CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 : EN ROUTE TO PINAS

*This blog series includes : Christmas Break 2011 Day 2 : ULINGAN, TONDO

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16 December 2011, Thursday night.  I arranged a pick up from our place in Butterworth to Penang International Airport via SMS with an Indian taxi cab driver whom we frequently call whenever we need a ride prior to departure and arrival.  He came at around 7 in the evening and with the expected rush-hour-traffic jam, we arrived before 8PM at the terminal.  Dropping of our 49 kilo-luggages and bags was such a breeze because I did the online check-in already and had our boarding passes printed from the web days prior to our flight.  And because we’re on a very limited budget and value practicality above something else, we went home via Malaysia’s budget airline, Air Asia (May kamahalan na din ang nakuha naming ticket kumpara sa karaniwan at promo airfares dito –humigit-kumulang PhP 35K kaming tatlo, one way from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK).

I set to use my annual work leave in spending Christmas season in Pinas. I didn’t go home or utilized my paid days off else where (read : our breaks in Paris, New York and London *kidding!* I wish but we only went to Kelantan, Malaysia, Singapore and  Hatyai, Thailand this year were all enjoyed during public holidays) but saved it for the yuletide. After all, it is Christmas that Tina, Gabby and I consider as the most wonderful time of the year, the happiest season of all!

Despite Penang is only1545 miles away from the Philippines, there’s no direct flight yet to connect my current work place and our home. So it’s either you fly Singapore or Hong Kong first –which would cost you your arms and legs at this time of the year, or either take the cheaper but longer route by the bus or train or fly from Penang to Kuala Lumpur first that we usually do.

At the Penang International Airport which has on-going renovations (hey look, NAIA 1, terminals outside our country are on the road to improvement, and you?) we had dinner from one of Gabby’s favorite fast foods. It was a simple delight to have twister fries and quarter pounder before a flight. 🙂

After dinner, the waiting period began. Our local flight from Pen-KUL was supposedly 11:15PM but was delayed for 30 minutes. What can we do but bear with the waiting game. Are you fond of waiting for your flight/s at the airport?  I do except when it’s not on time. I mean, I maybe impatient at other matters but killing time at the terminals for me is not that bad.

We safely reached KL-LCCT after 45 minute flight. Everything’s fine except the looooong walk from the tarmac to the airport itself. The fatigue and lack of sleep were gone withe the sight of this heavenly food place that we’ve been wanting to try…

The Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur may not be one of the best, perhaps not even included in top 10 great terminals in the world and in my opinion has also its share of inconvenience but nontheless has decent choices of food places. We passed on Starbucks Coffee, Mary Brown Fried Chicken (Malaysia’s answer to KFC), and some other few but we failed to resist the charm of Theobroma Chocolate Lounge.

the ambiance is casual and inviting.

Forgive us for indulging chocolates before 2 in the morning. Sinful is it not? 😀

Look, everything looked nice and tasted great too but they served the knife & fork with its tips exposed and the handles wrapped with tissues and before you wrongly judge Theobroma, let me inform you that this is a common practice in restaurants around Malaysia; and frequently, availability of tissues is a rarity in hawkers too! (read: I am not a foodie expert neither have a degree in culinary but my common sense dictates me that it’s best to wrap and cover the  parts you’ll put in your mouth rather than expose and drop it directly on the table. Spell HYGIENE and CLEANLINESS, people!).

Moving on…Tell me, how can you resist Theobroma’s Belgian Waffle with Ice Cream?

Me speaking to the waiter : “What are your bestsellers here? What can you recommend?”

Waiter pointing to the menu he handed us : “Ah, eto po ang masasarap, ok po ito, iyan…”

Me : “Ah, Kabayan! Saan kayo sa atin? Ano ba masarap dito?

the eyes tell you that they're sleep deprived but hungry. hehe! 🙂

Our verdict : The waffle’s tasteful! The strawberry slices rippled with chocolate were divine. And it’s so amazing that the scoop of ice cream took several minutes to melt which made us ask ourselves, is it gelato?

Gabby went to the counter and checked out the cakes. I believe he wanted Oreo chocolate cake but we were served with Orange Chocolate slice. We did not complain; I felt there’s no need to because we also wanted to sample such flavorful combo.

Gabby’s taste buds were a bit purist. When he wants chocolate, he wants nothing else. In fact, our kiddo doesn’t want any nuts when eating anything chocolate. But the cake was a delight for me and Tina. It reminded us of one of Haagen Dazs’.

