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Saturday, January 24, 2015

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Quick Trip to the National Museum: Get Up Close and Personal with the Spolarium

Late post again.  But since I have some pics in my drive, I figured to share this with you so hopefully you can visit this place if and when you are here in Manila, and if you are in Manila and still haven't been here, I strongly recommend this place.

Here are the reasons why:

1, You witness the Spolarium first hand and be in awe as to how big it is.  I covers almost the entire side of the room and mind you, the room is really big.  So you can only imagine how big it is.  



2. The place itself is well maintained and grandiose.  The limestone flooring and intricately designed metal railings were gorgeous that I had to take a feetsie. (My own term for feet selfie. Hello! LOL)


 3. The structure outside was phenomenal, I couldn't help but be proud of it.  Philippines represent!


4.  Aside from the Original Juan Luna Spolarium, another original favorite work of his is also here: The Parisian Life.


5.  The chandeliers in this place are fantastic and beautiful, giving this place a more sophisticated vibe.


6.  The glass paintings were also magnificent.


These were just few of my fave.  Try to find out what yours are when you get there.  And oh, let me now!



Publisher: Shy - Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

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Cam on to Pinto Art Museum Antipolo

Where have you been all my life?

I've had been to National Museum in Hongkong and I remembered being fascinated and mesmerized by the artifacts--- how they were saved and preserved through time, and how well these were presented to the public.  And as I was going through each paintings, and murals, while in my higher ups of admiration, I felt a sudden jab when I compared what I was seeing to what I had seen in museums back in my country.

"Why can't we have anything like this?"

"Do we even have great artists and if so why aren't they featured as well as artists here are featured?"

It saddened me but I managed to brush these thoughts aside so I can enjoy the moment of seeing art showcased the way it should be.

I thought that the art industry in the Philippines was a hopeless case, but all that changed when I came to Pinto Art Museum.  "Hey let's go to Pinto Art Museum." he said, I thought ok  and when shown a link on Facebook showing off just 2 or 3 pictures of paintings in a Grecian-inspired house, I figured, that doesn't look so bad.  With my memories of local museums I've been to before, I knew it was wise to keep my expectations low.

Good thing my expectations were low and good thing I just saw 2 to 3 pictures because when I got there, the place really blew my mind!


 Since I don't want to spoil the surprise, I consciously decided to post few pictures.

You'll thank me later.  

Don't forget to bring your camera.  There's tons of things to click.  My partner-in-crime and I were like kids in a park because there were just so much of greatness for our eyes to see.










Publisher: Shy - Friday, January 23, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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Magic and Romance in Wisdom Path, Lantau Hongkong?

It was Dec. 6, 2014.  The day that I turned 29.  It was morning.  I was cold and tired after a long walk around the Giant Buddha, and even after that, I was still determined to power through to see the Wisdom Path.  My journey to the Wisdom path wasn't so enlightening.  It was just a very narrow path that's just formed by people waking on it for years. I'd say people lining up and walking along it, because that's how narrow it is, or at least that's how I perceived it too be.  My fear screwed up my reality that what I was seeing as a long, narrow brick road seemed to me like a scene in the Blair Witch project.

I'd second guessed myself a number of times if I was indeed walking on the right path.  I even went back as far as where the sign was and, even when there was a sign pointing on there implying that the path that I had been trudging is indeed the way,  I still asked some locals where the path is and with a reassuring nod I then head on once more.  It didn't took me long to have my doubts creep in again.  In my head I was thinking, what if there's some kind of puma hiding in the bushes, waiting for the perfect timing to pounce on me. What if there's some rapist around the corner seamlessly looking for a lone female travel a.k.a. me.  That freaked me out and turned away again.   

I'm not a psycho, but any woman with a sane mind would feel vulnerable walking down the path.  It was long and narrow and it's smack in the middle of a forest.  It would have been fine if I was with a crowd of people, but in this case, I was on it alone, and being a tourist spot I was expecting people if not going with me at least heading at the opposite direction, but while I was at it for what seemed like minutes, I didn't see anyone, which scared me.  So it could be a perfect place for a malicious person to drag me into the bushes without being seen by anyone.  And to remind you, I'm on this trip alone, so if I'll be missing, no one will notice.  So it was imperative to take extra, extra, caution.  So I had to dismissed it.

Listen, this Wisdom Path isn't worth my life!!! 

Good thing I saw an american family on their way to my supposed destination.  I asked the guy carrying a baby if I was in the right way to the Wisdom Path.  He confirmed what I already supposed to know, yet refused to accept.  Shamelessly I asked if I could go with them because I was too scared walking alone.

When we finally reached the site, he told me "See we're right all along.", in my mind he'd probably think I'm a weirdo.  And so you know how many times my mind had screwed up with me through my trip.  I said "Thank you." and walked my way up to the Wisdom Path, leaving them behind as they were sitting under a tree, resting.  


Images Source: ilovehongkong

There I saw another American travel talking to an asian traveler,  as the asian traveler left, we were the only ones there as I reached the middle part of the whole installation.  It wasn't long before we started a conversation.

His name was Frank, age 54.  Like how any conversation starts, we said our his and hellos, and then he pointed out that the writings etched on the wooden beams, explaining to me that those were Buddhist Sutras or prayers.  And like with any traveler meeting a new traveler, the "where are you from?" question was asked.  When I said Philippines, he then beamed and said

"Oh I've been to the Philippines before, I've volunteered at the peace corps...." hearing this I felt mesmerized and honored that he has been to my country, and felt deaf as I was thinking all these, and next thing I heard was...

"You know it's weird because the reason why I'm here is because of the Philippines."

We then looked at each other and had a second to contemplate EVERYTHING.

Ok we're smacked at the center of  Wisdom Path with us being there alone. Alone, while we were surrounded with so much mist and mystery.  And here this man, is talking about how the Philippines is the reason why he is in HK, and I am a Filipina.  

"What does this supposed to mean?"

This seemed like the perfect set up for a romantic love story, then violins and orchestra started pouring in.  

But wait what is this. No. Is this the universe playing tricks on us?  What's with this coincidence and with the ambiance.  Ok sir, but no.  And universe, stop it, this isn't funny.  And he probably thinks the same thing too.  And for a brief moment right there, we were back to traveler meeting traveler mode.  And bid our goodbyes soon after.

Funny how things sometimes seem right even momentarily and and then seemed entirely wrong at the blink of an eye.  Sometimes things aren't meant to be thought of deeply.  Sometimes things are just what they really are and nothing more.


I went on back again to the path I was freaking about not too long ago.  This time with the smirk on my face..."What the hell was that?"  Oh well. Moving on.
Publisher: Shy - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

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Hidden Massage in Baguio

"Walang socket ano?" addressing to an Asian woman sitting by herself in the  lobby area.

 "Ugh socket? there's one right there." pointing at a socket just under the table.  And immediately I thought, ah ok, but got bothered a bit by her response.  Inglisera si ate lol.

After our few chances of chit chatting did I only discover that she really couldn't speak nor understand Tagalog.  She's Chinese by race but grew up in Holland.  

Her name is So.  

It was only over breakfast when she spotted me sitting alone (as usual) in the Inn's kitchen did we had a chance for a longer than usual conversation.  

She was around the area trying to place an order of her own.  Shortly after my breakfast came in, she offered to join me.  Thank God I've got company!  So of course I said, sure!  

From our talk, I discovered that she had done research on sexual workers in China and told me that prostitution there is a taboo and had to hide it in establishments such as"videoke bar", "massage parlor" to name a few.   I was shock to hear this because for all I know, there are red light districts in China.  

So on my last day, as I was in a taxi on my way to the bus terminal I saw an ad that draw my attention:"Hidden Massage".  What an irony that is.  Surely it screams seedy.  I'm quite sure what kind of service it offers.  With a signage like that?  I couldn't be wrong.



Publisher: Shy - Monday, January 12, 2015
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Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad Benguet: Strawberry is my New Kind of Drug

Strawberry Field Forever.


Just 15 mins. from Baguio Village Inn, I have finally reached my destination, and the highlight of my trip.  The defining moment.  The place where I could accomplish what I have came here to do:  Eat as many strawberries as I can.  Ok so this may not be a difficult goal yet  this doesn't take away the fact that it is a special moment.  

Upon reaching the farm, I was feeling a bit lost since, at first, all I saw were buildings.  When I asked for directions, I was pointed to go to the hut where I can find the main entrance of the farm and where there are strawberries sold in baskets, small plastic containers and in boxes, each with varying price of course.  I read from a blog that strawberries are sold for P150/kg.  So I was hoping to buy 2 kilograms of strawberries sold for P150/kg, a price that's very tempting for a strawberry-hungry woman like me.  Two kilos for P300, that sound like a bargain.  But I was let down upon seeing the prices when I reached the hut.  They were selling it for P220/kg for small strawberries  contained in cardboard boxes, there were some in half a kilo of strawberries in baskets sold for P120 each.  And P65 for 1/4 in plastic containers.  The price just stopped me from consuming as many strawberries as I hoped I had.  But I think that's how the universe way of telling me that I shouldn't be greedy.  So I ended up getting the 1/4 for myself and 2 1/2 kilos strawberries as souvenir.  









Strawberry ice cream sold for P35 (if I'm not mistaken). It doesn't taste like any other ice creams I've tasted before.  It's less creamy for sure, it is starchy yet really delicious!





I never thought that there will be flowers here in the Strawberry Farm.  Since I traveled solo, all you can see now are a pair of my beautiful, hardworking feet along with these equally beautiful blooms.  There was a couple who volunteered to take a picture of me but I shied away from the idea.

So that caps my trip to the Strawberry farm.  I had a great time exploring the area.  Although it was quite anti climatic because I was kinda reprimanded by one farmer there.  He asked if I had a guide.  And I said no.  He mentioned that everyone should have one because I might pick and eat a fruit or vegetables that might have chemicals on it.  He sounding upset about that, didn't make me feel comfortable.  I felt like I was some illegal trespasser, so I slowly made my exit after that.  Thinking about it though, why had he mentioned about the use of chemicals when I thought, as explained to me by another farmer, that everything is treated organically.  

Well maybe it isn't quite so... Hmmm





Publisher: Shy - Monday, January 12, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

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Going Around Baguio in Half a Day

Since I can only check in at 2pm, I have all morning to go around Baguio.  So from Baguio Village Inn, I took a Trancoville jeepney and dropped at the corner of Session Road.  There isn't any jeepneys going in there.  My guess is to ease traffic congestion since there were already a lot of cars going to and fro the touristy road.  My plan was to wait until 9am whe the Department of Tourism opens so I can get a free copy of a Baguio tourist map.  When I got there it was just only 7am so I managed to go down session road to hang around Burnham Park.   I was really cold, which makes me remind of the coldness in HK when I was exactly the same time last last year.

Burnham Park

There were a number of people doing exercise.  I was just going around taking pictures and really not planning to stay longer.  Here I saw strawberry taho which was being sold in many parts of the park.  I thought I'd try to get it some other time since I already had my breakfast in the inn.

Then just at the corner, I saw bicycles and tricycles in every color and sizes.  Not sure of my biking skills, I tried out a pink one and went off gradually picking up my pace.  For just 40 pesos an hour, it was a perfect exercise.


Baguio Museum

When 9am was drawing in, I paid for the rent and walked my way to the Department of Tourism.  All in all I think it was a 15min walk from Burnham Park.  There I got my map, and got another one for the Inn since the ran out of it.  Just beside the building is the Baguio Museum, since it was just nearby, I thought of visiting it.  I think I paid P40 for the entrance.  It is a 4 storey building.  Nothing really much can be seen in here.  Most of the artifacts are on the 2nd floor which is the receiving area, the level that you reach once you climbed up the stairs.  Outside there will be a notice that you're not allowed to take pics in 2nd and 4th floor.  Not knowing that I was on the 2nd, I took a few pics.  I wasn't really reprimanded, maybe they had a lot of tourists doing the same thing I did.






From there, I planned to go to Mines Park and the spots near it such as The Mansion, The Botanical Garden, Horse Farm, and Good Shepherd Convent.   I was told by the staff in the museum that I should head back to Session road because there's a street close to it where you can ride jeepney going to Mines Park.


Mines Park

Here people can enjoy having their pics taken with 2 big Saint Bernards, colorful horses, colorful flowers, them with traditional tribal costumes, and a scenery overlooking Baguio.





Good Sheperd Convent

Just 5 mins. away you can walk your way to The Good Shepherd Convent where tourists can buy souvenirs.  The convent sells different kinds of goods like cookies, jam and stuff all made by students whose education are financially supported by the convent.






Horse Farm

The next destination is a bit far so I had to take Baguio jeepney going to the Horse Farm.  You'll know that you are near the place when you can smell the funky smell of the horse' urine and waste.  The place isn't big.  You can just see horses lining and a bunch of men hollering at you to try horseback riding.  Since I've already experienced that, I didn't bother staying long and just went ahead climbing the stairs to reach The Mansion.



The Mansion

The climb up was really exhausting but I had to push myself to reach the Mansion.  There waiting were a number of souvenir sellers who are selling toys, big oranges, leather belts to name a few. It was said that the mansion is where the President reside when having a vacation in Baguio.






For lunch I went to Volante which was just across the street from the Horse Farm.  They serve Italian food, and I happened to get myself a 6 inch pizza.  So small for my liking but for P80 I think it was quite fair.


The Botanical Garden

It's just 2 minutes down the road. I didn't know this so I rode a jeepney.  Few seconds after, I went down to get into the Botanical Garden.  It is a work-in-progress park so it wan't as refined yet, but the concept that they have is quite impressive.  I didn't bother taking pictures since by this time I was already feeling tired, and I hadn't had much sleep while in the midnight bus from Cubao.  From here I went back to the Inn just in time for my room to be available for check in and got myself a well deserved rest.

All these places can be traveled for half a day.  If you wouldn't be staying so much time (meaning 1 hour per place) in a place, it is doable.  I just went around just enough for me to check the place and to take some pictures.  If you want to include Strawberry farm here, you can.  You just have to go there (preferably via taxi) right before going to places I've mentioned because it's always better going there first thing in the morning, that is if you plan to pick strawberries for yourself, but if not, then anytime is fine.

I understand that anyone with a sane mind would't like to travel for only half a day in Baguio.  I just indicated here that you can, to give people an idea that it's possible so you can spend some time chilling.  In my case, I did that because I never thought I could mark out all the go-to destinations in such a short time.  Like I had planned to go to certain places for a day, and I was just shocked that I had already marked all of it for just half a day of going around.

I stayed there for 3 days but went around for just 15% of the duration, mostly on the first day when I traveled half a day.  The following day, I went to Strawberry Farm.  I didn't bother going to the Buddhist temple.  It's just my preference since my main goal for going to Baguio really is to eat as many strawberries as I can.  Eat it with chocolate, and work on the long overdue ebook.  Eating was easy, but writing was hard.  I never anticipated that I couldn't work with a really cool weather.

The Main Star of the Show: Strawberries

This is what I've learned though.  You don't really have to see everything in Baguio.  You don't have to kick yourself for missing a landmark because at the end of the day what's more important is for you to enjoy the place, not race around in it just so you can "experience" it.  Chill, there's more to Baguio than these places.  There are a lot of great people that you can talk to and meet along the road.  Don't forget to start a conversation with them because mind you, these moments are far greater than just visiting some old landmark, the people for me is the landmark.

I think I've kinda grown as a traveler and I think I kinda want to keep it that way.

Publisher: Shy - Thursday, January 08, 2015
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