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

Travel Fears…

I was supposed to be vacationing in Taipei, Taiwan on the last week of 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 measures put 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 fear of 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 normal to 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.

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

Travel Tips for Tokyo…

I have shared Japan travel tips in a previous post but let me add some more from our last trip to Tokyo in December. First stop was always the grocery since we need food supplies to fill up the refrigerator in the apartment we rented through Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). Remember, we are budget travelers and therefore cost efficiency is important. 😄

Tip: Prior to booking, make sure the place is near a grocery store. Some items are cheaper and choices are better than the convenience store.

Grocery store Comodi-IIda


Store entrance below street level

Mini Grocery in front of the apartment


Tip: Near closing time some of the meals are already discounted up to 50% off.  Grab some to eat at your rented place or hotel. 

Maki Sushi Plates at the Grocery Store


Different Kinds of Tea


You can find different kinds of Japanese green tea at the grocery store. I always buy a box or more to give away to relatives and friends. It’s always a gift that they appreciate. I personally liked the roasted green tea. 

Tip: Choose your location wisely. Always research before you book and ask the landlord about the area 😊 Is it quiet and safe? Near the train station?

We got an apartment in Bunkyo area which is a quiet part of Metropolitan Tokyo. The train station is 3 to 5 minutes away. There’s a shrine nearby and the Shin-edogawa Park is walking distance. Restaurants and food places are aplenty. The Catholic church is also a 10 minute walk away.

Winter time view while walking towards the park


The winter view at the park


Tip: Prior to finalizing your booking, check out the area for restaurants or food markets. What we did was to use google earth to view the area. Bunkyo had good restaurants near the train station street level exits.

Tempura Place

Ramen and Gyoza Place


The go to food place 😄 Yoshinoya!


Japanese Curry House


Korean Burger Joint Lotteria


Fast food are always a happy sight for when you’re weary and tired from walking around Metropolitan Tokyo. Especially if you’re with family with growing kids who seem to be always hungry! 😄

Tip: Drop by the convenience stores like Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11. They do have instant meals that they can heat for you. Kids love the chicken kaarage that can fill their little tummy plus it’s affordable. 

Chicken Kaarage at a convenience store


You will not get hungry anywhere in Japan. For as long as there’s a convenience store! You will not get thirsty either for there are numerous vendo machines! Plus some even offered chips and sandwiches. 

Japanese Custard Cake Stall


A must try Takoyaki in Akiba area


Don’t hesitate to try out the street food stalls selling snacks like Japanese Custard Cakes. It’s a favorite of my kids and filled their tummy while walking around. Aside from the Takoyaki, of course. 😄



xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Getting Around Japan…

It’s that time of the year again in this side of the world. It’s summer time and people are preparing to escape to somewhere cold or to the beach. My social media timeline is full of travels to one of my favorite destination — Japan! It’s spring time and always a good time to visit since it’s also the Sakura season. The bitter cold of winter is no more. The gardens will be so pretty and colorful. The shrines alive with the trees turning green again. Oh, how I miss the Land of the Rising Sun!🇯🇵😄

After numerous trips to Japan, we finally decided to use a card to easily use their train transportation when we visited last December. Since we find the JR Pass too expensive for a vacation in Tokyo area only, we opted to get the Pasmo Card. JR Pass is okay if you plan to go around Japan. Like traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka. But in my opinion it’s not a good deal if you will just stay in one city. You can get a Pasmo or Suica card at the airport.

Pasmo Cards


We loaded ¥10,000 in the adult cards and half of that amount for the kids 12yo and below. The card of the child was linked to an adult card. It can be personalized with your child’s name. The reason we chose Pasmo instead of Suica was because we can refund everything. 😄 Of course, some of the family members opted to retain the card as souvenirs or to be used for when we visit again.

Train Station going to Narita using Keisei


We used Keisei Electric Railway from Narita to Tokyo and back. Not the Skyliner but the normal train with lots of stops! If you aren’t in a hurry, you can save money by using the regular train. It will be 30 minutes longer but you can catch some sleep on the way to the city. 😊 If you are in a rush to get to the city, choose the Skyliner. It is more expensive though.

The Pasmo Card is not only for transportation but can be used to buy food at the convenience store or even in restaurants that accept it for payment. Even vendo machines accept it. Very convenient to have especially if you have children who are constantly hungry and a trip to Family Mart or Lawson to buy food is something that they enjoyed doing. My child lost her Pasmo Card with about ¥3,500 remaining balance when we were in Akihabara. But it was linked to my card so we were able to retrieve the balance. We just reported it to the nearest train station and with a minimal fee we got a new card and the balance intact. The vacation wasn’t ruined!😅

However, if you plan to move around Japan then you have to get the JR Pass. You will also have easier mobility and it will help to cut down on transportation cost. Check out www.jrailpass.com for more information. 

Getting around Tokyo and understanding their train network is tough. But with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the country is definitely preparing. With influx of tourists wanting to visit the country, most of the sites are tourist friendly. There are translations and menus in English. So different from the first time I visited Japan in 2008.

I know I should post more often. To be more active in my online journal. 😂 I’m really sorry blog! You have been neglected but I hope I can find time to write some more… soon!😄

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

A Visit to Stone Henge…

I guess if you get a chance to travel to England, a visit to Stone Henge should be part of your itinerary. I’m just a normal tourist with a bucket list. A very happy one when this world heritage site was crossed off from the list. However, I was quite surprised that the stones aren’t quite gigantic as I imagined. It’s funny because I’ve always thought it was left by aliens that visited Earth. Blame it on watching too many movies and reading too many books! 😛

Stone Henge on a FIne Day

I’m lucky I have friends in England and they took us to this place. It did not rain at the time of our visit and it was a very lovely day because the sun was out for about two hours! 😀 Yes, the weather in England is really erratic and I guess not only during winter. So, savor whatever sun you’ll get and hurry with the picture taking before the clouds go dark and rain starts falling. Ha!ha!ha!

Stone Henge with Heavy Clouds

If you do plan to visit this place, be prepared to shell out some money for the entrance fee which is about £14.90 (Adult). They have a newly built Visitor Center and from there you’ll take a short bus ride to the site. You can walk if you preferred as it’s not really that far but I recommend taking the bus especially if the weather isn’t too great. Visit their website for more at: http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

London Calling…

It has always been a dream of mine to travel to London since I was a teenager. Probably because of the many books that I’ve read with England as the setting. Whenever someone asked me where I’ve been and even if it’s only at the back of the house, the answer was always: “I’ve been to London to visit the Queen”. Such childish retort that now I can say came true. 🙂

London did not disappoint. Even in the middle of winter time, it was a magical place to be in. World weary travelers may not agree as it’s a densely populated place after all and the weather is not so great. But it has it’s beauty which is solely it’s own. I even enjoyed walking in the rain. I loved that the transportation is great in this city. Our preferred mode of transportation was the bus and we made good use of the Oyster card given to us by friends. For more information, check out: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Parliament

Because we stayed for such a short time and it was our first time, we tried the Hop On Hop Off London bus to tour the city. We took the Original London Tour bus because it was recommended by the hotel http://www.theoriginaltour.com but found out that the other one which was the Big Bus Tours had a better schedule http://www.bigbustours.com and more buses. The tour offers a free cruise on the River Thames too which is nice. Check out their individual websites to know more and for discounts or deals.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

We were able to experience Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which was practically a ‘carnival’ with rides, food booths and stalls selling souvenirs. I enjoyed the place even if I was freezing! 🙂 There I saw the ethnicity of the city. So many people from different countries converging in that corner of Hyde Park. Locals, immigrants, visitors enjoying the place together. To check their future schedule and entrance fee go to http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Oh yeah, I was able to ride the tube too! Sad to say, I never found platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter boarded his train towards Hogwarts. Maybe, on my next visit I’ll find it. 😛

P.S. Pardon the photos, weather wasn’t so great to take a lot of awesome pics!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo