Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Paoay Summer Vacation 2014

Since college, I have never been a fan of 3 day trips.  I seldom stay in a new place for 2 nights, instead I always make sure to stay longer to really get to know the place, taste the local food and speak with the community.  This is so true for trips that require planes.  The first time I went to Boracay (2004), I was there for 2 long weeks.  Feeling ko kasi, pagod lang ang three day trips.  It will never be relaxing.  It will never be enough.

That is why, I am so grateful for our 3 week stay here in Paoay.  It was such a refreshing and fulfilling vacation.  We got to spend time (especially Risen) with Mommy and Daddy and got to reconnect with relatives, church mates and a few neighbors.  The abundance of local food also satisfied me, I mean us. :) Naimas (delicious) and veggies dito! Always organic and fresh from the farm.  I don't think I can ever find such greens in the Metro!  Oh plus the Tupig, Bagnet, Empanada, dudol (like Maja Blanca), Carrot cake of La Preciosa , and Daddy's Dinuguan and Igado! YUM!!

I also found God here.  He confirmed some things we have been asking for.  He also provided and made a lot of things more beautiful for us.  Though I was not able to understand the preachings in Bry's home church (mostly Ilokano), my spirit was silenced and comforted with the hymns and classic Christian songs we sung.  It feels so refreshing to worship God with old and slow songs with just a piano accompanying it.  I will surely miss this!


Thank you for Paoay. Thank you for remembering my prayer in high school when I wished to have a province hours away from Manila.  Naalala mo po talaga!  Thank you for the beach that Risen got to experience and I got to swim in .  Thank you for family who have done all good things for us!  Thank you for the rest and change of environment.  Thank you because You have blessed me with in-laws that I will always look forward of visiting.  Thank you for the fun, kwentos, fresh air, and love!  God, You always amazes me!  I will  forever be grateful! <3 span="">

Tatlumpu at Dalawa - my bday blog

When I hit my thirties, my life drastically and wonderfully changed.  I got engaged at 30, got married at 31 and now, an expectant mom at 32.  With all these adjustments in roles and lifestyle, I know that at the end of the day, I still need to be me. I must not lose myself to be the best for our little family.  

That is why, for sanity purposes,  I have decided to accomplish 20 simple things before June 15, 2014.  Just like any other lists, these are not in order.

1.  Finish the book "Project Happiness"
2.  Read  Brown's "Angels and Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code"(yep, have not flipped these books)
3.  Bake
4.  Buy shoes just because I want
5.  Visit a museum
6.  Travel with Bry and the baby to a place we haven't been to
7. Try a new dish
8.  (continue) blogging
9.  Go out on a date and come home early dawn
10.  Watch a play or a musicale, or an orchestra
11.  Stare at Bryan and our child as they sleep
12.  Drive far
13.  Stay on the shore and get a tan
14.  Look worthy and pretty to tuck-in a fitted white shirt
15.  Teach and or conduct training
16.  Host an event
17.  Sip coffee with long time no see friends
18.  Eat cheese and drink wine
19.  Sleep long on afternoons
20.  Devour a big bag of Cheetos and glasses of Coke

Thailand day 5 - (still) in Phuket

We woke up gloomy so I was afraid that it would be cloudy the whole day. I was so wrong though. The sun was up as soon as I got outside of our huge and glass walled bathroom.  We filled ourselves with fruits for breakfast then went straight out of room 233 to do some “hotel hopping”. 
What I loved about Mai-Khao (the part of Phuket where we are in) was that it was the most secluded and quietest part of the island.  Perfect for people who want to be in solitude and have candle-lit dinners by the shore instead of endless partying at night.  With this, there were only 3 places to stay in the area -- Renaissance, Sala and Marriott.  We hit Marriot first and saw how Thai the hotel is.  Every corner and architecture piece spells Asian.  Each turn showcases Thailand’s design, silk, scent and gods.  As we went to the beach area, there was even an elephant! How crazy is that?!  We walked through Sala hotel too and appreciated how modern and small it was. Perfect for parents who want to watch their kids as they relax.

We went back to Renaissance hotel to enjoy the Sand Box Restaurant and Bar – My favorite food place in the hotel.  I like this spot cause one can dine in your skimpy wear, be barefooted and feel the sand on your feet as you eat, and have the blue skies or starry skies as your view.  Tursitang turista ang peg!

We rested back to our room for awhile then walked to the pool for a swim.  The water was light and warm, perfect for the setting sun and cool breeze of the wind.  We sat to the pool chairs at times to enjoy the happy hour drinks, vegetate and stare at the paradise we are in.  Sigh. This is all what we did. Dip, drink, and stare - the beauty of doing nothing.

We skipped dinner for tonight is Noche Buena!! Our first CHRISTmas together!!!  We wanted to reserve buffet dinner but the restaurant is only open until 11pm.  I mean, Christmas begins at 12 midnight, it cannot end at 11 pm!!! Thus, we ended up having our Noche Buena at the hotel’s bar.  The people around us had alcohol on their tables while we had a complete dinner course!! At 12 midnight, we exchanged greetings and stayed some time to finish our meals.  We then walked out of the bar and stayed close as we sat on a wooded platform underneath the Christmas stars.  We missed our families, of course, but the fact that we are together in our most favorite time of the year made everything fade away.  It was Christmas of 2012 and we were finally married!!! <3 font="">

Thailand day 4 - Bangkok to Phuket

We woke up early and wore our beach get ups for we are bound to PHUKET!  We arrived at the airport a bit early so we had coffee first.  Upon checking-in, we realized that we are the only Asian tourists bound to this beautiful paradise.  We were surrounded with golden headed individuals who are NOT Americans but were actually Europeans. We felt blessed (and uberly sosyal hahaha) to be in this herd of travelers. 

As the pilot announced our near touch down, I peeped through the window and saw how bluish green the water was.  I got too excited that I clasped Bryan’s hand and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.  He could not help but teasingly smile me for I was like a kid ready to jump in the pool.  Who would not be enthusiastic? My last beach trip was September 2010!! This long gap of no beach trips has not happened in the past 10 years!

As we walked down the plane, I can already taste the saltiness of the wind.  The other tourists lined up for the cab while we were taken aback to have been offered a free ride to Renaissance hotel where we will be staying for the next 3 nights (including Christmas eve).  O diba?  Ang mga French, Russians at English, nagkakandarapa sa taxi, while we were escorted to our car - thank you Lord for this surprise and favor!! 

Upon arrival at the hotel we were treated VIP all the way.  I have visited the hotel online, but my oh my, it is more posh and captivating in real life.  We stayed on the 3rd floor overlooking the path heading to the beach.  By mid afternoon, we just lounged at the poolside and when it was almost sunset, we watched the sea dance.  The sound of the splashing water on the shore is music to our ears.  We too played “it” with the waves as it gets bigger and stronger. 
As we gazed up, the stars seemed far and brighter.  The wind is warm and the aura of the hotel made a perfect company to us, honeymooners. 

Our first day in this wonderful gift is a testament of God’s goodness to us.  It was a beautiful outcome of waiting.  As he placed his arm around my shoulder and my arm around his waist, we went back to our room still in awe of His kindness.  Truly, there was a blessing and kakaibang kilig in waiting.

Thailand day 3 - (still) at Bangkok

We felt like “non-sense” for the past two days so we decided to have a field trip on our third day.  For teachers who love culture, traveling and facts, this would be a definite fun tour for us.   After filling our bellies with breakfast we both rode a Tuktuk and headed to John Thompson House Museum and Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. 

Sure we learned a lot of things today but our educational trip did not end here because we were faced with the question on why Philippines is never like Thailand when it comes to tourism.  Pinas’ value of money, weather, environment, places to see is just similar with Thailand, but why is it that we cannot see a lot of blondes and blacks in our country? Why oh why?

To stop ourselves from being too intellectual on our 3rd day abroad, we chose to go back to the hotel mid afternoon and retire early for the next day we would mark the halfway of our romantic escapade.  This I loathe and love.  Halfways of beautiful things are like half bitten tiny chocolate bars – you have tasted its goodness and one more bite would be its end.

Our Bangkok experience was thrilling, palate fulfilling and fun. They said that the best way to know a person is to travel with them, and indeed I got to know Bryan more in this trip.  We have discovered each others’ packing styles, sleeping habits, and patience when waiting.  I will never see Bangkok the same again.  It was indeed sweeter and grander because my hand has a hand to clasp it with.

Thailand day 2 - (still) in Bangkok

It was nice to wake up because we just felt like waking up.  No alarm clocks.  No knocking on the doors - just our plain reflexes that got us up.  With no itinerary in mind, we freshened up then headed to the dining area for our breakfast buffet.  Since some of the staff are Pinoys, the food was only 30 percent Thai which means nothing too much to rave about.  I started with brewed coffee and Bry had his plate of fruits.  We ate and talked like best friends for almost two hours - teasing each other like newlyweds (ay, newly wends nga pala kami ;p). Oh the bliss of just being together, discussing random and silly ideas and enjoying every bite of our hearty meal.

Since we stood up with happy tummies, we decided to hit to the nearby tiangges to burn a few calories.  We scored a few pasalubongs for family and closest friends then chose the street food place where we can have authentic Thai food. I had Tom Yum and Bry had Pad Thai – and once again, I was delighted to have these wonderful flavors explode in my palette.  We snatched a Nuttela-Banana Crepe and Guava as we went up to our room.  The rest of the early afternoon was spent inactively with non-sense chattering on the side - don’t you love this?

In the late afternoon, we opted to people watch in the park and admire that we are actually together under the Bangkok slowly fading sun.  It was the honeymoon that we booked first – and when I say first, we did not have a wedding venue yet when we booked hotels in Thailand.  It was just beyond amazing to be in a place where you were discussing about before – what we have been planning and praying for all happened (and is almost halfway done?! Nooo!)

Since we have been practically eating all day, we decided to have late dinner at the nearby food stalls near the river.  This food place already caught my eye because it was a place with 3 things street plus foreigners plus Thai food = great place to dine!  We ended our meal inside a coffee shop because my company needs, badly needs tea – go figure! :D   

We walked hand in hand under the smoggy streets.  There was nothing neither romantic nor lovely on the roads we were crossing but the feeling that you are free to be together made everything sparkly.  I have a man I like and love and I am coming home with him tonight. 

Thailand day 1 - at Bangkok

It was still early dawn when we left our home in Manila.  We took a cab to the airport and waited excitedly for our first international flight together.  We have never gone out of the country as one so we felt like kids allowed to  play in the pool all day long.  Our flight to Bangkok was on time and hassle free up until we arrived at the airport and realized that the hotel personnel was not yet there to pick us up.  We bought a simcard and called the hotel to make sure they are waiting for us.  As expected in the busy city of Bangkok, our driver was caught in the traffic, and so we waited for 10 or 15 minutes more.

He finally arrived with the name “Bryan Sodara” on a bond paper and as we sat down in the van, we were nostalgic of our Thailand trips in the past.  We shared stories of food we ate and places we toured, but at the same time, expressed our giddiness for our Thailand experience together.  After 30 or 40 minutes we reached Four Seasons International House which is seated in the busy streets and bazaar of Bangkok.  The hotel was small and ran by a Filipino so my interest of using Thai I learned from my previous trips was not put to use.  We were welcomed with drinks and were helped with our luggage.  Our room was a newly renovated, beyond our expectation yet not so different.   So after a quick picture taking we jumped into to the shower and bed.

When we were back in Manila planning our honeymoon, we made sure that our time of togetherness, will indeed be a time of such.  That is one reason why we visited a city we both have been when we were not yet together –we did not want to be too aggressive in going around the city but rather in just being together. With this, our first day was about room service and rest.  After lounging in the room for some time, we decided to walk to the nearest mall and meet up with a missionary couple for dinner.  Since me and Bry are both in love with travelling and ministry, we made sure we can bless and be blessed with the lives in the city we were visiting.

And so the night was left to explore Bangkok’s street food nearby we can exploit the next day.  We felt like real honeymooners, not minding time, itinerary, curfew and people around us.  We were legit to do whatever whenever. 

And there, our first day happened and lasted with a lot of happy sighs of and smiles.


** originally written last April 2012

It was exactly 8 months before the wedding when I stepped on Bryan’s birthplace and hometown (which was not planned at all).  When we were booking, we focused the days rather than the dates, so we were really surprise to realize this.  What a perfect and lovely timing!

Looking back on this trip, I thank God on how he allowed me to see the other side of my husband to be.  Seeing the house he grew up in, meeting his Nana, relatives and church family, dining at their table with his parents and meeting the food and places he enjoyed as a kid made know him more.  Nakakaaliw.  I am beyond happy how our trip went. 

One more reason that made this trip special was when we had time to sit down and talk about our wedding plans to the people closest to him.  It was heart warming to hear him talk about our wedding and marriage preps.  I can’t help but thank God in my mind that the man I love is talking about “us” to the people significant to him.  It was a different kind of feeling being introduced as his wife-to-be.  Nakaka-conscious na nakakatuwa.  Ah basta. :)

Aside from this, my visit to Ilocos was also an evidence of God’s answers to our prayers.  I felt this truly when we spent one late afternoon by the beach.  This place has been abused by Bryan in his stories and I have been imagining it in my head for the longest time—and finally, I was stepping on it.  I was reminded of God’s faithfulness to me, to us and to our relationship.  We were just dreaming and praying about my trip to Paoay before, and it actually happened.    

It will probably be eight more months till I will see Paoay again.  Pero sige lang.  God willing, when that time happens, I will be re-introduced with another “title”…And I am sure, that would bring me to another world of happiness and thrill.