Three Years of Togetherness

Back in April, I got a notification from WordPress informing me that I have been with this platform for three years now. Wow! I started blogging back in 2005 but it was more of a “dear diary” slash blow by blow account of all my travels and everything Kpop. Just imagine that I started in Multiply and graduated to Blogger and then jumpshipped to WordPress. My relationship with WP is better than ever. Hey, I got the WP app in smartphone!

Hestory. History.

Hestory, now a history. I was so addicted with kpop back then

Three years of maintaining this blog taught me to :

  1. Write about what you love. I don’t force myself to write something just for the sake. I feel that if I want to share something, it is straight from the heart. Right now, it is all about travels because sometimes, photos shared in Facebook or Instagram are not enough to describe what it feels like to have that first taste of cendol , the feel to be in one of the Turtle Islands or the feel to be with fellow tennis fans during the Sydney Open.

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

  2. Be open to suggestions. I am not your best in English blogger. I consult my besty if I what I wrote made sense. I am such a scatterbrain (most times sometimes) that my thoughts are all over. Good thing, I got my own personal editor. Cheers to you, Besty!
  3. KISS. I try to keep it short and simple because I might traumatise the reader. Similar to my albums in Facebook, I don’t load the photos (or ideas) in one go because this can scare the viewer/reader. As much as possible, I don’t use high falluting words (heck, my vocabulary is limited anyway. Those words from SAT reviewers went down the drain over the years).

I foresee that I will be writing more. Topics will be varied. Blurred photos will be less. Stories that will inspire. Definitely, posts that will not bore you to tears.

A Brand New Day

A Brand New Day

P.S. How timely that this is my 100th post! Yay!

Loca Over Malacca

When we booked for a flight for Kuala Lumpur, Malacca (or Melaka in Malay) was originally not in the itinerary. Friends, however, insisted that it is the best place to visit especially if we are planning to go to Singapore from Malaysia. They raved about the 3Cs : Colors, Cuisine and Culture. It got me thinking – might as well go to another heritage site on my birthday since I love history.

Seeing Red

Like any town surrounded by water, Malacca is one of the trading spots in the spice route. Chinese, Indians, Arabs and Europeans have passed by this seaside city that faces its own Strait and the Indian Ocean. Wares have been traded. Intermarriages happened. Influence of other cultures are very much evident in this side of Malaysia. Conquered by Portuguese and Dutch, the imposing Church by the hill, the water wheel by the river and the “red” square shout European. Yes, red is everywhere – from the Melaka Church to the scaffoldings at A Fomosa. Due to its Chinese origins, the lanterns, signages and the large Jonker Street stage are coloured crimson. There are yellows and greens and oranges yet the colour of life and love is everywhere.

red postal box

red postal box

Crimson gate of our guesthouse.

Crimson gate of our guesthouse.

Red scaffoldings in St. Paul's Ruins and A Fomosa

Red scaffoldings in St. Paul’s Ruins and A Fomosa

Parade of Hello Kitty rickshaws

Parade of Hello Kitty rickshaws in different shades of red.

Something to light the alley.

Something to light the alley.

Backstreet guest house, Mamee restaurant, sunny day and a colorful temple

Different colors : Backstreet guest house, Mamee restaurant, sunny day and a colorful temple

Hot, Cold and Sweet

My first travel abroad 10 years ago introduced me to Malaysian cuisine — or the mixed of Malay, Indian and Chinese influences on the food. It didn’t leave a bitter (or spicy) taste in my tongue then and it is still on my eat list after tasting the good eats in this side of Malaysia. The noodles kept me breathless with all the spice and fish cakes. The simplicity of the dumpling noodle paired up with a strong kopi c kept me energized for a morning of walking.

Noodles galore at Jonker 88

Noodles galore at Jonker 88

Peranakan noodles, chicken 3 ways and musses in a pot

Peranakan noodles, chicken 3 ways and musses in a pot

The story of noodles continued until lunch with the Nyonya laksa that is best eaten with a tissue on hand—or a crunchy and sweet rojak on the side. To counter all the soups, an ice cendol or ice kachang made of shaved iced and flavoured beans and sweet nothings drizzled with coconut syrup, is the answer. A dessert that looks like a meal by itself. It was an attack to the senses when I first tasted the syrup that I decided to get a solid form of the sugar.

My new favorite : Rojak!

My new favorite : Rojak!

Ice kachang

Ice kachang

Since it was relatively warm in the city, cold treats came in between walks : iced pops with red or green beans, cendol, cold durian puffed and iced kopi o. Eating iced pops reminded me of younger days – days you buy iced buko straight from the styro box. I think I never forgot how to eat ice pops real fast – bite the ice!

Night cap was composed of a gula malacca cake (since it was my birthday), a dare to stuff one’s mouth with durian puff (the tastiest since I tried it in Singapore too!), sweet potato pie since I am so impartial with this root crop, a bit of egg tart (hey, this was a former Portuguese colony) and the list goes on.

Street desserts

Street desserts

The Place the Baba dan Nyonya Built

There might have been strong presence of the Europeans in the city but nothing can compare to the intertwined cultures of Chinese and Malay. There are areas that Malay culture is very eminent as shown in their architecture. Yet, shophouses that dot the area shout Chinese. The Baba dan Nyonya Heritage Museum is one of the best places to dropby to learn about this great combo. There are no shots of the interiors of the house but photos can’t put justice to the affluence and the strong attachment they have for their married culture. It was like a bahay na bato with a whole lot of Chinese stuff.

02 Museum

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Outside the Baba dan Nyonya heritage house

Outside the Baba dan Nyonya heritage house

My favourite parts of the tour? Holding on to the marble (to cool you off) and admiring the yellow paint interiors of the hallways. It is so admirable that the 4th generation were able to preserve the original house.

It cannot be discounted that Peranakans love their history so much. Admittedly, developments can be seen from the outskirts (or shall I say the city center) but preservation of their culture is still on top of the list. From the shophouses to the food to the lively shows on weekend nights, these speak volume of how the people in Malacca treat their history.

St. Paul's Ruins

St. Paul’s Ruins

Thirty-six hours in Malacca is not enough. I would love to go back and explore all the churches and visit all the museums. Take a cruise in Sungai Malacca during the day to see the arts by the river. Eat the chicken rice balls and go biking afterwards.

Malacca had me when I saw the light illuminating the river.

A river runs through it.

A river runs through it.

An All Girls Weekend

A trip that took two weeks to prepare. It was a blessing that my cousin joined us to the so-called 2nd leg of the SEA trip after doing the 1st leg in 2012.

It was a frantic preparation, including last minute buys for travel essentials that’ll be needed for a hot and humid weather in Malaysia and Singapore. One thing that we were ready for — our flight! We were way too early for our 2PM takeoff.

Upon arriving in KL’s low cost carrier teminal (LCCT), we headed out for an early dinner of nasi lemak. That fueled us til we reached Malacca, a three-hour bus trip from LCCT. We were booked for a 9PM trip thru Transnasional thus a dinner along the way was not an option.

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Reaching Malacca at almost 12mn was like being in the zone. A very quiet zone with red lanterns flickering on the shophouses of all the jalans. What was needed is some oriental music in the background. I can not contain my excitement when I got the first glimpse of the heritage town. I imagined how colorful the place is during the day.

Malacca is a place like no other. I will not describe how friendly Peranakans are but how they looked out for your safety. We were twice reminded by residents to keep safe of our belongings while we were walking in Jonker Street. It was like a concerted effort among residents to protect their reputation as a safe historical site.

Backstreet guest house, Mamee restaurant, sunny day and a colorful temple

Backstreet guest house, Mamee restaurant, sunny day and a colorful temple

Malacca is a place for old world buff like me. Cobbled streets. Check. Interesting facts about its history. Check. Old (shop)houses and turn of the century ruins. Check. A river that runs through it. Check.

A day was not enough but we had to move to our next destination – Hello, Singapore!

The city state is all modern dotted with remnants of history. Cosmopolitan. Worldly. Hot. Truth be told, this is my first time in the land of Lah! I was excited to try out the chicken rice, tons of indian set meals and laksa. Fortunately, my cousin who resides there brought us to all the places and had us experience a fast break look of the city (aka river cruise).

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away...

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away…

jog

I can never be happy enough to have a 5-day all girls trip. A very long weekend indeed.

Eye of the Storm

More than two months have passed but images can still bring chill to my being. The thought that I will just hold on to the strongest baluster  when the water will reach us in the 2nd floor is but a dim memory. A story I can tell over and over again,though.

What started as an ordinary field work became a race to Tacloban from Borongan on 7 November to be able to get the next available flight to Manila. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky. We decided to wait for the typhoon and fly out on Saturday. We bought some supplies and I do remember having coffee at a local cafe at Robinsons.

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Night time came and winds were a bit strong. I managed to inform my boss that we were in a secured place. Morning arrived and at 5 AM, wind started to howl. I greeted ny best friend a happy birthday and had breakfast.

At 7AM, while my door was being slammed and the glass door in the brink of being pulled out by the strong wind, I peeked from the bathroom window and saw cars floating. I decided to go to my officemate’s room at the 3rd floor. I was greeted by fellow transients trapped in the stairs landing because the roof in the upper floor was destroyed.

What followed was the longest 1 hour of my life. In between prayers, I was thinking how to secure what was left of my belongings (I gave away some of my clothes) and the best place I can hold on to when the water will continuously to rise.

As fast as the wind speed, Haiyan left with major destruction. It was the strongest typhoon. And when you’re in the middle of it, all you can think of are the lessons you try to impart to the communities- severe wind, storm surge and preparedness.

A walk to the airport a day after —before the clearing operations, was like a scene from a zombie movie. People in daze. Cars over each other. Dead bodies wrapped in makeshift bodybags. Houses destroyed.
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After a walk of 12km in total to see the runway and C130 unloading goods, it was a ray of light. A long “walk to home”in my pajamas with people you don’t know. People that you share a bond with for experiencing the same harrowing event. I can’t fathom how those who were left behind were able to make it day by day. I only pray that after all these months, all will be well. It may take some time to rebuild the physical structures but I believe that the spirit of resilience will not falter among the affected people in the Visayas.

Tacloban will always remain special in my heart. May Haiyan be a lesson on the importance of preparedness not just before the storm but in the planning for the future with climate change in mind.

My 35th List

I celebrated my birthday a few days back. Out in the field. And if the circumstance is a sign, that means I will be traveling more for years to come. This entry will not be so much about travel (although it will touch some places here and there) but what I resolve to do for the next year. Naks, it is my post New Year resolutions post!

1. Spend more time with family. I haven’t been with them physically for the last months so this day onwards, either I come visit them or they visiting me (at my expense, of course, for mi familia).

2. Meet-ups with long lost amigas. I may not have a big circle of friends but my closely knit katropas are one of a kind. I have the college group, the gizzards, the famous WNG, my MIC family and maybe the Sydneysiders eventually. The outpouring of “I miss you” in their birthday greetings made me realize that I’ve been MIA for so long. Oh my, where have I been?

3. Save more. I am not referring to the grocery chain but actually saving up for the rainy days and some important payments (err, visa payments or plane tickets, perhaps).

4. Lose some inches. For vanity, yes. For no.3, yes since I won’t end up buying new clothes.

5. Eat healthy. I have to say no to soda! And other sweet treats being thrown my way. I know it is bad but I have to think that I got the high sugars so as to stop me devouring another devil’s cake or cheesecake. Okey, maybe the cheesecake and occasional very dark chocolate will do. After the Not to Eats, I will embrace veggies, fruits and white meat all over again.

6. Be financially healthy. I almost started the year right until I started purchasing “magandang pang-travel” stuff by February. Girl, you need to act fast!

7. Read more, Learn more.With new work comes new learnings. Or some sort of a refresher course on ENR economics and financials and green economy. Wish these stuffs were written by Jessica Zafra.

8. Fight stage fright. I’m not into performing arts but I think this is in my job order.

9. Build a new Travel List. I am 3/4 of my 4 places to see before I die. I think I need to come up with another list to keep that feet the neverending itch.

10. Love some more. I love my life. I love myself. I think it is high time to spread the love…but of course, I won’t settle for anything less.

Happy birthday to me!