Ramen Destinations in HongKong

The craving for ramen was equally strong even while in Hongkong and we found that they also have a lot of worth-slurping restos with no main branch yet in the Philippines (or maybe there is one opening now?!).

The family went to HK for me to attend a digital marketing summit, for our son to revisit Ocean Park, and for hubby to simply bond with us.  The Japanese Ramen exploration was not in the main plan during our short stay but it has surprisingly become one of the highlights of the trip as we have been solid lovers of this dish. Sharing our top three picks:

  • Ichiran

Get ready to line up for one to two hours before you take a good seat and enjoy that hot bowl of ramen. We don’t really like waiting that long but this one is an exception. They only have one type of serving but it fits to a lot of people; you just get to pick your mix on a menu sheet (flavor taste, richness, garlic level, green onions, type of sliced pork, Ichiran’s Original Red Sauce, noodle texture) and get ready to savour the moment… then do it again! The next day we went to line for hours once more at Tsim Sha Tsui branch before our evening flight.

Address: Lockhart House, Block A, 440 Jaffe Rd, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Ichiran Causeway Bay Hongkong

Fascinated with our ramen corner!

Ichiran Honkong

Best place to eat alone with no care in the world!

  •  Kuma

Address: 8 Parkes St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

 The Black Kuma is one of the best garlicky noodle ever while the boys had a feast with their respective Kuma orders.

Kuma Ramen Hongkong

Ramen bowl for each! Happiness.

  •  Bari-Uma

Address: G/F, 26 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, China

 Imagine pork flavored shoyu soup with grilled thick-cut chashu! I like how they perfectly flamed the meat to the inside making it so good to bite.

Bari-Uma HongKong

Which of these ramen flavors to choose?

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The Not-So-Very-Nice People at the Coffee Stores

coffee shop pet peeveI enjoy working at coffee shops; it is an ideal other-office to finish a deadline, start a collaboration, prepare a report, read a chapter, or write a blog. There are a lot of times when I can accomplish more here than staying at the office. But not every day I get a dose of tranquility or that sense of accomplishment with a coffee in hand; some people just seem to miss good manners and drop “proper courtesy” in their vocabulary that I cannot simply ignore The Attitude. Have you encountered these not-so-very-nice customers?

  1. Talking on their mobile phones as if they are the only one in the room.
  2. Lounging on the store couch feeling like they are in their own bed.
  3. Removing their shoes and flaunting their feet! Are they assuming they are alone at home?
  4. Taking their time to look at the menu not minding the long queue.
  5. Chatting with each other in a loud voice perhaps imagining they just purchased the place!
  6. Owning an entire four-seater space and not planning to share despite the many crowds.
  7. Depriving other people a chance to charge drained phone or laptop batteries.
  8. Not cleaning their own mess; yes there are cleaners but throwing empty cups or setting aside used mugs won’t be much of a sweat.
  9. Slurping the coffee which makes me wonder if I am in a ramen house.
  10. Saying sorry or excuse me is not very common nowadays. There are instances when the venue can be full and we might unintentionally hit someone’s shoulder in a cramped walkway or drop someone’s stuff in a squeezed table… shall we just pretend like nothing happened?

I’m sure you have more encounters to add. But isn’t always ideal to go back to the basics and recall what we have learned in grade school? As simple as applying respect and courtesy wherever we go. Well, hope you still enjoy the fresh brew!

Coffee chat with @WriteNowNa

10 Realities of Freelancers

There are really so many perks of being a freelancer; as most practitioners proudly claim—own your time, be your own boss, freedom to be when and where you want to work.

True that doing freelance has a lot of advantages especially in managing time but it takes beyond time to keep up. Before taking the leap into freelancing (a lot are considering it now with the turn of the new year and the option to shift a career), I would always recommend friends and colleagues to study the pros and cons on top of their evaluation of their emotional and financial status. Our own attitude plays a huge part in the process; connection with people who can help is also very useful especially on the first year (my first consulting job was from my fulltime employer). Someone has to be there to support you, give you an opportunity to handle projects while you are still building a portfolio. It is a must to bank on discipline, patience, and perseverance; delivering quality work given the deadline.

