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Turning Thai in Las Piñas

Various parts of Metro Manila have food havens – e.g. Maginhawa in QC, Jupiter (among others) in Makati, right across DLSU in Taft in Manila, et cetera. If you’re keen to discover what Las Piñas has, then by all means, give Erawan a visit (JB Tan is also becoming the village’s “food hub”, so there are other restos there that are worth checking out).

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I’m sure Thailand has so many delicacies that “arguing” what Thai food is, is somewhat futile. I guess that – just like the Philippines – even popular fares are prepared in different ways in different regions (say, pad thai in Bangkok versus in Phuket). But here’s the thing: So many of the Thai food that – at least we tourists know – tend to be “regulars”, e.g. the aforementioned pad thai, pandan chicken, spring rolls, et cetera. And so these have become – in so many minds – Thai food as is commonly known.

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Here’s the catch: Outside of Thailand, so many tried mimicking Thai cuisines; and truth be told, not that many succeed. But occasionally, some manage to capture at least some of the yumminess of Thai foods.

And in Las Piñas, a somewhat austere venue named Erawan manages some hit-and-miss Thai moments…

WHAT’S THERE

The “latest” Erawan (along JB Tan St. in BF Resort) is actually the third “version” of Erawan. The first and second had to close (i.e. lease issues), but because of public clamor (claimed the servers), the owner was sorta encouraged to just keep opening up in different places.

Look-wise, there’s not much there; just wooden tables/chairs facing the street. This isn’t that different from so many home-based eateries I’ve been to in various parts of Thailand (and in some ways, even “classier”, since this is clearly a dining venue, while those in Thailand are just houses-turned-into-eateries).

No, perhaps except for that elephant in the logo (and maybe the plastic chopsticks), there’s nothing identifiably Thai here. I remember a statue of Buddha in the second version of Erawan; but in the third version, it’s nowhere to be seen.

WHY GO THERE

But – as in many of the places in Thailand where I had a lot of fun with the chow – you don’t really come here for the place. Instead, it’s the food that ought to entice you to come here. And on this, Erawan pleasantly surprises now and then…

Tried during repeated visits were:

  1. Papaya salad (P80 for medium; P160 for large) – This one captured the somewhat sweet yet sour lasa (taste) of the Thai original. My one issue is with the shredded green papaya used, with Erawan’s version not malutong (crunchy) and somewhat too soft.
  2. Fresh spring rolls (P70 for medium; P150 for large) – This is spot on, capturing the right combo of fresh veggies stuffed in oh-so-soft (and even pasty) wrapper. The dip, though, could be bettered.
  3. Pad Thai (from P110 for shrimp; from P100 for chicken) – This one is a bit tricky for me, since I recognize that different people may prepare it differently. I am appreciative that it uses many of the ingredients found in Pad Thai in Thailand, but taste-wise… it’s just “almost there” for me.
  4. Laab (Thai pork/chicken salad, P85 for medium; P180 for large) – At least the one I tried was a hit, capturing how I remember Thai street vendors prepared this.
  5. Tom yum (P150 for medium; P250 for large) – This had the right tang. But if there’s one issue here, it’s the portion – if they put even less seafood, it’s like just having all sabaw (soup). Best when eaten with rice.
  6. Thai chicken curry (P100 for medium; P200 for large) – Not as curry-ish as I prefer my curry to be, or even as spicy as I expect it to be. But similar to tom yum, the bigger issue isn’t the taste (it’s good in its own way) but the amount of meat in the serving.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

Perhaps the biggest “issue” is Erawan’s location. Since it’s in a village (if your car doesn’t have their sticker, you even have to leave your license at the guard house), you have to dayo (intentionally go to the place) just to be there. For many in other parts of Metro Manila, this is a deal-breaker.

Then because the place “sells” itself as a “Thai street food” resto, everything here is sorta laidback – e.g. no airconditioning. If you know how hot/humid Metro Manila can be, then this – too – may be an issue.

IN THE END

Various parts of Metro Manila have food havens – e.g. Maginhawa in QC, Jupiter (among others) in Makati, right across DLSU in Taft in Manila, et cetera. If you’re keen to discover what Las Piñas has, then by all means, give Erawan a visit (JB Tan is also becoming the village’s “food hub”, so there are other restos there that are worth checking out).

Erawan is located at 101 JB Tan St., BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City. For more information, call (+632) 6978185 or 09065570324.

Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

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Destinations

Plan an angler’s adventure like a pro

If you’re new to the sport, gearing up for your first fishing season may feel equally exciting and overwhelming.

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Fishing is a treasured pastime for many, but the experience can be as individual as the person reeling them in. A successful angling excursion begins with thoughtful planning and all the right gear.

If you’re new to the sport, gearing up for your first fishing season may feel equally exciting and overwhelming. On the other hand, a seasoned pro can always benefit from periodically taking stock of tackle, gear and other equipment to increase the thrill of a great catch.

License and Registration

With just a few exceptions, fishing requires a license. Thanks to the internet, a fishing license is easy to come by, even if you’re not a resident of the place where you’ll be dropping a line. Pay close attention to the different types of licenses offered so you’re not vulnerable to fines or penalties. It’s a good idea to store your permit in a waterproof container in a cubby on your boat or in your tackle box.

Boat

Unless you’re planning to fish strictly from the shoreline or a bridge, you’ll probably need a boat to reach the best fishing waters. Boat styles vary depending on the species you’re angling for and the body of water you’ll use to drop a line, and dozens of features and options let you customize your experience.

Advance Intel

If you’re traveling to a place where you don’t know the locals, online research and area fishing reports can help you pinpoint the best places to find your favorite catch. For those new to the sport, or if you’re branching out to target new species, be sure to do some research and learn from gaming experts about the best tricks for targeting the fish you prefer.

Tackle and Gear

Some elements of a fishing excursion are obvious, like rods and reels, but also be sure your gear includes a well-stocked first aid kit, sunscreen, sunglasses to reduce glare from the water, snacks and water to keep you safely hydrated. Bring plenty of extra line and tackle so you don’t have to call a day short if you snag a favorite lure. Depending on the manufacturer, fishing-specific boats like the Alumacraft multi-species or crossover boats are designed with built-in lockable rod storage and integrated dual aerated, LED-lit livewells for organizing your gear and keeping your catch safe.

Choose a Boat Style for Your Lifestyle

Not all boats are created equal, so knowing how and where you plan to use your boat will help you determine which boat style you need. Consider these options:

Fish and Sport: These models provide maximum flexibility for families that love being on the water fishing or enjoying a day of relaxation, water sports and fun.

Multispecies: Whether you’re looking to catch the next 50-pound muskie or just relax with friends catching panfish, adaptable multispecies boats are designed for all types of deep- or shallow-water anglers.

Bay: Versatile bay boats offer equally smooth rides and easy handling on your local river or on intercoastal waters.

Bass and Crappie: Designed for shallow-water anglers, these boats feature plenty of storage, powerful engines and flat casting decks.

Hunt and Utility: Tough and easy to transport, these durable multi-purpose boats are built for those who are serious about the outdoors.

Spend more time planning your next fishing adventure at alumacraft.com.

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NewsMakers

56% Expect to travel for leisure in 2021; business travel not expected to return until 2024

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021.

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Photo by Edgar Pereira from Unsplash.com

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released “AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The report examines the high-level economics of the hotel industry’s recovery, the specific impact on and eventual return of business travel, and consumer travel sentiments.

The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, which is down nearly 4 million jobs compared to the same time in 2019. While some 200,000 jobs are expected to be filled this year, overall, the accommodations sector faces an 18.9% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, half of US hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021.

Business travel, which comprises the largest source of hotel revenue, remains nearly nonexistent, but it is expected to begin a slow return in the second half of 2021. Among frequent business travelers who are currently employed, 29% expect to attend their first business conference in the first half of 2021, 36% in the second half of the year and 20% more than a year from now. Business travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. 

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021. The report found that heading into 2021, consumers are optimistic about travel, with 56% of Americans saying they are likely to travel for leisure or vacation in 2021. While 34% of adults are already comfortable staying in a hotel, 48% say their comfort is tied to vaccination in some way.

The top findings from this report include:

  1. Hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees. 
  2. Half of US hotel rooms are projected to remain empty.
  3. Business travel is forecasted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021, and then only begin ticking up slightly. 
  4. 56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure, roughly the same amount as in an average year.  
  5. Nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
  6. When selecting a hotel, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices rank as guests’ number two priority, behind price. 

“COVID-19 has wiped out 10 years of hotel job growth. Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry, we are resilient. Hotels across the country are focused on creating an environment ready for guests when travel begins to return. AHLA is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress on policies that will ultimately help bring back travel, from helping small business hoteliers keep their doors open to ramping up vaccine distribution and testing. Together, we can bring back jobs and reignite a continued investment in the communities we serve,” said Rogers.

The resurgence of COVID-19, the emergence of new strains, and a slow vaccine rollout have added to the challenges the hotel industry faces this year. With travel demand continuing to lag normal levels, national and state projections for 2021 show a slow rebound for the industry and then accelerating in 2022.

The hotel industry experienced the most devastating year on record in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, massive job loss, and hotel closures across the country. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a virtual halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry so far has been nine times that of 9/11.

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Destinations

Discovering the ‘Land of Contrasts’, Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture

Below are a few places travelers can dream of visiting when travel restrictions are lifted.

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Known as the “Land of Contrasts,” Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is home to a variety of outdoor activities for travelers to enjoy. From cycling to surfing and even paragliding, Miyagi’s wide range of landscapes has no shortage of opportunities to try something new.

Below are a few places travelers can dream of visiting when travel restrictions are lifted. 

With a variety of biking trails to choose from, Miyagi is the perfect place to cycle through paths that stop by some of the prefecture’s most famous sights. For coastal views, Oshika Peninsula offers more than 40 miles of rolling hills and coastal panoramas, including a view of Kinkasan Island, a majestic island home to sacred deer that roam about the island freely. In the countryside, Marumori Loop is a popular cycling spot for locals. The low plains offer excellent views of the mountains, charming villages and rice fields. Experienced bikers can cycle through the mountainous wilderness of Mount Zao. These remote passes are grueling but are totally worth it for the beautiful scenery, secluded hot springs and countryside cafes. 

Speaking of Mount Zao, the region is one of Miyagi’s best destinations for outdoor adventures. Skiers and snowboarders can opt to tackle the remote slopes on their own, but a guide is considered essential for anyone not trained in winter mountaineering and acquainted with the terrain of Mount Zao. Luckily, M’s Guide is a winter mountain guide service based at Sumikawa Snow Park and can tailor any outdoor excursion for guests. 

For watersports, three-time paragliding national champion Takeshige Yamaya offers tandem paragliding experiences in Matsushima Bay, perfect for travelers to experience one of the Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan. Sendai and even Mount Zao can also be seen from the sky. In Sendai, Barefoot Surf offers a variety of SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) and surfing excursions for any skill level. 

Travelers looking to spend the night outdoors can stay at the Fukiage Kogen Campground in Northern Miyagi. The grounds are surrounded by scenic views of mountains and quiet forests. The campground even has its own hot spring, walking trails, pub and plenty of cute goats. While travelers can bring their own equipment, guests can be supplied with all the gear they need with advanced reservations.

For more information on Miyagi, visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com.

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