Leather tote project update

Almost two weeks after buying the tools and materials for my leathercraft project, here is how it looks now:

Halfway done with my project

Halfway done with my project: (clockwise) front of the bag, back of the bag with two D-rings and a triangle one, front top handle, back top handle

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Xin Nian Kuai Le! New Year’s Eve in Binondo!

We have never been to Binondo on a Chinese New Year’s Eve and we have dedicated an afternoon to visit the place today. The familiar sight and sound (and even smell) of Chinatown exploded exponentially more than the usual, and it was brimming with red and gold everywhere. I felt bad for the people driving because it was really difficult to move around, with the number of people walking and doing their shopping, as well as lion and dragon dances performed in every street, at virtually every ten minutes.

Lion dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013
Enjoying the dragon dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013

We were shocked of the unannounced firecrackers - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Dragon dance in the streets of Binondo - Chinese New Year 2013

When we reached the Ongpin North Bridge, we were already drenched with sweat and firecracker smoke, but it was really an awesome experience  that I did not mind. I was already wearing a white polo shirt with my red shorts, but decided last minuted before leaving the house to change to a more comfortable shirt. It was a good call because I could have looked more haggard.

Mon in front of the Ongpin North Bridge - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013
And I was wearing my red shorts - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

We’ve been itching to get our hands on the merchandise being sold, but we decided that it was better to buy them after eating our early dinner. I saw a row of stalls selling beaded bracelets, so I had a mental note to buy something later.

Bustling street  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Red Chinese lantern  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Reaching Waiying Fastfood was easier compared to the wait we did just to be seated. We originally waited on the first floor but Mon went upstairs and was able to get on the waiting list as the fourth person. We arrived at around 5:15 PM and it was already jampacked. When we got our table 15 minutes later, more people came in and it was mayhem. At 6:00 PM, there were people already queueing by the stairs and they get a bit snarky whenever a bunch of people came in and just seat themselves without any regard to the waiting line. It was vicious. LOL

Waiying Fastfood  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Jampacked Waiying  - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

We ordered a mix of dishes we have not yet tried, as well as others we have always loved. Since I started eating here in Waiying with some of my friends (Johann introduced this place to me) back in 2002, I fell in love with the steamed tofu but have never changed my order of either lemon or soy chicken. But since it was Chinese New Year, I decided to try the roasted duck. I don’t have a refined palate and I can’t tell the difference between it and a roasted chicken. However, I noticed that I kept on chewing on bones and had to spit a lot every after bite. Mon, on the other hand, ordered lemon chicken and it was amazing as ever.

Roasted duck  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013Lemon chicken  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Steamed tofu  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Chicken noodles  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Vegetable dumpling  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Two glasses of yummy milk tea  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

A bunch of buchi  - Waiying, Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

They barely changed their prices as well. I can’t remember their listed prices when we were last here, but they were very reasonable as you can see from their detailed menu below:

Waiying's complete menu and price list -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Waiying's complete menu and price list 2 -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Night fell and Binondo just exploded more with lights and color. The prices of some of the things sold were lessened as well, maybe because it was already night time and the New Year was barely four hours from that time.

Night fell and the number of people just increased -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Leaving the Ongpin North Gate at night - Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

We have entered some of the stores selling figurines and lucky charms, and Mon tried to haggle on golden snakes and bracelets. In one of the stores, we were able to buy three bracelets. Two of the same kind for both Mon and I, and another one for my mother.

Lots of golden snake figurines -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

This is an adorable maneki neko  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Lucky charm bracelets' meanings  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Another Chinese lantern  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Solar-powered maneki neko  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Lucky coins decoration  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Of course, a trip to Manila’s Chinatown won’t be complete without buying soem tikoy, a glutinous rice food traditionally eaten, even by non-Chinese Filipinos during the Chinese New Year. My mother won’t forgive me for returning home without buying some tikoy, so Mon and I just bought two boxes for both of our moms. We hoped to buy from Eng Bee Tin or Salazar’s but the line on both stores were nauseatingly long that I did not mind buying from another store.

Tikoy prices at Baker's Fair  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013

Baker's Fair in Binondo  -  Chinese New Year 2013

We left Binondo at around 8:00 PM, because we have a 9:00 PM movie to catch in Gateway Mall (the Andres Muschietti-directed horror movie ‘Mama’, starring Jessica Chastain). When we first arrived in LRT2 Recto station, there were long lines stretching out to the street of people waiting to have their things inspected before entering the premises. We thought that it would be better to return back to Cubao, given the number of people taking the train.

Mon and the crowded street of Binondo at night  -  Chinese New Year 2013

When we got home, we immediately gave our loot from our Binondo trip to my mother. She was particularly happy with the red garnet one with a money pot (red garnet for divine energy; money pot for, well, money). On the other hand, Mon and I got identical bracelets of citrine and a gourd ornament (citrine for business and career; gourd for health). To be perfectly honest, I don’t  put too much importance to lucky charms or luck in general. I have long since accepted that I will never be a recipient of the luck of a draw, but the beaded bracelets look good so I’m fine with them anyway.

And we got the citrine, red garnet, gourd and money pot  -  Binondo, Chinese New Year 2013 A bunch of beaded bracelets - Chinese New Year 2013

So, the year of the Water Snake offficially starts in a few minutes, huh? I might not particularly love snakes, given my great fear of them, but I hope the year ahead will bring me a good career, a thriving business and an excellent health (pretty much what the bracelet in the middle stands for). LOL

XIN NIAN KUAI LE! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Day at the museum – the Mind Museum!

The Mind Museum at Taguig

It was Mon and I’s 4th year and 3rd month and we took the opportunity to go out with my family and visit the Mind Museum at Taguig. As we only have four gift cards from the raffle before, we purchased two more tickets online because apparently, Brie was over 2 feet. JB was extra excited because he hasn’t stopped asking me about this visit for a month or so. He just had his First Communion a few hours earlier and he only took off his white long sleeves and did not bother changing at all.

About to enter the Mind Museum

Family picture with the robot Aedi by the lobby

Black Chocoolate red flannel shirt, khaki shorts, salmon pink Jack Purcell sneakers, Burberry leather messenger bag 2

By the reception, we presented our ticket print-out and we were given wristbands with “All-Day pass” written on it. First impression was the place wasn’t as big as I expected, but not saying that it was small. But as the kids were already sprinting towards every exhibit they could get their little hands onto, I had no other choice but to chase after them. It was a hands-on museum, but caution must be exercised because some of the exhibits were not to be touched nor manipulated.

Brie sitting by the giant periodic table - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The giant brain - The Mind Museum at Taguig

And of course, an iconic device of science in action was the Van de Graaff generator. I did not touch the equipment, though, because I have short hair and the visuals would be much better on people with longer hair. So my sister went on to touch the generator and her hair literally raised right after it was turned on. We were wondering, though. Some of the people (women to be exact) who tried the device had almost non-reactive hair, to the point where it took a good 30-seconds before their hair started raising. But we have also noticed that they have treated hair, relaxed mostly, and maybe that was the reason why they had little reaction. LOL

My sister trying out the Van de Graaff generator - The Mind Museum at Taguig

I was just watching the other day on YouTube a documentary describing the time when both the Homo erectus and Homo sapiens sapiens lived on Earth at the same time, and how the skills of the latter had helped them, I mean US, to become the dominant species. The exhibit in the museum was impressive and so life-like that the lady looking at her child by the ground gave me the creeps. Hello Uncanny Valley!

Evolution of Man - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Uncanny valley kicking in, this lady looked so life-like  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

I was also very excited to visit the Geology section because I’m also such a sucker for anything tectonic-related. They have interesting earthquake-magnitude simulators, fossils of trilobites, ginkgo biloba, ants trapped inside an amber and of course, the hard-to-miss Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

The Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton The Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

Close up of the Tyrannosaurus rex skull - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Ants trapped inside an amber - very Jurassic park  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

And lastly, I was so excited to go to the Universe section of the museum because I obviously love astronomy. The star-strewn section had a lot of exhibits that the kids can manipulate, and they even had a replica of the Mars Pathfinder next to the phases of the Moon model and the astronaut. They also present a 30-minute show in a planetarium dome next to the life-cycle of a star exhibit. I can’t remember watching anything like it before and I was heavily anticipating it. While we were on queue, we we alongside this group of very uncivilized high school students who kept on letting some of their friends fall in line with them. As the dome can only accommodate 40 people, we had to shut them and give them the stink eye so as to make them stop. It momentarily worked because once we were inside watching the show, we can’t believe how unruly they were that they began hitting each other with their cushions. O_O It was extremely appalling and these people had no place inside the museum. Yuck.

The Universe section  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

My sister and her kids with this astronaut -  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

JB and Mon trying out the solar system model - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Mama below the life cycle of a star exhibit - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Anyway, the projection of the film was horrible. First, as they are using fish-eye projection, they should have put the projector in the middle in order to maximize the dome-shaped ceiling. Second, I think the projection might be probably good early in the morning because they did not bother adjusting the focus of the lens that you can barely see the supposedly amazing details of the heavenly bodies. Personally, I had high hopes and it was such a waste of time.

It was actually tiring to walk around and chase after the kids and by a few minutes after 3:00 PM, we decided to eat by the Jollibee inside the Mind Musuem complex. I still haven’t drunk coffee for the day and we ordered two cups for both Mon and I, because apparently, they refused to brew just for a single cup. But it was disappointing as well because it had no coffee taste whatsoever and I suspect that they did not bother using new ground coffee and utilized the ones used for serving breakfast earlier that day. Boo Jollibee!

Waiting for our food in Jollibee - The Mind Museum at Taguig

It was a quick snack because JB and Brie were both itching to go to the Science-in-the-Park, the playground next to Jollibee. If I were a kid, I’d go mad with the cool stuff they had in it. They have acoustic-based playthings, as well as the bubble makers and a group of animal heads with viewfinders simulating their vision. I didn’t even know that the King Cobra was colorblind as well, which was ironic because I have a great fear of snakes. We share something together.

Science in the Park  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Giant bubble maker  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The king cobra-vision simulator - The Mind Museum at Taguig

About to go down the slide - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Mother, daughter and grandmother  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

After eating and playing, we headed straight back to the second level of the museum to look at what was in store for us. The things there were more technology and innovation-based, chronicling achievement of men in terms of transportation, optics, space technology as well as languages.

Our only complete group shot - thanks to the 10-second timer  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

A model of the International Space Station, which JB recognized right away - The Mind Museum at Taguig

A model of the Hubble Space Telescope - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Looking at Uranus LOL - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Of course, a mandatory photo with something French - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The ripple machine wasn't actually working - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Trying out the printing press  - The Mind Museum at Taguig
And for our last stop, we went to two 3D showing: “Ang Simula” and “Birthplace” A Natural History of the Earth“. Of course we had to fall in line again for the latter and we had poor seats compare to the one we had for the former. “Ang Simula” was directed by Chito S. Roño and chronicles the geological history of the Philippines. I was actually quite ashamed of myself because I have already watched loads of documentaries on geology but not one of them has discussed the Philippines’ origin. It was only there that I knew that the island of Palawan was once part of the Eurasian plate as a product of the continental draft. This show had a narration while “Birthplace” had none. “Birthplace” began with a depiction of the birth of Earth, followed by the formation of the first amino acids comprising the primordial soup of life. Then the stunning visualization of how the single-celled organisms evolved into multicellular to more complex ones. Each of the shows run for about 15-minutes.
Ang Simula - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Birthplace - A Natural History of the Earth - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Waiting for the 3D show to start - The Mind Museum at Taguig
After the 3D show - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Granted that I did not have time to actually tinker with each one of the exhibits with the curiosity of a little kid but as my nephew and niece already had a great time, I was fine with it. I initially thought that the Bio-Rhythm exhibit was also available for us to see but turned out that we have to pay about Php 200 more for that.

About to leave the Mind Museum - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Christmas Lunch with the team at Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino

Wonderful Wednesday and it was a perfect day for a lunch with the team. Technically, they are not my team but since I spend most of my work time with them, it did not even matter. As we were not familiar with the area, Mon and I even printed a map of the Fort area just to make sure we won’t get lost. We were already running late but fortunately, the roads were not that congested and we arrived in the venue in just about 15 minutes. The first thing I’ve noticed was this giant cutout of two chefs by the door. It was then I realized that Laudico was actually Chef Lau from the Pinoy Masterchef on TV. As I usually watch the show every morning because I wake up at around 10:00 AM, I suddenly remembered that he was extra critical of Filipino dishes prepared by the contestants. Now it made full sense.

A very prominent picture of Chef Laudico in the menu

The leather-bound menu of Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

The 4-course set was actually very good and its price - Ched Laudico's Bistro Fiipino

We were the last person to arrive and everybody we’re already eating their pica-picas or appetizers, so we also immediately ordered ours. It was actually a 4-course set and I was a bit taken aback by the serving size of the appetizer but maybe I was not really used to eating course meals. LOL

Pica-pica -Sisig Basket, Lumpia Cone and Wagyu Salpicao - Chef Laudico's Bistro FilipinoNext was the soup and we ordered this Molo Binakol. It tastes almost like the traditional tinola, with the siling labuyo leaves and all.

Molo Binakol - Chef Laudico's Bistro FilipinoAnd the part I was waiting for, the Main Course. I tried this Crispy Tilapia Cocoloco and it has the most amazing tomato curry sauce on it. It was so lovely that I did not even eat the breaded fish and just went straight away to the curry and rice.

Crispy Tilapia Cocoloco with Tomato Curry Sauce - Chef Laudico's Bistro FilipinoMy teammates ordered other dishes as well:

Adobo Trilogy - Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

Kare-Kare - Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

But expectedly, the part where Mon was most excited of was the desserts! Similar to the the pica-pica, we were to choose three out of the list. We chose Sans Rival Moderne, Yema Bicho-Bicho and Tsokolate Oh! They also have Halo-Halo sherbet served on little shot glasses.

Sans Rival Moderne, Yema Bicho-Bicho and Tsokolate Oh - Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

Yema Bicho-Bicho - Chef Laudico's Bistro FilipinoHalo-halo sherbet - Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

While eating, we also proceeded with our little exchange gift and I got a coffee maker! ^_^ Thank you so much Rev for giving me that lovely gift! We were also planning a day in Enchanted Kingdom this January and hopefully we will push through with it because it has been years since Mon and I went there.

Photo with the whole team

With Ayen

Mon and I

Surprisingly, the Mind Museum was just across the restaurant and it won’t be long before we go back to the area. Tomorrow, we will be using the tickets that my dear nephew won two months ago at a company event and I’m very excited to see the exhibit inside the museum!