URBANISSMO: Memorable travel  experiences 2017

urbanissmo by kenneth irving ongLooking back at 2017, I can say that I have travelled quite a bit and making travels more exciting and memorable are the experiences one gets when going to and exploring a destination. Although I had many fun experiences in the past year, here are a few which I feel are really worth mentioning.

A Hong Kong tradition

I find it nice to slow down whenever I travel. From a visit to a park or a museum, to sitting down and having some tea of coffee, this break from the travel rush allows me to observe the city I am visiting. For Hong Kong, it always has to be afternoon tea and the most iconic afternoon tea is at the Peninsula Hotel.

For many years, me and my travel buddy Otoi have tried to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula but the long queue dissuaded us from doing so, until this year. Going on a rainy Monday afternoon, the line was just four people long and we were seated in no time.

Sitting in the middle of the lobby and enjoying afternoon tea was an experience that is different from having afternoon tea at the 102nd floor of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. The lobby, decked in all its traditional British colonial grandeur was a sight to behold and the scones and pastries that accompanied the tea were absolutely divine.

Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel_Deluxe Suite_Day

A room with a view

Hotel stays are always memorable when one travels. From the comfy bed when you return from exploring a city, to the views outside its glass windows. This year, my most memorable hotel stay is at the Marco Polo Hong Kong’s Harbour View Rooms.

With over 60 square meters of space, Marco Polo Hong Kong’s harbour View Rooms allow travellers to relax and spread out in style and comfort with its own dIning room, seating room, pantry, walk in closet, and separate shower and bathtub. The main draw to the suite though is the spectacular billion-dollar views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island from its windows.

Aside from the room, Continental Club access is also part of the suite experience, giving guests a more private breakfast area as well as afternoon tea and evening cocktails.

A different cool at Baguio Craft Beer

I have always considered myself a wine person but a visit to Baguio Craft Beer in Baguio literally changed the way I viewed beer. From floral to hoppy, to bitter and sweet, the specialty beers at Baguio Craft Beers are like various wines with their own tasting notes.

This experience was a surprise for me as it had been decades since I last visited Baguio. Cool and full of character and history, Baguio Craft Beer is much like the famed City of Pines.


Dinner with Atching Lilian

Of the many kinds of cuisines in the Philippines, one of the most famous and sophisticated is said to be the cuisine of Pampanga. A fusion of native and Chinese techniques fused with Spanish influence created a flavor profile and dishes that are unique to that Philippine province.

On my trip to Clark on AirAsia’s maiden voyage, I was fortunate enough to have dinner at the Mexico, Pampanga abode of Atcheng Lilian Borromeo. A gatekeeper of Pampanga’s heirloom recipes, meeting Atchen Lilian was fascinating as she shared the origins and history of many Pampangueño dishes which include, sisig, bringhe, and others. It was also fascinating to watch he make her famous San Nicolas cookies using traditional centuries-old wooden moulds, bridging the past with the present.


The shopping paradise of Guam

Although Hong Kong may be more popular when it comes to the “shoppingera” scene, the small US territory of Guam is no push over when it comes to shopping as I discovered on a trip with the Guam Tourism Board and Cebu Pacific.

An island in the West Pacific, Guam is a shoppers paradise with almost every major US retailer setting shop on the island. From outlet shops to luxury boutiques, there is always something for someone to buy, especially since Guam enjoys a sale tax free status. Even more appealing are the shopping hours on the island with premium outlet stores open until 11 in the evening and even some going 24/7.

Shopping in Guam is also more relaxed as there are shorter queues thanks to lesser rowdy mainland Chinese crowds, as well as Filipino staff who are more than happy to point out the best deals around.

That is it for 2017, I look forward to more adventures this 2018! Cheers and happy new year!