my various life bugs

Posts tagged ‘Travel’

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C is for Crimson

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The Crimson Hotel, Alabang Muntinlupa. Canon Powershot G11, A mode.

Where:

On my way to fetch my son at Alabang, I exit the South Toll booth of the South Luzon Expressway and followed the road turning left.  This road brings me towards a building filling up the front of my windshield everyday with its linear glory.

Why:

I see this building everyday, twice a day but today it looked so happy lighted up from its side by a sunny 3:30 pm sun with a backdrop of cerulean skies interspersed with tufts of white clouds.  I just can’t help but stop and admire.

How:

I stayed inside my car at the driver’s seat, pulled my window down and took my shots from there.  If possible I wanted to take 2-3 steps to the left to remove from my sight the leaning street post on the right but I may become tonight’s pedestrian accident news.  Nah, not worth the risk.

Extras:

As I was finishing my shots and preparing to drive on to motherhood and daily rituals, a sedan stopped in front of my vehicle with hazard lights flashing. A black vest with red tie driver stepped out and signaled for me to stop as a lady in dark coat and skirt approached me with a brochure in hand saying they noticed I was taking photos of their hotel and inviting me to visit them to see the interiors.  I get it! They thought I was a security risk.  I politely told them I was into this photography hobby and was just admiring their building.  I have been passing by this road for years and never knew it was a hotel. Now I’m properly informed.  On hindsight, I appreciate their efficiency and high security measures and I should have offered a more thorough explanation for my seemingly bizarre action.  I should be prepared for future incidents like this with a ready answer. Lesson learned!

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Midnight in Paris at 6:00 in the morning

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I have to prepare breakfast of french toast, cheese and sausage omelette, coffee and fresh fruits for my darling hubby who is off early for his weekly dose of hobby.  After he left, I was by my lonesome self which I embrace.  Instead of opening the Sunday papers, I opted to watch this movie I downloaded months back.  Midnight in Paris, the movie’s title was the sole reason I bought the film.  Having Owen Wilson as the lead actor was an added bonus.  You know, that hippie guy from “Meet the Fockers” and partner of Jackie Chan in “Shanghai Nights”.  Anyway, I love the laid back, molasses slur talk and natural bedhead mess of a hair of this guy so I chose him to be my breakfast buddy today.

I  will not attempt to give a critique whatsoever of the film as I am not an authority of such.  I can tell you this though, that I thoroughly get what Gil (character of Owen Wilson) felt.  The crossroads in his life, the mental anguish and drama, the weight of his present and appeal of his nostalgia.  I also find myself in such musings – of times past, of another life lived.  The present can be so full and weigh me down that I look back to the time I was just myself.  That I can pack my bags full and drive and drive into the sunset.  I have done this and felt free.  I pause at towns I fancy, walk the markets, sample the delicacies and connect with the locals.  I thought then that I blend with them but looking back now, I see I was like a sore thumb sticking out of the picture.  I was young, naive, an empty sponge absorbing life, like a child needing to touch and feel everything to find it is real.

What the movie tells me loud and clear is that my present is very real and can be what I need it to be.  I can look back at the past and give me insights but I cannot live there.  I should put my shoes here and now and see the beauty of what I have.  It may not be like what I had before but it is there.  I just wasn’t looking.  Maybe I am you too.  No sense living the present halfway.   

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Whew!  What a way to start my Sunday.  Have a good one yourself!  I raise you my coffee mug…cheers!

Galo’s Corregidor Island Adventure

Travel date: June 19-20, 2012

We always celebrate our sons’ birthdays by going to a new place the kids haven’t been before. So we get to travel as a family at least twice a year. For Galo’s 10th birthday, we decided to visit Corregidor Island off Manila Bay, a location rich with military historical meaning.

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SPANISH LIGHTHOUSE

Climbing up the top of this Spanish lighthouse gives you a bird’s eyeview of the contours of the island and how formidable it looks with all the battery, canyons and military armory strewn all over this rock of an island. Going up is a bit slippery, so watch out! We visited this after a quick trek inside the Japanese tunnels early in the morning just before breakfast. You will appreciate the cool morning air while up on the topdeck.
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TRAMBIA

The main means of transportation inside Corregidor Island is this tranvia/trambia. The design where all riders face the front and the opening on both sides offer quick entry and exit from the carriage and is very breezy during the ride. Each row can sit 5 persons comfortably and the guide stays in front beside the driver with a microphone for clearer reception of their tour spiels. During rains or even heavy downpours, the tranvia has a heavy plastic curtain on each side attached by sturdy clip studs and protects the riders well from the elements.
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BATTERY / CANONS

Behind us is just one of the many battery used during the Japanese invasion. These gigantic canons are surprisingly in very good condition as if they will fire in a moments notice. And you’ll also pause to think how all these giants got on this island.
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MALINTA TUNNEL

The Malinta Tunnel is the lifeline of the island during the war. During air bombings, soldiers take refuge in this tunnel and even housed the first president of our Commonwealth, Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. The tour offers a light and sound show for an additional fee which I suggest you should take as its very full of historical information through audio and visual presentation while walking inside the biggest artery of the tunnels. We opted for an overnight stay on the island which I also recommend. It gave us time to pause after the tour and appreciate the stillness of the surrondings, the scent of the trees after a heavy rain and to take on much needed rest after the fast-paced tour.