Tina asked our kabayang-waiters (we talked to 2 of them-one serving us and the other at the counter) their recommendations. One of them highly suggested QUEEN OF ROCK AND ROLL.

Me asking Tina :” ‘ney, design lang ba iyong nasa cup or chocolate ripple talaga?

Tina : “ano ka ba, chocolate!”  –tapos ngumiti iyong waiter sa clueless moment ko.

We trusted our kabayang-waiter and the suggested cup doesn’t disappoint! Queen of Rock and Roll (left photo below) went to Gabby and he loved it! That chocolatey creamy drink indeed rocks! 🙂 While Tina opted for a coffee-chocolate blend called MADAME ESKIMO which was beautifully served with a coffee bean on top. My lovely wife, despite sleep deprived was happy! 🙂

Thumbs up for Theobroma's blends!

As for me, I needed to have something warm; I settled for FLAT WHITE.

Sarap! Nakakawala ng antok!  Someone should bring home Theobroma Chocolate Lounge to NAIA Terminal 1 please!

The prices are comparable to Starbucks Coffee. Service is efficient. Goodies are yummies! 🙂

The Air Asia check in counter didn’t open until it was past 4AM. Maraming PASAWAY sa pila na ibang lahi. SINGIT! I didn’t allow them to get in over my queue. Our international flight from Kuala Lumpur to Clark Field, Pampanga was scheduled at 6:45AM. And so I thought, di ba 4 hours dapat bukas na ang airline counter kapag international flight?

Waiting, waiting and more waiting.  After few bladder and bowel breaks, yikes! (hey, it’s part of morning rituals, right?), we decided to spend our last hour prior to the flight and our few remaining ringgit in OLD TOWN WHITE COFFEE restaurant also in LCCT.

Tina and I had a plate each of this noodle dish that the name slipped my memory.

I may have forgotten its name but the taste was etched on my palate. Sarap! It’s so comforting to eat hot noodle dish in the wee hours of the morning.

I was fortunate enough to avail of our RETURN FLIGHT on the first week of January 2012 last April 2011 at its promo sale. It only costs me PhP 8K nett for the 3 of us with 40 kg check in luggage and I think that’s a steal! 🙂 However, due to tight budget, I only purchased our airline tickets from Pen-KUL, then KUL-CRK last week of November for our Dec 16-17 flight. Understandably, most of the aircrafts servicing Malaysia-Philippines route are alreay full because of the  holiday season and prices of tickets are expectedly steep than usual. Nonetheless, come hell or high waters, Tina, Gabby and I have to spend Christmas in the country we call HOME.

From the arrival area of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), we claimed and paid our reserved bus tickets from the friendly ladies of Philtranco bus liner kiosk located at the lobby. I googled their website and did the reservation via email; a ticket from DMIA to SM Megamall (even up to Pasay City) costs PhP 400/pax.

The trip was only an hour and a half and everything went OK except for the traffic from Balintawak in Caloocan after NLEX to EDSA then Ortigas approaching SM Megamall. But hey, it ain’t home without the traffic! *pun intended*

The next morning, we savored one of our missed breakfast meals…

Nothing spells the Christmas celebrations better than spending it in your home country with your love ones. Walang katulad ang Pasko sa Pilipinas! 🙂

From Tina, Gabby and me, Maligayang Pasko po at Manigong Bagong Taon! 🙂

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27 thoughts on “CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 : EN ROUTE TO PINAS

  1. .. mary brown, old town, lcct and penang airport! namiss ko tuloy ang malaysia, hehe.

    .. enjoy, enjoy lang doc sa pinas! still have more days for you, tina and gab. 😀

  2. nothing beats christmas at home, truly.

    also nothing beats piping hot pandesal with reno liver spread, that’s the perfect combo. i still eat that even here, when i feel down and homesick.

    bilib naman ako sa iyo doc. you can summon your appetite for chocolate in the wee hours of the morning. sana ganyan din ako, but i cannot seem to eat anything between the hours after midnight to before 6 or 7 am, puro hot cocoa/tea/coffee lang.

    on the first photo, gabby looks older than he actually is. may binata ka na.

    happy holidays to you and your family. extend my greetings to tina and gabby who gamely pose for your photos here.

  3. Natakam ako, gusto ko din matry ang Theobroma! >.< Anyway doc, I hope you enjoy your vacation here in Pinas. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family! 🙂

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