My kind of place: NUI Hostel Bar & Lounge
Posted on

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?
Posted on

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?
Posted on

“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.

The Upper House, Hong Kong
Posted on

Finally, I got a chance to stay at the Upper House Hong Kong and see if it lives up to its reputation as being the chicest place to stay in Hong Kong.
Just a few days ago, Tilda Swinton was a guest.

My friends and I decided to make a quick trip to celebrate Patrice’s birthday, before sending off our friend Penny to her month-long trip to the US. This is what our room looked like

Studio 70 Harbour View

It has a couch that doubles as an extra bed and a desk with so many plugs for your chargers.
Plus huge windows with motorised curtains (if you can call it that)

Studio 80

Patrice checked out the minibar

Patrice checks out the minibar

Everything in the minibar is free and refillable, except for the wines


I may know some people who would take/consume all of these 🙂

Free minibar

Penny used the coffee maker

Coffee maker

while i enjoyed the fresh milk that came in these cute bottles

Milk bottles

The bathroom is the most important place for me in any hotel, so here we go.
The bathroom is huge and separated in two parts. You go down this hallway


To the right is a small closet and dressing table where we parked our luggage.


Further down is this zen-like toilet

Upper House toilet

On the left side are the chuva-approved counter sinks


Right behind the lavatory is the bath area


There’s a huge bathtub with a view from the sinks (therefore, nobody used it)


And an open shower with a view from the left side


I’m not an exhibitionist, so I don’t really like open bathrooms. I also feel that the bathroom is too big and maze-like.
I prefer a simpler layout where you can jump from toilet to sink to shower and not have to walk all the way around.
I like space. At Upper House, there was not much space to spread the luggage.
Because of these, I still prefer the Four Seasons Hong Kong.

Four Seasons HK

Love this closet

Four Seasons HK

Love this bathroom

Four Seasons HK

What I liked most about the Upper House was the beautiful lawn where we spent hours talking
It is currently under renovation, so I hope to take Jeroen there one day, if ever we do stay at the Upper House.
To know more about the Upper House, click HERE.