Monday, December 3, 2007

My 1st Taste of India

Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) 2004

Its nice to visit a place where body art is part of their culture.

Its nice to meet people from different cities in one room.

Its nice to experience my first Sheisha in India!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eyes opened to Islam

(Picture taken from

I had to go to Indonesia for work but only for a few days. I dont have pictures and I dont even remember what year I went ... but since this blog aims to document all my travels, I might as well write about it.

I went to Indonesia with my then boss Joseph Avendano and my mom, who wanted to buy wooden furnitures in Jakarta.

Here are a few things that I observed..
  • Muslim women strictly covered their hair and wore conservative clothes
  • The establishments that I went to (malls, parking lots, offices) all have prayer rooms so they can perform their salat or daily prayers.
  • All bathrooms have an area to wash your feet because when doing salat, it must always be preceded by ablutions (wudu') of ritually washing the face, hands, and feet.
I know this may cause a debate, but nowadays, I don't see the same dedication in Catholicism in the Philippines. This was the first time for me to visit a Muslim country, and it was nice to see firsthand the loyal and peaceful followers of Islam. Kudos.

I heart NY

December 2004

While I was in Toronto, I decided to visit my Tita in New York for a few days ... which equals to free lodging! =) I was chatting with Lia when she told me that some of our college batchmates from De La Salle University migrated to New York. I immediately got in touch with them ...and voila!! .. another unexpectedly fun NY trip.

Thanks to
ANGEL, ET, and DEBBIE for taking me out. I had loads of fun! =)

(At a Mexican Restaurant L-R Me, Debbie, ET, and Angel)

They took me to the ever famous Serendipity 3 .... and check out our big ass banana split!

4 women in New York City..I felt like we were in a scene of my favorite show! Till the next time we see each other again =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Years at Toronto

December 2004

Right after Christmas of 2004, I went to Toronto to spend the New Years.

This was my FIRST TIME to experience winter. It was extremely cold, the temperature would fluctuate anywhere from -10 Celsius (14 Farenheit) to -20 C (-4 F). I remember there was even a snow storm and I was told people would wear hard core snow climbing gear just to avoid getting frostbite. YIKES.

Luckily, I visited my Tita Sandra in New York for a few days and missed the snow storm. PHEW! (I will write about my short NY Trip after this post!)

I was very happy to meet new friends ... most especially PAM, whom I still keep in touch with. I was also glad to see Chad Diaz, an old college barkada who currently lives in Canada, and Cholo, a very good friend of Ivan who is another college buddy of mine.

From Toronto, we drove to the Niagara Falls ... and it was even colder at the site! Everything was turning into one big ice cube. Niagara Falls is located at the border that separates Canada and the U.S.. It is the most powerful waterfall in North America.

It was generally too cold for my taste... but at least I was able to try my first winter sport - snowboarding! It was fun but I didn't know how to break so I would just fall on my butt to stop. And the result was.... a painful ass the next day! Oh, btw, thanks PAM for lending me that gorgeous blue snowboarding suit! =)

My 1st Taste of China

Beijing, China 2004

My first taste of China was marvelous.... and has no connection to the picture below. But in China, they eat bugs as snacks and I found this yummy meal at a wet market.

The wet market I went to was close to our hotel. I joined my dad on his business trip to Beijing for a few days ... thanks Dad for letting me tag along!

We were also walking distance to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

The Forbidden City was home to the emperors of China.. including their wives and concubines.
The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex and covers 72 hectares. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms.

The Tiananmen Square is widely known for the 1989 protests also knows as the Tianenmen Square Massacre. The series of demonstrations led by activists, students, and intellectuals against the goverment resulted in a military crackdown which left many dead. (Famous Photo below right entitled "The Unknown Rebel" taken from

The Great Wall is the world's longest human-made structure, stretching over approximately 6,700 km (4,160 miles) in total. It is also the largest human-made structure ever built in terms of surface area and mass. At its peak the Ming Wall was guarded by more than one million men.It has been estimated that somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 million Chinese died as part of the centuries-long project of building the wall.


Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon from May 1932 explains the fact that the wall is "the mightiest work of man, the only one that would be visible to the human eye from the moon" and Richard Halliburton's 1938 book Second Book of Marvels makes a similar claim, but it is not true. This belief has persisted, assuming urban legend status, sometimes even entering school textbooks. Arthur Waldron, author of The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth, has speculated that the belief might go back to the fascination with the "canals" once believed to exist on Mars. (The logic was simple: If people on Earth can see Mars's canals, the Martians might be able to see the Great Wall.)

* some text taken from

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Daytrip to Macau with Pawie and Mark

From Hong Kong, we decided to do a daytrip to Macau.

(Me, Mark Soriano, Pawie Achacoso) (Pawie and "his friend" at a bus in Macau)

The Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, shortened to Macau or Macao, is a small territory on the southern coast of China. It is 70 km southwest of Hong Kong and 145 km from Guangzhou.

The city was the oldest European colony in China, dating back to the 16th century. The Portuguese government transferred sovereignty over Macau to the People's Republic of China in 1999 and is now run as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Residents of Macau mostly speak Cantonese natively.

Broadly, Macanese refers to all permanent inhabitants of Macau. But narrowly, it refers to an ethnic group in Macau originating from Portuguese descent, usually mixed with Chinese blood.

