Kimono Ken, a Review

It’s been a gruelling but rewarding week so I thought of treating myself to some of my good old favorites from Kimono Ken.

Kimono Ken is a chain of Japanese fusion restaurants that’s been around for about a decade.  It may be homegrown here in the Philippines but they certainly deliver.  (Restaurants in Little Tokyo are on another level, though.)

It’s a little heavy on the pocket, but the price is comparable to how food costs in Japan.  Taste-wise, the flavors are definitely there.  So for today’s snapshot of their offerings:

Service is efficient and the staff are cordial.  I don’t eat out as much as I used to anymore, but Kimono Ken will stay as one of my favorite go-to restaurants if I want a treat.  If you like Japanese food and haven’t gone to any of their branches, do give it a try!

Windows

Hi there!

I haven’t been able to post as often as I want to these past few weeks because my laptop kept acting up.  Stubborn me refused to go to the repair shop though I was already starting to warm up to the idea that I needed to format my hard disk soon.

Still, I tinkered as far as I can, so every other day or so I’d run chkdsk c:/r.  Then just this weekend, a techie friend of mine made the switch to Windows 10, so I thought I’d give in to Microsoft’s pesky free upgrade reminder and get it over with.  So now my laptop’s into its third day of running under Windows 10.

After writing down the pictures’ captions, I realized that Windows 10 almost has a feel of Android OS sometimes.  At first, I had apprehensions too at how Windows 10 might be, but my laptop’s been actually performing faster than when I was still using Windows 7.  More importantly, the upgrade seemed to have fixed my laptop somehow.

Stuff I don’t like as much–the audio is a little lower in volume now, and continually pressing F8 doesn’t get you to the boot screen/ repair menu anymore.  I also can’t access some sites in https when I’m using Firefox.

Despite these minor inconveniences though, I’d say it was worth upgrading to Windows 10.   Now let’s hope I don’t jinx it!


And since we’re on the topic of windows, let’s switch gears and talk about windows (窓). When designed right, windows can become a spectacular view in themselves.  I want to share with you some shots of windows which I find interesting:

 

So there.  I hope you found the Windows 10 review helpful and that you enjoyed the mini-windows gallery.  またね!

Costa Coffee, a Review

Costa Coffee is a UK-based coffee chain, and just this week, they’ve opened their sixth store in the Philippines at SM North EDSA.  And when it comes to commercial coffee, I’m more of I’ll try stuff at least once so I gave Costa Coffee a shot.

The ambiance including music was cozy, and the price is comparable to Seattle’s Best or Starbucks (the cake slice cost PhP 150 or just under USD4; the 12-oz coffee at PhP 130 or around USD 3.5).  One thing that probably needs working on though is for the crew to be a little friendlier.  Not Starbucks-levels perky; maybe just a few smiles and short greetings will do.  That would make the place even more inviting. But overall, I think Costa Coffee is a good place to hang out and enjoy coffee with family, friends or your significant other.

Gardens by the Bay

 

 

I first came across Gardens by the Bay in 2012.  I saw the supertrees and the gardens was set to have its soft opening sometime that year.  I finally got to visit in 2014, and by then, there were plenty of attractions to enjoy for more than half a day.

More than aesthetics though, what I find epic about Gardens by the Bay is how it’s designed for sustainability, as these cool schematics illustrate.  In a nutshell:

  • Biomass is optimized in the gardens.  Green waste is burned to generate electricity for the complex and heat the dehumidifiers running in the cool conservatories.  Part of the green waste is also used as fertilizer for new material for the different gardens.
  • The cool conservatories’ greenhouses are shaped as such to collect rainwater.  It gets filtered, then used for irrigating new seedlings and cuttings.  The rest of the filtered rainwater gets discharged into the Marina reservoir.
  • Flue gases (or gas emissions from burning the green waste) drive ventilation in the supertrees.  Moist air expelled from the trees help maintain the right conditions for surrounding wildlife.
  • Water runoff from the gardens is further treated in the Dragonfly and Kingfisher lakes naturally by the trees, aquatic plants and animals that are in these lakes.

Now that is epic environmental engineering!  And Gardens by the Bay is a sight to behold, too:

 

Gardens by the Bay is accessible via MRT.  Alight at the Bayfront MRT Station, take Exit B, cross the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge.  And into the gardens you go!

Admission rates for the conservatories are as follows:

  • Local Resident Rate – One Conservatory
    Adults: SGD12
    Senior Citizens (>60 years old): SGD8
    Children (3-12 years old): SGD8
  • Local Resident Rate – Two Conservatories
    Adults: SGD20
    Senior Citizens (>60 years old): SGD15
    Children (3-12 years old): SGD12
  • Standard Rate – Two Conservatories
    Adults: SGD28
    Children (3-12 years old): SGD15

Access to the rest of the areas is pretty much free (OCBC Skyway has a fee of SGD5, I believe). The conservatories are generally open daily, from 9 am – 9 pm, and last admission is 8:30 pm.  You can get your tickets online to save time queueing, too.

The Calm of Osaka Bay

It’s not the first time you’ll hear me say this–or rather read about it in a blog post of mine–I love high places.  You get a bigger picture, it gives you a broader perspective of the landscape, and it’s an escape from the noise that’s on the ground.  Gazing at the view from said perspective both frees and quiets my mind.

When I was looking for my own place, I made sure that the unit I bought had a nice city view.  That way, when I need to clear my head, I’d just gaze at the window.  I’ve certainly enjoyed the fireworks every New Year’s Eve for the last three or four years!  Unfortunately though, my city view is now partially covered with another building, and soon, in place of skylines, I’ll be having an uncomfortable view of neighbors… :/

Now I can’t really do anything about it anymore, so the next best thing when  I don’t have any travel yet would be to revisit pictures.  I found these shots of Osaka Bay very calming, especially now.  I’m loading the pics in full quality so you can enjoy them as much as I do 🙂

Fushimi Inari Shrine

I’ve always been fascinated with photos from Fushimi Inari Shrine, and I felt that my trip to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing it so I did!

Fushimi Inari Shrine is very accessible.  It’s just a few minutes-walk away from Keihan Electric Railway Mainline’s Fushimi Inari station.  JR’s Nara Line Inari Station is even closer to the shrine itself.

The thousand gates traversing Mt. Inari might be the most popular feature of the shrines, but there are several structures meant for private worship.  More than a photo op or two, Fushimi Inari Shrine certainly offers a taste of Japan’s history and spirituality.

And now, the pics!

There are food stalls and souvenir shops at the foot of the shrine, too.

For me, Fushimi Inari Shrine is definitely a must-see! Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes, get hydrated, and be prepared to climb.

Kumori Bakery, Part 3

And the Kumori saga continues.

So the other day, I was badly craving for turon but by the time I went to the stall, they just have three kamote cue sticks left.  No more turon. To relieve my frustration, I then headed to Kumori to try the pastries I haven’t had yet.

I bought three totally different pastries:  their signature hanjuku cheese cake (chocolate); green apple bun, and cherry brioche.  Total damage is PhP 141, or about 3 – 4 USD.  Let’s not talk about the calories and all the sugar though, ok 😉

So that’s three down, and plenty more to try and enjoy~

 

 

Nami Island

Being a One Piece fan, I couldn’t help but associate Nami Island with Nami, the strawhat pirates’ navigator.  But it turns out that the island is named after General Nami, a key figure during King Sejo’s reign.

One very interesting fact to note too is that Naminara Republic is said to have its own diplomatic and cultural policies.  The official site says that Naminara Republic has declared its cultural independence from the Republic of Korea.  I can’t honestly wrap my head around it though, but I thought I’d share it since I found the different names confusing (Nami Island, Namiseom, Naminara Republic).

Nami Island has become very popular because Winter Sonata was shot here.  They have spots in the island telling you exactly where some memorable scenes were taken.  Personally, not a fan of Winter Sonata nor of K-drama, so I wasn’t really excited about this one 😐

Anyway, here are some pics of our half-day stay in Nami Island, or at least the parts I liked the most:

 

How to get to Nami Island:

[Taxi + Ferry]
From Gapyeong Bus Terminal or Gapyeong Station, take a taxi to Namiseom parking lot. (Travel time: 10-15 min)
– Take the ferry from Namiseom Dock to Namiseom Island. (Travel time: 5-6 min)

[Shuttle Bus]
* Bus stops
1) Insa-dong (Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 3): Next to Tapgol Park
2) Namdaemun Gate (Sungnyemum Square Bus Stop in front of Namdaemun Market)
3) Namiseom Island (Parking lot in front of ticket booth)
* Bus schedule (Insa-dong/Namdaemun Gate ↔ Namiseom Island)
– Available days: Mondays-Sundays (* Note: the service is not unavailable on Chuseok).
– Departing time: Insa-dong at 09:30 / Namdaemun Gate 09:30 / Namiseom Island at 16:00
* Fares
Adults 15,000 won (round-trip), 7,500 won (one way) / Children (age 24 months-12) 13,000 won (round trip),
6,500 won (one way)
* Advanced reservation required (inquiries +82-2-753-1247),and more information is found here.

Lots of Love, Seoul Tower

I like going to high places even if it scares me at times (yes, I’m talking about that one time), so I was excited to climb Namsan Seoul Tower.

It’s situated at Namsan Mountain and is the highest peak in Seoul.  Open every day of the year, Seoul Tower has free and paid attractions, and is popular both among locals and tourists.

We went to Seoul Tower shortly before lunch time. While it may have been magical at night,  I don’t think we would have withstood the cold.  I’m sure I wouldn’t–heck, at 23 deg. C I already wear a jacket! >_<

Here’s a mini-recap of our Seoul Tower stop, in pictures:

Operating hours, access details and fees may be found in the Visit Korea site.

I think I’ll go back here at nighttime, but maybe when it’s warmer^^

 

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace

It felt like a Hunter exam, the one where Gon, Killua and the rest of the gang tried to keep up with the examiner Satotsu.  Only that we’re in the huuuuuuge Gyeongbokgung Palace Grounds, and the Satotsu in this situation is our tour guide who looks like a retired soldier.  We had to brisk-walk else we’d lose sight of him.

Gyeongbokgung is in the heart of Jongno-gu, a place rich in cultural and historical significance to South Korea.  Of the four palace complexes in Jongno-gu, Gyeonbokgung is not just the largest but is said to be the most beautiful as well.  Here are some of the highlights of our stop:

Operating Hours
November-February 09:00-17:00
March-May 09:00-18:00
June-August 09:00-18:30
September-October 09:00-18:00

* Last admission: 1 hr before closing

Closed on Tuesdays.

Admission Fees
[Korean Citizens]
Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won

[International Visitors]
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Group (10 people or more): 1,200 won

**Source

Gyeongbokgung is near Gyeongbokgung station on Seoul Subway Line 3.