Archive for February, 2018

I have drawn up my bucket list back in 2013 and has since struck off a few from the list. Problem is, for every country ticked off, there’s 2 more to add. So yes, it is a growing list. Wanderlust. Why fight it? Well, for one — my travel fund is fast depleting while the list keeps growing. I am also starting to feel my age 😒 though I strive to shake off any such anxiety. Keeping in mind to travel safely, comfortably but not necessarily luxuriously I need to plan my trips more wisely. And resist visiting the same favorite destinations —God help me! πŸ™πŸ»

Like an old truck seeking new directions, I am very happy with the places I’ve visited and the experiences I’ve shared with family and friends. Finally, I managed to travel to Peru, India, Halong Bay (Vietnam), Myanmar & Finland since the list was drawn. I have also managed to do not one but 2 caminos — the last 100 kms from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, as well as from Viterbo (Italy) to the Vatican City. Plus the challenging first 24kms of the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port. Not bad for an old hag 😜

Yet the unchecked list remains. Galapagos. Northern Lights. The many lovely countries now comprising the former Yugoslavia. Hungary. Iguassu Falls. Canadian Rockies. New Zealand. Exotic Sri Lanka. Tibet. Other South American and African countries. Not to mention the list of domestic destinations waiting to be struck off! And perhaps another (longer) camino.

Photos from the Net

This March, Sri Lanka is it. Come April-May, my childhood friend and grandnephew should be free to travel with me. Destination yet unknown. Before my Schengen visa expires this year, I may as well do another trip to Europe. And in October-November, another trip to Sydney to visit family and meet up with friends who’d hop from Sydney to Kiwi land. I am very, very tempted to join them for the New Zealand leg too but we’ll see. This wanderlust is making me rethink my retirement. Not in the sense that I want to go back to work but more in terms of seeking other funding sources. (How????) In the same vein, I seriously need to plot my travel calendar within my travel fund in the next 5 years. Age is creeping in, and the “bolder, more adventurous, more energy-demanding trips” seek precedence over the more leisurely, relaxing, boketto-mode travels which can be dealt with once I (sadly) turn septuagenarian! 😫 — by which time, I plan to run a blog series on “Easy Travels for Seniors”. Wish me luck, I need it. πŸ˜˜πŸ™„πŸ€ͺ

The Joy In My Heart

Once, I waxed poetic

Nothing grand, nowhere epic

Wordsmith, surely I am not

Just speaking from the heart.

Every morn I ponder

Thinking aloud, still sober

What countless blessings You gave

So much more than I deserve.

It’s this joy in my heart

The cheer in that sacred part

Such a gift, so precious

Stuck in my subconscious.

Not everything is on fleek

God lets happen even if you’re meek

Your gift of cheer I seek

To live life’s joys at its peak.

(Photo taken more than 30 years ago)

Baguio Today

Many moons ago, our family would make the 6-7 hour long roadtrip from Manila to the country’s summer capital. Baguio: the city of pines. Those were the days when Baguio was cleaner, less crowded and the pine trees everywhere. It’s a shorter drive these days, but that feeling of “being in Baguio” seems restricted to areas around Camp John Hay, Baguio Country Club and the Mansion House. The Baguio you find today is no longer teeming with the scent of pine trees. And it’s a completely new Camp John Hay with its lovely Manor House and several new cottages and shops.

For this trip, we stayed at the century-old Baguio Country Club — still looking nearly like the grand dame it was many years ago. The old fireplace is still where it was then, and you can still take home those raisin and banana breads we’ve come to love. Over breakfast at the Verandah, I reminisced about the time when I’d wake up real early to tee off for a round of golf while other early risers watch me as they waited for their morning brew. I tried to join the earliest flight of golfers then to avoid being watched! Now, I sit and watch them while sipping my coffee and waiting for my eggs to be done. πŸ˜Šβ˜•οΈπŸ₯šπŸ½πŸ₯πŸ³

In the many trips I’ve been here, I have only gone as far as the gated front of The Mansion House. We had the privilege of getting inside the Presidential Summer House this time. And sit/pose around the conference table. (Thanks, Meloy). I even stood at the rostrum as if addressing an audience πŸ™„

We did the touristy thing as we showed our US-based friends around. Apart from Camp John Hay and Mansion House, we dropped in at the Cathedral, Mines View Park, Burnham Park, dined at Rose Bowl at its new location. Some of them last visited Baguio 35 years ago so it was truly a nostalgic trip. A big plus was the Opening Ceremony for the Panagbenga Flower Fest!

I’ve never attended Baguio’s Flower Festival. Frankly, I don’t remember it as a child so I assumed it’s a recently-organized annual festivity. Other “new attractions” are the colorful houses in La Trinidad Valley and the well-curated Bencab Museum. I’m awed by the blooms from Baguio, and pleasantly surprised they now grow persimmons too! I love this fruit (along with Sagada oranges, lychees and longans) that I can’t even remember how much I paid for them!

The Museum and its garden is now a must-visit destination. I noticed they have rearranged and added more items. Nice. My balikbayan friends thought this museum is a great additional attraction in Baguio. I only wish they improve the museum guide’s spiel — I’m sure every Bencab artwork is laden with substance and meaning I’d be so curious about. Lunch was in Bencab’s Cafe Sabel, where we enjoyed every item on the menu from Strawberry Shake to pancit chopseuy to spicy tuyo pasta.

Our trip timed perfectly not only with the festival blooms display but also with the super blood blue moon. We craned our necks for a good half hour at the roofdeck of Baguio Country Club at 12 degree celsius just to watch this lunar spectacle. How I wish I brought a proper camera. The iPhone just won’t do for those zoomed photos. But good enough for those Baguio flowers!

In my next visit, I hope to see more colorful Trinidad Valley houses, more locally-grown fruits (cherries?), maybe watch the Panagbenga parade and eat more at Bencab’s Cafe Sabel. Who knows? I may even pick up the sport again!

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Busy Since I Retired

I kid you not.

My self-imposed retirement began in early 2001. I quit to have a life. And it’s been a life of adventures and nurtured relationships since.

I love to travel. And I travel with different sets and circles of friends. No better way to bond than enjoying their company 24/7. I’m one who easily gets along with most anyone on a trip. Perhaps because I’m in my elements when traveling. But I do realize it’s better to travel solo than putting up with bad company. I’m also hell-bent when I wish to be someplace and no one’s going with me. Guess it all started when I was a child standing in line to enjoy rollercoaster rides. I don’t do that now. Not because I’m afraid but more because I’m cautious not to break a brittle bone. I go visit family and friends whenever I can. I have always maintained that life is too short to waste it. As years pass, I appreciate more and more the value of relationship. I am happy I nurtured many since childhood.


USA Roadtrip

Beijing + HK


Spain + Portugal

Lourdes, Paris


USA East/West Coast


Roadtrip from Paris thru Tours,

Bordeaux, Lourdes, Provence,

Barcelona, back to Paris


St. Petersburg+Moscow, Russia









Alaskan Cruise

Vancouver+Victoria, Canada

Seattle+San Francisco+LA





Turkey & Greece


HK New Year



Siem Reap






South Africa+Zambia







Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam



Hanoi/Halong Bay, Vietnam





Berlin, Germany

Scandinavian Cruise

Bangkok, Thailand





Sydney+Gold Coast, Australia


Bangkok, Thailand









Paris, France


Sri Lanka

Central Vietnam

Vienna, Budapest & Bratislava

Kenya & Tanzania


Bologna, Modena, Parma, San Marino





London, Amsterdam & Brussels

Easily, more than 60 international trips since 2001, the year I retired. I’ve also covered much ground back home. I’ve been quite busy. Traveled with family and also with different sets of friends. Oh yes, I have no shortage of travel buddies. Outside of family, there are my camino buddies, foodie group, college buddies, travel blogger-friends, former work colleagues, dormmates, childhood friends, etc. My friends would always ask which trips rank among my Top 10. And I’m always stumped for choice. How do you choose from among so many trips you’ve enjoyed and wish to repeat? But this I say, the more memorable ones are those where I learned the most, interacted with locals the most, or simply where “something clicked” to change my outlook in life. Not exactly an epiphany; just a simple discovery or realization from a meaningful experience.