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.

Wander Gurls’ Hongkong Meanderings

It was a year in the making but the itinerary every day was finalized the night before tour day. Call it OC-ness, but we got the iti down to the T only to change it the last minute when we realized we got lost somehow (thanks to my map reading abilities).

Let’s Get Lost
First time we got lost was the first order of the day when we alighted from the Cityflyer bus from HKIA. It must have been the mispelled name of the store (errr, Valley Shop to the actual Bally – the shoe store) which our guest house is located.

After some freshing up (read: taking a quick shower) we had our breakfast at a small joint near Haiphong Road where yuppies take their morning noodles. Since Shirl and I didn’t understand a single word of the local dialect, we made our order “turo-turo” style. Breakfast : beef noodles, hot tea, 3-in-1 coffee, bread and omelet. Cost : HKD32 each.

We made our way to Ngong Ping 360 via Tung Chung. As often told, MTR is  the best way to get around Hongkong. For this part of the journey, we   just went with the flow and didn’t get lost. Word of caution: Ang bilis ng escalator sa MTR Central Station.

Go up to see the Big Buddha

It was an uneventful cable car ride from Tung Chung to the Giant Buddha. We were grouped together with 3 Chinese women and an Australian family (which we get to see again in Disneyland). Except for some motion sickness, we arrived in Ngong Ping in one piece.

Ngong Ping 360 is an ultimate photo-op venue. Great views, good grounds, and goodlooking people (on that day!). Monuments and monuments and pillars after pillars celebrating the Chinese traditions. Not bad, for the first site for first time HK visitors like us.

It was a long and winding road going back to Tung Chung thru the bus. After a very long time, I actually got motion sickness! But it didn’t stop me from eating big mac (okey, hati kami ni besty) with fries and camote pie. The rumor was true, masarap ang french fries sa HK. We had another serving on our last day 🙂 The mall in Tung Chung was the only mall we visited —and we actually went to just ONE shop. I was hoping HK peeps are tennis fans. Much to my disappointment, no Rafa shirt in sight. boohoo!

Hot sweet potato pie

Disney’s the place to be

After Ngong Ping, we prepped ourselves to some child wonderment – thanks to Disneyland. We got our tickets for a discounted price, courtesy of Ate Yolly who also sold us the

 Ngong Ping tix. As we stepped into Main Street USA, we were transported back to the old world. Think Brooklyn Street in EK! Since it was the Halloween season, most of the stalls and stores were decorated withh kiddie scary stuff (hhm, what’s does that mean?)

We made our way to Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland but never really took time to take the rides—except the Madhatter’s rotating teacup. As we were lining up, I actually heard Jesse Spencer’s (yes, Dr. Chase in House) singing Molly Smiles straight from the movie Uptown Girls where the rotating teacup ride was featured in the film. No puking required in this ride unless you rotated the steering wheel to your heart’s content.

Main Street, Disneyland HK

We walked and took a lot of photos, including with Minnie and Winnie. As suggested by many who visited Disneyland, we lined up for the Festival of the Lion King – a very amazing 30 minute dancing/singing and lots of lights show. And the set was to behold! I absolutely love the stage with the audience gathered around like participating in some tribal ritual or maybe over the giant campfire. 

We did watch the HSM performance in an open stage. We’re a bit old for HSM but you couldn’t stop singing with the Asian versions of Troy, Gabriella, Ryan and Sharpay.

As we waited for Stitch Encounter at 7PM, we watched the tail-end of the parade (hahhaha, mga pasaway!), had the train ride around the amusement park, drank coffee, window shopped and had some curry squidballs.

Yes, we really waited for the this show which was so cuuttteee! Obviously, I’m an Exp 626 fan so I wouldn’t missed it for the world. And the encounter didn’t disappoint me —only if I can understand Cantonese and Mandarin, I would lined up again to experience it.


We decided to forego the fireworks for some spacious train ride back to Central. We were so tired on our first day that we can’t wait to go to our hostel for the much needed sleep. The following day is another hectic one with Macau on the list the whole day plus stroll along Avenue of Stars at night time.

Day 1 in HK? Tiring. Exciting. Amazing.