Inflight Activities for Kids

I think that anybody who needs to be inside a plane for a long time will get bored. If adults, who relatively have longer attention span and a supposedly better EQ, get restless during a long haul inside an airplane, what more kids who have all the energy in the world?

If you do not address their needs for action during a long flight, you will suffer the consequences. So make sure that you board your flight prepared with fun activities and materials that your kids will love. And don’t forget to bring their literal security blanket (in the form of their favorite blankie and/or stuffed toy). Here are some tips:

  • Let them bring their own little bag. They should be the ones to decide which stuff they would like to bring for the long flight. Your kid might just want to read a book, so let her be.
  • But prepare a couple of activities that you can do together. This is hitting two birds with one stone – your kid gets to have fun, and you get to have fun too.
  • A deck of card does the trick. While you do not have to teach them poker (yet), there are a lot of kid-friendly card games that you can play with them, such as Crazy 8 and Pares Pares. Skip the 1,2,3 Pass game, since it can be noisy.
  • A good board game. If you have two or more kids, then a great board game will make two hours fly by easily. But skip Snakes and Ladders and stick to newer more exciting ones, like Taboo and Cranium, although playing these games can get a bit loud. Whether you’re flying in an economy Seair flight or in a business class Cathay Pacific airbus, the rule stands – respect other people and keep your voices low.
  • Cross your fingers and hope for a good movie list in the plane. International flights usually have wide movie selections that include romantic films, actions movies, and cartoons for kids. Hopefully your kids have not seen the movies in the selection, or that they are their favorites.
  • Create a contest. Have them draw your face, and ask your spouse to vote for the one that resembles you the most. Don’t forget to give a prize to the winner, and make sure that all kids get to “win”, so you won’t have any problems with jealousy and sibling rivalry.
  • Make them as comfortable as possible. In addition to their favorite toy or blanket, you can also have them sit in your car seat propped on the airplane seat. This can lessen their feeing of restlessness, since the car seat feels more familiar and significantly more comfortable than the large seat inside the plane.

Weirdest Food in the Philippines

If you think that your mustard and ketchup concoction is weird, wait till you hear about these dishes that are only found in the Philippines.

  • Balut. Ah, the iconic world famous fertilized chick inside the egg. It looks disgusting, close to being inhumane actually, because you’d east something that looks like in the middle of preparing for its birth. But don’t worry about the taste; it really is delicious. However if texture is a big deal to you, I’d say skip it. It has slime, gum and roughness all in a bite.

  • Sisig. Filipinos find use for every part of the pig. So the prime parts go the grocery and to the restaurants, while the other parts are bought by the creative minds who are limited by budget. Et voila! You have sisig – a sizzling dish that looks and smells appetizing, is very delicious, but will turn you off once you know which part of the pig it is: the head.

  • Crispy pata. Speaking of using all parts, pata is the leg of the pig. It is chopped of as a huge chunk, and dip fried in high fire to make it crispy. The result? A hit among beer drinkers, family reunions and Christmas parties. Make sure you eat it with spicy soy sauce mixed with calamansi. And pass the steamed rice please.

  • Isaw. It’s not pronounced as iSaw, like an Apple product, but as ee-saw, with a short “a” and pronounced “w”. Interesting name, and an even more interesting dish – intestines washed and grilled, slathered with sweet and salty sauce. Also great with spicy vinegar, and will cost you only about P5 per stick.

  • Dinuguan. Have you ever thought about the taste of Bella Swan’s blood? Well, just order dinuguan in a Filipino restaurant and you’d have an idea, or at least, a feeling of being part of the Cullen clan. Dinuguan is made of chicken’s blood and some meat. And if you think you won’t be able to stomach eating blood red sauce, imagine eating a black sauce that is in actuality, blood. Filipinos are brave that way.

  • Pinikpikang manok. This is as exotic as it can get. A manner of cooking that traces its roots to the indigenous tribes in the country, pinikpikan is a brutal yet effective way of making sure that the chicken tastes good. How? It is beaten to death so that the blood of the chicken travels near the surface as it tenderizes. Then, the dead body is rid of feathers and is then burned to cook.

So whether you’re traveling to the Philippines via Air Asia, or you’re a Filipino touring the country, trying out the food mentioned above is a must. That should make your trip more authentic. Plus, bragging rights!

Travel Magazines to Check out

Aside from Facebook and the rest of the interwebs, where else do you look when you want some travel inspiration and information? I suggest magazines.

I love magazines, and you would too. There’s nothing like flipping the pages of a thick magazine filled with photos, trivia and tips; it’s like going through a trip yourself. The Internet simply cannot give that feeling of anticipation.

Also, magazines are well researched, super edited and excellently laid out for you. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t pay for them would you? So you pay for something and you really get what you pay for. With the Internet, you don’t pay so you also do not expect much.

I’m not saying that you wouldn’t find helpful information in the Internet, because you can. But reading a magazine gives a unique feeling that excites the traveler in you and makes you want to book a flight even if you’re only halfway through it.

Here are some international and local publications to check out:

International Titles

The reason why I was addicted to travel.

  • National Geographic. I remember flipping through the pages of National Geographic when I was a kid. The photos were superb, the information very well presented. (My eight-year old self could understand the text easily.) Even if you get back issues, the effect would still be the same – you’d ask yourself why you still haven’t made new travel plans.

  • National Geographic Traveler. While National Geographic presents places and the culture in them, there isn’t much information you can use for travel planning. Enter National Geographic Travel, the magazine that is as rich as the NatGeo magazine in terms of photos, culture and facts, but is also robust with travel tips and helpful information. Great for backpackers, the magazine packs loads of tips and insights you can use for that DIY trip to the exotic country you’ve been eyeing.

  • Travel and Leisure. Hailed as the world’s best magazine for travel, Travel and Leisure give a glimpse of the high life traveling. Whether you plan on taking the expensive route on your next travel or you just like some inspiration for your someday dreams, Travel and Leisure is definitely worth picking up.

Local Titles

  • Travelife. Travel plus lifestyle equals Travelife magazine. Like the international publication Travel and Leisure, Travelife delves into luxurious escapes that you can take abroad and also in the Philippines. The magazine also features business personalities such as ambassador and CEOs, and their philosophies in traveling. Yes, they have philosophies in traveling. Get inspired, get your copy now.

  • Juan Philippines. If you want straight to the point articles about the must-see places in the Philippines, check out Juan Philippines. It features destinations in each episode, with an extensive guide on what to do, where to eat and what to see.

  • Asian Traveler. A Philippine-based travel magazine that features destinations around the world, Asian Traveler gives a more relatable perspective since the contributors is fellow Filipinos. For instance, you’d most likely agree with their food reviews, since the writers have the same taste as you do.

Of course almost all airlines have inflight magazines, such as Cathay Pacific’s Discovery and Cebu Pacific’s Smile. But you won’t be able to read them unless you board their plane right? And you won’t board that plane unless you get inspired to travel, right? So yeah, get a travel magazine and get inspired today!

Breaking the Language Barrier during Travels

Master the art of communication

We Filipinos are very fortunate to know how to speak English. It is the most widely used language, and so we find it easy to converse with any other citizen of the world who knows how to speak it. For instance, if you book a cheap flight to Singapore, you don’t have to worry about being lost in translation, for everybody knows a word or two, or at least the most important ones.

However, there are countries where English isn’t spoken. Unless you don’t communicate with locals during your travels, and this is impossibility, you need to learn how to converse with somebody who doesn’t speak your language. Impossible? Impossible is nothing. Here are some things you can do.

  • Speak in English. It is likely that the local you’re talking to knows one or two English words. Try this first and if it doesn’t work, try the next tip.
  • Use signs and gestures. Time to unleash the theatre actor in you. Use hand gestures to make your message clearer.
  • Bring pictures of the places you want to go to. Simply pointing to the picture will immediately send the message that you want to know how to get there.
  • Ready a pen and paper (or an iPad app that lets you jot down notes). This is so that you can easily write the name of the place you want to get to. You can also have the local sketch the directions for you!
  • No need to speak louder. This is a very common (and funny) mistake! The person you’re talking to simply does not know your language, he’s not deaf. The best you can do is to speak slowly, but not louder.
  • Don’t be shy. You won’t get anywhere if you just clam up and try to figure out everything by yourself. Locals are more than willing to help out.
  • But be humble. Don’t act like the people where you are owe you something. Realize your position in the country you’re visiting, and don’t act entitled. You might end up in a remote island that is nowhere near beautiful.
  • Prepare for your travel. If you know that you’re visiting a non English-speaking, then get directions to all the places you’ll go to before your plane takes off. That’ll save you (and the local that you didn’t bug) time.
  • Learn a bit of the language. Important phrases like “Toire wa dokoda” for “Where is the bathroom?” if you are in Japan, and “combien est se” for “How much is this?” in French.

A Guide to the Metro Manila Weekend Market Scene

To whoever created the idea of a weekend market, thank you very much. We owe much of our weekend to you. Organic markets, artisan food markets, and everything in between – these are the treats that we all wait for at the end of our long week in the office. Where to find these treats? And which kinds of treats to try? Here’s our guide:

Salcedo Market. The one that set the bar high for weekend markets, Salcedo Market is your homey weekend stroll-slash-shopping destination, perfect for family bonding and your much needed pantry replenishment. There’s a playground and park nearby, so you can shop in peace while your kids have the time of their lives. The best thing about Salcedo is that you can enjoy authentic international cuisine without having to buy airline tickets to places around the world!

Time: Saturdays, 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Location: LP Leviste St. Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Must-trys: Kashmir for Middle Eastern food, Taqueria Mia for some authentic Mexican burritos and quesadillas

Mercato Centrale. Mercato Centrale, the brainchild of Internet celebrities RJ Ledesma and Anton Diaz, boasts of a more gourmet-ish experience than any other weekend market. It is conducive for a weekend lunch, as well as shopping for the a whole week of healthy food.

Time: Saturdays and Sundays, 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Location: Corner of 30th Street and 9th avenue (in front of The Spa at Bonifacio High Street), Bonifacio Global City
Must-trys: Chuck’s Grubberie’s beer-battered fish and chips, and Mochiko’s ice cream-filled mochi balls

Il Mercanti. With a crowd composed mostly of young professionals who just got off from work or are having their call center lunch break at night, Il Mercanti has all the makings of a place where you can have as much comfort food as you want.

Time: Thursdays to Saturdays, 7:00 PM to 4:00 AM

Location: Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City

Must-trys: Amburger’s Juicy Lucy with Bacon Mushroom Melt

Sidcor Market. If you want the traditional palengke but with a more extensive more organic selection, then Sidcor Market was made for you. Not only can you buy fresh produce, but you can also find handicrafts perfect for your living room or as gifts. Prepare to spend money because Sidcor is huge and teeming with great finds.

Time: Sundays, 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Location: Eton Centris, EDSA cor Quezon Avenue

Must-trys: Mary’s Kitchen chicken galantina and fish fillet pesto

Banchetto. Before there was Il Mercanti, there was Banchetto. This used to be the most happening place around the Ortigas area, with loads of food stands that range from meals to pastries to drinks. Employees celebrating Friday night would flock to where Banchetto sets up (it used to rove around the Ortigas area), and the area was always full of people. But today, only a few stalls remain and even fewer people who come for food and refreshments. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of must-try goodness in Banchetto.

Time: Fridays, 5:00 PM to 4:00 AM

Location: Meralco Avenue, between Renaissance Towers and the Department of Education, Pasig City

Must-trys: Med Chef’s pastries, and authentic Ilocos empanada from Glomy’s

A Historical Trip in Cambodia

Aside from the Angkor Wat Temple, what other historical sites do you know in Cambodia? It pays to know which places to check out to get to know the rich history of the country. You want your trip to be educational as much as it is fun, although a huge part of Cambodia’s history is rather brutally sad. Nevertheless, taking a historical tour in Cambodia is surely quite an experience. To maximize your Tiger Airways/Cebu Pacific/Malaysia Airlines flight to this historic country, here are some suggested stops in the different provinces of Cambodia.

Choeng Ek Killing Fields

A memorial for those who perished in the dark Khmer days.

From the name of this site, you’d easily figure out that it has a dark contribution to the country’s history. A former orchard, the fields served as the site for mass genocides carried out by the communist government of Pol Pot. You can see around 8,000 skulls displayed behind glass. These skulls belong to 8,000 out of the 17,000 people who were killed in the Fields.

Preah Vihear Temple

A temple atop a mountain

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Preah Vihear Temple is Cambodia and Thailand’s Scarborough Shoal. Like how the Philippines and China are battling for the Shoal, both Thailand and Cambodia are claiming the temple as their own. Although it is on Cambodian territory, it is easily accessible from Thailand, hence the contention. It is also set atop of a mountain, making it even more of a hassle to visit. This is why the younger Angkor Wat temple is more popular.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

We remember.

A former high school building turned into prison by the Pol Pot led group called Khmer Rouge, which was turned into a museum after all the killings that occurred there. Like the Choeng Ek Killing Fields, the Touol Sleng Genocide Museum used to be a place where a lot of people met their end. While it is supposed to only be a prison, a lot of people didn’t have to be brought to the Killing Fields. Torture, starvation and other diseases would get them. In the museum, visitors can see the prison as it was before – torture tools and all.

Angkor Wat Temple

Captivating throughout the years.

No trip to Cambodia is complete without visiting this famed temple. But did you know that its history is more than just being the site where Angelina Jolie shot the movie Tomb Raider? Built in 1125 and estimated to have been constructed for around 30 years, the Temple stands as the icon of the whole country, reflective of its main religion Hinduism and of the influential people who were passionate about their faith in it.

What to Bring Home from a Trip to Thailand

Catfish salad and a good pad thai noodle dish straight from Bangkok. However, eating the best Thai food is an experience meant to be enjoyed in Thailand, not as pasalubong. For one, you might get cold and soggy pad thai and yucky catfish salad if you try to ship them to the Philippines. Also, you might even be allowed to take them inside the plane, whether you’re flying via Cathay Pacific or via Cebu Pacific.

So choose non-perishables instead – items which are really meant for you to bring home to your friends and family. It’s a guarantee you’d enjoy shopping in this country, as items and even services are relatively cheaper than in the Philippines.

Just take note that most items are a bit mommy-ish, so get creative in choosing the pasalubong items that your dad or your kid brother would like. When all else fails, there are keychains and shirts all around the country.

  • Thai Silk. Hand wash only, with lukewarm water, non-acidic detergent, and no wringing please. Thai silk is best given to your fashionista girlfriend who knows that it is a big deal to follow all care instructions in each piece of clothing that she wears.

Thai silk for that friend in the office

  • Ready to wear clothes. A lot of online sellers get their supplies from Bangkok because of the cheap prices and the huge selection of designs and makes. For P1,000, you can buy more than ten pieces of clothes. Even the cheapest brand in the mall can’t beat that!

Cheap thrills

  • Handicrafts. For your workmates, take home things that reflect the Thai culture, such as miniature Thai dancers in special garb, and incense boxes. They might not find so much good use for them, but these are the things that scream “Thailand”. And hey, at least you got them something!

Truly Thai.

  • Ceramics. These are for your mom who loves to collect dinnerware and display them in glass cabinets in your kitchen. You might never experience eating off the beautiful Thai plates and teacups, but the point is that you made your mom happy for a low-priced dinner set.

For mom

  • Furniture. Don’t come home without anything for your dad who loves to collect souvenir items big and small. Although you will most likely have to pay for excess baggage, your dad’s faint smile will make it all worth it. Buy from One Tambon One Product in Bangkok to make sure that you get the genuine article, the high quality item fit for the king in your life – Daddy.

Passed Dad’s love for all things intricate.