Ramen is distinctively Japanese, both in taste and sense. And though this oriental concoction originated from China and only introduced to Japan in the late 19th century, it was the artistic culinary style of Japanese chefs that made ramen known to the world.

Ramen arguably is a savory oriental staple, however, since Japanese chefs reinvented this dish into a comfort food with luscious add-ons, its identity becomes thoroughly part of the Japanese cuisine. And has ever since moved on from being associated to a Chinese fare.

In recent years, Japanese dishes became quite hit among Filipino diners due to its super sumptuous selections. It manifests the inexplicable 5th taste called umami that sets Japanese food apart from other intercontinental recipes. And next to sushi and maki, Ramen has become the most sought-after Japanese dish in the Philippines among gastronome adventurers.

Morning ramen trip with colleagues.
Basking into the heart of Japanese cuisine 

Why this noodles staple becomes a hit among food lovers? Perhaps because it acts like a food therapy during cold weather. It warms up tummy and the Japanese delicate style of food preparation captures senses especially those who are into authentic oriental cuisine. I, myself constantly crave for a bowl of ramen when the weather is gloomy.

Days ago, this pang kicked in when the clock was inching closer to our lunch break (lunch break is just a figure of speech in the bpo industry, but actually it's still breakfast time 😄). It was a fine day. The sun had just rolled up beyond the skyscraping buildings along Eastwood but since we're working in an environment that has a biting cold atmosphere, our tummies needed to be constantly warmed up to get on with the day.

My colleagues, Nikki, Aira. Randy, Scarlet, Jaja and Angge, immediately agreed with this oriental hankering and decided to have some taste of Japan  somewhere. Craving for an intercontinental recipe is not quite a problem when one is working in Eastwood, the place has been soaked up with varieties of restaurants offering a plethora of recipes from almost every culture. So when we agreed to go out for lunch it was not a long and painful discussion where to go. We took the easiest way - the Cybermall. Ramen Kuroda is situated on the third floor of the mall.

Ramen Kuroda has a minimalist interior which fairly demonstrates Japan's subtle culture. 

Honestly, I haven't been into this Japanese resto nor heard about it, though it has been in the Philippine soil for three years. So I was a bit excited to try their dishes. And oh, ramen in particular. When we got there, it was only 10:00 in the morning so it wasn't yet crowded. I've had enough time soaking up with my thoughts assessing the interior. Thoroughly oriental in furnishing, Ramen Kuroda has a minimalist interior design with only white and black hues, typical to a Japanese architecture. I easily felt at home.

It was a calm Wednesday morning and the relaxing atmosphere of Ramen Kuroda added to the pleasure of devouring  all things Japanese. When the crew handed us the menu book, my eyes fixed on the varieties of ramen. I was determined to gorge it alone without any side dish to savor the taste without any destruction from other food.

Kuro Ramen, a tasty homemade noodles in roasted garlic oil topped with tonkotsu and boiled egg. Php180.00 only! Per serving is already good for sharing 

Ramen Kuroda offers three basic ramen selections topped with a tonkotsu piece (tender pork slice) and hard boiled egg  - Shiro ramen, Kuro ramen and Aka ramen. I chose the Kuro ramen, though I've no idea what Kuro means lol! Later, when I made research, I've discovered that Kuro in Japanese term means a milk-based broth in garlic oil. Shiro  has a very basic taste of tonkotsu ramen according to its description in the menu while Aka ramen is the spicy version. I find the Kuro variety flavorful. It has a spike taste of roasted garlic and its smell is a little pungent but overall savory. I like the way spices coated the noodles, blending well to the garlic oil which makes Kuro ramen flavorful . Though I'm not into pork, I took the tonkotsu piece topping since it was tenderly boiled.

Don't be confused with tonkotsu and tonkatsu. Although they both referred to meat. Tonkotsu refers to a pork bone broth while tonkatsu refers to a deep-fried breaded pork.

 Angge taking time mixing the flavorful Kuro ramen 
 Ramen teriyaki pork don set with tidbits of fresh fruits

 Scarlet having a great time devouring a bowl of tonkotsu ramen with a glass of green mango shake 

My colleagues picked the ramen set because it has additional dishes and more budget-friendly. With only Php320.00 per set you'll have a bowl of ramen, teriyaki pork don and fresh fruits, this serving is already good for sharing. I didn't grab a glass of fruit shakes but the rest of my friends sampled the refreshing coolers. And according to them it has a taste of authentic fruits with less ice granules.

