Italy, Day 8: Florence Cathedral

As it was our last day in Florence, we wanted to make sure that we visit Florence Cathedral, a UNESCO Heritage Site. We lined up for more than 2 hours before we were able to go inside so it was a battle between boredom and fatigue from standing. When it was finally our turn to go inside, it was somehow underwhelming.

APRIL 19, 2019

As it was our last day in Florence, we wanted to make sure that we visit FLORENCE CATHEDRAL / BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

We lined up for more than 2 hours before we were able to go inside so it was a battle between boredom and fatigue from standing. When it was finally our turn to go inside, it was somehow underwhelming. Not sure if it was a function of the altar and majority of the front section being off limits for that day… I read up about this cathedral before going in and sad to say, I was not able to see Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment.

We were contemplating if we wanted to go up the cupola designed by Burnelleschi but that would require another round of lining up so we took a pass. There was a basement section where the remains of a 7th century church could be seen.

Before going back to our Airbnb to check out, we had Florentine steak and carbonara for lunch from TRATTORIA DALL’OSTE. One order of the steak was good enough for me and my sister to share.

When we got our stuff from the Airbnb, I just had to make a last trip to our favorite gelateria nearby. I got the triple gelato flavors and no regrets!

It was finally time to travel to Milan (via Trenitalia), where we almost got scammed in one of the elevators in the central train station. Good thing we were alert enough to see them trying top open the zipper of our handbag! The same thing happened the next day when we were leaving Milan but a different set of scammers doing it.

Italy, Day 6: Back in Florence

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful.

APRIL 17, 2019

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful. I’d say the best time to visit would be late afternoon because the sun rays that hit some of the stained glass windows reflected colors on the church’s floor.

There were more artworks and relics in the museum-like rooms outside the church.

Our last stop for the day was PONTE VECCHIO. The golden rays of the sunset gave beautiful, warm colors to the structures around.

We were too lazy to go out for dinner so we just grabbed a sandwich in the café beside our Airbnb building. We also bought homemade gelato from NON SOLO GELATO. What was interesting here was that most of their flavors change everyday so we did not eat the same flavors of gelato each day.

Italy, Day 6: San Gimignano

When we arrived at Poggibonsi station, the bus going to San Gimignano just left a few minutes before and the next one will be after an hour. We were not in the mood to go around so we just sat in one of the areas in the park. Good thing it was sunny so the cold did not bother us.

APRIL 17, 2019

When we arrived at Poggibonsi station, the bus going to San Gimignano just left a few minutes before and the next one will be after an hour. We were not in the mood to go around so we just sat in one of the areas in the park. Good thing it was sunny so the cold did not bother us.

From Poggibonsi, the travel to San Gimignano took less than 30 minutes. Even outside the main gate, we could already see the medieval architecture of the walled town.

We went first to DUOMO DI SAN GIMIGNANO, which housed a lot of religious murals and paintings. There was also the Chapel of Santa Fina and Chapel of the Conception inside.

For lunch, we went outside the main gate to reach TRATTORIA RIGOLETTO. We ordered aglio olio, spaghetti al ragu, and a meat main dish.

And, because we heard about the famous GELATERIA DONDOLI, what else to do but order gelato for dessert! I got the cioccolato and their popular Crema di Santa Fina (orange cream-flavored with bourbon vanilla pods, San Gimignano saffron pistils, and Pisa pine nuts)… It sounded weird and actually tasted weird (but tolerable) hahahaha! Buti na lang I had the cioccolato to mix it with.

In an attempt to burn the calories we ate, we planned to climb the TORRE DEI CUGNANESI. We climbed a lot of steps before reaching the final round of steps for the tower… and we chickened out when we saw it. It was so high and in between each step, there was no cover so you can see all the way to the bottom. We took a commemorative photo instead then just checked out the artwork sections.

We explored the rest of the town and inner streets before heading back to Florence in the mid-afternoon.

Italy, Day 4: Amalfi Coast (Part 1)

We availed the “Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi Tour” from Viator, which costs around €80+ per person. Our first destination was Sorrento, which is the home of limoncello.

APRIL 15, 2019

We availed the “Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi Tour” from Viator, which costs around €80+ per person. Our first destination was Sorrento, which is the home of limoncello. We first visited SORRENTAGRI which sold limoncello in various alcohol volume %. I was not a fan of both 20% and 32% but then again I don’t drink alcohol.

After buying small bottles of limoncello and cooking aids, we headed to the city center of SORRENTO and we were given free time to explore the city on our own.

My sister and I went to the famous DAVIDE IL GELATO and I got a 2-flavor cup: limone (lemon) and nocciola (hazelnut). Good thing I got the nocciola to neutralize the sourness from the limone.

We walked around some more before going back to the parking lot to reconvene with the rest of the group…

Second stop was POSITANO where we had a great view of the ocean and houses built in the cliffside village.

We had our lunch at RISTORANTE LA CALAJANARA where we had a simple 3-course lunch, part of the tour package. My sister and I were seated with a fellow tourist from Sweden, and we exchanged lots of stories about traveling and our home countries.

Last stop of the tour will be continued in the next post. 😊

EU, Day 1: Vatican

Our first order of business for our first day in Rome was to visit Vatican. We headed straight to St. Peter’s Square followed by St. Peter’s Basilica.

After years of saving, EU trip finally came true! First country we visited was Italy, and I was really excited for this one because I would get to eat pasta all day everyday. We flew with Etihad from MNL-CDG then took another flight from CDG-FCO (Rome) via AirFrance.

APRIL 12, 2019

Our first order of business for our first day in Rome was to visit Vatican.

We walked around ST. PETER’S SQUARE and I shared with a friend that upon stepping into this place, it felt like the Lord’s blessing was closer than ever and I was humbled by His grace. It sounds weird but he assured me that that was how he felt too when he went there.

Next, we fell in line for ST. PETER’S BASILICA. Initially, I thought to myself that the line was long but when we went outside after going around the basilica, the line was 3-4x longer. The basilica was so huge that we were not sure where to start… I even took a long time to streamline which pictures to share here.

Next, we headed for our scheduled meet-up place for Skip-the-Line ticket to VATICAN MUSEUMS (bought here).

The guide accompanied us until the entrance inside Vatican Museums and she said goodbye to us once we got our STL tickets from her. Good decision because the regular line was insanely long outside. However, the crowd inside was also big that my next thought was to go outside already. Haha!

I honestly cannot remember the names of each room or section that we went to and it took us about 2 hours to finish seeing everything. Sharing my favorites from the museum visit:

We had our late lunch in PANIFICIO BONCI, a small but famous bakery in the area. Once inside the store, we got a queue number. We were nervous what to order because there were no labels or descriptions… we also did not know how to say that we just need a small portion because all the other customers were speaking in Italian. When it was our turn, it was a relief that the staff was able to get our orders exactly the way we want them.

Dessert was, of course, gelato! We dropped by OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA, a famous gelateria near the Vatican. They had more than 10 flavors displayed and I got the option of having 2 flavors in 1 cone.

Japan, Day 4: Osu & Sakae

Finally the day to explore Nagoya – hello Day 4! This was more of a shopping day though so don’t expect cultural or technological tours. 🙂

In the morning, I went to Osu Shopping District and went around different anime shops such as Geepress, Mandarake, and Yellow Submarine.

Finally the day to explore Nagoya – hello Day 4! This was more of a shopping day though so don’t expect cultural or technological tours. 🙂

NOVEMBER 24, 2018

In the morning, I went to OSU SHOPPING DISTRICT and went around different anime shops such as Geepress, Mandarake, and Yellow Submarine. My only purchase was the earphone plugs I badly wanted ever since losing my Luffy plug 2 years ago. I also tried looking for a Sailormoon action figure for a friend but oddly enough, I didn’t find any.

