fun digging and buying knickknacks. Stuff was very cheap here, like 4-key chain-one-USD cheap. Half way through the market, JiaoTo’s lips were pale and appeared to have minor heat sickness. Vendors at the market were truly caring and immediately pulled a chair to have the little girl sit down. Several locals crowded up sharing their tips to fight off heat sickness. After a short while, JiaoTo seemed to be recovered some and was ok to keep going. Many thanks to locals at the Carbon Market. Your genuine help was heart-warming.

D6

3.5-hr ride to Oslob was luckily smooth. Sometimes Cebu City could really have traffic jams based on our past few days here. Checking in at AJ’s was all pleasantly fine too. AJ’s is a small family friendly resort, only 5 mins by walk form the whale shark viewing spot. They have only three rooms, not fancy but all new and clean. They specialize in customizing tours so lodging is really not what they’re known for. In the following few days we had royal services at AJ’s. The staff pampered us all around and catered to all our needs. One day Dad and Bruce had to get ear drops for minor ear infections, AJ’s sent two staff to accompany four of us to a local clinic. The day to Apo Island, 7 of us had a boat and there were 7 staff on board to serve us. Tumalog Fall excursion, two staff went with us. Even just dinner at a nearby place, they had someone escort us to the restaurant. The following day we dined at the same place, they still had someone walk us over. They literally were trying to take care of us with every single chance they had.

Tumalog Fall was a really nice little excursion to see unique rock formation, waterfall and a pretty green lake.

 

Old town after the waterfall

D7

1st Whale Shark Viewing

Not much to say, whale sharks are just amazing and you have to see it yourself.

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Sumilong Island

Very pretty island resort with nice facilities. Buffet lunch was nice, and snorkeling was good too. We also kayaked at the small but pretty mangrove canal.

D8

Kawasan Fall Canyoneering

World class canyon scenes, very pretty water all the way along. Before the tour, we were told it usually takes 2 hours to finish. We ended up spending 6 hours… As you can imagine, we were very, very slow. Bruce is only five, and Little has very weak legs and can’t really climb if there was no assistance. We were truly grateful for the three guides assisting us. Any of them could carry Bruce on the shoulder but still lend a hand to help one of us to balance on rocks, plus carrying a bag or two on the back. They were quite durable and impressive.

Little said she was so tired and almost passed out but it was so pretty and she thought the tour was worth the effort. That woman is little but has our family’s adventurous spirit. You go girl.

2nd Whale Shark Viewing

The first viewing was unforgettable so the whole family wanted to see the sharks again. Well, except Mrs. Kao said she was happy with the first viewing and didn’t have to go again. But she was a sheep and followed us to see the sharks again. Man, good thing she did tag along. Those fish managed to amaze us even more at the 2nd viewing. We had a gigantic bus size whale shark at the 2nd viewing. It stayed around our boat and didn’t leave the whole time we were there. And water was clearer than the day of the 1st viewing. It couldn’t get better. We were all so pumped and content after. Whale sharks indeed are gentle giants in the water. They just gracefully swam around us. It was beyond wonderful.

Above and Below

Apo Island

We didn’t have good weather today but were still fortunate to see a couple sea turtles. We were told that when the weather is good, Apo Island has tons of sea turtles around. Guess that means we’ll have to come back next time.

D10

Time to leave and see who’s more tanned from the trip. JiaoTo no doubt won the contest. Her skin color already looked quite Filipino a couple days ago.

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Coi

過不久我要和台灣團去宿霧逍遙,阿虎沒得去因為他腳痛得留守家裡,所以抓他來吃好吃的讓他開心一下。我訂餐廳時沒跟他說去哪兒吃,只告訴他最好節食一天保留戰力。我說你想節食一週也是可以的啦,因為通常這種上套餐的地方,我是一定吃不完的賠錢貨,他不只要有戰力吃他的,還要幫忙清我的盤兒。

我對食物的熱情有限,不會費什麼心力去研究哪家的菜色如何如何又如何。選中Coi單純的是因為看了他家這張照片很久了…  好幾次關於舊金山米其淋星級餐廳的報導,都有選中這張沙龍照搭配。待我今晚來去看看它本人是不是也這麼美~
coi-michelin

===

嗯,可惡,菜單換了,沒有上面那道鯉魚背… 不過,我和角姨說,這家我願意再回去吃。一餐二小時可結束,不會撐到不舒服。那種菜單一開十五道要吃三小時的地方,對我來說真的太辛苦。

話說雖然我對食物的愛不多,但是當飲食被提昇到藝術的等級時,我對大廚的尊敬是很多的。我猜Coi有請專業的藝術家設計擺盤,因為它家的食物,美得像幅畫,已經超越精緻二個字的等級了。

三星應該就是所有細節都不能放過吧,所以它家的生蠔上面加的醬也有”擺盤”,強。

鴿 

海鮮

鵝肝

 

Valley of Fire State Park

沒想到一年內來了死谷二次… 上次我和沙沙盛夏時來,真的是在練功。這次六月來,相對好多了,雖然午後某些點偶爾也是有飆上攝式四十八度,但上次是中午開始就一路一直都是近五十度高溫,很耗體力。

我的心頭好 Zabriskie Point1314

這些據說是瑪瑙,外表完全看不出來1918

高溫之下阿虎的手機發瘋了,照出來的照片沒有手,哇哈哈哈。iPhone好弱,不耐熱也不耐冷。上次iPhone在飄雪天中照幾張照片就失溫跟我說沒電。201617

近看鹽的結晶頗大,踩在上面走,卡滋卡滋的響。21

上回來時真的太熱,很多景點我和沙下車可能晃一下不到五分鐘就又逃回冷氣車上。這次這個”調色盤”景點,我和阿虎去步道走了一下,近看那些紫紫綠綠的岩石們,走在都是淡紫色的小石坡上,頗有樂趣。15

上次來死谷時,導遊推薦我們去Valley of Fire州立公園,說拉斯維加斯週邊景點,他個人最愛Valley of Fire。這次我去了… 嗯,它的景很強耶,頗意外它沒擠上國家公園的名單。39261012

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除了奇特的岩石外,這裡還有古人留下的塗鴨,最老的圖案約為三千年前留下的。7

那天我們走運,看到三隻帥氣的大角羊,而且牠們完全沒有要離開的意思。有二隻就在路邊休息,上面本來在高處岩石後的那隻,我們車停下,牠走到岩石前演了好一陣子的獅子王,跟我們對看。上次我們看到大角羊,是在Zion國家公園,不過那隻比較小,應該只是個青少年。大角羊是內華達州的州立動物,在這兒的野外偶爾看到大角羊不是少見的事,但導遊說通常羊兒看到車就閃人不停留,所以能遇見那三隻那樣賴著不走的情形不多。

1

不久前我們才問過保加利亞來的鄰居,舊金山哪家保加利亞餐廳好吃,他說沒有。結果拉斯維加斯倒是有為數不少的保加利亞移民,在這裡我們吃了一家據說很正宗的東歐/西亞家常料理餐廳Forte European Tapas 。這道喬治亞式的生蛋起司麵包 adjaruli khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) 很好吃。蛋、起司、麵包是很安全的組合,基本上要難吃不容易。許多國家都有這三種東西組合成的各式各樣版本的食物。喬治亞的這版,頗厲害。麵包鬆軟厚實夾著起司,上桌時起司和麵包都還熱呼呼的,中間的生蛋打散了用起司和麵包的餘溫去熱一下蛋液。我看每一桌都有點這道,而且只有我們這桌死觀光客在照相,其他桌都是東歐臉,感覺他們每天餐桌上大概都有這道這樣,哈。54

 

 

最近的日子真是十分安靜,二廚連續二天下午邀我去公園走步道,說要幫我明年去蒙古準備。我瞇著眼睛說,在蒙古我是騎馬啊,不是健行,要準備的話,把臀養大點兒才是王道… (轉頭吃甜甜圈…)

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CERAMICS (3)

我陶藝課可以做很多東西喲,我說。我可能還甩了頭髮有點兒得意這樣。結果這一問,好像開啟了他跟我訂貨的熱誠。他先是說家裡的碗不好用,指定要平底碗。隔幾天後,他要我幫他做個日式抹茶碗,還有抹茶粉攪拌棒要給它做個架子。啥鬼,家裡馬克杯是幹嘛用的? 他找了網路的照片給我看,沒想到網上有一堆人在賣抹茶碗,而且有些說是古董要價百元美金以上的還不少,嘖嘖。接下來的幾個星期,每次我上完課他就問我他的茶碗呢? 有次還說等很久了,不會要等到明年吧…    一. 一

 

蒙古國 Mongolia

我和壽司已訂好明年去蒙古旅行,阿虎的膝蓋不能負荷多日騎馬所以不能同行,真可惜。大漠草原裡,騎馬、坐牛車、住蒙古包,有幾天沒得洗澡,行程結束應該會全身馬騷味…雖然洗澡也不是什麼我愛的活動,但是沒有選擇不能洗跟自己發懶不想洗是兩回事兒~ 這趟會跟著當地牧民製作傳統蒙古服飾、住當地牧民的蒙古包、幫忙撿柴做飯製作起司,是個體驗草原生活的行程。

前幾個星期我和阿虎在看馬可波羅,阿虎是電視兒童,我通常對看電視沒特別的興趣。不過我也跟著追劇馬可波羅了。該劇以蒙古歷史為背景,拍得很精緻,隨便一個畫面都讓人覺得所費不眥。後來阿虎查了,據說馬可波羅是史上製作費最高的電視劇… 這我相信,因為蒙古人就一天到晚在打仗嘛,它劇裡三不五時就是戰爭畫面,而隨便一個戰爭畫面就感覺要砸天文數字製作費。我是看了劇才知道,原來馬可波羅跟在忽必烈身邊這麼多年。本來以為是捏造的劇情,但查了才知的確是有這事兒。以前學校的歷史課本好像沒提馬可波羅跟蒙古人混的這件事吧? 而且啊,以前學校的歷史課本把南北宋講得如何如何積弱不振,現在才發現,被蒙古人攻打過的國家幾乎都是一打就倒,只有宋朝是蒙古人久攻不下,堅持了幾十年才被蒙古人打敗的王朝,根本稱得上是勁敵了啊…

明年馬騷味之旅的路線圖mongolia itinerary

 

銀飾

新案依然讓人奔波,不過三天的銀飾研習集訓早早就報好名了,人生不能被工作牽著鼻子走,放下工作出門玩樂才是正途。

完全不需技巧的銀花兒,因為是銀黏土抹在真的花兒上去燒出來的

選寶石顏色的時候,大家一直說紫色紫色,因為每個人都說這只長得像訂婚戒指,搭紫色比較適合,所以我就從善如流選了紫色。但紫色不是我的色,比較適合壽司,所以我就把戒指給了她。

另外做了一只大點兒的戒指,上面寫了老虎的名字,可是我把他的名字寫 錯 了…做到一半才發現,但還在可以補救的階段。回家跟他說把他名字拚錯了,還好不是燒完成品才發現,他搖搖頭說我很糟糕。Image result for emoticon

這次依阿琳要求,做了只胸針,還染了些顏色。

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口袋刀

某人晚上不睡覺,大半夜窸窸窣窣地,整理出滿桌的口袋刀。前二天他端出一盤同款式他買了三十種不同顏色的刀,要我選哪個顏色好看時,我還想說他網購競標拍賣應該買得很開心吧,沒想到那盤只是冰山一角。我完全不知道他在家藏了這~麼多刀呀…

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某些口袋刀工藝精美,頗可用來做擺飾IMG_8606

聖誕系列IMG_8599

萬聖節系列IMG_8602

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Chinese New Year

本想外頭隨便買買紅包袋了事,可真是醜不啦嘰,令人難以容忍…  =.=
買了素面紅紙袋,蓋上金蠟印後感覺中國年的氣氛就飄出來柳~

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大年初一去吃中國菜。阿虎的筷子用得不比我差,那天我筷子沒拿好掉了一枝到地上,有夠跌股的。

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退休人士現在有個壞習慣,就是半夜才開始在廚房亂搞。那晚阿虎問我想吃烤蛋糕還是烤餅乾,我點了餅乾,他很賢慧地做了花生口味出來,還花俏地在餅乾罐上打了蝴蝶結。結果我出門飛去拉斯維加斯交接案子二天,回到家罐裡只剩一顆餅…

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最近的新案,是認識多年的客戶買了間在那帕酒鄉的中型旅館,要我接手財務。案子選在忙季開案,我有被整到,重溫沒時間吃飯的日子,還好這種日子只過了一週,這二天情況好像好些了,希望案子早日穩定,不要突發狀況太多找我麻煩蛤~~

Land’s End

夏天離開前,我們又陪了她去走了在海邊的健行步道。這步道應該算是風景非常好的吧,還會經過古早時候留下的游泳池遺址。

一向人來瘋的夏天

二廚沒事兒會在家練練廚藝,現在鮭魚煎得很不錯,那天還烤了整顆花椰菜,頗有樣子的呢。