We’ve always talked about going to Lake Pandin but it was only two Saturdays ago that we finally did. And it was a good decision to head out of Manila and venture to San Pablo in Laguna for a much-needed nature trippin away from the concrete jungle. I’ve heard about Lake Pandin from some friends and thought, it could be a good easy-breezy day trip. Imagine, a two-hour raft ride with a picnic lunch of fresh food prepared by men and women from the community. And it was. The 10-15-minute walk from the parking lot to the lakeshore was a good appetizer for our lunch of rice, grilled tilapia and chicken, fern (pako) salad with salted egg, butter garlic (mini) shrimps, bananas, pineapples and coconut water! A bit of swimming here, a bit of jumping there, a lot of eating and more of chatting — such a chill time! And baby-friendly too! I fully recommend for y’all to try going to this trip (except during really rainy days as the trek path might be too muddy/slippery) not just for the good lunch and scenery, but also to support local ecotourism at Lake Pandin.
For Niklas’ birthday, we went to Panglao Island in Bohol, Tagbilaran to celebrate. It’s the first time I boarded a plane after Hanoi and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we now have a daughter, Tara Freya. She is exclusively breastfed (we are a co-sleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering and breastfeeding kind of family). But, it’s not always that a private space is available when the little one is hungry. So, as I’ve done in the past, no other option but to ‘strike anywhere’, a common term among breastfeeding moms which means breastfeeding your child on demand, whenever and wherever. Only this time, we did so at the comfort of Bohol Beach Club’s lounge chairs (convertible to beds!) while the ocean lulled Tara to sleep. And we did it a couple more times in the casitas by the pool!
(It’s been a while — like a 295 days kind — I must admit. So, as I celebrate this blog’s almost 100,000 visits and change of domain name/address from theadwanders.wordpress.com to thediaristwanders.com, I’m finally blogging again!)
I’ve always loved sunsets — that’s known. But when you have a baby (yes, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!) who’s awake and lively at sunrise, you don’t have much choice but to get up and enjoy the morning sun too. So, on our trip to Anilao, Batangas (it’s actually in the municipality of Mabini), little Tara Freya decided she’d like to have some vitamin D while along the shores of Balayan Bay (we stayed at Arthur’s Place Dive Resort). Mommy needed some vitamin sea too, actually. 🙂 But, tell me, which do you think is a more beautiful sight — our smiling little one or the backdrop of her happiness? Anilao is a great place for sure but I won’t trade Tara and that smile for anywhere else.
A three-hour drive from Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, will bring you to the calm and charming Ha Long Bay. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin in northeast Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has withstood the test of time, and yes, naval battles and legends. Literally translated as “Bay of the Descending Dragon”, Ha Long Bay offers visitors a majestic view of naturally-formed limestone pillars and, if you have much time to spare, over 1,600 islands and islets. A popular way to enjoy the scenery is by taking one of the numerous Ha Long Bay cruises through glass-like waters (although it was a bit too green for me!) aboard these ships that looked like the ones used back in the 1900s era (my first thought was the Huckleberry Finn cartoons!), giving it an old world feel. We spent two days and a night aboard one (and I was happy to see two very able Filipina crew managers) and although we were actually working (yep, no kidding!), in that short time, I really got to appreciate the calmness (so unlike the 2Go weather fiasco!), majesty and beauty that Ha Long Bay offers to its visitors.
A week or so just before I left for India in 2012, I visited this paradise called El Nido in the northeastern tip of Palawan. There, I met Stepanka (in picture), a Czech woman, and Pedro, her Portuguese boyfriend (they now have a baby!). I did a one-day tour of the islands off the El Nido coast and got my seat in a boat where I am the only Filipino. I still remember the Russian guy (who claimed to be an astronaut but chose to be a trucker as it’s a more financially-rewarding job), and this guy who joined the tour but stayed on the boat (as he already saw most “visible” creatures under the sea in past travels), and this Canadian couple (who didn’t really say much but seemed happy and content). The tour was really worth it, to experience what a day in El Nido can offer. I vowed to return to El Nido one day and finally, tickets are booked! Though it’s not for a few more months, I am already looking forward to once again marvel in the natural beauty and diversity of El Nido and Palawan, above or under the sea.