Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Top 10 in 2010 and 2011 (Part 2)

Here is the second part of my favorite places list:

Number 5:
When I lived in Paris, I wanted to go here.  For some reason, the French love visiting this country... and since I want to be French, I wanted to visit it too.  The place where we stayed for four weeks, has a name that promises more than it can deliver.  JUST SAYING.  However, we really enjoyed the weekend trips we took, which were short flights away.
Rick's Cafe: from the famous old movie
One of places we where we liked to eat and hang out
My first time to ride a Camel.
Across this beach, you can actually see Spain on a sunny day.
The most colorful souks (or markets).
The best mint tea I've ever had.
Especially if you ask them to put the sugar on the side so you can add it to taste.
BTW, you can also opt to rent a car and drive to wherever you want to go since the National Flag Carrier of this country sucks big time.  JUST SAYING.

Number 4:
This is one of the places that I visited while I was on holiday to attend the wedding of a dear friend.  We were there for a week, and we were able to visit 2 cities.  I will be going back to this country for work soon and I hope I still find it as breathtaking as I did the first time around.
The best way to see the pyramids is by Camel
This place also has a lovely view of the river

I love riding on the felucca!
There are also many, many, many temples to explore
Our tour guide once told us, there were hundreds of temples in one of the sites we visited, but he was only going to take us through one, because if we wanted to explore all the temples, we would have to spend our whole lifetime there.  Al though, unless you're really interested in the history of the place, I sort of felt that if you've seen one, you've seen them all. JUST SAYING.

Number 3:
This is the place I love the most!  I lived here once, around 5 years ago, and ever since then, I have always felt that I was half a native of this country, and that's what I tell the world.  When unknowing people ask me, "Really, you're F-----?" I answer them, Mais, Oui!!!  I am F----- at heart... and sometimes, that is all that matters.  I was really glad when I had to attend a course in a neighboring country last year, because I was able to visit my adopted homeland for a weekend.  It felt just like coming home.
My home used to be a 15 minute walk away from here
They make simple food ah-mazing!!!
This seemingly normal croissant was crisp on the outside, and melt in your mouth on the inside.
It must be the beurre.
This place also has a lovely view of the river, quaint riverside stores, and famous old churches
View of the city from another favorite area of mine
Home of Mona Lisa and many great museums
But best of all, it's the home of Coco Chanel, Louis Vuitton and the  Hermes Birkin Bag!
Number 2:
This place is a new favorite of mine.  I just visited it recently and I just absolutely loved everything about it!  For me, it's my new Hong Kong.  The place where you can just go to for the weekend (it does not even have to be a long one), because all you're going to do is relax, and stuff yourself into a food coma.  Hahaha.
Home of Takoyaki...
and the Glico man.
Lighted signs by the river
There are a lot temples and other sights to see too... in between meals.

Number 1:
I loved this place the most because it was absolutely beautiful.  The length of time we spent here, at three weeks was also just right.  It was just barely enough time to explore, yet not long enough to feel homesick.
View from the plane before landing.
I love how you can't tell where the sea ends and the sky starts.
I stayed in a room, where this was my view for three weeks...
It was beautiful any time of the day or night...
...including the few days when i was up at dawn!
At the southern most tip (or near there) of this continent
One of the many vineyards
Going on a Safari is a MUST Do...  except that it becomes a Been There Done That thing if you're not a morning or animal loving person.  JUST SAYING.  
On the safari drive, searching for the Big 5
The king of the jungle guarding his food for the week
a freshly killed buffalo
They also nice markets...

... and the food was really good everywhere.  You can easily have a steak everyday... and it was very inexpensive too. Unfortunately, I did not get to buy any diamonds, which this place is famous for, so i guess that's always a reason to go back. JUST SAYING.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite places as much as I loved revisiting them!
Here's to BIGGER and BETTER places and things in 2012!!!
This is the best souvenir I ever bought.
From H. Stern, Rio de Janiero Flagship Store, Brazil

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Picture taken from the 61st floor of The Sail @ Marina Bay during the rehearsals for the Singapore National Day festivities

My Top 10 in 2010 and 2011 (Part 1)

Before the year ends, I wanted to do a Top 10 post of my favorites among all places I visited this year.  However, because of the nature of my work, I get to travel to one country for three or four weeks at a time, so it follows that I think of the places that I visit in that way too, clustered by countries.  So, due to this limitation, I have extended my Top 10 list to cover the last two years that I've been travelling for work.

My List is totally based on my personal experience and my point of view. My general criteria was "If given the chance, Would I want to go back?  Even if I had to pay for it? :)

To make things more fun...  I decided not to name the places.  I'll eventually write about them with detailed narrations.

Number 10:
This country has a lot of Cultural sights to visit.
The Grand Palace
A short flight away from both Manila and Singapore, you can easily decide to fly in for the weekend if you're craving some of their really good food.
Sticky Rice and Mango
There are also a lot of beaches that are a short drive (or taxi ride) away from the main city.
Beach with fine white sand

The shopping is always a winner!!!
As I'm writing this, I'm just thinking to myself... Why did I place this country last in my ranking?  I would love to go again...  as soon as I find a cheap ticket and a long weekend...  but then I guess, I placed it last since I've been here quite often recently (and my parents go so often, you'd think it's as near as Tagaytay!!!)... so I can wait before we go again.

