pork chicharon

Chicharon is pork crackling or deep fried pork rinds in Tagalog. I got this pack in Manila for 30 Philippine pesos (about RM 2). This is sold as a snack in ’90s style popcorn packaging. Well, at least popcorn was packaged that way in my hometown of Sibu at that time and sold in bakeries (!!!).

The price for chicharon can range from 10 PHP to either side, depending on the brand. Also, the price can change from vendor to vendor for the same thing depending on how much they reckon they can rip you off for. The different brands mostly looks the same, with the manufacturer slipping in a small paper insert to differentiate their products.

chicharon

This one is called Angelo Special Pork Chicharon and comes with a smiling pig, very much oblivious to what he’s about to become by the looks of it. smirk

You can see that it’s slightly wet – the street vendors in Manila will offer to open and douse the packet of chicharon generously with vinegar from a dodgy recycled bottle with a hole at the top. It’s apparently the local way to eat it. I found it quite nice but there’s only so much pork crackling you can eat before you get sick of it.

7fresh

7-Eleven in the Philippines also sells a microwavable chicharon under their 7Fresh store brand. The price is heavily inflated but you can actually bring it back home – I brought back 2 packs, one for my family and one for a friend of mine. I think some people actually do eat it like popcorn!

The fresh ones packaged like the one I had in Manila doesn’t keep too long though – it’ll start to become stale after a couple of hours. You can usually find it where they sell balut. It’s quite tasty though but very, very oily, so if you don’t adore pork, this is probably not for you. :)

bus stop hotdog

Hotsilog is the Tagalog name for hot dogs. This is different from the Philippines chorizo type sausage called longganisa. Longganisa is short links of pork sausage while hotsilog is actual hot dogs as you know it – it’s also much longer. No, there’s no double entendre intended.

hotsilog

You can find hotsilog sold in bus stops and other stalls where quick travel food is required. It’s usually sold next to balut and chicharon (pork crackling). The history of the Philippines with the long American presence has created this long and *brightly colored* radioactive red hot dog that is sold on a stick or in a bun.

hotsilog hotdog

The ones in a bun costs 30 PHP (about RM 1.80) while the hotsilog on a stick costs 25 pesos (RM 2.20). The shorter hotdog in a bun actually costs *more* than the longer ones on a skewer! You’ll be initially surprised that a locally made bun wrapped around the hot dog will actually hurt your wallet more…especially when you see the length.

bus philippines

Hotsilogs on a skewer / stick is much longer than the ones in a bun. That means you get more meat for 5 pesos less for the former. Street peddlers will come on board while you’re in a bus and sell all sorts of stuff from Buko Pies to newspapers.

me hotsilog

The hotsilogs is a distinctively American influence that has been given a local twist. It tastes much like what you’ll expect a hotdog or sausage to, but juicier and mildly spiced so it’s good to eat by itself without other condiments.

philippines hotdog

It’s an interesting experience to eat it on long journeys. The way it’s cut into spirals before being cooked is something the locals have done to make it cook evenly.

hotsilog vendor

The local hotsilog is also surprisingly sweet and worth a try if you’re on a bus with nothing better to do. You might also require a hardy stomach. ;)

jonys shakes boracay

Jony’s Boracay’s Original & Famous Fruit Shakes. Well, that’s what it says on the signboard anyway. Heh. Jonah’s Fruitshakes is the original place to go if you’re craving for a mango fruit shake, spawning a host of imitators, usually with variations on the name like Jony’s, Jody’s etc.

Note the slight difference in spelling?

yellow cab

That’s how it works in Boracay, I saw 3 (!!!) different Yellow Cab Pizza while I was there too. The above is the original. There’s also a hilarious one which dubs itself Tapsi Cab (with similar font and colors) which is basically run out of someone’s house, but it actually served pretty decent burgers at a really cheap price.

…so who cares, as long as it’s good? :D

point 1

Back to Jony’s Fruit Shakes, it’s part of Jony’s Beach Resort and it’s located at Point 1 at White Beach. It’s actually a pretty nice place to chill and enjoy the sea breeze. They also serve food from different parts of the Philippines as well.

It’s rather overpriced and commercialized (saw a huge group of Chinese tourists come in) but I reckon that’s the price you pay (smirk) in places like Boracay – which was why I avoided the overrated and over-mentioned Ibu Oka franchise in Bali and asked in Denpasar for place where the locals go for babi guling instead.

jonys original fruitshakes

The restaurant attached to Jony’s Fruit Shakes is called Maya’s and I would give it a wide berth if I were you. The food is very mediocre and there are better choices around for the equivalent of RM 25-30 per dish restaurants. Go for the shakes, not the food.

tilapia

Crispy Fried Tilapia
This comes with 3 dipping sauces and is from the Luzon area. It’s pretty good – freshly fried and crispy, bit it’s the dip that makes the dish work…and seafood in Boracay is super fresh!

adobong manok

Adobong Native na Manok
I actually wanted goat kalderatta (a Panay dish of goat stewed in coconut wine) but they ran out of that, so I went for this one instead. It’s supposed to be a festive local dish of chicken simmered in soy sauce, spices and vinegar with organic chicken liver mousse.

I was really hungry then so it tasted good but in hindsight it’s really below average and quite forgettable. Except for the chicken liver mousse. That is superb!

…now for the shakes!

boracay fruit shakes

Just look at the sheer variety they have to offer. You can custom make it yourself too – simply request for the stuff you want and they’ll mix it for you.

jony mango fruit shake

This is a Mango, Pineapple and Banana fruit shake. PHP 100.
It’s really good. The tart and sweet mango is balanced by the smooth banana and pineapple lends a tang to it. The shakes costs about RM 8-10 each, depending on what you want.

banana nutella shake

Bananatella fruit shake. I don’t even know if this can be called a “fruit shake” anymore. Heh. It’s a mixture of bananas and Nutella! Now, isn’t that awesome!

I really loved the fruit shakes at Jony’s but you’ll have to drink it really, really fast. I really don’t know if Jonah’s is better, but Jony’s does an awesome fruit shake! It’s wonderfully thick and difficult to suck up the straw at first but that’s the optimum time to drink it coz the minute ice particles inside will dilute the drink down as time progresses.

It’s subject to entropy as all things are. ;)

fruitshakes boracay

Drink up as soon as you’re served! It’s loaded with calories and sinfully delicious, but it’s also sensational – a sublime beach drink. :D

10 commandments boracay

This is definitely not on any official tourist map but I chanced across it while walking around Point 1 at White Beach in Boracay.

I doubt it’s the original stone tablets handed down to Moses though. Wrong language for that epoch and it’s riddled with spelling mistakes. Heh.

I love this photo though, it’s always the unexpected find that’s the most satisfying. :)

helmet diving apparatus

I went helmet diving in Boracay and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my Boracay trip! Heh. I’ve seen it being offered in other places with names like sea walking or reef walking but never got around to doing it.

boracay helmet diving

It’s quite an interesting experience – there are various touts independent tour operators offering helmet diving at White Beach. We were approached by one while having the famous shakes at Jony’s with Xinxian and managed to bargain it down to PHP 800 for two, which works out to 400 pesos per person (about RM 30).

sea walking

Helmet diving is called such because there’s a really long hose connecting the helmet to the oxygen tanks on top.

helmet diving boat

The journey started with a short speedboat trip to a floating sea platform on the Bulabog Beach side of the island.

helmet diving platform

The floating sea platform is where the entire operation is done. It’s anchored to a prime spot in the ocean and there’s an area at the sea bed where you can roam around.

helmet driving instructor

We were briefed by the guide on how the basics of reef walking and I have to admit, I didn’t listen to half of what he said. Posed photo. smirk

helmet diving

I was walking around instead and it’s quite interesting to see the locally made reef walking helmets. These are not the Sea Trek/Seawalker helmet diving systems but jury rigged ones made to resemble them. The helmets have clear glass plates so you can see out and you can breathe normally while you’re underwater.

sea walking platform

The experience is totally unlike scuba diving. You descend down the ladder while the helmet is fitted over you by someone on the platform. The ladder goes down 10 – 15 feet to the bottom of the sea and you get to walk around and look at the corals and feed the fishes.

reef walking

Helmet diving allows you to actually reach inside the helmet so you can equalize the pressure in your ears if you need to. I can do it without pinching my nose but I made the mistake of wiping the glass inside the screen, which made it fog up – you can see half of my face is obscured in the underwater photos. :)

There’s also a scuba diver that takes shots and videos for you. I didn’t realize the guy was taking a video so I posed for a photo instead and wondered what was taking him so long. Haha!

helmet diving photo

You have pieces of bread to feed the fish and you get to spend 15 minutes at the sea bed watching and touching the fishes. I quite enjoyed it – the only thing that bothered me was that the homemade helmets tend to drift away if you’re not holding on to it.

helmet diving boracay

I would have thought the water pressure is enough to keep it in place but the current will shift it around. The guide told us to keep one hand on it. You can take your hands off for a while if you’re standing perfectly still but once you move, you’ll have to hang on to your helmet. Heh.

Despite that minor design issue, helmet diving is quite fun! I didn’t think it would be after scuba diving but I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying the time reef walking on the sea bed and exploring the marine life. It’s a totally different experience.

reef walking boracay

I wish we had more time underwater instead of just 15 minutes and before long we had to climb up the ladder back to the platform. The CD with the photos and videos were ready by the time we were up there. Helmet diving might be commercialized and scuba divers might scoff at the restricted movement (the hose limits where you can go) but it’s still a lot of fun.

reef walking photo

I had a blast and I’ll recommend it if you come across it – helmet diving is a totally different experience altogether and I’m really glad I tried it! :D

1. Hash Brown Burger

hash brown burger

This is a breakfast menu item from the fast food franchise giant Jollibee. Jollibee is all around the Philippines, you can literally see one at every street corner in Manila. I had this at the airport just before flying Cebu Pacific Air to Boracay.

jollibee hash brown burger

The Hash Brown Burger is made with a 100% pure beef patty and a slice of cheese sandwiched between two golden hash browns.

jollibee

It cost 88 pesos (RM 6.50) at the airport, I’m sure it costs less outside but it’s well worth it.

manila jollibee

I love how the crispy hash browns substitute the traditional burger – it’s crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside, which makes the hash browns a much better bun!

burger bun substitute

It’s delicious stuff! I wish they had it here but I reckon you can make your own using hash browns and removing the patty from a regular burger. :)

2. Chinese pao burger with pork sausage

chowking

This comes from Chowking, a large fast food franchise specializing in Chinese food in the Philippines. The interesting bit is that they use a Chinese style pao instead of the usual burger buns.

unique burger pao

It’s even stamped with a “Ck” for Chowking on top. It looks like a typical burger bun but it’s actually a Chinese pau – the taste and chewy texture is spot on! :)

chowking pao burger

I find that it absorbs the sauces of the ingredients well, but doesn’t over-saturate it – it’s a perfect burger bun substitute!

burger lap cheong

I had the one with the Chinese pork sausage (lap cheong) inside for 39 pesos (RM 3) inclusive of chicharap (prawn crackers) and a drink right outside Intramuros.

chow pao

It’s ironically called Chowking’s Chow Pao – which means something totally different if you pronounce it the wrong way. Heh.

boracay phoenix fire dancers

This group of fire dancers were performing along the vibrant night life section of White Beach in Boracay – around Station 2.

boracay white beach fire dancers

They’re called the Boracay Phoenix Fire Dancers and I was quite impressed by one of them – she has really good skills.

boracay fire dancers

There were multiple performances – both indoors and outdoors simultaneously, and the latter having no constraints with ceilings and such, could perform aerial tricks.

One of them did an amazing catch after throwing the meteor hammer up in the air – she didn’t catch it the first time, but managed to snag it on the second try. It was the monsoon season so the wind speed was rather fierce, I was amazed she even managed to catch it at all!

fire dancers lighting cigarette

The Boracay Phoenix Fire Dancers also lit a lot of cigarettes by spinning the fire dancing apparatus close to the cancer sticks.

…and they also managed to scare a lot of people shitless by spinning the meteor hammers around their faces. smirk

I have seen an equally good fire dancing performance in Penang (of all places) and really wanted to pick it up but the closest I ever got was fire breathing. Heh.

fire dancers boracay

It’s the long weekend everyone! What are your plans? :D

balut egg

Balut is perhaps the Philippines most notorious street food. It’s an duck egg that’s intentionally unpasteurized to create a fertilized embryo inside it. You can get a near fully formed chick if you’re lucky – complete with beak, feathers and other features you’ll normally associate with a duck.

Well, a duck to be anyway, since it’s been boiled, it’s never going to hatch. ;)

balut duck egg embryo

Balut is also known for it’s eww factor with an almost ridiculous aversion bordering on stereotypical squeamishness.

I think there was a Fear Factor episode where the final contestants backed out from eating it. I honestly don’t get what all the fuss is all about – it’s just an egg…with a duck as a bonus. Heh.

cooking balut

I managed to get one that has a relatively intact and grown chick inside, complete with a beak and feathers. I reckon that’s the best kind – crunchy and well, feathery. smirk

balut duck embryo

The balut is kept in local cardboard insulated wood buckets and wrapped in layers of cloth to keep them warm – it’s quite nasty if you eat it cold coz part of the goodness of balut is the broth that comes out of the egg.

balut salt

The street venders sell it with a twist of salt in a conical newspaper wrapping – I got 2 balut eggs for 50 pesos (about RM 4). You’re supposed to eat it by cracking open the top of the balut egg, adding salt and slurping out the delicious juices before eating it.

I ate the first one without salt to get a more unadulterated experience and the second one with salt on the advice of the vendor. I preferred eating it without salt, the soup tastes almost exactly like chicken broth, and the half formed duck added a bit of texture and crunchiness to it.

balut

You can see the juices from the balut dripping down my hand in this photo. I’ve eaten balut before, it should have no offensive odors despite a lot of reports claiming otherwise – this is confirmed by a Pinoy friend of mine, who first introduced me to it by bringing it all the way from Manila to Sibu, causing a three day delay before I ate it. Heh.

Here’s a video of me eating it in a hurry (it was a high traffic area) and the associated local bystanders watching with interest and asking if I liked it.

There are a lot of myths associated with balut with claims such as improving male vitality and potency. That will put Pfizer and GSK out of business if it were true. ;) Similar claims have been made on dog meat, snake blood and bull’s penis. I am inclined to disregard all those and just eat it for the experience and taste.

eating balut

How does balut taste like? Well it just tastes like a regular boiled egg, except balut has a rich duck broth and a crunchy texture where the half formed chick resides. Xinxian agreed and added that it felt like she was eating egg shells.

I highly recommend that you try balut if you’re ever in the Philippines – it’s delicious in its own way and it’s one of those things that you have to try when you’re there. :)

boracay white beach sandcastle

After a long day diving and ATV riding at Boracay, we walked to White Beach to catch the sunset and I somehow managed to get my trusty flip flops stuck in the sand and the right pair finally gave out.

white beach sand

I could still use it by stuffing the bit that got loose back in – this pair has actually been relegated to my balcony back home, but it’s at best a temporary fix. It would come apart again at the slightest provocation, such as walking on the beach, or even sneezing for that matter.

I figured it was time to get new flip flops.

biggest pair of shoes in the world

The first shop I went to had one I really liked but unfortunately they were not for sale. It’s a display only item and anyhow, it was soooo large that I could practically *sleep* on it.

giant joke flip flops

I managed to get a pair for 400 pesos (about RM 30) at the next outlet but after I got back to the resort, I realized a little too late that it was slightly too big for me. :(

smirk

Posted: 9:50 am Boracay time (GMT +8)

broken teeth

I’ve been having trouble with one of my molars for a while now – it really hurts to chew but the pain suddenly went away one day so I thought it was fine.

…until just now that is. :x

intramuros

I was eating dinner at a local fast food restaurant in Intramuros, Manila where we had spent the day when I suddenly felt something crack inside my mouth. (!)

My initial thought was that it’s probably a stray bone, and I didn’t feel any pain so I ponderously chewed while attempting to spit the foreign object out. It looked harmless enough at first sight, until I ran my tongue along my left lower jaw and felt a hole with sharp jagged edges.

I have chipped my tooth! :(

I thought I’ll just get it fixed and since there wasn’t any pain, I figured I’ll just use the right side of my teeth to do the usual job of grinding food into manageable mush to swallow.

Unfortunately, about half an hour later, I felt a tingling sensation – the nerve endings in my gums are exposed!

That’s not too bad either, but later as we caught a cab back to the hotel I started to feel the onset of a headache of epic proportions. I used to suffer from migraines but it doesn’t have the characteristic warning signs of an impending one – it’s sensitivity to light for me.

I didn’t think much of it until I got a better look at my teeth. I was complaining about a headache of mysterious origin and suddenly it occurred to us that it could be due to the broken tooth. I don’t know if it’s infected or the massive migraine that I’m currently having is due to the exposed raw nerve endings on my gum but I’ve never had one this bad before.

chipped tooth

I really hope it’s not related but it’s starting to be quite apparent that it is due to the timeline and lack of migraine warning signs.

I just feel like puking, crawling into bed and curling up in a fetal position.

Posted: 11:54 pm Manila time (GMT +8)

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