Posts Tagged ‘travel’

My blog was quiet for the most part of 2013 – I used Facebook and Instagram more often, indulging myself to the easy way of taking photos, editing it and just writing a few sentences.

I miss writing though… the long kind of writing that doesn’t care if it garners likes or shares… the kind of writing that I just pour my thoughts on anything under the sun that I feel deserves a bit of internet space. So for this year, I hope I get to write more!

For the meantime, let me share snapshots of how my 2013 looked like:

JANUARY

I welcomed 2013 with my family in Philippines. We went to celebrate the countdown at Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s ancestral house in Kawit, Cavite. Gen. Aguinaldo, the 1st President of the First Republic of the Philippines, first proclaimed our Philippine Independence from Spain from the window of its grand hall. Yes, too many firsts on this one!

Infront of the Aguinaldo Shrine with my nephew Ezboy, my mom and my sister-in-law.

Infront of the Aguinaldo Shrine with my nephew Ezboy, my mom and my sister-in-law.

As my birthday month, I spent my 27th birthday with Peter at Universal Studios Singapore! My favorite ride was the Transformers! I chickened out from the Battlestar Gallactica though… booooo…

Optimus Prime showed up to greet me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Optimus Prime showed up to greet me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

FEBRUARY

Ah the love month! We skipped the expensive dinner in restuarants and instead had a poolside date at our place. What made this special was that we both surprised each other, not the common one way street – as guys do deserve this, too, thanks to my gender equality background hahaha.

Everything that is lovely and cheesy Valentine's day. <3

Everything that is lovely and cheesy for Valentine’s day.

This was also the Chinese New Year period and I thought it was nice to spend it here in Singapore… but it was raining most of the time and we got so freaking bored that I vowed never to spend it here again. 😛

Year of the Snake - 2013 Chinese New Year at Chinatown, Singapore.

Year of the Snake – 2013 Chinese New Year at Chinatown, Singapore.

March

We spent the month enjoying what Singapore has to offer starting with a cycling trip around Pulau Ubin. Pulau Ubin is the 2nd largest offshore island, after Sentosa. This island is the last “kampong” of Singapore that is preserved from urban development – but there are news saying this may not be the case soon because the government is eyeing on developing Pulau Ubin like Sentosa. I hope they will really reconsider as this place is perfect the way it is.

Cycling is the best way to go around the island. There are a lot of bike rental shops at the port with varied designs to choose from.

Cycling is the best way to go around the island. There are a lot of bike rental shops at the port with various designs to choose from.

It was our first time to take part in the Holi celebrations and we were glad we did! Holi is a spring festival and more popularly known as the Festival of Colors.

Colorfully fucked up during the Holi Festival at East Coast Park, Singapore.

Colorfully fucked up during the Holi Festival at East Coast Park, Singapore.

April

Peter and I officially welcomed summer in Bali, Indonesia. After a few days stay in Seminyak and Kuta – lazing in its sun, motorbiking to famous spots, indulging in a luxurious couple spa with milk bath; doing some adventure sports which the only one that I can recommend is the white water rafting at Agung River (we were pissed off with the snorkeling/turtle island packaged tour, thus, not recommending it) we headed to Ubud, the island’s center for culture and arts. We also did a motorcycling trip from Ubud to Mt Batur, a volcano with a deep crater lake.

A spot at Nusa Dua that we found. It's a place for surfers.

A spot at Nusa Dua that we found after trekking down following surfers.

Monkey Temple in Ubud. Look, the two monkeys!!! :))

Monkey Temple in Ubud. Look, the two monkeys!!! :))

May

A trip to Singapore was my pre-birthday gift to my Mom and also a pre-graduation gift to my eldest niece, EJ. It was a fun time for us touring the city, going to the safaris, USS and showing them the day-to-day life in Singapore.

My niece EJ, Mamocka, me and Peter having the obligatory tourist photo infront of Marina Bay.

My niece EJ, Mamocka, me and Peter having the obligatory tourist photo infront of Marina Bay.

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Enjoying an afternoon dip in the pool at home. Another way of burning those Singaporean food calories.

June

This was a ‘dark time’ in Singapore… dark due to the haze that enveloped the country for the most part of the month. The PSI hit a new high record of 371 which breached the hazardous zone. It was tough during these times because we lived in the 17th floor with huge windows and we would wake up with an ‘end-of-the-world’ view as darkness was all that we saw. I am glad that nothing serious happened though thanks to the Singapore government’s actions towards safety precautions, restricting outdoor activities and initiating talks with Indonesia.

The normal surgical mask was no match to the haze so my office gave away N95 masks.  This was a 'trendy' fashion accessory for a time.

The normal surgical mask was no match to the haze so my office gave away N95 masks. This was a ‘trendy’ fashion accessory for a time.

July

One of the things that I do is managing events for the School. It was fulfilling for me to handle the NUS Initiative to Improve Health in Asia (NIHA) – a forum that involved most of the Ministers / Director Generals of Health in the region as well as the academe and public health practitioners who came together to discuss policies and programmes related to Health Technology Assessment.

NIHA Forum at Traders Hotel, Singapore. This photo was the 'calm before the storm'.

NIHA Forum at Traders Hotel, Singapore. This photo was the ‘calm before the storm’.

After NIHA ended, I went to another overseas trip as my way of rewarding myself. I spent a week of relaxation, shopping, having my fill of Thai food and reuniting with my friends in my 2nd home, Thailand. Bangkok, the capital city, never failed to keep me entertained and bringing out the crazy me!

A trip to Thailand will not be complete without a beach bum moment. This was taken in Koh Larn, Pattaya.

A trip to Thailand will not be complete without a beach bum moment. This was taken in Koh Larn, Pattaya. I went for an overnight trip together with my Thai friend, P’Nong, and fellow AWCF-FK, Erika.

August

We moved in April to a spacious condo unit in Normanton Park with a great view of the city. The space and view would be a waste if not shared so I decided to start hosting house parties which unto this day is a joy to organise. It amazes me though that we often end up with more food than what we prepared because my fantastic friends would also bring something to share. So, til our next house party! 🙂

Potluck dinner with CouchSurfing friends.

Potluck dinner with CouchSurfing (CS) friends.

August saw me getting back to playing frisbee again, a sport – yes, it is considered as a sport and not just a thing that you do with your dogs 😛 – that I used to play a lot when I was in college. Our School joined the NUS Staff Games and we landed 4th place, not bad considering most of us only learned it in 2weeks time.

Frisbee with our colorful shoes! Can you guess which one is mine?

Frisbee with our colorful shoes! Can you guess which one is mine?

September

Peter and I visited China’s 2 Special Administrative Regions: Macau and Hong Kong, as part of our Anniversary celebration.

Macau is a former Portuguese colony that still has remnants of the past but also went full steam ahead in building huge casinos with amazing architectural designs that even non gamblers, like us, would visit.

A night walk at San Man Lo, Macau's Historic Centre that showcases Macanese culture - the mixture of Chinese and Portuguese traditions. This photo was taken infront of the Ruins of St Paul, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A night walk at San Man Lo, Macau’s Historic Centre that showcases Macanese culture – the mixture of Chinese and Portuguese traditions. This photo was taken infront of the Ruins of St Paul, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Together with my friends, we toured Hong Kong with its modern architecture, expansive skyline and harbors.

Before watching the Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour, we walked around the Avenue of Stars - giving Jackie Chan a "low-five". (hope you get the joke here hehe)

Before watching the Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour, we walked around the Avenue of Stars – giving Jackie Chan a “low-five”. (hope you get the joke here hehe)

Of course, a trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without being a kid again in Hong Kong Disneyland!

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” ~ Walt Disney

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” ~ Walt Disney

October

This was my most stressful month at work. The trying times gave me sleepless nights, buckets of tears and my most unhealthy self. Looking back, it was a test of character and the struggles did help me to be better in what I do and also a better perspective of what I want in life and who I want to be.

Despite all these,I was just glad that I still had time to spend my first business trip in Manila with remarkable people.

My first business trip and it was in Manila! Awesome time Sentro, Bonifacio Global City. With my 2 wonderful colleagues, Jananie and Joanne, together with my long-time friends, John and Karl.

My first business trip and it was in Manila! Awesome time at Sentro, Bonifacio Global City. With my 2 wonderful colleagues, Jananie and Joanne, together with my long-time friends, John and Karl.

My first Fashion Week experience!  Being fab at the Philippine Fashion Week with Jananie, Ellen and Rae. Ah lovely ladies!

My first Fashion Week experience!
Being fab at the Philippine Fashion Week with Jananie, Ellen and Rae. Hey lovely ladies!

November

It was a crazy month with an uber packed schedule.

November 1 was my first time to participate in the Singapore Halloween Dancewalk. It was a lot of fun from thinking of our costumes, doing face painting and dancing crazily with my friends! A fellow CSer did a good job of videoing the whole thing so you can check it HERE.

Nov 15-17: I was able to organise an elementary reunion, well only a few came but what the heck, we still had fun! Attended a wedding and college reunion rolled into one and a day to do a bit of shopping, meeting friends and trying to squeeze in a Salon pampering – finally got a PERM!

SLS Batch'99, Elementary Reunion with my long-time friends: Rae, Wi, Karl, Jhoana, Kat and Cla-Cla.

SLS Batch’99, Elementary Reunion with my long-time friends: Rae, Wi, Karl, Jhoana, Kat and Cla-Cla. Photo collage by Rae.

Chuckie and Vida's Wedding.  Group shot with my Nav friends during my college years.

Chuckie and Vida’s Wedding.
Group shot with my Nav friends during my college years.

The fab team of Toni and Jackey's Salon who did a wonderful perm job. I highly recommend this salon as they also have excellent service and amenities.

The fab team of Toni and Jackey’s Salon who did a wonderful perm job. I highly recommend this salon as they also have excellent service and amenities.

November 29 – December 10: A few weeks after my last trip to Manila, I went back again this time with Peter. It was our pre-Christmas holiday as we opted to spend Christmas in Singapore. The decision to stay longer in Solano, my hometown, proved to be a good one because Peter had more time meeting most of my relatives and friends. We also had time to decorate mom’s new apartment, which we both are paying. My decision was to pay it myself but Peter said he wanted to be the best son-in-law and wanted to pay half of it… so now the rent is divided to 50-50. 🙂

Solano Public Market. Fresh produce, clean surroundings and nice sellers - things that I love in this 'palengke' (Tagalog for market).  My friends, Angela and Marco, were a huge helped in my reunion preparations! much love.

Solano Public Market.
Fresh produce, clean surroundings and nice sellers – things that I love in this ‘palengke’ (Tagalog for market). My friends, Angela and Marco, were a huge helped in my reunion preparations! much love.

Christmas feeling in our new apartment in Solano.  With mom and my sister's daughters: MikMik and Yza. Photo taken by my sister, Chatty - you might be able to see a glimpse of her in the mirror.

Christmas feeling in our new apartment in Solano.
With mom and my sister’s daughters: MikMik and Yza. Photo taken by my sister, Chatty – you might be able to see a glimpse of her in the mirror. And oh yeah, I won the sala set in a raffle draw! I do have the ‘lucky hands”.

December

Hands down, December will always be a month of celebrations, reunions, feasts and everything that is good and happy!

I was one of the bridesmaids at Kythe and Dan's wedding. This was also the first time Peter attended a Catholic wedding and met my college friends.

I was one of the bridesmaids at Kythe and Dan’s wedding. This was also the first time Peter attended a Catholic wedding and met my college friends.

Our office, External Relations, hosted a Christmas lunch with our ex-MD11 colleagues and friends.

Our office, External Relations, hosted a Christmas lunch with our ex-MD11 colleagues and friends. It was also the luncheon meeting of Santa’s reindeers.

The debut of my tiny monopoly during the Christmas Eve party that I hosted at home. It was so freaking cute that I had to buy it! It's also a good travel must have especially if i get stuck in the middle of nowhere - will just invite fellow travelers to play!

The debut of my tiny monopoly during the Christmas Eve party that I hosted at home. It was so freaking cute that I had to buy it! It’s also a good travel must have especially if I get stuck in the middle of nowhere – so I’ll just invite fellow travelers to play!

Shot nights!  Crazy FK Reunion with Deenu.

Shot nights!
Crazy FK Reunion with Deenu.

New Year's Eve Countdown at Marina Bay with Peter, Vichelle, Deenu, Ash and Shyam, Followed by Olga's rooftop party. Photo by Ash, post-processed by me.

New Year’s Eve Countdown at Marina Bay with Peter, Vichelle, Deenu, Ash and Shyam, Followed by Olga’s rooftop party til the wee hours of the morning.
Photo by Ash, post-processed by me.

With that, I greet you all – who had the patience to check this blog post all the way to the end, a BIG FAT HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2014 be as awesome or if not more awesome than 2013!

Jeevan or Jivan means life in Nepali language. The Nepali way of life was what I sort of experienced while I was there. I say sort of because my 8 days stay in Nepal were not enough to actually experience everything that this country offers – a country that is in a middle of two powerful nations, China and India.

I encountered “Jeevan” on a cold Wednesday night. I decided to go to Thamel, a tourist centre in Kathmandu City which is composed of narrow streets that houses small shops, to book my bus ticket and buy warm clothes for my trip to Pokhara the next day. After booking my bus ticket, I went to grab some snack at Illy Cafe. My supposedly short snack stop turned out to be an interesting conversation with two Israelis who got excited when they learned I am from Philippines. We ended up discussing areas of interests that they can visit. Good thing I worked in Philippine tourism so my knowledge and experiences came in handy. It was already dark when our conversation ended. We said our goodbyes in the hopes that we may see each other again. After paying the bill, I went off to buy items on my list.


Souvenir Shop in Thamel. I went here thrice because I really liked their craftsmanship and I already became friends with the vendors. They even offered me some beer and a nice chit chat. I bought a fine KHUKURI, a carved Nepali knife similar to a machete. Khukuri is a symbolic weapon of the Nepali Army and of the Gurkha regiments. I chose a 1 foot-long khukuri engraved with the word Nepal and decorated by gold plated Nepali coins, inscriptions and army symbols.

After sometime, I decided to walk from Thamel to Durbar Square. Street lamps are not that popular in Nepal so you have to get accustomed to dark streets and alleyways. It is due to the fact that power outage is very common, an average of 10 hours a day (and might increase). Nepal mainly uses hydroelectricity and the blackouts are caused by the falling generation of the hydro power plants due to the  slow melting of ice and political and economic issues that I will not discuss here.

Back to Jeevan, I was walking in the dark streets trying to figure out the way to Durbar Square. I made a wrong turn and asked directions from the old man walking beside me. He smiled and said that he will take me there himself. I replied that I didn’t want to impose especially during festival time wherein they should spend it with their family. He insisted and lead me the way. Despite his happy disposition, I didn’t let my guard down when I realised we were not walking on the main road but on dark alleys. I gave some distance between the two of us and when we passed by a store, I discreetly asked the vendor if this way will also lead us to Durbar Square. The vendor replied “yes!” which gave me some assurance only to look up and see that the old man saw and realised what I just did. He came to me and asked me my name. I said, “My name is Cha”. He said “Cha is like a daughter. So, treat me like a father. Cha is a guest and during festival time, gods and guests are the same. So do not worry, you can trust me”. What he said totally changed the atmosphere and I let him lead the way through narrow dark alleys. Just to be clear, I am a believer that  most of the time, strangers turn out to be a good conversationalists and guides (so don’t believe in  the saying “Don’t talk to strangers”) BUT one must always be street smart and cautious especially for ladies travelling alone at night time.

The evening turned out to be a good one because I ended up having a local guide explain to me the significance of Durbar Square and the different buildings/temples that made up this area. Durbar Square holds the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings who ruled over the city. It is also surrounded with various temples that houses different gods. The old man painstakingly explained to me which god the statue is, what this god does, and the animals that protect each god and temple. He also explained the different palaces, structures and carvings. I wasn’t able to remember most of it as we went from various temples, buildings and palaces. I wanted to go back to Durbar Square early in the morning to have better photographs without the crowd and with proper lighting but sadly I wasn’t able to do so. In one of the temples, he told me to say a prayer and sound the big bell at the entrance. He later explained, “When you sound the bell, you are hoping for God to hear your prayers. The bell will help you with that. The sound is symbolical in bringing your prayers to heaven.”

Meet JEEVAN. Jeevan is the name of the old man who lead me through dark alleyways, explained the religious and historical significance of the temples and buildings, lent me his mobile phone so I can call my friend to pick me up and waited with me until he arrived. 🙂 I hope we can meet more Jeevans along the way.

Jeevan is not just the name of the old man but also a word that stayed with me. Jeevan is life and the fullness of life in its different forms is what I encountered in this country and what I look forward to experience in the next countries that I will set foot on.

More stories to follow. Below are some snapshots of Kathmandu.

View of Kathmandu from the plane. Kathmandu VALLEY is actually composed of 3 districts: Kathmandu City (the capital), Lalitpur and Bakthapur. Kathmandu is named after “Kasthamandap”, a three-storey temple in Durbar Square that is made entirely of wood without nails/irons from ONE SINGLE TREE. Just imagine how massive the tree that was used to build this temple.

Rooftop View. Nepali homes are usually just 2 to 4 storeys high and have a rooftop. Those higher buildings that you see here are usually office spaces. An American, who married a Nepali, that I met during my bungy trip said that because of the power outage, people would usually use the rooftop during winter time to get enough sunlight, hang out for a chat, enjoy a meal, drink or play cards.

Potato fields at Nagarkot Village. Nagarkot is part of Kathmandu Valley and is famous to tourists because of the Club Himalaya Resort that gives a good view of the Himalaya Mountain Range. We rented a car so it was easier for us to ask the driver to stop if we see places/views of interest and this was one of them. The farmers were very accommodating and they even let us try hacking the soil in preparation for planting. They only asked us for some chocolates in return. 🙂

To further explain my point on my previous post, The LINK: Sustainable Development and Tourism, read on.

ENVIRONMENT.

Last summer, did you went to Boracay? Coron? and all the best beaches in the Philippines? I bet you extremely enjoyed it. I sure did especially when we stayed at Alta Vista de Boracay. Sleek hotel right? Up in the mountains and overlooking the sea. Back then, I didn’t even think of how many trees they have to cut just to build that hotel and where did all those trees go. I didn’t even think of how much water it consumes for its bathroom, swimming pool, kitchen etc. I didn’t even think where they throw their trash.

Well, I guess I should need to ask first the contractor of Alta Vista on their developmental plans. Maybe the trees were reused for furnitures and they planted new trees in exchange. Maybe the water underwent purification so that they can reuse it again. Maybe their trash was segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable items and non-bio items were either reused and recycled and the others were dumped properly. AAAHHH If i get those answers from them, it will make my experience a whole lot better.

A nice view from Alta Vista de Boracay during my stay there with ActivAsia

I did enjoy Boracay - the feeling of its fine white sand on my feet was very calming.

During your last trip, can you remember throwing trash on the beach? in the caves? waterfalls? Even small items like candy wrappers or cigarette butts? If your answer is yes, then YOU my friend just contributed to the death of these natural resources because trash doesn’t go away. It just piles up or moves – maybe not in the same place where you threw your trash but I’m absolutely sure it piled up somewhere – in the bottom of the ocean, on the next island or miraculously migrated to Taiwan because of a strong storm.

Tourists can be very harmful to the environment. Just imagine if each tourist takes a bottle of sand as a souvenir – and DOT is saying that we have more than 2 million tourists last year. Do you get the picture?

There is what we call a carrying capacity. GDRC (The Global Development Research Center) defines carrying capacity as the number of individuals who can be supported in a given area within natural resource limits, and without degrading the natural social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations. The carrying capacity for any given area is not fixed. It can be altered by improved technology, but mostly it is changed for the worse by pressures which accompany a population increase. As the environment is degraded, carrying capacity actually shrinks, leaving the environment no longer able to support even the number of people who could formerly have lived in the area on a sustainable basis. No population can live beyond the environment’s carrying capacity for very long.

On this part, we are failing to see the carrying capacities of our tourism destinations. The government and tourism stakeholders should be the one ensuring on how much the destination can really accommodate in terms of visitors – and not just look into how much money it can generate.

See the impact? Well, not just for Tourism but also in all industries whether its manufacturing, telecommunications, etc. It’s good to ask yourself by now on HOW does your industry affect the environment.

I would appreciate it very much if you can post a comment below if you already have an answer on the HOW question. 🙂

NOTE:

I want to make you understand that even in our own ways, we can either destroy or help the environment. So please, on your next travel, be mindful of your trash.