How I spent Good Friday

I dread the ghost town.
Even though I love staying home, I dread the thought that everything is closed outside on Good Friday.
We checked out of Solaire Hotel past 1 PM and I stayed mostly in bed playing Candy Crush and watching the latest episodes of Scandal and the new season of Awkward.
I know, I am obsessed with Candy Crush. It relaxes me and here’s where I am now.

Candy Crush level

How do you like Scandal Season 3? At first I hated it—the plots were too complicated for my brain. Then I started to like it again towards the last few episodes.
Kerry Washington used to be my girl crush until she got pregnant in real life and her wardrobe turned frumpy to conceal the baby bump. Suddenly she wasn’t cute anymore, and I wasn’t feeling kilig with the President.
I don’t find them hot anymore. I prefer Jake Ballard (played by Scott Foley).

#TeamMellie! by Olivia Pope, on Flickr”>Kerry Washington Explains Why She Is So #TeamMellie!
L-R: President Grant (played by Tony Goldwyn), Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), Jake Ballard (Scott Foley)

Here’s a cute reel of Scandal bloopers shown recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Behind the Scandalabra, where Scott Foley joins Kimmel and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes at Olivia Pope’s “apartment.”

Awkward Season 4 just started last April 15, 2014.
Now on their senior year, Jenny and Matty are both single again, but go back to being F-buddies.
A new character named Eva is introduced and threatens to come between the two.
Jake and Tamara’s love story continues to bore me, while Sadie still rules as the show’s queen negatron.
I’m excited for Jenna’s new love interest and hope that she just moves on from Matty (sorry, I don’t find him cute) #notsorry.
Here’s what you can expect from Season 4.

How to survive Manila on Maundy Thursday

It’s tough staying home in Manila when everyone’s Instagram photos show adventures in foreign countries and local beaches.
Our family chose to stay in the country because we’re traveling instead next month for my son’s birthday.
Going out of town was not an option because of the traffic and the lack of chuva-approved accommodations.
One day we will own a rest house we can drive to because of my fear of small planes, bancas, and scary hotels.
Such is my life.
We decided instead to check in at the Solaire Hotel on Maundy Thursday.
We booked two connecting rooms and arrived to a bustling lobby at 3 PM.
There were 400 staycations booked at hotel, we were told.
The kids and yayas stayed in this room

Solaire Hotel Manila

while Jeroen and I stayed here

Solaire Hotel Manila

The bathrooms are chuva-approved—spacious and clean with marble tiles, separate shower and bath, counter sink and Kohler toilet

Solaire Hotel Manila
Solaire Hotel Manila

Solaire is one of the few hotels with bathrooms that are chuva-approved. The other one is Raffles Makati. The only thing that needs to be changed or removed is a wooden towel tray that has seen better days

Solaire Hotel Manila

We loved this convenient shelf under the TV

Solaire Hotel Manila

and this welcome note (thank you Mr. Ort!)

Solaire Hotel Manila

The TV was easy to use and the aircon was consistent in temperature and easy to control.

Solaire Hotel Manila

I thought I would spend the day blogging and doing my nails. Instead, I collapsed into a deep sleep and woke up for dinner.
We took most of our meals in-room and appreciated the efficient room service.
The boys mostly played Minecraft on their laptops as the pool was filled with staycationers.
The following day they enjoyed the breakfast buffet before hitting the pool and checking out at 1 PM.
One day is all we really needed to get out of the ghost town feeling.
Thank you Myk and Solaire for the restful stay :)

Solaire Hotel Manila

My kind of place: NUI Hostel Bar & Lounge

When I was a teenager we looked forward to a magical place in Malate called Penguin Café.
The first Penguin had no aircon, only electric fans of different shapes and sizes.
Each time I was allowed to go out, I would join my guy friends in our New Wave/Gothic hairstyles and outfits.
During the ’80s, we still had the US bases in the Philippines. At Penguin Café we mixed with American sailors in uniform and prostitutes and theatre actors.
Penguin later relocated to Remedios Circle, which now had booth seating, aircon, and good food.
Us college students mixed with backpackers, foreign journalists, and more theatre actors.
This was the anthem of Penguin Café

When the mainstream folks discovered Penguin Café, it started to die a long and natural death until it finally closed for good in 2010. Sadly, there hasn’t been anything quite like it in Manila.

No more Penguin
Penguin Café: closed for good in 2010

Fast forward to 2014 Tokyo.
Last month my friend Sayoko brought me to Asakusa her son Yu had discovered a really cool place called Nui.

NUI Hostel bar and lounge

My jaw dropped as soon as I walked in, saw the interiors and the cool people. It was truly magical.