* taken from

Hong Kong

2004, 2005

Despite the challenging work and demanding employees, I had fun in Hong Kong. At night and during weekends, we made it a point to eat somewhere nice ... a form of reward for the exhausting day. I've tried a lot of restaurants/bars in Hong Kong and I love them! I believe Hong Kong has even better Chinese food than in Mainland China!

I enjoyed the company of my colleagues, Gino, Ron, Pawie, Mark, & Ann from Manila, AND Kim & Eric from Hong Kong.

I remember going to Lan Kwai Fong for the first time with Gino and Ron....and a year later, having lunch there everyday with Mark and his friend, Jocson. Lan Kwai Fong is a small square of streets which is the country's most popular and well known area for a night out. It has numerous bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants.

(at Lan Kwai Fong)

I had a wonderful time trying restaurants with Ann & Pawie, and was very delighted when Kim and Eric joined the fun. I remember learning the Chinese Dice Game from Eric, which they would normally play while drinking at a bar.

(1st pic: Mark holding dices for the dice game, 2nd: At Red)

Reminiscing makes me want to go back to HONG KONG!!! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On Business


I started working for a financial institution on December 2003 under a project implementation team. Luckily, our team's scope was the Asia Pacific region which required us to travel around Asia. It was exciting at first but after a while, it became physically tiring.

The next series of posts will mostly be the good side of our business trips or what we call WEEKENDS. I will not talk about what happened at work, which I consider the challenging part of the trip. Just remember... it was
NOT all fun and games... even though the pictures may seem otherwise.

St. Petersburg, Russia

May 2003

It is Russia's second largest and Europe's third largest city after Moscow and London. 4.6 million people live in the city, and over 6 million people in the city with its vicinity. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural center, and important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.

Since we did not have a Russian Visa, we were not able to walk around (Im not sure if its safe to walk around anyway - especially at night). Instead, we took 2 tours sponsored by Celebrity Cruises which allows non-visa holders to enter St. Petersburg.

The first tour took us to see Churches in St. Petersburg, and the second took us to The Hermitage Musuem.

1. Churches
One of the most spectacular, and certainly the most colorful, is the Church of the Resurrection, on the Griboyedov Canal a short distance from Nevsky Prospekt. It is also known as the Church on Blood, because it was built to commemorate Tsar Alexander II, who was assassinated in 1881 where the church now stands.


The State Hermitage Museum (Russian:
Государственный Эрмитаж, Gosudarstvennyj Èrmitaž) is one of the largest museums in the world, with 3 million works of art (not all on display at once), and one of the oldest art galleries and museums of human history and culture in the world.

Strong points of the Hermitage collection of Western art include Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Watteau, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Canova, Rodin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, and Matisse.

Do you know any of the works below? Some I even remember studying in Art Class in highschool. It was awesome.

*some text taken from

14 night Scandinavian Cruise

Scandinavia, May 2003

14 nights. 7 cities. Unforgettable experience.

1. Harwich, England
Our cruise begins! From London, my mom and I took a train to Harwich where we boarded the Constellation. Although the cabins were small, it was complete. Who cares about the cabins when everything else in the ship was wonderful!

There were other Filipinos in the same cruise, thank God! We met the founders of Repertory Philippines, Baby Barredo and the late Bibot Amador, with their friends and family. I became close to Baby's daughter, Charlie, during and after the cruise! Good times! :)

2. Oslo, Norway
"Sail through the Oslo Fjord, and you sail back in time to 1050. All of this historic capital city's lavish history can be uncovered at the Viking Ship Museum and the Kon-Tiki museum, which serves as home to the Fram, a famous polar - exploration ship. Cross the drawbridge to the formerly impenetrable Akershus Castle and meander through the famous Vigeland Sculpture Park. In Oslo, don't forget to preserve your memories before returning to the present day."

3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Thank you to TIVOLI Gardens in Denmark - the 1st amusement park. We would not have Disneyland or any amusement park without this.

3. Berlin, Germany
The first thing my mom and I did was.. drink BEER! Beer in Germany is always gut.

4. Tallinn, Estonia
Surprisingly, Tallinn was a very nice city. We went to the historic town and I was amazed with the architecture of the buildings. I really felt like I was in the past, especially after seeing the locals walk around in costumes!

5. St. Petersburg, Russia
This deserves a whole new post. I will write and show pictures of St. Petersburg after this entry.

6. Helsinki, Finland
"Occupying a peninsula and several islands, Helsinki's unique location may be overshadowed by the capital city's stunning meld of old and new structures and some of the most spectacular bays you could hope to find. Strolling down broad, tree-lined streets, don't forget to take notice of the stunning neoclassically designed architecture in Senate Square."

7. Stockholm, Sweden
"No fewer than fifty bridges connect this Swedish capital's fourteen islands to its mainland. Undoubtedly, this was to ensure that the Swedes could enjoy every single inch of this magnificent city steeped in parks, museums, and palaces - the most famous being the 600-room Royal Palace"

This experience made me realize that cruise ships are the best way to travel if you intend to visit multiple countries in one trip. Thank you Celebrity Cruises for making this a memorable experience.

* Some text taken from