Thursday, September 27, 2007

An update --

I have a cold. Bleh. I couldn't be absent for work because my bosses are very nice and allowed us a week off last month. (We don't have work tomorrow so I get to rest. Yay!)

I've run out of books to read -- I guess that is the peril of spending all your money on clothes instead of books. Last Sunday, Johann and I did our weekly book browsing expedition to SM. He was able to find a hardbound edition of Christopher Buckley's No Way to Treat a First Lady for PhP99 at National Bookstore. I read last Tuesday and LOVED it. I hugged the book after I finished reading it.

Christopher Buckley is my new love. I want to read ALL of his books, especially Thank You For Smoking. I've seen the movie adaptation of Thank You For Smoking and enjoyed it immensely.

I tried to read Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu but got bored out of my skull so I read Robin McKinley's Beauty instead. Robin McKinley really likes the Beauty and the Beast story. This is actually one of two retellings she wrote of that story. McKinley is a "hit-or-miss" author for me. I really didn't enjoy Spindle's End (based on the Sleeping Beauty story) but I am curious about her The Outlaws of Sherwood --

Today, I had no choice but to pick up Soon I Will be Invincible -- one of Johann's books. Johann and I are very different when it comes to books. We have a very small area of interest that intersects (Nick Hornby, Mike Gayle, some comics, etc) but, for the most part, I really don't like the stuff he reads. It makes him very happy when I ask to borrow one of his books.

I need more books -- I am actually playing with the idea of going to Bacolod for a day trip just to visit their National Bookstore and Booksale branch. >_<

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's that time of the year again! --

I've noticed that I post my Christmas wish list earlier and earlier every year -- which is not necessarily a bad thing IMHO. ^_^

But, first, a review of last year's wish list:

2006 --
1. Crocs Prima (size 8) in Black
2. A nice lightweight stroller for Seth - A Maclaren or a Zooper or something
3. An Ellaroo hip carrier for Seth or a Hip Panda
4. A new cellphone -- am looking at the Sony Ericsson Z520i
5. A panini press
6. A waffle maker
7. Gregory Maguire's Son of a Witch and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
8. A new digital camera to replace my dinky 1st-gen Cybershot.
9. A subscription to Smart Parenting
10. A Sizzix Set
11. Nick Hornby's non-fiction works -- The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs Dirt
12. Walt Disney Treasures - Disney Rarities DVD

*There are some things on my 2006 list that I want and some that I don't anymore --

The list this year is short --
1. LeSportSac deluxe everyday bag or classic hobo
2. New cellphone <-- this shows up on my list every year and I never get one
3. New pair of glasses <-- I might get one earlier than December
4. Giordano Skinny Polo <-- in as many colors as possible. This is part of my "mom uniform" ^_^
5. A pair of nice fitting jeans
6. Mike Gayle's latest book <-- I don't regret not getting the copy in Singapore. It's the large paperback version and was too expensive.

And my wishlist for Seth --
1. portable CD player <-- so Seth can have music wherever he goes
2. an Avent 11oz bottle <-- for night time
3. some shorts (soft and light ones)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A lot of things --

I've been busy -- and stressed.

I've been given the responsibility of milling out our alumni association's newsletter and it hasn't been an easy job.

It was very difficult getting all the materials together and this has caused us to push back our release date from August to September to -- (I'm tempted to say never, but) it is coming out before the year ends).

Initially, I was happy with just slapping photos and text together. I saved everything into the official thumbdrive and was all set to leave it with my "boss" -- but I realized that I couldn't allow something so bleh to have my name on it. So now I'm fixing it and will be meeting with my "boss" tomorrow instead.

Believe it or not, I've lost weight because of this. I'm happy about the weight loss but not about the reason why it is happening.

* * *

Break! --

My friend Florie gets an afternoon to herself once a week. (She takes care of her daughter full time.) I was surprised when I got a text from her last Saturday inviting me to join her on her afternoon off. Now, I know I don't deserve one but I couldn't resist tagging along.

So, our adventure started at 2-ish and she wanted to check out a dance studio and asked me if I was interested in learning to dance. We found one that teaches belly dancing but their only class is in the evening. (I can't -- Johann and I are the once who put Seth to sleep at night and it would be terrible if we break the routine.)

Then we went to SM. We wanted to watch a movie but none of the movies showing had a screening during the time we were there. So we ended up buying books for our kids.

We had merienda at David's Tea House -- her first time there so I ordered things that I thought she would enjoy.

We talked about our kids and about her upcoming trip to Manila. We also shared budgeting tips and ideas for Christmas gifts for our husbands. (She doesn't know what to get him. My hubby already told me what he wanted and I already ordered it.)

Before we knew it, it was 5:30 and we were both expected home at 5.

* * *

Bitten! --

It isn't really uso but one of the things on my Buy list in Singapore was a LeSportSac bag. I remember seeing it in Rustan's and I've always liked the funky prints.

When Johann and I were looking around for it, I was a bit intimidated by the price and I didn't really like the patterns.

I thought I was going to leave Singapore without a LeSportSac. At the airport, they had a small shop so we browsed around. It was cheaper at the Duty Free (because I didn't have to pay for GST) so we bought it with the last of our Singapore dollars.

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It's exactly what I needed -- a "sling" big enough to hold my phone and my wallet. It's makes shopping easier because I don't have to fumble for my things inside Seth's diaper bag.

So now I want more LeSportSac bags. A bigger one that can hold a book or two. (I think I'm getting one from Johann for Christmas. ^_^)

Oh, a bit of a discovery -- LeSportSac is cheaper in Manila than Singapore, Japan or Korea.

* * *

Found at Booksale --

Every Sunday, Johann and I leave Seth with the yaya and go to SM City. We visit two places -- Booksale and SM's Bargain Books section. This is our weekly stress reliever -- and our chance to quietly contemplate books.

I was about to go home empty-handed (which I hate) when I found this on one of the bottom shelves.

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I checked it and it is in pristine condition with all the parts still there.


(I instructed Seth's yaya to launder it twice before giving it to Seth.)

* * *

More on books --

So I finished reading Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. I liked it but I can't imagine it being a trilogy.

I appreciate Beddor's effort to try to weave in as much of the real story behind Alice in Wonderland into his own thesis but it didn't feel seamless.

Anyhoo our copy of the next installment is coming this October so I should have a better idea of his project by then.

I also finished Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple's Troll Bridge -- part of their Rock n Roll Fairy Tales series. I had high expectations for this book because I really enjoyed Pay the Piper.

It was an enjoyable read and I like their version of the Three Billy Goats Gruff ^_^ but it wasn't as cohesive and as "wow!" as Pay the Piper.

I'm going to start reading Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu tomorrow.

* * *

Sad --

Found out from Johann last night that Robert Jordan is dead.

I don't read his works and I'm not a fan but my husband is. Johann has been following the Wheel of Time series since he was a freshman in UP.

According to his Wiki entry, the first book in the Wheel of Time series was published in 1990 and was supposed to be a 12-part series.

Book 11 came out in 2005 and everyone was expecting the last book to be released this year or next.

And then he died.

Requiescat in Pace, Mr Jordan.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brownies! --

We all love to read YUMMY, Summit's food magazine. In a past issue, they featured this really easy recipe for a brownie -- basically, it involved melting the chocolate with butter in a microwave, mixing in egg, flour and vanilla and baking it for 20-25 minutes.

We had some bottles of Dream Cacao which melted so we couldn't enjoy them in their tiny square gloriousness. I used that instead of milk chocolate and this is how it turned out.

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It wasn't ooey-gooey fudgy but it was very delicious.

What I liked about this recipe is that it was so easy and took so little time to prepare. I made this while Seth was having a snack. He was sitting opposite me, watching me mix. My sister was reading the newspaper beside him and would give him his cookie (with her clean hand, of course) whenever he asked for it.

* * *

Reading and Read --

I finished reading The Passion of Artemisia and was pleasantly surprised to find a reader's guide at the end of the book. It made me understand Vreeland's point of view, which does come through quite clearly in her writing. I enjoyed it but it didn't leave me breathless like Chevalier's book.

I would still want to read Vreeland's take on the Vermeer painting, though.

I am currently reading The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, which is really the Math version of Sophie's World.

It's an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who is curious about how math really works.

I wonder if I'm just really dense (and airhead-y) but I can identify the parts of the book which are supposed to be lightbulb moments but my lightbulb doesn't light up and so I have to reread it ...

and still not get it.

But it is a wonderful, wonderful read and I really enjoy the illustrations by Rotraut Susanne Berner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ouch (it hurt my brain) --

found on this blog --

Books! --

Even before we left for Singapore, Johann already made it clear that he was going to spend his money on books.

