Lakad Pilipinas
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Sellona Beach Sunset

We ran to the beach, our eyes bleary and our brains still reconnecting with our limbs. There were embers in the sky, burning and flaring above the mountain gradients on the horizon. But it was fading fast with each of our fumbling steps. We stopped right by the soft creamy shore of Sellona Beach, the warm waters of the sea gently lapping our feet and gawked. We overslept and were totally unprepared for this.

Sellona Beach Brod Louie Beach Resort
BROD LOUIE’S RESORT GROUNDS

Sellona Beach Brod Louie Beach Resort
OUR PERSONAL BALCONY

20160227-SARANGANI-D7000-0004
SIMPLE BUT CLEAN ACCOMMODATIONS

Four hours of non-stop travel would do that. From the majestic lakes of Lake Sebu, we boarded a van back to General Santos City to catch another dilapidated van with a non-working air-con to the town of Glan in Sarangani. On the way, we scoured the interweb for a place to stay. Picking from all the expensive resorts along the famous Gumasa Beach, we set out for Brod Louie, the cheapest amongst those we found online [ROOM RATE: PHP600.00 | CONTACT NUMBER: (0942) 393-3516 | (0921) 988-0846| GPS MAP: 5.796904, 125.175886].

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, May 22, 2016

Melaka River Graffiti

A year ago, I’ve explored the stretch of Melaka River, not from its elevated concrete banks, but right from its midst. Boarding the popular Melaka River Cruise on the first evening we arrived in the city, I saw how vibrant the riverside was. And although the cruise was enchanting, passing glittering buildings from the comfort of our boat, I wished I could savor all its sights on a more leisurely fashion;I wanted to explore it on foot, or on a bicycle perhaps. But we simply didn’t have the luxury of time back then.

Melaka River Cruise Boat
RIVER CRUISE BOAT ALONG THE RIVER

As we came back to Melaka, we promised ourselves that we would take the time to really explore the riverside of this UNESCO World Heritage City. And so it was that on our third day, we set off from The Pines Melaka, our hotel which was conveniently located right beside the waterways, and walk all the way to the Melaka Dutch Square.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Thursday, May 19, 2016

St. Paul’s Church Melaka

Dark gloomy clouds gather at the top of St. Paul’s Hill as we continued our way up through flights of stairs covered in maroon paint, onto a complex of museums, into the open road, a trellised path and at last, a final series of stairway leading to the ruins of St. Paul’s Church atop the hill.

St. Paul’s Church Melaka
GOING UP TO ST. PAUL’S CHURCH FROM THE DUTCH SQUARE

In theory, the climb is easy enough, but in reality, the intense suffocating heat of Melaka, even on overcast days, makes the climb double the effort. We decided to pass off this particular ruin during our first outing in the city almost exactly a year ago, but this time, with nowhere else to go, we prepped ourselves in braving the heat to finally see this famous ruin.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, May 9, 2016

Where to Eat in Melaka

I was under the impression that Penang holds the seat when it comes to Malaysian cuisine, but I was told otherwise by my friend from Melaka. She may be biased about it, since she comes from Melaka, but this was what she told us; people from Melaka goes to Penang for food trips, while people from Penang goes to Melaka for their own food trip.

During our short two-day Melaka adventure, we got to taste firsthand if this UNESCO city can indeed holds its own against its northern counterpart.

BAN LEE SIANG SATAY CELUP

     ADDRESS: 45-E JALAN ONG KIM WEE, MELAKA | 06-284 1935 | OPEN EVERYDAY FROM 5:00PM TO 12:00MN | GPS MAP 2.202283, 102.243634

Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup Melaka
FIRST RESTAURANT ON OUR FOOD TRIP ITINERARY

Our first taste of Melaka should’ve been a McDonald’s. Forgive us, but we we were quite hungry for something familiar after our three-week Laos trip. Good thing our friend F directed us where to eat in Melaka; Ban Lee Siang.


This unassuming hole-in-the-wall serves satay celup, a kind of cuisine said to be unique in the city. It’s basically skewered meat, seafood, veggies, dumplings and almost everything you can think of that you can be set on a stick. You then dip the raw stuff into a pot of simmering gravy sauce where you let it cook for a bit before chomping down.

Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup Melaka
A VARIETY OF SKEWERED SOMETHINGS

Ban Lee Siang is one of the more famous restaurants (or restoran, as the Malaysians call them), in Melaka serving this kind of food, with Capitol Satay going head to head in terms of popularity.

We quickly settled down as one of its patrons vacated a table.

Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup Melaka
DUNK. COOK. EAT.

Our host did the shopping for us. From a wall of glass refrigerators, she hauled an assortment of meat balls, bean curds, seafood, kang kong and what-nots that I can’t identify on a tray. Prices range from .50 MYR to .70 MYR. You’d know the more expensive ones by the color of their stick tips.

She then told us to simply dunk these on the thick, boiling satay gravy and wait for a few minutes.

I was quite excited to try it, which resulted to a burned tongue.

Ban Lee Siang Satay Celup Melaka
HOW MANY STICKS DID WE JUST ATE?!

I love, love, love everything! The normally regular taste of these streetfoods transforms into something much more special after being cooked in the peanuty satay gravy. And its quite affordable too. I can’t remember how many sticks of everything we had! The only thing missing, really, is rice. Haha.


HASSAN’S MEE GORENG

JALAN TENGKERA NEAR METHODIST SCHOOL, MELAKA | OPEN FROM SATURDAY TO THURSDAY 8:00AM ONWARDS | GPS MAP 2.203803, 102.232760

Hassan's Mee Goreng Melaka
FULL HOUSE AT HASSAN’S

One of our all-time favorite Malaysian dishes is mee goreng. We just can’t get enough of this stir-fried noodle delight after tasting our first one at Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur a year ago. So we were quite excited when we went to Hassan’s Mee Goreng on our second day in Melaka.

F told us that this open-aired restaurant is the go-to place for mee goreng when in Melaka. And it was readily apparent when we arrived there some minutes later. The place is packed to the rafters with locals having their daily noodle fix, it was actually quite a challenge to get an open table.

Hassan's Mee Goreng Melaka
LOOKS VERY SIMILAR TO SPAGHETTI!

Apparently this restaurant closes after all their food have been sold out. And that’s usually before noontime. We were quite lucky to be there early.

From their menu, I can see that Hassan’s serve only two dishes, mee goreng and nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. That’s a good indication as any of their specialty.

Hassan's Mee Goreng Melaka
CAN YOU SPELL SPICY?

After a few minutes of confused ordering and seating arrangements, three plates of mee goreng (1.50 MYR) were finally plunked down our table. It came with a side dish of telur (fried egg), sambal (chili paste) and sliced cucumbers (0.80 MYR) which we mixed in with the noodles.

Hassan's Mee Goreng Melaka
THIS!

Hassan’s mee goreng is quite oily (uhmm well, all mee goreng are, I guess) and serving size is quite petite (although just right for its price, as it is super cheap). Upon quickly finishing our meal, my buddy and I agreed that it was just okay. We still preferred the one in Jalan Alor. Their kopi ais (1.40 MYR), however, is really good. So it was still a worthwhile visit.


KEDAI KOPI CHUNG HWA’S CHICKEN RICE BALL

18 JALAN HANG JEBAT-JONKER WALK, MELAKA  | +606 286 0121  | OPEN EVERYDAY FROM 7:30AM TO 3:00PM | GPS MAP 2.194918, 102.248415

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
THE OWNER OF MELAKA’S OLDEST CHICKEN RICE BALL RESTAURANT

Last, but definitely not the least on our list, was Melaka’s chicken rice balls. We were told that we have to be here early lest we wanted to stand in line just to have a taste of this famous Melakan street fare. We were quite lucky as we not only arrived there without a queue outside, but a free table was also waiting for us!

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
EARLY BIRDS

As soon as we sat down, lumps of almost perfectly round half-a-golf-ball-sized rice were set on our table. A plate of Hainan chicken soon followed. My companion looked at each other in mild confusion. F then told us that you can’t actually order food here, as soon as customers sit down; it is assumed that those are what you would be ordering. She further said that don’t even try to order, lest you want to be stared down by the owner.

Well. Alright. So we went right down to business.

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
FIRST TIME FOR ME TO SEE RICE LIKE THESE

The rice balls were made of moist fragrant rice and were quite soft with a mild salty gingery flavor. It was just okay on its own, but it goes really well with the Chung Hwa’s Hainan chicken. I normally don’t dig steamed chickens, preferring them crispy fried, but these ones were quite good, especially with soy sauce.

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
HAINAN CHICKEN SOY SAUCE, YUM!

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
FORGETTABLE LEMONADE

Serving size is good enough for the three of us, so it was quite affordable at  22.30 MYR. To wash everything down, we each had a glass of a lemonade-like drink which was quite forgettable.

Chung Hwa's Chicken Rice Ball
FOOD TRIP MELAKA!

Can you say burp?! We definitely can! It was a good two short days of eating in Melaka and we knew we barely scratched the surface of the city’s food scene. So how does it fare with Penang’s cuisine? Well, they’re really not comparable as those we have tried in Melaka don’t have a counterpart in Penang. Well, besides the mee goreng, but KL’s wins that round, hands down.

 

+ + + U P D A T E   2 0 1 6 + + +

 

ROTI JOHN ERA

ADDRESS: 42 JALAN TUNG SRI NALANG, KAMPUNG DURIAN DARUN, BUKIT CINA, MELAKA, MALAYSIA | GPS MAP: 2.203625, 102.252789

Roti John Melaka
ROTI JOHN IN MELAKA ~ MYR 2.60

The first night we stalked around the area near The Pines Melaka hotel near Bukit Cina for dinner, we chanced on a hole-in-the-wall eatery hawking roti sandwiches. But it wasn’t the traditional Malay bread that struck me when we passed their stall, but a baguette-like bread being fried on an open pan. Roti john, it was called.

The next day, we made sure to buy one before heading to our usual mee goreng haunt, wanting to pair it with our favourite Malaysian noodle dish.

Roti John Melaka
SINFULLY GOOD

Story has it that this particular sandwich originated from Singapore during the sixties. The story goes that an English dude asked a hawker if he has a hamburger. With no such item on the menu, the vendor thought of frying a loaf of bread set with muttons, onions and eggs; everything, altogether. He then gave it to the Englishman and told him, please eat this roti, John. And that apparently, was how it got its name.

Roti John Melaka
MEE GORENG PLUS ROTI JOHN

Melaka’s version of roti john is a bit different, however. They don’t use muttons, but rather, mushed fish fillet incorporated in an egg batter spread inside the bun. This gets fried, bread and all, into a golden crisp. Afterwards, they put in some greens, mayonnaise, ketchup and cheese. Finally, it gets chopped and is presented to you in all its greasy glory.

The taste? Sinfully delicious; crispy outer layer, moistly soft bun with a crunchy inner core. It is very, very messy as well. I suggest you set it on a thick wad of tissue paper while letting it cool down to lessen its oiliness.

 

 

KEDAI LEMPENG ZANA HAWKER CENTER

ADDRESS: JALAN BENDAHARA, BUKIT CINA, MELAKA, MALAYSIA | GPS MAP: 2.201232, 102.252938

Kedai Lempeng Zana Hawker Melaka
KEDAI LEMPENG ZANA HAWKER CENTER

Of course, we wouldn’t let a day pass in Malaysia without hitting the hawker stalls for a plate of mee goreng (fried noodles). This time, we didn’t have to go far from our hotel before spotting an open-aired hawker center with our favorite noodles.

Nasi Goreng Ayam
NASI GORENG PLUS FRIED CHICKEN (AYAM) ~ MYR 5.50

Kedai Lempeng Zana literally translates to shop selling cake slabs. Now, I really didn’t see any pastries being sold inside the compound. What they’re hawking though are all the usual Malaysian goodies like char keow teow, laksa noodle soup, nasi goreng (fried rice) and ayam (fried chicken); which is definitely right up our alley.

Kopi Ais Melaka
KOPI AIS, UNFORTUNATELY, NOT THAT GREAT ~ MYR 1.80

Mee Goreng Melaka
MEE GORENG IN MELAKA ~ MYR 4.50

We settled down on the first stall we saw selling mee goreng, and it didn’t disappoint. It was almost as good as our favorite one from Jalan Alor Food Street in KL. The refreshments are sold centrally, and we, of course, asked for kopi ais (iced coffee). Unfortunately, it was a bit too bland for our taste.


Melaka Location Map

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, May 6, 2016

Bukit Cina Melaka

It was searing hot outside but we can’t just stay cooped up at our hotel. This being our second time in Melaka, we looked for other places to visit in the area other than the popular Dutch Square and Jonker Walk. Bukit Cina or China Hill perfectly fitted the bill; it was close enough to where we were staying and it sounded interesting.

St. Peter's Church Melaka
THE OLDEST CHURCH IN MALAYSIA, ST. PETER’S CHURCH

From The Pines Melaka, we passed an old church right before turning the bend to the Chinatown area of the city. The Gereja St. Peter [GPS MAP: 2.202388, 102.253214], built in 1710, is said to be the oldest functioning Roman Catholic Church, not only in the city, but in all of Malaysia. Surprisingly, the structure isn’t located on the UNESCO historical core of the city.

Muslim Cemetery Melaka
A MUSLIM CEMETERY NEAR THE CHINESE HILL

A few minutes later and we passed a wooded Muslim burial ground, one of the twenty around the area, which was just across Bukit Cina (pronounced as china). It is written that the place was popular during the 60’s and 70’s for people looking for spiritual help on certain four-digit numbers, whatever that is.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Pines Melaka Hotel Riverside

Warm lights glimmer across the Melaka River. We’ve just had our mee goreng and kopi ais fix a few minutes ago and decided to walk along the river to get back to The Pines, our hotel for a couple of nights in Melaka. The air was sultry with humidity and my shirt was plastered with sweat. Crossing one of the many bridges traversing the waterways, we took in the view of the lighted traditional Malay houses of Villa Sentosa, snaking just right across where we were staying. We couldn’t have asked for a better location in the city.

The Pines Melaka Hotel Lobby
THE PINES’ GRAND LOBBY

We arrived at Melaka just before midnight; a four-hour flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, a two-hour bus ride from KLIA2 to Melaka, then a quick two-kilometer ride from the Melaka Central Bus station to The Pines Melaka. We were exhausted but once we opened the door to our room, we felt that it was all worth it.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lake Sebu Day Tour

Our habal-habal motorcycle slowly climbed the steep uphill drive towards our lodging with me and my travel buddy riding at the back with our big-ass backpacks, tightly praying that we don’t fall off and crash. After what seemed like an eternity, which really must have been less than a minute, we stopped by the front of the inn and gladly jumped off the bike. We took in the scenery below, our sigh of relief coming at the same moment our breath was taken away.

 

MUNICIPAL TOURISM LODGE / LEMOBUNG LODGE & RESTO
ADDRESS: SURALLAH-LAKE SEBU ROAD, POBLACION, LAKE SEBU | PHONE: (0918) 603-3354 | GPS MAP: 6.214966, 124.701919

Lake Sebu Municipal Tourism Lodge
SECOND FLOOR OF THE MUNICIPAL TOURISM LODGE

Our day started early. From the Sunrise Garden Lake Resort in Lake Seloton, we were fetched by our trusted guide, Eric Aguilar (0905-9701986, PHP 500.00 per day) and roared through the cold, winding and empty roads of Lake Sebu en route to the Municipal Tourism Lodge (Lemobung), our home for the second half of our Lake Sebu tour.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Friday, April 29, 2016

Second Waterfall at Lake Sebu's 7 Waterfalls

After flying almost 200 meters above ground through Lake Sebu’s Seven Falls Zipline, we huffed and puffed our way to the park’s second waterfall. The path was easy enough but adrenaline was still pumping through our blood. After a few minutes, a sheer rock wall lined with layers of time led to the 70-foot Hikong Bente waterfalls. It was almost the end of our Lake Sebu tour and all our weariness of riding the habal-habal motorbike all day seemed worth it.

First Waterfall at Lake Sebu's 7 Waterfalls
HIKONG ALO, THE FIRST WATERFALL WITH A HEIGHT OF 35 FEET

I have read a lot about the Seven Falls Zipline and the famed seven waterfalls of Lake Sebu but I actually have no idea how we would proceed about it. Do we have to hike from one falls to another like at Negros Occidental’s Seven Falls of Mabukal, do we see all the seven waterfalls by riding one zipline, or do we actually zip from one waterfall to the next?

It turned out to be a combination of the three.

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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, April 27, 2016