Manila, Philippines through the lens of my iPhone 6

It’s more fun in the Philippines they said! Yup, Pinoys really know how to paaaaaaaarty!

About over a month ago, I was sent to Manila on a work trip because Flexiroam is one of the Gold Sponsors of the TBEX Asia 2016 conference, and so I get to  put on my Flexi t-shirt and put a BIG smile on my face to step into Manila (#itsmorefuninthePhilippines). So you might wonder what is TBEX? TBEX is the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professional. Since I am there for work (priorities), I’ve only had little time to spare and wonder around. Majority of the time is pretty much spent at the Convention Center, and our little comfortable boutique hotel. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy! Simply put it, work hard play harder. You’ll always find fun even with the little time you had … 

First off, I gotta give credit to Flexiroam X  (Not to brag since as an employee…, but as genuine traveler). It’s my first time traveling to Philippines and seriously, this is the first time my brain is free from worrying about staying connected to Facebook and Google Map! Usually when I know that I’m travelling out of Malaysia, I’ll be frantically googling for ‘cheapest data roaming plan, pocket wifi, and where to find internet‘ in the country that I’m about to travel to … because I am technically an internet addict and a social narcissist (who will not stop posting pictures on my profile) when I’m traveling.  I have to make sure that I am connected so I can feel SAFE! *LOL* I totally agree that this is a sickness! PLUS I have two kids (siberian husky) at home which I needed the internet to stream the webcam so I can see how they’re doing.  Now that make me sound like a crazy dog women stalking on her dogs… (0.0). Bottom line, I need internet.. period!

So the moment I landed, I’m already connected to Flexiroam X (by switching a few buttons in my phone settings of course), and I can instantly show off that I have just landed in the land of FUN! with three other monkeys too.. 😛

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Waiting for our GrabCar ride and (damn!) look at my tired eyes!

GrabCar is super awesome and convenient. Right outside the arrival entrance (across the road) is a booth ready to help you get a ride. And there’s seat for you too *feels totally good for my tired legs* You don’t have to worry about airport transfer when you landed; And me, without having to worry about no internet connection I can just … technically speaking open GrabCar and get a ride. The best part is…. in conjunction with the conference, you get ride discounts too! So we’ve been traveling in Manila just riding on Grab! (with the discounts on every ride) I would say, GrabCar is pretty much everywhere in Manila, and getting a ride is soooooo convenient and quick.

GrabCar booth just across the road of the arrival hall entrance
GrabCar booth just across the road of the arrival hall entrance

So after  4 hrs flight (I just never really like the flying part in all my travels), and took about 25 minutes ride to finally get to our boutique hotel; somewhere close to the Mall of Asia – checked in and freshen up a little. I didn’t really snap any pictures of the place because I’m just so darn lazy and HANGRY! (angry because I’m exhausted from the flight and hungry, because that’s what I do every time I’m a new country)img_1832We walked to the Mall of Asia (said to be the largest Mall in South East Asia) for food. Before that I always thought Midvalley Megamall was the largest mall *LOL* (me and my dumb moments again) I really wanted for some “paluto” it means “to have someone cook” (i think), and I manage to googled one restaurant nearby the mall’s seaside bay area.  But it didn’t work out because it was closed – the one recommended by TripAdvisor and got 4.3. stars review! Disappointed it didn’t open; also while we’re on a budget, we decided eating from a halal restaurant together.

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I have to make it clear that I did not, ABSOLUTELY did not do any food hunting in my 4 days stay in Manila, Philippines. Because one; my food partner is not with me and two; I don’t exactly have a bank of time to slowly read, go, hunt and eat. My main focus is, strictly about work.

After I got a little more energized, we took a walk nearby seaside and do some photo snapping. Please don’t ask me what is this place called because I totally didn’t pay any attention. My brain at that time only recognize one word .. SLEEP. But is walking distance from the MOA. So if you’re visiting around, do checked out this place! img_1824

But then,… social narcissist here (me) still remember to post up selfie on instagram too.

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Then, it’s time to head back to the hotel freshen up and attend the conference’s OPENING NIGHT PARTY! The theme was #FestivePhilippines. When I glanced at the itinerary, I don’t quite catch the theme, so I ended up putting on my dark coloured two tone dress (as I always do when attending ‘formal’ events or meetings), I felt so awkwardly dressed because everyone here is sooooooo casual and I’m like so out of the place.. because it’s my first time attending such carefree and casual conferences.

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The entrance dance was so fun to watch! I REALLY FALL IN LOVE WITH THE COLORFUL LIFE OF THE PINOYS!

The moment we got off our car, we already hear real love live music and colourful welcoming dance! The opening party was held at the Blue Leaf Filipinas, Paranaque City (also known as City of Dreams in Manila) img_1840

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That’s me and their cocktail. It was good!
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me and the two other monkeys *grins*
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Balut before I crack it open.

Overall the dinner party is really awesome. Loud, vibrant and really get you into the happening mood! That’s why… #itsmorefuninthephilippines  Then, something caught my ear during the start of the dinner. The announcer said “BALUT” ( is a developing bird embryo (usually a duck or chicken) that is boiled and eaten from the shell. It originates and is commonly sold as street-food in the Philippines.) – something of which I have been researching that is a must try delicacy in Philippines. And so, I rushed to it… and then everyone hordes at my table staring at me eating… *shocked*.

And here’s a proof to show I REALLY did eat it. It taste just like normal boiled egg, but only until you eat the harder part of egg (which many told me is the neck area).. *gulp*. They said they eat it when they’re tired for energy boost and strength. And usually they,ll crack open a little, sucked the juice out of i (which I personally find it damn good) and then dipped salt and vinegar into it. img_1862

Then dinner started, show started, party started and it was time to call it a day. I was really tired and sleepy. We got goodie bags too on the way out. Yay!

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The two days pretty much about work at the conference. I was grateful I got to attended really insightful and cool talks during the sessions. Also meeting many people (travelers, bloggers, podcasters and many more) which was really cool. They were all awesome people that really widens my mind!

I was really surprised that though majority of my time was spent at the conference, I get to still enjoy some Pinoy cultures too! The first night of course, i got my taste to Balut. The food they served for lunch and tea taste really good. I didn’t really snap pictures because I was quite occupied, but I’m sure travel bloggers who attended TBEX too have much more to say than I do.

Here’s one ‘lunch’ prepared for us which is totally cool! They called it ‘Kamayan’ means eating with your hands ; a family-style feast that’s laid out on banana leaves and consumed without utensils. It was very surprising to me that they had banana leaf style dining too. I mean, I’ve always loved banana leaf rice (you know from our Malaysia indian restaurants). But dining in a supeeeeeer long table is really fascinating! I have never in my life eat like that. LOL. *If only every wedding dinner I attend would be feasting like this!* 

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This is somewhat a very interesting invention to me. It’s really the first time I’m seeing a compressed towel. I was so amazed by it and I think tissues should be like this not in ply sheets and every restaurants should really get this! I mean, thinking about it – it’s really more hygienic this way.

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I like how everything was prepared so nicely for us and enjoy the feast! The food is pretty good too! There were so many different dishes provided and I love it all.

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Team Flexiroam!

And really kudos to TBEX team to ensure everyone of us enjoyed ourselves and be reminded we’re in Philippines, so we gotta go out party! On the final day of conference, we were invited to Oktoberfest at Chaos in City of Dreams for the closing party!

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This is one place I probably wouldn’t go if I’m traveling to Manila for a leisure trip, so I was really happy to get to be there! img_1988

I got to say, all Filipinos are good singers. Like real good singers! The moment we walked in, they already get us into the mood of partying with good live songs.

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Gotta have a taste of beer, since it’s Oktoberfest. I’m not really a beer person, but I don’t mind giving it a try!

Then we found ourselves a seat at the corner and I was drawn to this ‘Bagel tower‘.

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Bagel tower!

And the display of food. OMG! The amount of pork sausages and ham everywhere is like heaven to me! (Heaven for a food person like me!) Everything look so absolutely delicious. img_2003

Unfortunately my tummy is only allowed for this portion of them to go in. (So disappointing and I wish my food partner is here to help me with food … so I get to taste more of it!)
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This was one very cute lovely display of a dessert station. Everything in this station is eatable (I think)img_2004

I picked one giant love cookie with icing. I had bite of it…but it wasn’t really good. So I regretted my choice. But the rest of the desserts should be nice for everyone. Personally I’m not really a dessert person, and I didn’t want to continue because they were all so very sweet! I can’t really take sweetness at this age anymore *sad* img_2006

That was pretty much my memorable moments during the conference and the fun I had in the little time I can squeeze out.

I didn’t really do any exploring (though I wished I have) because I was kinda exhausted throughout the day and really want to go back to my own bubble…But I did try some other things outside the conference’s time zone.

I had Jolibee; a Filipino multinational chain of fast food restaurants. Everyone who been to Philippines said that I must try this. And I did! It was good only especially with the sauce. If you expect it something like KFC, you are wrong! It really a good piece of fried chicken dipped into this special sauce that got you hook to it. And yes, you must try this at least once when in Philippines or anywhere in the world that carries the Jolibee chain. img_1900Then we had this ‘Spicy Mango’ dessert; which I find it really sour and spicy at the same time. I still can’t quite define the taste of this so I don’t have an answer as to whether is taste good or bad for me. Well, I can only say, it didn’t really register to my brain. img_1867The final day before heading off to the airport to fly back to KL (I’m really homesick by then…), I took an early stroll for snack shopping at MOA, while the other two monkeys checked out some sightseeing attractions. Because I was kinda homesick and dreadfully thinking I have to go through 3.5 hours of flight before I can go home to my kids; I wanted only some alone time (comfort bubble). img_2019

I came across this popcorn flavoured store. It looks like it’s selling expensive popcorn flavored snacks (you know like Garrett’s in Kuala Lumpur) but is totally not! Maybe for pinoy standard the snacks in consider on the high-end but to me, is popcorn heaven! They have really really awesome assorted flavours which you probably can’t get anywhere else yet in KL. So yes, if you’re window shopping at MOA, do checked out this and make sure you get the Jalapeno Flavoured popcorn. img_2021

And then there were a lot other snacks I get, and totally exceeded my budget for snack buying. The must buy snacks (after I get home and tasted each of it) is the dried mango especially dipped with chocolate flavored. Is pretty good! You can get them for Cultura at the Ground Floor of MOA. img_2022

Did a little bit of picture snapping to prove that I’ve really set foot in Manila. img_2020 img_2017And then it was really time to fly home. As usual we get a ride to airport with GrabCar, and it took us about 30 minutes to reach to the international airport. I missed home so much! And this is Manila, Philippines from the sky!

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Overall, I had fun in Manila with my awesome Flexiroam team and especially more roaming with Flexiroam X – you know I only used less than 300MB for the whole 3 days! Mostly using it for whatsapp, instagram, facebook, google map and booking a ride from GrabCar app; which I believed that this is the essential every traveler needs while abroad. Of course, I still connect to free wifi spots whenever I got a chance (It’s free.. who doesn’t like it. I’m still a Malaysian you know), but at least, I don’t have to worry or frantically searching for it when there’s none.

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And yes. One day I’ll be back again as a true traveler! That time, I’ll probably be able to search every road and corners for the best food and fun in the Philippines. I’ll be back! 

If you’d like to read more about TBEX and their pre and post tours they organized, you can check out some cool TBEX-er blogs and pages a silverbackpacker, momfluential, Colleen Vidal and many more … (which is not very difficult to google up)

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