The Golden Year…

Born in 1971. 50 Years of Being Awesome. Yes! That’s the design of the t-shirt I wore on my 50th and I love it. Another birthday celebrated during a pandemic. No frills. Just a simple celebration with the family bubble because of country restrictions. No mass gatherings above 10 people. Well, que sera sera!

But it doesn’t mean celebrations during the pandemic can’t be fun. Thanks to my loving family, I had a fantastic day on my birthday! Thanks to video calls, I get to celebrate with my friends online complete with wine so we can do a toast to good times (lol)! I also get to celebrate with my loved ones across the miles. With family living on the other side of the planet, they were getting ready to sleep while I am getting ready to party!

I wrote about how I became a gardener during the pandemic. With nothing better to do and getting bored watching Netflix, I decided to embrace a new hobby. I became a Plantita! Never imagined myself mixing soil and propagating plants (lol). But, I truly enjoyed it and the challenge of growing plants. And because of my obsession with gardening, I got a potted plant birthday cake!

My plant wish list includes a Monstera Thai Constellation and since it is an expensive plant and the husband is practical, I got an edible plant instead. Not that I’m complaining! I love it and the cake was delicious. So, it’s a win-win thing (lol). What a memorable 50th birthday. I also got a live plant that’s a variegated alocasia from my friends. It’s so easy to give a present to me. A plant will make me happy as a bee! Whether it’s cheap or expensive, rest assured I will love it to the moon and back.

Variegated Alocasia (Macrorrhiza Variegata)

No one really wants to grow old. Although it’s inevitable, no one is really excited to grow older. Let’s be honest, a year older will include an abundant number of white hair, additional wrinkles and let’s not mention the myriad health issues. As much as we want to stay fit and healthy, there will come a time when the body says otherwise. We can do our part in staying healthy through diet and exercise. But like a car, we can also break down even if we are regularly serviced and taken cared of. That’s life!

They say turning a year older is nothing. That it’s just numbers. Well, that’s true. Our outlook in life will probably help us slow down the ageing process. I guess having a young at heart attitude and positive thoughts will help. Let’s enjoy life as much as we can. We are only given one chance. Let’s live well.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Hiking at Mt. Manabu…

It’s never too late to start a new thing. I took the plunge and went hiking with family and friends yesterday. I always have respect and admiration for people who love mountain climbing. I have watched numerous tv shows and movies about it which are basically taken from real life events. I am in awe of people being able to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. And so I’ve always dreamed of someday being able to go on trail hiking up in the mountains. After yesterday’s hiking, my respect for mountaineers doubled or tripled. Mountain hiking or climbing is no joke. You must have the stamina for it. I was mentally prepared and it’s the only thing that kept me going (lol)!

My mind was willing but the body was resisting. My fault for being a couch potato the past few weeks even if I knew that I plan to go on a hiking adventure. It was my first time and my body was bruised and battered after the hike. I almost gave up in the middle of the trek. So I guess if you want to try hiking, you must go with people who will encourage you to go on. Even if the answer is always “we are nearly there” or “just 30 more minutes” to your “are we there yet?” question. Even if after 30 minutes you are still ascending and it seems it will never end. It actually helped that people I’m with during the hike were tolerant and doesn’t mind me stopping so I can catch my breath. There were so many stops during the hike (lol). It’s also important to at least condition yourself. Do that 5K, 10K or more steps a day prior to your hiking adventure.

They said that the Mt. Manabu trail is relatively easy as it is classified as 2/9. A single trail lasting 2 hours or less. But for a newbie? I think it’s better to start with 1/9 or very easy trails that are in paved or cemented roads especially if you have a sedentary life like me. But if you are quite the adventurous type and think that you have the stamina for it then by all means go ahead. Trail hiking or mountain climbing is fun most especially if you are with family and friends who got your back! Literally at your back to push you to the mountain top so you can see the beautiful scenery from up above. Ha!ha!

The trail is shaped like a rosary but we did not go to the grotto anymore which is located on the left side after reaching the summit with the white cross. The peak or summit area is not big and if there are other hikers it’s going to be a tight squeeze. Best to take a look and take group photos at the camp site area before the summit. At the back and going down is a small area for a picture perfect shot. There’s a couple of small boulders where we posed and took “aesthetic” photos. But beware because it is literally the side of the mountain top. There’s always the danger of falling! We were told when we stopped at station 4 that it’s about “5 minutes awayto the grotto if we take the left trail. I wonder if the 5 minutes is for seasoned hikers? Might take “30 minutesagain for a newbie (lol).

There are many posts on how to get to Mt. Manabu in Batangas. Our jump off point was in Lipa, Batangas. We rode our own car and used Waze app or Google maps to get there. Just remember to register at the entrance or barangay check point before you start to go up the street towards the parking area. There’s a 30 pesos fee per hiker. As it’s still pandemic time, they will check your temperature as well and log it down. Try to go at the end of the road where the jump off point is located to park your car. It will save you some much needed breath for your hike if you do that (lol). Hire a guide if you don’t have anyone in your group that knows the trail. You can help the locals if you do.

Since we live in the southern part of Metro Manila (Parañaque City) and is very near the entrance to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), it took us less than an hour to travel to Lipa, Batangas. Thanks to the SLEX connection to STAR Tollway, travel time is faster. We took the exit before Lipa which is Sto. Toribio. Probably a must when hiking is lots of water, energy drink like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat and some energy bars. Although, you can also eat at Station 4. There’s a lady selling buko juice and snacks. You can help the locals by buying some. After drinking the juice, eat the coconut meat as well using the improvised spoon. Too bad we weren’t able to try the civet coffee in Station 5 since there were a lot of hikers and no space anymore. Anyway, if you bring your own food make sure to at least follow the rule of “Leave No Trace”. Bring your trash with you.

Also a “must have” is a hiking stick which we forgot to bring! Luckily, there are 10 pesos wood sticks for sale in one of the stations. As for your OOTD, wear comfortable clothes preferably a dri fit shirt and leggings. Shorts is okay but then some part of the trail have overgrown grass or weeds. It’s literally a forest. Shoes is also important. Wear one with a grip if it’s rubber shoes. Best to wear hiking boots or shoes though. Although, I saw a lot of hikers wearing sandals and it’s cool!

Overall, my hiking experience was awesome! I am proud of myself for finishing the trek even if I had a very hard time. I was literally crawling. Ascending the mountain, you are out of breath. Descending the mountain, you fear for your knees and toes. It’s funny to think about it now after the climb but the struggle was real!

I’m turning 50 years old in less than a month. Diagnosed years ago with scoliosis and recently osteoarthritis. I am very happy I was able to successfully go on a mountain hike without injuring myself! I am not yet sure if I’ll be doing it again but who knows when the next invite to climb another mountain will come my way? Maybe next time, it will be an easy hike?

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Lockdown Summer Time (again)…

This is the second summer time that we stayed home. I got used to spending a lot of time at home due to quarantine that I forget how “fun” this season is. Summer time is for vacation and exploring new places! People travel and majority go to the beach to escape the summer heat. But a beach trip for me is in the far, far future. With an ongoing pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down and border restrictions still in place, it’s such a hassle right now to go on a trip even if we can do it. And besides, Covid is still waving! We can probably travel safely when 90% of the population is vaccinated and we have what they call “herd immunity”. But that would probably take years!

A few days ago, I watched the documentary “The Year Earth Changed” and it is so moving that now I am thinking of staying put and refrain from traveling for a while so that Mother Nature can heal. Maybe for a year or two so that we can help our planet. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do so. I did not realize the extent of the impact to our planet because of our thirst to see the world. It’s still an eye opener even if we know that somehow our carbon footprint is doing a lot of harm to the planet. I sincerely hope that this major pause to movement will have a major effect to the world we lived in.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Back to Square One…

It’s been more than a year of the first hard lockdown in the Philippines and we are back at it again! We have come full circle. In the past year, Metro Manila had the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), MECQ (Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine) and GCQ (General Community Quarantine). Metro Manila never experienced the MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) which is the most relaxed quarantine because our covid cases never went down to an acceptable level. Now, it’s back to ECQ which they now call “bubble” but actually it is “lockdown”! We cannot go out and are advised to stay indoors. Age restrictions are back. Curfew is back. It’s a sad thing because just as we were getting ready to open up our economy and tourism, the number of cases suddenly shoot up in a matter of weeks.

Our hospitals are full. It’s like a déjà vu. Back to square one? Maybe or Maybe not. Our health care workers were luckily vaccinated already and therefore a little bit protected when they care for the sick. They have also a year of experience caring for covid patients. However, our hospitals are full now and so many sick people were on wait list for a hospital bed. It is scary. The covid vaccine comes in trickle to our shore. I wish everyone gets vaccinated but then not everyone wants to get their shot. Some are non-believers of taking a vaccine shot. Some are scared of the side effects. But really, getting the shot and be protected is better than not protected.

Anyway, it’s the Holy Week in our country. I thought I could go visit the church this week to see a priest and have a confession. But, ECQ happened so it’s another direct talk to God to ask for forgiveness. Luckily, I did not book for a staycation. Otherwise, I’ll be so disappointed. I’m just happy I have a new hobby in gardening. It helped me a lot to address my mental health issues or should we say, boredom issues? Ha! Ha!

Don’t get me wrong. Although I love to travel and explore, I am also a homebody who loves spending time at home with family. I am happy watching netflix shows and tending to the garden. This week I will do my korean drama marathon. Been busy the past few weeks that I wasn’t able to watch any shows!

Be vigilant. Stay safe and obey your government’s directive. We are all in this together!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

2021, The Year of the Ox…

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Although I don’t have an ounce of Chinese blood, we celebrate the Lunar New Year in my country. It was made a public holiday a few years back. And of course, if it’s a holiday everyone’s happy! Some of our Chinese neighbours welcomed it with a lot of noise. I slept before midnight though thus I totally missed the festivities like the fireworks display outside.

I should have visited the salon to have a haircut before the Chinese New Year. Now, I have to wait for a month until I can get a trim. A friend told me that it’s bad luck to cut the hair before a month has passed. Oh well, nothing wrong if I follow that. I check my horoscope anyway and I read my fortune for the year too.

As a keepsake, I usually buy a Starbucks lunar card every year. The one they released this year is pretty! It’s a completely different design compared to previous years. I also collect stickers at the later part of the year so that I can get a Starbucks planner! I know I’m crazy because instead of buying a simple planner at the bookstore, I spent a lot of money to buy Starbucks drinks to collect stickers for the planner. I’ve been crazy for a number of years! Ha,ha… Let’s not get started with my Starbucks mug collection. It’s for another day and it’s crazier!

To you who is reading this, I want to thank you for doing so and I wish you abundant blessings in 2021!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Hello, 2021…

And just like that, January is over and we still cannot travel! Looks like traveling will be a thing of the past in the next few months or even year/s. We still don’t have the vaccine in our shores. Not that I am particularly excited to get it. I can wait until they include some other strains in the vaccine. As they say, save the best for last!

Anyway, I would like try to travel domestically just to visit other places but restrictions are still aplenty. Plus you need to be covid tested if you plan to fly. Then at work, we have to get permission to travel to another place. And leave credits will be used for quarantine time, if any. Upon return, you have to get a doctor’s clearance to go back to the office. It’s a lot of hassle to travel even within our country and so much more if you are traveling abroad.

Maybe, I should post throwbacks? I miss traveling. I want to go back to Japan! I miss that country. Maybe, Fukuoka and Nagasaki will be the next destination. Whenever I read emails of airline ticket sale, I get excited until I remembered that we are still in a pandemic. Hopefully, borders will soon open once a lot of people have taken their vaccine. And I hope we will also be allowed to travel without restrictions!

For now, let’s relax in our own home. For people working from home, try to take a break every hour. Even for just a minute to two to rest the eyes or stretch the arms. Try to find something to do as well aside from a marathon of Netflix shows during the weekend. Take a walk and enjoy life. Don’t forget to wear your mask! Remember, if you are reading this then you are a lucky person because you are still alive!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

The Year That Was…

2020 is the year that we will all remember in our lifetime as the hardest. We definitely can’t wait for it to be over. We all want to move on to 2021. We want to look forward to a brighter tomorrow not only for ourselves but for the whole world. Even if this year is considered a horrible one globally, there is still some rays of sunshine to it. The most important one is spending more time with our families and loved ones as well as staying alive! We learned to appreciate the simple joys in life.

The pandemic has brought down the whole world to its knees. Who would have thought a virus will halt the movement of the whole world in this modern times? All those advancements in medical science and technology were not enough after all. It’s like an alien thing. Supranational. No one is spared. All countries had to close down their borders to protect their citizens. Looking at the first world countries with very high number of cases made me appreciate the draconian measures in my country. We weren’t spared as we were still second in our region with the most number of cases. However, I still appreciate everything our country did to address the effects of the pandemic. It made me realize that too much democracy is not good. Some think they are above the law and endangered a lot of their fellowmen by not following a directive to wear a mask in public. How difficult is it to follow that simple request to protect each other?

We don’t have any vaccine yet and its probably because of our government’s shortcomings. But honestly, I don’t want to be the first one to get it. I would rather wait for a better one or a vaccine that’s been administered to a lot of people and did not have any major side effect. The vaccine won’t be available for all immediately but I do believe our health workers and front liners should at least get it first. If they are protected then we are assured that someone will be able to take care of us when we get sick.

It’s been a wild 2020. Travel plans were disrupted. I hope my traveling will commence again next year. If it happens, it will probably be within my country. Going outside our border will probably happen in 2022 at the earliest. I have slowly accepted my traveling fate and my itchy feet will remain itchy for a year or two! 🤣

In the meantime while waiting for the life saving vaccine, don’t forget to wear your mask with face shield and stay home if you can. Find something that will make you happy and relaxed like gardening! If I can’t still post travel stuff soon, I will share a different journey. My gardening “journey”.

Before we all get busy, let me wish you a Happy New Year! Cheers to another pandemic journey in 2021. It’s not over til it’s over! Stay safe and healthy. Let’s all pray this will end soon.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

The Christmas Season is here…

Tomorrow will be the first day of the last month of the year, December! We have been quarantined for eight months and still counting. Even if we are allowed to go out and about, the staple to our outfit is the mask and in our country including the face shield! Sometimes I passed by the airport and saw an airplane taking off and I wonder where it is off to. Does it have a lot of passengers or just a few? Is it safe? Will they be quarantined when they arrived at their destinations? This came into my mind while driving and looking at the airplane. I missed traveling! I missed packing and planning for a trip. I missed the chaos of traveling with the family.

With countries in Europe back on lock down due to the rising covid cases, thoughts and plans of traveling anytime soon is only a dream. We are even hesitant to travel domestically. It’s the first time in many years that we won’t be traveling during the Christmas holidays. Is it good? The answer is yes it is! Although traveling in a different place is a sort of bonding moments with my family because of our busy schedules. This year we bonded by everyone staying at home.

Christmas will not be the same this year. We are not allowed to have a mass gathering so no family reunions with relatives. No company parties. No Christmas get together or meet ups with friends to exchange gifts. Instead, we will celebrate with only our immediate family. This is the year that we all stayed home. A once in a lifetime event. The year the world is healed by halting the movements of mankind. We can see a bluer sky!

Our Christmas tree is up now. And as a souvenir for this year, I bought this cute ornament online as a remembrance of the year that was. The year we wore a mask!

I am greeting everyone advance Merry Christmas! May you all enjoy the holidays wherever you are. Stay safe!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Halloween in Quarantine…

Halloween is definitely cancelled this year in our side of the planet. Trick or treat activities are nil due to covid. But is it really a reason to skip it and decorate for Christmas as early as September? I love halloween and skipping it is definitely a no! I like decorating the house during this time. However it’s sad that we won’t be seeing kids in costumes in our annual halloween neighborhood event. The event was moved online. The organizers are dropping off treats to those who posted their photos in costume. It’s also sad that not a lot of kids participated.

Anyway, covid itself is a scary enough event. So I guess some people just want to skip halloween and go straight to Christmas or in some parts Thanksgiving Day. Wherever you are in this world, I just want to say stay safe and healthy!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Traveling to Gardening…

I recently cancelled the last booking that I have left in my travel calendar which is in December to Barcelona, Spain. Sad but must accept that there is no way we can have an international travel anytime soon. I was so looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays in Barcelona and Madrid with my family. I was daydreaming of eating paella, tapas and drinking vino or sangria in the dead of winter. I want to take a stroll in the streets of Madrid and stop at a quaint cafe to eat churros with hot chocolate. I want to go inside the supermarket and spend a lot of time browsing all the goodies that I can buy and bring back home with me. Yes, my first stop in every country that I visit is probably a big supermarket or grocery store. It’s disappointing but what can we do? Airlines have limited flights and I am thankful to Singapore Airlines for giving us an option to refund our tickets. We will surely book again and travel with them when it is safe to do so and restrictions are lifted. And of course, when a vaccine is available.

I am not the only one disappointed we can’t travel to Europe. The whole family is. But it’s too difficult to push through even if we can travel. The uncertainty of being quarantined at the destination country is one factor. We also don’t know if the tourist sites are open. There are no Real Madrid football games that fans can attend at the moment. So it’s not going to be a lot of fun for some members of the family. Going inside the stadium and watching a football match was in the itinerary. Well, Spain can wait for us. It won’t go away and hopefully there will be plenty of time in the future to explore it.

Since traveling or moving around is restricted plus majority are working from home, there’s a lot of free time now for most people. What do you do with your new found time? Have you tried something new? As they say, one can have a lot of money but not enough time. With more time and nothing better to do aside from watching netflix and korean dramas (let’s talk about that some other time), I started to look closely at my backyard. Yes, the plant craze got me. Blame it on social media like Instagram and Facebook. The celebrities did not help when they post their plant collection because it made me want to acquire what they have. Just kidding! I could not afford the plants that they have. But, I have really found solace in gardening. I always have plants “strategically” placed around our house but not that many and only a few resides inside the house. That however changed especially when the lockdown or quarantine is extended month after month.

I have plants given to me by family, friends and neighbours. I must say I took good care of them. I have to admit I buy plants like a crazy plant lady too. It is costly right now because of the demand so I just bought those that I can afford. The exotic plants are way out of my league and I cannot bear to shell out thousands for a monstera deliciosa plant. People are either buying from the garden center because they are collecting plants or they are buying because they want to be resellers. The latter is the cause of the price increase because some people buy an exorbitant price for a plant that is aesthetic in a pot. I guess entrepreneurs made money because there are now a lot of online sites to purchase plants as well as pots. Some would rather buy online and have the plants delivered to them. They just have to manage their expectations because the photo can be a far cry from the actual plant.

My personal favorite is the snake plant or for some they call it Espada. I liked it because it can help clean the air around the house and very easy to take care of. You can leave it for days without watering and they won’t die on you. I have it inside the house for ages. Way before the ongoing plant craze. It’s the only plant inside the house until the pandemic happened. Now it’s no longer lonely as some Philodendron, Golden Pothos, Alocasia, Monstera Adansonii and Zz plant keeps it company.

Snake Plants

I like Caladium and Calathea or Prayer Plant as well. I collected some of their varieties. They are all outside though because I noticed that they like it better in the patio. They are thriving really well and giving me a sprout or two of new leaves. Since I don’t shop clothes now because I work from home, I buy plants instead. I have utmost respect for true blue gardeners. It’s not an easy job or hobby. You have to be patient with your plants. Some plants I consider them diva! You have to really understand them and since they don’t talk, you have to guess or observe what they want or what works for them. Do they like less water, more water, more light or shade? The list goes on and on. I read on plant care but most of the time I do it my own way. Experimenting is exciting.

Pink Caladium

I’ll probably write more about gardening in lieu of travel stories in the next few posts. I should document my gardening journey. It would be an interesting read for when I look back at the crazy year 2020! I could even extend my stories to my foray in the kitchen and cooking skills plus weight management. Ha!ha!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo