Free Museum Day At Boston’s MFA

No visit to Boston would be complete without going to its museums. Lucky us, we were there on Wednesday, and chanced were able to avail of the Free or Pay as You Wish days at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

I always prefer going to the Fine Arts museums over Contemporary Arts because my favorite art is French Impressionism.

I was excited as we deposited our bags, I’ve seen a high score for this museum over at Google Maps. And I couldn’t wait to explore and be lost in the intricacies of the art. One thing I learned from past museum visits when I was short of time, is to stick to a plan, otherwise I might miss the highlight exhibitions. So, grabbing a map I prioritised the galleries I would go to. For that afternoon my goal was to see the European and American Art galleries.

We were immediately impressed by the layout of the pieces and the contrast of colors in some of the galleries, such as the red walls that were quite striking.

D’s favorites were the McElheny glass art from Gallery 247, the classically designed rooms and the this miniature art.

Here are some of the highlights from the galleries we visited. The French Impressionism pieces in itself require a blog of their own, so check out my story about that same time tomorrow.

Emperor Augustus

Sargent At Dusk

Pretty Places in Quebec

By the time I post this I’d already be in New York City. This blog sums up the beautiful places and sights D and I have seen in Quebec City during our weekend visit. I tried to give the places justice with my phone camera, but they are much more pretty in person. Glad we went there this month of September when it’s transitioning from summer to fall. How I’d love to see it more in the fall when the maple leaves are amber and red, making the place look more romantic and surreal.

Check out my previous blogs about the fairytale-like hotel, the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac; the tranquil and historical Plains of Abraham; the colorful flower-lined Jeanne-d’Arc Garden; and the old town feels at Quartier de Petit Champlain.

Neptune Inn Mural Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Place Royal Place Royal
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires chapel Notre-Dame-des-Victoires interior

Place Jean-Pelletier

Gare du Palais

Gare du Palais

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Quebec

I have had Quebec City in my bucket list since last year. I almost went when I visited Montreal in the spring of 2018, but since I was pressed for time I saved a proper trip for later.

This year, D and I were able to include a couple of nights in Quebec City (thank you Delta airmiles!). Personally, it was during the first time I saw it while watching Goblin, a Korean fantasy drama, that I made a note to myself that I will go to Quebec. That was also the start of my journey on Francophonie.

We started by walking through Porte Saint-Louis, a grand concrete entrance to the old town. Reminded me of out very own Intramuros in Manila. The fortified walled city of Quebec, I read, is the only one of its kind in North America. As soon as we entered, horse-drawn carriages walked next to us.

We turned right on Rue D’Auteuil and then to Avenue Saint Denis, heading to Pierre-Dugua-D-Mons Terrace and La Terrase Saint Denis, a park with a monument, which offered a great vantage point of the picturesque Fairmont de Chateau Fronterac, and the beautiful port. As a Goblin fan, this was a must visit for me too (because there was a scene taken here). I would have loved to go back there at night to view the lights, but it was too cold and I settled to playing with Dandy the cat back at the AirBnB.

We then headed down to Terrasse Dufferin, which was the up close view of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frotenac the waterfront. The hotel was very charming, both from afar and upclose. It is, afterall, one of the most iconic structures in Quebec City.

I realized that there were canons lined up fronting the bay. D and I were amazed at how Quebec City was able to preserve these historical pieces.

In front of the Chateau is the Monument Samuel De-Champlain, there was an artist playing to his guitar and singing to Ed Sheeran’s song, Perfect. It pretty much sums up how I felt that Saturday afternoon.

Gardens and Houses of Old

What I liked most about walking around in the historical part of Philadelphia were the vintage houses and backyards or gardens, which gave a glimpse of life back in the 1700s when Philadelphia was the temporary capital of the United States.

The workman- like a coachman, shoemaker, tavernkeeper, or coppersmith- resided in a brick house that is typically composed of two rooms, one on top of the other, and an attic. These houses serve as both the workman’s home and workplace. I read that at the time, eight out of ten of the workmen rent these houses in a ten-year period. Their belongings were basic and simple. At their backyards they plant herbs for medicinal use, and vegetables for food. They also have their horses and livestock within the yard. They collect rain in wooden barrels and used them for watering plants.

For the wealthy, their backyards are more of spacious garden retreats, with rows of flowers and trees. I was able to walk under the shade of the overhead trellis of the 18th Century Garden, a serene well-kept space. It was surreal walking along the paths, and I was imagining I was in the olden days.

My most favorite part of that historical sites walk was the Elfreth’s Alley, an old residential street with houses built between 1720 to 1830. The vintage houses were quaint and charming. I saw a house that was open for tourists, but I was not able to get in because I was running late to catch the Reading Terminal Market to take out my early dinner.

As I walked back to the hotel and recalled the places I went to that Sunday afternoon, I resonated with the lifestyle of the olden days, as today I also have a backyard where we grow our own food organically, compost our vegetable scraps, let our hens roam free, and collect rainwater for reuse in watering the plants. Gardening for food will always be a way of life, and I think it’s healthy for the body, mind and heart to have a green space of our own, no matter what size it is.

Sarubobo Doll

Beer kegs and Hida’s Sarubobo doll

Beer kegs and Hida’s Sarubobo doll

A sarubobo doll is a mascot of Japan’s Hida region. Hida is located at the northern part of the Gifu Prefecture known for its hot springs and serene looking mountains.

Sarubobo literally translates to ‘monkey baby’. It is shaped like a human but with no facial features. Mothers and grandmothers used to make these dolls for children, and is believed to bring blessings and good fortune.

Majority of the sarubobo dolls I saw in Takayama were colored red. I learned that different colors signify different meanings: like red is for marriage and family; gold is for money; blue is for good fortune at work or in school; black wards off evil; pink is for love; green is for peace and health; and purple is for longevity.

In Takayama, sarubobo dolls were everywhere. They were in shops’ entrance doors, and hung as offerings at the Kokubunji Temple. When we reached Hirayu Onsen en route to Kamikochi for a closer look at the Japan alps, we saw what is claimed to be Hida’s largest sarubobo doll at the bus station.

I personally think that while it’s a cute souvenir, what struck me about the sarubobo dolls is how sweet it must have been for children in the past to have received a handmade doll from their moms or grandmothers. It’s the labor of love and the personal touch that the elders put in to bring happiness to their children – it was just precious. We gazed on these dolls I came to remember times my mom would help me with my school projects when I was younger. D recalled the time his mom made a volcano for him when he was a child.

There’s so much simple but thoughtful crafts and activities that I am learning more about in this trip to Japan. I’ll write about these other touches of art soon.

First Onsen Ever

View of Mt Yarigatake from Hirayu Onsen bus station

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I’ve thought about this for some time before I made a conscious decision to do one thing I have never done before. And this recent trip to Japan was my window of opportunity: try out an onsen.

Onsen is a natural hot spring bath. Japan has lots of these. Dipping into an onsen is said to relax the body and has benefits for the skin. It had never beem something that appealed to me though, as what’s daunting for me is that most onsens that I know of are communal, and one has to totally strip naked to be able to take a dip. In these public onsens, males and females are separated – but I don’t think I can still do an all naked stint in front of total strangers, even for the purpose of relaxation.

Until I booked our trip to the Japan alps. I intentionally included in our itinerary an overnight stay at one of the onsen towns, Hirayu Onsen because it is located halfway across Takayama and our ultimate hiking destination, Kamikochi. I figured D and I would need an onsen bath after a tiring day of trekking.

Hirayu Onsen is the oldest of five onsen towns on Okuhida valley. It was discovered in the 1560s, and is now basically the hub to Kamikochi and Shinhotaka (where the famous double decker gondola, the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, leading up to the highest point where tourists can view the mountains is found).

I honestly did not know what to expect – from what I showed in the map it’s a little speck compared to Takayama. I was also a bit nervous as I only had a few thousand yens on hand, so I made a mental note to look for the ATM as soon as we got off the bus.Hirayu Onsen: our BnB’s backyard

When we arrived at the bus station I was awestruck by the surrounding mountains and the view of the alps at a distance. The climate was cooler compared to the first cities we visited, and there were still several cherry blossom trees that added color to the already picturesque town. True to its onsen name, there is a footbath at the waiting area of the bus station. On the second floor is a window view of the peaks of the Japan Alps, and Hida’s largest sarubobo doll is displayed.

View of Mt Yarigatake from Hirayu Onsen bus station

Our B&B, Tsuyukusa, was a 3 minute walk from the station. On the way to the B&B we could hear the constant flow of water. There were several establishments that we passed by that had steaming water fountains in front of their property.

Tsuyukusa BnB, Hirayu Onsen

The Tsuyukusa staff were very warm, and they gave us a simple welcome gift. Our room was Japanese-style, with tatami mats, wooden floor and sliding doors. There were 3 private onsen baths in the B&B: 2 indoor and 1 outdoor. Guess which one D and I used?

Private outdoor bath, Hirayu Onsen

What we learned from using the onsen is that we had to take a shower first before dipping in. There were small stools and basins next to the tub. The towels had to be left at the lounge, and there were reminders not to run around and make loud noises in the onsen area.

The outdoor onsen gave us a view of the mountains, and the hot water was indeed relaxing. We enjoyed the hot spring bath for only for about ten minutes as hot baths tend to increase blood pressure. Later as we went to bed and all througout our stay, the constant sound of gushing water could be heard – it’s almost like sleeping on the beach where the sound of the waves is nonstop.

There was no ATM at Hirayu Onsen, and there were no restaurants that accepted credit cards. Luckily the souvenir shop at the train station accepted credit card payments. Other than this hiccup, I’d say our overnight stay in Hirayu Onsen was a unique, surreal experience, and will definitely be something I’d always remember Japan for.

And since this blog is all about my first time doing something I haven’t done before, this is a perfect song to cap it off.

Takayama’s Hida Kokubunji Temple

Hida Kokubunji Temple

After a long day walking and biking the streets of Hida Takayama, it was a toss between getting an early snooze or grabbing a bite first. Grudgingly I agreed to eat out, as I am sure that as soon as I hit the sack I couldn’t be bothered to go out later on for late night snack.

Off we walked from the hotel to the bus terminal, as most of the restaurants at the Old Town were closed after 5 o’clock. And then we heard a couple of deep loud barks – an all-too familiar sound that shook my sleepiness off in an instant. About fifty yards ahead of us was a yellow labrador tied to the wooden gate of Hida Kokubunji Temple.

Hida Kokubunji Temple

I admit it was the first time I realized there was a temple at this side of the road, and so near to the hotel where we were staying. It is an old Buddhist temple with a triple layer pagoda, a bell tower and a huge gingko tree. Inspecting the tree up close, I read that it is a natural national monument, with an age approximately 1200 years old. It was believed in the past that when the leaves of the gingko tree fall off, it would snow in Takayama. Now the people of Takayama cherish the tree as a symbol of changing seasons.

The Great Gingko of Kokubun-jiThe pagoda is about 500 years old, and the main temple is the oldest structure in Takayama, built in year 757. The wooden gate, where we met our new found friend, was inherited by the temple when the Takayama Castle was destroyed in 1695.

Hida Kokubunji Temple bellI guess finding this historical gem is icing on the cake. The highlight of this discovery, really, is this good boy who gamely greeted everyone who entered the gates and warmed up to those who stroked his fur. He reminds me of Rex, who I miss terribly. If he could only be with us in this trip, he would have loved to splash around the cool waters of the Miyagawa River.

Sweet labrador who called us to check out the temple

Hida Folk Village, Takayama

Japan Alps in the distance, view from Hida No Sato

When we hopped on the Meitetsu bus at Nagoya en route to Takayama, I didn’t really know what to expect. All I had planned in my to-do list were: visit the Hida No Sato (aka Hida Folk Village), get to see snow capped mountains, ride the bicycle and breathe in the fresh air. Takayama was, after all, our jumping point to exploring the Japan alps in the next days to come.

When we drove past the hustling city and into the countryside, my eyes feasted on the sights of clear streams and rivers, rice paddies, rolling hills of green. We passed through tunnels beneath mountains, and there were several sceneries that reminded me of the way to Sagada in Luzon. But this was hardly two hours away from Nagoya – what a treat for the city folks! In a few hours’ time they can reach these beautiful towns.

After a little more than three hours we finally reached the Takayama train station. Our hotel was just about ten minutes’ walk from the station, so as soon as we dropped off our luggage, we went to a nearby bike rental to check off one thing on my to-do list. I wiggled on my balance quite a few times as I tried to get used to my bicycle – it’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a Japanese bike – the last time was almost a decade ago in Kyoto. The guy told us it would take about 15 minutes to get to Hida No Sato (if we were to take the bus it’ll be about 10 minutes; and if we walked it would be about 40 minutes). He didn’t tell us it was uphill.

I’m not as fit like how I used to be when I travelled and biked. The uphill was quite a challenge, and several times D helped push my bike up. Although the temperature was only 24 degrees celsius, it didn’t help as I was sweating profusely (and sometimes imagining I was comfortably tucked in bed or soaking in a bath at the hotel). D must have been annoyed as he pretended he didn’t hear me when I called out “Are we there yet?” a couple of times.

And then we got there. Woohoo!! Parking fee was free for bikes. The entrance to Hida No Sato was 700¥ per adult. I found that it’s an open air musuem, and the houses that were displayed show the original houses of different parts of Hida. There was a lake and an outlook view of the peaks of the Japan Alps at the distance. Japan Alps in the distance, view from Hida No Sato

There were several interactive activities near the lake and the entrance like origami, stamps, wooden cube puzzles, wooden stilts (which I saw no one succeed at), and a wooden water gun. Japanese-styled parasols were free to be used, as well as boots (maybe when it’s raining?).Nakayabu’s House

Like the hotel we stayed at in Takayama, we took off our shoes as we entered the preserved homes. Because the Hida region is know for woodwork, the houses were wooden floors, tools and furniture. The homes have sunken hearths called irori which kept the surroundings warm.Panoramic view of a house’s interior

There were also artisans who were demonstrating arts and crafts like Hida quilting, wood carving, and painting. If you walk in the Takayama town’s center, you will find a lot of wooden and hand crafted souvenirs.

Doll painting in the Tomita’s HouseThere were structures for different livelihoods. There was also a hall where the elders held meetings, and a shrine with a giant bell. There was a woodcutter’s hut, aand a logger’s hut. I also saw how the irrigation system used to be, and how rice fields were designed. The last stop that I went to was the resting area where vending machines for drinks were clustered together in. On the way there was a canopy of sweet smelling flowers – and the remarkable sound of bees.One of the Hida houses kept in its original condition

As I walked around the town I cannot help imagine how it was living in the past when there was no electricity. How did it feel during winter? I was fascinated at how the structures were built, the materials that were used. Life was indeed simpler back then, and how lucky the folks were as they woke up to the beautiful nature-filled surroundings, with the snow capped mountains a common sight in their backyards.

Hida Takayama’s Morning Market

Local products at the Miyagawa Morning Market

On this pleasantly cool spring day of May, we woke up refreshed after a long night’s rest on our tatami beds. It’s our second day in the quaint town of Hida Takayama, a rustic gem more than three hours away by bus from Nagoya City. This was to be our kickoff point to the Japan Alps over the next couple of days. Yesterday was tiring but well worth the effort of cycling uphill to explore the well preserved houses and viewing the snow capped mountains in the distance from Hida No Sato (Hida Folk Village).

Today was meant to explore the town by foot. So D and I started off looking fot breakfast. Luckily, Rickshaw Inn where we are staying at was only a few hundred meters away from the Miyagawa Morning Market ( or coming from the Takayama train station, it’s about 10 minutes’ walk). You won’t miss it as it’s right past the Kajibashi Bridge which crosses over the Miyagawa River. We spotted the stalls easily, as the flock of locals and tourists checking out the merchandise was an instant giveaway.Mochi

Mochi

At the market we saw local products like crafts, souvenirs, fresh harvest (like mushrooms, fruit and greens) and food (takoyaki, pickles, Japanese chips). As soon as we got to the market we were greeted by a friendly seller of chick designed mochi, a sweet Japanese delicacy made of rice cake and some fillings. Next to the mochi stall I found the place where I was to have breakfast (toast, salad, fruit and coffee). Local products at the Miyagawa Morning Market

D found his newly found favorite hida beef skewers. I think he’s indulged in too much hida beef in this trip. He describes it as soft, juicy and quite tasty. I don’t think hida beef is widely sold in the Philippines. I hear about Kobe beef all the time, but nothing about hida beef until now. Well, that and I don’t eat meat. According to the locals, hida beef is from black-haired cattle raised in the Gifu prefecture for at least fourteen months. Hida Beef skewer

There is another market further upstream called Jinya mae Morning Market. I read from reviews that most of the locals choose to go there over the more touristy Miyagawa Morning Market.

I liked our trip to the market because we got to interact with the locals, appreciate the cleanliness of the surroundings, took in fresh air and enjoyed the view of the river. It was also close to the historical places and the Takayama Old Town. True enough, after my hearty breakfast, we made our way to the river, every once in a while stopping to say hello and pat dogs being walked by their furparents (because the morning market was pet friendly!). The river was clean, and I was able to feed fish with feed I bought from the market. Several types of colorful birds also frolicked on the riverbanks, and as I gazed at them flying around us, I knew then and there that today was going to be awesome.

Window Seat

Sunset and the horizon

When was the last time you felt differently, looking at the same things you see all the time?

One of the things I’ve been accustomed to over the years of traveling is to get myself an aisle seat. This way I won’t have to excuse myself with the folks who have to stand up so I can scoot my way over to the bathroom when I feel like it, and I’d also have easy access to the door when it’s time to deplane.

Today is The Wayfarers’ first trip together to Nagoya. For the first time I didn’t fuss about securing an aisle seat. This trip was meant for us to unwind and let loose, and it begins with letting the check-in counter decide which seats we are to take. And as destiny would arrange for it, I got the window seat.

When we boarded the plane, I figured to take in this trip with a fresh perspective, imagining it was my first time to fly. I listened as I watched the flight attendant demostrate the safety features. When the airplane zoomed up from the runway, I gaped at the window, wide eyed as I quickly scanned the houses and streets as they got smaller and farther. Truimphant at having spotted them, I pointed to D what I believed were the malls outside our subdivision. And as the plane got higher, I saw from a distance the dramatic landscape of the mountains, dominated by Mt. Makiling at the south.

Now as I write this, my view shows me a sea of clouds, and every now and then some tiny specks of what seem like bodies of water as we head up north of Luzon. It’ll still be a little more than three hours for us to get to Japan. Until then, I’ll close the window shades first. I’m at the sunnier side of the plane after all.

Clouds

Random Adventures

Artwork

“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Two years ago, D and I decided to change the way we planned for our weekend activities.  In the spirit of spontaneity, we thought of writing down our ideas of a good way to spend a weekend, and add a twist of randomly selecting what to do in a sort of  ‘pick our adventure for the day’ kind of way. So I dug up a mason jar and cut out small pieces of paper. There I wrote fun activities we could think of, from quiet dinners and watching Netflix at home, to outdoor activities and those that will entail a couple of hours’ drive.

Here are some examples of the things we wrote down:

Some of the things we have done already, and most of the time the list gets longer. Recently I have segregated the activities by color so we can budget accordingly: activities that we can do indoors for free; indoors for a fee; outdoors for free; outdoors for a fee.

It’s fun brainstorming these date ideas. In the process, I realize, that it does not matter what or where, how much or how long the activities are – what’s important is that D and I make the time to do them together, and make happy memories along the way, every day.

Adventures
Our adventure jar

Street Art Hunting: Unsung Heroes

Magsasaka

Magsasaka

Years ago I left the corporate world to practice what I learned in the University. I took a project with the government and conducted market studies for three farmer group proponents, finding out what sustainable crops they could focus on. I was able to spend time with farmer groups of Real, Quezon; Negros Occidental, and Misamis Oriental. It was a truly enriching experience as I got immersed in community of farmers. In Real, at the time, there was no electricity in the farming village and we used gaseras at night. I sat with the farmers as they talked around a bonfire sharing stories of their lives. There was no radio, and I was lulled to sleep later on by the sound of the seawaves. That was why a few years later when the province of Real was hit by a typhoon my heart ached for the farmers who were mourning the loss of their crops – they worked half the year toiling the earth and in an instant the hardwork was literally washed away by the fury of mother nature.

The mural above, Magsasaka is made by Archie Oclos and Aleili Ariola. It’s found next to Burgos Eats along Rizal Drive in Bonifacio Global City. A tribute to the unsung heroes, the magsasaka (in English, farmers), who tirelessly work the fields, rain or shine, to provide rice – the Filipino staple food.

Thus this artwork resonates to me so much and whenever I see it I am reminded to honor the Filipino farmers who work with passion and perseverance, everyday.

Street Art Hunting: Pangako

“I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.” – Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

I just had to put that quote out there. Because, Game of Thrones. It’s just around the corner. And I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

And then in May comes the Philippines Elections. I’m not even gonna delve on that topic. All I can say is We deserve who we elect.

But back to Jon Snow’s quoteand putting it into context: Have you ever made any promises that you had no intention to keep to begin with?

I know it’s just words, but for every promise I have made there had always been a pure intention to see through it. And when things don’t always turn out as planned, for example, ending a relationship that just won’t work, there are several emotions that occur afterwards: sadness, anger, guilt, regret.

img_3798

Pangako is a mural by Anjo Bolarda. In English, it translates to promise. It can be found at the side parking of Bonifacio High Street’s B3.

Street Art Hunting: Where the Heart Is

The Way Home

The Way HomeThe Way Home is a composed of 3 murals, depicting its creator Solana L. Perez’s homesickness. They can be found at the One Parkade at BGC.

What comes to mind when you think of home?

I could take it literally and choose which dormitory, house, or apartment made an impact to my memory from the time I moved out of my folks’ to go to college, until I married and settled into a house of my own, with D and the boys. Or I could take this question metaphorically and think of what, where, and when I find peace and happiness most. I’d go for the latter – when I am true to myself and accept the people around me.

Right here, and now, as I write this: I am home.

 

 

Street Art Hunting: Courtship

Tagpuan

Tagpuan

This beautiful mural by John Paul Antido is called Dating Tagpuan. In English it translates to the old meeting place. Very artistically done, where the painting was done on two joint walls. It’s located near the side street of BGC Central. I like passing through this street when I take the long route home just so I can see this art work.

Oh, the age of innocence! Sometimes I’d bring my thoughts back to the days of my youth, when the world seemed bigger and everything was simpler.

But way back in the olden days, the concept of ‘courtship’ was observed. Men would formally visit a woman’s home and bring gifts, usually for both the women they are courting and the women’s parents. They would make their intentions of courtship known, and they would patiently wait until they get the woman’s “matamis na oo” (in English: sweet yes). I believe this practice originated from the time the Philippines was colonized by Spain.

I had my fair share of this back when I was in the university – I also experienced my own harana (serenade) though it was more of a thing the guys did for for fun really. They jammed and sang Eraserheads songs outside the dorm window.

For me, personally, I cringed at the thought of courtship. I mean, it’s so formal and one way, I’d  just say no outright to save the guy his time and effort. More than a couple of times I found ways to dodge guys who would ask if they can go to the house to court.

Anyway, I digress.

Whenever I see this mural I would hum to Kanlunganan old song that my friends  and I strummed the guitar to back in the university. Its lyrics go like this:

Natatandaan mo pa ba nung tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita,

 Panahon ng kamusmusan sa piling ng mga bulaklak at halaman

Doon tayo nagsimulang mangarap at tumula.

In English: Do you still remember when first we met, we were young.

Amidst flowers and trees, that’s where we started to dream and write poetry.

Have you ever courted anyone, or been the one at the receiving end? How was it and how did it turn out? Would you prefer for this Filipino tradition to be revived?

Street Art Hunting: Bear With Me

Art
Art
Artwork by Nate Frizzell

Welcome to the first part of my Hunt for Street Art in the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, Philippines.

Many would consider BGC as the new Makati. It’s a fast developing CBD, with new high rise buildings popping up before I could even familiarize myself with my surroundings. Last December I moved into my new office here, hence I had more time after hours to explore what the place has to offer. As an appreciator of art, BGC proved to be a feast to my eyes. One of the first art works that captured my eye is this painting by Nate Frizzell. It’s called We Are What We Pretend To Be, and here are the thoughts that came into my mind as I looked at it.

No Dramas, they say, but just you wait…

Nonchalance, when deep inside bubbles of anxiety are brewing…

Fearless, because there’s really nothing left to lose…

Stoic, after hardening one’s heart from all the hurt and pain…

Boisterous laughter, and if you look closer there’s no joy in the eyes…

I’m ok, LOL, why do you ask, it was not about me, don’t you worry. Life’s a blast.

 

 

 

 

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Pathways

I just discovered Something To Ponder About‘s page and was immediately thrilled with this Friday’s challenge on the theme of Pathways.

I love looking back at these photos. I can still vividly remember how they were, in real life, a feast to the senses, to my mind and to my heart. If I were to have a holiday right this instant and I am asked to choose where I would go to, I’d say anywhere where there’s a nature trail. When I’m stuck in the city traffic, or walking among crowds of city folk during rush hours on weekdays, I’d imagine I’m walking along these paths and zone out from my busy and noisy surroundings.

trailtraildrivewayWilsons Promstream

Bikes and Trails

Trail

When I was a child, I liked riding the bicycle and exploring the neighborhood. Some weekends when my family would go to the Quezon Memorial Circle park, my dad would rent bikes for me and my brother and we’d ride around the park for hours. And then when I was in college, I would borrow my friend’s mountain bike especially when I was running low on loose change for jeepney rides to get to class.

In 2010 D and I appreciated cycling more as a practical way to get to know new places when we travel. We were in Munich for less than 24 hours and were able to roam quickly using our rented bicycles. We did this again when we were in Amsterdam, Kyoto, and Melbourne. Somehow with cycling I get more in tune with the surroundings and the moment, almost like a form of meditation for me.

Most days now whenever I walk (to work, to church) I daydream I am on a bicycle. It would sure save me more time to get to my destination faster, and at the same time tick the box for my daily exercise.

Speaking of exercise, D and his friends would regularly go to different bike trails at Metro Manila’s south for some serious cycling. There’s a trail right next to McKinley Hill in Taguig, at Filinvest in Alabang, and at Nuvali in Laguna. Of these trails, the Filinvest one is recommended for beginners. For a scenic view, best to try out the one in Nuvali. As for the one next to McKinley Hill, the path is lined up with trees so they shield bikers from the sun’s heat.

TrailNuvali bike trail

I wish there are bike paths in the Philippines so it is safer for cyclists to ride along city streets. It would definitely encourage more people to use bicycles as mode of transportation to reduce traffic congestions if there were bike paths. It would also be good for commuters like me to save on commute money, or parking and gas fee.

Weekend Market: Street Meet, Makati

Sunday market

Have always been curious about Makati’s Street Meet, a weekend night market at Paseo De Roxas. I kept seeing the teasers posted around Ayala Triangle whenever I walked from and to the hotel during an long staycation a month ago. For some reason the plan on dropping by kept being put on the back burner.

Finally last Sunday D and I were able to check it out. Street Meet Makati was set up right beside the Ayala Triangle park, in front of Paseo Center. A part of the street was closed off to traffic to allow for the different stalls. The mood was quite festive: Christmas songs were being played and the Christmas lights show was happening at the same time at the Ayala Triangle which added to the fun. Luckily most of the crowd was at the lights show. It was just us foodies hopping from one stall to another at the Street Meet.

Sunday market

There were various stalls to choose from, most of them offering free taste or samples. The first food that we bought was the Korean fish cake with soup – reminded me of the street food in Seoul. D got isaw, a local barbecue delicacy made of fish intestines. We also had takoyaki and coconut juice. For takeaway we bought frozen vegetarian gyoza and dimsums, and chili sauce. I wanted to buy bibingka, a local baked rice and coconut milk cake that is abundantly sold during the month of December. I ended up dropping the idea when the seller gave me a tired look and asked me to fall in line (when there was no one else). Oh well, that means I have to be on the hunt for a good platter of bibingka from elsewhere. Will let you know when I find em!

Street Meet items