Happy Wednesday to you all! I spent my 2nd full day in Chiang Mai at a cooking school run by a lovely chef named Neung, which actually means 1 in Thai. Though she said in her family she’s child number 10. ha! But in my book, she was number 1 in personality, patience and overall teacher. The name of her school is Best Trip Cooking School (www.bestripcookingschool.com)
I found her through Trip Advisor and she was highly recommended and once I arrived at my guesthouse they were able to book me for today. I loved that it was a small class and there were only 4 of us. The max that Neung usually takes is 6, so she’s able to tend to us without being overwhelmed. My class was the Asian women class – LOL. Our ethnicities were Filipino, Korean and Chinese. Claire was from S. Korea but also studied in the states in NY and Austin, TX and the other two were sisters named Koko and Kaka from Macau.
You choose 5 dishes that you want to make; I’ll list them below in the order that I made them. I was amazed at how incredibly simple these dishes are to make but the trick for all of us in class is really finding the right ingredients where we live. Neung was really good about telling us what ingredients we could use to substitute for those we might not be able to find.
Our class started by visiting a local market near her home. Neung lives about 25-30 minutes north of Chiang Mai city in the Sansai district where she owns about 2 acres of land that she grows her own fruits, herbs and vegetables but there were some key ingredients she still needed to buy at the market. She also introduced us to some authentic Thai delicacies and we got to see lots of various produce and some stomach turning items too. Heh! I’ll do my best to spare you the really gross pics I had to take and I’ll leave that for my cousin Malia. LOL
We tasted fried banana and sweet potato and a dish I kept seeing around town called Khanom Krok, a coconut custard dessert. Inside this cast iron pan is the custard or pancake batter and they add corn or green onions. It was sweet, light and incredibly tasty. I’ll be going back for more before I leave. So yummy or as they say here, “Aroy mak ka!”
Next we visited a stand that made fresh coconut milk. They take out the coconut meat and then place it through a big strainer and out comes this sweet and fresh coconut milk. Neung usually gets her coconut milk from here.
At the same stand, we saw fresh curry that we would eventually learn how to make ourselves. Neung then showed us some of the vegetables and herbs that are unique to Thailand, showing us a smaller eggplant, panda leaves, and also the different lemongrasses they use.
From there we ventured into where the meats are and thankfully I had a solid stomach, not many people would be able to handle some of this but I also had to take photos of some of the meats they sold. Everything from pig, water buffalo, chicken and frogs. Poor guys were alive and placed in a net until they were purchased and just like that they were made into just frog legs. Tofu was also sold in here and in Thailand, the tofu used for pad thai is colored yellow, that is a firm tofu.
I spared you some of the more stomach twisting pics 🙂 Lisa B.(NYC) I thought of you with the chicken feet when we ate dim sum in Chinatown and the lady eating the chicken feet just was smiling and laughing at us. Ha!
After we left the market we then headed to Neung’s home only 5 minutes away. It’s very peaceful and it was a nice escape from the city. Her teaching kitchen is outdoors which is great as we were getting nice breezes while we cooked and during breaks we could hang out in her hammocks under her mango trees.
She has an assistant named Joy that helps her prepare the ingredients for us and the dishes we chose to make. Neung is actually from southern Thailand so her dishes reflected that. The main difference is that Northern Thai dishes don’t use coconut milk for many and southern does which was something I never knew. As I said, we chose 5 dishes that you wanted to make. I’ll just be showing you the finished product to spare you all the other photos I took to just know what some of the ingredients looked liked.
My first dish was Tom Yum Goong, which is a popular Thai soup. It’s a sweet and sour dish and spicy depending on how hot you want it. I went for the Thai spicy which cleared out my sinuses well. It contains shrimp, lemongrass, mushrooms, onion, tomato, chicken stock and galangal which is a different type of ginger than the ones we usually use back home. You then season it with chili peppers, chili curry paste, non-diary creamer, lime juice, fish sauce, some sugar and a little salt. The soup was done in a matter of 10 minutes – so simple.