Hubby is also a freelancer and we have made a random list which others can surely relate across industries. Get ready to live these realities once you jump into the freelance world:

Working on Vacation is the life of a homebased freelancer

Work while vacationing (taken a Veue Cabins)!

  1. Get accustomed to working even on vacations.
  2. Do a Monday night gimmick as you wish! 
  3. Learn to market yourself beyond the beauty of your CV.
  4. You will miss the excitement of going to ATMs on the 15th and 30th plus the thrill of holiday bonuses.
  5. Good thing, you won’t be affected by “petsa de peligro” (days closer to salary and pockets of employees are almost empty).
  6. Seeing all your billings become a nightmare when there is no work in the pipeline.
  7. There are months you will be overloaded to the point of refusing a job (so as not to compromise quality) while there are also off-peak days when you just stare at your computer screen and no work is popping.
  8. Some clients are way too unreasonable, admit it. Now, you have the option to refuse working with dementor-like-clients.
  9. At several scenarios, getting your cheque on time is but a dream and sweet promises of the accounting department is the last hope.
  10. You will get a full-time offer that is so tempting you will have second thoughts if you are doing the right thing.

Do an honest analysis of where you want to be in terms of your career and finances along with your personal goals; the realization will help you stay as freelance or go back to corporate world, your choice. Stick to where you are most happy and productive. 

As the year ends and new plans will prosper for us all in terms of personal and career growth, let me thank you for staying with me through 2017 and looking forward to more of our adventures together this 2018!

Merry Christmas!

 

7 To-Do’s on a Singapore Weekend Trip

Plan a productive weekend when in Singapore while taking note that it has similar hot weather like in the Philippines (it was also bipolar during our stay as it was so sunny in the morning then a strong rain in the afternoon) but the place is completely clean and the highway traffic is way too bearable even during a Friday night rush hour. Special thanks to my Father-In-Law who treated our entire stay as his birthday gift to my Son! Where to go? Here are some of the places you may consider while on a 3-night vacation with a kid onboard.

  • Sentosa – an island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk, and monorail. Depends on how many attractions you wish to explore but you can spend a day here to just simply roam around (ride cable car and tour the Sentosa Island via Bus) or visit S.E.A Aquarium (large aquarium featuring 800 species of marine life in a variety of habitats; one-day ticket at SG$34 for adults and SG$24 for kids) and Universal Studios (one-day ticket at SG$76 for adults and SG$56 for kids), among many other activities that you can pick.

  • Gardens by the Bay – nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. In the afternoon, you can take a look at the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, and Heritage Gardens. Comes night, stand in awe of the amazing SuperTree Grove uniquely designed vertical gardens of 25 to 50-metres tall with a light display (7.45pm and 8.45pm daily). Bring a thin blanket or a long shawl to spread on the floor so you can lie down and watch the effects for free.
Gardens by the Bay Light Show

SuperTree Grove Feels like in Avatar World

  • Marina Bay Sands – walk at the huge and intricately-designed mall;  enjoy your coffee at the DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe. Well, nothing really spectacular about their latte but a Superman-designed mug and a cookie shape Batman is fun to try. The kids would surely fancy DC-character ice cream stick! Then go up to the paid viewing deck of the boat-shaped top floor soaring 57 level; observation deck entrance fee is SG$23 for adults and SG$17 for children.
DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe

Superman Latte and Batman Americano, please!

 

What’s on the high boat?

From Marina Bay, you can just walk to the ferris wheel and stroll at the Merlion Park.

  • Singapore Flyer – the Flyer has an overall height of 541 feet and takes about 30 minutes cycle. (Only second to the highest ferris wheel in the world, first being High Roller at Las Vegas at 550 feet.) The ride offers a nice 360 panoramic view of Singapore. The ticket is priced at SG$33 for adults and SG$21 for children.

Singapore Flyer from the Marina Bay POV

  • Merlion Park – you’ve probably seen images of Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. She is the Mama Merlion and the body symbolizes Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning ‘sea town’ in Old Javanese. Her head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Mama Merlion

Side view of Mama Merlion (The Daddy is on Sentosa Island)

  • Orchard Road – a 2.2 kilometer-long boulevard and Singapore’s retail heart with discount outlets, department stores, and upscale boutiques, alongside luxury hotels. Duration here is based on your shopping appetite, you can spend a whole day at Orchard to (window) shop and eat. As for us, we eyed on the eating part and found a really good ramen place at OrchardGateway! if you are Japanese noodle lover, have a slurp of shoyu or the black garlic at Kanshokuramen.
Ramen!

Ramen!

 

Starwars at Orchard

Starwars Product Launch at Orchard

  • Clark Quay – historical riverside quay (a structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place) in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area. Drop by late afternoon or evening then jump to a dinner treat as there are a lot of mouth-licious food spots! If you are a seafood lover, get a reservation at Jumbo along the RiverWalk and make sure to order their crabs and shrimps! Or if you like cook-your-own steak done on a small-square stone grill, check Hot Stones. The extreme-adrenaline seekers might want to try  G-Max Reverse Bungy (I did NOT even think of riding it)!

The walk at Clark Quay

 

WriteNowNa in Singapore

Ready to crack the crabs!

These are just some of what you can do in SG and are guaranteed to leave memories! Have an amazing trip!

When is the So-Called “Ghost Month”?

Many freelancers and enterprise owners take extra precautions on their decision-making and spending during the so-called “ghost month”. Some would say that the entire August (even calling it “Aughost”) is actually a dangerous month so expect people with strong superstitions to avoid work transactions and to not initiate new business ventures.

Have you experienced a drop of income? Or a slow turn-around of your finances? Or you just feel so unlucky? I have not gone into that “Aughost” scenario but met many people who lay low and undergo a downtime. Thankful that work comes normal and at times better compare to other months but I respect those who believe otherwise.

An ABS-CBN news article says that “This year, ghost month starts on August 22 and ends on September 19, 2017. According to Chinese legend, ghost month is when evil spirits are unleashed from hell and roam the earth, bringing bad luck wherever they go. This is why superstitious businessmen, and there are surprisingly many, lie low during this time.”

Dates vary annually according to the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh month (14th in southern China). In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day (For this year, it is set on September 5) and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. (Source: Wikipedia)

Coming from the traditional Buddhist and Taoist origin, note that the date does not cover all of August (10 days) and includes more days in September (19 days) so the timeline assumed by many as “ghost” is not when it should be.

Waiting for the Ghost Month?

Are you going to wait and restructure your activities?

Will the so-called ghost month alter your work schedule? Should you procrastinate an endeavor? Should you be more careful and not take risks? Should you suspend the planned expansion? Or just live normal with a focused and optimistic mindset driven to try over and win non-stop regardless of what month it is?

Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Honest Tips When Going To Parts of Europe

Our trip to Europe last summer is totally memorable; the sights are breathtaking and the experience is surreal. With the aim not to stress the vacation that much and avoid following a day-to-day loaded schedule, we planned our own itinerary (traveled without a guide or group) with our kid as the top-of-mind concern. We arrived in Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt, Salzburg) then Czech (Prague), Switzerland (Zurich), to Germany (Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt). Pan your eyes from left to right and the view is a guaranteed beauty.

View from the Castle

#AustriasInAustria

But getting too engrossed with what we are seeing might not be ideal as we still have to be on guard. Excited with your European tour? Here are a few reminders before you fly.

1. Get ready to walk for kilometers. Forget the fancy shoes and just pack your most comfortable pair. Appreciating the place is way better on foot and get up close with the intricate details of the surroundings. If you are visiting on a summer (end of May to August), do not wear flats with a thin sole. Remember, you will walk on cobble stones/brick floors and you will feel the roughness of their pathways if your feet are not properly equipped.

#PraguingLakadSaPrague

2. Water bottles are so expensive (depends on where you buy but ranges from Php100 to Php250 per 500ml) so make sure you pick the right one—purchase the “no gas”water; they are mostly selling “with gas” (imagine flavored water and sparkling).

3. There are pickpockets so stay alert. We’ve met a few tourists who lost their wallet or an item, especially in Prague. Avoid leaving pieces of stuff unattended, put your money/passports closest to you and your credit/debit cards secure with RFID blocking wallet.

4. Bring usable, foldable tote bag as they don’t give paper or plastic on to-go purchases (even at grocery stores).

5. There are taxi cabs and Uber rides but trains and buses are good to explore.

Train ride at Marienplatz Station, Munich, Germany

6. If you get a chance, drive at Autobahn and enjoy the speed. You will not need to apply for a driver’s permit if you have a valid Philippine license. More treat for car fans as there are the Mercedez-Benz, Porsche, and BMW Museums to linger on.

Hubby enjoying his 220 drive at Autobahn

7. They speak English but not all are very fluent so be patient when you converse. A lot are really nice (especially warm with kids) but there are rude people too so keep the calmness and don’t let these few ruin the trip.

8. Most hotels do not include a pair of toothbrush and toothpaste to their personal hygiene compliments pack so make sure to bring your own.

9. Try their local food and don’t be intimidated by goulash and schnitzel. Spoiler alert: they are our Pinoy versions of kaldereta and breaded porkchop/chicken.

10. It is okay to get lost. You will surely find spectacular and wonderful corners along the way.

Happy 2017!

Here comes the new year and most of us are feasting with food, fireworks, and fascinating resolutions. What do you aim to achieve this 2017? What do you wish to change or improve? How are you going to make it work? How will it be tagged at the end of another year, success or failure?

So many things we wanted to do yet so many uncertainties too. The first day of New Year seems to invite that moment of contemplation about life. That “what to do next” thought balloon as I stared the view of BGC from our 18th-floor hotel room (staying here so my son can avoid inhaling the smog of the evening’s traditional firecrackers’ funfair around the Metro).

New Year Contemplation while at Ascot BGC

Have I done the right thing or should it be another way? If the latter, then what’s the other way? To pursue what has been started and just enhance the process or completely begin anew? How do I see my life to happen? I really don’t know exactly but one thing I really hope to push is to maintain such optimism despite the looming negativity around. I aspire to learn more and be inspired by good people. If I am on the right track may perhaps be an eternal question but maybe that exactly makes life interesting…

2016 was not a year-round perfection but it was full of blessings that our family is always thankful about. Battles and challenges are surely part of the route and so are triumphs and wins with many in-between mundane days. We can always try to add spark even in our simplest way than troll nonsense negativity. Find our path while living the moment of the new year. Let’s make it the best!

May we all have a happy and productive 2017!

Dining at Katsuya, Hollywood

Our family was able to relive the blog about seven tips for parents traveling with younger kids as we visited the US about a month ago. It was a spectacular time for us. A lot of theme park adventures (Legoland, Disney Land, Universal Studios) and long drive escapades (from Orange County to Laughlin to Grand Canyon reaching Las Vegas back to Los Angeles) but the highlight of every stopover is food!

Serving size there is so overwhelmingly huge drooling on Popeye’s fried chicken, Panda Express’ lemon chicken, Shake Shack’s hamburger, Joe Shack’s crabs, Ihops’ pancakes, Kona’s grilled steak and a lot more I can only fancy now.

On top of all the meals we’ve had, one completely stood out. If you are a Japanese cuisine lover and is going to the United States anytime soon, you must include Katsuya by Starck on your itinerary.

Katsuya Hollywood

Katsuya Hollywood

They have many branches around the City (Hollywood ▪ Brentwood ▪ Glendale ▪ L.A. Live ▪ Las Vegas ▪ South Beach) plus Middle East (Kuwait and Dubai). And perhaps we’ve been into the hottest spot, Hollywood!

Sushi Tray at Katsuya Hollywood

Devouring the sushi (at once! So good that we failed to capture in photo the beautiful whole, untouch shot!)

Our tray of sushi was masterfully crafted by the only lady Sushi Chef at the Resto, KitKat Austria. I so love watching her prepare in precise rhythm and with so much passion.

Sushi Chef Kitktat Austria of Katsuya Hollywood

Sushi Chef KitKat Austria in Action!

Everything is outstandingly delicious but my #1 pick is the Baked Crab Hand Rolls! Imagine a baked snow crab lightly kissed with Chef’s signature sauce, wrapped with rice in soy paper. I can eat it all day and crave for more. As part of your starters, don’t forget to add the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds!

Katsuya Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Katsuya’s Japanese kanji symbol “Katsu” means “victory” or “to win” and it’s fitting considering the loyal following of Hollywood A-listers and Zagat critics the restaurant has won over with its inventive combination of Japanese and Californian cuisine. Exuberant servers welcome you “irashaimase” as you walk in and bid you “arigato gozaimas” as you leave and in between, original creations like the Crispy Rice, Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Miso-Marinated Black Cod and award-winning cocktails like the Burning Mandarin delight your palate.

Featuring the dynamic pairing of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi and design impresario Philippe Starck, Katsuya by Starck is truly a feast for the senses. With superb talent and exacting precision, it is truly changing the face of Japanese cuisine.

Bandwagon of Reasons

I was about to draft an article about Southie café stores but could not finish it up as I would prefer. There are other ideas on my mind and I have been contemplating about this for a while.

Bandwagon of Reasons - WriteNowNa

Not that I am going to be preachy but I’m sure you’ll agree that this is what’s usually happening now, there are specific practices that we have to cut somehow. (Auliq Ice has an interesting profile as a Writer, Singer, Songwriter, Arranger, Author, Internet Entrepreneur and Investor.)

Simply put, perhaps consider this: let’s try not to join the recurring bandwagon of reasons?

  • When there is no time to keep in touch with friends or we simply don’t want to be in touch with anyone, “I am busy”.
  • When a deadline is not met or a promised agreement is not done, “I overlooked from the pile of messages”.
  • When coming to a meeting becomes a perpetual tardiness, “trap in a heavy traffic”.
  • When discord arises, emotions can’t be controlled, and extreme foul words get in the way, “…but the highest person in position can defy decent language, why can’t I?”.
  • When we have a problem with someone, instead of talking to them directly, we rant on our Facebook post with the thought balloon, “hope he reads this *#$&#*$@!”.

What’s trending or what appears to be the most accepted social behavior nowadays may not reflect our own values—it may affirm or sway our beliefs depending on how strong we hold it. Are we going to just simply follow because it is done by most people? Or has it become the most convenient reason that is automatically accepted without a blink, so use it? Maybe we can try to say no and get the habit of not using unnecessary excuses at all. Get real and take a tight grip of that goodness in us.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Is it a Good Read?

(There is no spoiler here)

Harry Potter novel series reminds me of younger years—closing the door, secluding myself for a day, diving into the story while completely detached to everything and enchanted on my own corner. I had never been deeply engaged with other books since the end of Deathly Hallows which was released back in 2007.

My fascination continues, even introducing the wizarding world to my son.

harry-potter-writenowna4

The public distribution of the Cursed Child last July 31, 2016 seems to bring back the excitement a bit. “A bit” only because I have already put an end to the Harry Potter adventure along Book 7. Hearing that there would be a stage play of Harry Potter 19 years later of his life did not make me frantic. At first, it was announced that there would be no printed version but apparently, they have it now.

harry-potter-cursed-child-writenowna

Hubby understanding my Potter passion surprised me with a copy simultaneous to the international selling.

It is in a script format so JK Rowling’s detailed description of what’s really going on is not happening here. Important to note also that she has not entirely written the story as she worked in collaboration with other playwright Jack Thorne.

Finishing the script would only require a couple of hours of devoted reading; the flow is still intriguing but not as compelling as the original novels nailed it. So, lessen the expectations.

The plot lacks the depth, the twist is utterly forced to occur, and the ending has none of that lingering effect we got used to. There are still bits of exciting and interesting portions though (as strong friendship of unlikely characters tends to bloom).

Is it worth the read? Yes. It won’t hurt to know what happened to Harry Potter and his gang whether we agree with it or not as Potterheads surely have their own conclusions post-Voldemort. And who knows, the West End stage might reach the Philippines? Then that would have been another experience worth anticipating for a fan of many years.