Sunday, March 30, 2008

Layover in HK

Hi there! Currently in HK for a 3 hour layover before continuing on to SF. I only had a few hours sleep last night, I am so tired. Keeping my fingers crossed that there won't be any screaming babies around me on the long flight...

Just saw a friend's online album of my going away dinner party. My gad, I couldn't stop laughing! I wish I could share it in this space, but there are some people who won't like it... :-) To my friends who came to the despedida party, I shall miss you guys!!! You made my stay in Manila so unforgettable. You guys are the best!

It still hasn't hit me that I am moving back to the Bay Area. But I'm sure once I near SF, my heart will pound with excitement. As many more adventures await.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

...well not quite, but I'm almost there. Sunday is the big day, so I'm making the most of my time left.

These four boxes are currently on its way to Oakland by ship...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Holy weekend in Tagaytay

A fantastic view of Taal lake and volcano

It was a lazy 3 days and two nights at my Tito's place in Tagaytay. The weather was cool enough to wear a light sweater, a welcome change from Manila and Boracay.

I was content just sitting around the dinner table the entire time chatting with the family. I finally tackled organizing my Australia pictures. That was a time suck, whittling down 4,000+/- shots to 810. And I'm not close to done yet, I'd like to get it to under 500! But that can wait.

Cholesterol loading Filipino breakfast. Longanisa, corned beef, pork and beans, fried fish, fried eggs and fried rice. That's a lot of fried stuff!

I had a 2hr massage from Della, my tita's masseuse, who joined us for the weekend. Man, that girl is strong, sometimes to the point of oww! As in, it hurts so good, if you know what I mean. She worked on my shoulders until the knots disappeared, and my legs felt like jelly when she was done. Ahh, she'd be good after a long distance run...

Isn't this girl a cutie?

My 12 year old nephew whupped my ass in wii tennis. Apparently, form doesn't count for much in wii, it's all about the wrist. :-( But it was payback time when I beat my 8 year old godson in Boggle :-) Ha ha, I'll take my wins anywhere I can. On another note, I taught my cousins and godson how to solve Sudoku puzzles. I think I've got them hooked.

Look at that kid dance!

It was a good weekend. Topping it off, we were greeted by two butterflies hovering around the trellis as we were leaving. It was said that the butterflies were my grandparent's spirit saying their hellos. :-)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boracay revisited

It was unlike any other Boracay trip I've had. For one, we were nowhere "close" to white beach. Second, we didn't even touch the water. And lastly, we ate in most of the time.

Heading to and from white beach from my brother's condo unit was no easy task. Trikes have difficulty climbing the hills to his place. Arrangements have to be made with the condo driver for pickups and drop offs. Plus you need to hike a short but steep hill to get to the multicab. No big deal really, but it may be for some.

Inconveniences aside, we hardly left the condo. There was no need to. It was beautiful up there, the view stunning. We had everything we needed, food, alcohol, wireless connection, a pool and hundreds of movies to choose from. We did venture out a few times to replenish our water supply, for happy hour, and a few meals...

Trip Highlights ::

Nipa Hut. My brother took us on a 20 minute hike to his nipa hut for cocktails. We watched the sunset and were chatted up by Efren, a local landowner, who joined us in our festivities. We were there for a couple of hours, enjoying the view and the latest gossip re the Gucci Gang.

The hike up to the hut

The fantastic view from up there

Night swimming. After cocktails, I did a few easy laps in the pool. It was a good sized pool, approximately 18+/- meters long. The night was calm, the water warm and even better, it didn't sting your eyes. Except for the pool lights, it was pitch black with a few stars out, so quiet, so peaceful...

Tirta Spa. We had a most excellent experience at Tirta. Surpassing my Mandala experience and possibly equaling ShangriLa Mactan's Chi. Even before entering the grounds of Tirta, we were awed by its imposing entrance. As we passed the gates, a man struck the gong announcing our arrival.

We chatted with the lovely and charming owner, En Calvert. She explained the process that went into Tirta. So much love, thought and detail was poured into it, down to personally training her staff. I picked the Hilot massage (Filipino massage), while my sister had the scalp and the foot reflexology treatments. Mmmmm... if you're in Bora, you've got to check this place out.

The entrance to Tirta Spa

Ulysses. There was this guy in Boracay, Ulysses, who used to massage me years ago. He was so good that I'd look for him each time I'm there. But for the last three years, no one seemed to know where he disappeared to. So I was so happy to bump into him and his wife Lynette at D'Mall. We quickly made arrangements for a massage the following day. Oh man, he was good! I wanted to enjoy each stroke, but I fell asleep within the first 30 minutes. I'd say that Uly's massage was at par with my massage at Tirta, but without the ambiance. Afterwards, we were treated to a numbers reading by his wife, an albulario (medium/witch), who claims she can cure various ailments, if you believe in those things...

Uly and his wife Lynette

Low wattage ambiance but a first rate massage

Extended Happy Hour. For our last night in Bora, we headed over to Aria. We befriended Nicky, the restaurant manager, who agreed to give us happy hour prices all night long on the condition that we crawl out of the place at the end of the night. Umm no, we didn't dare. I love their margaritas, they make it strong!

My cousin wanted her face cropped out of the picture...

So, that was my last hurrah. I don't know when I'll be able to visit this place again, but I'm already looking forward to it.

Zero miles in 16 days

I can't believe, I haven't ran since I returned from Australia!!! I can already see unwanted changes in my body. It hasn't helped that I've been eating non-stop, like a pig.

All the walking and running I did in Australia, plus the long plane ride back to Manila, somehow affected my knees. My right knee was swollen for 4 days, it felt like it had some extra fluid there... But it's all better now. I'm going to have to start running again soon. Thank god my marathon training begins next week!

Some pictures from my runs in Australia...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back in Manila

It's great to be back in Manila, where the weather is surprisingly cool and breezy. A bit jetlagged, even though there's only a 3hr difference between Sydney and Manila.

Will be flying to Boracay this weekend before to the Holy Week rush. Yippee, this will definitely be my last hurrah before returning back to California. That being said, I'll be quite busy the next few weeks, preparing and packing up the bulk of my stuff, doing the goodbye rounds and what nots. I don't know when I'll be able to update and post pictures of my trip to this blog. Hopefully I'll find some downtime in Boracay this weekend to do so.

So until then, happy and safe runnings to all.

Days 13 & 14: Sydney

Day 13
It was an easy and unstructured day. Did an early morning run around Hyde Park, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Garden and Central Station. After a late breakfast, planned to take the ferry to Watson's Bay then head over to Coogee, but decided to explore the surrounding neighborhoods instead. Walked around the Surry Hills and Darlinghurst areas, discovering cool little streets filled with cafes, little design and boutique shops. Just my kind of thing. Then headed over to Darling Harbour to scope out my route for tomorrow's run.

Day 14   My last day...
Early morning run around Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour and crossed the Pyrmont Bridge. Last minute shopping at Kinokuniya bookstore, Woolworths, Sportsgirl and Paddy's Market. A lot of salivating over Australian designed items especially the Sheridan linens and Japanese/Eastern inspired clothing. Evening flight out of Sydney back to Manila.

That concludes my trip to Australia.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Days 10-12: Sydney and Blue Mountains

Day 10

  • Heavy morning rain messed up my plans to run along The Rocks, Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House
  • Cruised along Sydney Harbour via Majistic Cruise Smart. Awesome 1 hour cruise!
  • The Rocks Walking Tour. History and other interesting facts about The Rock and how Sydney was discovered.
  • Sydney Wildlife World. A waste of time, except that I saw Koalas for the first time.