NUI Hostel bar and lounge
NUI Hostel bar and lounge

“We can have a drink here,” Sayoko-said.
“Sayoko-san, can we leave now and come back with Jeroen? I really want him to see this,” I said excitedly.
“Of course,” Sayoko said. She understood right away because she gets me.
Nui Hostel Bar & Lounge was opened in September 2012 by 22 talented Japanese craftsmen, who wanted to build something really cool in the obscure area of Taito-ku.

NUI Hostel bar and lounge

They made use of industrial and natural materials to create an unexpected ambience.

NUI Hostel bar and lounge
NUI Hostel bar and lounge
NUI Hostel bar and lounge

On top of the bar and lounge are dormitories and private accommodations as low as 2700 yen per night.
The rooms and communal bathrooms are not chuva-approved, but hey, if you’re up to it, I won’t stop you :)

NUI Hostel bar and lounge

The following night we came back with Jeroen, whose reaction was exactly like mine—pure magic.

Nui bar & lounge
Nui bar & lounge

The place was packed so we ordered our drinks and stood on this tree bar.
It was cold outside. Guests casually parked their coats on the racks by the window.

Nui bar & lounge

The multi-level design just blew me away, as did the mismatched furniture

Nui bar & lounge
Nui bar & lounge

Here’s where guests inquire about the rooms

Nui bar & lounge

and a sign I spotted at the front desk: Beyond All Borders, which is the main concept of Nui.

Nui bar & lounge

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a place so magical. Thank you, Sayoko-san, for taking us :)

Nui Cafe & Hostel Tokyo

Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE is at 2-14-13 Kuramae, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0051, Japan
Tel. +81 3-6240-9854
To know more, like them on Facebook.

Remember the first time you flew in a plane?

I sure do. It was a small plane my family took to Baguio, back in the ’70s when the Loakan airport was still open.
I was in the back seat with my yaya and our rosaries. We were convinced we would die.
The plane was tiny, maybe 10 seats including pilots. I had claustrophobia.
It was hot inside and had these tiny round blowers you could point to your face for air. It even had a toilet hidden under one of the seats, just in case.
Nobody ever used it though.
We took that plane to Baguio each time, and each time I would beg my dad if I could go with the car instead.
He thought I was crazy.
From that I developed a fear of flying. Now I need to check the plane I’m booking. It has to be a 777. No Airbuses for me.
That said, I cried when I watched this short film about two Dutch grandmas who were riding on a plane for the first time.
I love grandmas and I miss my grandmas who traveled together, so watching them go through this warms my heart.

Who’s afraid of mosquitoes?

“Why are you hoarding mosquito spray?”
We were at Manning’s Hong Kong and my friend Patrice wanted to know.

Mosquito problems

“We have a mosquito problem at home. Don’t you?”
Patrice and I both live in Pasig. In fact all of her three sons have (thankfully) survived dengue.
It started probably a month ago. It was my Dutch husband who first noticed it because mosquitoes just love him.
“You have sweet blood,” I told him.
Then the village issued this letter:

Mosquito problems

Walking around the village the other night I saw neighbours swatting mosquitoes with electronic tennis rackets. They are sold out everywhere. My sister-in-law gave me one, but it conked out after two days.
One day I woke up with ten red dots on my left hand. I thought I had measles.
Last week I woke up with 15 bites on my face, and our bed sheet had various blood stains.

Mosquito problems
Mosquito problems
Mosquito problems

I imagined those bloodsuckers feasting on us while we were sleeping.
Sometimes my husband would wake up from the sound of a mosquito in his ear.
He’s upset. I went to Wilcon to buy cheap Akari lamps. They seemed to work at first, and then it seemed like the mosquitoes became immune to them.

Mosquito problems

Yesterday I woke up with this arm.

Mosquito problems

I realised the mosquito problem was real and thought about the plague in the Bible.
This afternoon I decided to buy a more serious back up. But so far we have heard it zap maybe seven times. Meanwhile the mosquitoes were hovering around me.

Mosquito lamp

I’m not even sure if mosquitoes are attracted to the lamps. What I know is, they attracted to dark colours. Therefore, they are attracted to my clothes!
Thankfully night mosquitoes are not dengous (I made that up).
But so far tonight, inside the bedroom, there seems to be less mosquitoes.
I have never been so terrified of mosquitoes. With that and all the strange misfortunes happening around me, my friends and in the world (a.k.a. the missing Malaysian plane), I wonder if it is a sign of the Apocalypse.
Excuse me while I scratch under my arm.
And oh and before I forget, happy birthday Rob! I hope you are mosquito-free, wherever you are.

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