A Year of Travel

2013 seem so distant yet a few hours ago, everyone was celebrating like it is the last night of the world. For instance, I was on my way to Sydney (or the nearest place to be) to watch the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks. Alas, we can’t even get near Balmain backstreets or get a parking space for people were getting ready to party. The fifteen minute spectacle was viewed in a faraway park with only the upper half of the fireworks can be seen. I knew from that moment, that I will be back in NSW – Sydney to be exact for another run of the NYE celebration.

Another run holds true for the travels I have made in 2013. My travels were more of revisiting the places I have been to in the past. Not bad for some have changed through the years. Some changed after I left. Some changed me.

January was revisiting San Vicente after a long hiatus of field work in the area. It was also a return trip to Ilocos after a long time. It reignited my love for dinuguan (blood stew) with crunchy pork strips and Batac empanada.  February was focused on Siargao for the much needed presentation of the one year work we have done in the island. March is a birthday in Guiuan, which will never be the same again. It was also an opportunity for me to visit Indonesia for the first time. Ties were binded among ASEAN representatives and German colleagues after we were holed in Bogor for nineteen days.

Windmills in Bangui

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Surf Camp in Calicoan Island, Guiuan

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

I am grateful with my work which showers me with travels once a month. Second quarter of the year gave me an opportunity to visit Bohol, Cagayan and Hanoi. Places you learn to love as your own. A stay in Bohol Bee Farm was all natural, including the fresh flowers as salad. Tuguegarao and its vicinities made you realize there is more to Region 2 aside from the Sierra Madre and hot weather. Hanoi was an adventure for it was my first time to negotiate with the airline staff after my luggage was left in Hongkong. It made me realise that I don’t get intimated when going out socially with people from G8 countries. (big smiley here)

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Tuguegarao Church

Tuguegarao Church

It was an adventure for the women in the family when we all visited Hongkong in the height of Typhoon Utor. The storm signal no. 8 didn’t deter us from walking along Mongkok, Nathan Road, Disneyland and Lantau Island. I wish to have more trips with Nanay and Lyn in the future. After Utor/Labuyo, it was all habagat on my way to Legaspi City. Thankfully, Mayon Volcano welcomed our LGU guests with open arms (and beautiful view of the cone).

Night Market in Hongkong

Night Market in Hongkong

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

The last quarter of the year was a roller coaster ride. I experienced first hand the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan when I was in Tacloban on the day it made landfall. I endured the nite of sleeping in cold floor, the day with minimal water to drink and the long and depressing walk out of the city. No interviews, photos and videos can describe the fear I felt from 7.30 AM to 9:00 AM on 8 November 2013 in Algo Homes in Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

George River in NSW, Australia

George River in NSW, Australia

As they always say, there is a rainbow after the rain. What a big rainbow indeed! Christmas and New Year were spent in Australia after months of dreaming of coming back. I remembered posting that I wanted to go back there in the midst of summer. Look, I was there when Sydney reached 40s. My three week stay in a suburb, faraway from home, was an eye opener. I realize that wherever you place me, I will find a way to see the sights. I will always be a wanderer by heart.

Happy 2014! More opportunities to get lost!

Made for long walks.

Made for long walks.

A Taste of Hongkong

Aside from shopping malls, night markets, temples and amusement parks, Hongkong is also a food trip haven. Admittedly, our lil family trip was not a food trip. In between walks, we were able to savor some cheap eats in  Kowloon and Hongkong Island.

Yes, we did try McD’s for their fries.

Straight from home

Straight from home

First meal is from Crystal Jade. A hot congee, a bowlful of noodles(not shown) and two kinds of dumplings.

bun and dumpling

bun and dumpling

Steamed dumpling

Steamed dumpling

Dinner at fishball and noodle restaurant near Nathan Road. Everything is meant for sharing — for us, that is.

Singaporean noodles

Singaporean noodles

Ground pork with egg

Ground pork with egg

Cold milk tea

Cold milk tea

Pineapple pork bun

Pineapple pork bun

Vegetable dumpling

Vegetable dumpling

We had no choice but get a burger meal while waiting for the fireworks show in Disneyland. Not that great burger but an image of my favorite alien gives me the happy disposition.

Alien burger

Alien burger

Stopping at Flagstaff

When I first got hold of a historical walking tour guidebook of Hongkong back in 2010, I told myself that the sites should be included in the HK trip that time. There was Western Market, the old trams, Murray House and a museum. Not just another museum but a museum of teaware itself. Teaware–what?

For a tea drinker like me, plus the fact I love nostalgia, the said museum is a heaven on this part of a tea drinking country. I love anything that is connected with tea even though as of late, my love for the beans trumps the leaves. I remember fondly when I first saw a tea plantation in Boseong, South Korea. I literally hugged them!

Back to Flagstaff, the museum is located inside Hongkong Park. It was built in the early 1800s and served as residence of the Commander of the British Armed Forces. According to http://www.discoverhongkong.com,

“Flagstaff House was converted into the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 with a new wing, the K.S. Lo Gallery, added in 1995. Alongside its exhibitions, the museum holds regular demonstrations, tea gatherings and lecture programmes to promote ceramic art and China’s enduring tea drinking culture.”

House Tea

It is free of admission. One can gawk at the various teawares – history and all–as well as the varieties of tea that can be consumed and how to prepare them. It was such a delight to read on  the preparation of a powder tea – you can either mix it with hot water or brush it in a small bowl. Who would have thought there are many ways to serve this beverage? A short AVP showed a traditional way to prepping and drinking tea. Tea ceremony!

For some actual tea drinking, there is a teahouse located near the museum.  For kiddie fun, you can play with teasets and all in a small room inside the museum. Prior to the exit, an interactive survey has been set to determine the type of tea one uses and its benefits to one’s health. I was pretty familiar with the most of it but my sister just realized she has been drinking the wrong tea afterall. Better get those oolong for weight loss!

Old and older.

Old and older.

As I stepped out of the museum, my love for tea was reignited. I ended buying a box of Taiwanese oolong (milk!) tea in the nearest Vanquard store.

 

Hay, how I love the magic of using the pellet teas, the aroma of genmaicha, the bitter taste of green tea, the richness of oolong, the flowery scent of chamomile and the “best with scone” english breakfast. What is your favorite tea?

~~~
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is located at 10 Cotton Tree Drive, (inside Hong Kong Park), Central, Hong Kong Island.

  • From MTR Admiralty Station, Exit C1. Then follow the signs up the escalator to Hong Kong Park. The museum is on the right side after the large arc and Lock Cha Tea House.
Source: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/museums/special-interests/flagstaff-house-museum-of-tea-ware.jsp#ixzz2coS95yvs
 

Departures

I love airports. And it is not because of those ubiquitous Koreanovelas that feature at least ONE airport scene. I love the feel of the wide spaces, the bright lights … even the cold metal seats. There is something about aeroportos that make my heart skip. I always equate airports to going to some place unknown and going home.

My Top 10: Myeong-dong, Seoul, South Korea

Whenever I am in a new place, my travel doesn’t end in having my photo taken at a well-know landmark. I do at least three other stuff : feel the culture, eat what the locals are having and shop (even it’s just window shopping). In Myeong-dong, I did those and more. Here are the few stuff one can do when you’re stuck in Seoul’s fashion street:

1. Watch the Nanta Cooking Musical show. An upbeat performance with drums, laughter and dancing.

2. Taste Lotteria’s burgers. The Korean fastfood counterpart of Jollibee and McDonalds.

3. Visit the beauty shops. These shops give freebies upon entrance and/or purchase any of their products. Freebies range from cotton balls to BB cream sample to toner and emulsion cream.

4. Purchase iced coffee in E-mart, 711 or Watsons. My favorite? Let’s Be  Mild Coffee.

5. Try out the sweet squid and twisted potatoes being sold in the side streets. It makes window shopping not a hungry experience.

6. Visit Forever 21 store. When I was there, they were having a sale. You can purchase a pair of sneakers at almost 300 pesos!

Forever21 in the motherland (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr)

7. Try samgyetang – their version of arroz caldo with Korean herbs.

8. Drink soju and eat ddukbokki in one of the tents.

9. Have your photo taken infront of Myeong-dong Theater, the home of the old National Theater of Korea. It stands out amidst the numerous shops in the area.

Infront of Myeong-dong Theater

10. Visit the Myeong-dong Cathedral. It is the main Catholic Church in Korea. One will never fail to notice it because of its imposing Gothic structure at the end of the street.

Getting holy in Myeong-dong (source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr)