Spring Kyushu Fair

These are pictures from the Spring Kyushu Fair held in late March to early April of this year in Singapore.  This is what I meant about being agitated about not having a Japan blog, because I should have posted them then.  This is a bit dated, but I thought it was worth sharing anyway!

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The fair’s banner was hanging in the center section of the Tampines Mall.  Tampines Mall is set up as round levels with an open center.

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This is the view from above, from I think the third floor.  The fair was set up in the middle of the mall and was jam packed with people every single day.

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I was shocked at how expensive these arus melons from Miyazaki were.  If you look at the blue text on the sign you can see that 49 SGD was already the marked down price from their usual 60 SGD.  I think we went on the last day of the fair.  I tried to do a little research on the melon but there’s little available, through Google anyway.  What I did find says that the arus melon is considered “The King of Japanese Fruits” and is highly sought after as a gift for its fragrance, beautifully netted skin and great taste.

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There was a booth selling selections of fine tea.  I kinda wish I’d bought some now that I look at the photo.

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Photos of the crowds and some of the booths.

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A lot of the booths were doing cooking on the spot, like this booth, where a girl was preparing takoyaki balls.

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And what Japan fair would be complete without a booth selling sake?  The sake he was holding was actually really, really good and I wanted a bottle of it but he had already sold out.  He didn’t mind letting me have a few shots from the sample bottle though, which was pretty cool of him.  We wound up getting a sparkling rose sake for my wife, but got so busy with getting ready for our trip to the Philippines at the beginning of May that we we gave it away as a gift instead.

I’m looking forward to visiting another Japan-related Fair.  Hopefully there’ll be one in Manila sometime soon!

The Antipolo Wet Market

In the Philippines, most sizeable towns have a wet market, which is known locally as a palengke.  When you want to go to the market, you can tell the driver of your transportation of choice that you simply want to go to the palengke and they’ll know what you’re talking about.

The wet market in Antipolo is pretty big.  It actually has two floors, but the second floor is mostly dry goods and household items.  The real wet market is on the lower level.  It reminded me of the wet market in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia except bigger.  We saw plenty of sea food, from shrimp to huge fish, as well as pork, chicken, and veggies.

The prices at the wet market are usually the best you can find in town.  We got a kilo of pork for what would be about 4 USD.  I guess it’s because there’s very little mark-up for land rental and employee compensation.  The sanitary conditions are a bit questionable by my American standards, but if all the people I saw in the market are any indication, no one dies eating food they bought there.  Or at least, not any more than at any other place.

If you plan on living in the Philippines for any length of time and you’re interested in getting good deals on food, you should make it a point to visit the wet markets.  I don’t know if there are any in Manila, but I assume there would be.

Here are some photos of the place so you can get a feel for what to expect if you ever visit a wet market in the Philippines:

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(Note: I’m testing a new format for uploading a lot of pictures. Hopefully the watermark doesn’t show up huge on the blown-up image after clicking the thumbnail!)

The Pancake House at Galleria Mall

Earlier this month my wife and I were looking for a place to eat in Galleria and I saw something that looked like it would definitely hit the spot, The Pancake House.  They had some interesting looking ads in the window and the one that caught my eye was a fried chicken tenders and waffle dish.  It claimed to be ‘Southern’ style chicken, as in Southern US style chicken.  Fried chicken is popular in the South, but from what I know (from a movie) the idea of waffles and chicken is something from Los Angeles.  Well, I could be wrong.

The service standard at the restaurant was great.  We were greeted at the door and quickly shown to a seat.  The service from the waiter was prompt and friendly.  The place is clean and it has a nice theme.  My dish seemed a little pricey, but it was still reasonable, especially since it was in the mall.

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This is the Southern chicken and waffle.  There was also a small bit of salad that was pretty good.  I loved the black olives.  The dish also came with three sauces: syrup for the waffle, a gravy for the chicken, and a light, tangy dressing for the salad.

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My wife ordered a traditional Filipino dish that’s usually called crispy liempo.  The menu had a fancy name for it, but I can’t remember what it is.  The meat is deep-fried pork belly and the rice is garnished with fried garlic.

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p align=”left”>We didn’t try anything else from the menu, but after the great meal we had, I’m willing to go back for more.

Public Toilets in Malls in the Philippines

Today while at Megamall in Manila, I had reason to visit one of the public toilets.  It took me a while, because the restroom was crowded, but I finally managed to secure a stall.  When I walked in, there was piss all over the floor, no toilet seat, and no toilet paper.  I wasn’t expecting that, but when I saw it I remembered that it’s always that way.  I first visited Manila in 2008 and noted that the public toilets never seem to have paper or even toilet seats available. 

It seems like such a basic commodity to have in public restrooms that I always take for granted that some will be available.  Back in 2008, I asked my wife why there aren’t any toilet seats or paper and she said it’s probably because if it were there, people would steal it.  That makes sense and she’s from the Philippines so her guess is better than mine.

So, if you’re going out, even to a seemingly high end shopping center, be sure to bring your own stock of toilet paper.  It wouldn’t hurt to bring antibacterial wet hand wipes either.  Or, if you’re really in need of comfort, there is one other solution, which, thankfully, fit perfectly into our plans for our evening out.

On the 5th (or 4th?) floor of Megamall there are quite a few massage / pedicure / manicure / etc. type parlors.  You can treat yourself, or your spouse, to one of these services and then partake of their pleasant smelling, well appointed restrooms, like the one pictured below.  I don’t remember the name of the place but it’s pretty nice and my wife says she got good service there, so we’ll be going back for massages soon.  More on that later!

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A Night Out In Manila!

So, we’ve been here since the 6th and tonight was the first time we’d left the Antipolo area to go out and have some fun.  I guess you have to prioritize.  It wouldn’t do to go out and have a good time and then come home to crappy living conditions.  Not everything is done, and it probably won’t be for quite a while, but we felt we deserved some time out to relax and we took advantage of it.

So, off to Megamall we went!  We met up with my brother-in-law and his wife there and had a late lunch at Sushi-ya.  The food there is really good and the prices are reasonable.  After that my brother-in-law and I wandered around while our wives got pedicures and then we all met up again to watch Iron Man 2.  By the time that was done, it was 9:30 PM and it was time to make the long commute back to Antipolo.

The time seemed to go by so quick!  There were so many other places we wanted to see while there.  I think we may have to take some more relaxation days and hang out in the city, preferably in a nice air conditioned mall again.

As for the house, things seem to be progressing ok.  The door is in the wall now and it’s functional, but the cement still needs to be replaced.  The guy is working on the plumbing in the kitchen right now and then he’s going to do the cement all at one time.  That’s fine, as long as it gets done sometime in the next few days.

We’re planning on holding off on doing the painting because we want to get the electrical installed properly first early next month.  A fresh coat of paint would do wonders for this place but we have plenty of time, so I’m not all that worried about it right now.

I also found out today that not all Filipinos are ruthless criminals.  Yesterday I dropped my ring in front of a store in the neighborhood and when I went back to find it, it was gone.  I mentioned it to the girl that was working the counter, who lives in the neighborhood as well, and she asked around and actually found my ring.  She went to the person’s house to get it back from one of their kids.  So, a disaster was narrowly averted through her efforts.  It also showed me just how true the ‘everyone knows everyone’ and ‘there are no secrets in a Filipino neighborhood’ sayings are.

We have another long day ahead of us tomorrow, but even though the days are full of work, they’ve also been full of action and activity, which has kept things fresh and exciting.