T&J Travels #9: Kuala Lumpur & Melaka 2017 (Part 1)

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Hey a new watermark again!


+ Preparation +

I want to make it a thing for me and Reagan to always travel on my birthday. This would be the 2nd time. I would really like to go to Taiwan (cheaper air fares, colder weather, quick travel time) but it's already September and the Taiwanese embassy still have not released a final guideline for free visa for Filipinos. I've been meaning to have Reagan and I get visa for Korea or Japan (to make Taiwan visa-free) but I don't want to press him so much with all the expenses I would like to incur with all these travelling I would like to do. This is in fact, and should be, the last time we would travel as boyfriend and girlfriend. We really ought to get married next year. We are, after all getting old. And he's already planning to get us a house as well. So yeah. Visa countries or any travel plans for that matter would have to wait.


Unlike most of my peers I still have a lot of places on my checklist. One of which is Malaysia, specifically Batu Caves. I have first seen it on Amazing Race when I was younger and have not forgotten it since. There is no way i will visit KL without stepping foot there once.


So there. KL it is.

+ Shopping for Hotel +

Is extremely hard. We didn't have much problem from our previous travels unless said travels made us more picky on what we like. I love the fact that both of us have a certain budget for this type of expense but it's not too extreme to the point that we'd consider dorms or hostels just to get by. We need it accessible to transportation, possibly in a good neighborhood, must at least be 20sqm or higher, spacious clean bath, have a closet, clean bed and sheets. Any review that mentions bed bugs are already out of our short list.


Also another consideration is that starting this year hotels now require a 10MYR tax for foreigners such as we, PER ROOM, PER NIGHT. I don't know if this would apply to AirBnB too. But knowing this now it seems that if you really are tight on money you might have to adjust your budget furthermore to accommodate this. I find it really bold for them to do this but since we already booked the flights there is no turning back now.


+ Pacific Regency Hotel +

After so many sleepless nights, we finally ended up with Pacific Regency Hotel. We got each night for a Superior Suite for 2659.05PHP! What's more is we were suddenly upgraded  (we suddenly got a bath tub) which I attribute to how long we waited for our room. We liked how near we are at KL Tower and probably approx. 10 minutes to the nearest monorail (Raja Chulan station).


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Everyday we notice they change the tower's colors!


There's a 7/11 on the Ground floor (if you're staying here, do yourselves a favor and remember that the Lobby is at the 7th level) but if that's not enough for you, The Weld is a multilevel shopping mall right across the block. Restaurants abound, especially the streets of Jalan Tengah and Jalan Puncak in between the monorail and the hotel. We also notice a lot of street sellers during breakfast. Regrettably we didn't get the chance to try out their food (the hotel has a kitchen and large ref to stock food) because we had to be somewhere to go to.


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Other than the spacious and clean bed (seriously, we could fit in 3-4 there easy), I love the shower most remarkably the rain feature. The pressure and temperature encourages me to stay there much longer than usual.


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Other that one assistant when we checked in, everyone else seemed nice. What we missed is someone actually answering the hotel phone where we were supposed to request for an additional toothbrush (well there's two of us!, also to mention there was no toothpaste included) and possibly complimentary slippers. No one even called back so we had to drop all of those requests.


Here are more photos:

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Cooking has extra charge; ref is not stocked with payables


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Bottom part of the right cabinet has a nifty hidden security box


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It is odd that the entire time I still get confused on whether I go to the left or right side

Dark (TV Series)

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FAQs. (I may have some spoilers!)

How long?

So far 10. I am worried at the ending because it felt like they are going to introduce a 4th timeline... or worse 2 more.

But why?

Because time travel. nuff said.

Quick Plot

Starts "innocently" with a missing child case. If without the trailers or what you can google, you would never have guessed you are dealing with sci-fi tv series that would truly challenge your brain both in processing who you are currently seeing and what timeline you are currently on.


Is it worth it?

Yes. But you have to invest yourself into it to fully appreciate. You see the show has 3 separate timelines and you need to keep on remembering which face is grouped to which name. I don't know about you but seeing so many new faces at a time (I only know the character Ulrich from the Hitler movie) and attaching names to those new multiple faces is a feat. I realized I have issues with older people too I kept on mistaking different characters as the same guy.


I have 0 knowledge with German shows so I am not sure if they always carry a serious tone with their media. Dark lives to it's name that I could not recall a single moment if I ever giggled over something a character said. It could attribute for some people to give up on the show but if you are in a hunt for a time travel TV series lately, this is it. If anything the somber tone works. Even the rain quota per episode attests to this.


 

Image from: PopSugar

Japan Visa

 

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When I was younger, I have applied for a Citibank credit card. I know I am trusty when it comes to finances but for reasons only Citibank knows I haven't had any feedback from them. Since then I am always scared when it comes to applying for things that involve background checks on financial capabilities. Luckily for me I didn't have to apply for a credit card and my home loan was easily granted. But I didn't forget that Citibank thing I am led to believe I will have the same fate of rejection when we applied for a Japan Visa.


I didn't know that my boyfriend would agree to this since we've already talked about going to Malaysia last and then we'd restart saving for our wedding. I know he's torn about doing this (and me too) but we believe it's the best time for us to try the application while we can.


There are already tons of blogs regarding Filipinos getting a Japan Visa but in case you dear reader has stumbled upon this entry of mine, I'll just post the experience:


Requirements


Birth Certificate


Must be within the year of application. BF thought he just got his this year only for both of us to find out his birth certificate is just days until expiration. In case you don't know yet, the date of the birth certificate's print is at the bottom after the bar code. It's at the rightmost part of that long string of characters.


Processing Days: 8 Days ( I have a reason to believe it's the fault of the 2 day strike that was suddenly declared as holidays)


Cost: 160 PHP


Certificate of Employment 


Don't forget to have your salary on it and if you are deployed somewhere, have your HR put it there too.


Processing Days: 1 Month (Highly depends on your company)


Cost: Free


Bank Certificate(s)


Processing Days: 1 Hour Max not including waiting for your turn.


Extra Notes: I have this old BPI account that I was told a BPI Direct. It took 3 days to have it sent to the bank I was nearest (where I applied for the request). I also wanted to get one from Robinson's Bank but their bank manager is only available weekdays. I wish I've applied for it sooner since I could only visit them during weekends. BDO, Robinsons and RCBC had to be your branch.


Cost: Depends on your bank. 100 PHP for BPI (will debit from your account but the deduction won't show on the bank certificate). Both BDO (pay in cash) and RCBC (as I was told) costs 200 PHP


Extra Notes: BPI has a specialty paper with a red backing while BDO is a bit disappointing, just your regular bond paper with logo.


Stock Certificate (COL)


This was not a part of the requirements but my office mate told me to attach one. The travel agency accepted it after inquiring a colleague.


Processing Days: At least 2 Working Days.


Cost: 100 PHP (debit from your portfolio's available balance)


Extra Notes: You will receive two emails from them, one is the acknowledgement receipt (after you've sent a signed request via email) and the second one for pickup.


Tax Form(s)

I don't have an ITR but I do have a 1701 Form. I photocopied the entire compilation of 9 pages (plus the bank receipt). BF passed a letter explaining why he doesn't have any (new hire)


Processing Days: N/A

Cost: Almost free since I have a printer and A4s at home.

Japan Application Form

The form at the Japan Embassy's website cannot be saved so have a printer nearby when you've already filled up the form. Also put an N/A at ALL fields that does not apply. It's nice that they allow us to pass our already printed forms with N/As those we didn't put in any.


Processing Days: N/A

Cost: Almost free since I have a printer and A4s at home.

Photo 

Don't forget to mention that you would need it for a Japan Visa so they could adjust the size for you.

Processing Days: 1 Hour (Fujifilm)

Cost: Around 200++ if memory serves. I could not find the receipt anymore :-(. I wished I knew a cheaper studio.

Itinerary

Download from this link. You don't need to put in extremely specific plans (like where you're going to lunch) but just make sure that whatever you put there are within reason. For instance, you can't have an IT that is far and beyond what you can afford with your finances (e.g. don't say your plans are going to Sapporo and you barely have anything on the bank. Airfares there cost double or triple than going to Tokyo upon checking). At least research which are logically sound to be on your IT. You could go back and forth Osaka and Tokyo within the day but not only is that taxing, you wouldn't have the time to enjoy both places and the one who'd assess your papers might find it suspicious you didn't do your homework or worse. Look at Google Maps. It's free.


Processing Days: Depends how long you research

Cost: Almost free since I have a printer and A4s at home.

Hotel

It was a last minute decision I wasn't supposed to get any. But then there are hotels in Agoda that allow cancellations so why not? We got a full week of accommodation at Osaka (which we cancelled later on to make it easier for us to get flights).


Processing Days: Depends how long you research

Cost: Depends on the hotel you plan to stay.

++

Travel Agency for Visa Processing: Travelpros

Once we've completed all requirements we went to Megamall where we still couldn't decide which agency we should take. This was decided for us when we looked at the windows of of Reli Tours and it was fully packed. We have no plans to stay there for the entire day so we tried to search for Travelpros (Mega B) that had no clients. We paid 950 each. We passed our requirements on a Saturday and I got our passports exactly the next Saturday. I don't know if it really takes that long or they just process it by batch. When I called Wednesday it was still at the embassy, Friday naman, it was still for pickup and was told to come the next day. We didn't receive any text.


++

It was a relief that both of us were able to get visas because it would be a really hard decision for any of us to forgo the opportunity just because one of us didn't get it. Can't wait for Feb!


 

The Magicians

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FAQs 


How long?


Just finished Season 2 this morning in less than 2 weeks I think. There are 13 episodes per season and on my first time I actually finished 7 episodes in one go. Trailer was also dropped a few days earlier for Season 3 which was slated for March 2018.


Why would I watch this / Who should watch this?


If you are not yet tired of watching fantasy series, this is a go. But I have a disclaimer on the quick plot below. If it was me reading this I would not have taken a second look. The only reason I did was because I accidentally watched S01EP01 it piqued my curiosity. The villain there was solid. This is also best watched by adults. Don't let the fantasy genre fool you, some scenes/topics are not exactly for the kids.


Quick plot?


Quentin is a nerd who have loved a fictional series of books that revolve around a magical world named Fillory. One day he and his bestfriend Julia found themselves taking an exam to be accepted at a magical school called Brakebills and that magic is real. Sounds too cliche but you just have to get it out of your system. Everything after that is really good.


Although I have not finished reading Narnia, it is not hard to find similarities between the two. As I described it with my office mate, it's a mishmash of the fantasy genre: Harry Potter: school, spells, witches ; Narnia: portal to another world, talking animals, 4 earth children ruling a foreign land ;  Hobbit: where the author lives within the story, Naruto: those silly hand gestures. Don't worry, these would not distract you from enjoying it because they actually acknowledge it. At one point one of them, Margo, called non-magic people muggles and the school nurse referenced a Twilight similarity in Julia's situation. There was even a silly dance routine that Quentin done that was so ridiculous later on he said he's doing a Cirque de Soleil stint. It's rare for a TV Series to have so many pop references (that is not a sitcom) I would be disappointed not seeing those in case I ever get to read the books.


Is it worth it?


Yes. I honestly think so. I can't recall a boring episode that you just have to go through because there is so much going on. It's a good move for them to have made this in  a TV Series because seeing it as movie would not cut it. Just when you thought that you're already presented with all the possibilities you would be surprised they still have more tricks up their sleeve (I really wanted to use that pun). Their characters also evolve not only to their better selves, but sometimes to the worst.


I am not sure if it would be nicer to read the books but I may have the same issue as I did with How to Catch Your Dragon. I have loved the movie so much I could not bear the differences in both mediums. I only made it to a few pages until I decided to quit.


 

Image from https://tvseriesfinale.com

TK: French Macarons for an inexperienced baker like me


Honestly I am not a fan of french macarons. I don't over hype it to anyone even. But what I do know is they are gorgeous to look at and whatever taste it has is over in two or three bites. I have always loved it when my bakes are uniform and macarons have a huge tendency to be because you get to have templates. Oooppss I'm getting ahead of myself. I have only found one out of a dozen articles I've read so far to have been able to perfect it on the first try. I did mine (which I still have to prove on the next bake) on my third even with a few lapses - some macarons have become lopsided but not too much to prevent it from standing on it's back. But! In this third test I was able to have feet, no burnt edges, not hollow, no cracks nor sticking on the paper (except for one!). It had even held it's shells beautifully even if I left it in room temp. The outer appearance was so good I was able to distribute it in the office FINALLY. I never had a single macaron thrown out this time.


+ O French Macarons! +


French Macarons are expensive especially if you get to compare it to, let's say cupcakes especially if you're let's say hungry. Macarons could barely satiate your hunger. It really is only a dessert. If you're an avid consumer of this, I will let you in on a secret: making it is not as expensive as you may think. The very basic recipe for the famed shell of a macaron only involves 4 ingredients:


First Bowl: Almond Flour/Meal + Confectioners Sugar


2nd Bowl: Egg Whites + Granulated Sugar


Granted that an unbranded almond meal/flour is expensive (200++ PHP for 200 GRAMS) and confectioners too but the yield in each recipe is astoundingly plenty. In the recipes I got I think you could get as much as 40 shells or more, depending on the size you are trying to achieve. So you ask me what makes a macaron expensive? Well I would like to say it's all in the technique baby!



WHAT I LEARNED SO FAR:


THE OVEN


Even if the oven that the bf gifted me is quite huge than what I'm using before, it's not IMHO ideal to cram in two cookie pans so whenever I bake it takes more than 1 go in the oven. In my bakes I had 4 (or sometimes more) pans ready to go. In each batch I had to adjust whatever setting I have in the oven because contrary to what you read, realize that your oven is not accurate. Now even if it is, your oven is different from another baker's. Because of this, by my 2nd test I have already got myself an oven thermometer. From there I found out the cause of the burnt bottoms (and tops!) as I experienced in my first. My oven is too dang hot. A 140C setting in my oven is actually 170C according to my thermometer. Later on this would be my gauge on whether I still have to lower my temp (sometimes 130 goes 160 for some reason) and even open the oven door a bit to reach ideal temperatures (138 - 140 is just fine). I followed this dutifully on the 3rd try and never got any burnt shells. I was also able to fully do the recommended 20 minutes of baking unlike in my first attempts that I'm not even reaching 10 mins that the shells have either:




  • burnt the shells OR

  • formed cancerous feet OR

  • worse, BOTH!


The setting that worked for me was:




  1. I have used the Convection Fan (!!!)

  2. Retained my temp around 138-150, sometimes I saw it rise to 160 but I do my best to lower it as soon as I spot it on my thermometer

  3. 18 Minutes is too early for feet, I achieved mine around 20, got better results around 22-23.

  4. I keep a grease pan at the bottom of the oven as well since I found one blog which does it to prevent the bottom from burning too quick.


THE TEMPLATE


I usually just bake with parchment paper (Glad) but on the very last batch I retained my macaron mat (acts like Silpat only that it has ready made templates, costs around 400PHP). That was actually the best batch of all, I don't know if that contributed at all so I might get myself a new mat to test it as well. On my very first try I was too cocky and have piped it without any guide and I ended up with too many uneven shells. After trying it with templates, I am never going back.


ALMOND MEAL / FLOUR


First two attempts were almond flour and when the branch of Wonderbake only had almond meal, I tried it instead. It worked well too! There is a branded bag of almond flour in Rustan's (Century Mall) but I am not sure if I'm ready to test it with a 600PHP worth of ground almonds. One good tip is to sift at least twice with confectioner's sugar, one of which should be sifted together. This I read in some blogs make the almonds less oily because of the sugar being incorporated together with the ground almonds.




[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1458"] The ONLY French Macaron from my first test. The rest are either cracked, hollow or burnt.[/caption]

FOOD COLORING


P.L.E.A.S.E. use the gel type.


EGG WHITES


When you start making macarons and you're off to researching on egg whites and you're a beginner like me you'd see the word "aged" a lot. Apparently it means differently too with different bakers. Some say you just need a room temp egg (still whole) while there are extremes that had to let white eggs (uncracked!) out in room temp. They fully swear by it too! In all of my tests I never went as far as that, but I do bake with room temperature eggs (I simply rest the uncracked eggs on my dining table).


I am also a complete novice when it comes to separating yolks and whites that I look stupid on how I do it. I tried juggling it on their shells but I end up piercing the yellows. I attempted it with my hand and I ended up not separating it at all. What worked for me was I prepare 3 bowls and I crack the eggs on a small bowl and tip the contents on the large one, using an egg separator to prevent the yellow from falling. When I feel like I've separated enough whites I put the yolk on the other bowl. On the instance that upon breaking the yolk on my "tip bowl", I get myself a new one to prevent any yellows in my whites. I was told the meringue would never rise with just a simple drop hence the precautions.


THE LAVA EFFECT


One of my irks is how in almost all recipes you would read that you should stop when the macaron mix have become a "lava consistency". Just what the f is a lava consistency anyway? The 2nd one I think I did it but it was the worst test I ever produced. Based from my tests I think I finally know what it is and I can't fully describe if it's really lava. All I know is that you need to adjust your manner of mixing your macaron (there is a specific move you have to find any youtube video and it would be the same) according to your recipe. On my 2nd test I got up to 60 rounds and yet it still came out undermixed.


The last one was atleast 31-35 times and it was the perfect time to stop! I deduce there are two factors involved: the recipe and your own strength. If there's a lot more flour I reckon it's harder to mix and is dependent on how strong you are in fully incorporating all the ingredients. And oh before I forget. I dump the entire flour and sugar mixture over my meringue. My reason for this is this would ensure that I won't overmix at all, and the dry ingredients would be "soaked" on the meringue at the same time. Don't take my word for it, this is coming from someone who manually hand mixes chocolate chip cookies. Yes. I'm too lazy to bring my hand mixer out for that.


THE RECIPE


I will have to update this in the future once I find the best recipe. The last one I used produced really good shells but the taste (based on the people I gave it to), found it too sweet.


In summary, you need to do a mental checklist on every test you make to ensure that you prevent the same issues from happening again. You kind of understand it too after a while even without checking any blogs anymore. I sometimes guess for the cause of my issues and get it right when I check. I do hope though that my next ones would be the same or even better! It would be a bummer to get back to the old issues again. All that effort for nothing would be truly sad.

K42J meet X540U

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After more than 7 years of being with my trusty Asus K42J I have now bought a new laptop-- an Asus X540! And even though it wasn't a flagship gadget, boy, what an upgrade!


+ The Backstory +


(If you're not a fan of my endless ramblings go skip to the actual review part)


It's been months of me planning to get myself a new laptop but I don't have the heart to do so. This is officially (not including my condo) the most expensive purchase I'll be doing but even so, I would like to keep my price list between 30-40k PHP which I think is good enough for a mid range laptop. I know I could go as high as 50k if need be but that is stretching it. I might need to detach my head from my body while swiping my card! For gadgets we all know that cash is always good but I feel like I shouldn't because I'm prepping my finances in case the Japan Visa is a go (crossing my fingers BF's docs to be released soon). Besides, my credit is really good. I rarely need to pay anything every month so might as well use it for something as important as this.


My first target was the Microsoft Surface Pro. It went as wild as me planning to convince the BF for us to go to HK to get a better deal where the pen and alcara keyboard is included (new Surface pro has all accessories sold separately). But alas the price with all the accessories I would like to have I would end up around 70k! Granted that I'd hit some of my specs list but not even getting 1 TB would not justify that price.


The next target was Lenovo 720S. I fell in love with the specs and the price when I asked it with one of the models for the roadshow. Unfortunately she doesn't know much when it comes to pricing because her assumption of 30k is in real life 40k less. It comes around 70k++.


Desperate, I did something I don't do: I actually went to computer shops and got myself price lists of all the laptop brands I could get my hands on. After all the deliberations, I ended up with Lenovo 520S (the one with the pen). I am so inclined in getting it THAT I ALMOST BOUGHT IT on the day of the 3 Day Sale at Megamall if only I wasn't tired hauling the cookie pans I had replaced earlier that day. I convinced myself in grabbing lunch and willed myself to walk away. Also the BF is not comfortable with the price tag. It was almost 50k. It hit almost everything I hoped for that are essentially OK NOT to have (but amazing to get nonetheless) but still, the price is really expensive. With that I decided to stick with my budget of 30k to 40k.


+ The Specs Wish List +


*Not arranged in order


- 1 TB HDD (I found one laptop with 2TB but i5 processor, others have an additional 128GB up SSD on top of the 1 TB)
- i7 Processor
- not BLACK ( a different color is nice, preferably gold)
- Windows 10
- atleast 4GB RAM
- NVIDIA graphics card (at least 4GB)
- Touchscreen
- Pen capable
- 15 inches
- reasonably slim
- fingerprint reader
- really good speakers


+ My Old Laptop +


It's maybe 14 inches but the bezel is really thick. I do some amateur photo editing and free commissions so I kind of disdain the part when I always have to repetitively zoom in and out almost everytime when I work. So when I first opened GIMP in X540 I was blown away, like really. The real estate of that machine was so large from what I'm used to that I could not believe that the Single Window mode could ever look more glorious.


Also the K42J tends to heat A LOT. It burns the skin that I really need a cooler just to use it on my lap. Even pillows grow warmer the longer I use it. I don't know if this has caused the really muffled speakers but I'm guessing it has. And the keyboard too. In fact I now refuse to replace my keyboard (this would be the 3rd keyboard if ever, counting the original as keyboard 1) because I felt like the problem would not go away now. I was able to live a few weeks now not ever using CAPS and TAB, and then sometime the letter M. But when the numbers stopped working I can't even login anymore. When I woke up the next day I was truly decided I'm going to purchase my first laptop (K42J was a gift from my mom).


It's not as if I'm just buying it on a whim, my laptop is really showing it's age. The monitor already has so many dead pixels that seem to grow everyday (upper left). Battery died on me probably around a year already as well. It really was a good machine. It's just that like all machines do, they eventually wear out. Sometime soon it may not even open anymore :-(.


+ My New Laptop +


On the day that I purchased X540U, I had already scoured the stores in Cyberzone MOA. If memory serves, one of the stores offers it around 36k (?) but in pure cash. Again I'm not parting with cold cash like that so I gave it a pass. Another store was giving me a free mouse and a speaker as soon as I'm out of their door. The other one wasn't as convincing but told me they could give it to me with a 1000 store credit which I could use to purchase additional accessories. I had my mind set in buying it there in favor of giving me the 1k PHP discount instead for an MS Office but the girl who assisted me that night (Saturday, the day before) was missing.


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So I ended up at Asianic. I remembered the one who assisted me the night before was a bit creepy and I didn't stick around for too long. Today though the lady who stood next to me was really easy to talk to. I was asking for payment terms (I was hoping to get the Buy Now Pay Later option*) but we unfortunately weren't able to agree upon. I was hoping to only finish it in 3 mos. but the BNPL only applies for 12 mos. But in spite of that I thought that since it's 0% anyway, why not? It's only 3333.33 after all. I would barely notice it.


The price in Asianic was 41, 995. At the onset, it is much more expensive than the other stores which pegged it at 39, 995. But in spite of that I believe I had the better deal because not only did the saleslady slashed my price to 40,000 flat (even if I'm paying it via card and she didn't make me beg), she also gave me a travel bag, a wireless mouse, a 16 GB OTG and a cooling pad. I may not be using all of those things** but to me it only means I paid 5 pesos more and got more accessories than what all the other stores in the Cyberzone area offers.


If you're considering to buy this machine take note though that it only has a trial version of MS Office. Some lower priced machines does offer it for free BUT again, only if paid in cash.

+ Quick Review +

PROS

  • Screen is bright and  large

  • Dedicated numeric keypad


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  • A breeze to type on. Even the track pad is at the perfect location

  • Doesn't heat too much

  • Quick to charge

  • Speakers are not bad. I can actually hear my videos now!

  • Webcam is OK, reminds me of the old front cameras back in the day. Here's a sample shot which I haven't edited in any way:


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  • Build feels solid to the touch. I liked how the rest for the wrist doesn't go sticky after long use.


CONS

  • Page Up and Down are at the top that I always have a hard time reaching. Page Down is even dangerously near the power button. (TIP: If you keep the NUM LOCK on, numbers 9 and 3 can become page up and down, 2, 4, 6, 8 becomes the arrow keys. So maybe it won't be bad at all when you get used to it.)

  • While it is quick to charge, the battery life of the X540U is not impressive. Maybe it's my brightness setting but I think I could only get as much as 3-4 hours in one sitting.

  • ASUS still have a lot of bloatware. Just be careful when updating. You could pause it indefinitely on the apps section. This is already an improvement compared to my experience with my old one. At least now it won't crowd your RAM when you start up.

  • NO Windows Hello (which means there is no fingerprint reader)

  • Not a touch screen

  • Which made them compensate by making the track pad extremely sensitive. I would have to retrain myself in hovering my left index finger because I always end up zooming in even without any intention in doing so.


 



The ASUS X540 may not have all the bells and whistles most laptops have today, to me it's a good value for money. Maybe not a gaming laptop (let's be realistic here I only play simulation games anyway) but it does a good job in my day (or in my case after office nightly) use.


 

 

 

* I am not sure which banks offer this but with BPI it means you would have to pay it 3 months later. It will reflect on my bill next year.


** Travel Bag - my bag is already heavy, I don't need another gadget ; Wireless Mouse - I usually use the laptop on the couch, rarely at a table ; OTG - I already have one ; Cooling Pad - been using it for 3 days now. It never got too hot for comfort. But still, WHO DOESN'T LOVE FREEBIES?

The Act of Charity


I am a sucker for those who go up the bus and ask for money. I don't give to religious groups though (Except for one. Years later I still remember that guy who deemed sincere in quick gospel. I mean the bus started tinkling with coins) and rare times even to beggars on the street (Rarely to those at the overpass and never again to that one who snubbed her nose up on me DISGUSTED EVEN when I gave her good food). On some Fridays that my jeans have pockets and have bills on it I just give them to whoever (I walk home on Fridays) is asking for alms. Basically I give when they are in luck I have some to spare. And don't get me started on death related donations! I feel compelled in giving no matter how it happened. Being able to experience first hand to deal with the burial of a loved one, I know how expensive it would be.

I am not being sanctimonious or even being religious about it to be honest. It's me finding out later that I do this only because I can. If you see me on the street and ask me specifically that you need a bus fare to go home, you don't even need to tell me you were snatched and you are going to Tarlac. If I have something on me you can have it. Heck I don't even rummage through my coin purse. Get a 100 peso bill from me and I can sleep with it (just don't rob me okay). But never piss me off by pestering me while I'm buying my cashews.

Later in my life I am more able to give out alms that a simple thanks fill my heart with joy. Everytime I do it I hear Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother role from Cinderella:


What is a bowl of milk? Nothing, but with kindness, it is everything.

I always have that lump in the throat when I come to that scene (read: a lot of times I have favorite bits peppered throughout Cinderella). To me it also translates that this money I would be giving may not mean much to me but to the recipient it might be.

What's that 50 pesos to you anyway? Probably just a quarter of your daily allowance. Or half of your parking for 8 hours. But to the person on the receiving end? It's probably their only meal for the day. It's probably a peso less for the casket of their departed loved one. You'd never know for sure so don't bother asking. I mean what's a small bill, you get paid twice a month anyway! You're willing to buy a 5k worth of a pair of shoes what's a 100 peso bill? So what if there's a possibility that he or she is a repulsive person or a part of a syndicate? Your kindness is of your own doing regardless of what the other party is truly like (I know I am still bitter with the old lady above). So be more generous. We both know those coins would not be enough to buy anything. Make someone's day. Be like what Cinderella said:
Kindness is free. Love is Free

Broadchurch (S1)





FAQs

Q. How long ?

A. 8 episodes around 1 hr each

Q. Why do I need to watch this?

A. David Tennant and his thick accent. There are also familiar actors here as well for you to watch out for especially if you're a Doctor Who fan.

Q. Is the reveal worth it?

A. Not if you're going to watch it right after Big Little Lies. The killer is a bit of a letdown IMHO. It felt like our killer came out of nowhere. The only consolation is that it didn't have a buildup like the Night Of setting the expectation of a result too high and ending up too bleh. To me the first season felt like a spring board for our main characters to be introduced and prepped for the next season. I am also lenient on this since I'm watching this years later when it was first aired. The crime(s) committed here are quite shocking and gut wrenching when you think about it.

Q. There's a second season?!

A. And a third now. Will have to watch them first though.



There are tons of similarly themed TV series but it's charm is how when they say it's an idyllic town they portray it really as it is. There are no glamorous moms, no million dollar lifestyles and the detectives are not reliant on tech that dubiously exist. I would have to check out the next seasons to be sure. Will there be more of them murders? Who is next?

Big Little Lies





FAQs

Q. How long will I stay in the couch for this?

A. 8 hrs tops! Just 7 episodes so hurry up and be a hermit for a day!

Q. Is it worth the 8 hours?

A. Absolutely! It's fast paced, no unnecessary back stories. Tons of flashbacks that would make sense eventually. The actors are perfect for their roles in an unexpected way. Where else would you see Nicole Kidman as a battered housewife? How about Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz as moms?

Q. What genre is this?

A. Murder mystery. This is reminiscent of How to Get Away With Murder Season 1 when the first scene started with a mystery corpse being found and the entire season narrates how everything culminates to that point.

What to love:

1. Chloe. I rarely like kid characters because they are either too annoying or they're easily frightened or too naive. Chloe is the complete opposite. SHE IS THE BEST. She's also the Baby of this series (Baby Driver). Her music taste is so good there are tons of playlist in Spotify in her honor.

2. How not to become a mom. This is how Desperate Housewives (earlier seasons) would have been if they focused on being moms rather than who's screwing who. It is interesting how different types of moms react on what situation they're thrown in. I know I'm not one yet but I bet any mom would definitely find a friend/frenemy there amongst the samples on the show.

3. Cast. I was shocked to find a lot of familiar faces. I only know the first 3 (Kidman, Witherspoon, Woodley). Solid.

4. Ending. Yes. I love it. I don't want to spoil anything but there's one quote (also said in one of the episodes) that rang in my head as the mystery was finally unveiled: "It takes a village*"

I do not know if that makes sense to anyone who have seen BLL but to me it does in a weird way. It meant more to me now after seeing it. I am hoping one person shares the same sentiment or else I am imagining meaning in things.

NOW, is a Season 2 necessary? Nope. It's perfect as it is. Probably a different cast somewhere else instead? After the ending I see no reason why there's a need for any of the rest of the cast to die.

*If you're unfamiliar it's supposed to be: It takes a village to raise a child.



Image from TheAtlantic.com

HMR Online Auction: YEAAAAAAP Online*

I don't know what has possessed me to check out HMR again only this time, ONLINE. They have an app (browser works just as fine) that allows you to bid for items with the exception of meeting your competition and that last for a few days. I was only browsing until I saw lots that made me eventually bid. Funko Pops! Who knew they have these too!

There are 7 items which I have all the intention to buy and resell that's why I was intent in getting it all even the crocodile one which I've no idea from where. At the end of the bid I was lucky to get 3: Groot, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Too bad 2 of the ones I liked slipped: Loki And Jack Sparrow! I was too busy in the office I haven't noticed the notification that someone just outbid me. It was the last 6 minutes. Sayang!

I was able to get my winnings the day after (Sat). From what I understood, payments should be done within 5 days, picked up in 7 (with 25PHP up additional each day). It's either I get it this weekend or risk being banned. This weekend is fully packed ( MIBF, party of my friend, OT ) so I have to plan my schedule accordingly. Overall the claiming is hassle free. I was able to finish the entire transaction quite easy.



HOW TO BID

There are two registrations. One is your account with them. Both the app and the browser does not require you to be logged in but it would be easier if you are because you would want the notifications to pop up. They do send you an email but the pop up IMO is good to have.

The second registration requires you to choose which group (what is it called anyway?) you want to join (consequent ones are automatically approved, just wait for a little while). Most of the time they have 2 or more groups for General Merchandise while Car, Equipment and Machineries take much longer. Also if memory serves a deposit is required for big ticket items (A car bid starts at 20k). In my case when I registered I was called by their agent to validate my particulars until they approved my participation. The second one took a few days to be approved but only after I called. It seems I was missed out. I won't be able to bid there anymore anyway because of the dates. See you next time Microwave Oven / Airfryer. We could have been great.

HOW TO GO TO HMR SUCAT

If you're a Ryoga like me, here's an impossible to be lost guide:

From EDSA, take any bus that has SUCAT as signage.

Without traffic you should be in Sucat in less than 20-30 minutes. Take into account too that sometimes they would take long at Ayala and Magallanes.

The first bus stop once it comes out of the expressway is Bicutan. Your marker is the SM Bicutan on the right. The next stop would be Sucat.

In my experience I had to take the overpass but I stayed on the same side (right). DO NOT CROSS to the other side!

You could get yourself a jeep or walk parallel to the road until you see a large warehouse. The only time you would turn right is when you finallysee the HMR signage. Since it was my first time coming here I really thought I was on the wrong side of the road because I saw another HMR / SM building on my left. It was only after the guard of HMR answered yes to my question: "Is this where you pickup the online bids?" was I able to breathe freely. I have no idea how I could get to the other HMR on the other side.



The redeeming process is quite easy (or possibly because I'm the first customer). You have to pay to the cashier and wait for your items to be pulled out. Done a quick inspection and whoala. I am out of the building. IT was actually quicker than me walking that stretch.

It was a good experience and I would definitely bid again. Hopefully there are more amazing deals in the future. So far I only got interested with a few but not that interested to bid higher when outbid. Or quite possibly when the time is right try it for reals. I bet that would be super exciting.

*not their tagline. Just thought it's apt summoning Dave Hester.

FOOD APPS: EATIGO


It may not be a first world problem but it's a normal everyday ordeal for any office worker. Where to eat? What am I going to eat? WHO AM I GOING TO EAT WITH?*


Downloaded this app as a recommend and had it tried to eat on one of their participating restaurants today: KKK (Megamall branch)


Wednesday I was attempting to book for 5 people on the 12 am sched at 30% off by Friday. 1130 would have been a better choice because they offer 50% but our break is exactly 1130 and I doubt we could make it on time. I was trying for 12pm but the app refuses me to book any more than 2 people. That's when I ended up with booking for Thursday / 12pm / 30% / 4 people.


When we arrived I asked if it's possible to add 1 person and were told that instead of the 30% it will be reduced to 20%. As to how the manager came up with that reduction I don't know but since this is my fault we went with it anyway.



We have eaten here a few times before but somehow today the food came out real quick. I guess they are well prepared. What I don't understand though is that THERE ARE NO OTHER CUSTOMERS. There was probably 2 or 3 tables that were filled in as we were eating but it begs the question: WHERE THE F*CK ARE THE REST OF THE CUSTOMERS THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE RESERVED MORE SEATS?! The positive me thinks everyone but us haven't cancelled our reservation. The pessimist me wants to go by the restaurant every day to check if they really are fully booked everyday. I tried to book for other days at the same time and all refused to seat 6. Unless everyone books but doesn't come or something fishy is going on. This post deserves an update!


UPDATE:


So after a few tries I have now realized that the error log can mean two things:


The reservation is indeed full OR


The store does not allow that number of people for that discount.


Well actually the second one was discussed to me by my officemate. I started testing this and was able to verify that it has to be either of the two. I tried it in Heat Shang and was able to choose 25% for 1 person at 1130 and 2 people for 25% again but at a later time. KKK however would only accept as much as 4 people for 30%. So basically before your eyes pop out of their sockets, try to test first if all of your lunch mates could fit in the number that is allowed. But then who stops you from having the booking in groups and share the food after. We have to yet try this. In theory it should work. But who stops the restaurant from kicking you out?


*Jokes on you I eat alone

N.D.R.R.M.C.


Move over LGBTQ, there's also another long sounding acronym we Filipinos have to remember, NDRRMC. It's so long halfway towards the half of the acronym you suddenly enter a state of denial whether the next letters are still correct. It's as long as your BDO pin yet somehow this is harder to remember. It's mouthful. It stands for National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council. OMG there's an "and"! Honestly if i was in the council I would have gone with NDRRAMC and would have begun calling it "endramak". It is easier to pronounce no? But then would I have remembered what it stood for? Nope I wouldn't have.


I have already forgot the earlier name it had but it has become something one less thing we haven't protested as a nation. We just accepted it, even the silliness of the men and women who had to endure saying it out loud on live TV. Never have they become so heroic.


One of their projects is a nationwide text blast to (hopefully) all networks. Being on different networks in the office, we kind of compare when we receive those texts and it's been a wide disparity between GLOBE and SMART. It is not just one instance when we Globe users receive the alerts a day or two late. There was even one time when our Smart user officemate got an alert and simultaneously Globe users got a promo text. The priority of Globe is astonishing. If we rely on those texts for events that need extreme urgency half of us are set for doom. Imagine the press when next to your lifeless body a text comes hours later on why you should have evacuated earlier. Ooppss that suddenly become dark!


Hopefully this project of theirs improves in the near future and that it would encompass different types of risks other than the natural disasters like riots, traffic advisories etc. Would be better if we could control our location in their database for a much more personalized alert. All I know is this is a good initiative. Kudos NDRRMC!

HistoryConPH 2017

I don't know why I resisted so long to go. I wasn't that much excited even though History and FYI are one of the few channels I stay on the TV. But the sisters are quite insistent so here we are attending. The entrance is quite cheap and I haven't been out for the weekend so what the heck (250PHP for a day pass).



We arrived around lunchtime so the line is not as long going in. Obviously the first thing we did was get the freebie bag (literally just the bag with nothing on it, lanyards just ran out). It was on a separate hall where all the food and some merchandise where situated, a few exhibits (livestock petting, exotic pets, Tiny House sample) and a stage. On this hall we were able to spot Simon Yin shooting a video and John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin on stage (on a later part of the day). The variety of food also smells awesome but the lack of tables and seats opted us to eat outside instead (just Shakey's. They're the only ones that are completely shaded from the 3PM sun). We did have Lemoon's Lemonade though (one size probably large, 77PHP).



The main hall is filled with cars, toys, exhibits and merchandise that range from geeky to nostalgic. That kind of range will cater to any age, it's basically the channels History and FYI in real life (although I was hoping there are DIY corners). It's cute seeing older people get giddy posing for selfies with vintage cars and war replicas. It's nice crowd basically. I mean one of the reasons I stopped (I mean I would still go but) going to Anime Conventions is because it has become a cesspool of obnoxious kids who are trying too hard to be cool. This crowd is what it was back then when AnimeCons was still a collection of people who are genuinely there for the sake of it.



My feet is sore from all the walking because there's just too much to see! And we haven't even done all the (paid) activities to boot! We've fan girled with seeing Ryu out of nowhere (I wasn't expecting to see him anymore because his event was around 10am, later on I would realize I am looking at the program leaflet wrong), saw some celebrities who were awarded for how they've contributed to our "history" from Hidilyn Diaz to Pia Wurtzbach and took tons and tons of photos of almost everything that is even slightly interesting.



Too bad Tsoukalos wasn't around I would have loved to see that large hair of his. Maybe next year? I've also learnt there where tons of freebies on the Saturday event so we might go to that schedule instead. All in all I've loved the experience. I see the reason why they even had a second round.

Movie Review: Kita Kita ( I See You)

kita-kita

Well first off let us acknowledge the amazing wordplay. Years of Japan pop culture knowledge tells me that they too love word plays as well. If you're a native English speaker Kita both means see and you (hence the english title). It's at the same level with Bukas bukas (Open tomorrow). Ingenious. I bet their Japanese cast approves


+ Quickie Plot +


Lea is a Filipina tour guide based in Sapporo (less known vs Tokyo or Osaka unless of course you are kind of obsessed with Japan) who, after years of waiting for her fiancé to finally marry her learns she was being cheated upon with another friend of hers. The story with her past ends there and hers with Tonyo starts as soon as she loses her sight* (temporarily).


Living overseas with no one around and blind is just too much to bear, transforming her amiable personality earlier to a grumpy loner. One day someone came to her life (literally) a man named Tonyo, her new neighbor who kept on bringing her food and futile attempts to make her talk. After a while she warms up to the friendship. She even accepts being his tour guide even though she herself cannot see.


Early on we see some instance when Tonyo seemed to have a physical ailment which he can conveniently hide to Lea. I am glad they didn't go with the route of him being sick and dying but instead through an accident. Either way he is going to die prematurely and only after Lea is able to see. Last parts explained how and why he mysteriously appeared in her life. It was a bit stalker-ish but no fret, this is a better reveal than what happened to the movie Passengers. In here, Lea didn't have the time to be angry nor feel betrayed. Again, they could have easily done that route where the climax involves the ff steps:


Lea finally admits to herself she loves Tonyo.


She would realize that she was being stalked.


She would get angry and would refuse to see nor talk to him. She would also have a lengthy tantrum on the "betrayal".


He would do ridiculous attempts to please her again.


The only one that works is the one that sends him to the hospital.


She would realize she truly loves him.


He either dies in the end or he miraculously heals (depending on the intent of the director now).


But no. Those things didn't have to happen just to garner sympathy with the viewers. We've already seen that scenario (with different combinations) over and over amongst different genres it begs to rest. For Kita Kita to not have done any of that is truly refreshing. I liked that it's simple, none of them have weird unbelievable quirks.


Recommendation:

  1. If you're here to see the main girl character who has traits that is borderline embarrassing, this is not it.

  2. Do not expect to get a makeover ending where the guy becomes hot.

  3. No handsome cameo in the end.

  4. It's as simple as it gets. There are no lengthy dramatic conversations, no stupid public declarations of love, no screaming under fake rain.


 

 

*Temporary blindness is new to me. I am no medical doctor but let's just assume it is (weird unknown afflictions are a trend lately, let's just accept it for now).


The BPI Incident


selfiemorefun


It's the 2nd day of the internal issue that unfortunately happened to one of the banks I like, BPI. Till now I still have no access online nor was able to successfully withdraw from an ATM. I can still go on for a few days without withdrawing from them BUT, I do not want to have any issues this payroll (it's next week!!) since I have important bills to pay (amortization, and taxes, to name a few).


As someone from IT, and from a bank too, we're quite familiar that this kind of scenario would happen at some point, luckily not caused by one's self. That's why we have testing environments, QA testing, UAT and multiple deployments in different instances to prevent something like this to happen. If it was indeed caused by their IT department and someone (or more) got sacked, well if that ain't traumatic, I don't know what is. So that's my theory other than my not so far fetched one which is someone ran their batch process twice erroneously and their programs have no validations to skip successful ones prior. I doubt BPI would truly reveal the exact reasons why but I am pretty sure that it's not one of these things I read circulating on the internet:




  1. Hacking - If it was hacking, ALL (if not most) OF US won't have cash anymore. Who hacks and gives away 12 Billion to a nobody? Also, if it was indeed hacking, we would be advised the soonest to change passwords right?

  2. The Government has something to do with it / they're raising money to give to Duterte - You know, if it was indeed the government ask yourself this, why the hell would they even do this so publicly? And if they wanted to move money around, they don't need to show it on your records.


Reading through the comments in social media makes my head hurt. The conspiracy theories are too laughable and dumb it's borderline unbelievable. Reminds me of this from Bojack Horseman:


Unbelievable, when your powers combine,


you're somehow even more stupid


than the sum of your stupids.


 

And it won't help if you keep on transacting too just out of panic. Leave the records alone, they say they're going to fix it, just trust the bank and the technology given. Calm down. The world won't end (yet). Now, if only they'd get back to my compromised credit card ...


 

Image source: http://www.occasionsofjoy.com/2014/11/bpi-unveiled-its-atms-new-look.html

Staycation: Conrad Manila (5.23.2017)


It's our annual staycation! We would have gone to Bataan but I was baffled at the pricing provided for us plus it's quite hot. We will go there though, probably after the summer.



I was advised by officemates that there is a long line at the counter. It wasn't when I came but it just took them a long time to assist a guest. When we were up we we're unfortunately told to wait since our room is not yet ready. It was such a long wait that my phone is almost drained when our key cards we're handed over to us.


The room is not jaw dropping but I am digging the color scheme. All browns and muted. Everything has it's storage, even the mini ref and bar is inside a cabinet!



The beds are firm as I want it to be and even if they have already provided a good number of fluffy pillows, there's still a pillow menu! I got Igusa and Reagan, Kapok (?). Mine is a hard long pillow that I enjoy resting my head on. The faint smell of grass and the support of my neck is welcoming. Reagan's didn't feel any different whatsoever.



The layout of the bath is really well thought. Bath on the left, toilet on the right, sink in the middle. You can choose to  close the entire bath or just leave it open since the door's orientation is sliding.



The huge windows are also a treat especially if you are facing the bay / amenities area. From our floor (5th) we could see both the bay, the pool and even the lounge area for check in. The curtains and blinds are electronically controlled by switches near the bed. No need to go up to let the morning sun in.



Breakfast is served as early as 6 and up to 10am (or was it 11?). When we went down it was fully packed we were lucky to get a seat at Brasserie3. The rest was accommodated at a function area that I'm guessing didn't have any window view and a bit far from the buffet table.



The choices are just OK, they don't have extensive choices per theme but well stock enough for tons of guests. What I didn't like is their service. They do need to have more waiters. Our coffee and tea came only after we followed up, but this is almost at the end of our meal. I was even joking that I should try what another guest did who stood and did a monologue to whoever unfortunate waiter that might hear her speech of not getting her beverages refilled even without asking.


They have a turndown service and we really appreciate it after a long day. However when officemates and I shared stories it seems like we're the only ones who got food.



Recommendations: Stay, if you can afford it yes. But if you're going to stay by the pool, be there early because the cabanas are really few. Same as at breakfast if you are a large group be there as soon as you can. It is also convenient, MoA is just a bridge away and if you're lucky you can go to SMX too! (That's what we did when I found out there's a bag and shoe sale.)


Tiny pet peeves: Consistency. An officemate who got there earlier did't get the pillows she requested and it took them a long time. We encountered the same thing only that we are luckier because we were able to secure two pillows and we got it before we left. A brighter hallway is also something they have to think about because it's long and quite narrow.

I am in love with Max Riemelt!

I have gone completely mad. I have become what most girls are like with their male celebrity crush-- They love them. Like stalk all their social media-you can't help but swoon phase. I'm even posting a confession blog damnit. I do have a lot of crushes but not to this same level. I literally have to find AND LIKE all the pictures of his on those social media accounts* I found and find myself grinning silly at the photos and GIFs posted all over the internet. 


I mean look at this handsomeness** here







And here I am retweeting his GIFs:



I fondly recall how in the last episode of Sense 8 I was hanging on to his every word (especially that scene with his character Wolfgang and his co-actor, TINA who plays Kala). My mouth was agape, my heart beating too fast. What the f*ck is going on with me?!!


Ok so obviously it's impossible for us to meet, but I don't know how I would react if it's remotely happening in the future. I mean, there are no plans of me going to Germany for the next, I  don't know, years?! For now I love rewatching Sense 8 just for the sake of seeing him more times. I have also now realized that he stars in this hollywood film with Teresa Palmer, Berlin Syndrome but I don't think I would like to watch it because he's a bad guy there. I could only hope he's given more roles by Hollywood that would not make me scared of him. For the meantime I need that fantasy of a bad guy-good guy who rarely smiles. I don't even need a nude scene! 



*even if the sites ARE official, it's handled by his team and not him. If he doesn't have a personal account it's probably he's just not into it or that's how they do it there (as an actor in Germany I mean)


**Yes I really intend to show screencaps since all photos are not mine to own.




Lara Jean Trilogy by Jenny Han

larajeanreadalikes



*Before you get all worked up, I don't think that's officially what it's called but I would just name it like that anyway. To the uninitiated here's the 3 books:

To All The Boys I've Loved Before (2014)

P.S. I Still Love You (2015)

Always and Forever Lara Jean (2017)

The first book have all the elements for a producer to green light this for a teenager romcom. It even had a good hanging ending which will encourage you to read the sequel. I'm not much of a fan of romance novels but it's hard to dismiss a novel that is not even 300 pages and easy to read, hence when I finished the first book I really must know if Lara Jean truly chose Peter.


...which she did on the sequel and that's pretty much it. The rest of the book was meh. Everything I liked about the character of Peter was stupidly torn down by a weird reason (he kept on going back to his ex) and surprise surprise: a love triangle with yet another handsome blonde (Question: if Lara Jean was able to charm two hot boys, why is she not a popular mean girl?). What a convenient way to add more dilemma to our main gal. The ending was forgettable but you kind of think it's really over. But then there's a third book. As to why this exists, I have no idea. I'm halfway through it and nothing exciting is happening yet. A quarter into it, finally a dilemma (it involves a parent who does not agree on the relationship which is a well used monkey wrench on any romance novel) and Peter's acting up again by being distant. He's not texting again too!


While the third book is not even remotely amazing, I hope there won't be anymore.The third book to me felt like fan service, it's as if there's a need to justify that Peter is Lara Jean's best choice. He's too perfect in this book, he even had to deny himself sex because of an internal analysis of why Lara Jean's suddenly asking for it!


I see no reason why girls wouldn't like the trilogy especially if the readers are the same type: passive and has hobbies that doesn't involve partying and drinking all night. But then for this to work, you really must be hot, I mean she's gorgeous at every chance she could be described as such so it is possible for a super popular athlete to notice you. Once you think about it, everything is just too ideal it's borderline fantasy. This is probably one of the reasons why I rarely read romance novels anymore. I'm too old to believe in this.**




Recommendation: If you're a teen who doesn't have a boyfriend and you're still naive, YES. If you're in your 30s like me, probably not. It's a good distraction from a taxing book such as The Handmaid's Tale though.



Image: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2016/11/21/booklist-lara-jean-read-likes/



**Well don't get me wrong I do believe in romance and the situations here in the book is probably not just for my age.

T&J Travels #8: Tagaytay 2017 (Part 3)

20170501_052143_Fotor


First thing I did after turning off the A/C! (Oh hey I have too much time to even add a watermark!)


Like I said earlier, our breakfast at Destination Hotel WAS AMAZING. It wasn't your typical silog. I might book one just to get another amazing breakfast.


20170501_061217_Fotor


(I'm not sure if I could replicate this matte look hmmm)


+ Picnic Grove +


Entrance 50PHP each | Fare from Terminal 11PHP each (?)


I was hoping we could have been there earlier but it took us a while to prep. Because of this, that Tagaytay breeze is nowhere to be felt. We walked around the park and at this early, we would have tried the cable car but was told they're still waiting for their techs. We figured the sun would be harsher if we waited.


20170501_075202_Fotor


It rained the night before so it's a bit annoying that they didn't think of cleaning some part of the wood planks that are extremely muddy. When we reached the cottages some of them even have mud on the seats!


Speaking of the cottages you might think that with that rental of theirs they could have improved the place. I won't even bother paying. We sat there for awhile until we were "kicked out" by a family who paid.


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We roamed some more to the mini zoo and the shops which ironically sell thick ponchos at this weather. We also looked for the bike rentals that are too sad to even bother. I was enthusiastic at first but the bikes doesn't look safe at all. It's as if just touching it I would get tetanus.


+ Sonya's Garden +


For us to go there we needed to get a Nasugbu jeep so we had to get a tricycle back to the terminal. We were able to secure front seats at the jeep which is convenient for us to spot where we need to go. It's quite far from everything else we've been the entire weekend and it took us some time because our jeep had to wait for more passengers on another stop.


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Sonya's Garden is easy to go to, you just need a tricycle that will take you there. They are impossible to miss because they are just at the highway. What's hard though is getting out. It was extremely hard to get a tricycle from Sonya's I wonder what would we do if we're a larger group. We were just lucky to get one even! Don't bother looking for Grab too. Doesn't work here.


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The garden is really nice, I see why everyone can find this place really charming for a wedding. It has a secluded feel to it, like a home with a huge garden. They have multiple lounge spots too. Perfect to keep guests occupied.


Our primary purpose here though is not to get ourselves a healthy buffet of greens (I heard they don't serve meats here) but for their famous breads. Reagan and I each got cheese hopia, I got me some pan de coco and he a bag of coffee buns. I loved my picks but too bad didn't impress my sister.


+ Kusina Tropicale +


After checkout we decided to get some lunch. From Destination Hotel we walked back to the Rotonda and ended up at this restaurant that doesn't look condescending enough. It was also a good choice because we are the only customer around.


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In the entirety of the week this is the most refreshing one yet. The breeze, though not cool, is welcoming enough I could fall asleep. They have huge windows that have an unobstructed view of the lake, and if that's not enough they even turn an electric fan on. And while waiting they even gave us binoculars to pass time.

We ordered what everyone in Tagaytay would order: bulalo and crispy tawilis. Bulalo is fine, there are huge chunks of meat, while the tawilis lacked the "crispy" part. We barely ate it.


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I won't dismiss the experience though, I really liked how friendly their servers are and again, the location. Probably won't get the tawilis again though.


+ Going Home +


Quite easy. Almost all buses have the same route (Lawton) so it was easier for us to get home. This small adventure of ours was not bad. I didn't think we could have survived without a car, and yet we did. Maybe we could do a repeat but not in the summer anymore. I hate going there having the same climate back in Manila. I mean I rarely go out during lunch. I wish summer is over!