When it was lunch time, I went to Maidreamin which is one of the popular maid cafes in Japan. It was my first time to visit one and it was interesting. I had the omurice with curry sauce but I didn’t know that they will draw on the omurice using catsup… uhm, talk about a weird combination with my curry sauce. I couldn’t say no because it might offend them so I just said the first animal I could think of – neko (cat). Good thing the taste of the curry overpowered the catsup!

Some of the customers ordered the set menu which included a dance performance from the maid of their choice. It was like watching a good solo JPop act (but I still have my own reservations on this).

Near Maidreamin was the giant maneki-neko, the landmark of Fureai Plaza. At different times of the day, there were different performers like this guy who was doing different balloon artworks.

Next order of business was to find Ocha no Kakien for my fix of green tea! It wasn’t far from the maneki-neko and they were having a free taste when we got there. I was supposed to buy matcha but they had it in powdered form – which I had no idea how to mix. ☹ I ended up getting a genmaicha+matcha combination of tea leaves for ¥600 (already tried it back home and I super love this!!!).

I forgot what I was trying to look for during this time but I remember seeing so many shops that cater to different shopping needs – shoes, clothes, caps, bags, food… you name it! Be prepared to have tired feet and empty wallets.

I saw a shop selling Cremia while finding the road going to Sakae. So even if it was autumn season, I still bought ice cream. I looove Cremia’s signature langue de chat cone.

I was also supposed to try Gaburi Chicken but still full from lunch so that visit was postponed.

Last stop for the day was SAKAE, which is the popular shopping and entertainment district of Nagoya. I went to PARCO to visit animate and try to find my sister’s Nyanko-sensei plushie request. It was a surprise not to see this in any of the anime shops we visited in Osu, especially since it had a recent movie release in Japan. Anyway, luck was on my side because I found two different plushies!

I also dropped by Tower Records. I initially planned not to buy anything but out of curiosity, I asked the staff for the CD shelf of LUCK LIFE and Kenshi Yonezu. Lo and behold, their shelves were facing each other.

I bought LUCK LIFE’S latest EP (Naru) and Kenshi Yonezu’s Lemon EP with DVD. So happy for Kenshi Yonezu because he has two whole shelves dedicated for his music. ❤

Spot flumpool – they’re on hiatus though ☹

No pictures anymore but after PARCO, I shopped for new coats in GU then spent a lot on food souvenirs in DonKi / Don Quijote (mostly Kitkat and instant noodles). Sad wallet but happy heart.

Back at the area of the hotel, I followed the staff’s instructions on where to find the nearest money changer. It was a surprise to find out that Kintetsu Nagoya Station a fifteen-minute walk. Perfect discovery because it would be an important train station for the next 2 days. Initially, I was thinking of boarding the train from Fushimi to Nagoya then walk to Kintetsu Nagoya. What a nice discovery!

Dinner was at CoCo Ichibanya where I got the hamburger curry with cheese. I liked that they have options on the serving size for rice since I don’t eat much rice.

That’s it for the first exploration of Nagoya!

Singapore, Day 3: Chinatown & Platform 1094

Went to YUM CHA CHINATOWN as recommended by our friends in SG. I only had the patience to take pictures of the first few dim sum we ordered.

We also visited PLATFORM 1094, which is a famous Harry Potter-themed café that offers dessert and drinks (including alcohol-based).

APRIL 23, 2017

Last day in SG started early! Went to YUM CHA CHINATOWN as recommended by our friends in SG. I only had the patience to take pictures of the first few dim sum we ordered…

Everything was just so good!!! I felt like I kept eating during this day… I went back to the hotel to meet up with my best friend since we were going to spend the whole day together. I accompanied her for lunch then we took a cab going to PLATFORM 1094, which is a famous Harry Potter-themed café.

K and I shared the dessert and drinks because we wanted to try a lot. Of course, we had to order Mr. Lich’s Flaming Brew but we were quite disappointed with the “flaming” effect… Natadtad tuloy ng cinnamon yung drink! Can’t remember the names of our other orders. We liked their cake though.

Short trip to Haji Lane is up next. 🙂

Bangkok, Day 3: Shopping + Food Trip

When I entered MBK, I was overwhelmed by the size. Good thing this was my only shopping stop for that day. I was able to go to an area where there were numerous stalls that sells clothes that are ideal as pasalubong. I also bought a few more tops for myself, all for 300 baht or below.

After shopping for clothes, I went to MONT NOM SOD as recommended by a close friend. I ordered the classic toast with milk and another toast with chocolate. Both were sinfully good, but I prefer the milk one because I find the chocolate to be a bit too sweet.

MARCH 17, 2016

Breakfast for this day was soup with rice mixed in it. Glad that it was not spicy at all and despite the heat outside, the aircon in the sala was turned on so eating soup was not a problem.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After breakfast, I went back to my room and stayed in the balcony for quite some time. My only plan that day was to shop at MBK so I asked my family what they wanted me to buy for them.

At around 9AM, I left the house and headed to MBK. I just hopped on a BTS train, got off at Siam station, and walked for about 7 minutes. While walking at the overpass going to MBK, a woman approached me and spoke in Thai. Mistaken again as a local?!

When I entered MBK, I was overwhelmed by the size. Good thing this was my only shopping stop for that day. I was able to go to an area where there were numerous stalls that sells clothes that are ideal as pasalubong. I also bought a few more tops for myself, all for 300 baht or below.

After shopping for clothes, I went to MONT NOM SOD as recommended by a close friend. I ordered the classic toast with milk and another toast with chocolate. Both were sinfully good, but I prefer the milk one because I find the chocolate to be a bit too sweet.

Sugar rush!

After finishing both toasts, I explored the rest of the floors of MBK — not only to see if I would buy more items but also to feel hungry again since I wanted to eat at the food court. I ended up eating late lunch. Good thing that my experience in Platinum Fashion Mall made me aware of the payment system in their food court.

Do not worry if you do not know the prices of the food. You can opt to load 300 baht, for example. If in the end, you were not able to consume all 300 baht, then go back to the station where you got the card and hand over your card. The ladies there will give you the cash equivalent of your card’s remaining balance.

I had no idea where to eat so I settled for C17 stall which sold crab meat noodle soup. They mix in real crab meat, not the fake crab sticks so getting a bowl of crab meat noodle soup for less than 100 baht was already a steal.

I went back to Mooncome Homestay afterwards to take a nap before going out again to meet Arm, a friend’s friend. I was excited because I would be able to talk to another local plus we would be going to a place which is not touristy.

I met with Arm at Phaya Thai BTS station and we walked for a few minutes before reaching a certain soi. It was an area popular with Thai locals, especially the Muslim community. The dishes served there consist of Thai dishes but of course, following the halal code. We went to a local restaurant and I ordered the tom yum. But since I learned my lesson about their “very mild” spiciness here, I told Arm that if it was possible to have the soup to be not spicy.

When the tom yum was served, I was quite doubtful if this request was done because the soup had a dark red shade. So I took a spoonful of soup and to my surprise, it was not spicy at all. The picture below made it seem that the serving is just small but in reality, it was really big. I did not get to finish everything, unfortunately.

Tom Yum (but no spiciness at all – Arm helped me with this special request)

After dinner, Arm introduced me to Lily, his good friend. They told me that we were going to a sidewalk store for dessert, and that this place is very popular with locals. When we got there, it was a full house but a table got freed up so we were seated right away. We were literally seated beside the main road but good thing there was not a lot of cars passing by that night.

Arm and Lily recommended the milk tea (forgot the local term for it) and they ordered a few more desserts. Apparently, they got the toast slices with condensed milk, same as the one served in Mont Nom Sod. Theirs was equally delicious. By the time the other food came (naan with egg?), I was already too full to eat.

Thai tea (forgot what this was called T.T)

 

 

We left the place at around 10PM but all the tables were still occupied and there was even a long line of people waiting to be seated. I really had a good time with Arm and Lily, and it was such a great feeling to finally be able to talk to someone for hours. ❤ Something that I missed while on this solo trip. Time flew by quickly when I was with these two so that is a good sign of having fun, yeah? 🙂

Now contemplating to go for CouchSurfing when traveling?

 

LINKS TO OTHER BANGKOK 2016 POSTS:

Bangkok, Day 1: Preps, Lay Lao, Platinum Fashion Mall, The Best of the Boat Noodle, Puritan

Bangkok, Day 2: Grand Palace, 5 Wats, Thip Samai

Bangkok, Day 4-5: Terminal 21, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, Rot Fai Market, Mooncome Homestay

Bangkok, Day 1: Arrival + Exploring the City

I took a rest for about an hour before heading to one of the famous restaurants in Aree neighborhood — LAY LAO.

I decided to order slices of roast beef and som tam (green papaya salad) instead. I asked the staff to make the spiciness of som tam to be very mild… but it was still too spicy for me to handle!

MARCH 15, 2016

I booked my flight to Bangkok through Cebu Pacific (seat sale yay) and I was very happy that I did not experience any delay. In fact, we arrived 20-30 minutes earlier than ETA! This was my first solo trip so I was really excited to see what this trip had in store for me.

Before I left the airport, I looked for the DTAC station to get the tourist prepaid SIM card I paid for online (https://www.dtac.co.th/en/prepaid/products/tourist-packages.html). You may opt to buy it in the airport if you do not want to pay online. For just 229 baht, I already have a SIM with free data volume for one week. Very convenient for my Google Maps and Facebook Messenger access.

My sister shared with me how she went to her lodging using the airport taxi so I already had some idea how to book one. The signs inside the airport were easy to follow so upon seeing the taxi bay, proceed first at the machine where it will give you a small paper with the number of the taxi you should proceed to.

My Airbnb host provided her home address in Thai language so I just showed it to the taxi driver. Lucky that the driver was knowledgeable since he did not have any difficulty in finding the house (which is located at the end of a narrow alleyway).

I already experienced heavy traffic jam while on the way to the Airbnb listing. It was also quite disorienting for me because vehicles in BKK are for right-hand driving — caused me confusion when crossing streets because I would instinctively look to one side when in fact, it should be the opposite.

Upon reaching the house, I was greeted by Katy & Benz — they are the hosts for the listing I booked for my BKK stay (they are also a couple *-*). Even from outside, the house already looked amazing! I was excited to see “my” room since the pictures of the room in Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4771693) looked really clean, beautiful, and maaliwalas… and when I finally saw the room, it did not disappoint!

Why should you stay with Katy & Benz if you are in Bangkok?

  • I absolutely love the bedroom — the soft and comfortable bed, the balcony with beautiful plants, the smooth wooden floor, and the room having cool temperature even if it was insanely hot outside. While the bathroom is a shared one, it is very clean and you can use any of the toiletries inside (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, facial wash, etc.).
  • BTS station is nearby. I prefer to go to Sanam Pao station since this is nearer than Aree. If I remember correctly, when going home, take Exit 3 to go back to Mooncome Homestay.
  • The area is indeed quiet especially at night so you are assured of a good night’s sleep.
  • They serve free breakfast! No need to stress yourself where to get your breakfast. You get to taste local dishes + the food they serve is delicious.
  • Their neighborhood, Aree, is dubbed as a hipster place. You can find coffee shops, dessert places, hole-in-the wall restos, food trucks, and street food stalls thay serve delicious food & drinks.

Google Maps will not provide an accurate location if you rely on the specific address in their Airbnb page. Just type in “MOONCOME HOMESTAY” and you will be able to easily navigate yourself back home.

Back to my first day — I took a rest for about an hour before heading to one of the famous restaurants in Aree neighborhood — LAY LAO. Google Maps saved me the hassle of getting lost since it was accurate in providing the location.

I was supposed to get their grilled squid but the serving size is too much for me. I decided to order slices of roast beef and som tam (green papaya salad) instead. I asked the staff to make the spiciness of som tam to be very mild… Apparently, very mild is still too spicy for me to handle! Total bill was 180 baht.

