Patience, a Virtue For Success


Patience, is a virtue one must have for there’s a reward to those who wait. I have to admit I’m still learning to be patient.  I’m always in a hurry and often get irritated when I have to wait…in line to pay, at the bank, downloading things in my computer, when placed on hold on the phone. I like to have instant reward, and see immediate results. Patience, or lack there of, could very well be the reason I have a compulsive, addictive behaviour or tendencies. When I start a project, I won’t stop until it’s completed or achieved the result. I work continuously for long hours, often , skipping  lunch or dinner; even refusing to take a bathroom break holding my bladder so full, it hurts and ready to burst. As I get older and with constant change in life’s priorities it became a bit easier to be patient. Being retired, I have the luxury of time  and it no longer is an issue. However, I sometimes become impatient hubby takes too long to answer a simple question. Oh well, that’s an integral part of me that I cannot completely changed.

Patience is good for your health. When you are impatient, you get easily irritated and feel stressed which makes your blood pressure, sugar cholesterol go up. You suffer from headaches, get tummy aches and other ailments.

Patience, or lack of it leads to hasty decisions. When you are impatient, you take actions or decisions without carefully thinking thru the pros and cons. As the saying goes, “haste makes waste”. Patience is key to success in life. You set goals, make plans, take action, then you wait. You’ve done your best, so let things take its course. When you’re not rushed, you think more clearly, and tend to make better choice or right decision.

Patience has its reward. When you plant a tree. It starts as a small plant, but over time, with proper care and nurturing it grows and mature. It then starts bearing fruits and rewarded with a bounty harvest.

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Life, in general, is a waiting game…for the right time, the right place, the perfect partner, the perfect job.  

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Bali, a Haven for Spa Lovers


Photo courtesy of Barcelona.salon.com

Photo courtesy of Barcelona.salon.com

Yes, there are spa parlors every where, in every corner in all of Bali.

Prices range from $7 US to $50 per hour or 90 min  for a Balinese massage. Spa parlors offer different treatments and/or packages combining a combo of massage, facials, body scrubs, etc. lasting up to 4 hours of pampering at very reasonable prices. Some even offer discounts if you book appointment online.

Ambience definitely plays a role in your overall spa experience, and you’ll have many choices: outdoors in a garden, by the beach or by the river or indoors complete with soothing music & scented candles.

For convenience, some parlors offer return pick up from your hotel or to the airport, for one last session of heavenly bliss.

                  Boutique Spa Sekar Jayat (Nusa Dua)

During our trip I did go to the spa almost everyday. They were all good and have no complaints, especially some were or part of our hotel package.

But at this spa where we received our last spa treatments, earned our vote for the best and number one spot. We chose the couple package of 3.5 HRS ROYAL SHIRODHARA with seafood dinner by the beach included plus transport to the beach and back to our hotel St Regis Bali in Nusa Dua. Are you ready for this? A bargain at this incredibly total price of $190 US for two.

Treatments included in the package?

Our pampering started with a 75 min full body Balinese massage.

The couples treatment room.

The couples treatment room.

Next, was Ayurveda Shirodhara for 30 min.

Warm oil was poured gently on our forehead to balance the mind and nervous system. The oil streams down the “crown chakra” to magnify the senses. This treatment aims to reduce stress and enhance immunity, leading to improved health and vitality.

A totally new experience, it felt weird in the beginning. My husband even asked if we were being tortured. He was thinking of prisoners during the war being tortured by continuous small drips of water on their forehead. Ssshh, be quiet and just go with the flow. As I concentrated and totally immersed in the moments, I felt a deep sense of peace. While hubby was still mumbling, what the heck is this for. Oh well, he’s not really into spa, so it was nice of him to go along with me.

Next, we received a 45 min facial, it was OK but felt  more like a mini-facial.

It was then time for the 30 min body lulur. an exfoliation and polishing process practiced for centuries in palaces of Bali using turmeric, rice, clove and ginger . This treatment is also known as body scrub (using sugar, coffee grounds mixed with scented oils) to remove dead skin cells and promote growth of new ones. Your skin comes out smooth and silky, like a baby skin.

Time for Frangipani bath (flower bath)

Frangipani is a small flowering tree with flowers in clusters at the end of its branches, and with strong scent. It’s commonly known as plumerias and grow heavily in Hawaii.

Our tub filled with water and petals.

Our tub filled with water and petals.

The round tub was filled with warm water and covered with floating petals of  scented flowers gathered from their garden. My husband and I, wearing only our underwear, carefully climbed into the tub. Our masseuse (both female) handed us a piece of cake  to enjoy during our 20 min soak. and left us alone. But not before they took a shot of us. For souvenir of this special moment.

Soaking in this tub filled with fragrant flower petals was 1st for us and fun.

Soaking in this tub filled with fragrant flower petals was 1st for us and fun.

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This is awesome.

This is awesome.

Our treatment ended with a 15 min traditional hair cream bath using fresh aloe vera and hibiscus. We dried our hair, sat for a while to drink some hot tea.

Seafood Dinner at Jimbaran Bay Beachfront Restaurant

A car & driver provided by the Spa was already waiting outside to take us to for dinner at Bawang Merah. Our treatments finished late, so it was already dark when we reached the restaurant and missed the sunset on the beach.

Dinner at a beachfront restaurant in Jimbaran

Our seafood dinner which we really enjoyed.

Our seafood dinner which we really enjoyed.

 I end my blog with this quote since it seems to relate well with my topic, spa experience.

 “To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
 And a Heaven in a wild flower, 
 Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
 And Eternity in an hour.”

– William Blake

Please leave your comment if you like, enjoy or find this helpful. Thank you.

A Dream Family Vacation Come True


I had wanted for quite sometime for my entire family to go on a cruise together. A wish which turned to be pretty elusive, and took a long time to fulfill.

Why I love going on cruises?

My husband and I have been on many cruises and loved it. It is hassle-free, less stressful and easier to plan. It gives the best value for your bucks; with food and entertainment already included in the fare. Going on a cruise is a convenient and comfortable way to get to your destination. You’re able to move freely on the ship versus being confined on an a car , bus, train or an airplane; and with added  bonus of you unpack only once. There’s a variety of activities, games, shopping, gym provided onboard to keep you busy while at sea. Optional sightseeing, excursions & more activities at each port for extra costs. There are Kid Clubs geared to different age group. For sure, there is something for everyone, whether you choose to be active or just relax. I can’t think of a better venue or way to spend a family vacation.

I first planned a family cruise when my nieces and nephews are still young.  To entice my siblings & their family to go, my husband and I offered to pay for half the cost and urged them to use their credit card for the balance. Two families decided to go. As luck would have it, or rather “it wasn’t meant to be”, I cancelled at the last-minute. A great work opportunity opened up that conflicted with our sailing date…..resulting in guilt which lingered for many years to come.

Ten years later, I tried to make it happened inviting everyone to a 3-day cruise to Vancouver with all expenses paid including airfare back to Los Angeles from Vancouver. But only one of my nieces (Grace & her then boyfriend Ian), along with my siblings and in-laws decided to join.

Come one, come all for a free cruise vacation.  Persistence does pay off and in early 2015 my wish, finally, came true!  On March 17, twenty of us (16 adults, 2 kids & 2 infants) embarked on Norwegian Cruise Line for a 5-Day Cruise to Cabo San Lucas.  Five family members could not go due to work, school and other commitments.  I came to accept it is nearly impossible to get 100% and this is as good as it gets, so I’m happy with 70% participation.

norwegian-star[1]

Norwegian Cruise Line (Star ship)

I booked 8 cabins, all inside to save money for after all, we would use our cabins only to sleep and shower. As we have some 1st time cruisers who might be prone to motion sickness, I specifically chose cabins located mid-ship on lower deck as they are more stable; swaying/rocking motion less felt. I advised those that are prone to motion sickness to buy armbands (use pressure points) which I find very effective and better than taking tablets that cause drowsiness and nausea.

March 17, 2015: DAY OF EMBARKATION

St. Patrick’s Day is written all over when several passengers show up wearing something green: T-shirts, hats, necklace, even “drink of the day” aboard the ship is colored green.

Embarkation was organized and went smoothly, except I forgot our passports at home. My husband & brother-in-law drove back home which took 2 ½ hours both ways. Another incident at the Port caused more delays, but fortunately all worked out in the end. Truly ” a blessing in disguise ” my niece declared. We were last to check in (seven of us) among our group, and starving so we quickly head to Market Café for lunch before the mandatory drill begin in half an hour.

Dining Options at Star ship

Dining at NCL, unlike other cruise ships, is freestyle meaning you go to dinner when you want. Other cruise ships during booking you have to choose between early or late seating for dinner; and usually gets to seat with the same people every night.  Our ship offers 3 places to eat free: buffet at Market Café on Deck 12 and two sit down dining at Aqua (more casual) and Versailles (smart casual attire, no shorts). On pool deck, hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches are served, plus grilled meats, sausages; even paella. Juice, tea and coffee are free but sodas, bottled water and alcoholic beverages cost extra.

The Market Café a buffet on Deck 12,   our favorite hang out.

The Market Café a buffet on Deck 12, our favorite hang out.

The Versailles

The Versailles

All dressed up for our 1st Family fine dining at Versailles.

All dressed up for our 1st Family fine dining at Versailles.

Aqua, a casual sit down place for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Aqua, a casual sit down place for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

On our 1st dinner aboard the ship, every family/group is free to choose where they want to dine. We (the senior group) dined at Aqua, and ordered different items for appetizers: crab cake, shrimp cocktail, mushroom soup. and did the same for main entrees: pappardelle pasta with duck comfit, fish, Caribbean pork, steak. Everyone ordered crème brulee with pistachio for dessert. Food is good and service excellent from our waiter who gave double entrée for one of us who could not decide which one to order. On our way out, we see the younger members of our group in line for the same restaurant.

Entertainment

We head to Stardust theater for evening live shows held daily at 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm. Tonight is a Welcome Show and a preview of what to come: NCL group of dancers and singers, Comedy, acrobats, etc.

Stardust Theater where we go for nightly show of music, dance, acrobats and comedy.

Stardust Theater where we go for nightly show of music, dance, acrobats and comedy.

Instant Celebrities

Our two babies became instant celebrities on the Star cruise ship during our trip.

The cousins, Lily & Kylie.

The cousins, Lily & Kylie.

Lily turns one year old in May this year,and become very popular in Market Café as “the dancing baby”. Every time she hears music, she would move her hands and body and do “kembot”, nonstop!  A month later, Kylie turns one year old too. We call her “the singing baby” for her constant loud screams, but is popularly known as “the cute baby”. The staff at Versailles adore her, and she garnered instant fan club among the on lookers during her photo session. Dressed in pink, with headband and sparkling shoes to match….irresistably adorable!

Live Music for listening pleasure

After the theater show we head to Deck 7 for pop music. There are other choices, but this is our favorite. Surprisingly, even the kids enjoy listening to music and would stay late.

Late Snacks

Our routine consist of heading to Market Café opened 24/7) for late snack before retiring to our cabin. After all, we are on vacation and our motto is “ENJOY AND FORGET ABOUT DIETING”.

Leanna enjoying her spaghetti.

Leanna enjoying her spaghetti.

MARCH 18: and 21`: DAY AT SEA

It’s do whatever your heart desire day. Sleep late, do nothing, workout, etc.

Walk or Jog: Trying to counterbalance our non-stop eating on board. Some are early risers, others are late risers and even no risers (Lina & Andy) who shared the same cabin and chose to sleep in late.

Play basketball: William, the loner. found companions to play basketball. In fact, he participated on the basketball tournament and their team won.  Unfortunately, on the 4th day we saw him limping and in much pain. He fell and hit hard his butt (ouch).  With 3 nurses in our group, Grace & Ian are quick to offer him pain relievers.

Activity pool (4)

Swimming: Big hit for the kids. The ship has 3 pools dedicated for kids, complete with slides and other kid paraphernalia. They spend a great deal of time here except on our last day at sea as it was very windy and cold.

Kids went swimming.

Kids went swimming.

Kid’s Club: Without a doubt this is Leanna’s favorite place. She spends most of her time here and prefer the company of her new-found friends. She declares “Tita Ade, this is my most favorite vacation”!

Kids Café and Club for different age groups.

Kids Café and Club for different age groups.

Win some money: The lure of playing slots at the casino did not escape my two sisters, but after playing only a short while they quit. Bingo failed to bring some winning, as well.

These seniors are so unlucky.

These seniors are so unlucky.

Better options, a sure bet and winning choices are: people watching, relaxing and enjoying the sun. Or join some fun games such as “Battle of the Sexes”. We did and have so much fun.

Simply enjoyi the surroundings.

Simply enjoy the surroundings.

Sun-bathed and get some tan.

Sun-bathed and get some tan.

Battle of the Sexes: You decide who wins.

We, women are smarter & more beautiful.

We, women are smarter & more beautiful.

Oh Yeah, we men just let you think so…to keep peace.

Cocktail Reception for Latitude Members: More than half of us, being Latitude members (have cruised before with NCL), are invited to the Cocktail Reception and bring as guests the rest of our group.

Cocktail Reception for Latitude Members

Cocktail Reception for Latitude Members

Our family enjoying free cocktails on board.

Our family enjoying free cocktails on board.

Shopping: No vacation is complete without shopping. Besides the ship will try everything to make you part with your money. Anytime we are at sea, the ship offers great sales on clothing, jewelries, handbags, etc.  Hey, I need to have a souvenir.

Give me your best shot: Think of it as a photo session without paying a professional photographer for sitting fee. Tonight dress code is “smart attire”, used to be called formal night where men would wear tuxedos and women long evening gowns. Now a days, they have relaxed the dress code and just call for “smart attire”. At the main lobby (Deck 5), there are different photo booths set up with different backdrops. You can posed as many times as you want, with no obligation to buy. Or just choose the best one to buy. But beware, you may end up with many posed or pictures that are really nice and could not resist buying them at $15 for 5 x 7 or $25 for 8 x 10 1/2. Of course, if I have to buy just one it has to be our group shot as souvenir of this special occasion.

Our Family/Group shot taken by ship's photographer.

Our Family/Group shot taken by ship’s photographer.

It’s helpful when we bring our own photographer, Patrick. He looks so professional carrying his own equipment that other passengers stood in line thinking he is a cruise photographer.

March 19: OVERNIGHT in CABO

Our ship arrives in Cabo an hour earlier than scheduled at 11:00am.  The ship used tender boats (5-7 min ride) to take passengers to the Marina every 10 min, then every 1/2 hour after midnight. They resume their schedule of every 10 min the next day until we leave Cabo at 2:00pm.

Going on a sunset cruise aboard Rissalena is to be the highlight of our visit to Cabo. My husband & I took it in 2011 and enjoyed it. To make sure our group of 20 will be accommodated in their catamaran (maximum 24 people), I booked eight months in advance and paid 50% deposit in cash. FYI, they only accept cash. It costs $55 pp (children 1/2, less than 1 yr free), and includes dinner and open bar.

 

A beautiful catamaran with white leather seats.

A beautiful catamaran with white leather seats.

Cabo San Lucas was hit and damaged by a big hurricane in October of 2014.  At that time, the airport sustained damages that it closed and was inoperable for few days stranding many tourist. It’s amazing how quickly the Marina recovered, although not completely and evidence of the damage still visible.  It looks nicer, expanded with more shops, restaurants and added attractions like the Dolphin Museum where you can swim with the dolphins.

Cabo San Lucas Marina

Cabo San Lucas Marina

The weather was hot and sunny, but bearable. We stop to watch four men climb up a tall pole and from there, they came down while swirling around the thin pole suspended from a rope. The show is free, but repeatedly announce they make their living from tips only.

A free show at the Marina makes their living from tips from the crowd it attracts.

A free show at the Marina makes their living from tips from the crowd it attracts.

The urge to pose with Mexican sombrero is irresistible. The shop owner is clearly irritated that my sisters are re-arranging her merchandise, and do not even bother to look inside her shop.

sombrero (1)

Sunset Cruise on Rissalena

Spectacular sunset on Los Arcos.

Spectacular sunset on Los Arcos.

It is finally time to board the Rissalena and get close to Land’s End or El Arco, the iconic symbol of Los Cabos.  Located at the southern end of Cabo San Lucas and sandwiched between Playa del Amor or Love’s Beach and Playa del Divorcio or Divorce Beach. The rock formations are created from the rough winds and seas of the southern Baja peninsula, where Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meets.

The catamaran is really nice and flashy with all white leather seats.

One of the 2 most comfortable seats on Rissalena.

One of the 2 most comfortable seats on Rissalena.

Soon after we came on board libations kept flowing from the open bar for margarita, tequila sunrise, beer.

All You Can Drink Cocktails...they make the best margarita & tequila sunrise.

All You Can Drink Cocktails…they make the best margarita & tequila sunrise.

Take advantage guys, back on the ship each drink cost $7 to $8 bucks.

Take advantage guys, back on the ship each drink cost $7 to $8 bucks.

Drinks on the cruise are expensive ($6.00 to $8.00) so most of us took advantage; especially the guys who had up to 6 or 7 cocktails.  My sister Andy does not normally drink, but on the catamaran had 2 or 3 cocktails (yes, they were that good) knocking her out! Totally drunk she had to be pushed on a stroller, unable to walk straight.  It was hilarious and we laughed so hard, including passers-by as we head back to the tender pier for our ride back to the ship.

Can you spot my drunk sister? She's wearing orange dress.

Can you spot my drunk sister? She’s wearing orange dress.

Our buffet dinner consists of BBQ chicken, rice & beans, salad, chip with salsa & guacamole….yummy!

Barbecue chicken, rice & beans, salads, chips, salsa & guacamole....yummy.

Barbecue chicken, rice & beans, salads, chips, salsa & guacamole….yummy.

The captain announced, this is your lucky day. Since it’s the season we’ll go whale watching too. We saw many whales as our boat chased them as the sun sets. What a treat. The whale watching tour usually costs about $35 US per person, but we did not pay extra. In return, I made sure we give Laura & her crew a BIG tip!

These guys have the best seat on the house for whale watching.

These guys have the best seat on the house for whale watching.

Our ride is very choppy, giving us a roller coaster feel as we rode the waves. Too bad,  Lorraine and Marc suffered from motion sickness which limited their enjoyment.

Without a doubt the sunset cruise aboard the Rissalena is the highlight of our trip. Everyone so happy, dancing, singing and really enjoying the experience. I’ll just let the photos speak.

What can I say, it was all worth every penny I spent to have such HAPPY AND UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS WITH MY FAMILY.

This is awesome! Thank you Uncle Mon & Tita Ade.

This is awesome! Thank you Uncle Mon & Tita Ade.

March 20: Day 2 in Cabo San Lucas

Those who signed up with ship tours departed early. William to go parasailing, while Marc and Ruby to do zip lining. The majority of us left around the ship around 10:00am to explore downtown Cabo and find cheap tacos and $1 beer, without luck.  We ended up at Wabo Cantina, popular among tourist. Their tacos at $2.50 – $3.00 each are very small and salty. Definitely a thumbs down, and felt those in Los Angeles tastes better, bigger and cheaper.

Wabo Cabo (2)

We’ll be back

Marina pics (7)

Special Dinner on our last night

Cagney’s Steakhouse, is one of the six specialty dining with cover charge, $30 plus 18% gratuity per person and worth it.  Other specialty dining has less cover charge from $10 – $25.  It is a great way to end our dining aboard the ship, gourmet dining experience. Outstanding choices for appetizers include shrimp cocktail, crab cake, wagyu beef sliders.  The aged rib eye steak is so tender, sea bass so sweet, moist and flavorful, as their lobster tails.  And crème brulee, top the list for desserts.

You are the best, and this is the best!

Thank you Ate Ade & Kuya Mon!

Thank you Ate Ade & Kuya Mon!

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I’m grateful for this opportunity for our family to go on a cruise vacation, enjoy each other company and spend some quality time and have fun. It was so relaxing and stress-free, having not to worry what or where to eat; or what to do for entertainment and activities. I’m sure we all gained weight, but most importantly we came out richer emotionally, physically, mentally and most importantly, a stronger family bond and lasting memories.

What are you waiting for?

A Gastronomic Experience at Giro Giro in Kyoto


We travel because we love to eat. One of the joys we get from traveling to foreign countries is discovering and eating local foods. Dining at Giro Giro Hitoshina was top on my list to do while in Kyoto. It’s a famous restaurant, written up in guide books and in New York Times, with branch in Paris and Honolulu.  As soon as we got to Kyoto Hyatt Regency hotel, I asked the hotel Concierge to make reservation at the restaurant for two seats at the counter of the open kitchen and indicated we would take any day, any time as we were staying in  Kyoto for only 4 nights.  We lucked out and got dinner reservations at 5:30pm on our last night in Kyoto. The counter seats (10 people max) allow diners to watch the Chef prepare the 8-course meal. Additional seats are available on second floor. IMG_3514

Searing a filet of fish

Searing a filet of fish

This unorthodox Japanese restaurant serves a ‘modern’ Kyoto Kaiseiki meal in a casual and converted warehouse in a nice residential neighborhood right by  Takasegawa canal. Definitely difficult to find, esp. it only puts out its portable sign only when they opened. Thankfully, we met a young Japanese man who speaks limited English and preferred to walk us to the exact location than give us directions.

The street where you'll find Giro Giro.

The street where Giro Giro is located.

Along side the picturesque Takagase-gawa canl.

Along side the picturesque Takagase-gawa canal.

Each course was a small serving, yet took a long time for the Chef to prepare. It was fascinating how he meticulously arranged each food item on the plate, resulting in a masterfully designed work of art. I did not jot down the name of each course we were served, but can tell you they were all gourmet delights!

Our first course

Our first course

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Some type of sushi

Some type of sushi

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Ending our meal with some type of cheesecake for dessert.

Ending our meal with some type of cheesecake for dessert.

The Chefs are so creative, thinking outside the box, such as using this leaf for artful presentation.

A colorful leaf adds interest and color to their food presentation.

A colorful leaf adds interest and color to their food presentation.

Kaiseiki dinner normally cost between  $100 – $150 per person. At Giro Giro, it’s surprisingly affordable at about fifty bucks, a super real bargain without compromising quality, ambience or service. The place is really small and can accommodate only few diners; serving 2 seating per night. of dinner every night. Book way in advance or you’ll be disappointed. Their set menu changes seasonally. This place is truly a hidden gem in Kyoto, and will not disappoint any food lover. Giro Giro Hitoshina 420-7 Nanbacho matsubara sagaru Nishikiyamachi dori Shimogyo-ku Kyoto Tel: +81 075 343 7070 Daily: 5.30 – 11pm Closed last Mon of the month

KYOTO WALKS IN STYLE


A MUST DO on my list while in Japan is to rent Kimono and walk the streets in style. I originally planned to do it while in Tokyo in Asakusa, but plans got changed due to typhoon expected to hit Tokyo. I do believe things happened for good reasons, for renting in Kyoto turned out better. We were allowed longer time to keep our Kimono, and options to return it to the shop the next day or get picked up from our hotel.

A bit of information about Kimono.

Kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. It is a T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono is wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial) and secured by a sash called obi, which is tied at the back. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks, tabi. 

Kimonos are available in silk for special or formal occasions, but in the summertime the Japanese like to relax in comfortable, cotton kimonos called Yukata. Cotton kimonos were traditionally worn after taking a long, hot bath, but they are also worn during the summer, to feel cool on a hot day. Both young and old Japanese people enjoy dressing up in them to take in the local “Matsuri”, one of the many festivals that celebrates special days or events during the summer months.

Now a days Kimono is worn only on special occasions such as weddings, tea ceremonies, formal traditional events. Depending on occasion, age and marital status, the appropriate style and colors are worn. Men’s kimono usually are more subdued in colors, and typically from matte fabrics. Women’s kimono, in contrast, is made of silk (also polyester) with beautiful designs made with embroidery, painting and dyeing making them art pieces as much as they are garments.

Armed with map and directions, we took the bus to find our way to Okimoto Kimono Rental shop near Kiyuzumidera temple. As usual, we struggled finding the shop, and solicited lots of help. TIP: Bring a map with names of  attractions translated or written in Japanese character, this way even if you can’t communicate you just point on the map where you want to go; and with help  of body language you’ll eventually find your way.

Okiwoto Kimono Rental, one of their 2 shops located near Kiyomizu temple.

Okiwoto Kimono Rental, one of their 2 shops located near Kiyomizu temple.

I recommend making an early appointment, even better be the 1st appointment. I’m glad we did for just a bit later people started arriving and quickly filled the shop, which is quite small.

The shop has several rows of fabric in different colors, materials made of silk and polyester, embroidered or painted designs. After choosing the main fabric, you choose other parts of your ensemble such as collar, sash or obi, c hair pieces & handbags. It was overwhelming finding the right one. Rental price depends on your choice of fabric, and whether you want make-up and your hair-styled. Hair pieces  rent for $3 US, but handbags and socks (you keep) and slippers included. Visit their website for pricing and options.

The shop has a wide selection of fabrics, designs and colors.

The shop has a wide selection of fabrics, designs and colors.

We removed our shoes before entering, then handed separate bags to store our street clothes, shoes and other belongings. On 2nd floor are separate dressing rooms for men and women, and a large mirror. BTW, no pictures are allowed at this point.

I did not realize a Kimono took many layers of fabrics to complete the whole ensemble and requires special skills or techniques to do it right. The lady suggested I go use the bathroom before my fitting for obvious reason.  There were only two of us in the dressing room so it took quicker, about 15-20 min to get me fitted. I’m sure with a big crowd waiting, the process would have taken longer. The whole process (fabric selection, fitting & hair style) takes from 1 1/2  to 2 hours,  but I was ready in an hour and even shorter for my husband. Definitely helpful and saves a lot of time, if you checked the website and get some idea on what colors and designs you prefer (based on some photos) before arriving at the shop.

I chose a fabric that was bright orange and a complimentary color (yellow) for obi. Well, what do you think? Did I make the right choice?

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The shop has a small garden that provides a nice backdrop for us to pose for photos.

The shop has a small garden that provides a nice backdrop for us to

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The shop takes CASH ONLY, and paid about $125 US for the two of us. Rental cost depends on the fabric & accessories and whether you want make-up and hair style included.  Handbag, slippers and socks (we got to keep) were included. Hair pieces added $3 to rent, and must be returned. When we first entered, they gave us separate bags to put our street clothes, shoes, purse and any personal belongings. On our way out, they tagged the bags with our names for storage and reminded us to be back by 5:30pm.

The rental shop has another branch, The Main Shop, which has a studio if you prefer to have a professional photographer take your pictures. We opted to do it, and the pro shoot about twelve pictures. For $25 US we chose two photos placed on a hardcover souvenir. However, we liked more the photos we shoot ourselves, in and around the small garden at this place (the other branch does not have a garden for photo-taking opportunities. In fact, I did not even include any of the studio shot on this blog. My advice skipped the studio.

I wanted to take advantage of our special outfit and we posed and took as many pictures as possible. See the gallery.

What better way to experience this Japanese culture and tradition? In fact, we saw more locals than tourists partaking of this amazing opportunity.

Kayuputi Sunday Brunch, Gluttony at Its Best


We lucked out during our trip to Bali that we ended up being there on a Sunday so we were able to experience the most acclaimed Sunday brunch at the Kayuputi restaurant at St Regis in Nusa Dua.  Seats are limited and advance reservation is required. I made ours months before we arrived, and reconfirmed 48 hours prior or else, would lose my reservation.

The brunch at Kayuputi Restaurant is referred to as “The Platinum Brunch” and for good reasons. World travelers claimed Kayuputi Sunday Brunch as one of the best, if not the best in the world. A very special, unique and fine dining experience.

Our brunch started with an hour of cocktails and appetizers from 11:00 to 12:00noon. Then we moved to the main dining room to eat for three hours from noon until 3:00 pm. We remained seated and were served at our table, instead of getting up to get our food from a buffet line. The foods are fresh and some were made to order. Another thing that made this brunch different from other AYCE (All You Can Eat) places was, we were allowed to order anything a la carte from the menu. In addition, waiters were constantly moving around with trays of different dishes in small portions.

It is wise to starve before coming here to make sure you have room to savor most, if not all, the gourmet delights they offer.

Welcome to Kayuputi Restaurant

Welcome to Kayuputi Restaurant

Entrance to Kayuputi Restaurant

Entrance to Kayuputi Restaurant

Its décor and atmosphere exude a simple, yet sophisticated ambience. Perhaps. purposely designed this way to turn our main focus on the food. Walls are painted white, tables covered with white tablecloth; food served on white China. The only contrasting color comes from rattan chairs to give it somewhat of a tropical feel.

Inside Kayuputi Restaurant

Inside Kayuputi Restaurant

It’s location is perfect, and so romantic overlooking a spectacular view of the beach. Definitely a place to consider to celebrate a special occasion or to impress.

A spectacular view of the beach.

A spectacular view of the beach.

The beach at St Regis Bali.

The beach at St Regis Bali.

As soon as we were seated, they filled our glass with champagne followed by caviar served with blintz, a perfect pairing! However, only the 1st glass of champagne was complimentary and you have to pay extra if you wanted more.

Caviar served with blintz aad champagne.

Caviar served with blintz aad champagne.

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

A fillet of fish served with citrus foam and sauce.

A fillet of fish served with citrus foam and sauce

Three small bites on a plate.

Three small bites on a plate.

A shrimp ceviche

A shrimp ceviche

Rolled Serrano ham with stuffing.

Rolled Serrano ham with stuffing.

Oysters served three ways.

Oysters served three ways.

A small salad served on a spoon.

A small salad served on a spoon.

A bento box we ordered from the menu.

A bento box we ordered from the menu.

Sea bass topped with crispy potatoes and pesto sauce.

Sea bass topped with crispy potatoes (or was it calamari?) and foamy sauce.

After a while, those small portions filled our tummy. We were so full and refused to eat anymore, and turned down hard to resist decadent desserts waiters were passing around.

We had to turn down these desserts.

We had to turn down these desserts.

However, we succumbed to temptation or our waiter was so persuasive and ordered his recommendation, their specialty dessert, a must try….. Grand Marnier soufflé.  It is made fresh to order and takes 20 minutes, which gave some time for our tummy to settle down and to make room for dessert.

Grand Marnier soufflé served with sauce and ice cream.

Grand Marnier soufflé served with sauce and ice cream.

To be honest though, we did not find our dessert something to die for. Perhaps, our taste buds were so satiated they lost sensitivity at this point. Gluttony can do that, you know.

Conclusion: Platinum Brunch at Kayuputi is a dining experience not to be missed, and a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to impress. Cost is quite high in Bali’s standard, but its money well spent at 110,000 Rupiah per person (app. $100 US). We’ve spent quite a bit more at other places and did not get half as much in terms of value, ambience, quality & amount of food offered at Kayuputi.

Palm Springs in One Day


My traveling companions who are all seniors, include my husband, two sisters and brother-in-law. We like taking short trips spontaneously or whenever opportunity arises. It’s easy for us to take trips on short notice as three of us are already retired The one sister, who still works has her day offs on weekend and my brother-in-law’s days off are Sundays and Mondays.

On this trip, we spent first our morning soaking in mineral pools at Mineral Springs in Desert Hot Springs. Then we drove 20 minutes to Palm Springs to stay overnight at Hyatt Palm Springs hotel, an all suites hotel.  It worked out perfectly, for I was able to use my about to expire Hyatt award certificate (one free night stay) at any of their properties category 1 – 4. I booked and paid for a second room for they allow only maximum four people per suite. Initially, we contemplated going on May 25th but room rates are doubled due to Memorial weekend so we switched our trip to May 18th. As a Platinum Hyatt Gold Passport member, I got an Elite rate (20% off) the regular rate, resort fee of $15.00 was waived and free wifi. They only have valet parking, so I grudgingly paid $25.00.  There is free parking on the back of the hotel if you go around the construction area and don’t mind lugging your luggage several hundreds yard away.

Entrance of Hyatt Palm Springs Hotel

Entrance of Hyatt Palm Springs Hotel

Hyatt Palm Spring is on N. Palm Canyon Avenue and walking distance to many eateries, shops and art galleries.  The hotel also provides free shuttle to and from Palm Springs airport, as well as surrounding areas.

I booked our rooms online at Hyatt website and requested our two rooms to be closed or at least be on the same floor. Upon confirmation, I was given an option to update for a pool view or a cabana suite for extra fees which I declined. Surprised but very happy, we were given connecting rooms that were both deluxe with pool view (my free night was only for standard room). Our suites are spacious with living room and a sofa bed, equipped with two TV’s (one in the LR and the other in the bedroom). There’s coffee maker, refrigerator, safe deposit and free two  bottled water. Only thing missing was a microwave. I also appreciate the big writing-table and plenty of easily accessible electrical plugs.

Our suite which connects to my sister's by opening a door

Our suite which connects to my sister’s by opening a door

The second suite occupied by these three.

The second suite occupied by these three.

It was too hot to go outside so we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in our rooms. The guys took naps, while us three sisters spent time learning from my sis Belle how to use and navigate Facebook. When we got bored, we stared at our feet deciding which one has the best/worst looking and/or best color nail polish?

Our "Happy Feet"

Our “Happy Feet”

We thoroughly enjoyed the views of the mountains and swimming pool from our balcony, and grateful for the free upgrade.

Great view from our balcony.

Great view from our balcony.

Enjoying  breathtaking views as we woke up this morning.

Enjoying breathtaking views as we woke up this morning.

Where to relax while enjoying the sun

Where to relax while enjoying the sun

Pool view from our room.

Pool view from our room.

The morning of our departure we decided to soak and enjoy the spa before we checked out.at 11:00AM.

Enjoying the spa before we check out from our hotel this morning.

Enjoying the spa before we check out from our hotel this morning.

