Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chin Loong, Cafe Medina, Heavy Rains

On arrival from Siquijor, I headed back to Harold’s Mansion still thinking on what else might be a good way to spend the Sunday night in Dumaguete. I couldn’t anymore head outside the city since departure time was in the morning of the following day. Sorry Antulang… sorry Valencia… sorry Zamboanguita… I will just see you in another visit. I decided to hit the pillows for at least an hour or two and see afterwards what ever might seem interesting to do.

It was nearly 7PM when BBC World Report roused me from the light slumber with some news that caught my full attention. After listening to it, I started out for dinner – the venue of which was still unknown. Got out of the hotel and took a trike down to corner of Silliman Avenue and Rizal Boulevard (again). Just glanced but was not interested this time to visit the “tempura row”. Walked by the boulevard constantly glancing at various establishments across the road till I get interested in any one of them.

The number of people dining at Chin Loong caught my attention and curiosity. Plus my stomach was already grumbling. Plus, I suddenly remembered I haven’t had any hint of good Filipino-Chinese food in the recent past. So I went in to see if this place might attract me more so as to dine in it. It did! The aroma inside this place was inviting. The looks of the dishes on everyone’s tables were attractive. The faces of those dining seemed to indicate to me that they were enjoying their food. Plus, there is an open area where smokers can opt to dine. So I settled in and asked for their menu. Bad news, those that I initially wanted to have came in big servings for two or more diners at a time. Few were for the lone visitors like me. But there were choices. So I had crabmeat omelet and ‘shrimp steamed rice’. Deeeelicious!

I had to spend more time just sitting in this restaurant after the delectable meal. It was quite heavy on my stomach though my tongue wanted more from the dimsum list on their menu. Sanity prevailed.

After that heavy meal and some rest, I ambled again along the boulevard and chanced upon Café Medina. Its al fresco area seemed to be a good place to just sit around; drink and watch the Dumaguete nightlife pass by. So I lounged in and started my SML session just watching the boulevard and the few people passing by. This was another night for me to witness that Dumaguete has a lot of foreigners with local girls in tow – either as temporary lovers or wives. The sight is common and in abundance here than anywhere else I have been to. In fact, of the 8 occupied tables in Café Medina, 5 had such a tandem (some with their friends). This was also another time for me to observe that, my goodness, Dumaguete is really a “helmetless” city! I have not seen anyone wearing any! And my hatest… the father driving, the mother carrying a baby seated behind him… the baby (or toddler often) is standing on its mother’s lap. At times there would be another child in front of the father and at other times even another child between father and mother with baby. They all seemed happy to me but… accidents usually happen when you’re merrily jolly happy, right?!

The killer view… I don’t know if she was an idiot or the epitome of vanity… there was this lady happily seated behind a foreigner driving the motorcycle… she had an umbrella on and the guy was speeding as if to outrun the drizzle. Funny but dangerous!

Oh Café Medina is a facilitiy of Honey Comb Tourist Inn, that’s why it is in front and connects to the main lobby of the hotel. The “main event” in this café is/are recorded live concerts by popular western artists such as the Bee Gees, Beatles, Abba, Barry Manilow and many others of that era. Other times they’d be playing a boxing match or any popular event that the owner of the bar likes to watch. Other times the TV would be off and they play good jazzy type of music down to the standards. Thus, you won’t expect giggly teenagers hangin out here!

Still on Café Medina, I like their style of always dressing their beer in that crocheted bottle holder. Tidy, especially for those like me who guzzle it straight from the bottle. The all glass walls also makes for a nice view of the outside, and you can even smoke in there though I still love it at the al fresco area. Then it started to rain! Heavy rains! Aaaargh! So I had no choice but to transfer inside.

Rain in these islands is usually associated with sadness or gloom or even bad luck. I actually do not subscribe to that but this time, I think it materialized for me hehe. When the light shower went to become a heavy downpour, all naturally went to grab tables inside. Good that there were only two tables originally occupied out of many. Bad new: no one in the house could get the sing-along to run. And many of the customers (pinoy or otherwise) were craving to let their lungs croak instead of watching a rerun of some past blockbuster. Hey, this place is properly wired! I mean the sound system is excellent.

Unfortunately, everyone came to realize that only the owner (who left just a few moments ago before it rained) seems to be the only dude who can get the system to work. So, the apologetic and shamed waitresses had to get the microphone back from a group (of tennis players who obviously just came from a game or two) who were all eager to sing. And one of them even called out to the waitress so she can also take the song book back! And so I thought… how selfish of that mestizo of an owner not to teach and trust his crew to properly operate his gadgets. That was one “minus” point for this otherwise hip place.

I went to the tiny but clean rest room for a pee. On exit, I almost jumped when I sensed as if something was brushing at my feet! Oh well, the crews had put on a very strong portable blower that I did not know if it was to circulate air in this air-conditioned place or to dry something. Ah so that explained why earlier I smelt something that “sounded” like a rest room. The “minus” point here is that they position that thing near the tiny comfort room that has no exhaust. So the “air” from that little “CR” is naturally “broadcasted” by that blower into evey nook of this otherwise classy bar. I almost called their attention on that… but for some reason, I did not!

No rain can gloom my day/night if I want it not to! So, I mused at the whole outside including the well-lighted boulevard under the rain. Quite a good view actually. The trees are silently drenching and slightly swaying to the wind, the spot lights try to highlight their eerie look, the glass walls of Café Medina all wet being spattered with thousands of rain drops… those were all great ops for me to experiment on how to take rainy-night-shots! But oh how bad again… I had with me just a lowly point-and-shoot, so I was kind of handicapped. But I went clicking just the same!

Then I had nothing to do but drink, no one to talk to but myself and no way to go but wait for a tricycle that might brave the rains and come passing by this place. Ahhhh! And the TV that should have otherwise been guiding eager croakers at a sing-along was showing some local tele-dramas without sound as the piped in music must prevail. So, when one of the waitresses (who I thought were also obviously bored) came to drop my next bottle, I engaged her in some light conversation. THAT at least made my otherwise gloomy night lighter. She was talkative and I learned a lot about Dumaguete, the ways around, the people and places to see or avoid, the events and celebrations to watch out for and so on! Hmm, I even know now where you can go for a “short-time”! No am not telling you here!

Oh well, then I braved the rains riding a tricycle back to Harold’s Mansion that is way far from being a mansion hehe! I arrived at my room with the floor wet in rain water as it seeped in via the steps at the veranda just outside my room. Did I wreck havoc at that “another unfortunate reality”? Nope! After making sure none of my things (like shoes and slippers) were to be reached by that kind of water, I just jumped into my bed and told myself that if water ever reached the height of my bed, then Dumaguete was probably already in deep shit I should call myself part of history hehe – my room was on the 3rd level.

And I drifted deep into the night…

For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35


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