Quarantine Life…

It’s been more than a month since we were placed on community quarantine and it’s been extended twice. We are now in what they call “Season 3” of the ECQ or Enhanced Community Quarantine in our country. The government preferred to call it as quarantine instead of lockdown. Each country have different names for it. Singapore have their Circuit Breaker and Malaysia have the MCO or Movement Control Order. But basically it’s all the same. Limiting the movements of people to contain the coronavirus. It’s a drastic measure but a necessary one to avoid a surge in people getting sick that can overwhelm the health system of the country. We all saw what happened to Italy.

I wonder how people cope with their quarantine life. I am lucky because I am still able to work from home. I still have a job and a salary as the company I worked for is considered an essential industry. But I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky. There are so many companies that were impacted and one of them is the travel industry. I read of airlines suffering due to low demand and it took a toll on these companies. Some employees were requested to go on unpaid leave. Some were let go. It’s very sad but that’s just how it is. Traveling is not essential. We can always reschedule or cancel travel plans. After all, the places we want to visit will not go away. It will wait for us even if we decide to do it years after this pandemic is over.

I have travel plans in July and December that are not yet changed, rebooked or cancelled. I am still waiting for a miracle. That this pandemic will be over soon. That we can all start living normal lives. That a cure will be discovered tomorrow. That a vaccine will not take a year or more to develop but instead will be available soon. These are wishful thinking. For now, we have to deal with our “new normal”. Refraining from going to crowded places where we cannot practice physical distancing. Wearing of face mask as part of the OOTD. Hand washing and sanitizing every chance that we get. At the moment, being paranoid and overly cautious is okay. As they say, it is better to be safe and healthy than sorry.

The one thing that this pandemic brought to us though is the chance to let mother earth heal. Because we stopped moving around, we saw reports of reduced pollution in cosmopolitan cities around the world. Clear blue skies, clean rivers and sea. Most of all, families get to spend time together. For some a rare occurrence. We have a lot of time so we communicate more with each other. Out of boredom for some but for others it’s a chance to reconnect with friends and families you don’t get to talk to due to a busy life.

Wherever you are. No matter the condition you are in. Remember that this too shall pass.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Travel Woes…

Travel plans changed in a blink of an eye. We were supposed to go to Hanoi this weekend to watch the Vietnam Formula 1 Grand Prix inaugural race. We were excited and booked our tickets late last year. We also planned to visit Ho Chi Minh while in the country. Hitting two cities with this trip. However, all that changed in the last month or so. Due to an unseen enemy called corona virus, a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus was issued in most countries including my own.

It’s no joke to cancel a trip! It’s a good thing that the airline sent a notice that we have an option to put the value of our tickets from the Philippines to Vietnam and back to a travel fund which we can use in the future. It’s one less thing to worry and I appreciate at http://www.cebupacificair.com with this initiative. Hotel booking cancellation was also a breeze because it was done via http://www.booking.com and all were with free cancellation. Now the hardest part was the domestic flight cancellation or rebooking for our Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh flight via Vietnam Airlines. It took a long time for their customer service to reply and attend to my email inquiry. I can understand though as the volume of rebooking, flight cancellations must be gigantic. Add in the language barrier and you have another problem. Anyway, the feedback was that the value of our air ticket cannot be refunded but we can rebook once for a fee of about $25. However, since we cannot think of another travel date due to the unknown F1 schedule the airline tickets are gone and we will lost money. I’ll charge it to the Covid-19 experience!

As for the F1 tickets, it is currently on hold as we still plan to watch it in the future. The organizer was quick to respond to the ticket inquiry and options were also given. Hopefully, we can survive this pandemic and lives will return to normal the soonest possible time. For now, we live in our new “normal”. Social distancing, working from home, home cooked meals, limited movements and spending quality time with our immediate family. This pandemic has made us view the world in another way. Made us realize the importance of the essentials and non-essentials things in life.

Do take care, readers! Life is short. Let’s still enjoy it while on quarantine or isolation.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Memories of the Alhambra…

Last Autumn I traveled to Spain with my college friends and one of the places we visited was the La Alhambra in Granada which is a Unesco World Heritage site. It did not disappoint. A must see and must visit place. Not only for it’s history which you can look up in Wikipedia as I do not want to bore you with details and will allow you to learn about it on your own. But because it’s a truly beautiful place and you can get caught up with the past. Imagining yourself living in that fortress in ancient times.

It is recommended to book tickets in advance due to the high number of tourists visiting the place. You can book and buy tickets at http://www.tickets.alhambra-patronato.es and it cost a total of €14.85 including tax at that time. Note that the access time to enter the Nasrid Palaces cannot be changed. You will be given 30 minutes additional time to enter the premises but do not waste time as it’s about a 10 minute walk from the fortress entrance to the palace entrance. Example is if the time to enter is at 2 PM, you will still be able to go inside at 2:30 PM. After that, you can’t anymore and even if you beg, they still won’t let you in. They limit the number of people entering the palace at a given time. Which is understandable in order to protect it. Review your ticket and take note of the fine print. We almost didn’t make it that’s why I’m writing about the importance of being on time. Ha!ha!

I have always wanted to visit the Alhambra and I don’t know why I wanted to. Maybe from reading books, watching movies? But I literally insisted that we should include Granada in our itinerary even if for an overnight stay only. It was easy to include as it’s in the same region or province where we mostly stayed (our base during the Spain trip was Seville in the Andalusia region which I will write about in another post).

From Seville, you can either take the train or the bus. We decided with the bus as we were not sure if the train tracks to Granada is already fixed. There were reports that we have to change to a bus midpoint or something if we take the train. Our round trip bus fare amounted to €44.72 including tax and preferred seats for a regular and supra economy tickets. We had to pay those seats as some of us gets nauseous when traveling by bus. 😁 We were a group of nine people traveling together. You can book bus tickets at http://www.alsa.com and I recommend booking in advance so you can get deals or cheaper tickets compared to buying it near the travel date. And choose Supra Economy instead of the regular one for a better bus travel experience.🤣 The bus ride will take 3 hours and it will leave on the dot so don’t be late. Also note that from the bus station you have to take a taxi to/fro the city center. Taxis are aplenty in Spain and they are affordable.

Food in Granada is cheaper than in other cities we’ve visited. The chipirones fritos in the restaurant outside the Alhambra was so delicious that we had to order another serving! One recommended place was La Botilleria in Calle Vallera. They have good food, drinks and serving is value for money! They had their own version of the sangria called Vargás and it did not disappoint. And for the price of €2.50, you can imagine how many glasses we had. 🤭

Another recommended place is the pizzeria, cafe and churros place named Desi. And when in Spain, you have to try eating all the churros that you can buy and eat! They do have different versions of it there.

And if you are a Roman Catholic then you might be interested to drop by the Catedral de Granada. It’s a beautiful church worth visiting. There’s a €5 entrance fee or donation for the upkeep of the church though. But it will be all worth it to see the inside of this stunning cathedral.

Lastly, the shopping! Yes, I do think it’s cheaper in Granada as well. I bought a €12 cute souvenir lamp there but in Seville it’s €20! I think we bought a lot of souvenirs (Medina Spanish fans, trinkets etc.) in Granada more than any place we’ve been to. 😁 Check out El Corte Ingles and don’t forget to check out the grocery section. I never fail to visit it whenever I go to a new place. So many things to buy but limited time and limited baggage allowance to bring all the goodies home. However, you can never go wrong with a bottle of Rioja wine, Manchego cheese, Spanish Sardines, Jamon Iberico and sweets that you can only find in España!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

2020…

It’s a New Year. A Leap Year. Year of the Rat.

January is almost over and what an eventful month it was. From the Australian bush fire to the Taal Volcano eruption with matching earthquakes, to conflicts and disaster in the Middle East, we can say that the year entered with a big bang! And now the most scary thing that happened in January is the on going NCoV epidemic in China which spread to other countries including my own.

Traveling nowadays is a challenge. I wonder if this NCoV scare will go on for months. Hopefully it won’t and the virus will die a natural death. I’m concerned because I do have upcoming trips in April, July and December. Air tickets were paid for already. Events tickets were bought and paid for. It would be a major hassle if this epidemic will go on.

I’m a bit sorry for being lazy. I did not update this blog for quite sometime. And I traveled a lot in the last few months of 2019 so I should have been sharing more. Had a few footprints left in Tokyo, Japan in September. Followed by a lot of footprints left in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona, Spain last October. Went for a day trip in Tangier, Morocco. Enjoyed an overnight stay in Singapore in November to watch a U2 concert. And had a super fun time in Cebu, Philippines after Christmas with family!

I hope to write about my escapades soon. In the meantime, I wish all my readers a happy leap year. Stay safe and be healthy!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Welcome back to me…

Hello, Me! Welcome back from the Land of the Dead!😆 Jesus Christ already resurrected twice since my last post. Meaning two Easter Sundays had passed already. And yet, I was sleeping like a log! 💤 I guess I completely forgot I have a travel blog and that it needs to be updated from time to time. Now, it’s time to wake up and resurrect this page. Ha!ha!

What have I been doing in a year and a half of nothingness? I wish I could say I was meditating, had a quiet solitude in the middle of nowhere or went to the mountains to seek tranquility like the Tibetan monks. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a concrete jungle earning a living and doing the kind of stuff normal humans do. And on the side, I was very busy preparing and planning for our family trips that’s either domestic or international travels. It was no joke planning and preparing for a family of five to travel to Europe! Especially if you need a visa to enter a country. Yes, we went there last December 2018 to spend Christmas and New Year in a far away continent. ☺️ Juggling work and preparing visa requirements / appointments, accommodations planning, tours / itinerary plus the numerous other activities was stressful. However, it was all worth it because my “joeys” were very happy to set foot in Europe (France and United Kingdom) for the first time. Even the yellow vest protest rally on a Saturday in Avenue des Champs-Élysées couldn’t dampen the mood for the first timers in Paris! I have many things to share but let me write about it some other time. If I can remember to write about it at all. Ha!ha!

Arc de Triomphe view. Noticed the police cars?

Tower Bridge in London

I haven’t even written about my 2017 trip to Italy which was super nice, the family’s epic (super cold) winter holiday in Seoul, South Korea, the quick weekend get away in Taipei, Taiwan and here I am talking about our winter 2018 travels.😂 Talk about fast forward!

Since it’s already 2019 might as well write about our recent family holiday this month in Thailand. Better to talk about it now while it’s still fresh. First of all, let me tell you that even though it was very hot in Bangkok we enjoyed our stay… a lot! Maybe it helped that the hotel we stayed in was nice. We decided to book a three bedroom apartment at Chatrium Hotels & Residences https://www.chatrium.com for our holiday. It was comfortable, the swimming pool is nice and the buffet breakfast was very good with a lot of choices. The hotel price wasn’t so bad either for the accommodations that we had. Sharing some photos of our Thailand trip.

View of Chatrium Hotel & Residences

Poolside view

The trip coincided with the coronation weekend of the new King of Thailand. Thus, we weren’t able to visit the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha because it was closed to the public. The place surrounding the area was bedecked in yellow which is the color of the royal family. Luckily, Wat Pho was open and it was the only one we were able to visit because the extreme heat of the sun can drain one’s battery!🤣 No more energy to explore other places of interest and time was limited as well.

Wat Arun view from the river taxi

View of the Grand Palace from the street

Inside Wat Pho

Buddha

Reclining Buddha

After visiting Wat Pho, we wanted to go to a mall already to have some mango shake, iced butterfly pea tea or thai milk tea to quench our thirst and just stay inside a cold air conditioned place. We were melting slowly under the heat of the sun. The mind was willing to explore more but the body was weak!😰

But before the mall, we had to look for another interesting place. Due to the popular netflix show about street foods, we dropped by the street side restaurant of Jay Fai who was awarded a Michelin Star. We wanted to experience it but we didn’t know you have to book in advance for a table. The booking is up to 30 days in advance! Yes, that’s how popular she is. Mind you, the place is just a normal street food eating place in Bangkok. No aircon, just electric fans and you can actually see Jay Fai cooking!😁 Must be really good to be fully booked for a month.

A fully booked Jay Fai restaurant

Jay Fai in the kitchen

Since one of the agenda was to eat good food while in Bangkok, we went to another Michelin Star resto named Saneh Jaan. The place is a bit “posh” looking and unlike Jay Fai’s you have to be in at least a decent attire preferably not in slippers and shorts kind of outfit. Note that it is not your normal Michelin star place where the serving is little. You can actually order and share the food. Yehey!! The Thai Milk tea is good so don’t forget to try it as well if you visit the place.

Lobby

Appetizer

Pad Thai

Fried rice

Thai Curry

Restaurant entrance

Bangkok is a beautiful city. It’s well known as a shopping haven with very good but cheap food and wild night life! Remember The Hangover movie? They even have a walking tour for that. I’ll gladly pay for a tour if the guide is Bradley Cooper. Ha!ha! I hope to go back to Thailand again and explore the other places of interest. Maybe, a Phuket trip in the future.

Anyway, I hope to find more time to write and share about my travel escapades, post photos and update this page to help fellow travellers who have the same wanderlust soul as me!😊 But for now, I gotta go. Note that the photos were all taken from my mobile phone. Thus, bear with the low quality of photos.✌🏼

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Happy New Year, Happy 2018…

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!🥂🎉

May all your dreams and aspirations in 2018 come true. My wish is that I could be more active in updating my travel blog. That I could write and share my travels and some other interesting things in cyberspace.

For the past three years, I welcomed the new year in a place I don’t call my home. The first two was in Japan and now I’m in the neighboring country, South Korea. They had an amazing fireworks and LED show in Lotte World Tower that we watched ftom the sidewalk. It was freezing but we braved the cold just to witness how the Koreans welcome the new year.

My tips if you are planning to experience seeing their fireworks display:

1. Bundled up especially if you aren’t used to the cold weather. Temperature drop is common in the middle of the night.

2. Eat your dinner on or before 8 p.m. Most restaurants in the area closed early.

3. Stay inside the mall while waiting to escape the cold. Lotte Mart is open and you can do some shopping if you like.

4. If you’re saving money and taking the train, buy the return ticket before you go out of the train station.

5. After the fireworks, rush to the nearest train station. The crowd is huge with all the Koreans and foreigners catching the late night train. Train will run until 1:35 a.m.

It was an experience to board the Seoul Metro earlier today with the mob of people trying to get in. It was wild but had fun even if we were squeezed silly. If you don’t want that kind of thing, you can probably take the bus or taxi back to your accommodations. If you have young children with you, I advise you take a taxi!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Travelogue…

I literally broke a promise to myself about writing at least once a month in my blog. It’s been four long months since my last post. 😰 I’ve been so busy with my ordinary (work) and not so ordinary life (traveling). While I was away hibernating from writing in my blog, I was able to go out and explore. Yes, that means I traveled to near and far away places. My “itchy feet” was tired but very happy exploring new destinations this year. However, my wallet wasn’t very happy! 🤣

In June 2017, I went to my dream destination in Europe. It was literally a “dream come true”! What used to be a favorite daydreaming habit of exploring Rome, Florence and Venice in my mind became a reality! Italy is I guess in everyone’s bucket list. I am not an exception. What can I say? I fell in love with the country! Ten days is not enough to explore all the beautiful Italian places. I will write about my visit there soon. 😊

July 2017 made me do some traveling within the country (Cebu City, Philippines) and region (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). The first one is for pleasure. Visiting the city where I grew up and hanging out with friends. The second one was for work which is boring if you’re all alone.

August 2017 had me packing for a trip with the family to Taipei, Taiwan. It was a very quick weekend getaway. The country is practically our neighbor but was never in our destination list until they decided to let us travel visa free! 😂 Surprisingly, I liked the place and will definitely go back someday because two days was too short. I can’t get enough of the delicious street food. The price is value for money!

I can’t wait to write about my travel escapades. So dear readers, just hang in there! New content coming up… 😊

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo