My friend and I had a 9 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month. A 9-hour layover is pretty long, and we would've found a way to get at least a nice picture with the Petronas Tower in the background (we both have never been to Malaysia before), but the thing was... We arrived in Kuala Lumpur a few minutes past midnight.

Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Besides, we were in HongKong for a pretty long layover prior to our arrival in Kuala Lumpur, so we were quite tired. We didn't want to do anything else but get some shut eye, and we weren't too keen on doing that on one of the many benches in the airport. Haha!

So we booked a room at Tune Hotel.


Tune Hotel is a 10-minute walk from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Terminal 2. There's a bridge that practically connects the hotel to Terminal 2. If you're flying in or out via Terminal 1, don't worry about it. You can take the KLIA train for less than a dollar (USD) each way. Take note, however, that the train is off limits after midnight.

We arrived after midnight, so we took a taxi to Tune Hotel. The taxi ride was a bit expensive though at approximately $12 (USD). We weren't in the taxi cab more than 5 minutes. Hehe!

Anyway, check-in at Tune Hotel was a breeze so we were in our room in no time. Our room was tidy and though the temperature was really hot and balmy outside, our room was sufficiently cool what with the a/c and the ceiling fan happily circulating cool air.




Tune Hotel's bedroom was spare, but really tidy. I loved that it was done in black, white, red, and gray. I wouldn't say the room was tiny. It was actually spacious enough for two people. We had enough room to move around without bumping into each other. And since we were only there to catch a few hours of sleep, space wasn't a priority anyway.

Here's a peek at our room's bathroom:



Again, I won't say it's tiny, because it's really not. I've seen tinier bathrooms. Haha! There was a toilet, a small shower, a small sink, but it wasn't cramped. There were two rolls of tissue, a hair dryer, a bidet, and some basic toiletries for a quick shower. Not bad for a hotel that caters mostly to passengers just stopping over to catch a few Zs.

More props for Tune Hotel: There's a 24/7 convenience store at the ground floor where you can grab some snacks and other stuff.

If you're transiting through Kuala Lumpur International Airport and are looking for a place to crash, I would definitely recommend Tune Hotel. For rates and more information, please check out their website: http://tunehotels.com/my/en/our-hotels/klia2.

This business trip almost didn't happen because something came up early this year and I didn't think I'd be able to leave. Well, that "something" didn't materialize. So in April, my only office mate here in the Philippines and I started processing our visa requirements. Yes, that's one of the biggest reasons why I wasn't able to publish any posts at all last month, plus, of course, life happened - as usual.

Fast forward to the last week of April, and my office mate Ate Imee and I were on our way to Chennai, India. Our itinerary wasn't straightforward Manila to Chennai. It was Ate Imee's first time leaving the country and it was my first time leaving after around 2 decades, so we wanted to make the most of our trip. Aside from the regular layover that came with the flight to and from Chennai, we added a side trip to Hong Kong. Expenses in Hong Kong were out of our pockets, of course. Hehe!

This first post about our first ever business trip will be a quick summary of how it all went. Well, I'll try to make it quick anyway.

Traveling with so many stopovers is difficult, so surprise, surprise, most of the photos you'll see here were taken from my phone. That's if I was able to take any photos at all. Haha!

Day 1: Manila - HongKong

I've heard lots of negative things about plane food, but the meal on board Cathay Pacific wasn't so bad.
We left Manila at around 11 in the morning and arrived in HongKong just a bit after lunch. We had quite a few hours to burn as our flight to Kuala Lumpur wasn't until 9pm. So we took the Airport Express to HongKong Central and took a taxi to Times Square.

Pardon the double chin and the stupid grin. Not my best angle, obviously. Hahaha!
There was nothing we could buy in Times Square because, well, everything was expensive. As in designer expensive. So after gawking, we took a leisurely walk around the vicinity of Times Square. We didn't have anything to give our office mates in Chennai, so we were beyond thrilled when we found this little shop that sold quite a variety of chocolates and other sweets. The prices were wallet friendly, so we went a bit crazy and ended up being weighed down by chocolates. Hahaha!

Sometime around 5pm, we decided to head back to the airport - we were a bit worried about being late for our flight. It turned out we had nothing to worry about because we got there so quickly and ended up with too much time to pass while waiting for our flight out.

After roaming around more than twice, we still had enough time on our hands, so we decided to hang out at a restaurant and grab something to eat.



We ordered the meal above (not including the Muji snacks). It's a meal for two people. For 88hkd, it was A LOT. We couldn't finish everything, so we bought a plastic bag from Muji and took the food to go.

Day 2: Kuala Lumpur - Chennai

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur a little past midnight. Our flight wasn't until 9 in the morning, so we booked a room in Tune Hotel. The hotel's a stone's throw away from the other airport terminal. We could've taken the airport train to the other terminal and walked from there, but it was already midnight and it was closed, so we took a taxi instead.

Will blog separately about our room in Tune Hotel. :)

Anyway, we had a good few hours worth of sleep. I woke up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready, but I was surprised because it was still dark outside - like, 4:30am dark. I checked and double checked my watch and after confirming that it was indeed 6:30am, I got up and freshened up.

After grabbing something to eat at a Coffee Bean branch inside the airport, we were in the air again and on our way to Chennai.

Upon arriving in Chennai, we took our sweet time going through immigration, exchanging some money, looking for our luggage, and booking a cab. We weren't expecting anyone from the company to pick us up, so we weren't in any rush.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed 3 people outside waving little placards around. They weren't hard to notice because they were the only people waiting at the exit. Oh, did I mention that the airport was practically empty when we arrived? Haha!

So I took a few steps forward, squinting against the bright Indian sun, and saw that 3 of our office mates were there - grinning and waving at us. I don't remember smiling and waving back. In fact, I think my mouth fell open because I was so shocked. These people whom I've only talked to over Skype for a little over a year were just a few meters away from us, giving us one of the warmest welcomes ever. (Thank you again, Pallavi, Deepa, and Srini!)

After hellos and hugs were exchanged, we were whisked away to our hotel.

The Accord Metropolitan
The Accord Metropolitan
Soon as we got to our room, we took a quick shower, changed, and then we were downstairs again for a late lunch.


After lunch, we were whisked away to the Hilton hotel to attend a CleanCubator event where our boss, Gopi Mattel, had a part in the program. It was too bad that we didn't get to see him speak, but we were beyond ecstatic to finally talk to him in person!

Once the event was over, we headed to the hotel's roof top bar and had a few drinks. It was my first time having a mocktail - a non-alcoholic cocktail, haha! Do we have those here in the Philippines?

The bar had an awesome view of Chennai's evening skyline. It was a bit hot (like Manila), but it was windy so we had a happy conversation about random stuff and laughed a lot while our hair was blown around by the wind.

It was after drinks that we decided to head back to Accord Metropolitan to have dinner. (Yeah, the drinks should've been after dinner, but we're unpredictable like that. Haha!)


Day 3: Chennai (CellarStone, India and Phoenix Mall)

The next day, we had breakfast with Gopi at the hotel's restaurant. Then it was a blur as we "got ready for work in Chennai".

Okay, that was a bit weird since I'm now a "work-from-home" wife. Haha!

Okay. Can they be any sweeter? :)
Anyway, I was thrilled that day because I finally saw the faces behind the names of the people I regularly exchanged e-mails with.

Here are a few pics with some of the CellarStone folks in India:



After squeezing in a few hours of work and an actual face to face meeting with Gopi and the others, I sort of learned to do the Indian head shake. Haha! So cool.

So after work, we were off to the mall. I opted to sit in front to experience what it's like sitting on the left side without a steering wheel. Haha! It felt odd sitting there with all the cars driving on the left side of the road.



I've seen some videos showing what it's like to drive in India, but the traffic condition in Chennai wasn't that bad. There were no accidents (haha), and while we did encounter traffic, it's not that different from traffic in Manila.

Note: While we were on the road, I noticed a lot of crows. When dusk came, there were also bats flying around - big bats. Not used to seeing big crows and big bats. We only have small birds, 2 medium-sized crows, and small bats flying around the subdivision where I live. Hehe!

Phoenix Mall, Chennai
One of the highlights of our visit to Phoenix Mall (aside from the shopping) was the Starbucks branch that I found. I was ecstatic, because it felt like a piece of home away from home. Haha!


The look and feel was the same, but the stuff on the menu was slightly different.

Day 4: Chennai (Founder Institute Graduation)

The Founder Institute Graduation event was the reason Gopi flew us to Chennai.

We bathed and got dressed early, then we had breakfast again with Gopi & Pallavi. Afterwards, we put in a few hours of work again, and then we started prepping for the event.

Pallavi, Ate Imee, and myself while waiting for the event to begin.
The event was a huge success. I was taking pictures the whole time and sneaking in a few tweets when I could. The venue was packed to the point that we had to give up our seats for more guests!

It was just sad that we had to leave before the event was even over. The only flight that we could get was at 12:35am, so we had to leave for the airport at 9pm.

It was a short 3 days in Chennai, but we left with new-found friends and happy hearts.

To Gopi, I don't know if you'll see this blog post, but I'd like to thank you for the wonderful opportunity you gave us. It was great seeing everyone in person, and we're humbled at how warm everyone was. Ate Imee and I are blessed to have an employer like you. :)

Day 5: Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong

The sun had started to come up by the time we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. We only had a 2-hour layover before our flight to Hong Kong, so we decided to hang out at the Starbucks branch inside the airport while we waited for our gate to open.

Yes, I was wearing a maxi dress. No, it was not a very good idea. LOL!


The next part of our trip is no longer about work, so I'll write a separate post about that. Wish me luck in finding time to squeeze in that blog post because my schedule's packed until the weekend, then we're off to the beach next week - where, I'm told, there's no internet connection. Haha!
I'm a self-confessed shopaholic.

I'm able to control myself a whole lot better now (no more wild credit card bills!), but I still love treating myself to something new every payday. We all deserve a little treat after working hard all month, right?

I've always loved bath products more than makeup so I always look for new body scrubs, body washes, and soaps to try. It's a bit of an adventure because I have sensitive skin, but thank God my skin asthma's been behaving lately.

One Instagram shop that I've been trolling lately is @phinaslittlefactory. I love that all their products are handmade! They're all handcrafted in the Philippines and you can just feel the care that goes into each product. Their packaging? Simple yet classy.


I haven't tried all of Ms. Phina's products just yet, but so far I'm loving these two: the Breakfast Scrub and the Salted Caramel glycerin soap. Sounds delicious, right? Well, I did want to taste them, but that would be crazy. I swear though, they smell absolutely divine.

Breakfast Scrub



The Breakfast Scrub is my favorite weekly ritual. I only use it once a week because I'm usually in a rush and don't have time to dawdle in the bathroom. I, however, make sure to set aside one evening once a week when I won't do anything but pamper myself in the bath.

That's when I whip out the Breakfast Scrub and slough away all my dead skin cells and stress. I don't know how anyone can still be stressed after getting a whiff of this scrub.

It has pure olive oil and honey, so it leaves my sensitive skin feeling soft and smooth after each bath. I also love how the scent sticks to my skin for quite a while. Makes me smell yummy!

Salted Caramel Glycerin Soap



The salted caramel soap is a pure vegetable glycerin soap. That means there's nothing but the good stuff in there. If you're a salted caramel ice cream lover, this one's an absolute must try. It smells heavenly!

I like how this soap mildly cleanses and exfoliates my skin - perfect for when I'm in a rush!

Check out the photo above. It says that the sea salt content in this soap helps detoxify your skin. The turmeric content on the other hand can help slow down cell damage. It can also help with inflammatory skin conditions like acne, dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema.

It says there that it can help with acne, but I'm not sure if it works. My face is doing so much better now, and I'm afraid to try anything new. Hehe! If you've tried it on your face, or know of someone who has, and had gotten great results, please let me know and I might find the courage to do the same. :)

Phina's Little Factory

Aside from Instagram, Phina's Little Factory also has a Facebook Page that you can check out for regular updates.

They accept payments through bank deposits (BDO & BPI), but since I rarely leave the house nowadays, I like to buy my fix of PLF (Phina's Little Factory) products through Seek the Uniq - they accept credit card and Paypal payments!

Interested in getting some Phina's Little Factory goodies from Seek the Uniq? Use THIS LINK so you can get a 10% discount. ♥
Last week, I received a gift from Robinsons Malls. It was in a red box and had a gold ribbon. I personally love pink, but the red and gold combination is one that I love.


So, what was in the gift box?... My very own Robinsons Malls VIP card!


Formerly known as the Robinsons Malls Privilege Card, the new and improved VIP Card comes with more features and benefits because Robinsons Malls wants us to feel like true VIPs.


The new VIP Card comes with benefits such as FREE use of the Pay CR Lounge in Robinsons Galleria, having an express lane at Robinsons Movieworld in Robinsons Galleria, VIP seats at special events, and more! 

The card can also get you discounts at lots of partner establishments like KFC, Max's, Pizza Hut, Italiannis, Lay Bare, Adidas, Converse, Lacoste, and Nike Forum to name a few. The list of partners is long. As in 600+ long. Hehe!

Existing Robinsons Malls Privilege Card members can claim their new VIP Card until March 1st of 2017.

If you're interested in becoming a VIP, the purchase requirements are as follows:

1. P5,000 - Galleria, Manila, Magnolia, Metro East, Forum
2. P3,000 - Starmills Pampanga, Angeles, Malolos, Ilocos, Pangasinan, Santiago, Las Piñas, Antipolo, Imus, Dasma, Lipa, Tagaytay, Los Baños, Palawan, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Roxas, Butuan, GenSan, and Galleria Cebu

You can download the list of privileges & discounts from www.robinsonsmalls.com or from the Robinsons Malls App.


And now, our last stop from last Saturday's food trip in Robinsons Antipolo: Marison's.

I've actually gotten several IG and Twitter comments from Marison's in the past. So even before the food trip, I already knew of them. And because of that, I was extremely excited to finally be able to sample what they had to offer.

Now let me just say this outright: I'm not the type that's particularly drawn to Filipino food. I don't know what it is about me, I love our country and all, but there's just no pull. I love the regular "silog" dishes (haha!) and of course, sinigang, but that's pretty much it.

I was included in the last group that dined in Marison's. You'd think we'd be facing a table of leftovers (you know, being last and all), but the food just kept coming. We got to chill with the owner, Ms. Marison, and I'd say it was the perfect end to an extremely fun and filling food trip.

So, why don't I show you some of what was served to us and let you know what I thought of 'em?

Bicol Express
Bicol Express. This particular Bicol Express isn't on their official menu yet. Instead of the regular fare, they used Angus beef (yes, you read that right), and there's a "dynamite" type of pepper that had quesong puti (white cheese) inside.

I can't say I've eaten a lot of Bicol Express in my life time, but this one's an absolute must try. The Angus beef was ultra tender and the spiciness was just right for a Bicol Express noob like me.

Definitely worth trying once it's available on their menu.

Sinaing na Buntot ng Tuna - P430
Sinaing na Buntot ng Tuna. I don't know how to translate that in English, but essentially, it's the tail part of a tuna and it's yummy. I mean, how can you go wrong with tuna? Hehe!

They deep fried the tuna first and then they served it with some secret sauce and bits of crunchy pork.

Molo Soup - P110
Molo Soup. I didn't get to try the dumplings in the soup because they were prawn dumplings, but I did sample a little bit of the soup and it was really tasty. It was too bad I couldn't have more of it. Darned allergies.

Crispy Tripe Kare-Kare - 375
Crispy Tripe Kare-Kare. I'm not a big fan of kare-kare mainly because most of the ones I've tasted in the past needed bagoong (anchovies) in order for it to taste good. But I felt sorry for myself because I felt like my allergies were depriving me big time, so I tasted some of the kare-kare without the bagoong.

Here's my verdict: It's good even without the anchovies. And the beef? Oh so tender. It's literally falling apart.

I don't eat innards, so I didn't get to try the crispy tripe, but it does look crispy so I'm kinda regretting that I didn't try even just one piece of it.

Sotanghon Guisado - P200
Sotanghon Guisado. I didn't try this dish anymore because I already had the molo soup and I was afraid my allergies would act up (I was just in the hospital a few weeks ago because of a bad allergic reaction). Everyone around me were praising it though, so it's safe to say that it was also good.


Ms. Marison entertained us the whole time we were there and I got to ask her if they use her recipe for all the food that they serve. I was quite surprised when she said she didn't know how to cook, but she knew what good food tasted like. Well, that makes two of us Ms. Marison!

She knows good food and she helps in conceptualizing new flavors and dishes for their menu, so I say hats off to you, Ms. Marison!

The Robinsons Antipolo Branch is Marison's second one. It's located on the 2nd floor of the al fresco dining area, near the entrance.

Here's a photo of their menu. Just click on the image to view a larger version.


Their food portions are pretty big and are good for sharing. If you look close enough, you'll see a lot of interesting dishes. I know I'm interested, because I'm definitely going back to try the other dishes. I'm bringing my family with me next time, maybe on my in-laws' wedding anniversary next month. :)

Halo-Halo - P120
By the way, I heard lots of praises for Marison's halo-halo, but I didn't get to try it anymore because The Memet had already arrived to pick me up. :( I shall add this to my list of orders the next time I come back.


_____________________________
Marison's
http://www.marisonsph.com/
Twitter & Instagram: @MarisonsPH

Marison's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
It's been a few months since Costa Coffee opened in Robinsons Place Antipolo. Actually, I've been there once before when The Memet and I stopped by for a quick bite after church on a Thursday night.

You gotta love the vibe. Red phone booth and all. Costa Coffee is originally from the UK and the cafe proudly exudes that vibe. #LondonStyle

Costa Coffee was our 2nd stop during our Antipolo Food Tour in Robinsons Place Antipolo last Saturday. The afternoon sun was in all its glory when we set foot in the cafe, but the ambiance was vibrant yet relaxed, and the aroma wafting around was inviting.


Ms. Corinne Milagan, Costa Coffee Philippines' General Manager, was there to welcome us.

Ms. Corinne Milagan, General Manager, Costa Coffee Philippines
She graciously answered any questions we had about Costa Coffee and made sure we were stuffed with the best that they had to offer.

I've always been fascinated with espresso machines, and it was to my delight when Ms. Corinne led us to their lean, mean (and shiny!) espresso machine.


She explained that it's custom-built for Costa Coffee. It's highly industrialized so it can be used for making one mean cup of espresso after another. And get this: it's made by the same folks who make the Ferrari. Cool, huh! I guess that explains the beautiful Ferrari red finish? Hehe.

The back of the espresso machine proves it's custom-made for Costa Coffee! ♥
Interested in a glimpse of the food that Costa Coffee has to offer? Yes, they serve sandwiches, salads, and pasta aside from their famous coffee. :)

Here are some photos for you. I did my best to do justice to them, and hope that they make your mouths water. No, I'm not being mean. Well, not really.







We were able to have a bite of each one. They were all good, but I'd have to say my top 2 favorites are the sandwiches in the last two photos: Beef Pastrami with Gherkins on Flat Bread (P170) and Grilled Chicken & Prosciutto Ham on Flat Bread (P180).

I haven't had a chance to sample their coffee yet. I always happen to visit Costa Coffee around late afternoon to really late in the evening, and I don't drink caffeinated coffee around that time anymore lest I'd be wide awake until sunrise the next day. Haha!

I have, however, tried their White Chocolate drink (both hot and iced) and it has instantly become a favorite. Imagine clasping a nice warm cup while sitting on a soft and cozy couch just waiting for the bed to call out for the night. That was my scenario last night when I had a cup to go, and I enjoyed every bit of it while I watched the stars quietly twinkle against the evening sky. (Poetic much? Haha!)

If you're the type that requires a good jolt of caffeine every morning, you might want to try their fabulous flat white. Yes, the beautiful handcrafted coffee that requires skill and talent to make. It has 3 shots of espresso, so you'll surely be awake. Ms Corinne specifically mentioned not to try it late in the afternoon or in the evening unless you're not planning on sleeping. Haha!

If you happen to be in Robinsons Antipolo, do drop by Costa Coffee and try out their food and coffee. (By the way, I also grabbed a quick bite of their Beef Pastrami last night. I was craving for it real bad. Haha!)

Costa Coffee is located at the ground floor al fresco dining area of Robinsons Antipolo. You can't miss it.

Follow them on social media too:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CostaCoffeePH/
Twitter & Instagram: @costacoffeeph

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Robinsons Malls
www.facebook.com/RobinsonsMalls
Twitter: @robinsonsmalls
Instagram: robinsonsmallsofficial

Robinsons Place Antipolo
www.facebook.com/RobPlaceAntipolo
Twitter: @RPAntipolo
Instagram: @robplaceantipolo

Costa Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato