Showing posts with label Travels / Tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travels / Tours. Show all posts

04 March 2014

One fine morning

Someone says good memories are for bad times; not that I'm having one. It feels good to express gratitude.  I look over my week and notice that I put in effort to turn yesterday's emotional glitch around. The attempt was successful. I am happy. So on to this life-enhancing exercise of sharing joys and faves:
  • attending an art exhibit whose artist I have personally met from a fundraiser for Haiyan victims last year
  • a friend I haven't seen in 25 years who now lives in the UAE rang and we chatted for two hours
  • Pompeii and Robocop
  • someone tells me I am her inspiration. Whatever she meant I thought knowing that was inspiring as well
  • memories! I woke up one fine morning this week and reminisced:
this spot in a splash resort, so appealing to the country girl in me  (Del Rio, June 2012)

exploring a lake with young nephews and nieces (Sebu, 1 January 2014)

finding myself in a lovely tea room free to dream as much as I want (Cassia Cafe and Tea Room, 2010),

while sipping green tea with milk and honey. I promise it tastes divine!

and having steak and kidney pie with mashed potatoes and chutney for brunch. This makes me look forward to exploring more charming cafes. They are cozy worlds in the midst of buzzing Bangkok.

Weekend Reflections
Friday's Fave Five
Picture Clusters
Share the Joy
Water World 
Our World

24 February 2014

A sweet blue situation

Ever experienced being disoriented while traveling? It was not jet lag in my case. Fourteen hours on a Bangkok - London flight with additional whirl changing air crafts in the UAE, and I was strolling around Scarborough Castle early the next day. So the culprit was very likely the stress around my mutilated passport.

A few minutes before deplaning in Manila, I learned that our pilot was a lady. I whispered wow as I recalled how the plane felt as if it was gliding playfully on its side through a forest like a merry fairy shortly after take off.

And that takes me back to a sweet dilemma: PhD or learn to fly?

So as I waited for my cocktail during this year's Valentine al fresco dinner with single friends, I fancied engaging both, but one at a time. Then the server came with my drink miffing me out of doctoral and helicopter reverie to a vision in sea green!

You see I deliberately ordered Blue Hawaii for Sally, and what did I get? Ah well, at least the glass on the right seems true to my color intention. I still gave a nice tip and quickly dropped the disappointment for more significant things, my faves this week:
  • one month absence from work all forgiven; salary is intact, no deductions whatsoever
  • surviving a boardroom situation: I ate linguistic implausibility though I've been in this playground long enough to judge which games are worth stressing over. From the registrar's report to the PR chief's apathetic statements to a colleague's lecturer issues, our chairs swiveled in butt-kicking tension for over an hour
  • Dan Brown's Inferno. Finally. I bought my copy last year but got sidetracked by Crichton and Grisham. Like usual, my insomnia antidote
  • transfer of my visa from the mutilated passport to the new one is complete. The thing is a gnawing stomach in a terribly long queue is no joke. I risked losing my number by sprinting to a cafe and made it back on time!
  • life-saving visa salmon and honey lemon tea brunch; that's how I call this

11 February 2014

See you later, alligator!

There's something about going up in the air. Some kind of high. I may have felt homesick watching the buildings grow smaller as the plane zoomed into space, but it's cool joy to welcome the normality of getting back to work.

Thursday my passport was sorted. Suddenly I didn't want to think of Bangkok. I packed wondering when I can come back home. But then it's wonderful to see the end of this stress so of course this one tops my faves for the week. There was one final thing I did before dealing with airports and immigration.

I went to see my old man.

Back in 2005 I defied sorrow that only death could pull off by glaring at it in my mind dry-eyed throughout the burial ceremony. How dare you snatch my father, you massive coronary! 

Fast forward to 2014. Holy Garden Matutum Memorial Park was breezy when we walked in. The kiddo insisted that his Tigger relaxed beside my anthuriums. It gets easier each year. Time does heal.  

Less than thirty-six hours later I flew back to life in the fast lane. And didn't I just love the legroom around my 1A seat!

It will be a year or two before I can have these delicacies again. I want to hold on to this memory one more time before facing cafe meals eaten hurriedly beside computers:  At church potluck Pastor Mandreza got busy pairing off widows and widowers. For the first time ever I didn't mind the banter over the possibility that my mother could marry again. Better yet, I didn't know what made me full: these coconut sport dessert and fern salad or the laughter galore.

28 January 2014

Life in the slow lane

As if the delay of my passport release was not enough, the office of Academic Affairs emailed to remind me that my work license was expiring. So much for being happily stuck at home, sweet home. I should probably start pleading for a miracle. There had to be something to make up for this black cloud over my holidaying head. I tried looking around and it's wonderful to find joys and faves despite all this trouble.

Ever tried going around looking for something you fancy eating in a downpour? Life in the slow lane. You can afford time to do what you want the way you want it. It was like stepping back into a world where deadlines don't exist. No alarm clocks. No meetings. Just friendly vendors selling fruits under trees in front of their houses.

Tuesday I sorted out a couple of beneficiary issues on my health insurance. If you are familiar with how paperwork is done in the Philippines, you would consider yourself lucky if you got things done in one go. This time I did and to celebrate I took Ma and Cj to Barrio Otso (Village 8) to spend a lovely afternoon eating a yummy dessert.

A friend said that my passport issue could be a sign that I should not go back to Bangkok, at least not just yet. Political unrest is happening there right now anyway. I thought it could be. I'm falling fast for the mountains around. They give the country girl in me a rather better view of the world out there.

Then Wednesday I rang DFA and was told my passport was on its way to Gensan from Manila. Things are looking up. My heart leapt to my throat. I am thankful and excited.

So this is what I fancied eating. Through the rain. Wish granted.

27 January 2014

Camp Mariano

Camp Mariano is a summer camp along the Pan-Philippine Highway to Koronadal in South Cotabato.

Next to the camp entrance is where locals or visitors to the province spend lovely afternoons -

enjoying a dessert called buko salad

Buko is a Filipino word for young coconut. There are variations among ingredients. This one includes ube ice cream and jam, sweet banana and leche flan.

Around Camp Mariano are little huts selling coconut vinegar and salted fish; root crops like camote (sweet potato) and turnip.

The sign on the tree house says "Live Christ, Share Christ." Having lived in a Buddhist country for 16 years now, I felt a bit strange but cheerful reading that. And then I knew something: I was reconnecting with Christian culture. I was home.

20 January 2014


Boracay is a resort island in the Philippines, administered by the Philippine Tourism Authority and the province where it belongs - Aklan. The island is approximately 196 miles south of Manila. I visited it on a whim in 2013, a year after it was awarded, among several other awards, the best island  in the world by Travel + Leisure, an international travel magazine.
"Apart from its white sand beaches, Boracay is also famous for being one of the world's top destinations for relaxation. It is also emerging among the top destinations for tranquility and nightlife." (Wikipedia)

Linking with ABC WEDNESDAY

11 October 2013

Chakri Naruebet

"What is a newlywed like you doing posing in the middle of a highway?"

"Look closely, Ma. I'm roving the ocean."

"What ocean?"

Wondering, I examined my own photo. Indeed I looked like I was standing where traffic could send my 38-kilogram frame swirling to kingdom come any minute. The sea was a blurry blue. Unrecognizable at a glance.

So I explained to my mother that I wasn't spending my honeymoon risking my life on a Thai highway. I was exploring an ocean beauty docked that time in Sattahip naval base - Chakri Naruebet, or at least a part of her where visitors were allowed -
Fast facts for HTMS Chakri Naruebet:
- It is Thailand's first and only aircraft carrier, and the only one in Southeast Asia
- it is the world's smallest aircraft carrier
- built by Bazan, in Ferrol, Spain
- ordered in 1992, launched in 1996, and commissioned into the RTN in 1997
- designed to operate an air group of V/STOL fighter aircraft and helicopters


04 October 2013

Birthday trip to Singapura

"I'd like to be a kid again but only because naps were insisted, twirling in circles was acceptable, and the only password I had to remember was open sesame." - Adan Burks

It was unabashed fun posing with some childhood TV idols at Universal Studios.

At first I was hesitant thinking I was too old, but reckoned what the heck.

'Today I will grin and giggle like that third grader with pigtails that I was, and be quietly thrilled as when I won that little multiplication contest in class. Period.'

Touring Lion City was also officially starting a walking regimen. That's two at a time. Or three: exercising, touring, enjoying the sights. Though highly urban, the country girl in me had no complaints at a Lamborghini whisking by as we explored Marina Bay Sands.

No deadlines, no meetings, no homework, just holiday bliss.

Doing something unplanned and then finding out it feels wonderful should make it to my faves this week -

Like walking barefoot in a part of Gardens by the Bay which they call Scented Walk. Alongside is the Dragonfly Lake which serves as a good spot to view the Supertrees.

What a relief for tired feet after wearing wedges on the plane and walking in them around Merlion Park!

While my friend and I are neither tipplers nor teetotalers, we went up Altitude for its reputation as the world's highest alfresco bar -

"... pink and orange sunsets... the day winding down over busy China town, night lights and laser beams painting shapes and figures in the sky." (CNN Travel)

People there are well-dressed and well-mannered. Altitude, at 282 meters above sea level sits atop United Overseas Bank. I remember scrambling to activate international withdrawals on my UOB account a few hours before flying in; sort of teasing myself but there's a sense of security there somehow.

Singapore looks well-organized. I never saw a beggar the whole time I was there. Taxi drivers speak English. Guards can communicate.

Then it was time to go home. But not before enjoying familiar cuisine, the grilled chicken with sauce so divine it all tasted like a home-cooked meal.

Visit:  Our World * Smiling Sally * Picture Clusters * Share the Joy

05 July 2013

Thrones, stairs and ambassadors

The few visitors in the throne hall of King Narai's palace were leaving when I got there. Pleased with the solitude, I lingered. The quiet seemed to usher in an opportunity to commune with the spirit of the ruins, however fleeting it was.

Like usual thrones this one is elevated.  Over at his palace King Narai had foreign dignitaries, those of France's King Louise XIV whose practice of wearing high heels was hypothetically due to his short height.  There must have been some influence or connection there.

This is the Dusit Sawan hall. The stairs are steep. Imagine King Narai going up the steps to sit on his throne. I fancied going up. It was uncomfortable, but then I'm no king and they must have adapted some fashion of climbing steep stairs in 1666.

This is a close-up of the memorial plaque by the throne. It portrays King Narai granting an audience with French ambassadors -

The ruins still exuded so much character. Ambling behind the throne was like playing hide n' seek with whatever friendly ghost was left in there. Numerous climbs must have taken place on this flight of stairs before the roof went off to reveal that sole flier in the vast space above.

Then I proceeded to the living quarters of the king's many wives....

~ x ~
Shared with Time Travel & Sepia Saturday

21 May 2013

Ship-seeing to Sichang

There is tension between Taiwan and the Philippines over the recent shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Philippine coastguard. Taiwan retaliates; rejects apology from the Philippines, impose sanctions, threatens Manila with naval drills in the South China Sea, goes arrogant, eg. compares themselves to a golden retriever, the Philippines a chihuahua in the event of an attack. Wait. I love dogs. My ears are on alert mode, though I didn't have time to find how the shooting took place, there's an identical twin of my wondering through an FB comment by Mike San Agustin Mccrea

"if a vessel is required to stop for a coastguard inspection in its national (usually 12mile) limit, and refuses to do so the coastguard is entitled to take such action as is necessary to stop the vessel. If it does not stop after a warning [shop], it seems fully justified to fire on the vessel.... If someone gets shot it is the fault of the skipper of the offending vessel.... So if this is the case it would seem to me that the person the Taiwanese government should be venting its anger has a Taiwanese travel document"

A former schoolmate's fantasy of the Philippines' first line of defense got me googling and then supposing that there's nothing noticeable enough. Chihuahua :(  But then the matter of war could be a long shot for the golden retriever. My hands grip the leash as I walk away and turn my attention to something sea-ish, like ships, the cargo, tanker, normal ones.

Join me in my little boat trip to Sichang, a tourist island in the gulf of Thailand, and see some ships.

~ shore of Sriracha ~

 ~ small mountain of sand in the middle of the sea ~


Here's hoping Taiwan didn't attack while we were ship-seeing. 'PEACE be still.'

07 May 2013

Quiapo Church

More formally known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or Saint John the Baptist Parish, Quiapo Church was founded in 1586 by Governor General Santiago de Vera in Quiapo, Manila.

As a third grader I would look at a picture of Quaipo church in a Social Studies textbook and would often wonder how true were those 'extra' stories of crowds walking to and fro on a break of pews or right at the doorstep while mass was going on.

Finally after thirty-one years two weeks ago I saw the place for myself; people conducted business in front, and not inside as I worried. It was also my first time to set foot on a Roman Catholic church since Grandpa's funeral mass in the mid 1990s.

29 April 2013

Parasailing in Pattaya

I always fancied parasailing (or parascending or parakiting). Usually a boat tows the person harnessed to the parasail. I was towed by a jetski, as were the others who took this fun ride. The tour started in Pattaya where we took a boat to Coral Island. About 15 minutes out in the sea we made a stop to parasail.


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