Halloween 2021…

It’s almost the end of the year. A few months to go before we officially end another year of pandemic. Most countries are slowly opening up and economic recovery is starting. With more people getting vaccinated, we can all start to go out.

However, halloween in my village remains an online event. Although no visitors this year for trick or treat, I still put up a few decorations. Halloween is a fun event for me!

The Scarecrow at home

Hope next year, it’s back to normal. Boo!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

A New Beginning…

Finally it’s here. After 25 years, I am retiring. Retiring from the company that I have spent half of my life with. I’ve been so loyal (lol). Thought I’ll be staying til I’m in my senior years. But here I am, retiring at 50!

Life is a mystery. You can never predict the future. My retirement brought about mixed emotions. I felt sad that I will leave behind something that I enjoyed doing with the company that I love. But on the other hand, I am happy that I won’t be stressed out anymore and swamped with work. I am happy that I can finally have time to pursue other interests. That I will have time to spend with my love ones without thinking of going on vacation leave to visit or tend to their needs. The only thing that I will miss will be my monthly salary but not the work load. So, I guess I am more happy than sad with my retirement! (lol)

I am excited to a new beginning. I look forward to learning new skills that I am unable to do because I don’t have the time while working full time. I am thinking what I’ll do. Do I immediately look for another job? What kind of job? I don’t think I want to do a full time job again. (lol) Do I start a business? The plans in my brain seem endless!

Well, let’s see what will happen. One thing is for sure, I will be more active in blogging because soon I’ll be free as a bird!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Throwback Series: Seville, Spain…

2019 was probably my most busy one when it came to traveling. Welcomed that year watching fireworks in London with family and ended the year in my hometown, Cebu. Maybe it was a premonition that I won’t be traveling for a long time from 2020 onwards that’s why I was gallivanting and traveling every quarter of that year. And all my travels were for pleasure including watching a U2 concert in Singapore!

But let me travel down memory lane with my trip to Spain with friends. It was a good decision to have a reunion somewhere in Europe in 2019. It was two years of planning and I’m glad we pushed through. Otherwise, we will probably never be able to do it. With the pandemic, traveling is still uncertain. It’s only for the brave right now (lol)! Even if I am vaccinated, I am not brave and so hesitant to fly again. I’m not confident enough.

Tonight, I am reminiscing my Seville trip. Really had a good time in Spain that I wanted to go back. My family and I were supposed to spend the 2020 Christmas Holidays in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. But as mentioned in my previous posts, covid happened and all travel plans went kaput! If we survive this pandemic and everything will go back to normal, we will surely push through with that Spain trip. The main reason aside from wanting the family to see and experience Spain is the food trip.

Seville should be part of the itinerary when visiting Spain together with Granada and the big cities of Madrid and Barcelona. There are still many places in Spain worth visiting though and I hope I can visit those places in my lifetime. Anyway back to reminiscing. We rented an Airbnb place which was walking distance to some interesting places such as Mercado de la Encarnacion or Plaza de la Encarnacion with its modern architecture. Too bad it was closed when we decided to explore it on our last day.

One must visit place in Seville is the Real Alcazar. Tip: Book your visit in advance as the queue is really long. It’s breeze if you have a time slot for your visit. There’s no need to line up for a long time. It’s a must see place so tourists are aplenty. Go there earlier than your time slot and spend the waiting time taking a lot of photos outside and exploring the nearby places of interest such as the Cathedral.

It’s a fabulous place and if you have seen Game of Thrones then you will definitely discuss the where and what from one of the episodes in that series. That was one of the reasons we were there because my companions were fans! 😂 But I definitely enjoyed exploring the place. If only walls can talk, maybe they can share what transpired there in the past like betrayals, love affairs, conspiracies and the likes. I guess there’s google to help you discover more about this place. Another good tip probably is to go there in late summer (end of Sep) or early autumn (Oct) The weather is nice and I think visitors are lesser compared to summer time.

While in Seville, don’t forget to also watch a live Flamenco show if you can. Include it in your itinerary. Honestly, it’s beautiful and I have utmost respect for the dancers! It’s very hard to do (perspective of a non-dancer) and they must have practiced it their whole lives. I’m so afraid for their knees. 😅 We watched the night time show and just like the previous tip: book in advance. I think the audience is limited because the place itself is small. More intimate and you can really watch the dancers on the floor without any obstruction.

One of those I missed in traveling is food. Aside from the tapas and paella, the one food that I still crave until now is the Caramelized Bacalao which we discovered in one of the street side restaurants near our Airbnb place. It was so good.

Another one is the Chipirones Fritos or baby squid calamari. Aside from the jamon, this was a favorite together with Sangria and Rioja wine.

I probably drank wine or sangria during breakfast, lunch, dinner and after dinner while in España. Aside from drinking it there, we all bought “supplies” and brought home wines, manchego cheese, jamon. Too bad, I’m alone so I can’t shop til I drop. When I go back there in the future, I will be with family and one luggage should be reserved for groceries! (lol)

Grocery shopping is fun especially if the items are cheaper than back home. Looking at my photos, I remembered buying Dolce Gusto capsules in different flavors. Panic buying was real! 🤣 Don’t forget to spare some time in the grocery. In every place I visit, grocery shopping is a must! There’s always something worthwhile in there.

It’s fun to look back and reminisce especially now that the pandemic is far from over. Let me end here and see you again in the next throwback!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

A Different Journey…

We were on a different kind of journey ever since the pandemic happened last year. Our lives were disrupted and it seems the end of the tunnel is still so far away. In my part of the world, the vaccination is pretty slow due to limited supply. And the virus is mutating like crazy. Thus, the journey back to our pre-pandemic life is so distant. How many back to square one have we had in the past few months? People are going crazy with the on and off lockdowns.☹️ It’s terrible but what can we do if we want to live another day? Do we blame the government? I really don’t think we can or we should. In my view, every nation in this planet is doing their best to protect their people as well as ensuring their economy will still thrive. It’s terrible to see so many sufferings all around you that you just wish sometimes that it’s just a bad dream.

I envy people who still go out and about trying their best to have a normal life. Friends are traveling and don’t mind the extra things necessary to travel like getting a swab test, quarantining and doing the paperworks. Although no one’s stopping me, I’m just probably a lazy person. A scaredy cat too. I just don’t want to trouble myself with those things aside from being scared of contracting the virus. Mind you, I am fully vaccinated but still scared to leave the house (lol). And now, with the Delta variant, I am definitely staying inside my cave. Early this month, I lost a college classmate and today another one informed me her father died due to covid. One sad news after another.😔

I had my gardening and cooking journey in the past few months. I love it especially gardening. Because of it, I want a farm where I can grow fruit trees, veggies and maybe have some animals too. Big dreams but sometimes dreams do come true! But, I still hope and pray I can have another journey soon which I truly love and that’s visiting places, old and new. Traveling without the need for a swab test and quarantine at the destination and when I arrive home. That would be the perfect scenario. I don’t mind wearing a mask but without the face shield please (lol). I want to visit the places I saw on Netflix shows. I specifically love Joanna Lumleys travel adventures. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do so. You’ll enjoy it!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

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