I Watched The Siam Niramit Show in Bangkok and It Was Intense.

“The Highest Stage in the World,” that’s what greets guests at the doors of the Siam Niramit Theater. They hold a Guinness World Record to prove it.

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I’d never heard of this attraction until the moment we were brought to their complex/ theater. I didn’t know what to expect, but I relished not knowing. It gave me a good opportunity to be surprised. So instead of googling the moniker, I followed my family to the banquet hall that stands adjacent to the main building of the complex. Our tickets included a free buffet dinner, which was what I was looking forward to. When we went inside, it looked like everybody who bought a ticket had access to the food.

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It was busy in the other side of this room.

But all was good since refills for food came in like rapid fire. Nonstop. We were all there from 6 p.m., just scooping food after food onto our plates until 15 minutes to 8 p.m., which is when the show started.

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Before it did though, we were treated to a cultural dance presentation by some of the group’s performers, outside the venue. If I hadn’t known that we still had to go into another building, I would have thought that this was THE show already. The dancers didn’t hold back on their skills and their dresses. They all looked so elegant.

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This is part of Siam Niramit’s complex 
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free rice crackers

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When 8 came by, the guests were then allowed to go through the (now open) glass doors to the theater. Inside, we were asked to deposit our cameras and ipads to avoid any disturbances during the show. Sadly, yes; I don’t have a single picture of the production. I wish I did, because it was the craziest theatrics that I’ve seen and it would have been nice to share it with you through visiuals.

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And let me tell you, I’ve seen a myriad of stage shows: Matilda on Broadway, Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, an Opera in Vienna, local musicals! I’ve also seen intense and daring demonstrations like The Great American Circus as well as China’s version of that. None of those came close to the Siam Niramit Show.

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I wish I could fully explain to you the dynamics of the performance and its development, but I can’t for three reasons. The first one is that my poor writing skills won’t give the production justice. Second is that I was too focused on the props and the costumes, that I failed to follow the story. The third reason is that there was too much movement on the stage at every scene, and absolutely zero speaking lines, that it was hard to keep up.

So please, if you’d like to know more about the group, visit their website 🙂

The fact that I saw an adult elephant and a baby elephant, not even halfway through the show, just blew my mind. They even had the two walk on the big aisle, in between the lower and upper seats of the audience. They also had at least four goats and a couple of chicken running on the stage in some scenes. It was adorable, but I can’t help but think “animal abuse.” And that’s a topic for another post. 

At some point in the show, water appeared on the stage to form a river. I’m still not sure how I missed that during the performance. I guess I was too distracted by the bright lights and the overwhelming chaos of movement, that it was easy for me to miss the water accumulating on stage. It still confuses me though, because I didn’t even notice the reflection of the lights on the water, which was difficult to unsee after I did. This river was deep too, since one character was able to jump into the water, his whole body lost in the submersion. It’s either that, or he just sat down at the bottom to make it seem so.

But I couldn’t dwell on that thought for long, because by then a huge – no – a behemoth of a ship came passing by from one end of the stage to the other. This is why I wished I could have taken a video of this show, because I can’t possible explain to you what I saw. I’m not exaggerating. This ship might as well have been the real deal. It’s height took up the entire the stage, from its “ground” to the ceiling. It’s length just as equally long. I wondered how they were able to fit it backstage, or even at the sides of the stage for that matter.

To top that all off is the background; how it changed so quickly once the lights blacked out, how enormous pseudo mountains and houses could be moved so smoothly, how the materials were layered to create depth, and how said materials could act as screens to simulate rain or lightning.

And just like that, I knew that The Siam Niramit was a show like no other. Nothing that I’ve seen can compare to Thailand’s greatest production, especially in terms of beauty, complexity, and elaborate backdrops. Not even Cirque du Soleil can compete with Siam Niramit’s crazy.

After Show Appearance

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A Filipino’s Guide to a US Visa Online Application/ Appointment

I applied for this tourist visa three times before I got approved on my fourth try. Twice, I did the process by myself. Last April, I was asked to set an appointment for my aunt. Just today I got asked, once again, to set an appointment for an uncle.

So I guess you can say that I know my way around this whole online application thing.

Since I’m setting an appointment today, I thought, why not summarize everything for those who need it? And if you still can’t stand the process, it’s best to announce now that I can do it for you for a fee. lol

If you’d like to read the a more intensive overview of the application, please go to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-visaapply.asp

Step 1: Pay the application fee

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  • See here for more details on visa fees
  • The Deposit Slip $160 MRV Fee link should bring you to a page like this

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  • Your copy will have the actual receipt number (I deleted it here to minimize confusion)
  • Pay via either BPI or Bancnet, the bank will give you back the customer’s copy that looks exactly the same, with the same receipt number. This receipt number is important, so guard the receipt with your life.
  • BPI ASKS FOR A COPY OF THE APPLICANT’S PASSPORT UPON PAYMENT

Note: The slip has an expiry as to when you can still pay for the application. Make sure you pay for it before then – friendly reminder 😉

Step 2: Complete your DS – 160 Form (online)

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The next page will need you to provide a security question, which they can use to ask you the next time you open your unfinished form.

The page after that is your DS 160 form, which you will need to fill up until the last page.

***You will be asked to upload a digital (NOT SCANNED) copy  of your picture after the last page of the DS Form. ***

Note: Make sure you have a 2×2 picture that passes the required standards of the US Embassy for Visa Application. 🙂

  • After you submit your picture and your application form, the page will bring you to your confirmation page. 
  • Print the confirmation page, you will need to bring this during your interview. The people at the gates of the Embassy will ask for this page before you can enter.  

You do not need to print your application form, since you have already submitted it online. It will already be in the Embassy’s system during your interview. 

Step 3: Schedule your appointment!

  • Go back to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-appointmentschedule.asp and choose Schedule My Appointment under More Actions
  • This will bring you to a page where you will be asked to make a new account before the website can allow you to make an appointment.
  • After you make such account, choose New Application/Schedule Appointment. This will allow you to fill in information pertinent to your booking.

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  • Once you have done so, you will be asked to put your receipt number. This is where your very important receipt, which you have already paid for, comes back in.

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  • After typing down the numbers, you will be directed to a page where you can choose your date and time of interview. 
  • After submitting your schedule, you just have to print your appointment confirmation page and you should be good to go!

Hope you found this lengthy, step-by-step information useful!

Love,

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Things to do in Siargao, Other than Surfing

Apparently, I still have a few more posts in line for my Siargao Series 🙂

Dubbed as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Siargao must seem intimidating for the nonsurfers to visit. Quite surprisingly though, there are many interesting things to do other than ride the waves. Here are four activities I did during my visits to the island:

Eat Eat Eat

If you haven’t already figured out from my previous post, Siargao has some sophisticated food choices, considering that it is an island. They aren’t cheap too. I am reminded of Bali’s vibrant food scene whenever I think of the growing number of cafés and restaurants on General Luna, the island’s famous strip along the equally famous surfing spots.

 

 

 

 

 

Hop the surrounding Islands

For a mere 1,500 pesos, a group of four to six people can already rent a boat for the entire day to visit the three main islands surrounding Siargao. Naked, Daku, and Guyam Islands, each appropriately named, have their own unique qualities, making all of them a must see.

For one, Naked Island, is simply that – a raw piece of land free of substantial vegetation. Daku, the Visayan term for “big,” is (as you’ve already guessed) the largest of all three and, in my opinion, has the palest white sands. While Guyam, meaning small (according to our guide) is the only island that has rocky shores similar to that of Siargao’s.

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Naked Island with only a patch of grass close to the middle.
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The grass up close
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Daku Island

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You can see the rocky area on each side of the island
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Guyam Island is also the only island with all its coconut trees neatly gathered in the middle.

Visit the Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Pools

The Magpupungko Tidal Flats and Pools are truly a wonder to behold. On the other side of General Luna, is another beach with trenches that become natural pools during the low tide. Just a little farther towards the tip of the flats, there is even a greater sight. As monstrous waves slam into the rocks, the waters make it look like you’ve reached the edge of the world.

Party

Siargao is nowhere near as rowdy as Boracay Island, where the Philippine’s biggest beach parties happen. But neither is it dead at night. Not only does General Luna have events during the weekends, they have one every evening of the week! And because the area is relatively small, almost all the locals (and expats) know where these happenings will be. So if you ever feel like merrymaking, just ask around.

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Viento Del Mar’s event, an hour before it got crowded.

My Top Restaurants in Siargao – What I Ate

Here are all the best restaurants and cafés that I tried in Siargao (in no particular order):

1. Shaka Siargao

A quaint cafe for those looking for a healthier alternative. Smoothies, juices, coffee, tea, and powerbowls are what make up their menu. Shaka caught my eye last year, while Douglas and I were walking from Cloud 9, Siargao’s surfing spot, to our resort. We ordered a smoothie instead of a powerbowl. Although, I can’t say that was a mistake since the drink was impressively creamy, and had more fruit than ice – something that you can’t come across Cebu very often. I was still a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to try their powerbowls that first try, so this time I meant to get it.

AND. IT. WAS. HEAVENLY.

2. Lux Siargao Boutique Resort

Okay, so this is a resort that has its own restaurant (as are the other ones down this list) and I actually failed to come here on my second visit. However, I was lucky enough to have had a poke bowl there with Douglas 🙂

3. Kermit Surf Resort and Restaurant

I tried their kinilaw, which is chopped up raw fish drenched in vinegar,  on my first try last year, and I was surprised to have liked it. I don’t usually like kinilaw. But Kermit Resort had their twist on it, and the sour taste of vinegar was in good balance. It didn’t hurt my throat. This made me ask what else could be good on Kermit’s menu. So I made it a personal mission to go back. This time, I got their Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap. I believe it’s meant to be a snack under their menu, but it’s big enough to be very fulfilling.

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180 pesos well spent

4. Bravo Beach Resort

I already told you what I thought about their resort on my previous post. It may not be my top one, but it’s absolutely worth the try. I had the pork coconut curry, which is almost like humba, a Filipino favorite, with that curry aftertaste and a good amount of shredded coconut on the side.

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5. Wind Del Mar

I had my best meal on the island from Viento. A resort that’s conveniently located next to Bravo. I had their chicken adobo, which they served with mashed potatoes instead of rice. If you’re Filipino, you know how much we love our rice. But I wasn’t disappointed at all. The chicken adobo and the mashed potato worked well together in sweet perfection.

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That’s mashed potato underneath the chicken, red bell pepper, and onions.

6. Miguel’s Taqueria y Cerveceria

I think this is the only Mexican place on the entire island, but I could be wrong. Please do correct me if you know other places. Also, it isn’t a restaurant per se. It’s more like a stall with a couple of wooden chairs and plastic tables on the side.

I’m not sure what legit Mexican burritos taste like, but I know when it taste good. I also ordered their fish taco, which I liked because the fish wasn’t too soft underneath the scrap/batter. It was all evenly cooked.

7. Buddha’s Surf Resort

I also failed to come here during my last visit, but it wouldn’t be fair to this place if I didn’t at least mention it. It’s where Douglas and I had our Valentine’s dinner. awwe. But the chicken curry we had was good, mind you. A little watery than I would have liked, but nonetheless flavorsome.

Resort Review: Bravo Beach Resort, Siargao

Address: Barangay 5,, Tourism Rd, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Wifi: Only in the Restaurant. Barely reaches the room.

I first found out about Bravo in 2016, when my boyfriend and I went there for drinks one night. We were both so amazed at how lively and full their restaurant was, that we regretted not staying in this resort. The place we were staying in at the time was dead during the night. Here, it was filled with all sorts of travellers who brought with them their youthful energy. Some were eagerly playing cards on the table next to ours, while most were just talking in a bubble of enthusiasm. Just observing this was already fun for us. So as we were about to go home, Douglas and I agreed that we’d stay in Bravo the next time we came to visit Siargao.

Well, I followed through on that agreement sans Douglas (sorry babe), and Bravo Beach Resort did not disappoint.

The Room

1. It’s super clean.

You know how sand just accumulates inside your room or bathroom after you get inside from the beach? Hate that. Luckily, that had never happened in Bravo because they clean the rooms every day. For a mere 920 pesos per bed per night, that’s quite luxury.

And for the sake of comparison, we paid 2,000 pesos/night for our room, in our previous resort, but the staff didn’t bother to clean it at all.

2. It’s spacious.

Although I shared the room with four other people, it was still big enough that it didn’t feel cramped.

3. It’s got lockers inside.

Because where else would we put our valuables away from the strangers we’re sleeping with? Bring your own padlocks.

The Necessities

1. The Bed

It was quite comfortable. I can’t say the same for the pillows and the blankets though. I would say that the pillows touch the fine line between being comfortable and not so much. The blankets are so thin that it felt like I had no blanket at all. I got cold every night, even when we set the airconditioning higher (also thanks to the night breeze).

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2. The Bath Necessities

They offer one beach towel, one room towel, and an unlimited supply of toilet rolls. That’s it. So bring your own necessities 🙂

3. The Toilet and The Shower

These two are in separate doors, which makes the place even more comfortable. You don’t have to wait for your roomate to finish showering, just so you can take a dump.

The Restuarant

1. Free Breakfast

You would think that paying 920 pesos a night won’t get you much for breakfast. Wrong. Bravo’s got quite a good selection of food. Out of the options, you can pick at least three orders for no extra charge. And just to compare (again), our previous resort only had the usual egg, rice, and bacon for breakfast. How boring.

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First Breakfast in Bravo: A fruit bowl, two pancakes, and greek yogurt. Coffee.
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Second Breakfast in Bravo: baked beans, poached eggs, bread. Water. Lemon Juice

2. The other meals

The food in Bravo is far from disappointing. It’s actually one of the restaurants that I would keep going back to. But even though the food I had there were all flavorful, I can’t say that they were the best.

Aside from that, they’re mostly focused on Spanish cuisines, which I don’t mind but a little variety would have been interesting. Anyway, I was able to visit other restaurants, so I won’t dwell on that.

They have the best signature drink though, which is called a Pomada – a cocktail of gin and lime and probably honey (?) Who knows. They mix it with crushed ice, so it’s like drinking a 7-Eleven Slurpee. It’s perfect for the tropical heat. It’s what everbody was drinking over there, I noticed.

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BLT Panini

3. The Plunge Pool

Their adorable plunge pool is right in front of the restaurant. Sometimes, it can get crowded with men with perfect abs, so it makes for a good view. LOL. Or you know, it’s useful for when you want to take a dip after that monster of a burger.

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4. The Sofas

Their restaurant also makes for a great spot to hangout in; this is obviously why it’s always packed from the afternoons into the evenings. When everybody just feels like lounging around, Bravo’s sofa beds are there for you. Plus, the wind coming through this place is heaven sent!

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The Beach

I saw that people don’t really use Bravo’s beach for swimming. Women mostly just lay on the sand to tan and that’s it, which is a waste because Bravo’s beach is clean, calm, and less rockly than most of Siargao’s shores. They also have the best views of the sunrise and the sunset. Bravo placed themselves in such a good spot that it makes me mad that I don’t live there.