Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bali Hits & Misses: iiGa Warung

Verdict: Worth the hype as this place is a definite HIT!

Highly recommended by our guide/driver, iiGa Warung is where the locals dine for the best barbeque ribs in Bali. Its a no-frills restaurant - just straightforward service and amazing ribs at an affordable price, so manage your expectations in terms of interiors and its limited menu.

Our guide left right after endorsing us to one of the restaurant staff. CS invited him to come join us for lunch but he insisted he brought food his wife cooked for him so we agreed let him go.

What we ordered

Nasi Goreng - Indonesian fried rice accompanied with pork ribs, prawn crackers, and egg

iiGa Warung's signature ribs hits the right spot with its fall off the bone pork ribs and smothered in delicious sauce; I now understand why this place is popular and packed on a weekday afternoon. Most people say that the place is a tourist trap but as long as the meal is good and the price is reasonable, it really doesn't bother me. Besides, we got a kind and passionate guide to tour us around Bali so if he does receive commissions for bringing tourists here, then good for him!

Pork Ribs - Grilled pork ribs in lemonade barbeque sauce


iiGa Warung
Jalan Uluwatu, Jimbaran
Bali, Indonesia
Tel.: (6281) 3382-62009

Friday, January 11, 2019

Costa NeoRomantica Day 2: Maizuru, JP

Located in the scenic Maizuru Bay, the city of Maizuru in Kyoto is our first stop in the 5-day Jewels of the Far East Cruise aboard the Costa NeoRomantica. This stunning seaside town is filled with incredible sights, overflowing seafood, and cultural treasures. CS and I initially planned on visiting Maizuru Brick Park, a popular tourist spot, but it was drizzling when we arrived at the port so we agreed to just explore the area on foot. Besides the fact that taking a cab is the only way to go to the park, we only had a few hours before the ship leaves again for another city.

Maizuru is pretty much a laid-back city with just 92,465 total residents as of 2018. Its one of those cities where you can bike around and sit outside to meet people, and with lots of greens and open spaces. Getting lost away from the main road brought us to beautiful temples and traditional houses with amazing gardens; where you'd find schools of koi fish swimming in drainage canals because its clean enough to become their natural habitat.

Highlight of our Maizuru walking tour was dining in a local restaurant with the freshest catch from the bay. Searching for the best Japanese cuisine in the area allowed us to find this quaint family-run restaurant with Japanese menu only. It was a challenge ordering at first but we were lucky to sit beside a local who can understand and speak English fluently. According to her, not many tourists find their way in that side of town as they mostly stick to the fish market and nearby restaurants. She was also kind and generous to offer some of her orders for us to try while trying her best to be our interpreter to the local chef and his family.

Sharing some photos of the BEST sushi and sashimi I have ever tried in my life.

This sweet delicacy of eggplant, edamame, and seafood is the chef's daughter's famous recipe that's not even on the menu. Our newfound friend insisted for us to try this, which she also paid for by the way, and we were just floored how deliciously rich and tasty this dish is.

We love Maizuru and its amazing people; we hope to return and stay longer in the future!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Costa NeoRomantica: Jewels of the Far East Cruise

The largest European cruise operator with 14 ships sailing around the world, Costa Cruises has been our top choice for our cruise vacations ever since we had the chance to board Costa Victoria in Singapore back in 2016. I've been in touch with Lester of Travel People, Costa's preferred sales agent in the Philippines, for exciting deals and promos offered to the local market. One great deal we did not want to miss was a 5-day cruise across Japan that set sail last August 2018.

Our five-day Jewels of the Far East Cruise aboard the Costa NeoRomantica originated in Fukuoka's Cruise Center and traveled to 3 more cities in Japan (Maizuru, Kanazawa, and Sakaiminato) then in Pusan, South Korea before going back to Fukuoka for de-boarding.

Public buses saved us tons of money because taking a cab in Japan is quite pricey.

Just like in airports, cruise check-in is required before boarding to make sure all passengers (especially foreign tourists) have the required documentation and are all accounted for.

Completed in 1993 and refurbished in 2011 to increase its capacity, Costa NeoRomantica's decks are named after popular cities in Europe such as Monte Carlo, Madrid, Vienna, Verona, Paris, London, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. Aside from the usual entertainment on-board, the ship boasts of a full luxury spa called Samsara featuring a vast 4,400 floor area that houses a gym, spa, thalossotherapy pools, treatment rooms, sauna, Turkish bath, UVA solarium, cabins, and suites.

Lido Bar Saint-Tropez

Grand Bar Piazza Italia

Cabaret Vienna

Tango Disco

One of the 789 cabins in Costa NeoRomantica, ours was an ocean view stateroom with a queen bed (or more like 2 single merged into one). Much to our dismay, all staterooms with a private balcony were full so I had to convince CS really hard to take what's available. Apart from balcony, the room had everything we need - a comfortable bed with side tables, television, open closet, and toilet and bath. Basic bath essentials are provided but its always better to bring your own brands.

The daily program, individual Costa cards, a welcome letter, tour order forms, and FAQ sheet were available in each room to get the guests accustomed to the activities in-store aboard the ship.

If you love food as much as we do, then you'd be excited to know that most cruises offer buffet meals throughout the day. In Costa NeoRomantica, guests are treated to several dining options - an all-inclusive sit down restaurant and a buffet dining area offering international cuisine, and paying restaurants and bar if you fancy exclusivity and gourmet dishes. An 8-course steak meal sounds nice but paying $150/head does not, so we always find ourselves lining up in the buffet area or booking a table at the sit-down restaurant. You can order as much as you can because there's no limit here! Just make sure to order/get enough food you can consume to avoid wastage.

Tip: To save money, take heavy breakfast before leaving the ship for shore excursions; you can also dine at Costa when you return from your day tour at the all-day buffet restaurant.

Photo taken on the first day of the cruise and at 4 kilos lighter - my belly and chubby cheeks took the heavy hit after a week of relaxing and pampering aboard the Costa NeoRomantica!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday Treats No. 62

1/2 Nasi Goreng 1/2 Gado Gado - IDR60,000 (Php223.00)


Made's Warung
Jl. Raya Seminyak, Banjar Seminyak
Kuta, Kabupaten Badung
Bali, Indonesia 80361
Tel.: (62361) 73-2130

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019!

As we bid goodbye to 2018, let us all leave the negativity behind and welcome the new year with enthusiasm, optimism, and grit. It was a challenging but awesome year and I can’t wait for an even more exciting 2019 with life-changing events and celebrations in the coming months.

I’ve been blessed and will forever be grateful for the love and affection of family, friends, and loved ones - the best set of gifts anyone could really ask for. But in terms of actual Christmas presents, let me share some of my favorite things I received over the holidays:
      • Heys luggage - the world’s lightest spinner
      • Sleepwear
      • Philips steam iron
      • Knits and sweater
      • And my most favorite of them all - the gift of a good night's sleep

Wishing everyone all the best for 2019!
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