Day 11
  • Half day City Sights and Manly Beach Tour. Nice wide beaches over at Manly, but I prefer Bondi Beach. Surf was too strong, so not a whole lot of swimming allowed at Curl Curl.
  • Great Chunky Beef Pie at Hamlet's at Corso. I'm loving meat pies. Must find a place in Manila!
  • Halfway stroll of the Sydney Bridge, also called a coat hanger. Great day, hardly any wind.
  • Walked up Sydney Bridge Pylon for 360 degree views of Sydney. Spectacular panoramic views, better than Syney Tower without the distracting glares!
  • The Sydney Opera House Essential Tour. Incredible architecture and interesting commentary by Charlie, the tour guide.
  • Watched a movie at the Dendy, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. Thought I made the wrong choice, but ended up liking this French film. Very original story.
  • Sydney Aquarium. It was really awesome to see the sharks swim all around and over me!!! Breezed through the Aquarium, other things that stood out were the little penguins and the colourful reefs ~ that's as close as I'll get to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Took Monorail back to hostel.

Day 12
  • Woke up at 6:45am to catch the 7:25 train ride to the Blue Mountains. It takes 2 hours to get from Sydney Central to Katoomba.
  • Purchased the Blue Mountains Explorer Hop On/Hop Off transport to get around.
  • Did a 2hr hike from Skyway Eastern Anchorage all the way to the base of Scenic World. Took the Railway all the way back up. That's the steepest rail I've ever seen!
  • Did another hike from Honeymoon Lookout all the way down the Giant Stairway, that's 890 steps going down! I did a freaking 1780 steps! Never had my heartbeat beat so hard. I was ready to walk another 2 hours to the Railway to avoid climbing the stairs, but I lacked the time!
  • Caught the bus at the Echo Point - Three Sisters to Leura Village.
  • Devonshire Tea at Bygone Beautys. How very delicious and proper. They had over a thousand teapots on display!
  • Caught the 3:24pm train back to Sydney. What a day!

Pictures to follow soon.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Day 9: Sydney

  • Flew to Sydney in the morning
  • Coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee. Stunning views!!!
  • Gay & Lesbian Parade back on Oxford St. Similar to the Berlin Love Parade.
  • Dinner at Chinatown

Day 8: Gold Coast

  • Morning run around Burleigh Heads and the promenade. Awesome run, a few drizzles but the sun eventually came out
  • Shopping for gifts and requests from family members
  • Walked along the beach from Palm Beach to Currimbin. Experienced a sand storm

Day 7: Brisbane & Gold Coast


  • University of Queensland St. Lucia
  • Hop on hop off on the Jetty Cat from the University, to Southbank, Toowong, and Brett's Wharf
  • Tried an Aussie delicacy called chiko roll, a chicken in a roll. The one I tried was disappointing.
  • Also tried a scone with cream and strawberry. Now that was really yummy!

Gold Coast
  • Walked around Surfer's Paradise and Broadbeach
  • Returned to Goldstein's for their excellent steak pie with mushy green peas
  • Cocktails in the balcony once again

Day 6: Gold Coast

  • Ran along Tallebudgera Creek
  • Daytrip to Tumblegum in New South Wales for Devonshire Tea. Scenic roads similar to Marin coastal roads and Sonoma hills.
  • Fish & Chips at Club Talle
  • Cocktails on the balcony

Day 5: Melbourne / Gold Coast

  • Stayed at my aunt and uncle's brand new condo. They have an awesome beach front unit on Palm Beach. Spectacular 280 degree views of the beach!
  • Lunch at Goldsteins. Really good steak pie with mushy green peas!!!
  • Coastal drive from Pt. Danger all the way down to the Spit
  • Cocktails on the balcony

Melbourne: Days 3 & 4

Day 3
Half Day City Sights Tour

  • St Patricks Church
  • Federation Square
  • MCG & Rod Laver Arena
  • Docklands
  • Royal Botanic Garden
  • Remembrance Hall
St. Kilda
  • Luna Park
  • Ackland St
  • Promenade
  • Monarch Cake Shop
Crown Casino
Melbourne Aquarium
Victoria State Library
Eureka 88 Sky Deck
Day 4
Ran along Yarra River ~ drizzly but an awesome run!
Fitzroy St: Cool shops & stationeries, lots of handcrafted items, cafes and restaurants
Walking tour of the Eastern Enclave for a taste of the Victorian life ~ lots of balconies with amazing iron work
Watched a movie, Bella, at the Kino Dendy. Movie is highly recommended
Chinatown / Greek town