Hyatt Palm Springs offers spacious, modern and beautiful areas to hang out for a drink or chat, with plenty of seating to accommodate big groups.

Place to hang out, have a drink or just to chat.

Place to hang out, have a drink or just to chat.

My sister's outfit contrasting nicely with the orange silk drapes.

My sister’s outfit contrasting nicely with the orange silk draperies.

A comfortable place to hang out while killing time before going to dinner.

A comfortable place to hang out while killing time before going to dinner.

There’s also the Hoodoo Patio Restaurant & Bar that offer small bites and drinks, a cozy place to hang out at night when temperature cools down. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance.

Another place to hang out while staying at Hyatt Palm Springs.

Another place to hang out while staying at Hyatt Palm Springs.

After dinner, we had fun walking the streets of Palm Canyon for some exercise and shopping. Excited and thrilled to find two bargain stores where everything is $16.00. For sure we were NOT empty-handed when we walked out these stores. Coffee break for my brother-in-law, and ice cream stop for my hubby and everyone was happy! The mango and guava sherbet was a perfect ending for our evening, or so we thought….

Even surprised my brother in law whom we often call Mr G has a toy store.

Even surprised my brother in law whom we often call Mr G has a toy store.

Enjoying our mango & guava sherbet.

Enjoying our mango & guava sherbet.

Until we returned to our room and found a pleasant surprise from Danielle and Courtney from the front desk: a bottle of wine and tray with crackers, assorted cheese and grapes.  We must be very special, or was it to make up for not being able to grant my early check in request at 1:00PM? Their regular check in is at 4:00PM, checkout at 11:00AM.

A pleasant surprise.

A pleasant surprise.

Where we ate while in Palm Springs. With so many restaurants to choose from, it was daunting task to decide where to go.  Thanks to Yelp reviews, I selected places which turned out to be winners and would not hesitate to recommend. Without a doubt , you must try one of the thirty variety of sandwiches .offered at Sandwich SpotWent here for lunch while waiting for our room to be ready. We ordered no.5 Dinah, no.12 Bareessentials and no.19 Frederer’s. Their sandwich costs $7.99 (regardless of which one you order) with three choices of bread, but highly recommend to go for the Dutch bread. For $1.00 more you get a refillable drinks and a bag of chips .Their sandwiches are to die for, and simply the best I’ve ever tasted.

The place is tiny and have very limited seating, so you may have to order to go and devour your sandwich elsewhere.

Eat your heart out, these are the best sandwiches in Palm Springs.

Eat your heart out, these are the best sandwiches in Palm Springs.

For dinner we chose Rick’s Desert Grill  for a taste of Cuban cuisine. Have you ever heard of bottomless soup? Well, those with hearty appetite can enjoy as much soup as you for they offer unlimited refill of your favorite soup. We were given three choices and selected asparagus soup; tasty and lighter being not overwhelmed with heavy cream. The restaurant opens at 3:00PM and Happy Hours from 3:00PM until 7:00PM, serves dinner until 10:00PM; and arrived in time to order from their Happy Hour menu. Intrigued by appetizer called  testones, a trio of plantain served with picadillo, carne asada, & beef, ordered two of those and from their regular menu, two orders of  Lechon Carne Asada served with fried yucca, Caribbean rice mixed with black beans and fried banana. With one beer and 2 Mojitos, our total bill with tip came to $80.00.  Our dishes were OK, and liked the “testones” more than the Lechon Asada, which we found a bit salty. We wished there were some veggies served with our dishes, as they were all carbo and lots of meat.

Outside Rick's restaurant waiting for shuttle pick up from Hyatt.

Outside Rick’s restaurant waiting for shuttle pick up from Hyatt.

Lechon Carne Asada, one of popular dishes at Rick's.

Lechon Carne Asada, one of popular dishes at Rick’s.

We wanted to have lunch in Palm Springs before we head home. We just ate for breakfast our left over sandwiches so Sandwich Spot was out of the question. Unsure where to go I suggested Trio, our other option for dinner had we not gone to Rick’s.  Driving north on Palm Canyon drive we spotted a big crowd waiting at Cheeky’s and quickly changed our mind. The place opens only until 2:00pm and very popular among locals and visitors for its breakfast and lunch. We ordered hamburger made from grass-fed beef, served with brioche  and sweet potato fries which scored high on our palate. The two salads, nicoise and peach, were very good. However, a thumbs down for their lamb sandwich as the meat was a little tough and chewy. I definitely will come back and try their breakfast next time.

Palm Springs is a nice day trip from Los Angeles, or even better staying for one night especially when they have the VillageFest, the Thursday night street fair featuring arts, crafts, food, and entertainment. We enjoyed and highly recommend staying at Hyatt Palm Springs. Its location is convenient, good amenities, friendly service and pleasant surprises! Combining a visit to one of the mineral pools and spa in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs make for a great escape.

Pls. read my blogs on Miracle Springs for photos and details of our day use of mineral pools in Desert Hot Springs.