Roast beef slices (Lay Lao)

Som tam (Lay Lao)

After having lunch in Lay Lao, I searched for a money changer in Bangkok and a lot of tourists recommended Super Rich (http://www.superrichthailand.com/). There are two Super Rich money changers in BKK, and look for the one with green theme because they have better rates. After changing my USD to baht, I headed to Platinum Fashion Mall which was just a few blocks away.

Dubbed as the largest wholesale and retail shopping destination, PLATINUM FASHION MALL is really tiring to roam around. There are three whole floors dedicated to just women’s clothes! Other floors are for men’s clothes, kids’ clothes, accessories, etc. Shopping heaven for the shopaholics indeed!

It took me about 2 hours to just finish going around 3 floors (including window shopping and actual buying). Whew! But I was happy with my purchases since all the clothes I bought were about 200-300 baht each only. Yay! I had no interest in the other floors so I went straight to the topmost floor to eat in their food court. I read that hoy tod (fried oyster cake) is one of the must-try dishes there. I forgot the stall number/name where I bought it but I found it in some blog entries so maybe it would be easy to search online?

I was not aware though that I had to get a card and pay for it to put load or credit, then use it to pay for anything that I will buy in the food court. Good thing there was a customer in the same stall  who knows how to speak in English so she was able to instruct me properly. Life saver!

The hoy tod was really delicious but the serving was good for two so I was not able to finish it. There was a generous amount of oysters, and I had the option to calibrate the sauce and other condiments I would put in it. I think this was just about 70-80 baht only.

Hoy tod

After eating, I was supposed to take the BTS to go to Victory Monument but I was not sure on the exact location of the area with boat noodles stores. I took a cab instead and the fare was less than 100 baht so it was not a bad decision after all. Also, locals do not call the place “Victory Monument” so I showed the driver the name of the place written in Thai.

I had no idea which store serves good-tasting boat noodles so I searched for recommendations online. FoodieFC recommended “THE BEST OF BOAT NOODLE” since there were more customers eating there when he visited.

The serving of boat noodles is really small, probably not even enough for a kid so people usually order at least 5 bowls to feel a bit full. But since I was still full from the hoy tod, I ordered just 2 bowls of “Noodles Thicken Soup with Beef“. It tasted good but I eventually found a better-tasting boat noodles in Rot Fai.

I was quite annoyed with the staff though because they served a plate of crispy pork crackling (similar to chicharon) which I initially thought to be free of charge. Apparently, it costs 10 baht so this was charged to me when I asked for my bill.

Noodles Thicken Soup with Beef

Added the crispy pork crackling without knowing that it was not for free 😦

After paying for my bill, I strolled around the area and there were lots of vendors selling all sorts of food. I ended up buying a cup of strawberries as a palate cleanser but I was not able to eat most of it since the vendor scooped a mixture of sugar and salt on it.

More street food stalls in Victory Monument area

Stall with plentiful of strawberries

While looking for a trash can to dispose my cup of weird-tasting strawberries, two young locals who were wearing Greenpeace shirts approached me and they started speaking in Thai. I smiled at them and told them that I do not understand Thai language. We bid goodbye to each other and I went home around 5PM to rest and think about where to eat for dinner.

Worst decision ever to had that white substance sprinkled all over the strawberries — turns out to be mix of salt and sugar 😦

Victory Monument

Victory Monument BTS station

Upon reaching home, I still felt really full so I decided not to eat heavy dinner and just have dessert in PURITAN. From Mooncome Homestay, I walked for about 20 minutes to reach the place.

When I arrived, there was no customer around so the place was very quiet. All of the cakes looked visually appetizing, to the point that you would not want to eat the cake because it will ruin the look. In the end, I chose the cake with different kinds of berries.

I walked to the dining area and when I was about to sit down, an employee approached me and asked if I did not read the sign outside. I looked puzzled and she pointed to my shoes. Apparently, I had to take them off outside the shop so I hurriedly removed them. When I saw the sign, I was not surprised that I did not know about this rule because there was no English translation. LOL.