We were there for four days and, each trip out, he bought something to add to his stack of books. When it was time to pack them, I was surprised by how many he actually bought.

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The stack on the left is mine. And the tower on the right is his.

I told him that he should post a list of the titles he got on his blog and rate each one. (* to *****)

For the record, there are some titles in his stack that I actually got -- ^_^

Of the few books I bought, I am happiest about Nick Hornby's The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, which I have been reading for the past week. I've always enjoyed Nick Hornby's writing and I appreciate how honest he is and how unassuming. His book 31 Songs, lists the 31 songs he loves and writes about them. It wasn't a list to impress anyone but a list that showed the very human side of Hornby (one of his choices was Puff the Magic Dragon). The Complete Polysyllabic Spree chronicles his reading habits for an entire year, listing books he bought, books he actually read and books he loved. He is very cheeky about his thoughts on popular fiction and literary fiction (I feel I should capitalize the L and the F) -- and makes you feel good about being a reader.

Last Sunday, I found a copy of The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland. I bought it, thinking it would be the same as Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's an interesting fictional (?) account of Artemisia, one of the few women Renaissance painters.

Curiously, Vreeland's first novel was also about a Vermeer painting. I wonder how that compares to Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring.

* * *

Wedding --

Part of the reason why we went to Manila was to attend the wedding of Johann's fellow Quill people and kabarkada. Johann was actually part of the entourage.

I've gone to Manila to attend my friends' weddings and I never liked how I looked in my other clothes. The first time was in October 2006, 5 months after I gave birth to Seth. I was so... flabby then.

I still am. But I've also learned how to accept myself as I am. (Don't worry, world -- I do exercises and am maintaining my current weight. I will try to lose some of it by next year.)

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I did my own makeup and had my haircut that morning at Bench Fix-Katipunan. ^_^

Johann took this picture of me while we were waiting for the rest of the people to arrive.

This is Johann with the groom.

It was a wonderful and very heartfelt wedding. The best part was the Coffee Bar. (I didn't get to try it because we had an early flight back to Iloilo the next day and the caffeine would have kept me awake.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Day 4: Singapore --

Day 4: August 30

Our flight was at 5 in the afternoon so that still gave us plenty of time for last-minute errands.

After packing and having breakfast, we decided to walk around our block and found ourselves walking even farther --

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The Esplanade is a really cool place -- the center of Art in Singapore. The shops were all closed but the exhibits were all available for viewing.

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The Esplanade is connected to Citylink through an underground pass and even that area is used to exhibit art.

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On our way back to our hotel, we got a pint of Ben and Jerry's at the nearby 7-11.

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* * *

The airport and the best part about the trip --

This trip was about missing events and saying "sayang" a lot -- WOMAD had ended the Saturday before we arrived; COMEX started on the day we left and some of the cast from Heroes was going to be at Vivo City the day after we left.

At the airport, while checking in, I noticed a sign welcoming the cast of Heroes to Singapore. They were arriving that day and they were going to have a small reception at the departure hall.

We quickly got through customs and located the area and took our place.

The hosts were trying to get the crowd excited by talking about the show and by holding mini-games where participants could win goody bags, courtesy of Star.

Guess who raised a hand to join --


If you guessed me, you guessed wrong.

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The hosts were asking what Hiro Nakamura's famous one-line was and my dear hubby raised his hand.

He and two other participants were then asked to do their best Yatta! impression --

The girl at the far left won (clapping/cheering contest) but they all got a bag.

The bag contained a t-shirt with the Heroes logo, a notebook and several other things.

Finally, after a long wait, the cast finally arrived. (They came in from Hong Kong.)

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I couldn't get a good shot of Masi Oka (because he's short) and Ali Larter is soooo beautiful!

Greg Grunberg made a funny:
Host: So guys, is this your first time here in Singapore?
GG: Yes. And I knew you were going to ask me that.
Host: Really? How?
GG: Because I can read your mind.

Hehehe. ^_^

When the interview ended, I tried to get autographs but I couldn't because there were uniformed men blocking me.

Again, my hubby sneaked his way in and got the autograph of Masi Oka and Sendhil Ramamurthy (guy who plays Suresh) who, incidentally, is American (the British accent is actually fake).

So my (geeky) hubby is pleased with his new t-shirt and carries the notebook (with the 2 autographs) with him.

* * *

More ice cream --

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Snickers and Mars ice cream bars. Mmmmm~

and no Tin vacation is ever complete without strawberries (which I bought from Cold Storage)

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I forgot to buy more to bring back to the Philippines. They were huge and sooo delicious! >_<

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More pics from Day 3

Gabby Day!

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<-- taken at Bugis by Johann

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<-- outside the Kinokuniya in Bugis (we forced her to do this tourist-y shot ^_^)

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<-- inside Kinu with all the glorious books. It is a happy place -- even happier when you have money to spend for all the books.

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<-- I know this picture looks silly but the ice cream is worth it. (Chocolate Chip!)

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<-- Plain Chocolate (how boring is my husband? O_o)

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<-- at Vivo City

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Singapore: Day 3 --

Day 3: August 29, Wednesday

Wednesday was our day with Gabby. It started with breakfast at the hotel and then a trip to Bugis. Since it was still early, we spent some time browsing through Cold Storage -- the supermarket in Bugis.

I let Gabby play with my camera and she quickly got the hang of adjusting aperture and shutter speed and was taking really lovely pictures of the area near Bugis.

We visited Absolute Comics and the smaller Kinokuniya in Bugis. Absolute Comics is one of my most favorite places in Singapore. I get the same feeling of awe and excitement every time I visit. I love that they have complete series runs (in singles) for sale at fairly reasonable prices.

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At Kinokuniya, we found a soft-cover version of Looking Glass Wars, which Johann and I had read about in a magazine (a long time ago). We found a copy of the hardcover version in National Bookstore-Trinoma but it was too expensive.

We also window-shopped for clothes and visited Muji. Lunch was at Yoshinoya and Johann tried the Kimchi Beef, which isn't available in the Metro Manila branch of Yoshinoya.

After lunch, Gabby showed Johann the local gaming shops. First stop was Paradigm Infinity which is a haven for board games and card games -- they had all the versions of Fluxx, which I was tempted to get but didn't. They also had a very good stock of VtES.

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We also visited the bigger Comics Mart in Orchard where Johann bought a few packs of WOW Fires of Outland.

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We then took a bus to Vivo City -- it was a double decker bus and we sat in the second level. Glee! ^_^

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The bus ride was a welcome relief to our tired and aching feet. We also got the see a lot of Singapore, which we normally miss because we take the subway.

Vivo City is AMAZING! Our first stop was Bakerzin where I bought a box of snow skin mooncake as pasalubong for my parents. This kind of mooncake can't be found in the Philippines -- the outer layer is similar to mochi and is very soft.

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While waiting for the mooncake, we looked through the dessert selection at Bakerzin. (I wanted to live there forever! >_<)

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Gabby took us to the balcony(?) where we got treated to a view of the bay and a peek at Sentosa.

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Vivo City is very child-friendly and a lot of families were there with strollers in tow. There is even a play area in the 3rd (or 4th) floor for kids.

On our way out, we took a picture of ourselves with the Heroes stand -- some of the members of the cast would be at Vivo City the next day and we couldn't go because we were going back to the Philippines.

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<-- can you find Johann in the picture?

* * *

Ice cream shot for that day --

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I love Singapore street ice cream! I love it with bread!

I wonder why we don't do this here.

... Singapore story to be continued.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hit the ground running --

We arrived yesterday morning and had to prepare for my goddaughter's party in the afternoon. We bought her gift when we were in Singapore so I just had to giftwrap it.

We also had to unpack and re-bond with Seth. (Thank God for coffee.)

I bought some really funky clothes for Seth when we were in Singapore and I wanted him to wear one of them to the party so I laundered them when we arrived in Manila last Thursday.

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This outfit is from LIFEbaby -- an amazing shop for children. They had really fun pieces for kids and I wanted to buy everything but I couldn't afford it. >_<

My goddaughter's party was fun. Seth got his first taste of pork bbq (and he loved it!)

* * *

So, Singapore --

Day 1: August 27, Monday

This trip to Singapore was all about shopping. My one purpose there was to refresh my wardrobe because a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes either don't fit or aren't suited to chasing a 14-month old.

Johann crumbled a little and wanted to do some tourist-y bits like riding the DHL balloon or going to Sentosa or going on the Night Safari -- but I quickly got him back on track.

We arrived in Singapore on August 27. We were able to save a bit of money by taking the MRT to the airport instead of a cab or a shuttle service. When we arrived at the hotel (Peninsula-Excelsior), we were pleased with the service and quickly got ourselves checked-in.

This was where the niggles started -- when we entered the room, my head started pounding. The room didn't smell right. A quick call to the front desk confirmed our suspicions -- we were given a room on the smoking floor. We went down immediately and requested for a different room.

(Note: Always specify in your reservations that you want a non-smoking room.)

They told us that another room on a non-smoking floor would be available at around 3pm. It was only 1215 so we asked to leave our bag with the Concierge and went searching for lunch.

We decided that this was our one splurge meal and we settled into Uma Uma Men -- a Japanese restaurant very near our hotel.

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They had a conveyor-belt sushi system and everything looked good. I ordered their Tar Tar Chicken Don (Chicken with Tartar sauce over rice) and Johann had the spicy ramen.

We got a table beside the conveyor belt and were very impressed with the amenities. They had sesame seeds, spices, pickled radish, etc. I really loved the sesame and I ground a generous amount of it over my meal. (It makes a difference, trust me.)

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We also got a plate from the conveyor because it looked so yummy!

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After lunch, we went to Raffles Shopping Center to visit Comics Mart and ask for WOW Fires of Outlands. They didn't have it yet but were expecting it to arrive within the next few days.

We browsed through the other shops inside Raffles. Many of the stores were having their end-of-season sale so I was very happy to see a lot of items with discounted prices. ^_^

When we returned to our hotel, they had our room ready. Our card key wouldn't work so I had to go back down again. We finally got it open and were dismayed to see two single beds. We couldn't even move the beds closer because there was a desk in the middle that had the switches and whatnot.

After freshening up, we went to Citylink and Suntec and just walked around. There were a lot of new stores and I was happy to see many of our old favorites still operating.

Dinner was a selection of fried stuff from Old Chang Kee. ^_^

Day 2: August 28, Tuesday

Day 2 was Orchard Day. It was also Johann's book buying day so our first stop was Borders. (Johann loves Borders more than Kinokuniya in Ngee An)

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They were having a 3 for 2 promo and I was able to get Nick Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree and Dedication, the latest from the authors of The Nanny Diaries. The freebie we got was Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

After 2 and 1/2 hours of browsing and buying, we left Borders. It was raining so we had didn't really get to go around Orchard. We ended up having lunch at a food court (I forget which one). I had the char siew pork with rice and Johann had Char Kway Teow (fried noodles).

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After lunch, I got a chance to visit Topshop and got a really nice blouse (a bit of a splurge, but it was worth it) and Iora, where I got a majority of my new clothes.

We went to Kinokuniya after that but, by then, we were encumbered by so many books and bags so I really didn't get to do much browsing. I found a bench in a corner and waited for Johann to look through all the Fantasy shelves. I did manage to find Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple's other Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale, Troll Bridge.

We left Orchard after that and returned to our hotel. We rested a bit and went to Funan IT Mall, which is just beside our hotel. They have a branch of San Bookshop there so we checked out their titles. I like San and I get a lot of my books from them. It's a very unique store which offers books for sale or rent. You could choose to sell back the books that you've bought from them at a lower price. Used books are sold cheaper and those are the ones I look out for.

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It's also a great place to get older titles at lower prices. ^_^

We saw this in Funan.

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It's a dippin dots-type vending machine. ^_^

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After Funan, we went to Marina Square (which is also nearby) because I wanted to check out the Crocs store. I got a pair of Cleo and Johann got a pair of Crete, which he wore immediately. ^_^

We had dinner at the Marina Square food court. We tried their claypot rice meals.

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It reminded me of dolsot bibimbap, except it wasn't spicy.

After dinner, we crossed back to Suntec and Johann got ice cream from Andersen's.

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We got pistachio, which is Johann's favorite flavor. Andersen's is a bit pricey at $4 a scoop but it is worth it. ^_^

We noticed that a lot of Singaporeans were carrying similar boxes so we followed them. A donut shop had recently opened in the same floor as the Andersen's kiosk and a lot of people were lined up to buy donuts.

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It's apparently a big deal because the shop had to limit purchases to two dozen per person.

* * *

A side note about Andersen's --

On our one free day in Manila, we visited Sebastian's at Podium and tried out their ice cream. I got the Hazelnut Cookies n Cream and Johann tried Dublin Fudge.

It is AMAZING. Johann said that it was even better than Andersen's.

Now, if only I can bring it home to Iloilo.

... Singapore story to be continued.