Klook (activities, SIM Cards, transportation, and more!)
One of my favorite apps when traveling is called Klook. This easy to use app is great, especially when traveling in Asia, though they do offer products and services around the world.(more…)
Korea. The Philippines. Festivals. Three of my favorite things. Taking a quick look at ‘Tastes Seoul Good‘ on YouTube will show just how much of my life revolves around these three things.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the ‘Feel the Phil‘ festival in Seoul, South Korea. This 3-day weekend was held Friday October 25 – Sunday October 27th in the Shinchon area. The festival featured various cultural events, as well as plenty of food and beverages. Most surprisingly – the food was FREE! I was pretty (pleasantly) surprised to see the Philippines Tourism Board offering such an event totally free of charge to the public!
#Feelthephil Festival was held to commemorate 70 years of the Korea-Philippines diplomatic relationship. Furthermore, the Philippines are a huge tourist destination for Koreans (even more these days as an increasing number of Koreans are actively avoiding traveling to nearby Japan). A recent trip to Boracay proved to me just how many Koreans are choosing to make the Philippines their travel destination of choice.
I attended the festival with Tasha (from Travelandtash on YouTube). Together, we set out to experience a variety of cultural events, sample Filipino foods, and enjoy some great San Miguel beer.
One of the great things was checking out start-ups from the Philippines that are hoping to make it big in the Korean market. We were able to meet and chat with various vendors as they explained their product.
I was personally really impressed with Pik-a-Pikel – a company from Quezon City. They are selling a variety of pickled fruits that are imported into Korea. I tried a variety of pickled guava and papaya. My personal favorite though was the spicy mango version. The mangos were crisp, fresh tasting, and a slight spicy aftertaste. This apparently goes quite well with Korean BBQ.
We then checked out a small booth selling pilinuts. Personally, I had never heard of a pilinut. I was told that it is a rare nut that grows in the Philippines. The fruit is washed, and the seed is dried. The nut was described to taste like a cross between an almond and macadamia nut.
Wrapsody and Y-Nut! Pili Nuts is selling a variety of flavors including honey and salt and pepper. I was a huge fan of the spicy flavor! I definitely bought a bag, and was surprised to see that they were being sold for only 5000 KRW.
The flavor of the nut was light and buttery. I would say it was like a softer macadamia. I later tried it with Korean BBQ and a bottle of soju – and it was a great match. Hopefully the product will launch in Korea in the future!
We were also greeted by a vendor cooking and serving banana cue. This is a saba banana that is dipped in boiling hot sugar. The banana is then skewered, and served hot. The result is a delicious sweet treat that hits the spot. The saba banana isn’t overly sweet, so it goes perfect with the caramelized sugar.
This is a popular street food in the Philippines, and one that I will definitely check out again!
One of the highlights of the festival was checking out the complimentary sisig offered by Hapunan – a Filipino restaurant in Seoul. While I am familiar with sisig – Tasha wasn’t aware of the ingredients.
Sisig can come in many different forms and variations. Today’s dish would consist of pork face meat, chicken liver, and (what I assume to be) mayonnaise. It was topped with chicharon and peppers.
The flavors were strong, and the consistency was creamy. For those not familiar, it might sound strange to try something made from pig face – but the result is an amazing dish full of flavor that you simply must try.
The sisig was served with fresh Shanghai Lumpia – a kind of spring roll. This is a dish I would gladly order up again! It also went especially well with an ice cold San Miguel beer!
One of the last things we ate – and perhaps the most popular at the festival- was lechon. Lechon is a whole roasted pig. The outside is cripsy while the inside is moist and juicy.
This dish is so good that Anthony Bourdain said it was the best pork he had ever eaten – and I might have to agree!
Unfortunately, at this festival, the lechon was served with a sweet Thai chili sauce, rather than spicy vinegar like I have eaten it in the Philippines. I thought the flavor of the sauce took away the flavor of the lechon.
Regardless, it was still pretty tasty, and something that I miss when I’m not in the Philippines.
There were also plenty of activities and photo-ops to be enjoyed at the festival.
The 3D photo zone was especially cool. Festival goers were able to pose in front of a backdrop of different cities in the Philippines, and then use a variety of props to make it look like they were actually there.
If that wasn’t enough – you could win free flight tickets by posting the photo on Instagram! I tried my best with this shot – as if I were in Boracay!
I thought the mermaid costume was especially fun! Pretty sure I deserved that free airline ticket – but, alas, no dice.
We were even able to make our own halo halo! The last time I had halo-halo was in a small shop in Boracay. I missed this shaved ice dessert! I was happy to be able to try it at the festival, even though I believe it was missing a few key ingredients!
Overall – I thought this festival was really well done. I visited on Saturday, and found it to not be too crowded. Perhaps it could have been marketed more?
I was also shocked to see so many things being offered for free (I may have had a few too many free San Miguels!).
However – one of the best parts was meeting so many people at the festival. As always, Filipinos were polite, kind, and welcoming. Being a YouTuber while traveling in the Philippines is a unique experience. Being able to do it at a Filipino festival in Korea is just as fun.
Overall – this was one of the best festivals I have been to in a long time. I had a great time, and I hope something like this will take place again in 2020!
Watch the entire experience here!
For me, one of the biggest joys when traveling is trying the local food. I mean, obviously. That’s why I started this blog, right?
However, as much as I love street food, night markets, and local hole in the wall restaurants, I also enjoy the occasional trip to the fast food restaurants.
Jollibee in the Philippines isn’t just a fast food joint. It’s a tradition. It’s a meeting point. It’s a place that brings up childhood memories. It’s got a cult following. Simply put, it’s a place that I had to check out when I was in the Philippines.
The Philippines is home to thousands of Jollibee restaurants. However, they can also be found in various places around the world (except in Korea. Hey, Jollibee – can we get a restaurant in Seoul, please? Thanks). For Filipino workers overseas, Jollibee is worth waiting in line for, as it is a little taste of home.
Jollibee is most well known for two things: its fried chicken (called Chickenjoy), and its spaghetti. When’s the last time you had spaghetti at a fast food restaurant?
For my first visit ever to Jollibee, I tried: chickenjoy (spicy, of course), Jolly spaghetti, palabok, french fries, the Amazing Aloha Yumburger,pineapple juice, as well as the halo halo twirl. In total, this massive feast of food cost 510 PHP (roughly $10 USD)
Since it was my first time, I wanted to try as much as I could. I’m glad I did, as there was a wide array of flavors. It is hard to say which of these was my favorite, as they were all so different. The burger was pretty amazing. The fried chicken was fantastic. It is meant to be dipped in the brown gravy, and it is…10/10 yummy!
Luckily for you, I have an in-depth review of this meal (I should tell you now that they were sold out of the Jolly hot dog, as well as the peach mango pie). Rather than see a bunch of words on a screen with a few photos, why not watch this video? Enjoy!
Well – this was an interesting video to shoot!
While on vacation in Boracay, Philippines, I decided to check out the local beer. Now, when I travel, one of the first things I research is the street food. But after I arrive, I want to try the local beer. South East Asia has some pretty tasty (and affordable) beers.
Luckily, the Philippines is home to quite a few beers. Furthermore, they are the #1 consumer of gin IN. THE. WORLD! Gin in the Philippines is dirt cheap (a large bottle can be found for 50 PHP, roughly $1 USD).
So on one rainy evening, I set off to the local Budget Mart in D-Mall in Boracay, and decided to try as many beers and liquors as I could. I didn’t realize just how many options there would be! I soon realized that I would not be able to sample all of the gins, as there were just too many!
I knew filming this taste test would mean getting a bit tipsy (DISCLAIMER – I urge you to please drink responsibly, and at your own risk.) So…I needed something to nibble on. I stopped by Jollibee for a bit of chickenjoy. If you’re not familiar, chickenjoy is the name of Jollibee’s (a large Filipino fast food chain) fried chicken. This would be my first time to try Jollibee’s chicken, and I was in for a real treat!
Once I arrived back in the hotel, the daunting task of reviewing these Filipino alcohols began. In total, I was to try four local beers, and three liquors (one gin, two rums).
I started with the beer. I tried San Miguel Apple, San Miguel Light, San Miguel Pilsen, and Red Horse. I would say my favorite was definitely San Miguel Pilsen. This beer is affordable, tasty, not too light, and comes in at 5% alcohol. As far as beers in South East Asia go, I would put San Miguel Pilsen toward the top as far as taste and value go.
Moving onto the liquor, I tried three different items: Ginebra S Miguel gin, Zabana rum, and Tanduay dark rum. All three of these were incredibly cheap, and quite strong. I found that on their own, they are pretty bad. However, by mixing them with lime and/or pineapple juice, they’re not bad. The rums, in particular, had a nice flavor. Tanduay recommends mixing rum with lime juice and sugar. I can see how this would be a great Filipino cocktail.
To see my entire review of Filipino beer and liquor, be sure to check out my YouTube video!
People travel for different reasons. Personally, I travel for food! Sure, great beaches, cheap beer, and nice climates are great – but I allow my stomach to decide where I go to.
So when I recently found myself in Kalibo in the Philippines, I knew I simply had to try tamilok. Tamilok, also called a woodworm or a shipworm, live in dead trees in the mangroves.
There are a few places in the Philippines where you can harvest tamilok, and then eat them. One of the places just happened to be at the Bakhawan Ecopark in Kalibo.
After taking a quick tricycle ride from my hotel (Cess Summer Boutique Hotel) to the Bakhawan Eco-Park, I was greeted by a lovely staff member. I paid the entrance fee of 120 PHP, and then set off to enjoy the park.
The park is one of SouthEast Asia’s largest restored mangrove areas. Visitors can enjoy a 1 KM walk through the mangroves. At the end, they’ll be met with a lovely view of the sea. The walk is peaceful, and not too difficult.
The highlight though was the tamilok. What is tamilok? Well, believe it or not – it’s not actually a worm at all. While it is called a woodworm or ship worm, it’s actually a mollusk – similar to a clam or an oyster.
To see the harvesting of the tamilok, you’ll need to pay 300 PHP. A piece of wood is presented, and a worker starts to harvest the tamilok by chopping at the wood with a large axe.
After the tamilok are harvested, they are cleaned. The ‘mouth’ and intestines are removed, and they are rinsed several times. Salt and vinegar are added to the creatures, and then they are eaten raw.
I was a bit hesitant, but decided to try it out. The taste? Surprisingly – not bad! They were a bit chewy, and tasted like an oyster. More than anything, it tasted like the vinegar they were marinating in.
Overall, it was a really fun experience. I would recommend stopping by Kalibo the next time you are in the area, and visiting Bakhawan Eco Park. Definitely try the tamilok. It’s an experience you won’t forget!
Recently, I was in Boracay, Philippines for a little vacation. I was able to try a lot of great foods. However, one evening I decided it was time to try a local dessert. The one that I kept being recommended was called ‘HALO HALO’… So I set off to experience my very first Filipino halo halo!
Halo halo is a unique dessert. To put it simply, it is shaved ice with a variety of toppings. This is nothing new. Koreans eat ‘bingsu’. Americans eat snow cones. Shaved ice isn’t revolutionary.
What sets halo halo apart is the sheer amount of ingredients. Each place serves it a little differently, so no two halo halos will ever be the same. My halo halo included shaved ice, vanilla ice cream, red beans, CORN, corn flakes, ube paste, coconut, and a variety of different cubes with a jelly-like texture.
While the recipe for halo halo might change, it seems that the shaved ice, condensed milk, red beans, and ube are staples.
The key to eating halo halo is in the name. It literally translates to ‘mix, mix’. While the tower of ingredients might look pretty, you’ll want to take the time to mix everything up and eat all the ingredients together.
I found that the more ingredients I had in each bite, the better the dessert tasted. Each ingredient seemed to play a role. The ice cream and condensed milk gave sweetness. The jellies added texture. The cornflakes gave a bit of crunch. The corn added a bit of saltiness. Everything combined to make a symphony of deliciousness in my mouth.
Overall, halo halo is a great dessert. It is very sweet, though. So I believe these might be good for sharing. The price is quite affordable, though some upscale places to sell luxury versions of the dessert.
No trip to the Philippines would be complete without trying halo halo!
Have you tried halo halo? Tell me in the comments below!
See below for our Kalibo Public Market vlog!
The Philippines has over 7000 islands. While I wish I had the time to explore each of those islands, I just don’t. However, I recently had the chance to head to the city of Kalibo, located on the Aklan province.
Kalibo is a small town, most well known for its airport. The Kalibo International Airport serves as one of two major hubs to the tropical island of Boracay. Many visitors fly into Kalibo, and then jet off on the two hour ride to Boracay.
During this trip, I decided to stay in Kalibo and explore a bit. And I am glad I did!
The hotel I stayed at, Cess Summer Boutique Hotel, was great! Not only was it affordable, it was very close to the airport (5 minutes), and was walkable to the market, as well as other places for shopping and eating. The hotel had fast Wi-Fi, was clean, and had a great breakfast! I would definitely stay there again when I am in Kalibo!
Transportation and SIM cards were easy to set up. I had booked both (as well as my transfer to Boracay) using an app called ‘Klook’. This made things super simple, and was cheaper than booking on-site. Klook is one of the apps I always use when traveling. Save $5 on your first activity by using this link!
One of the highlights of Kalibo was the Kalibo Public Market. This large local market is home to a variety of meat, produce, and food vendors. There were plenty of street food vendors as well.
The people were lovely. I had a great time walking through the market and chatting with people who were happy to see a foreigner visiting their local market.
On Sundays, this market is even bigger as it is surrounded by people selling clothing and other small items, similar to a flea market. It is open until 12 noon. However, I wasn’t very interested in that section, as there was nothing that I would purchase there.
As I was walking around, I was able to to try all kinds of local foods, including lumpia, fresh mango, pandan juice, and more. Everything was quite affordable, and delicious! Even though this is a public market, things seemed to be very clean and hygenic.
I especially enjoyed the ‘nuggets’ that were being sold outside the market. These were small pieces of chicken that were deep fried. I dipped the skewered chicken nuggets into a spicy vinegar sauce. They were delicious!
Overall, it was a great day. I could have spent all day walking around and trying different foods.
I would highly recommend checking the Kalibo Public Market out, if you’re in the area!
Be sure to see my entire experience in the vlog!