Perth, Western Australia (February 2016)

Australia, Western Australia By June 17, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Flying via Quantas from Singapore on my way to Melbourne, I arrived shortly before dinner in Perth for a few hours of lay-over. My friend Jo-Harri and a friend of his picked me up in a car at the airport.

I didn’t have so much time as my flight leaves at four in the afternoon. They asked me what I wanted to see or do, and as always, I said I wanted to see the museum and art gallery. I make it a point not to miss a visit to a museum or art gallery of any city I happen to find myself in. They said they knew exactly where to go.

Perth may not be as famous as other Australian cities but it sure does have its own sights and culture. It is also worth visiting, even if it takes hours and several timezones to cross the Australian continent.

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Surfing in La Union, February 2016

Family, La Union, Surfing By June 16, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

While we were in El Nido, something happened. Fabio and I had a huge fight that almost ended our relationship. He moved out to stay at a different resort. Lia and I left for Manila ahead of him while he hung out with his friends for a few more days. He was also waiting for his own Australian visa. I decided to invite him to go surfing somewhere close to Manila. He flew back to Manila and all together we found ourselves in La Union, staying at the apartment of my friend Raffy who works with the owners of Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel and El Union coffee.

I introduced him to my friends at Four Aces Surf School and we went surfing with the Valdezes, Daisy, Anthony, and Lea. We found ourselves having our breakfasts at San Juan Beach Resort and El Union Coffee, dinners at Kahuna, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Naknak’s – a popular carenderia across El Union Coffee for the duration of our one-week stay there.

And even though I was happy to see all my friends in La Union again and go surfing again, you could see the toll of all these frenzy taking its toll on me.

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Sibaltan, El Nido, Palawan

Family, Life in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines By June 5, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It takes an average of two hours on a motorbike to get to Sibaltan. The drive is hot and dusty, and scooters are a definite no-no. We rented a proper motorbike to get ourselves there and took at least two stops on the way for respite from the heat and the accompanying stress of having to dodge rocks and holes on the road. There are two roads one can take to get there. The other has more paved roads but is longer. It takes the same time to get to Sibaltan then whichever road one chooses. The trip is largely uneventful, passing through dry forests, little villages, and few sights.

Soon, the roads from El Nido town to Sibaltan would become more accessible and as the town center becomes more and more crowded, more and more tourists looking for peace, quiet, and good old nature would find themselves going north.

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Travel Information for Siquijor

Philippines, Siquijor By June 4, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Diving and Snorkeling
The island has excellent diving. Apo Island is also accessible from Siquijor but one has to ask for the schedule with the dive shops because they do not go everyday. Most of the sites are on the west side of the island so staying in the town of San Juan is best. There is excellent snorkeling in front of Coco Grove Beach Resort. If you are not a guest, you cannot get inside the resort and you are supposedly not allowed to hang out on their beach. But there is a parcel of land in between one part of Coco Grove Beach Resort, the original one, if my memory serves me right, and the extension. The extension has the swimming pools and more buildings and rooms. Find the pathway in the piece of land without a fence in between the resort and you will find yourself in public property. Find the locals guarding the area and pay the corresponding Php50 fee with them and you can snorkel in front of the beach of Coco Grove Beach Resort. From there, you can also enjoy sunset and drinks at the restaurant of the resort. Once you get past the entrance, they actually do not care if you are a guest in the resort or not, as long as you dine or drink at their restaurant.

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A Family Vacation in Siquijor Island, Philippines

Family, Philippines, Siquijor By June 3, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

From Dumaguete, we decided to take a ferry to the neighboring tiny island of Siquijor, where we stayed at one of the more expensive dive resorts – Salamangka Beach and Dive Resort. We almost never choose expensive accommodations but we only started looking for accommodations, ran out of options, and eventually decided we deserve this, even just this once. We took our breakfasts at the restaurant or by the pool while sunbathing and swimming. The pool-side bar afforded us swim while getting semi-drunk on cocktails and enjoying live jazz music. We were lucky in our timing because the owners had some of his friends over from New York who are professional musicians and they made beautiful music from sundown til late. When my then-boyfriend and now-husband’s mother asked us what we were doing and we told her, she infamously asked, “What about real life?” Still, our time spent in Siquijor was one of our most memorable, work-free, and stress-free family trips.