We signed up for the ghost hunting trip inside the Malinta Tunnel which gives a toally different perspective of history because you get to walk inside the big and small tunnels and kind of feel how it was back then during the war. We went to the tunnels around 6:00 pm just when the sun was setting and the dimming heavens gave it that eerie feel while walking towards the tunnel with flashlights in hand and spirits a bit spooked.
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CORREGIDOR HOTEL AND RESORT

The only hotel on the island, this hotel resort has an old villa feel with its bed and breakfast feel and very warm sincere staff. The photo above shows the second floor hallway with the slightly creaky wooden floor boards that just provides the correct mood for the place. The hotel has about less a couple dozen rooms which makes it less crowded. The rooms show age and wear and tear. Buffet lunch is warm and filling and some ala carte menu is good enough, which I expect from a distant solitary hotel like this. The pool is surprisingly clean and the waters warm despite constant rains.

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Chess table at the ground floor recreation area
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Being an island just 2 hours off Manila Bay, security is important. The docks and surrounding perimeter is dotted with soldiers keeping the island and tourists safe.

Travel Tip:
When travelling here, choose a bright sunny day with calm waters. Big waves will give you a dizzying 2-hour boat ride. Be prepared with motion sickness meds which you must take at least 30 minutes prior to stepping on the boat. Use good footwear for walking, bring sun protection as the rock island can get pretty hot at noon, a light jacket and scarf during the windy night and insect repellant. Umbrellas are available for use aboard the trambias.

Bohol Trip with Hubby

Travel date: May 12-14, 2012

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CHOCOLATE HILLS at Bohol

Can you see the small mounds behind me near the horizon? Can you guess what those are? I’m on top of one of Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills. These small hills scattered throughout a specific area at Carmen, Bohol are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay, or so it says on the plaque I read on the top of the Observation deck on one of the hills where the above photo was taken.

How come its called Chocolate Hills when all you see are green hills? The grass that grows on these hills dry up at the end of the dry season here in the Philippines making the hills look like gigantic Hershey Kisses chocolates.

When visiting these hills, you need good footwear with the 200+ steps climb up to the look-out deck, a bottle of cool water to refresh, and sun protection. Best also to visit at daybreak or sundown so you get nice photos and not at searing noontime.

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BOHOL FOREST

The Bohol Forest is a man-made mahogany forest stretching in a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. The moment you enter this forest, you immediately feel the drop in temperature, the coolness of the air, the smell of clean crisp air. The mahogany trees shoot straight up high and forms an arc meeting with other trees as if they’re conversing with each other on some ethereal level.

You will pass this forest on the way to Chocolate Hills from Tagbilaran City and when you do, ask the driver to stop somewhere safe and step out of your vehicle. The forest should be felt not just seen from the window of your car.

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PANGLAO ISLAND NATURE RESORT AND SPA

I highly recommend staying here. I can say its a 5-star resort where service, accommodations and amenities are superb. The food is divine but take the buffet option, the ala carte is not as great. Breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet spread is always delectable. Local cuisine rendition is spot on with some international cuisine for the foreign guests who may not be as adventurous with Filipino dishes. Rooms are housed in cabanas with very clean interiors and linens. No odd smell from the last occupant. It feels like it was just scrubbed squeaky clean for your use.

The 2-level cabanas are divided into 4 separate living quarters. Opt for the upper rooms for more privacy and better view of the sea. There are a lot of small details I like to mention that made my stay much homier:
– going up to your second floor room, there’s a water faucet near the stairs to wash off sand from your feet
– the outdoor veranda has a big ceiling fan to keep the breeze going during humid stuffy times of the day
– the welcome fruit basket has seasonal tropical fruits that are sweet and succulent
– the room air-conditioner was already turned on before you arrived making the room outright cool when you stpped in
– there are 2 cloth bags sturdy enough to carry your swimwear to the beach or some shopping items on your market strolls; yes, you may bring them home
– if you forgot your bathroom essentials, well there’s generous sachets of shampoo, conditioners, toothpaste and a very nice toothbrush; I like that the shampoos are the commercial types that you know is great and not the surprise in a bottle
– there’s a clothes rack just outside your veranda door to neatly hang your wet swimwear

All these little well-thought details makes this resort great in my opinion. And when you get tired walking the vast resort lot, then you can easily get a ride on one of their golf carts which are a call away. Love this resort and love their spa!

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PRONY, the beloved pet python of Bohol

Prony does look beloved with her humongous girth for her age. When we visited her, she was inside her cage and always accompanied by her owner. The owners never let anybody inside the cage with her without them. They say their scent calms her which is why I was able to get inside and pat her while my wise and self-preserving hubby took this photo from outside the cage

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