Cake with different kinds of berries, yay!

After finishing my dessert, I decided to take a tuktuk if one would pass by so that I could go home faster. Indeed, a tuktuk passed by when I just started walking. I showed the address in Thai and at first, we were heading at the right direction when the driver made a different turn. I was confused because we were getting further away from the house. I was right that he brought me to the wrong location (yay for having sense of direction) so I called Katy so that she could give the right directions. When we finally arrived, I paid the driver 50 baht but he told me it should be 80 baht. Wow, talk about expensive. That would already equate to taxi fare but since I was not in the mood to quarrel, I just gave it to him and vowed not to ride tuktuk there again.

I had no problem in sleeping since I was dead tired already plus the next day would be visiting a lot of temples.

 

LINKS TO OTHER BANGKOK 2016 POSTS:

Bangkok, Day 2: Grand Palace, 5 Wats, Thip Samai

Bangkok, Day 3: MBK, Mont Nom Sod, Food Trip

Bangkok, Day 4-5: Terminal 21, Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar, Rot Fai Market, Mooncome Homestay

Siem Reap, Day 5: Shopping + More Food Trip

r. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food?

FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Our last day in Siem Reap was just spent shopping and eating. We woke up quite late since we did not have anything important in our itinerary then Mr. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food? 🙂

We ordered pesto (for pasta), cheese platter, and pizza al funghi. I am semi lactose intolerant so I don’t know why I initiated ordering the cheese platter. Everything in our plate (taleggio, spicy primo sale, gorgonzola, mozzarella, honey, nuts, pears) tasted good, although I ended up regretting a little bit why I ate too much of them.

The home-made tagliolini al pesto was excellent! Not too oily and you could really taste that fresh herbs were used for this. Serving was just good for one (hungry) person though so good thing we still ordered a pizza.

We were supposed to order one main dish but the waiter (who was familiar to us) told us that we would not be able to finish our food if we ordered a main dish. At first we were skeptical but turned out that he was right.

It was good that they were consistent with how they made their pizza — a tiny hint of burnt crust, thin and chewy, and generous with the toppings. We enjoyed our pizza al funghi and even if we already finished the cheese platter and pasta, we were able to eat all pizza slices. *oink?*

Homemade tagliolini al pesto

Cheese platter (gorgonzola, taleggio, spicy primo sale, fior de latte mozzarella, olives, honey, nuts, pears)

While eating, we were trying to plan having an early dinner before we go to the airport. But when we finished our lunch at past 2PM, we were too full already and we could feel that we would not yet be hungry by 5:30PM.

We walked around the area and did some last minute shopping after lunch. After that, we walked to BLOSSOM CAFE AND TRAINING CENTRE for desserts.

The place is best known for cupcakes that are “too beautiful to eat, too delicious to resist”, as their tagline says. Indeed, their cupcakes looked really pretty! Plus they offer a lot of flavors so if you have a sweet tooth, it will be difficult to choose which one to eat. But, what is more interesting about Blossom Cafe is that this is also run by an NGO that provides assistance to Cambodian women through vocational training. Similar to Marum Restaurant. 🙂

We stayed there until 5PM, and Mr. Kim fetched us so that we could pack the items we bought that afternoon. Before we bid goodbye, we had an obligatory picture taking. Yay! Let me give you a quick rundown why we deem Mr. Kim (of Kim Cambodia Driver) as one of the best tuktuk drivers in Siem Reap:

  • Responds promptly in e-mails
  • Can negotiate rates, even volunteers discount — case in point, his rates do not include sunrise & sunset viewing in Angkor Park but he gave these for free for our 2 days in the main Angkor Park complex (i.e. those days not in Banteay Srei/Kbal Spean)
  • Unlimited COLD water! Very much appreciated especially during our temple run days. He had a small cooler in his tuktuk and even during the afternoon, water bottles were still cold.
  • Very flexible in terms of pick-up/drop-off arrangements — initially we only booked him for Angkor Park trips but we ended up getting him as our tuktuk driver for the WHOLE TRIP, including non-temple run days; there were also a few occasions when we changed our mind on pick-up/drop-off time and he was okay with the changes
  • Punctual, already waiting in front of the house even before call time
  • Recommends activities in case you have free time and no itinerary yet. I remember he showed us brochure for Flight of the Gibbon and Phare, the Cambodian Circus. We did not avail any of the activities since we felt that our itinerary was already enough, but in case interested, he can buy the tickets since he knows locals working there.
  • Very caring as he bought us free unripe mangoes and a local snack (sticky rice inside a bamboo shoot)
  • Cheerful guy, he likes to laugh and smile during conversations

After having our photos with him, we also had one taken with our Airbnb host, Bunthai. As I mentioned in my first post for Siem Reap travel series, you won’t regret booking with her. I provided a review for her listing as well (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5140353).

At around 6PM, Mr. Somnang fetched us and drove us to the airport. Ride was about 20 minutes and we got there, we found out that check-in would still be 8:30 or 9PM. There was only one restaurant outside the airport — not in the mood for the food they offer, no Wi-Fi so Kim and I kept on regretting out loud how we were not able to eat in Il Forno for dinner…

aThen, Kim had a bright idea — call Mr. Kim to pick us up at the airport and bring us to Il Forno. And so we did. Good thing Mr. Kim was available at that time so after about 30 minutes of waiting, he arrived at the airport and we rode his tuktuk again. Hooray to spontaneity?!

When we reached Il Forno, the place was jam-packed! Good thing there were 2 seats left and it was amazing because it was “our” spot, the table where we ate for the past 2 occasions. Marzio approached us and we told him that we wanted gnocchi and a main dish. Unfortunately, he told us that we would have to wait for 40 minutes because the orders ahead of us were for big groups. I think we were unable to hold back our sad + disappointed looks since he suddenly said that if he could give us pizza quickly, especially because we had a flight to catch. We were already happy with that since we absolutely loved the pizza  at this place so we ordered Pizza Ricca.

It usually takes 10-15 minutes for the pizza to arrive so we kept ourselves busy with chatting. We were surprised though that 5 minutes after ordering, the pizza was already served to us. We looked if they brought the wrong order but it was Pizza Ricca. We were deeply moved by their concern and service for us, which made the pizza taste even better. The pizza was still cooked perfectly, not undercooked, so we kind of thought if this was an order for another table and they just gave it to us since we were in a hurry. Now that kind of concern and service is something that you won’t be able to experience in all dining places. Before we left, we just had to give our biggest thanks to Marzio for the impeccable service they provided us.

Pizza Ricca

After our wonderful dinner at Il Forno, Mr. Kim drove us back to the airport and this time, for real, we bid farewell to each other. Flight back to Manila was not delayed, thankfully. Kim had an awesome foreigner seatmate who is working here in MNL. We exchanged some stories of our Siem Reap trip and he gave me advice for my BKK trip for March. Even until the end, we still got to talk to a fellow traveler which was really cool for me. 🙂

Despite the intense heat, Siem Reap will be a majestic place for me and the kindness of the people is something that I will never forget. Til the next time we see each other again, Siem Reap!

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Before I end this post, a big shout out to my best friend, Kim, who made this trip very memorable! Even if we are total opposites when it comes to traveling — I’m a planner, she is more spontaneous — we really had good chemistry. No bickering, no negative feelings, just pure fun and kulitan. Cheers to our first awesome travel… and cheers to more travels together in the future! ❤

 

LINKS TO OTHER SIEM REAP 2016 POSTS:

Siem Reap, Day 0-1: Angkor Archaeological Park – 8 Park Stops in 1 Day

Siem Reap, Day 2: Il Forno, Quad Adventure Cambodia, Miss Wong, Pub Street

Siem Reap, Day 3: 10 Park Stops in 1 Day, Touich Restaurant

Siem Reap, Day 4: Outskirts of Angkor Park, Bugs Cafe, Lemongrass Garden Massage