Although Idon’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 yeartoo.
As a keepsake,I usually buy a Starbucks lunar cardevery 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!
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 butrestrictions 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! Imiss that country. Maybe, Fukuoka and Nagasaki will be the next destination. Whenever I read emails ofairline ticket sale, I get exciteduntil 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!
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.
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 gatheringso no family reunions with relatives. No company parties. No Christmas get together or meet upswith 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 amgreeting everyone advanceMerry Christmas! May youall enjoy the holidays wherever you are. Stay safe!
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!
I recently cancelled the last booking that I have leftin 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 supermarketor 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 alot 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 increasebecause some peoplebuy an exorbitant pricefor 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 plantor for some they call it Espada. I liked it because it can help clean the air around the houseand 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.
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.
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!
What are your coping mechanism with a prolonged stay at home directive? Most of us still have movement restrictions. We aren’t able to go out as much as we like. And even if we are allowed to go out, most of us are still afraid to do so with the covid-19 virus still out and about.During this pandemic we found ways to cope. I did experience cabin fever so I went out of the house and just drive around! Sometimes without leaving the car. Just go on a joyride to see the outside world and then drive-thru at the nearest McDonald’s.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, my activity was cleaning the house. Arranging things and trying to have a Marie Kondo moment. Then after that, it was learning how to cook and actually likingit. Yes, I don’t know how to cook but was able to learn how while on quarantine. I got good feedback for my Baked Salmon, Sushi Bake, Chorizo Pasta and BBQ Ribs. I guess this pandemic is not so bad. Forced to stay at home. Boredom kicked in and boom! You find something worthwhile to do that your family will appreciate. Ha!ha!
After the kitchen stint the next one was looking at the garden. This by far is the most expensive hobby that anyone can have during this pandemic. It’s addicting but nope, I am not yet that crazy to buy an expensive Monstera Deliciosa. But, I did revamp our garden which cost a lot of money. Plus I bought plants, pots and plant racks! I am a certified “Plantita” now because not only do I go straight to my plants to water, talk and check on them but I also know how to repot and plant! Slowly, I can feel my “green thumb” sprouting as well. I never imagined myself actually doing the gardening. We have a gardener that comes every month to tend the garden. Usually, I just watch him cut the grass and repot some plants.
I am not sure if this is because I am getting older. But, I enjoy gardening now. Not only me but my circle of friends as well. We chat and video call each other to discuss our plants! No more discussions on the new fashion, bags or shoes but instead we are excited to share our new “babies”! We collect varieties of Calathea, Caladium, Monstera, Philodendron etc. And mind you, plants are getting expensive everyday. The demand is so high and supply is already low.
My kids were shaking their heads every time I arrived home with new plants. Some plants were given to me by neighbors though but some are bought at the nearby garden center. I know I should stop buying plants. But it’s so hard especially if there’s a pretty one that caught my eye. My usual defense is to say that we are helping revive the economy by buying and spending our money. Ha!ha!
Having plants at home is therapeutic though. It’s like a happy pill. A new leaf sprouting is an eye candy and can make the day a little brighter than yesterday. What about you? What are your new quarantine hobby? I hope you find one that is interesting, totally new and out of character!
I was supposed to be vacationing in Taipei, Taiwan on the last weekof July 2020 with family but of course it also got cancelled due to the pandemic. It is still difficult to travel with so many restrictions and quarantine measuresput in place both in my home and destination country. Like me, I guess most people are dreaming of a time we can all go gallivanting again. Those who love to travel are probably itching to pack their bags and go to places known or unknown. But unfortunately we are all stuck in our homes watching travel documentaries on cable tv, netflix or our own travel videos.
I often wonder how we will travel in the future. Of course, the mask will probably be a staple especially during airplane rides and probably while waiting in the airport. Will we still feel comfortable without a mask? This Covid-19 virus brought about fearof the unknown to the nth level. Even if we get our vaccine shot, we will probably still be paranoid that we can get another unknown virus if we don’t practice safety measures like wearing a mask, hand sanitizing and social distancing.
It is normalto have travel fears especially during this uncertain times. I just hope that we can all overcome our fears when this pandemic is over and start to travel again. We do need to revive the travel industry! So many people were affected most especially in the aviation and tourism sector. Pristine beaches with clear blue skies are waiting for us. I should really plan a trip to Boracay Island or El Nido, Palawan soon. I want to sip Piña Colada while staring at the blue sea.
Daydreaming until that time we can all have a semblance of normalcy in our lives.
With no idea when we can go back to traveling, let me reminisce some moments from a few years back. I never did get around to writing about my trip to Italy in June 2017 because I got lazy! It was a nice ten day holiday with Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa and Cinque Terre in the itinerary. One of the lessons from that trip was to give ample time for a lay over as you will never know if your flight gets delayed. Or if two flights will be compressed into one at a later time than the original one that you have booked. We almost didn’t make the Cathay Pacific connection to Rome in Hong Kong. We were sprinting to the gate as the plane door was about to close. It was embarrassing to see people looking at you inside the plane and probably thinking that we caused the delay. I can imagine the flight attendant announcing they were still waiting for missing passengers. Ha!ha!
Our first stop was Rome and we went straight to Vatican to get our tickets for the Pentecost Sunday Mass that Pope Francis will preside. That was one of the highlights of our trip. It was memorable because we heard mass that he presided, was blessed by him and saw him up close and personal. However, on the way out and while walking one of my companions was pickpocketed. We were warned about the rampant pickpocketing in major Italian cities but we were caught by surprise that it actually happened just outside St. Peter’s Square and right after the Holy Mass. We were too complacent and let our guards down. So remember that when in Rome especially The Vatican area, you should always remember that not everyone is pious. It was our second day in Italy and we immediately experienced something horrible. We felt that we weren’t safe as tourists. Coupled that with a high alert level due to the threat of bombings, we were really worried. Military men were in major tourist attractions and the security level was really intense at that time. But, the pickpockets were still rampant.
We decided to stay in Florence as our base. We had friends there and the place we rented was in the heart of the city. It’s near the Duomo di Firenze with lots of cafes, shops and walking distance to the grocery, Mercato Centrale and train station. The accommodation itself is cheap at only €50 per day for a two bedroom apartment. I can say that I will go back to Italy for the food and the vino! I have great memories of what I ate there. The black truffle pasta, fiorentina steak, pizza, gelato, espresso or cappucino are reasons to go back to Mercato Centrale in Firenze. Back at home, we eat commercial pasta but I realized that freshly made pasta is the best. I should probably learn how to make it. As if!
We normally explore on our own but for a trip to Pisa and Cinque Terre we decided to join a tour. The guide was a young and jolly guy who spoke fluent english. We had a great time although the tour that we joined was for young adults which was fast paced. It was reasonable at about €100 per person. It included the train fares already and lunch. I’m glad we took that tour. Pisa is a nice place to include in an itinerary because when you’re nearby why miss the chance to see and have a photo with the leaning tower as your background, right? Of course, we were also doing what most tourists did while there. Have a photo taken pushing the tower or leaning on it. Ha!ha!
If you get a chance, you have to visit Cinque Terre. We were only able to visit three villages which was Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza. They were nice picturesque places. There’s a store in Vernazza that probably sells the best gelato in Italy and a cafe that sells the best pesto lasagna I have ever tasted. The tour lasted the whole day. We left Florence at seven in the morning and arrived back at around nine in the evening. Travel time to and from Cinque Terre is about 2.5 hrs or more. If you opt to go on a tour that is not by bus or private car, wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There’s a lot of walking and chasing trains!
We also went for a day trip to Venice. Another city worth visiting before the sea engulf it. Don’t forget to eat seafood while there aside from your other favorite italian food. It’s also a city wherein you have to be wary of pickpockets especially at the Piazza San Marco where majority of the tourists are. I guess in most major Italian cities, you have to be on guard. Make sure your bags are in front of you. Even the locals will warn you to mind your belongings.
I want to write some more of our escapades including shopping but I guess I will reserve it for next time. I hope you readers will continue to stay safe and healthy. In the meantime wear your mask, wash your hands and drink your vitamins to protect yourselves from the coronavirus.
Manychanges to one’s normal life happened in the last few months. And not only in my country but the whole world. Most of us were quarantined. We were afraid of an enemy that we cannot see. We became paranoid about getting sick and dying because of a virus. No one is judging anyone of their fears. Everyone were affected one way or another. I am thankful everyone in the family are currently healthy. We had a couple of scary moments thinking one of them got the virus. Luckily, it wasn’t covid although still a respiratory problem.
Metro Manila where I live will be lifting the hard lockdown and will move to what they call GCQ or General Community Quarantine on the first of June. Doing so will help our country’s economy recover by opening businesses. There are still so many restrictions but at least a lot of people can now go back to work with the availability of mass transportation. Air travel is allowed with major airports opening. However, international destinations inbound and outbound are still limited. I guess no one really wants to travel and be quarantined at their destination as well as at home upon arrival from a business or leisure trip. Two weeks ago I cancelled ourTaipei trip in July. My companions and I are too scared to travel and be quarantined in our destination or when we come back from traveling. I am collecting travel funds, travel vouchers nowadays! When you buy promo fares, you’ll end up with that. Well, for the airlines that I chose to fly for the cancelled trips. Ha!ha! Anyway, I really hope that when October comes, the virus is nowhere to be seen. Otherwise, another travel cancellation and this time to Europe will happen.
I read that the new normal in traveling will entail going to the airport earlier because aside from the usualsecurity check, there will also be a health check. Online check in is required. Lines will probably be long since we have to follow social distancing protocols. That we need to wear a mask is a given. It is mandated by the government. Failure to wear a mask in public will incur a hefty fine and you might even end up in jail. We will know more about this in the coming days when airports finally open and we get news of the flow.
I am thankful though that during the quarantine I was able to reconnect with old friends and made new friends albeit online. With nowhere to go and our busy lives suddenly slowing down, we have time to actually catch up with one another. Some people became busy harnessing their baking and cooking abilities and turning it into a small business. While I become busy drooling over the yummy food they were selling and then always end up buying them!
I think I will miss being on a total lockdown. I dread going back to the traffic and pollution. I somehow liked the stillness of the street. I enjoyed the supply run where the roads are so eerily quiet
I hope tomorrow when we start to go out from our home again we willremember that the virus is still out there. It’s not eradicated yet. There’s still no available vaccine. The “new normal” will be us making sure we protect ourselves as well as protecting others. So, don’t forget to wear your mask and to bring along a small alcohol or hand sanitizer wherever you go!