(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.
When in Prague, it’ll be a total let-down if you did not (or at least tried your best to) cross Charles Bridge. Why, you might ask. Well, simply because Karlův most, as it is locally-known, is a historical 610-meter long architectural creation that is definitely worth the few minutes (or hours) you’d spend while walking through it. My first glimpse of Charles Bridge was in a windy winter afternoon, while taking Sandemann’s New Prague Castle Tour, after we took the free city walking tour that they offered. We were crossing Čechův Bridge, a vehicle- and tram-passable bridge connecting the Jewish Quarter and Letna Park, or the area where we took the tram to the Prague Castle complex, when I saw that old-looking bridge — clearly, I had no idea that it is the famous Charles Bridge. We actually crossed Charles Bridge (only pedestrians are allowed) at the end of the Prague Castle Tour, as it connected the complex to Old Town Square area. Our guide told us interesting trivia about the bridge and the statues lining/guarding it — the most famous of which is that of St. John of Nepomuk’s statue and the plaques under it. Apparently, if you touch the statue of the priest being thrown into the Vltava River, your trip back to Prague (and of course Czech Republic) is assured! 🙂
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.
Four weekends ago, amidst the threat of Super Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit), my friend Silia and I headed to Sitio Liwliwa in Zambales for the SSSF 14 weekend. SSSF, short for Sun Surf Strum Festival, is a yearly event organized by Ukulele Manila together with partners and sponsors.
True to its name, the Sun Surf Strum Festival lived up to the expectations of festival patrons — bright and sunny days, awesome waves and chillax music!