In Tam Coc, these feet-paddled boats are an attraction by themselves.
I started this year 2014 choking on my "doce uvas" (12 grapes) as the clock in Puerta del Sol, Madrid struck 12. Lots of merriment with a thick crowd gathered around this landmark, sharing booze as spirits -- literally and figuratively -- ran high. My first New Year (and Christmas 2013 too) in Madrid , Spain where I spent nearly 2 months. I didn't miss the most important lesson learned here --- that Christmas is all about the Child Jesus, the Nativity. Not Santa nor the Snowman nor the gifts around the Christmas Tree. While in Madrid, I delighted on the many Nativity Scenes in Churches, Plazas, Malls, offices and homes. And come New Year, I froze as I stood watching the Cabalgata (3 Kings Parade) near the Palacio de Communicaciones. I had a lovely holiday time in Madrid, before heading home to the Tropics.
Before long, I was seated on a plane headed for Sydney . Off to surprise my sister who turned 70 last April. My niece, grandniece, grandnephew and a couple of family friends complete the "surprise party" and to say my sister was delighted is an understatement. We pulled it off! And so with the Great Gatsby-themed birthday party for this septuagenarian who gave us all a scare when she fell ill less than a year before. The event was made even more meaningful as I met the Dancing Hoopers for the first time. In true TravelBlog Family spirit, we hit it off like we're old friends, ready to rock and party. A Great TB Meet-Up While Someone Turns 70
During my stay Down Under, we found time to also visit Melbourne and revisit many Sydney attractions with my Manila-based fambam. A highlight of these trips in and around Sydney is our weekend in my nephew's lakeside house in Lake Conjola. The same house is being renovated now and I can't wait to head back and spend more time there. In fact, I told them they
can drop me off there and come back for me a week after. Just make sure there's a couple of bikes stored somewhere which I can use to buy those deli, pies and bread from the next town's heritage bakery.
The 2nd island destination was Iloilo from where we took a small boat to cross over to Guimaras Island and feasted on the best mangoes! I love going to the provinces as they are such great escapes from the chaos of living in a metropolis, as well as great "oxygen breaks" for us city folks who endure the smog and pollution of Manila. Not to forget , these islands offer the freshest sea harvest at very affordable prices.
Finally. India has always been on my list but I just never had the nerve to go on my own. For some reason, I wanted to go with a group to visit this exotic place. And I found one. Old and new travel buddies, looking for adventures. Now I understand why many visit and stay here, regardless of the dirt, chaos and the threat of Delhi belly. Too many heritage sites, incredible temples and way too many palaces. Pre-colonial and colonial architecture -- take your pick. Either will floor you. The culture is another one for the books. The mysticism can drive you incredulous but then again, this is one land that bred many ideologies and religious beliefs. Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and I'm sure there's more. Incredible India, indeed! Then, there's the perennially-postponed trip to Hanoi , Halong Bay and Tam Coc . Too much planning got in the way in the past. This time, we impulsively decided to just go. Result was one of the best trips we've had. Very relaxing (no planning,
In a couple of days, it's Christmas. All's quiet in most malls now as the shoppers finally got them done and wrapped! I didn't do any shopping at all. (It's all about the Nativity, remember?) But I did order some baked goodies from friends to share with more friends. A friend of mine chides me for timing my medical check-up in this Season, but I figured the hospitals are quiet during this time as patients would rather stay home to celebrate the Season with family. For others, they'd rather simply postpone medical procedures after the holidays. Not pragmatic moí. It's a good time to do it because it's easier to make appointments, faster to get results, and hospital staff seem just a bit more cheerful during this time. Must be the lighter workload. More importantly, I typically go overboard with my holiday binge-ing so why not do those lab tests at "your worst"?
So now, all's well. I binged. Both on food and drinks. Results ok. And spirits high, looking forward to a great
Retired early, but still active. Very involved in celebrating life!
I love traveling because I always come back with less cobwebs in my mind. It is as if I empty my mind of all clutter upon departure, and fill it with many happy memories upon arrival. I also like the idea that life is so focused on the present, and my senses are all playing to listen, feel , see, smell and taste everything novel or not so new. The fact that I only have to choose from a limited wardrobe, or use the same pair of shoes throughout my holiday , or work and survive on a single budget make life so much simpler. ... full info
The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected President and was ta...more history