Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Part 2: Hong Kong Adventure at Ocean Park-Headland

Second day in Hong Kong, a brand new day. Hubby and I were very eager to go to Ocean Park. We woke up very early so that we can be at the park as soon as it opens.

First order of business (after breakfast, of course) was to get our Octopus Card. This card is just like a pre-paid card or debit card and is accepted on most public transport including buses, minibuses, trains, ferries, the Peak Tram, and some taxis. It's even accepted at convenience stores and fast food restaurants. We used it in McDonald's and Seven Eleven. To pay a fare, simply place the Octopus card on the reader usually found near the counter or the fare box. I placed mine inside my purse and I didn't have to take it out every time I use it. Just swipe the purse in the reader, and the reader picks it up. Cool. A new Octopus card includes a refundable HK$50 deposit and is valid for two years. Any leftover money is also refunded when you return the card. We decided to keep ours for our next visit. The card is available at the airport and at most public transport customer service centers. You may get your "re-load" at the same locations.

Second order of business is Ocean Park. One of my most favorite places in the world. We take the MTR and get off at Admiralty Station to take the bus to Ocean Park. The park fare is HK$185 inclusive of the bus fare to and from. The park opens at 10:00am and closes at 11:00pm during peak season. Normally, it's just until 6:00pm.

Ocean park is divided into two parts. The Lowland and the Headland which is connected by cable cars. If you do decide to visit the park, make sure you are wearing very comfortable shoes and clothing. The park is steep in most areas and will require a bit of effort traversing. The park is not for everyone. It can get very tiring for you and your kids. It would take the whole day to go around the park and would probably take another day to ride aand see all the attractions.

I love Ocean Park for its array of animal attractions. If you love animals, I suggest to forgo the rides and just visit the animal enclosures instead.

One of the rides that my husband loved was the raging river. It's a water ride with a canoe that goes up the mountain via a river system that has sharp turns and a vertical drop which I didn't look forward to. You can see the sheer contrast of me and my husband's enjoyment of the ride in this photo. You can purchase your souvenir photo of going down the vertical drop at the Image Gallery at each exit for HK$80. Not cheap but hey, the look on Eric's face is priceless. A word of caution: you will get wet on this ride. I suggest that you take this ride last when you're on your way home. Otherwise, you will be walking the park in wet jeans and shirt like yours truly. Fortunately, I had a spare t-shirt in my purse.

Next up, Ocean Park Tower. It's just a ride that gives you a bird's eye view of the entire park from a rotating viewing deck. It's comfy and it's air-conditioned, overall a pleasant ride.

The Pacific Pier was next on our agenda. It's a three-level seal and sea lion attraction that allows you to watch the animals' antics on land and under water through the under water gallery . A must-see. For HK$25, you can even feed the sea lions. Feeding time is usually in the afternoon.

For Dolphin lovers, do not miss the dolphin show at the Ocean Theater. It's very entertaining. On one of my visits in OP a few years back, I had lunch at the bleachers just watching a dolphins play (they were off duty). I had such a fantastic time just sitting there and watching them. Very relaxing and calming. I almost didn't want to leave but there were other attractions to see.

The Dragon is the baddest and longest roller coaster in Hong Kong. Eric couldn't wait to ride it. I opted to just watch him on the sidelines. I've ridden that monster before, never again. The whole monstrosity crosses two mountains with hairpin twist and turns that will confuse and scare you. Eric had a blast as usual. But he said he could not ride it again on the same day. Too much thrill, I guess.

The Atoll Reef is the absolute must-see if you are in Ocean Park. It's a giant multi level aquarium with a wide array of fish, turtles, sharks and eels. The collection of fish in the aquarium is impressive. As you go down each level, you will see different varieties of fish. The coral found inside the tank is artificial to preserve the corals that are left in the ocean. Truly a lovely, calming and enjoyable experience. Your kids would love it here.

Another must-see attraction is the Shark Aquarium. The aquarium has an underwater viewing tunnel that allows you to see a variety of shark species as they swim around you. A great hit with the kids. On some days, they will even allow you to touch some of the baby sharks, like a petting zoo. This is where I touched my first shark, years ago with my dad and brother.

A new attraction was the Sea Jelly spectacular. It's a series of aquariums that exhibit different varieties of jelly fish. I was surprised to see really small ones like the size of a small hot-sauce bottle cap (for a lack of a better reference). Some were really huge. But they were all lovely to look at. The attraction is dramatically lighted so that you can see the beauty of each specie.

And that concludes our adventure in Headland, Ocean Park (for now).

Part 1: Hong Kong (mis)Adventure

For a pre-Christmas treat last year, hubby and I flew off to Hong Kong for a few days of fun and shopping.

The day started really really...horrible. You know, the usual canceled flights due to the storm. The Cebu Pacific personnel telling us that it's a budget airline and they have no contingency plans for things like re-scheduling or creating a new flight for say oh 300 or so stranded passengers. That kinda thing. Eventually they give in and get us to Hong Kong at midnight. Yeah, sweet. Just 14 hours delayed and I whole day wasted at the crummy NAIA.

Hubby and I opted to stay at the Shamrock Hotel. It's reasonably priced and it has a great location. We booked our hotel via The MTR station is right beside the hotel so it's quite easy to get around. After checking in and settling in, we decided to venture out to get a meal. It was almost 2 am. We walked the streets and see what's available. We came upon a noodle place that has the cook standing on the counter barefoot to get something from the upper shelf. Uh, no thanks. We ended up just buying some grub from seven eleven. We figured it was safe to nuke some noodles. Some adventure. As we prepared for bed, we promised ourselves that we'll have a fabulous time in the morning.

The hotel room is a bit small. It has two single beds, toilet and bath, TV, mini ref, hairdryer, your usual comforts. It's very clean and they do give a complete array of toiletries and towels that they replace every day. Not a bad deal for HKD810/night.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ay Bruha!

I finally got the hang of rolling my hair in my brand new hot curlers. Or so I thought. Hubby took this photo of me as I was preparing to go out. Eric said, "Ay, may bruha effect!" Gee, thanks!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Kusina Salud

For yet another road trip, hubby and I chose to go to a slightly far flung, off the beaten road restaurant. Kusina Salud, located in Barangay Sta Cruz (Putol) in San Pablo Laguna. We heard such raving reviews for their cuisine and ambiance. Granted, that we got lost and made a huge u-turn and completely missed our lunch reservation. We decided to forge ahead and look for the place anyway. We arrived two hours late from our reservation. The people didn't seem to mind since it was a weekday and the place wasn't packed.

We were greeted by Patis Tesoro herself with a posse of poodles at her tail.

The place is a hodgepodge of Filipino and Asian collectibles. The house itself looks like a typical Filipino home of old. Complete with intricate wood trimmings, bamboo slats for the 2nd floor, old beams, capiz windows and silong (basement). My husband felt right at home. Since the furniture and the "kalat"/junk/"collectibles" that we found there are similar to the house where he grew up in. It even smelled like my in-laws' house. I deduced it was probably coming from the huge amount of antique wood and furniture in the property.

We were eager to have late lunch. First off, I ordered the Pako Salad, their signature salad of fern with salted egg, kesong puti, onions tossed in patis (fermented fish sauce) and calamansi (local lemon) dressing and some grated cheddar cheese. I remember the first time I had Pako salad when my family and Eric (who was my boyfriend then) were vacationing in Bicol with a favorite uncle and his family. The salad was really really good and fresh and tart. I was hoping to recapture that memory. It was a little bit disappointing because the pako salad at Kusina Salud lacked the acidity to balance all the ingredients together. It's a bit flat. I would order it again but would ask for more calamansi or vinegar next time. I mean, fern is hard to find. Where else can you have it, right?

Another dish that were ordered was the Tokwa't Bulaklak. It's a spin on your traditional Tokwa't Baboy but with bituka ng baboy (pork intestines-like the ones used in chicharon bulaklak) instead of pork ear and face. This was a hit for both hubby and me. The bulaklak was marinated in soysauce and calamansi prior to being fried. Easy enough to do at home. If you don't have a heart condition and if you're young enough to get away with the added cholesterol, go for it. A must try.

For our main dish, we decided to share the fresh fish in "XO" sauce. Fish cooked in ginger infused brandy oyster sauce and garlic sauteed pechay. The fish will vary according to the fresh catch from Dalahican, Quezon. For that day, it was maya-maya. I loved the fresh sauteed pechay. My husband didn't like this dish at all. It was too gingery for his taste.

One thing that my husband absolutely loved is their rice infused with pandan leaves. At this point
I was thinking of yanking the pandan plant from my mother's garden and planting it my mine. You see, my husband eats very little rice and he only seems to like yang chow and this pandan rice. So there.

Moving on. For dessert, we ordered Sansrival and Turon (Fried crepes with plantain bananas) with Langka (Jackfruit) and vanilla ice cream. The Sansrival
was really really good. It's not makunat. The meringue was airy and not too sweet. It's served with sliced ripe mangoes on the side. For the turon, it was good also, the saba (plantain) banana inside and the langka were both sweet. Again, simple enough to do at home. The ice cream is not home made though.

We would have loved to have a freshly squeezed dalandan juice with lots of ice on such a hot afternoon. Sadly, the place only offers the powdered kind. So we just stick to our bottled water.

The place has a small aviary that your children might enjoy. They have an assortment of lovebirds, lorries, cockatoos (like my lola used to have), parrots and other birds that we couldn't identify. It also had a small stream behind the property that provided the natural and relaxing waterfall noises throughout our stay there. There are plenty of places for picture taking so, don't forget to bring your camera.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On a whim

Last Sunday, my mom invited hubby and I for a simple lunch at her house. As usual, the food was excellent. She made her famous pancit molo (my lola's recipe) and inihaw na liempo. After stuffing ourselves, everybody wanted to go to Tagaytay to put some mileage on the new car. So off to Tagaytay we go. My brother had to take his own car since there were 9 of us including the children and their nannies.

Our first stop, Starbucks Tagaytay. My mom loves coffee so we had coffee and pastries there. My niece Ashley was dressed in her summer outfit of halter top, shorts, pink hat and the cutest ballet shoes ever. This is Ashley's very first outing in Tagaytay.

We had long conversations in Starbucks, had a lot of laughs. We planned vacations in the future, my mom talked about the recipes that she's seen on TV and will make in the future. My nephew JJ even finished a whole chocolate frappuccino all by himself!

For dinner, my brother treated us to Dencio's since his birthday was coming up. We had the usual pork staples like sisig (grilled pork face and ear with liver---my Tita Zeny makes the best in the world), crispy pata (deep fried pork hocks) and sinigang (a pork dish with tamarind soup). For a healthy spin (yeah, right), we ordered some asparagus too.

We were seated by the pond. All the seats overlooking the Taal volcano were already occupied. My nephew JJ had a blast looking at the fish and used up all our coins to make wishes in the pond.

What a day. Sunday. Best day of the week in my book.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mga hipon sa aquarium

After watching Music & Lyrics, I decided to swing by the ShopWise and do some grocery shopping. I was planning to make a seafood caesar's salad and wanted to buy some squid. I got distracted by the huge aquariums in the fish section. They had live shrimps! I was so excited and bought some for sinigang na hipon tonight. My husband's favorite dish. That's what I love about going to huge supermarkets, they inspire you and sometimes they surprise you too.

Music & Lyrics

I had the new car all to myself today. I opted to go on a date by my lonesome. I watched Music & Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore and bought a big tub of popcorn. I am such a sucker to romantic flicks. It was good and funny and it earned a few kilig tears from me. I was surprised that it was really Hugh Grant singing the "Pop goes my heart" song and Drew Barrymore was so cute in this one.

Why I'm not going to London (or the US) this year

It's final. My husband has put his foot down. New car or London? I chose this spanking new chunk of metal, glass and plastic. We brought her home last Saturday. Isn't she a beaut? Our very first brand new car as husband and wife.

Friday, February 16, 2007

At Home on Valentine's Day

It's another one of those special days. Eric and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day at home quietly and without the hassle of the traffic and the waiting line in the restaurants.

I didn't want to be stressed out preparing for a meal. I mean, who wants to look like some deranged chef on a busy night, right? (Images of Gordon Ramsey losing his temper and spit on the risotto, ugh) Ok, that's another blog.

I made a simple 4-course meal for the night. Crab chowder (real crabmeat) with french bread and garlic parseley butter, shrimp and bacon salad with honey vinaigrette dressing (home made), lasagna and strawberry trifle made from strawberries marianated in balsamic vinegar (it makes the strawberries sweeter), cubed taisan and home-made whipped cream.

As I was preparing the last touches on the salad, I got a call from hubby that he will be delayed due to a meeting that ran over. By the time he gets home, it was already 9pm and we were both hungry. I forbade my husband to eat heavy merienda lest he spoil is appetite for dinner. We were so hungry that we didn't take pictures of our meal. Sayang, I even wore a red dress, my husband gave me this bouquet of long-stemmed roses that matched my dress perfectly and the trifle was so cute.

Anyway, the meal was a success. My brother and his wife even dropped by unexpectedly and were able to help us finish off the meal with some take home lasagna to boot.

I'm so happy because I got so many compliments from my meal. My husband even bragged about it at work. Maybe we'll do a 6-course meal next year. I wonder if hubby would mind getting me a dishwasher instead of the red roses. Hmmm...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Oh Boy!

For dirt cheap dining with great tasting inihaw, Central BBQ Boy Grill never disappoints. This mom and pop operation is located right in the smack of Aguirre Avenue in BF Homes. If you have cravings for street hawkers tasting barbecue, grilled meat, isaw, and real grilled hotdogs over charcoal, this is the place. Check out their menu. They even came up with clever names for their dishes. BBQ Boy (pork bbq), TomBoy (Tumbong ng baboy), Atay ka Boy (Chicken liver), Streetboys (assorted isaw), Nanganamatis na Itlog ni Boy (Itlog na maalat with tomatoes), ButtMan (chicken ass), BoyLET (Lechon Kawali), Hellboy (super spicy beef curry). I highly recommend the Sphencer (tenga).

It's a plus also that the place doesn't get rowdy (there are two beefy security men managing the crowd) and there's no karaoke which seems to be the staple in most cheap inihaw and beer joints in Manila. You'll be dining amidst middle-class teen-agers, Koreans pretending to be locals and yuppies. People "slumming" it for the night. The place may be dirt-cheap but the crowd is "sosyal". Perfect combination.

BBQ Boy has a middle-class clientele but the place certainly isn't. Expect to dine under makeshift tents, gravel floor and wooden tables and benches. Most of all, don't expect excellent service. The place is super packed every night and there are only a few waiters around. Patience is key.

While we were eating our meal, Eric said "I can smell motor burning".
I said, "No, that's the carcinogens in the inihaw" :)

An afternoon in Tagaytay

I just got my hot curlers from my cousin Butchie and I was itching to use it. A roadtrip/date was in order. Eric and I drove to Tagaytay to get some homemade bee products for my cousin Butchie and some for me too. Our first stop for the day was Ilog Maria. A bee farm in Silang, Cavite. They sell an assortment of beauty products made from honey and royal jelly harvested from their own bees. We bought some yummy smelling soaps, lip balm (Butchie's ultra favorite), honey shampoo and beeswax wood polish for my dining table. Prices are very reasonable. The soaps cost between P60 and P65, Lip balm P55, Propolis, an anti-itch cream (I highly recommend this one) is P175 for the big tub, Shampoo is P140, and beeswax wood polish is P110 for a small tub. We happened to bump into some Americans and Koreans shopping in the farm. It's quite popular even for the tourists. You can check out their website at for a complete list of their products and map. The farm is closed on Mondays and public holidays.

To get to the bee farm, you have to pass through a dirt road that's ideal for one vehicle only. Make sure that your car is an good condition to handle rough road. The farm is not very far from the main road so there's only a bit of off-roading on your part. Getting a flat tire in this area will render the farm impassable until you change your tires. The owner of the farm is ornery and seem to be always in a bad mood. I suggest to just ignore his ramblings and proceed with your shopping.

My husband was getting cranky. And that's usually a sign that he's hungry. We decided to have late lunch at Gourmet cafe just a few meters away from Ilog Maria. It's a popular restaurant and organic farm in Tagaytay. It's my first time dining there so I was
very excited to try their dishes. For starters, we ordered clear mushroom soup with bread and roman garlic spread, which my husband liked. Then shrimp salad with honey vinaigrette dressing and cashew nuts, beef lasagna, chocolate, pinwheel and lemon balm cookies and iced cappuccino with Bailey's. The food was ok but my husband said that I could do better. My husband even said that he would love for us to have a farm like that so that I can show off my culinary skills. Is he in love with me, or what?

Here's the low-down: The mushroom soup is easy enough to make, it tasted like home-made beef broth with garlic, shitake and oyster mushrooms, can be easily duplicated at home, the shrimp salad will be better off with pine nuts or walnuts, both the dressing and the roman garlic spread (which is just butter, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper, according to the waiter) can be bought in the Gourmet cafe store and most groceries, their lasagna only had mozzarella in it (you need at least 3 cheeses, people), I must admit though, the cookies and coffee were good. I must visit place if only for the cookies and coffee.

The cafe also has a farm and a coffee processing plant. My husband and I were not able to see them because the farm closes at 3pm. If you want to see the farm come in between 9am to 3pm everyday. You can buy potted herbs, salad dressings, spreads and very fresh and organic salad greens and vegetables and barako coffee in their store up the road. The coffee beans are roasted over hot coals and had somehow retained their natural oils. The coffee beans looked so good, my husband couldn't resist buying a bag (P180 each).

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Herbed Chicken Recipe

For ulam tonight, I made baked herbed chicken. This is by far the ultimate recipe for lazy cooks. There are some days that you just don't want to exert any effort with making dinner.

To make the herbed chicken, combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:
Chopped garlic
Equal parts dried rosemary, oregano and thyme (or any herb you like)
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
Liquid seasoning

Place a huge sheet of aluminum foil on top of a baking dish. Rub chicken with the above mixture. You may add baby potatoes together with the chicken, the potatoes will absorb the rub really well and would cook at the same time with the chicken. Seal foil and bake at 350 degrees. If you're like me who prefers falling-off-the-bone, very tender chicken, bake for at least 1 hour, sealed in foil, then open foil and bake 5 minutes more to brown skin. (Be warned: your kitchen will smell heavenly as the chicken bakes) I used spring chicken for this recipe. If you are using regular-sized chicken, baking time will be longer. My mom bakes her chicken for 2 hours! Clean up is a breeze, the foil protects the baking dish from the gunk that will otherwise accumulate from the chicken's juices.

Juan Tamad ain't got nothin' on me :-)

Easy crepes

My aunt Dody from New Jersey gave me a small crepe cookbook a few years back. My aunt Dody is also one of the greatest cooks in our family. I can still remember the sesame noodles that she made last time she was here in Manila.

The recipe for this ultra simple dessert crepe:

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used non-fat since that's what I have at home. Full cream milk will have a creamier batter)
1/2 cup flour
About 1 tbsp of melted butter
1/8 cup water
1 tablespoon of sugar (you can add more if you want it sweeter)

Shove everything in a blender. Refrigerate for batter for at least 2 hours before using. Be sure to mix the batter well before using some of the flour may have settled at the bottom. This batter can only be used within 24 hours.

To make the crepe, simply butter a non-stick pan over low heat, pour a small ladle of the crepe batter. Swirl until the bottom of the pan is coated. Flip when set. An off-set spatula works well for this task. Otherwise, flip like the fancy chefs do.

For filling, I used chopped mangoes and chocolate goo made from chocolate chips and some cream, microwaved for 15 seconds (any longer will burn the chocolates). Mix well to fully melt the chocolate . I also like to use condensed milk instead of the chocolate goo. Top your crepe with manticado (butter vanilla)ice cream by Arce Dairy. The manticado works really well with this crepe. If you prefer it sweeter, just sprinkle some powdered sugar on top. For a fancier and crunchier crepe, add chopped walnuts.

This recipe is so easy to do with just one drawback, there will be lots washing afterwards. Just think about how heavenly (and light?) this dessert is and everything will be worth it.

You can really have a lot of combinations with this recipe. Some of our favorites are bananas and condensed milk, stewed apples (same recipe with the dates in my earlier blog) with whipped cream and manticado ice cream, nutella and slivered almonds, strawberries with condensed milk and whipped cream. Yummy!

My husband's verdict was "Better than Cafe Breton's" Awww.... shucks!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Dates and nuts

I was in a baking mood today. I wanted to experiment on the dates that my husband so eagerly brought home the other day.

I decided to make a "crisp" out of it. Topped with strudel. Very simple. Even the most culinary challenged person could pull this off.

Ze prozedure:
1. Peel and cube the dates.
2. Mix dates with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and freshly grated nutmeg (you may use the powdered variety) over low heat until soft. You can put as much or as little of the ingredients as you like.
3. For the strudel topping: Use the liquid from the above, mix with more butter, flour, sugar and chopped walnuts.
4. Place the dates in buttered ramekins. Top with the clumps of strudel. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

Voila! Instant dessert.

This version is more tart than the traditional apple crisps. Don't put too much strudel though. It will over power the dates.

My lola's Fish Au Gratin

There are days that I miss my grandmother. Today is no exception. My lola Nena was a fantastic cook. Neither me or mom my can hold a candle against her. She can transform the most mundane ingredients into something that will make your palates sing.

One of her dishes that I love is her Fish au Gratin. I decided to hit the market this morning and try to re-create this fabulous dish. With the guidance of my mom, I bought the ingredients. I never thought that this dish was so easy to make!

This dish isn't very pretty but wait 'till you taste it.

Here's how:
1. Pan fry the lightly seasoned (with sea salt) and very fresh lapu-lapu fillets in butter. Do not brown.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the following ingredients: Evaporated milk, grated Quickmelt cheese, mozzarella, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, toasted cashews, 1 cubed carrot, 12 boiled quail eggs, water chestnuts (half a can) sliced in half, sea salt and pepper to taste.

3. Transfer the fillets to a baking dish, top with the milk mixture, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly . Roughly 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake a few more minutes to brown.

Easy as 1, 2, 3. The original recipe calls for just Quickmelt cheese. But what the hey, added calcium can't hurt, right?

As my kitchen is filled with the aroma of my childhood, I remember my lola...her cooking, her laughter and her gentle spirit. It almost felt like she was in the kitchen cooking with me.

Monday, February 5, 2007

My first date

My husband came home excitedly the other day. He said, "Love, I got you some dates!" Oohhkay... So I thought what's so special about the prune-like kinda champoy looking dried fruit? It turned out that hubby got some fresh ones from Rockwell for P250 a kilo. When I looked at them, they looked like liliputan granny smith apples. Those things are dates? Even the stems look like they came from an apple fruit. My husband assured me that they truly are dates because the fruit vendor said so.

The dates that I've seen and eaten are dark reddish brown in color, oval, and about 1.5 inches long, have wrinkled skin and coated with a sweet, sticky, waxy film. So the fresh one was a surprise both in looks and texture.

So my curiosity got the better of me. I tried one. When I sliced it. There was a small pit. So I sliced it the way you would a fresh peach. Score up to the pit and twist. The taste is a cross between a pear and a peach, a little sandy in texture. Mildly sweet. I liked it.

So, there... my first (fresh) date.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


Daniel Radcliffe. My guilty pleasure. With this racy photo, who can blame me? The photo cropping was too high for my taste, if 'ya know what I mean :)

I've begged and begged my husband to take me to London to see his play Equus. No luck yet. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Daniel is Harry Potter no more, eh? The boy wizard has grown up indeed. Yummy!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Exploring Indonesia, Part 4: Kid stuff

I'm a kid at heart. I remember growing up with just Fiesta Carnival and the old Manila Zoo as major entertainment. Whenever I get the change to travel, I always troop to the zoos and theme parks. To somehow make up for the things that were not available in my childhood.

In Jakarta, there are two such attractions that we visited Sea World and Galanggang Samudra . Both are located in the Ancol Dreamland complex. It's a mere 30-minute cab ride from Central Jakarta. Cab fare is approximately 60,000 Rupiah (P325) per way.

First stop was Sea World, Indonesia. Entrance fee is 60,000 Rupiah. Pretty affordable really. Sea World is a huge oceanarium that exhibits sea animals found in Indonesia and other parts of the world (the brochure says over 5,000 species, but who's counting?). You can enjoy the deep-sea view while strolling through an acrylic tunnel. The fascinating creatures live in some 500 million liters of seawater and are fed three times a day. The aquarium is the largest salt-water aquarium in Asia. The aquarium houses the mother of all sting-rays. It's bigger than a king-sized mattress! The barb on the sting-ray was removed to prevent it from accidentally stabbing its handlers. (um, Steve Irwin accident) Most of the fish in the aquarium are hand-fed by their handlers.

Other aquariums hold sharks, piranhas, sea horses, some exotic fishes from the amazon that look like supersized arowanas (some were like 20 feet long) and a host of other sea creatures each one unique and interesting.

A favorite for the kids (and for us too) is the Touch Pool. Kids can touch and feed the sea turtles and black tip sharks (small ones). Eric and I couldn't resist touching them.

Another crowd favorite is the Dugong. Dugongs are aquatic herbivores and feed on the sea grasses. Dugongs are hunted throughout Asia for meat, which has been likened to beef. They are also hunted for oil, hides for leather, and for their bones and teeth, which are made into ivory artifacts. The Chinese prize Dugong products for medicinal purposes. Dugongs are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of the U.S.A. Do not buy products made from Dugong. To quote a WWF ad, "If the buying stops, the killing can too". How true.

Right across Sea World is Gelanggang Samudra park. Eric and I got curious about this place and the kids seem to be flocking to this place right after exiting Sea World. So we decided to shell out 50,000 Rupiah each and explore. Man, we are so glad we chanced upon this place since it wasn't listed on the "places to see" list in our map nor was it in any website. The place boasts of a 4d theater, Sea Lion show, Dolphin show and a variety animal show (otters, bears and hippo). You and your kids will have a fun time here like we did. Just be prepared to rough it out with the food. There are no air-conditioned restaurants and only food kiosks are available. The food is cheap enough and delicious too. Food for two costs around 30,000 Rupiah (P163). They give huge servings and they only serve Indonesian food. You are allowed to bring your own food and drinks inside the park. If you don't want to look and feel like a sweltering pig, be sure to bring bottled water, small towel, an umbrella or a hat. It is an open area with very few sheltered areas and the sun was fierce that day. The attractions are spaced quite far from each other so there will be quite a bit of a walk. An involuntary exercise on my part and en excruciating feat for my hubby.

Should you decide to visit these places, I suggest to do it on your own. A packaged tour will set you back US$35 each without meals. It's really easy, just hop onto a cab and pay the minimal entrance fees. Cabs are queued outside the park, you will not have a hard time getting back to your hotel.