After that I made green curry with chicken and fried cashew nut with chicken. I won in making my curry paste in terms of speed and consistency. Mine was the closest to the one I took a pic of in the market. We pounded it with a mortar and pestle. Neung said there’s a legend that Thai men pick their wives by how fast they pound the ingredients and how smooth it is, apparently they make the best wives. LOL In this case, the Filipino beat the other Asians. 😉
While our curry was sitting before we placed our last ingredients, I started on my fried cashew nut with chicken. I liked that she prepared our dishes for one person so we didn’t waste our food. The cashew chicken was a simple stirfry dish and it wasn’t heavy with oil which is another thing I liked about her teaching. No crazy MSG stuff and your stomach wasn’t churning after you consumed it.
We then sat down to eat our finished dishes and had a bit of break before we started on our last two.
After eating and resting, we were ready to make our last two dishes. Most of us chose to make pad thai and we all made a well-known dessert here, mango with sticky rice. We were so stuffed from our previous dishes that we made our pad thai to go. Neung and Joy wrapped it up in banana leaves, it sure beats styrofoam and/or recycled containers. 🙂
And the dish that I think will be most challenging for me to make is actually the sticky rice with mango. The rice is something that will probably be a lot of trial and error as you can’t exactly use a rice cooker. When I first heard of this dish, I thought the combination of ingredients was a little weird, but I could totally eat this dish every night for dessert. I love the coconut milk and the rice is really sweet. Aroy mak ka!
I really enjoyed this class and would definitely take this again and learn new dishes. She’ll also personalize it if there’s a dish that you want to make that’s not on the main list. Neung was awesome and if you come to Chiang Mai, please go to her school. She really does treat you like family and she will also personally pick you up and drop you off. Her smile and personality really does radiate and you leave feeling full and happy. 🙂 Kop kuhn ka, Neung! I look forward to meeting and learning again.
I’ll be laying low tomorrow as I have an early morning flight to Hanoi on Friday to meet up with my best travel buddy, Betty Lin in Hanoi, Vietnam. My next blog will more than likely be from there. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out more of the old city and more markets. Also I hope to have another tour in the evening to check out more street food.
So until I land in Vietnam, enjoy my foodie blog! Mahalo and thanks for following!
Good morning to most of you. It’s about 9pm here in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I’ve had a full touring day of temples.
I arrived late afternoon yesterday and I’m staying in a great guesthouse near the Warorot Market, called Rustic Guesthouse. Nan greeted me and gave me the first official impression of the Thai people here. She was extremely gracious with great curiosity and everything with a smile. My room is on the “2nd floor” but be wary it’s technically on the 3rd. There’s no elevator so prepare to climb. The handy thing about a backpack it fits in narrow staircases. 😉 Beds are comfy and they have AC – yay! Good thing because during the days it’s about 96 degrees F or about 35 C, at night it’s about 70 F.
Nick the owner came in after I settled in and squared away some tours with Nan. He was great, very sweet and took me on a quick tour of the sights nearby. We took a few of the bicycles they had and we rode around the markets and headed into the night bazaar and over the bridges of the Ping River. We crossed both the Iron Bridge and Nawarat bridge before returning to the guesthouse. After the intro tour I ventured out to the market and got some street food. I admit that I was safe this time around as I got some spring rolls, some awesome spicy pad thai and I bought some fruit as well. I hope to get more pics hopefully tomorrow evening but I have to make sure to ask as many vendors don’t want pics. I had hoped to arrange a photography tour with a talented photographer here in Chiang Mai. He’s an ex-pat that has been living here for some time but when I contacted him, his workshops were closed for the season and won’t start up until September. 🙁 Bummer but gives me all the more reason to return.
Today I did a tour of the city temples located in the Old City and then ended the day by seeing one of the biggest attractions here the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
In the morning we toured about 4-5 temples, the first being Wat Chiang Man, which is said to be the oldest temple within the city walls built in 1296. All the temples here have been well kept and continue to be. They are all vibrant with color and have ornate designs but it was never gaudy to me. Perhaps the essence of Buddha is what makes it peaceful and calm. We saw many monks who were as young as 10 years old and also saw wax monks for those that have passed. Believe me the wax ones freaked some of us out on the tour because they looked so real, but it is all done so in reverence and respect.
The next we visited was Wat Chedi Luang, which was believed to house the tallest structure in Chiang Mai but according to our guide, an earthquake in 1545 destroyed the top of it and to this day the pagoda still hasn’t been reconstructed.
Inside some of the temples you can make an offering and get some of these banners to place inside. They are placed on strings across the interior of the temple and it’s supposed to provide you with good luck. These in particular below had the animals just like in the Chinese horoscope.
We also visited Wat Phan Tao and ended our 1/2 day tour by visiting Wat Phra Sing. The latter is the highlight with it’s tall ceilings and open air temple and of course with a massive Buddha. It is here that the Thai people bring in the New Year (Songkran).
After my morning tour, I took in a quick lunch of shrimp with ginger and veggies and ended it with an ice cream cone from the famous McDonald’s 😉 It was here I met my tour group to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
It’s located up in the hills about 30-40 min away from Chiang Mai proper. The gold shimmered in the sun once we arrived and it thrived with many tourists and monks giving blessings. I received one earlier from a monk in Wat Chedi Luang and they bless you with holy water and give you a white string on your wrist. It’s said that this will bring you luck, you keep the string on your wrist for a minimum of 3 days before you cut it off. We received another blessing at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
I’ve always been intrigued by Buddism and after learning more here in Thailand, I can understand why many convert to it. There’s something peaceful and nurturing about this religion and all in all, they seem to have a calmer outlook on life with a lot of simplicity which is what I like about it. I have to have more conversations with Fr. Jim Fredericks when I get back to LA. 🙂
I wrote my name on the orange fabric as they will wrap this around the pagoda. Much of what you do at the temples seem to be all of good luck and fortune. I also kept hearing these shaking sounds and they were sticks in a bamboo cup. You must shake it until 1 comes out, once one does there is a number and you select the proper paper and it gives you a fortune or outlook on your future. Mine said I had enough luck – ha! Should you shake it and 2 come out than you must do it again.
We then walked down the 307 steps. The legend of this temple is that a white elephant climbed up here from Chiang Mai and there was a Buddha relic on its back. The elephant walked up and went around 3 times until it died and therefore it became the the relic’s new home. Many people will walk around the pagoda 3x just like the white elephant out of respect and for the sacredness of the temple.
My day then ended with a meal at a place called The Kitchen in the night bazaar with a bean sprout and tofu dish complete with a small Chang beer and rice shaped like a bear. Ha! I also bought some fresh lychee that I’m about to dig into now.
Tomorrow I head to a Thai cooking class and I’m also hoping to join a street food tour on Thursday night. I may end up just browsing the many markets here on Thursday during the day but we’ll see what pops up. Till then hope everyone is well and good night!
I’m catching up on my blog and my next entry is about my time in Cebu which is an island that is south of Luzon and is the heart of the Visayas. This is also where my maternal grandfather was born and raised. It’s where I began my journey in finding more about my family roots on my maternal side here in the Philippines.
First and foremost, yes that is a Dunkin’ Donuts in the Philippines. There are many and I thought I’d take a picture for my friends that are from the east coast living in Lala land. It seems as though SE Asia is ahead of us when it comes to Dunkin’ Donuts. 😉
Anyway, at the start of my trip I had not yet met this part of my family in Cebu. So I went in blind not knowing where they lived and what they even looked like – LOL so when I spoke to them on the phone I asked that they have a sign for me when I arrived so I knew who to approach. I was picked up by my cousin Nila’s nieces and nephews, Gladys, Raje and Buen. The pace of Cebu City is definitely more laid back and traffic actually moves unlike Manila. They live in a province named Punta Princessa about 30 minutes or so from the airport. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with open hearts and curiosity as to who this mysterious relative was. One of the most common questions they had for me was, “Are you traveling alone?” and “Why did you want to come to Cebu?” They wondered why would a relative that we’ve never met before want to stay and meet us, at least that’s the impression I got. Granted they don’t live in a very prosperous neighborhood but as I stayed with them and got to know them they were extremely generous and giving.
I met MM short for Euphemia who technically is my niece, who is the granddaughter of my mother’s 1/2 sister, Materna. She was the one that helped me piece together my grandfather’s past and life in Cebu, along with my cousin’s brother Delfin. He showed me letters from my grandfather and grandmother Matilde that was written to his daughter, Materna and it slowly connected this past that was once a bigger puzzle. The story is much more intricate and complex with questions still to be answered but for me it helped derive a clearer picture on my grandfather’s past. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet my Grandpa Rallos as he passed the year I was born, in fact my mom told me that soon after my grandfather died in April ’75, she found out she was pregnant with me. I felt a strong connection in Cebu while digging into his past and despite us never meeting, I felt that he was with us through my stay with the family.
There are many relatives there and the family I stayed with is only a snippet of my grandfather and great-grandfather. I stayed with a new found cousin, Ate Letty and they all live near each other on land that was owned by my great-grandfather. It was a different experience seeing and immersing myself in their everyday life. I rode a jeepney, an elaborately decorated open air jeep where I think I consumed the max capacity of carcinogens for my lifetime… LOL. My cousin’s nephew Raje and my cousin Delfin, toured me around Cebu City. Raje also showed and spoke to me about his volunteering in Tacloban where Typhoon Yolanda struck. He and his brothers volunteer weekly helping to send supplies there. All of the clothes and toiletries that TANG and FOT donated have gone here. Raje and his brothers are quite amazing and so selfless. They themselves might not have much but they give as though they did. No doubt they are and continue to be inspiring.
I saw many sights there and one of the highlights was Mactan Shrine where Ferdinand Magellan was killed by Chief Lapu-Lapu. The Spaniards came in hoping to take over Mactan Island and instill their reign and religion, but Lapu-Lapu wasn’t going to have any of that. They fought at this site and Magellan was killed. I’m not sure what they did with his body but the confrontation reminded me of Captain Cook against the Hawaiians.
On my last full day of Cebu, I took a day trip with my cousin Delfin to the island of Bohol. It’s a 2 1/2 ferry ride from Cebu. This was also the place where a huge earthquake took place last October and the people and area are still recovering. It’s a beautiful island, much of it untouched and the vibe is even more laid back than Cebu. My cousin’s daughter-in-laws parents (say that 10x fast) were kind enough to give us a quick tour of Bohol and the highlight was Chocolate Hills. Sorry these pics are from my iphone as my camera shots are pretty big. There are about 1200 of this conical hills and they’re referred to as chocolate when the vegetation turns brown, obviously in this photo they’re about mint chocolate. They were apparently formed by the uplift of coral deposits and the effects of rainwater and erosion (explained in Lonely Planet’s guide) but there are a few legends including that they are tears of a giant. My cousin also joked that they are big poops from giants too LOL. It’s quite bizarre to see them laid out and the landscape within and that it surrounds is stunning.
We then went to visit the nocturnal tarsier at Sagbayan Peak Resort and Recreation. I hear there is another sanctuary, the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, which I’ll have to visit when I return, but for my audio friends, this is the animal that made famous the THX sound with it’s eyes opening up wide with the trademark sound. These creature are so small, they can fit in your hand and I want one for a pet, but they are an endangered species so I’ll just have to be content on seeing one in person. 🙂 I couldn’t use my flash so I apologize for it being dark.
After a whirlwind daytrip to Bohol it was time to head back to Cebu. Bohol is also known for their beaches which I’ll have to go back and stay for a weekend as I’m sure there are breathtaking views there.
Cebu is certainly a place I want to return to not only explore more outside of the city but now to find out more about my grandfather and to visit family. I flew back to Manila for just a day before I flew out to the jaw-dropping beauty of Batanes where I found new relatives from my maternal grandmother’s side, aka in our family as Paga. Stay tuned and Mahalo!
The picture above is just a glimmer into what Batanes had to offer. Batanes is the northern most province of the Philippines and it’s where my maternal grandmother was born and raised. It’s a land of untouched beauty that reminded me of what Hawaii must have been like before tourism got a stronghold on it and it also gave me an insight to where my beloved Paga came from. Paga was our family nickname for my grandmother Matilde Alamillo, whose roots began in 1909 in the small, quiet, rural town of Basco.
It all started with a few key names that my Auntie Rose provided me when I mentioned to her that I was planning a trip to Batanes. She asked that maybe I could look into some of the civil records and also the churches to see if they had further information on her mother’s family. All it took was for me to mention that my grandma was born in Basco and was from the Abengana and Librero family and within 4 days, I had discovered and had been embraced by both families as if I was born there myself. This place is so small everyone knows each other and my guide Danny was key in helping me put the pieces of the puzzle together on my maternal grandmother’s side. By the end of the first day, I had met multiple aunts on the Abengana side and met the current matriarch of the Librero family. The native group in Batanes are the Ivatan and it was funny because as I met new people and family, they would look at me and say, “You look Ivatan.” Turns out that my family has a strong foundation back in Batanes and with the beauty of it’s landscapes meeting my new found family on this island definitely makes me want to come back.
Batanes is starting to get more attention from tourists, primarily local Filipinos with 90% being from the Philippines and about 10% of foreigners. They’re promoting eco-tourism and I’m a huge supporter of it because now that I know I have family here that live and enjoy this beautiful part of the earth, I certainly do not want it to be exploited in any way.
Life here is slow and simple where the living is made from farming and fishing. The airport is literally walking distance to downtown with no traffic and transportation is either a van for tours, motorbikes, a few jeepneys and by boat. The people here are so laid back more so than Hawaii I think and there’s no rush even when there are blackouts and water can’t be pumped. My last night in Batanes was spent with my Tita Petra and the Amboy family and as we were arriving at our host’s house, there was a total blackout. Back home people would be in a bit of a panic because so much of our world thrives on electricity, the family here just simply kicked back, continued on preparing dinner with flashlights and candles and offered me some beer to pass the time. It’s a world where disconnecting isn’t a factor because they’re still trying to solidly connect with the rest of the world. Cellphone usage and texts are easily attainable but internet and wifi is very spotty. Though as my days were spent, I loved disconnecting and just taking it all in. I could come back here annually to just get away from it all for a few weeks.
In terms of the family I discovered, once they found out I was in town to trace my grandmother’s roots and we were able to square away the connection between us, they took me in with open hearts and many dinners. 🙂 The closest relation I found was my Tita Petra Abengana Lizardo. She is the daughter of my great-grandfather’s brother, Juan who was the youngest of the family. She is an absolute sweetheart and have been told that when I return to not bother renting a room but to stay with her. She has 4 daughters and 2 sons, one of which is a tour guide on the island.
She’s a great cook too who made sure I had a bunch of food when I left the island to take back to Manila. I also connected with the Librero family where my great-great grandmother was from. I met my Aunt Leo and her husband Jose and I also met the matriarch of their family, Lola Valentina Enciso Librero who was married to Graciano Librero. Aunt Leo has a brother Ike and Rocopio. They invited me dinner on Wednesday night for authentic Ivatan cuisine and I have to say my meals in Batanes were the best since I’ve been here in the PI. Everything is organic, nothing processed, all fresh fish, vegetables and organic meats. For a girl from CA, this was awesome. 🙂
Aside from meeting family, of course I took in the sites. I toured the northern part of Batan Island, the first and last days, which also included an excursion into an old Japanese tunnel from WWII. I have a gopro video that I’ll post when I return.
The second day I took a boat ride to the nearby island of Sabtang which is even more rural that Batan. My cousin Malia would have probably freaked out that I rode on this boat but hey that’s traveling right? 😉 It’s just as beautiful with amazing beaches, ridiculously clear water and lush rolling hills.
Many of the homes in Batanes are made of stone as they are prone to typhoons. Here on Sabtang, most if not all homes are made of a combination of stone, coral and cement. Winds here on an average day can gust up to 20-30mph and at times hinders trips for boats and the few flights that come into Basco. My own flight was delayed about 3 hours because of winds.
My third day touring was of the southern part of Batan Island. The landscapes seemed more dramatic with the rock formations and outcrops of Alapat to the rolling, pasture lands of Malboro county. Batanes has been compared to New Zealand in many ways but I feel that Batanes will give NZ a run for it’s money in terms of untouched lands.
I plan to return here for sure and hopefully bring some family members to join me to not only enjoy scenery but to especially meet our new family. It’s totally worth it and also worth disconnecting for a few weeks and get down to simply living. Just take it from this dog I saw napping on the beach. 😉 I’m back in Manila for the weekend but my next blog will be from Chiang Mai Thailand next week. Mahalo for following and have a great weekend everyone!
It’s Sunday evening here in Quezon City and I finally have a decent wifi spot and time to catch up on my blog. It’s moments like these where you’re not moving around that are sometimes the best on a vacation. But I have to wake up yet again at a crazy hour for my flight to Batanes at 6am. It’s 8:15pm and I’m hoping to at least get 5 hours rest before I wake up at 3am. Oy!
Anyway, before I left for Cebu last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to take a tour of a place in Manila called Intramuros. It’s a walled city that was once the center of Spanish Manila. It was a walking tour with a guide named Carlos Celdron and he only does this on weekends. It was a really big group comprised of foreigners and locals. He puts on a bit of a show while doing the tour and his famous phrase is, “Walk this way!” Carlos marks himself by wearing a bowler hat like the famous painting, The Son of Man, by Rene Magritte. We started at the formal entrance to Intramuros and made our way to one of the main attractions of the tour, Fort Santiago featured above. With Carlos’s flamboyant nature he described the history of the Philippines and the various cultures that occupied the country, most importantly the Catholic religion. He’s a proud Filipino and he shows it through his enthusiasm and dramatics during his tour. He made sure to tell us about the many cultures and countries that occupied the Philippines, from Spain with the Catholic Church, the US and Japan and their military presence, to the Chinese. Should you go on his tour, he enjoyed emphasizing things with belting out various words in his description of the history and strong, silent pauses. 🙂
(Sorry for the funky stretch – still squaring away how WP works :)) All in all, he was very informative. Once we were in Fort Santiago, he got into the history of the national hero of Philippine history, Jose Rizal, which was also the site of his execution. He was an author, poet, nationalist and revolutionary. He was not only well-versed but well-traveled and educated with travels to Belgium and Spain. Upon his return to the Philippines, he was already named an enemy of the state by the Spanish authorities because of one of his novels named Noli me Tangere, which means “Touch me Not,” which criticized the Spanish friars and the Catholic Church. That of course did not sit well with them and was a driving force for his execution. He was killed at the young age of 35.
The next big site on the tour was San Agustin Church and Monastery, which survived the Battle of Manila. The interior was very ornate and opulent, as we arrived a wedding had just finished there. It’s the oldest stone church in the Philippines that was built in 1589. We then ended our tour across the way at a restaurant called Barbara’s, where we were served some yummy halo halo, a well-known dessert, which means, “Hodge-Podge,” where it’s a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk with a mixture of sweet beans, jellos, and fruits. Carlos made an analogy that Filipinos are like halo-halo, as the culture and people really are a mix of all the cultures that have landed here and influenced the country and people. Should you come here to Manila, it’s certainly worth it and maybe come here a little earlier too to explore things on your own as well. You can find Carlos on the internet and his number is also in the Lonely Planet guide book.
The next day was spent with my sister in law’s brother, Hyman and his wife, Ling-Ling. I was brought up to a nice club that overlooked the city of Manila. Ling-Ling and I enjoyed a nice brunch and then I indulged in yet another massage. 😉 I tell you I’ve received some of the best massages here for a really inexpensive price. We then hung out and went to a movie, Robocop, and enjoyed some delicious dim sum at one of the largest restaurants I’ve ever seen called Gloria Maris.
On Monday, I joined Esper, Hilda and Ate Zin to a beautiful resort called Anvaya Cove in Subic Bay about 2 1/2 -3 hours north of Manila. It was an early start but we enjoyed a zip line and basically hung out at the pool and relaxed. It’s certainly a place I’d go back to again. On the drive up, we passed by Clark AFB where my sister, Cindy was born. It’s now officially closed and is now a big airport here in the country but it was cool to see where my dad was stationed. Subic Bay was also a major naval shipyard and base but is now no longer a US military base but in order to reach Anvaya we had to drive through the base. I got to see what a huge impact and presence our US military had there. It was then back to Manila that night as I prepared for my trip to Cebu to meet my family on my mom’s side. Next entry will be Cebu. It’s about 9pm now and so I’ll close and post about Cebu hopefully tomorrow. I have some open time when I arrive in Batanes and so I’ll do my best to post if not I’ll post upon my return on Friday morning. Thanks again for following and now for my 5-6 hour sleep. Zzzzzzzzz…
My sister-in-law’s (Irene) sister, Esper picked me up from the airport and we were lucky that we bypassed the gnarly traffic that Manila is known for. Despite my late arrival, I was greeted with food. Filipinos love to eat and Irene’s youngest sister, Hilda has already vowed to make me fat by the time I leave the Philippines and at this rate that will more than likely be true. My late night meal consisted of rice, upo (squash) and some yummy or in Tagalog, sarap Shanghai rolls, kind of like small lumpia and fresh mango. Quite delicious and then it was off to bed. I was grateful that I arrived at night because I was able to sleep pretty well on my first night as it’s 16 hours ahead of LA.
The next morning started pretty early with of course some breakfast, fresh coconut, rice, eggs and pork. Not my typical breakfast like LA which usually consists of almond milk, flax cereal and a green vitamin drink. LOL My stomach is holding up well despite it expanding each day. Here’s a helpful plug for travelers, definitely invest in Ortho Biotic probiotics, it totally helps in making sure your gastrointestinal system is healthy. Okay enough of that. 🙂
We were then off to Tagaytay. I was joined by Esper, Hilda and their cousin Ate Zin. Ate, pronounced as A-teh is used in a respectful way for an older female relative or peer. It’s about 2 hours south of Manila and it was then that I saw the true madness of Manila traffic. I will snap a photo of it when I have the chance later today. I’ve never seen this type of traffic madness in any other city and talk about skill for not having multiple dents in their cars or taking people out on their motorcycles, the jeepneys and trikes as well as pedestrians walking wherever they please. LA has nothing on Manila when it comes to traffic. Our drivers here certainly have a special talent.
After escaping the day traffic of Manila, we arrived in Tagaytay. This city is known for it’s amazing views and you’re able to see down into the Taal Volcano that is still steaming. In the main photo of this entry, you’re able to see it on the right hand side. It’s behind the crater that you may see at first in the front. That main body of water is Taal Lake and we had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant called Josephine’s for some authentic Filipino food along with being able to enjoy the view.
My hosts were apparently told that I wanted to get up close and personal with the volcano, when in reality I just wanted to see the view since it was marked as one of the 1000 places to see before you die. I had to reaffirm them that I wasn’t planning on riding a horse to the top of the steaming volcano but when they told me that was something I could do, it was an activity I started to entertain. Esper and Ate Zin said that I was going alone and that they would stay on the other side of shore. LOL
Before we made the trek down to the shore, we visited a honeybee farm called Ilog Maria, that made some great soaps, shampoos and various products which of course featured honey. After that we briefly visited their family home in Tagaytay which when my brother Kevin visited here came across a huge monitor lizard. No lizard this time.
We then were finally on our way to the shore and after some convincing to Esper, we all boarded a boat to get closer to Taal Volcano. Our boat was called Ocean Lucky and I of course had my handy recorder with me. 🙂 It was definitely worth trekking to the other side and hearing about how it’s still so hot below in the water that other spots in surrounding areas still steam aside from the crater itself. The water in the crater apparently still bubbles up because it’s so hot. Yeesh! Yet the water was pristine and so blue, they also had several fish traps that farmed milkfish and talapia (photo will be posted later). Our boat driver showed us the trail that the horses go up to and as tempting as it was I opted not to as we got there around 4pm and hadn’t docked on the other side. It takes about an hour round trip and by that time the sun would begin it’s descent. It did kind of freak me out that it might be getting darker as I headed back down the crater. But regardless, the sights were beautiful and I would certainly return to this area and next time plan for an earlier time to ride the horse up the Taal crater.
As we headed back, what took us about 2 hours to get to Tagaytay it was like double that to get back into Manila. Holy crap was traffic insane! I thought we were originally going back home but of course we made a stop to eat – ha! We grubbed at a place called Frankie’s that served some yummy chicken wings and of course I accompanied that with some cold beer. I ended the night with a full-body massage which was the perfect way to end the long day.
After a good night’s rest, I’m able to kind of just relax this morning and get my mind straight from jetlag, food, more food and food. LOL I’ll be joining my brother’s mother-in-law today for lunch and then will be taking a tour of Intramuros, which is a walled city that was the heart of Spanish Manila. It’ll be good to take a dose of history today. Till next time, “Paalam na.”
This is my official welcome to my blog where I’ll showcase photos that I’ve taken through the year and throughout my travels. The photo above has become one of my favorites and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I plan to share more of these types of moments with you in the next few months as I embark on another trip of a lifetime.
As many of you know, I’ve been in the middle of packing up and I’m about to move out of the beloved Pacific Palisades and head out to Southeast Asia on February 4th for about 7 weeks. My apartment is stuffed with boxes but my audio side is amazed at how much of it is a handy form of acoustical treatment. 🙂 Yes I’m a geek.
Anyway, on 2/4 I’ll be traveling to the Philippines for 2 weeks and then head to Chiang Mai in Thailand for about 4 days. After that, I’ll meet up with my friend Betty in Hanoi, Vietnam and we’ll travel from north to south to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). We’ll then cross the border into Cambodia to discover the temples of Angor Wat and cross over to Bangkok where we’ll part ways. I’ll end my trip in Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. I’m definitely looking forward to it and I can’t wait to see what I end up capturing both visually and aurally.
So keep posted via this blog, you can follow me through an RSS Feed which you can subscribe to but these posts will also be updated via FB and Tumblr. I hope I’ll have a good amount of wifi access throughout my travels but I’ll be checking in with my family to let them know that I’m okay. 😉
Mahalo for following and aloha!
Welcome to the Visual Tapestry Images blog. Thank you for following me. I have finally got my website to where I want it to be with the help of SmugMug and a huge bundle of thanks and hugs to my niece, Kristel. I’m familiarizing myself with the whole WordPress blogging thing, so please bear with me. My plan is to post photos and even sounds of subjects and places that I’ve captured through my explorations. Thanks for joining me and soon enough I’ll have something else posted besides me blabbering on about nonsense.
Aloha and Mahalo!