Number 9:
The first time I visited this country, I vowed, I will never willingly come back! Fortunately, I had to go back for work...  which allowed me to see things from a different perspective.
Lovely view by the river
Who can resist the charm of staying in the home of a Royal Warlord?
And the food...  as long as someone can translate for you...  everything is really good!!!
Number 8:
This place is an old favorite...  I have fond memories of visiting my godson and changing his diapers when he was a newborn until he reached puberty... and then they moved to Asia.

The famous breakfast
I love the markets... all kinds of markets
I know their schedule by heart
The iconic red phone booths
Number 7:
Use your imagination.  I had to use mine, no thanks to the weather.
That is why this place is only at Number 7.
This place also has a lot of good markets too
Home of Pao de Quiejo, which are really really yummy gooey cheese bread
Known for cool parties, hot women, caipirinhas...
Cheers!!! I'll drink to that!
This is MY BLOG.  walang kokontra!
...and yummy Picanha!
Number 6:
I've been to this place, too many times to count now... OK, fine.  That's an exaggeration. However, I can say that I've been here more times than any other place on the list, and each trip, I still find something that I like...  So yes, it is higher on my list than the country in Number 7 --- only because, if I had a chance to go back, I would rather go here...  The flight is so much shorter :)
Center of Meditation in the South, with a group of French tourists in the picture
This iconic Mausoleum
Shopping was great... consistently!
This was in every place I went to and for all the trips that I've had.
I love their traditional outfit.
It really makes you feel so graceful.
I wore this to welcome my birthday.
However, just a caveat on this country.  If they tell you there are nice beaches... 1. unless you're in Goa, DO NOT assume you can wear a swim suit.  The locals wear their traditional dress... yes, the one I'm wearing in the picture above.  2. Do not expect to swim.  3. Do not expect to see a beach similar to Boracay... or even Laiya...  and you will be just fine.  So if you want to go to this place, just stick to the sights and the shopping and you will have a blast. JUST SAYING.

To be continued...

Meralco Liwanag Park

According to Kikki K. it takes 21 days to change a habit.  I also interpret it to mean it takes 21 days to make a habit.
This is the cover of my habit motivating chart
I will let you know if it works :)
Similarly, traditions also get made in the same way. When we were kids, our Christmas Tradition was to go to at least one Carnival during the holiday season. This used to be the Toys and Gifts Fair with Carnival at Phitcite!  Then the hip place to be was the Payanig Sa Pasig, and when that closed down, it was replaced by Star City and Boom na Boom. Hahaha... This post will date my age!!!

When Sofia was a little over 2 years old, we noticed that there were lighted houses and a lot of people in front of the Meralco complex since we passed in front of it almost every day.  Out of curiosity, we brought her and we discovered that they had a train that takes you around, a nativity scene and small houses made of the copper electric wires. Sofia always enjoyed riding on the train and playing in and around the houses.  This is the point where I get really stumped, 'coz I know I had pictures from our first visit, but for the life of me, I can't manage to get the CD with my backed-up files to work!!!
Since then, going to Meralco has been one of our holiday traditions.  Every time we pass Meralco, Sofia reminds us that we have yet to take her this year...  so tonight, we finally gave in.

Part of the facade of the Meralco Building all lit up
A more complete picture of the Meralco building taken from the side
The line for the train ride was very long, so we were organized enough to let yaya (the nanny) line up for us while we roamed around
The giant Nativity Scene made from copper electric wires

We saw another long queue in front of the building
The queue is for Libreng Sakay (free ride) around the Meralco compound
I think this is a new addition
They also have brightly colored houses beside the train track
Previously they allowed kids to enter the colorful houses
Sofia had to make do with looking through the windows
It was finally our turn to ride the train, just in time... as we overheard someone saying that the train was low-bat already and needed to be charged soon.  hahaha.  just like a cellphone.
We explored the lighted cluster of copper wire houses beside the church next
There were a lot of people in front of the church
It was quite funny that we saw 1 house with no lights,
we were joking that the electricity got cut because they failed to pay

Sofia loves playing in the houses you can enter.  She stays by the window and orders her nanny to sing Christmas carols from outside, then she pretends to give money afterwards.
There is also a cluster of houses and a school on the other side, but you'll need to pass through the windows if you want to enter.
Admission to the Meralco Liwanag Park is free.  The crowd is a mix from all walks of life, but I noticed that people were polite everywhere.  They were politely lining up for the train and free rides and informally waiting for their turn when it came to taking pictures in the lighted houses.  

The Meralco Liwanag Park is open until 10PM on weekdays.  I think the last day is tomorrow, December 30, 2011.
Meralco, also known as The Manila Electric Company, is the Philippines' largest distributor of electrical power.  My thought bubble: I guess you can only afford to do this if your electricity is free.  JUST SAYING.