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A Future Without Me

MOMents By June 2, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

My daughter is getting more and more independent. Yesterday she spent all day taking care of me while I lay in bed all day writhing in pain from migraine. She made breakfast for herself, went to her grandparents’ house for lunch, and prepared the dining table for the dinner that was prepared for us. She prepared her travel bags. Today, I watched her take the elevator, her backpack behind her, on her way to spend the weekend with her grandparents in Bardonecchia for three days and two nights without me. On Monday, I will bring her to the train station where she will board a train to Genoa with her schoolmates, spending two days there, and one night “sleeping with the sharks” at the Genoa Aquarium.

“I am sorry I will not be here to take care of you, make you feel better, and make you laugh… but at least you will not have to think about me and take care of me. There will be less stress for you and you can relax,” my daughter said to me as she squeezed a tube of toothpaste in the bathroom the night before.

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My Blanks and I on Our Very First Date

Life In Italy, Lifestyle, Sardegna, Surfing, Surfing By April 21, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

It may not look it but this picture shows many firsts and it had to be documented.

A first time for my wetsuit, a Christmas present from my husband.
A first time for my brand new surfboard, an advanced birthday present from my husband. Along with a new leash and booties.
A first time for me and my husband to be surfing together at the same time in the water. We had to take turns before in terms of boards and instructors.
A first time for me to go surfing this year.
And lastly, a first time for me to be surfing in the waters of Sardegna.
And what better place to do it but in a secret spot close to our home. A mere 20-30 minutes away drive, in the very same town we live in.

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A Trip to Lake Balinsasayao, Negros Oriental, Philippines

Negros Oriental By January 24, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

On our last day in Dumaguete, Lia was well enough to go on a motorbike ride to the mountains. Even if the waterfalls was closer to our farmhouse, there was no way we were going to the waterfalls with Lia. There was some walking and hiking involved in a what they said a muddy sloped area. We opted for Lake Balinsasayao.

We arrived at the entrance where we parked our motorbike, registered on the logbooks, and paid the parking and entrance fees. We walked up the hill to the receiving area where a snack bar and view deck is. From there you can see the view of the placid lake, and if you are lucky, see unusual birds perched on the branches of the trees.

We walked down stone steps to where the lake is and some huts where we had a little picnic and thereafter rented a small boat, that came with a rower, to a small waterfalls on the other end of the lake. We took turns with the paddles. It was good fun.

There are other things one can do, like take a trek to the other lake. The men did it but Lia and I didn’t do it anymore. Instead we stayed on one of the huts by the view deck and took naps. Lia also took some time to explore the fern nursery and garden. She had fun with the flowers and butterflies.

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Celebrating New Year in Dumaguete, Philippines

Diving, Family, Negros Oriental, Philippines By January 12, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

We are a simple family. When we travel, we avoid staying at expensive hotels or resorts. We prefer to stay with family, friends, or at AirBnb places. Our two-week stay in Dumaguete in January 2016 was no different. There are many choices for staying in Dumaguete. One can stay in the city itself, in one of its many hotels, BnBs, and hostels. Most of the AirBnb places are not in the city center though and we think that’s well and good. After hours of looking on AirBnb and actually driving around on our rented motorbike, we found a small farmhouse in a town outside of the city, and it was the perfect place to stay for the New Year and the days after. We played many games of Dobble, Fabio’s Christmas present for Lia, and watched movies. On New Year’s Eve, all three of us laid on the hammock, covered with a warm blanket, and watched and counted shooting stars in the night sky – the distant sounds of firecrackers, and fireworks a faint glint in the far horizon.

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