The Clean Plate, UP Town center

Thankfully UP town was open today even if it was holy week here in Manila. The Clean Plate had been on the list of my “want to try” restaurants for a few months already, but with my exams happening I couldn’t squeeze a lunch break for this blog entry. Finally today I got to try this!

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Inside where you could buy organic goods and other cute plates and things

Clean Plates displayed on a wall

The exterior of the restaurant was very fresh, there was fake grass on the ground under the cute yellow chairs and brown tables. Inside was a cute shop filled with many plates and organic bottles of things you could buy and the continuation of their restaurant. Because it is always so unusually hot every holy week here in Manila, we opted to eat inside rather than outside.

Their menu had about 7 plates average per section, and it was easy to pick what to eat. We tried the Wonton Chorizo Taquitos Php 240, Rustic Grilled Cheese Php 220, Ratatouille Pizza Plate for Php 303 and the Panna Cotta Sweet Plate for Php 100. I just found it odd that they used different designs of plates per dish they served and we all had different cup sizes. I wonder what kind of theme they were going for with the place? But I guess the owner really wanted to feature all the pretty plates that they had, hence the wall with all their plates and the name “the clean plate”.

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Wonton Chorizo Taquitos Php 240. I loved the Wonton and the Chorizo, this was pretty good considering that it was just Wonton, Chorizo, Tomatoes and cheese. (Free Range Naked Chorizo, Salsa Fresca and Bacolod Caciocavallo)

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Ratatouille Pizza Plate for Php 303, I liked this because of the many mushrooms and eggplants it had. However the lady told me that this was for single serving and I couldn’t finish the whole thing.

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Panna Cotta Php 100. I loved the taste of the panna cotta mixed with the honey and grapes. I never really tasted panna cotta with grapes, a plus for the flavor because it was made of goats milk

I wanted to try a lot of other things such as the main plates the Black Rice Valenciana, Bacon Lechon Kawali, Honey Belly Roast and the Twist Kebab. They had a lot of things on their menu which were not necessarily healthy but definitely sounded very good. On their menu it said that their beef, pork and chickens were mostly free-range or grass fed. Its definitely a place I would like to come back to despite the disappointing Rustic Grilled Cheese which looked like a pandesal which you inserted bega flat cheese into.

The Clean Plate

Facebook: The Clean Plate
UP Town Center, 2nd floor

Side trips from Manila: Mt. Manabu day hike

Cheapest adventure yet. A very cool side trip from Manila, for people who love to hike. We left Manila at around 5am on a Sunday and arrived Lipa at 7am. We could have gotten there earlier except we stopped over first to eat breakfast at a gas station. I never knew how clear and nice the roads were around the South. It was my first long drive out of town, and it was easier than driving around Manila. I wish that all our highways would someday look like this.

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Clean highway with no potholes or holes.

We spent a total of about Php500  each. The skyway from Magallanes only cost around Php 200. Php 25 for the first tollgate and Php 39 for the next tollgate. Of course rates would depend from where you are coming from. The hike only cost Php 20 for the registration fee and then another 40 for the tricycle ride going there. Although I think i should have brought the car up to the jump off point because there are parking spaces around there. It cost us Php 48 for two guides going up the mountain. It was easier for us to split costs because we were a group of 23.

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Houses you’d pass by while climbing up the mountain.

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The jump off point with all the dirty broken shoes left behind by past hikers.

There is not much to see while you are hiking up the mountain as compared to the other mountains I have climbed before. Here you would see a lot of vegetation and you would pass and stop by a lot of houses where they would serve you free coffee or some buko juice. They were also selling suman at one house. It took us almost 2 hours to climb up to the summit. We ate lunch up there and shared some food.

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A mix of rice, bacon, tuna afritata and some vienna sausage.

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The foggy view of Manila behind us.

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Our group of 23 or so and a few new friends at the Summit.

Our climb would have been quicker if not for the long stopovers and some delays along the way. This could even have been just a half day event if you just suddenly feel the urge to take a hike somewhere. Traveling with a big group comes with its ups and downs, but when it comes to splitting costs this is the perfect solution to a budget climb.

Banaue-Sagada, Cordillera Region

I cannot say much about Sagada except that it was really too much for me to intake in just 3 days. I think that I need more time for the experience to actually sink into me. We stayed here for 2 nights and 3 days. The first day was for traveling here, we left Manila at 10pm and arrived Banaue passing the back way and not from Baguio at around 7am where we had our breakfast. From Banaue we had to drive all the way to Sagada which took us around another 2-3 hours. We got there at around 10am where we first took a long rest and had our lunch. We stayed at Hidden hill, which costs about Php 300 per head a night. Very quaint and hidden, it was a really nice place to stay in.

The viewpoint of Banaue Rice terraces. There are so much of the terraces all over the place so you could practically call everything Banaue Rice terraces.

The viewpoint of Banaue Rice terraces. There are so much of the terraces all over the place so you could practically call everything Banaue Rice terraces.

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Hiking up to Bomod-ok falls. It takes about 2 hours going there and another 2 hours coming back. Don’t forget to should when you’re at the echo valley.

Day 01: Banue Rice terraces and Sagada, Bomod-Ok falls

We were advised to go to the Bomod-ok falls first today instead of the cave connection because apparently it was a “holiday” the next day and they said that we would not be able to visit the Bomod-ok falls because they would be resting.

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The Fedelisan people believe that the water here has healing powers. So if you want to try, you may swim in the falls. It is very cold though so be careful. Also the rocks are very slippery.

Going to the Bomod-ok falls takes about a 2 hour hike up and down the terraces. It was a lot of fun talking to our guide about the culture down here. They are mostly Christians but they also follow their own traditions down here. Each person has their own Christian name and Native name. We learned a lot about how each family has a part in the terraces as a source of livelihood and how they use some of the grass as fertilizers. The view was breathtaking and the trek was long but worth it. It was also another 2 hour hike to go back up another route which was a bit easier since it was less steeper.

Day 02: Cave connection from Sumaguing to Lumiang cave then we spent the afternoon in Ganduyan Museum, Pottery house and hike around Echo Valley to the Hanging Coffins.

Cave connection is optional. You may opt not to take the route from inside the cave of Sumaguing to Lumiang, but I would recommend this because it was so much funner!

Cave connection/ Spelunking is optional. You may opt not to take the route from inside the cave of Sumaguing to Lumiang, but I would recommend this because it was so much funner! Php 300 per head.

This was the most tiring day ever! I was falling asleep between the trips because I was so tired from spelunking in the cave connection. You can opt to do the cave connection or not, but I would encourage you to try it because it was such a memorable experience! You wouldn’t believe how beautiful it was inside that cave. Don’t worry if you’re not so experienced. There are a lot of guides to help you go around the cave. I would suggest that you go here in small groups so that you do not take much time. Also bring slippers to go around the cave because sandals could cause you to slip easily. It took us about 4 hours inside the cave and we were exhausted when we got out.

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The lady guided me in making the pot. It was really difficult even if she made it look so easy.

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This is my finished product! I encourage you all to try it out. Php 100 per person

After lunch we headed to Echo valley which was another hike to the hanging coffins. Really interesting tradition of the Fedelisan tribe here. After another long hike we headed to Ganduyan Museum, and I was already dozing off. Ganduyan was the original name of Sagada but due to a misunderstanding with the Americans the place was called Sagada. The museum is really one to visit and I would encourage that you ask them to guide you around. The owner of the museum takes care of this place very well and it gave me a good look into their traditions. Then we headed to the Pottery house where I made my first ever pot. It was pretty difficult and the lady in the pottery house kept on scolding me (haha). It was so much fun! I wish that I had more time here because it really was a lot of fun. Php 100 per person to try the pottery making.

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Trying to catch the Sunrise from kiteplan tower at 5am.

Day 03: Sunrise at Kiteplan tower, leaving Sagada passing by the route to Baguio and the Highest point of the highway.

We woke up at 430am just to watch the sunrise on Kiteplan tower. Although today Mr. Sun didn’t show up we did get good pictures. How I wished that I was on top of Mt. Pulag at that time. It was a sea of clouds and It was really cold to be up there at 5am. After watching the sunrise we left Sagada for Baguio. On the way there we stopped over at the highest point of the highway for a bathroom stop and to stretch our legs. Then we passed by La Trinidad strawberry plantation before heading home.

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This way going home is actually longer than the back way but it was part of the tour to be passing by this way so we did.

We spent a total of Php 6000 each including accommodations, food, transportation and the tours. We booked the hotel and the itinerary with Parana tours. It cost us about 3800 to book with them which included the individual rooms and the van transpo with the tour guide and most of the tours. The rest of the 2200 pesos was for the food, the cave connection Php 400 each but Php 300 if you do not book this with the agency and pasalubong shopping. It wasn’t so bad for a first try and I would love to come back to explore some more of Banaue and Sagada. There are just so much things to do here and I really didn’t expect to have that much fun. My next trip might be to Ilocos but since I don’t want to ride a van anymore I plan to just take a plane going here. It’s just too much of a hassle to be sitting around in a van for 12 whole hours.

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Strawberry Yoghurt from the Strawberry Cafe. I will come back to eat more of their food!

For the places that I ate in Sagada check out my post on Exploring the food in Sagada, Cordillera Region. Pagyaman! Fedelisan tribe.

Exploring bits of the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo Manila

SONY DSCMy mom used to always bring me here when I was still very little and my dad worked at the big bank in front of the fountain in Carriedo. This Chinatown in Binondo is known the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in 1594 during the Spanish colonial period. Everytime I come here it feels like a fusion of the Chinese and the Philippine community. I used to come here every week during my breaks in La Salle. I’d take a train to Carriedo and walk around Binondo street or a jeepney to Divisoria where I would buy things that I could sell to my classmates. They have everything you need here in Binondo and everything is just so cheap that sometimes you’ll wonder if what they’re doing is illegal.

So I went here to look around to try some of their featured restaurants along Ongpin street and also for something I could possibly start a business from. If you’re considering on reselling things, I think Binondo is the place to go to. Anything from fake ID’s or fake Diplomas, branded glasses, alcohol, earrings, shoes, beads, cloth anything and everything you could find here.

1. Bakers Fair hopia

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1 box Php 120, 4pcs Php 24

Mongo hopia from Bakers fair has always been my favorite kind of hopia. I love it because it comes in a diced shape and hot off the grill if you buy them here! Php 120 for one box

2. Shanghai Fried Siopao

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It used to be Php 16 for one siopao but not it is priced at Php 18 for one siopao.

My mom used to take me here when I was small to get their siopao. I really love fried siopao because of the crispy bottom of the siopao. Get this fresh and hot off the grill with the hopia and eat it while walking along the streets of Binondo.

3. Cafe Mezzanine

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Near binondo church just along Ongpin street, try their wintermelon drink.

Cafe mezzanine is a famous Cafe here in Binondo and was featured in CCN’s must go places. There are a lot of people here so come during off hours. A part of the restaurant’s income goes to Binondo’s fire department, whose iconic purple truck  is parked beside the Binondo Church. Try their Wintermelon drink for Php 39. The restaurant next to it, Eng bee tin is also a famous hopia store but I still prefer the Bakers Fair hopia.

4. Sincerity Restaurant

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Php 350 for the whole chicken and Php 99 for the Sincerity fried rice.

Yuchengko st. Corner Ongpin, From Cafe Mezzanine turn right and go straight. You will see this restaurant to the right. We got the Sincerity whole fried chicken for only Php 350, and the Sincerity fried rice for Php 99. The chicken was good and even could have been good for 4 people. I loved it, flavored well inside and out for the price of 350 and a whole chicken it was like eating at Sunrise Buckets except for it wasn’t just wings.

TIPS:
1. Do not bring a car coming here not unless you have your own driver. It took me 3 hours to get here by car because of the heavy traffic from the jeepneys. I parked in Lucky Chinatown mall where the parking seemed safest. (Usually I would take the train going here or a jeepney. If not I would park at the nearest train satiation connected to a mall then take the train coming here)

2. Bring a bottle of water, or just buy a lot of drinks while walking around

3. Do not bring a big bag or at least always watch your belongings

4. Come here with someone who knows the area. It is not nice to waste time walking and getting lost around Binondo because you really could get lost and people will take advantage of that.

5. Research about the places you want to go to and map it out. I suggest that you do this on a notebook. You wouldn’t want to bring out your phone here in Binondo. One blink and your phone could possibly be gone.

6. Do not bring a wallet when you come here or wear any fancy jewelry. (Please remove your earrings, necklaces and any other valuables)

7. Cleanest bathrooms are at Lucky Chinatown mall. You just have to pay Php 10

8. There are so many ATM machines here that you will not need to worry about money except losing money. Be very careful with your money.

9. It is also not clean at all here! Nothing has changed, it is still one of most unclean districts manila but the food here is good.

10. Of course lastly, ENJOY and take some pictures if you can! ( but be careful with your camera )

When all else fails just look for the big church and the rotunda with the fountain and you’ll easily spot Ongpin Street at the side of Binondo Church. If you walk along that street you will see all the above mentioned food places. There is also a lot more you could visit and try. Do not limit yourself to the places i mentioned about, There are also good dumpling places along Yuchengko street and also the Presidents Restaurant If I recall correctly, the last time I ate there it was really good. Discover and go around and do your research of the place. It is like a piece of downtown China in Manila.

How to get here: There are trains that go to Divisoria from around Manila. You may also opt to take the LRT1 train to Carriedo maybe or a train to Recto station riding the LRT2. Either way you will not know where to go unless you ask around or have someone with you who knows the place. Maps are a bit useless until you get the hang of the area. You’ll have to memorize it by heart.

BUDGET PER PERSON: Eating here is really cheap, we probably just spent less than 500 per person. If you are a lot I’m pretty sure that you will be spending less than that. Unless you plan to go shopping for school supplies for something, but even for that you will not need much money.

Costa Pacifica Baler, Aurora weekend

After 6 hours by car from Manila, I was definitely stoked to be here. Being a ballerina, You’d probably think that surfing would be easy for me… But its not.  I have really been wanting to surf at Baler for the longest time. Probably since I went surfing in La Union last July. The sand here is very fine, kind of like a black sanded Boracay beach. We were lucky to have come during a typhoon, as the waves were really strong and It was a fun experience.

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Stoked to be surfing again!

As for surfing. It costs Php 350 per hour to surf with an instructor. There are also other places that you could visit here in Baler such as other beaches and waterfalls. However, due to the lack of time. We weren’t able to do much of anything but surfing. Compared to La Union, Baler was definitely a better place to surf at. The sand was finer and waves were much stronger.

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Their famous suman and COCO JAM with some pancakes!

Costa Pacifica is a great hotel/resort to stay at, but staying here would mean coming prepared for the amount of money you would be spending. Their restaurant didn’t have good service, but they did serve… GOOD BREAKFAST ❤ and I love good breakfast food. They just have to work on their poor service and pricing of their menu. For your lunch and dinner you should just search through Trip Advisor and eat at better and much cheaper restaurants nearby.

If you’re looking for a weekend trip from Manila. Leave on Friday night and start surfing all Saturday afternoon. Then on Sunday you should leave early before it gets dark, since there are no lights in the province. Its the perfect weekend getaway with your friends or your family.

Typo, Trinoma

I do not usually post about shops, but I would like to share something about this new store that just opened up in Trinoma. TYPO is this store that sells tons of really cool gift ideas and DIY things that you could do to your room. This place reminded me of the shops that I see in Japan. Those cute stores with a lot of different quirky things that you wouldn’t really use but you would just like to buy because it was just so damn cute.

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Some cute greeting cards you can give to your friends.

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Crafts Projects

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I want this! The DIY Lanterns ❤ ❤

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More Typo Cards

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Some pouches

Here is a place you could come to if you’re in need of a cool gift for your friends, and you are running out of ideas of what to give them. A bit pricey though, but some of the items were sold at reasonable prices. I like the DIY things and the lanterns that they sold here. Definitely a store that I will love to come back to again and again.

LOCATED AT: 1st Floor Trinoma, If I remember correctly it was in front of the MAC makeup stall.

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Travel section, this is where I bought my sleeping earphones!

Color me Mine, Fort Bonifacio Hobbes and Landes

I honestly think that this is what parents should be spending on for their kids to be doing. Instead of them staring blankly into their I Pads and Computer screens. I noticed so many kids coming by as we were painting our ceramics, and their parents just ignored them when they explained to them that they wanted to try doing it.  I really felt so bad for their kids.

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Tons of ceramics to choose from. The plates run out fast so a lot were out of stock. Also mugs.

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My little sister painting her pencil holder

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My mug and My moms mug after painting ❤

I’ve tried this before when I was a little kid and in fact I still have my old plate that I made from around 12 years ago probably. It was so much fun to come here together with my mom and my sister. I would recommend that you try coming here its quite an experience. We spent about an hour or two here at the studio. You get to pick from different sorts of ceramics and they give you a color chart to choose from as well.

Budget per person: About 1000 pesos, it really depends on what you’re painting but I would recommend that you prepare this much.

This is located inside Hobbes and Landes along Bonifacio Highstreet the only other branch that still does this is the branch at Greenbelt 5. So while you still can do this. I suggest that you come here and try it out! Enjoy ❤

Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo

I had been wanting to go here since three months ago but I didn’t have the time until yesterday because It was a holiday. Even if you are not an art enthusiast you would love to visit the place. Unfortunately it was raining hard yesterday so we were not able to see the whole vicinity.
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The viewing room

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My favorite artwork is that man on the swing! Looks amazing in person

I would love to just give you a preview of the place and its artworks. It is a great place for you to come with your family and or your friends for a very quick trip out of Manila. It is only about 30 mins away from Katipunan and a beautiful place to spend your day in. I love that there are small and different kinds of artworks around each corner of the place. I was expecting the place to be a bit bigger however I was not disappointed with the place.

We got a bit lost coming here because of the rotunda and the lack of signs. Just make sure that you turn right on the next street after Marville park. Entrance fee is Php 150 and for students if you bring your ID it is Php 75. Enjoy your day and get lost in this beautiful museum. I would recommend coming here on a Sunny day.

Pinto Art Museum

1 Sierra Madre Street, Antipolo City

Open every Tuesdays- Sundays and even on Holidays! Since we did go here on a holiday.

Half day trips from Manila, Daranak falls Tanay Rizal

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candid moment

It was the birthday of one of my closest friends and we wanted to celebrate it outside of Manila. Somewhere new and fresh, not like Tagaytay or Subic where everyone seems to go to when they celebrate something. We left Katipunan at10383005_10204102597276116_5321219528265016163_n around 1pm and arrived there at exactly 2:15pm. We weren’t aware of where to pass so at     first we took the long way around up the mountains. Not bad since we got to see tons of beautiful scenery up the winding roads! We went straight to Marcos highway and then just followed the road. It was easy since the road was just straight and when you get to barangay Sampaloc you will see tons of signs leading you to the falls.10402972_10204102597596124_5470486164472533293_n10478226_10204102599076161_4565834178477385195_n

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New Adventures!

A small paradise near Manila. I would definitely refer anyone to try to go here since Tagaytay and all those other places are overrated. Here you could dive into clear cool waters and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful waterfalls. Mostly locals and foreigners visit Daranak falls, and it would be nice if you could try it as well. Only an hour outside of the busy city and you would only spend for the gas and the 50 pesos entrance fee and 30 pesos parking fee! Just bring your own sandwiches or snacks. The locals here are very friendly and the lifeguards kept our things safe! Definitely something you should tick off your to-go-to list. Enough with the city! Immerse yourself into nature!

San juan, La Union weekend surfing trip

Last weekend my friend invited20140616-085112.jpg me to go to La Union with her to surf. We left for La Union riding the bus from Cubao Partas. It took us 6 hours to get there, if however you do have a car It would only take you 4 hours to get here because of the new highway. Buses just take a longer time because of the many stops it takes. We left at 530am and arrived at 1230pm. We stayed at Costa Villa resort which is right next to the beach. It is also beside Floatsam Jetsam a well known youth hostel there in La Union where we initially were supposed to stay in but was already fully booked. It was a long weekend so most hotels were fully booked.

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Surfing and about to stand before a wave

San juan, La Union is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines. As soon as you get to the beach all you can see are surfers and big waves. We availed of surfing lessons the next day which costs 400 per hour and another 100 for the jeep ride where they take you to learn how to surf. Some places are dangerous to surf in for beginners, so they take you to an area where the waves are much smaller for you to practice on. We spent a total of 900 pesos each for two hours of surfing lessons. We had 1 hour and 30 mins on the small waves and we went back in front of the resort to try the last 30 mins on the bigger waves.20140616-085323.jpg20140616-085338.jpg20140616-085348.jpg

Our instructors were very accommodating and despite the fact that I twisted my knee when I jumped off the surfboard I was still b to surf the last 30 mins. The instructor just helped me a lot since I couldn’t paddle and it took me a longer time to stand but I wa20140616-085608.jpgs able to long ride most of the time. It was such a great experience, my first time surfing! And it was really memorable. Afterwards we ate at Floatsam Jetsam, since they serve an array of different kinds of meals, the vibe of the place is something that you’ll want to experience. I would love to go back again even if just by myself. To watch and to catch some more waves and some sun.

Note: I suggest that you bring your own car. This i think is possible for even just a day trip or an overnight trip in case you don’t want to get tired and catch a little more rest since surfing is really physically tiring. Prepare at least 4000 per person and if you’re a lot maybe less. ENJOY!!