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. Sure, you sometimes get a raw deal in a few trips, or feel hassled by flight delays and cancellations, but the joys and simplicity of the present far outweigh the negatives. Oh, btw, I always end up gaining more friends after each trip. Many I kept......

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Visited Countries Map

Asia » Philippines » Iloilo February 22nd 2015

It is NOT a first time for us. Time and again, we'd set off for the love of..... FOOD. in this case, OYSTERS. AND MANGOES. You see, I grew up in a place where oyster farming was a family business. Many weekends were spent visiting old folks, armed with a picnic basket which contains nothing more than rice, drinks, local lemons called "calamansi" and condiments like vinegar and fish sauce. We'd head over to the river where the "boys" would harvest oysters while the girls get busy "picking" fish from the fishpens. The old folks start a fire where all harvests go and then, everybody gets ready for lunch. Those were the days. Until the waters spilling from Manila Bay grew polluted and fishing and oyster harvesting weekends became a thing of the past. There were ... read more

Asia » Philippines December 23rd 2014

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 ... read more
Taj Mahal
Guimaras Mangoes
Tam Coc

Asia » Philippines » Negros Oriental » Dumaguete July 21st 2014

We snagged another great airfare deal with this Manila-Dumaguete City-Manila trip last June. Me and my 3 travel buddies. With lots of help from a young travel blogger, we likewise booked rooms in a boutique hotel and island hopping tours while basing ourselves in Dumaguete City. This meant we did things the "lazy" way --- airport transfers, boat rentals, guided tours, and lunch thrown in. Dumaguete City is just an hour's flight from Manila. Capital of Negros Oriental famous for one of the country's oldest universities, as well as take-off point for boat and ferry trips to Apo Island, Siquijor and the country's controversial whale shark interaction site in Oslob, Cebu. One can hop to these islands and spend more time there, or simply do day trips while based in Dumaguete City. We chose the latter. ... read more
This boat is good for 15 pax
Marine Sanctuary in Apo Island
Marine Turtles in Apo Island

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney June 16th 2014

Back again down under. This time, under better circumstances. Surprise, Surprise! Pulled a major one on my sister (the only remaining member of my original, immediate family) who turned 70 last April 27. Yes, the same and only sister I visited "on an emergency" last year. She did beat the odds and came through that surgery last year. All the more reason to celebrate! Really, life is fragile and memories are all we have to treasure the rest of our lives. So it makes lotsa sense to make those wonderful memories with loved ones. And springing surprises like this one took a whole team to mount. ----- wisdom from an old friend of mine. The Decoy I emailed my sister to tell her how happy I was to join this convention/workshop in Moscow in April 2014. ... read more
The Great Gatsby Ladies
Surprise #1 and #2
The Organizers

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid January 5th 2014

Spending Christmas in Madrid? There is much to explore, to discover, and to enjoy, while homebased in the capital. Homebased In Madrid I should get a prize for visiting so many belens (Nativity Scenes) and riding on the Navidad Bus (NaviBus) passing Madrid streets decorated with Christmas lights. Christmas here in Madrid is all about Nativity. The Infant Jesus. Bethlehem. More than Christmas Trees, many Spaniards decorate their homes by reserving a space within the house for their belens. Basic setup includes the Infant Jesus, Saint Joseph, Mother Mary, an ox and a mule. The more elaborate setup includes the Three Wise Men or 3 Kings, and whole villages around the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The December 25 celebration is all about Nativity and there's no Papa Noel or Santa Claus bearing gifts ... read more
My Favorite Nativity Scene
Meet Caspar
Puerta de Alcala

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid December 1st 2013

I do not know the difference between a mercado and a palenque. Back home, we say palenque. But whatever and however it is called here, I am truly fascinated by the mercados of Madrid. Shopped there, dined there, spent many hours there. I remember last year when i came to live with my niece here for nearly 3 months. I would go to the market to buy dinner and soon enough made a few favorite carniceria and pescado y mariscos stalls, drooled on jamon y quezos, claimed a stool to start a desayuno habit of ordering my favorite simple breakfast of tostada con tomate y café cortado. You bet I promptly acquired a daily habit here. The 'Real' Palenques Mercado de Maravillas is just a block or so away from homebase. The lady manning the stall ... read more
Goose Eggs
Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Anton

Asia » South Korea » Seoul October 31st 2013

I was here with some friends just a few months earlier. The Seoul stopover on our way home to Manila after our Mongolian adventure ended up like one major food trip. We certainly didn't waste time during our 2-night layover. And it was only fitting to use "Food Coma In Korea" as title for my blog on that May trip. Oh, how we indulged ourselves! Celebrating With Family Then October came. Family from Madrid and Sydney arrived to celebrate another milestone in my life. We earlier planned to have a big party but instead decided on a family trip to South Korea. I'm happy with that decision. And so was my entire fambam. Because we were a party of 11 pax, I asked a travel agent to package everything for us. The package included airfare... read more
Nami Park
Teddy Bear Museum
Seoraksan National Park

Asia » Philippines » Negros » Bacolod October 25th 2013

MassKara Festival 2013 Held every 3rd week of October, Bacolod City stands true to its slogan "City of Smiles". As many schools and barangays (local political units) within the city dance and sway to the beat with streetdancers wearing smiling masks and make an already festive occasion more carnival-ish. I brought my family here on this October weekend, with hopes that adult and teen tastes will converge in celebrating this most-awaited festival. A Mardi Gras of sorts, Philippine version. Resiliency characterizes the Filipino spirit and this character manifests itself in full splendor here. After all, Masskara was conceived at a time when Bacolodnons, or Bacoleños, or Bacolodians -- whatever and however the residents are called -- were struggling with near despair over the decline in world sugar prices, aggravated by the sinking of MV Don Juan ... read more
School Category Contenders
Green for Environment!

Asia » South Korea » Seoul » Jung-gu » Myeong-dong May 27th 2013

The North kept issuing threats but the South Koreans are unfazed. Those threats have become so regular that life remains normal here despite the newspaper headlines. Shops and night markets remain open, karaoke bars still blaring, glasses clinking as soju (Korean vodka) bottles are emptied, and restaurants and food stalls a-steaming with their specialty dishes! LOSING ONE'S SOUL IN SEOUL? Totally wasted. Completely zonked out. We'd likely never do this again. That is, taking a midnight flight to arrive 4am in Seoul. Good thing Incheon Airport is so welcoming. We stayed, glued to our seats in the airport's Cafe Pascucci , sipping our fav black liquids to start our day. No luck. Our energy level hit rock bottom for lack of sleep. Took a taxi to take us to Nine Tree Hotel in Myeongdong, a good ... read more
More bibimbap in another resto
Ginseng Chicken for ENERGY
Galbi Tang

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar May 23rd 2013

Who stole the dinosaur? And THIS IS NOT A JOKE. We arrived in Ulaan Bataar (UB) just a day AFTER the smuggled dinosaur fossils were returned to Mongolia. May 18 was thus declared the new National Dinosaur Day. Yey! But wait, where would they put all these dinosaurs? The Mongolian Museum of Natural History The Museum is said to be the oldest Museum in Mongolia, and it shows. The paint has peeled off many parts of the white building that now looks like an abandoned structure from the Soviet period. As soon as we entered, we set out to look for the resident dinosaur fossils and eggs. T-Rex was "fully assembled" in a hall with poor lighting. It won't be lonely for long. And it would soon have a new home. The Mongolian government announced it ... read more
Museum Needs TLC
First Dinosaur Eggs Off Gobi
A Dino's Tubular Bone

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