Saturday, November 22, 2008

Butuan Night: Almont Hotel, Internet and Caraga Square

Another day of roaming around Butuan and its surroundings was over and I was ready to reward myself with dinner. I planned to take dinner at any of the better, more upscale places, if any. And omegosh it was just a few steps away from my inn. So, dinner was at Almont Hotel! Oops, that is not Almont Inland Resort. Am referring to the Almont Hotel right in the middle of the city just beside my dear old Luciana Inn. Yep, all three places are owned by the same family. First, I asked if Almont Hotel and Luciana shared the same kitchen since they’re just beside each other. The reply was no, thus, I proceeded.

Almont Hotel’s spacious lobby actually doubles as some kind of a coffee shop. Half of it is dotted with tables for fine dining. The whole area has minimalist look sanz flowery frills or intricate designs. Even the furniture is simple and elegant without so many curves or out-of-this-world designs. And, the place is tastefully illuminated with subdued yellow lights via dimmer switches. At a corner sits a grand piano where a man plays old favourites as you dine. Got the drift? Well, that’s fantastically it!

Porkchop and SanMigLight was my choice fare for the night. Good enough serving size and happy to note that the pork was obviously not fried in overused cooking oil – I don’t know how but I just know when it is! The pianist readily expertly and beautifully rendered every song I requested! He prolonged playing (I think he repeated the whole song) of “Somewhere in Time” since he probably noticed that I liked it very much! Whew! I enjoyed this dinner – and aside from a married couple over at the lounge seats, I was the mere customer dining and listening to his fine music!

Only one thing lacked in this dinner… smoke! Done with the food, I told the waiter I would just go out to the street for a puff, then come back to finish my beer. The courteous reply was “sir you can do it at our garden area”! Whoa! That “garden area” is actually a bit narrow side of the building separated from the dinner area by a full glass wall. There are outdoor tables and chairs (faux rattan) amidst a sweet blend of plants, shrubberies, grass, pebbles, rocks and little stones. The waiter quickly transferred my things to my chosen table at the “garden”. I think there is/are speakers in that garden for I seem to remember that I continued enjoying the piano music as I lounged there.

Great dinner place this Almont Hotel!

After dinner, I needed to do a quick visit to the World Wide Web! I asked where was the nearest internet cafĂ© and a waiter pointed me to “gabriela dot com” about two blocks away. I might as well call it an internet plaza as the sprawling place has quite a number of PCs. It sits on the second level of a commercial building. The stairs are dark and it is even darker inside. Probably that is to cater to majority of their clients – the younger set. The place for me is not just noisy… it is a constant din with varying decibels of shrieks and shouts accented by occasional clapping hands or thumping feet, even banging the desks! Whew! And oh yes, since it is so dark, there are kids having their sweet nothings at corners or even by the stairs! But Gabriela does have fast connection and I was able to do my thing as quickly! Hah!

I headed for Caraga Sqaure!

Now that was a stark contrast to what I saw last night! There were still a lot of patrons in the place but not the humungous crowd of last night. There were still bands playing but no entrance ticket booth nor guards and bouncers. So I was in.

What is this Caraga Square anyway? Well, it is a rectangle hehe! A rectangular parcel of land with one end by the highway. At the other end is a big stage where bands take turns playing to entertain the crowd. On both sides are units or stores (or restaurants, if those can be called that) that serve food and the ever ubiquitous Red Horse Beer. Yep, the front lot of all stores (that’s the center of the square) are dotted with a lot more chairs and tables to accommodate customers that spill out from the small units and/or those who prefer to have a clearer view of the bands playing. That’s it – a square to hang out with beer and rock music with a crowd that starts from C to D, E, F, G, H, I, J…. until infinity! Why is it popular? Because it’s what the younger set likes and they are the ones more active on the web to pronounce that that is the “it” place in Butuan.

Anyway, I was already there so, why not enjoy or at least try to explore… I did! Chose a store, bar or restaurant (whatever they are called) that I thought would have a fine feel to me and that would be as far away from the really loud speakers. That happened to be a place on my left and 2nd or 3rd from the entrance area. I specifically chose it since there were no customers. The lighting is (like all the rest) dark but it had some fancy disco and laser lights and the tables and chairs were not as rickety as the rest.

What else... of course I ordered beer! And I felt like an outcast looking at my table with a clear bottle of San Miguel Light since 99.99% of all the rest were littered with the dark bottles of San Miguel Red Horse! Yep yep, even the girls dig the damn kabayo! And like anywhere else with this kind of place, most patrons drink their Red Horse from a single glass being passed around – tagay tagay ba ‘pre! I just hope Red Horse can instantly kill hepatitis virus and other similar communicable diseases hehe!

Oh, Caraga Square’s crews are a bit like at Puerto Galera. They’re dominated by gays (yep, screaming faggots) who make the place livelier with their oh so forward jokes and antics to ensure salesmanship! I think almost every unit there had gay “waitresses”. And they would sometimes scream or dance as the bands played! Entertaining… or amusing, at least

What about the place I was drinking at? Well, having no other patrons but me, they had no choice but to talk to me since I kept asking so many questions just to know the place hehe! This particular place was owned by three or four friends where only one is from Butuan. They just went there one day and discovered Caraga Square had a vacant space up for lease. They took it, made it another beer joint as the rest and they settled in Butuan. Wow! One of them is even already married to a local lass. Good “legendary” story on how to find business eh! I hope this place will have a happy ending and yet at a very far future!

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