Friday, September 4, 2015

Visiting a gold leaf factory in Hokuriku, Japan to find out the benefits of gold for skin care. And about drinking plum wine with gold flakes.




Yesterday in the Hokuriku region of Japan, living a #Travelife, we visited a factory in an ancient samurai town that has been making gold leaf for generations.

It was lots of fun, not only to see the beautiful products made with gold leaf, but also to try our hand at making postcards using gold paper and silver paper.

It was like an enjoyable arts and crafts class. Or like summer camp.


LIVING A GOLDEN LIFE

I also got to try a skin lotion that had flecks of gold in it.

At first I thought this was only a marketing ploy, but after a few hours, I have to say that my skin was really noticeable smoother and softer.

When I did some online research, I found out that gold is supposed to be an excellent skin brightener, moisturiser and anti-aging ingredient.

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TOO MANY SKIN CARE PRODUCTS

I was so tempted to buy this skin lotion, save for the fact that I have dozens of skin products from my travels all over the world, and most of these have still not been used.

They're in one cabinet, gathering dust until I'm able to use them.

So I made a vow to myself not to buy anything more until I finish what I have -- and that's going to take a pretty long time.

There's even cake baked with gold leaf

GOLD FLAKES FOR SKIN CARE

Fortunately, I found a box of gold flakes that were packaged specifically to sell to women who would like to place these gold flakes into the skin care products they already use.

This was exactly what I wanted.


DRINKING GOLD
WITH PLUM WINE

I also found an award-winning plum wine, called ume-shu, with a little plastic bag of gold flakes attached to it.

You're supposed to put the gold flakes in when you open the bottle of this plum wine.



How nice was that? I bought several of these bottles as well, to serve to friends when I have dinners at home.

However, if these gold flakes prove really effective for skin care, I may end up just serving the plum wine sans the gold flakes, and putting all the gold flakes into my skin lotions, living a never-ending, and never-endingly "golden" Travelife.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The best sushi and sashimi in Hokkaido. And how 2nd best is never ever good enough.



Yesterday, in Northern Japan, living a #Travelife, we spent the afternoon walking through the old cobblestoned streets of the historical port city of Hakodate.

Hakodate is a city with a far more glorious past than present, and it seems that many neighborhoods have been forgotten in time.

From a tourist's perspective, though, this means having the opportunity to see many beautiful old buildings from the Meiji era, which were Hakodate's glory years, although quite a number of these are in a dilapidated state.

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CHEERING OURSELVES UP WITH
SUSHI IN HOKKAIDO

What an interesting town this was. It even has a Russian Orthodox Church from 1916, which is just prior to the Russian Revolution.

However, as previously mentioned, many buildings seemed abandoned or unkept.

And, as the present of Hakodate seemed a bit sad compared to its illustrious past, perhaps due to the after-effects of Japan's crippling 20-year recession, we decided to cheer ourselves up by having dinner in the best sushi restaurant in Hakodate.




WHEN 2ND BEST
IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.

"What about 2nd best?" My companion asked as he googled places on his phone, and it seems that the 2nd best sushi restaurant in Hakodate was very near where our ship, the Silver Discoverer, was anchored.

But as my good friends know all too well, second best is never good enough for me, including where sushi is concerned.

THE BEST SUSHI IN HAKODATE
AND THE 4TH BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT IN HOKKAIDO


The top sushi restaurant in Hakodate is something like the #4 best in the whole Hokkaido, which is quite something, considering there must be at least 100,000 sushi shops in Hokkaido.

Usually, #4 isn't okay with me if I can have #1. But if you look at things from this 100,000+ perspective, #4 is way better than just good enough.

The two best sushi restaurants in Hokkaido are in Sapporo by the way. On another holiday to Hokkaido last October, also living a #Travelife, I tried to book #2, but our schedules just didn't match with the reservations we got.

This time, we were ready to try #1 but we ended up never staying in Sapporo as we did a long weekend of hot springs towns. 

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ALL ABOUT #1

Anyway, Hakodate's #1 sushi restaurant was way off grid, in an upscale neighborhood we never would have found on our own.

Thank goodness for a capable taxi driver, who also tried to get us to take a tour up a mountain after dinner to see "Hakodate's million-dollar view." But I was quite tired from walking over 10,000 steps around Hakodate that same day, so we firmly refused.

WONDERFUL, LIGHTLY SEASONED SUSHI



The restaurant was contemporary and obviously very marketing savy -- just the kind to get Michelin stars. Now all we needed to know was whether the sushi was as good as its ratings.

The sushi was wonderful, seasoned very lightly either with soy sauce or salt, so that no plate for soy sauce or wasabi was placed in front of us. Basically we had to eat everything as we were told, although I did venture bravely to ask for more salt for my second order of shredded crab sushi.

The sushi master hit it off with us and we talked the whole night, in the process learning a whole lot about the sushi trade.

THE LOCALS AND THE TOURISTS
WANT DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUSHI


He said: "We need to stock everything because the locals who come don't want to be served seafood caught around here, while the Tokyo people all clamor for fish and seafood fresh off the boat here in Hakodate."

SUSHI DAYTRIPPING TO HOKKAIDO
FROM TOKYO

How true was that? That was exactly what I requested.

I asked: "Do you get a lot of clients from Tokyo?"

He replied: "We're getting an extraordinary number of regular clients from Tokyo these days."


Then, pointing to two empty seats at the far-end of the counter, just vacated by two men, he continued: "The gentlemen seated there awhile ago? They're from Tokyo. They literally flew into Hakodate I just to eat sushi, arriving in Hakodate at 4 PM and leaving on the last flight back to Tokyo."

He added: "Their wives don't even know they're here. They come quite often on this kind of a trip, just for a change of a scenery and to eat fresh local sushi."

And to think I thought I was the only one in this world living a never-ending, and never-endingly delicious #Travelife. 

PHILTOA hosts the 26th Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) at SMX this weekend



The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) is the largest association of registered tour operators, with allied members from various tourism sectors such as airlines, hotels, resorts, tourist transportation, and related enterprises.

Actively contributing to national economic growth, PHILTOA solely focuses on the promotions of inbound and domestic tourism. Part of its advocacy is the staging of the staging on the 26th Philippine Travel Mart (PTM), the longest running travel trade exhibition that focuses on the promotions of domestic and inbound tourism, of which Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, is a proud partner.

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MAKING THE PHILIPPINES
THE HUB OF ASIA

The event’s theme for the year is “PHILIPPINES: The Fun Capital of Asia”.

It will take place from September 4 to 6, 2015 at the SMX Convention Center to be lead by Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. as the guest of honor.



WHAT TO EXPECT
OF THE 26TH PHILIPPINE TRAVEL MART

Visit the “Sale ng Bayan” Pavilion which will feature the “Fun Caravan Tours.” These are highly discounted well-crafted tour packages with accommodations and land and airfare components packages, offering up to to 70% in savings.

Guests can avail of any of the following packages:

Rediscovering Batanes
Cordillera’s Heritage Warrior
Southern Tagalog Kulinarya
Tuna-‘boli Myx
Northern Palawan’s Eco Adventure 

Prices starts from P 3,500 per person.



THE PHILIPPINES AND ASEAN
ON SALE

Discounted airfare to Philippine and ASEAN destinations and special accommodation packages from 136 hotel and resort exhibitors will be on sale.

Luxury resorts from around the Philippines will slash their prices to make an extravagant holiday affordable. Experience Manila and its surrounding destinations.

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OTHER PHILIPPINE TOUR PACKAGES

Here are a sampling of other tours and experiences available at the 26th Philippine Travel Mart.

Have fun at the “Jeepney Cruise Party”, a unique Filipino nightlife experience of riding an air-conditioned Jeepney, have a grand videoke party onboard, and unwind at the Manila Bay for a dinner cruise.

Explore the “Malabon: Tricycle Food Tour”, discover the “Antipolo-Angono: Culinary and Arts Tour,”understand our Philippine history in a fun and educational way through the “Freedom Trail: Intramuros – Cavite”, discover Manila through a Pasig River Cruise, and more.

Indulge in the “Flavors of the Philippines” where various cooking demonstrations food sampling and selling of regional cuisines will take place.

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THE PRICES AT THE
26th PTM

All promo rates at the 26th Philippine Travel Mart are based on “Book on Buy” process, where rates are exclusively offered during the event.

 It is highly recommended to bring to bring enough cash or credit card. Plan ahead and buy your family vacation, company outings and private holidays during the 26th PTM.