Nikki enjoying a bowl of rice with Teriyaki pork don and a glass of delicious mango shake
Aira  ready to gorge the Kuro ramen 

I've been to many Japanese restaurants in the country and tried different preparations of ramen but still couldn't figure out which one offered the best. Each restaurant boasts a delectable recipe with a distinct flavor, making it hard to pick which one is the best. However, as unique as the Japanese cuisine itself, the  style of  preparation demonstrates what Japan's island of Kyushu, where ramen recipes have been honed to perfection, has been known for, a luscious ramen that digs into the heart of Japan's subtle dining and culture. At Ramen Kuroda this ramen recipe version just did its mission in providing Filipino epicureans with the best homemade Japanese tonkotsu ramen. It also offers the best value of money without sacrificing the quality of taste. Truly comforting!

Unlike other Japanese restaurants in the country with a ramen specialty, Ramen kuroda offers a delectable selection that won't break a bank. Each ramen bowl costs only Php180.00, while the ramen set of teriyaki pork or chicken pork don with tidbits of fresh fruits costs Php320.00. The ramen chashumen bowl (with additional and larger tonkotsu) is only Php230.00.

For diners who wouldn't want a bowl of ramen, the place has other options in the menu to devour, the bento set (with rice, half ramen, salmon, ebi tempura, teriyaki chicken) Php500.00 and the typical rice toppings, choices of teriyaki pork don and chicken don for only Php240.00.

Ramen Kuroda serves authentic Japanese tonkotsu ramen and other oriental dishes so if you're into things Japanese and looking for some variations in your food adventure, this restaurant is worth a visit. The Eastwood branch opens at 10:00 in the morning and located on the third floor of Cybermall.

Special thanks to Aira, Angge and Nikki for providing me great photos for this post. And to Scarlet, Randy and Jaja for being great food buddies.

Until next food trip guys 😄😁

With my colleagues, sampling the all-time breakfast favorites at Ristorante Bigoli

Bigoli is an Italian term for an extruded pasta made from whole wheat flour and originated from the Italian region of Veneto. So it's not surprising that Ristorante Bigoli offers a plethora of pasta selections in addition to antipasto, paninis and casual meals. Its pasta varieties have flavors concocted from authentic Italian recipes that's so aromatic, luscious and savory. So when you dine at Bigoli, you can have a taste of Italy without leaving home.

Its garlic bread has been my favorite. The goodness of cheese and cream, and the spiky aroma of garlic and other herbs blended together to produce an insanely scrumptious garlic bread. Perfectly savory!

And though I am not into pizza, their cheesy white pizza is entirely an exemption. The creaminess of cheese and butter and mouth-watering flavor, sprinkled with parsley, smudged on a thin crust, are enough to captivate my difficult appetite over pizza.

There are still equally satisfying recipes at Bigoli. Depends on one's cravings. And even though I regularly admitted that I hated spaghetti because I detested the smell of  spaghetti sauce, Bigoli dishes out the best Spag Bolognese concoction I ever tried.

And yes, I love the Italian-inspired interior design. 

This restaurant is not a run-down place where rustic tables and chairs adorned the whole area, this is a chic food destination where interior matches opulence of a regional Italian home. The spiraled staircase is reminiscent to a plain romanesque design of the exuberant renaissance Italy. The veranda has an overview of cool trees outside, and the buffet area has a feature of a narrow bridge design that boosts the restaurant's artistry.

So how about the menu?

It offers a variety of casual dining meals and the goodness of Italian comfort food. And they have varied choices of recipes where diners are allowed to create their own meals. Though Italian flavors in nature, food selections caught the taste of Filipinos who like a balance of pungent savory and creamy fares.

Bigoli branch located at City Walk 1, Eastwood City

However, the restaurant's Breakfast buffet has been it's most popular dining delight. Not only it offers the all time breakfast favorites, it also offers a buffet of pizza and pasta selections that have been Bigoli's signature dishes.

This morning, with some of my colleagues, we  agreed to spend our breakfast at Bigoli to have some taste of Italy. It was quite late for breakfast by Filipino standard meal time - 9:00 o'clock - but since work schedule in BPO is always nuts, and has this crazy term of lunch break even though it's still breakfast time - our revolting tummies need to wait until the clock chimed at almost mid-morning.

When we get there, the breakfast buffet time clock was ticking fast. One hour shy to be exact. So we were like chasing time to have our moments at the buffet table. Luckily, we used to move fast, so we were still able to make the most of our lunch break, gorging the mouth-watering dishes and palatial food selections while bantering at each other.

We enjoyed the rest of our quick food trip. 

A variety of Italian-inspired dishes, cheesy pizza, carbonara and chicken marinara

Who would not want to gorge this sumptuous cheesy pizza with thin crust for Breakfast?

An appetizer selection consists of fresh and sieved vegetables in salad dressing

The breakfast buffet of Bigoli at its Eastwood branch has been around since 2014 and has not been off from its daily meal features ever since. It became even more popular among BPO personnel working around the Eastwood City Walk due to the restaurant's proximity to the workplace.

The food selections include the all-time breakfast favorites - omelet, sausages, fried rice, pancakes in maple and blueberry syrups, mechado, chicken marinara. However, since Bigoli is an Italian-inspired restaurant, pizza and varieties of pasta, have been added to the buffet table in addition to some appetizers.

We did not miss anything from the selections. We sampled each recipe to scrutinize the taste if it's worth the money. From pizza to pasta, fried rice, plain rice, scrambled egg, sausages, chicken marinara, pancakes, garden salad, mechado and appetizers. Everything.

Personally I could vouch that indeed, this breakfast buffet is worth the value of money. With Php199.00 you can have a gratifying full breakfast meal without feeling guilty of ruining your daily budget. Trust me you'll never regret it. With pizza, pasta, scrambled eggs, rice and chicken with sausages rolled into Php199.00 price tag, it's the cheaper you can have for breakfast buffet around the ever expensive Eastwood.

We've a hearty appetite during this lunch out. Not that we're terribly hungry, but the luscious breakfast selections were so hard to resist we decided to make some more rounds at the buffet table 😂😅.

We were not sure if the juice selections were part of the breakfast package, but we took a glass of four seasons and cucumber lemon from the buffet area without bothering if the staff would call our attention 😁😅 No one admonished us not to get one anyway. We were giggling in our table discussing the perplexing circumstances.

This breakfast buffet only costs Php199.00 per person. And with its wide selections of breakfast favorites, who could complain? The amount is enough to satisfy one's craving for a perfect breakfast meal. Plus, all dishes are savory. In fact, we left Bigoli with a full stomach. 

Pancake in maple and blueberry syrups. Photo credit: Jessica Libantino and Ivy Del Remedios

Pepperoni Pizza with melted cheese, so mouth-watering!
Photo credit: Jessica Libantino and Ivy Del Remedios

At the Romanesque staircase of Bigoli! 😅😁😜

Catch this Breakfast Buffet of Ristorante Bigoli every Tuesday to Sunday at 5:00/6:00 AM to 10:00 AM. For only Php199.00 price tag, you can grab a bite of some Italian authentic recipes that have been Bigoli's signature dishes without spending too much. This is one of the most affordable buffet rates around Eastwood, especially along the City Walk.

Bigoli is just located near Global One building, at the City Walk I food junction where intercontinental restaurants, fast food chains and bars have mushroomed in recent years. This quaint place is surrounded with trees, so you could feel a bit of nature if you choose to dine at the veranda area.

During intense weather in the city when I feel like going to the mall, I always chose Ayala Fairview Terraces in Fairview, Quezon City. One, because this is closer  to home, two, because it has a very relaxing atmosphere complete with some elements of nature - verdant trees, rolling garden, green landscape, something which all the Ayala establishments are  popularly known for. 

Not overly crowded, even at noon time, Ayala Terraces' surrounding is covered with lush tropical trees and a landscape of plants and flowers, the atmosphere is naturally breezy and relaxing. It makes me breath comfortably. It has an outdoor garden and sky garden where mall goers can stroll around and marvel at the tranquil atmosphere.

So today, while looking for something unique to spend my late lunch, and to feed my blog for a new food trip, I dropped by here and started scouting for a unique restaurant. My choice is always oriental, so I narrowed my hopping  to Japanese, Korean and Chinese food establishments. After an hour of wandering around, I went to the second floor of the garden area and noticed this beautiful place set in an all-glass walling.

Cool and homey, with some oriental details on its interior, it immediately caught my attention. While peering at the huge poster outside the door, someone greeted me with a smile and with a very cordial approach. I looked at him nodding. I am always fascinated with restaurant staff manifesting courtesy. It added value to the products and services of the establishments. So I followed him inside. He ushered me to a table with a perfect view of the garden.

Initially, I thought Kanzhu is a Japanese restaurant. Food selections in the menu are oriental dishes typical to Japanese restos, and the staff's cordial approach is reminiscent to a Japanese hospitality. I was wrong. When I looked around, I saw a huge printed paragraphs expounding the origin and history of Kanzhu. It was only then that I knew Kanzhu is a Chinese restaurant 😄😁

Kanzhu hand-pulled noodles, according to its history, originally came from Northern China where Kanzhu chef, Kevin Yu, came from. The ethos of Kanzhu is to have the dough twirled in the air by its chef to create a firm hand-pulled noodles. This ritual is often done in the resto's open kitchen so that diners can take a peek on how things are done. Unfortunately, I was not able to witness this spectacle. I don't know why. Perhaps, I was a bit hungry when I dropped by and forgot to peer at the open kitchen.

This restaurant has varieties of noodles in the menu. But I was not in a mood for some  noodles adventure. My appetite was looking for some seafood, so I settled for a rice toppings of mixed seafood in satay sauce with chive dumplings. And I was a little surprised because with Php185.00 price tag, the set meal was so huge for a single person. A lot cheaper compared to other oriental restaurants' set of meals. This mixed seafood set has a very generous serving, with rice that is already good for three persons! This combo meal pack composed of rice, seafood in satay sauce, chive dumplings, crispy wonton appetizer and a glass of blend Iced tea. I like the chive dumplings because each piece is stuffed with what it tasted like green vegetables, perhaps Chinese pechay or spinach. The crispy wonton appetizer, served before the main course, is terrific. I like how it was fried into perfection.

I wrapped my meal with a dessert. Azuki Green Tea Cheese cake which tasted like tiramisu in a heavy cream 😄😁 Price tag is Php 95.00.

Azuki Green Tea Cheese Cake Php95.00

But what really pleased me with this food trip was the hospitality of the staff. Everyone was so courteous and accommodating. They made sure diners felt comfortable at every turn and all needs have been served and catered. While having an interlude for a few minutes, because I have to post several photos in my instagram haha! Someone dashed towards me and asked me, in a very courteous manner, if I would like the dessert to be served at that moment. Wheew!

The staff of this restaurant perhaps have been trained so well on excellent restaurant etiquette. Both are subtle with their actions and very attentive.

Mixed seafood set meal. Consists of rice and seafood in satay sauce. 

This restaurant is worth of your visit. Not only their oriental food selections are very affordable. Each has a generous serving per set. I have a full tummy when I left my seat. And I was not able to finish off the rice. Felt like I would throw up if I'll force myself to gorge the remaining food. It's not that I disliked the taste, but the serving was so huge my meal set seemed to be good for three.

Another excellent point of this restaurant at its Ayala Terraces branch is the homey, very oriental interior and atmosphere. It has a direct view of the garden, and everything is just relaxing to the senses, the greenery, the transparent wall, the homey interior. Everything. 

Homey, oriental interior

This is a good place to spend lunch or dinner with friends and loved ones especially during intense summer heat. Cool, warmth, comfortable, everything you want for a relaxing lunch out is definitely served at this restaurant.

Only quite a few number of Filipino folks are crazy about Japanese cuisine. Luckily, I'm one of them. And it's easy to guess why.

I'm extremely drawn to its inexplicable taste of flavors. And the palatable varieties.

I'm a typical Asian who loves everything about oriental dishes. And when it comes to oriental restaurants, I would not look further beyond a Japanese resto.

There's something about Japanese restaurants that draws my palate. Perhaps, it's the distinct flavors.

Succulent. Delectable. Magical.

This awesome uniqueness can be attributed to the country's long-cherished tradition of preparing dishes. Japan is home to the best cuisine in the world. Because Japanese are meticulous people. They're known to have prepared their dishes with great attention to details and taste. And always healthy and savory. As though there's always some secret hidden behind the flavor. The taste pinches to the bones, and down to the core. Terrific!

Japanese food never grows old. It has a long history of enticing diners with its luscious flavors. And it never runs out of tricks stimulating one's appetite. And anyone who's into Japanese dishes is going crazy with its plethora of recipes. The sushi craze, the ramen craze, the maki craze. And in recent years, the katsu craze. There's always an exciting discovery of flavors waiting in a Japanese restaurant.

And at YABU, my love for Japanese dishes only intensifies.

Dubbed as the House of Katsu, Yabu has been reaping praises from diners in the past years due to its high-end Katsu meals. According to its official website, chefs at Yabu in Metro Manila branches have been trained under chef Kazuya Takeda, popularly known as the Master of Katzu in Tonkatsu Takeshin, a famous Tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Which explains why the Katsu meals at Yabu so far are the best Katsu  in the Philippines.

We visited the Yabu branch at UP Town Center last weekend and the atmosphere was perfect for a scorching summer weather. Light interior with a direct view of the garden. Cool! It was a blistering Sunday noon and we wanted nothing but a cozy place to relax over conversation and good food.

Jeff is my constant companion in all of my food adventures since last year and I am always confident I would end up an incredible meal each time I am with him. And in all our food trips, I always let him decide which one in the menu is perfect for a hungry appetite. 😁😁 He is quite expert in comprehending culinary terms and what suits my palate so I let him pick the best one.

Normally, when we're dining together, we never settled on similar dishes, we usually chose two kinds so that we could taste both. In this food outing, he chose a Katsu meal set and a bowl of Mozarella Katsu sticks. This Katsu set consists of creamy dory katsu, shredded cabbage and one cup of brown rice with sesame seeds on top.

Perfect lunch at Yabu!

And we're off to some ritual.

Japanese menu, as everybody knows, never runs out of tricks in captivating diners' appetite. It seems there is always new to delve on. And at Yabu, something new is bound to discover.

Creating our own Katsu sauce!

I've been to a number of Japanese restaurants in the city but I've never encountered such ritual as this.

Katsu meal and a bowl of mozarella katsu sticks with cheesy awesomeness!

At Yabu, diners are treated to distinct yummy sauces!

So how this ritual goes on?

First, you have to see this oval-shaped ceramic jar in front. It contains the Tonkatsu sauce. Then the waiter will give a small bowl of black and white sesame seeds. It must be pounded into powdery pieces. Jeff did the labor 😅 And I was more ecstatic while looking on because as sesame seeds crushed, the aromatic scent draped around.

It stimulates my appetite and sets my mood for a hearty lunch.

Jeff pounding the sesame seeds

After crushing the sesame seeds, we were told to get at least two scoops of Tonkatsu sauce from the ceramic jar and poured it to the crushed sesame seeds to create a perfect Katsu sauce. Incredible!

The aromatic smell filled the air with enticing scent that intensifies my hunger 😅 

Two scoops of Tonkatsu sauce, mixing it with the crushed sesame seeds,
and you will have a perfect Katsu sauce!

Scrumptious Mozarella Katsu sticks!

At Yabu, you will be introduced to a variety of sauces, some of which you might have not tasted in your life, just be careful with mixing each, you might not like the outcome. Because some of those are really strange. But with an adventurous palate, each sauce offers something new. A new flavor of excitement. It never bores you as long as it goes down to the tummy.

My best experience at Yabu however is creating our own Katsu sauce and devouring the Katsu meal and the Mozarella sticks! The Japanese breadcrumbs, known as the fresh Panko, are great coating for dishes and I like its texture. Its close to perfection.

And one thing I adored about Japanese dishes is the way it cooked and prepared. Meticulous, grand, enticing, sumptious. And did I say healthy? Yes. I've heard at Yabu they used Canola oil instead of those unhealthy lard.

You can have your own Yabu experience by visiting any branches of Yabu in Metro Manila. Trust me, you will never regret the trip. It's the best Katsu experience!

The blistering summer heat in the Philippines makes your appetite to crave for more coolers and refreshing sweets every now and then. And on weekends when you're outside, the punishing temperature makes you rush to grab a cup of ice cream.

That's what we felt when we were strolling around UP Town Center yesterday after taking our lunch at Yabu. I adored gelato so much because of its sturdy, yet ultra smooth and creamier texture, so when we saw a life-sized poster of Manila Creamery where luscious gelato menu has been featured, we didn't waste time. And rushed to the third floor of the mall to sample the flavors. 

Interestingly, Manila Creamery has a wide array of gelato flavors with some twists. Not settling on the usual boring ice cream flavors, this refreshment shop concocted some unique creations. Mangga't suman, tutong na kanin, mango pomelo, Davao chocolate.  Tutong na kanin? How's that for an ice cream flavor? That's for everyone to find out. 

Meanwhile, we ended up choosing the gelato parfait creations for an intense afternoon refreshment! Because the heat outside was simply terrible. Usually, when Jeff and I went out for a dinner or any food adventure, we usually chose two different items so that we can taste both or exchange if I don't like the one I pick 😂

At Manila Creamery we chose two kinds of parfait - halo halo and mais con yelo, both mouth-watering and incredibly luscious! With a big blob of gelato on top how can we not be amazed? 

The halo halo variety is a creative mixture of black sesame seeds,  roasted rice and a creamy gelato coffee. The mais con yelo tasted like a mango cheesecake with some caramel sauce drizzled on top. 

Scrumptious and delicious flavors and definitely will be back there and try other flavors in the menu. 
If there's anything I can rave about this latest "It-place" in Tagaytay, it's the stunning view of the ridge and the relaxing atmosphere!

Spectacular view of the ridge and valleys

Twin Lakes estate, a stretch of land spanning across 1,300 hectares of rolling hills and valleys, is currently  creating so much hype in the social media due to its spectacular landscape and breathtaking view of the Tagaytay vista, prompting tourists and Philippine locals to throng to the area to experienvelope and see it for themselves.

Gorgeous garden atop the hill, the outdoor view of Starbucks

It is touted to be the first vineyard resort complex in the Philippines with wine producing community that would surely remind us of Europe's most popular wine-producing regions, Burgundy in France and Tuscany in Italy.   

This breathtaking commercial strip has numerous reasons to stun visitors. With its natural scenery of nature, rolling hills, an unobstructed view of the majestic Taal Lake and exquisite restaurants, no doubt Twin Lakes is an ideal destination for nature and food lovers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the metro. It is also home to a flourishing business center with numerous high-end food establishments lining up the cliff.

Stunning ground where visitors can relax and enjoy the view

One of these food establishments that has been reaping quite a number of praises due to its terrific location above the hill is Starbucks. Dubbed as "The Most Beautiful Starbucks in the Philippines", this branch in Twin Lakes has a good reason to fascinate coffee and likewise not-so coffee lovers. Perched above the hill and surrounded with a manicured garden and LED-glowing white roses in full bloom, the place provides a perfect venue to loosen up while sipping coffee or enjoying frappe! This Starbucks branch is set on a quaint Mediterranean architecture with a homey outdoor feel that truly relaxes tired senses.

Spending the last leg of my first solo travel adventure in Twin Lakes 

However, Starbucks is not the only food strip that lined up the edge of the Twin Lakes ridge, there are numerous bistros and restaurants that find its home above the hill, overlooking the magnificent valleys and Taal Lake. Some of these establishments offer the best of Filipino and international cuisines diners can choose on. This makes Twin Lakes a spectacular destination for food lovers and adventure-seekers.

Spending my late lunch in Starbucks. And chose this outdoor location to see the best view of nature. Terrific atmosphere!

Diners can chill at one of the restaurants and coffee shops, breathe the smoothness of the valleys and enjoy the incredible view of nature. Or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while waiting for the sun to set. Or simply just let hours pass while emptying your mind from toxic thoughts. Twin Lakes estate is a perfect destination for a tired soul. Tranquility at its best! So even if you're traveling alone it doesn't matter, you won't feel isolated.

I visited this amazing complex on my birthday - alone, and had a great moment of "me" time. The view was simply magnificent and relaxing. Everywhere was a charming natural beauty of the countryside that I thought I would never see for as long as I lived in a highly urbanized city like Metro Manila.

Incredible! Simply incredible. Twin Lakes charm is so fascinating I thought I was lost temporarily to its majestic appeal. The stunning view of the valley brought so much relief and helped my thoughts to unload anxiety. I didn't feel the awkwardness of being out there alone, in contrast, I felt a unique calmness within myself. I was able to enjoy my first solo travel on my birthday.

The best time to visit Twin Lakes is in the afternoon when the sun is about to set. It's pretty cool to watch the environment turns subdued without the glare of the harsh sun. The atmosphere is a lot softer and very relaxing. It helps you to slow down a bit. And enjoy more the place and its scenic ground.

How to get there?

Twin Lakes is located along Brgy. Alfonso in Cavite, passing Ayala Serins and Sky Ranch. It's almost on the boundary of Tagaytay and Batangas. And can be reached through a Tagaytay-Nasugbu bound bus or jeep. Travel time is more or less one hour from Olivarez. Jeepney fare is Php20.00. However, if you're coming from Bag of Beans, travel time is more or less 40 minutes.

Additional suggestions if you want to go solo traveling to Tagaytay and experience the best of the city alone. In fact, you can really enjoy this beautiful city in one day following below itinerary:

Disembark at Olivarez/Rotunda and look for jeep bound to People in the Sky, from there, you're free to explore.

1. People in the Sky - don't expect too much here, this is just an abandoned building with rust all over the place, but you can get a perfect view of the Tagaytay vista here. Souvenir shops are also available. Entrance fee is around Ph40.00.

2. Picnic Grove - a spacious ground for people who come as a group. You can brought food here and enjoy the calm atmosphere while having your barbeque. It offers a good view of the Taal lake.

3. Bag of Beans - from Picnic grove, catch a jeepney ride back to Olivarez then look for another jeep bound to Mendez or Nasugbu. Bag of Beans is just along the road. What I like about this place is its fresh and sumptuous dishes. If you're a coffee lover, this restaurant offers one of the best coffee concoctions in Tagaytay, you can choose the freshly brewed too and get the aroma you desired.

4. Puzzle Mansion - If you love art and images and intrigue how mosaic put together to create fantastic portraits then this place is right for you. This can be reached through a tricycle ride. Fare can be negotiated with the driver.

5. Sky ranch - A 5-hectare Leisure park with amenities similar to a playground. Plus a great view of Taal lake. Entrance fee during weekdays is Php80.00 and Php100 during weekends and holidays. Here, you can ride the Sky eye, touted to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the Philippines, ride fee is Php150.00. Sky ranch opens at 10pm on weekdays and 8pm during Weekends and holidays.

6. Twin Lakes - From Sky ranch, you can take a bus or jeep bound to Nasugbu, Batangas. It has no entrance fee but you need to dine at any of the restaurants lining along the cliff to get a perfect view of the vineyard and to explore the ground and  beautiful garden. The best time to visit Twin Lakes is in the afternoon when the sun is about to set.

There are still plenty of areas and parks to visit in Tagaytay but if you're running out of time and taking only a day trip, the above suggestion is the most ideal to experience the best of Tagaytay.
It's been three years since my last out-of-the country travel and I'm longing to have another one this year. Hopefully. Plans have been in the table though.

Together with my former colleagues in the university we are planning for a South Korean trip this autumn. I always believe that autumn or fall is the most romantic season of the year. And the most calm. The environment turns colorful due to brilliant foliage when autumn season comes and I often associate this to romance, and for someone like me who hasn't into a relationship ever since, these wonders in the environment brought delight to my senses.

However, Korea wasn't my original choice. It was Japan. Because the countryside of Japan (my favorite is Kyoto) is so awesome during autumn season. Magnificent. Magical. Breathtaking. But my friends chose South Korea because it's less expensive. So I conformed.

South Korea offers a dazzling experience of wonders and amazement to travelers. It's the country of great contrasts. Ultra modern but retains its spectacular landscape in the countryside. With its thriving economy and beautiful infrastructure, the country assures visitors with comfort.

Korea is very popular in the Philippines due to the K-pop wave and the rise of Korean nobela in Philippine television where almost all Filipinos are enamoured to Korean celebrities. This fascination towards the K-pop culture has extended to Korean products. Korean brands have also invaded the cosmetics industry in the Philippines. 

No wonder my colleagues chose a South Korean travel than a Japan trip. So the plan is finalized and our Korean travel is set this September in time for the autumn season. I'm yet to create a travel itinerary plan, I'm still searching for the best spots to visit in South Korea. 

I've learned also that for Philippine passport holders, Korean visa is free as long as the visit won't go beyond 59 days.  We're planning to visit this beautiful nation for five days only. 

However, I'm still longing for a Japan getaway. Though this Asian country is so amazing during spring season due to cherry blossoms, I still prefer an autumn travel to the land of the rising sun. Perhaps, in the years to come. Keeping my finger cross. Kyoto and Osaka are my favorites. These places offer the best of Japan travel experience according to some accounts from other travelers. Osaka is home to the best authentic Japanese cuisine, while Kyoto amazes visitors with its scenic landscape, age-old tradition, cultural wonder and magnificent countryside scenery, especially during autumn when trees turned brighter and poetic.